Mythology and Religion

When Did Mythology Become Religion? w/ John K. Lundwall

John K. Lundwall on the Mythicist Milwaukee Show

John K. Lundwall received his BA in English Literature from Brigham Young University, and his MA and PhD in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpenteria, California. Dr. Lundwall has presented numerous lectures at symposiums, conferences, and public classes in myth studies, and has served as an editor for several academic publications. He specializes in the connections between oral cosmology, myth, and cultus. 

His book “Mythos and Cosmos: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age” reexamines ancient myth through the template of oral thinking and oral cosmology. Contradicting decades of assumptions about the purpose and function of ancient mythology, Lundwall defines myth as "the oral imprinting press of pre-literate peoples" and shows that myth belongs to a complex and rational method of information transmission amongst oral peoples. 

During this interview John shares his research into the ancient myths, traditions, and rituals. He explains what we know about the earliest forms or religious writings and how they still showcase their oral roots. If you ever wondered about how ancient orals religions compare to what we deem as modern day religions, don't miss this interview! 

How did the "Pagan" Religions Influence Christianity? w/ Jordan Anthony Burich

Jordan Anthony Burich.jpg

Jordan Anthony Burich Joins us on the Mythicist Milwaukee Show

Jordan Anthony Burich holds an Anthropology degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is beginning his PhD track this fall at the State University of New York-Buffalo. His focus is on archaeology, mainly an archaeology of religion, ritual, and cultural transmission. He is a dedicated skeptic who will--more often than not--opt for the simplest answer. He also enjoys discussions such as the following.

Jordan joins us on air and discusses his research into how ancient cultures and religions have set the foundation for what we view as the modern day religions ie. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Jordan has been onsite on various archeological digs in Cypress and has extensively researched ancient cultures.

During this interview we discuss how the Roman Emperor Constantine utilized the Mithras cult to further the political campaign of Christianity. We touch on how various scientists have challenged the religious claims of how the world works, and why their bravery was so important in progressing society. We touch on the ridiculous claims of the ancient alien theories and how nature inspired many of the myths that we know today. Don’t miss this fun and informative interview! 

Enter the Red Goddess Blogs

Greetings all mythicists and mythicist-curious! My name is Megan and I'm glad you're here.

I met Mythicist Milwaukee at their first conference in  April 2015. I had been out of the athiest loop since moving to town a few years ago. I was deconverted by Richard Dawkins whilst living in England. The mythicist position was unfamiliar to me, but learning about it has strengthened my feeling of godlessness. 

Luckily, my university (Mount Mary University) allowed me to intern as a new media (English) student. I write the newsletter and now you will be seeing more of my work.

Here are some shots from today's broadcast at the  the newly-renamed Milwaukee Cooperative.

P.S. I love Asherah.

 

Jamie DeWolf on the Mythicist Milwaukee Show

If you were every curious about Scientology, its origins and or how it operates this is a must listen: 

Jamie first became known to Bay Area audiences as a performance poet. He went on to become the National Poetry Slam Champion, the Oakland and Berkeley Grand Slam Champion. Jamie is also a mentor for Youth Speaks, the nation’s leading presenter of Spoken Word education.

Jamie has toured the country with his performance trio known as “The Suicide Kings”. The three-man show premiered at the Living Word Festival in 2007 and toured world-wide.

Jamie has written and directed many short films, directed and films documentaries and PSA’s and has written and co-directed his first full-length feature film entitled “Smoked”, which was chosen to premiere at the Oakland Underground Film Festival in 2012 .

Jamie host an acclaimed Bay Area monthly variety show, entitled “Tourettes Without Regrets”, which was awarded “Best of the Bay” by the SF Guardian and the “Best Underground Cultural Event” by the East Bay Express..

Jamie is also great-grandson of Scientology’s creator L. Ron Hubbard, Jamie is an outspoken critic of the church that has lead to church harassment and a stalking campaign. He was the host of the first ever anti Scientology summit in Clearwater, Florida and was a keynote speaker at the first international conference in Dublin, Ireland.

Jason Torpy on "The Mythicist Milwaukee Show"

Are there atheists in foxholes?

Jason Torpy serves as the President of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), a national non-profit building community for atheists and humanists in the military. MAAF provides a number of services for secular service members, including deployment assistance, coordination with other nontheist organizations, and support for secular students in the military.

