Against The ‘Superhero’ Reductionism Of Indo-European Mythology

An associate asked this question – and I think it is an interesting one for us to address.

My reply :

“I mean … not necessarily – like, it depends upon what you mean by “superhero”, of course – but there’s pretty strong evidence that PIE deifics aren’t … super-powered humans ; like, it’s one of those areas wherein I think that people have fallen into the trap of presuming that our further back ancestors were just as unsophisticated as some of the people we see around us every day on the bus.

It’s an appealing, beguiling lie to presume that just because they’re in the past – they’re therefore less advanced. It’s just not the case.

The PIE understanding of divinity – as we can tell via the fairly consistent patterns of derivation and the related metaphysics (that are similarly fairly consistently derived) is a lot more ‘immanent’ to fabric of universe, sort of thing.

You can see that when it comes to the direct coterminity – indeed, co-identification, of the particular Goddess I had mentioned in my recent Cosmic Order / Dharma article … with just exactly that.

To the point of Her turning up as a Black Avenging (and Serpentine associated) Wrathful/Furious form as an inbuilt ‘enforcement clause’ when the terms and fabric of Cosmic Law are violated.

She is Cosmic Law – and She is simultaneously, that ‘enforcer’ thereof in reaction to the egregious breaches of same.

It’s a pan-PIE-descended pattern.

Although here is the curious thing – what we actually tend to see in various of the IE mytho-cultures is a descent from this model … a degeneration we may say , almost an euhemerization. So we go from something , someOne Who is so closely bound up with this Universe concept …. to what we find in later texts , of a Goddess that is more … spoken of almost as a particularly supernaturally gifted human woman.

This is endemic within the Nordic canon for obvious reasons – it is Getting Stuff Past The Radar for the post-Christianization context in which this was written down for the first time. And you are familiar with the other instances of Odin being turned into , yes , a really powerful human (priest-)king.

Although it is not exclusive to the Germanosphere. The Greeks likewise had this happening in spades, even at the height of the Classical age – I covered in my recent work on the Three Eyed Indo-European Sky Father , exactly this phenomenon occurring . I shall quote from myself:

“What we can say is that there was a certain trend of ‘rationalization’ and almost euhemeric re-working of Indo-European myth going on at some junctures of the Classical Age – hence Herakles going from a Vajra (Lightning/Thunder) wielding Deity to a club-wielding pre-Apotheosis demigod when He slays the Hydra, for instance … an occurrence which Pausanias, to demonstrate this tendency in action, overtly expresses doubts about various of the characteristics of the major antagonist involved therein – turning the multi-headed and otherwise mythic monster into, as he puts it, a single-headed (although admittedly rather large) serpent, because that is what he is “ready to believe”. He insists that the more memorable – indeed downright iconic – mythically resonant elements to even that well-known tale (which, as we can demonstrate via our Vedic comparanda, are most definitely the archaic, underpinning, and true form to the Myth) are merely the result of poetic license and exaggeration by a poet endeavouring to ensure “his poetry might be more remarkable”. With that in mind – it is not hard to see how the same figure or those of the similar mindset might ‘reduce’ something obviously supernatural such as a Three-Eyed Seer … into a poetically phrased riddle for a man with a one-eyed conveyancy. Perhaps this ‘planing away’ approach also underpins the fading from view in the Greek sphere elsewhere of the Three Eyes of the Sky Father.”

Now this does not, of course, vitiate those circumstances wherein a human does wind up seriously empowered in Indo-European metaphysical terms – but that is not , perhaps, what you had been referring to. “

Now as it happens, he had a somewhat more nuanced point not quite captured by the phrasing of the initial question – and I may take a look at that in due course (effectively, he was positing the not incorrect (although I would contend – incomplete) notion that mythology being man-relevant almost axiomatically entails having figures worthy of emulation … and as i say, that is not an incorrect observation – although it is an incomplete one, as applies deifics, some of Them at least, being considerably beyond human emulation in various vitally important ways .. more upon this some other time, because it really is something interesting to think about).

But I did think this was a useful springboard for talking about something rather important for us to get right.

One thought on “Against The ‘Superhero’ Reductionism Of Indo-European Mythology

  1. Pingback: Against The ‘Superhero’ Reductionism Of Indo-European Mythology – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

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