Up until the XII and XIII centuries AD, the myths and rites that the primitive, occidental and oriental worlds believed on could be discussed in terms of grandiose unitary stages. There was at the time a profound respect of inherited forms instead of innovation. Mythologies were social and community based beliefs shaping their communities’ behaviours, traditions and relationships. It is though during the XII and XIII centuries AD that there is a disintegration of those orthodox forms of myth, starting a release of creative powers, a new galaxy of mythologies.
According to Dr Joseph Campbell, in creative mythology the individual has had an experience of his own order, horror, beauty, or even exhilaration, which he or she seeks to communicate through signs, and if his realisation has been of a certain depth and import, his communication will have the value and force of living myth for those who receive and respond to it of themselves, with recognition and uncoerced. To understand the move from traditional to creative mythology, it is important to define the functions of mythology.
Firstly, myth reconciles waking consciousness to the mysterious of this universe, just as religion seems to have filled those gaps for millenniums. Secondly, mythology renders an interpretative total image of the above, as known to contemporary consciousness. Thirdly, myth is used as an enforcement of moral order: the shaping of the individual to the requirement of his geographically and historically conditioned social groups. The rise and fall of civilisations in the long, broad course of history can be seen to have been largely a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth, for not authority but aspiration is the motivator, builder and transformer of civilisation. This is obviously related to the third function just mentioned and it hints and the importance for civilisations to remain alive cohesively. Fourthly, and most important function, myth is fostering the centering and unfolding of the individual in integrity, in accord with himself (the microcosm), with his culture (the mesocosm), the universe (macrocosm) and the awesome ultimate mystery, which is both beyond and within himself and all things. Mythology goes in two directions, in one hand it existed during earlier human history a priestly controlled and guided social mythology, which was framed on the functions just mentioned, and on the other hand, after the dark ages, it flourished this new creative myth, based on archetypal, natural or elementary ideas, both types aiming at bringing harmony into individuals souls.
It was people such as Spinoza, who started challenging traditional myth making comments against orthodox myth. He stated that the bible was imperfect, corrupt, erroneous and inconsistent with itself, and that the real world of god was inscribed on the heart and mind of man. It is on the age of Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Kepler or Campo dei Flori, who was burnt alive for saying that the earth and man where not the centre of the world, that new currents appeared surveying the whole of the planet. New thinkers looked at many different subjects, disciplines, not corresponding one with another. It was the beginnings of science as such in modern times. This lack of horizon in their thinking, research and interests was something new. Whereas formally, in the old Sumerian world view, preserved in the old testament, the notion of a stable cosmological order had prevailed and was matched by the priestly concept of an established moral order as well, on the XII century AD, we found that, matching our recent cosmological recognition of the relativity of all measures to the instrument doing the measuring, there was a growing realisation even in the moral field that all judgements were “human too human” (Friedrich Nietzsche). The coming of this new creative mythology was definitely man’s making, seen, experienced by human eyes.
Humans are formed how are born, it is in our childhood years that the foundation is laid of our later depth: it will be in later years unfolded and fulfilled, not essentially changed. Mythology looks at individuals, at pantheons of individuals, as canvas of art reveals them.
Just as in the past each civilization was the vehicle of his own mythology, developing in character as its myth became progressively interpreted, analysed and elucidated by its leading minds, so in this new world of XII century AD – where the application of science to the fields of practical life had dissolved all cultural horizons, so that no separate civilisation could ever develop again – each individual became the center of a mythology of his own, of which his own character was the incarnate god, so to say, who his empirically questing consciousness was to find. Of course that on the other side, for those who could still contrive to live within the fold of a traditional mythology of some kind, protection was still afforded against the danger of an individual life, and for many the possibility of adhering in this way to established formulas was a birth rightly cherished, since it contributed meaning and nobility to their unadventured lives.
In writing about this new creative mythology, it is accepted and assumed Schopenhauer’s and Sir Arthur Keith’s idea of regarding each of the creative masters of this dawndry and civilisation of the individual as absolutely singular, each a species unique in himself. Artists such as Gottfried, Dante, Wagner or Joyce stand as writing models for other individuals, as myth pioneers of their times. Those creative mythologians are in the time space of history, immortal mountains, creators of models and currents that stand, remain and have influence our human world since.