Mr. Torpy also holds seats on the board of the Secular Coalition for America, the premier lobbying organization for secular issues, and the American Humanist Association, which fosters Humanist community and ethics.

After joining the military in 1994, Mr. Torpy has addressed issues of separation of church and state and equal opportunity for nontheistic service members in the Army. Mr. Torpy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from West Point and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from The Ohio State University. He is a Humanist Celebrant recognized by the Humanist Society.

After earning top graduate honors from two intelligence training programs, Mr. Torpy was offered direct admission to the United States Military Academy. Upon graduation, Mr. Torpy was commissioned as an officer and served for five years in Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq with the Army's 1st Armored Division.

Jason has spoken to large audiences at national conventions, awards banquets, oand press conferences, as well as radio appearances on programs such as BBC World Today, Alan Colmes, RT Television, and NPR.

Some of the topics covered in this interview include:

What is a humanist chaplain? 

What is the tie between Catholicism and military chaplains?

Live action nativity scenes in the military

Mandatory prayer in the military 

George Washington ordering chaplains in the military

The progress of the LGBTQ community and how it relates to humanism in the military 

And Much More!!

Donate to MAAF here

Make sure to check out our upcoming secular guests

White Horses: Another Common Mythological Thread

 

White horses (carrying their respective prophets or leaders) are yet another recurring figure in a large number of highly-visible religions and mythologies: Muslim, Christian, Celtic, Greek, Norse, Hindu, Buddhist and even the Native American Blackfoot tribe.

Below are their stories in short. Interesting to see another common thread throughout various historical cultures' myths. Add to our list if you have found others!

Muslim
Al-Burāq (Arabic: البُراق al-Burāq "lightning") is a mythological steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi'raj or "Night Journey", which is the title of one of the chapters (sura), Al-Isra, of the Quran.

Christian
The Rider on the White Horse (Revelation 19:11-21) is a story of a magnificent white horse which carries Jesus Christ as he leads angels and saints in a dramatic battle between good and evil after Jesus' return to Earth.

The verse reads as follows:
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty...

Celtic
In Celtic mythology, Rhiannon, a mythic figure in the Mabinogion collection of legends, rides a "pale-white" horse. Because of this, she has been linked to the Romano-Celtic fertility horse goddess Epona and other instances of the veneration of horses in early Indo-European culture.

Greek
In Greek mythology, the white winged horse Pegasus was the son of Poseidon and the gorgon Medusa. Poseidon was also the creator of horses, creating them out of the breaking waves when challenged to make a beautiful land animal.

Norse
In Norse mythology, Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir, "the best horse among gods and men", is described as gray. Sleipnir is also the ancestor of another gray horse, Grani, who is owned by the hero Sigurd.

Hindu
In the Puranas, one of the precious objects that emerged while the devas and demons were churning the milky ocean was Uchaishravas, a snow-white horse with seven heads. (A white horse of the sun is sometimes also mentioned as emerging separately). Uchaishravas was at times ridden by Indra, lord of the devas. Indra is depicted as having a liking for white horses in several legends - he often steals the sacrificial horse to the consternation of all involved, such as in the story of Sagara, or the story of King Prithu.

Buddhism
Kanthaka was a white horse that was a royal servant and favourite horse of Prince Siddhartha, who later became Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha used Kanthaka in all major events described in Buddhist texts prior to his
renunciation of the world.

Native American Blackfoot
In Blackfoot mythology, the snow deity Aisoyimstan is a white-colored man in white clothing who rides a white horse.

Breathing Life Into Myths

While Mythicist Milwaukee visited Egypt recently, we toured the temple of a Queen of Egypt from ancient times - that of Queen Hatchepsut. She was an interesting character who did everything she could to get into power and stay in power. This included inventing a story about her divine birth in order to take the throne from the male heir. 

Hatcchepsut was born to Queen Ahmose and King Thutmose I. After the king died, Hatchepsut made up a story of how Egypt's supreme deity at the time, Amen-Ra, impregnated her mother - and she had her story backed up by Egypt's high priest. 

When we heard this story, bells went off. A god blowing into a woman to impregnate her? Sounds like a familiar tale that may have been borrowed and modified throughout the years. Below is a summary of Queen Hatshepsut's story, followed by a few other religious tales that share this motif.

Queen Hatshepsut - Ancient Egypt

Ruled: 1479-1458 BC

Hatshepsut (or Hatchepsut) was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt's New Kingdom. She is generally regarded by egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. 

Her rise to power went against all the conventions of her time. She was the first wife and Queen of Thutmose II and on his death proclaimed herself Pharaoh, denying the old king's son, her nephew, his inheritance. To support her cause she claimed the God Amun-Ra spoke, saying "welcome my sweet daughter, my favourite, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the King, taking possession of the Two Lands." She dressed as a king, even wearing a false beard and the Egyptian people seem to have accepted this unprecedented behaviour.

In the depictions, Amun-Ra appears with the unborn Hatshepsut and then with her mother (Queen Ahmose) in the form of Hatshepsut's father (Thuthmosis I). Amun impregnates the queen with his divine breath then reveals his true nature and fortells that Hatshepsut will rule Egypt. Amun-Ra then visits Khnum to instruct him to create Hatshepsut´s body. A heavily pregnant Queen Ahmose is led to the birthing chamber by Heqet and Khnumwhere she is assisted by Meskhenet. In the final scenes, the newborn Hatshepsut and her Ka are suckled by twin Hathors while Seshat records her birth.

Toward the end of the reign of Thutmose III and into the reign of his son, an attempt was made to remove Hatshepsut from certain historical and pharaonic records. This elimination was carried out in the most literal way possible. Her cartouches (name in hieroglyphs) and images were chiselled off some stone walls in her temple, leaving very obvious Hatshepsut-shaped gaps in the artwork.

Isa (Jesus) - Islamic Religion

Allegedly lived: 7-2 BCE (sources vary extremely on this date)
Story written in the Quran: ~850-950 CE (AD) (sources vary on this date)

In verses 21:91 & 66:12 of the Quran, Allah says that he breathed into Maryam's (Mary's) shirt/empty space/vagina (various sources translate this differently) in order to conceive Isa (the Islamic Jesus).    

    "And she who guarded her virginity, so We breathed into her of Our spirit (roohina) and appointed her and her son to be a sign unto all beings." S. 21:91     

    "And Mary, Imran's daughter, who guarded her virginity, so We breathed into her of Our Spirit (roohina), and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Books, and became one of the obedient". S. 66:12.

 

 

Adam - Christian Religion

Allegedly lived: ~4,000 BC (sources vary on this date)
Story written in the Bible: ~500 BC (sources vary on this date)

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth] and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground- the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Genesis 2:4-7

Based on what we conclude, we doubt Queen Hatshepsut knew what she would inspire when she invented the story of her divine birth. We pulled the stories from the Bible and the Quran only because they are the most relevant religions in modern times. 

There are many more stories that explain gods or god men impregnating humans. Can you name any others?

What Happens When You Die?

The Final Judgement event is one of the most popular stories that originated out of ancient Egyptian mythology. It was one of the earliest explanations for what happens after one dies. It also reminded early Egyptians that the wicked in life will be punished in the afterlife. To this day, Egypt reproduces scenes of this event on items marketed to tourists on everything from clothing to bath towels, jewelry to hand-woven silken rugs. (We couldn't help but buy papyrus calendar with the judgement scene on it when in Cairo!) Following is a short summary of the event:


The Final Judgment

Once the journey through the underworld is complete, the deceased reach the Hall of Final Judgment. Judgment involved a two-part process:

Part 1: Standing before the 42 divine judges

Here they stood before 42 divine judges and pleaded their innocence of any wrongdoing during their lifetime. The Book of the Dead provided them with the correct words to use for each of the judges, ensuring that they would pass this part of the judgement process even if they had not been completely innocent. (We saw replica pages of the Final Judgement instructions from the Book of the Dead at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.)

Part 2: Weighing the heart

The second part of the judgement process was the ‘Weighing of the Heart’ ceremony. The heart, which contained a record of all the deceased’s actions in life, was weighed against the feather of the goddess Ma’at. This feather was the symbol for truth and justice and helped determine whether the deceased person had indeed been virtuous. If the heart was found to be heavier than the feather, it was fed to Ammut, the ‘Devourer’, and the soul was cast into darkness. If the scales were balanced, the deceased had passed the test and was taken before Osiris who welcomed them into the afterlife. For those who were concerned about this test, they could recite the spell (usually Spell 30B from the Book of the Dead) inscribed on their heart scarab amulet to prevent their heart from ‘betraying’ them.