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Myth and Malarkey

Remember the time you believed in Santa Claus? No one could come between you and the idea that some Jolly old dude, in red, who drank Coca-Cola and carried a huge sack was going to bring you your heart's every desire. Never mind the fact that you couldn't justify how he could fit his belly down your chimney or, if you didn't have a chimney--- how he was going to teleport into your apartment.

For years you probably had a fear of the tooth fairy too. Didn't matter that people told you she didn't exist, there was just something ancient and rather unnerving about a woman with wings, looking for teeth. I think they made a horror movie out of that one.

Anyways, my point is, there's a thin line between myth and malarkey. Myth can be half-truths but it's very hard for anyone to say whether or not a myth is just something our ancestors made up to pass the time. You see, I am of the belief that every story starts somewhere. But of course, like any person who prefers not to throw the baby out with the bath water, I can smell the malarkey…the bull crap… too.

There are many myths and legends around the world that have never been (satisfactorily) verified or supported by actual physical proof. Actually, I take that back. There is the city of Troy…I just don't think they ever found the Trojan horse. So, Troy= Fact, but the Trojan horse and the jealousy of the gods = Fiction.

But see, that's when I get confused, because Biblically there were more gods. The big man said it himself, when he said not to worship any gods but him. If you went to Sunday school like I did, you probably got the explanation that god meant 'other' gods as an example of idolatry and the worshipping of statues. Yeah, sure…I'm not in the business of arguing with celestial powers.

Other cultures believe in other gods. The story's always the same. There's always a hierarchy and there's always one Supreme god and a select number of demigods. Sometimes there are 12, and sometimes there are 9. And I seem to remember something about 72 heavenly rulers taking over 72 nations before the flood.

So which is myth and which is malarkey?

How about mythical creatures, like Unicorns, Centaurs, Sphinxes and Mermaids? Now, before you roll your eyes, think about the context in which these creatures are revered. Also, consider why would our ancestors go through all the trouble? I mean, if they were living in harsh conditions and trying to keep their families safe, then why come up with a story about a half-horse man chasing them through the forest?

I'm not saying people back then didn't have imagination. What I am saying is, if all stories originate somewhere…a particular experience, then wouldn't that make at least some of it true? I consider this day after day when reading folklore or exploring old tales of unknown creatures and lost and forbidden places.

My grandmother often tells a story about mermaids sighted off the coast of the Island she grew up on. I throw on my skeptics cap and I give her every possible explanation I can think of. I tell her they may have been a case of mistaken identity. I tell her they were probably dolphins. I tell her mermaids do NOT exist, because there is just not enough proof.

My grandmother looks me in the eye and shakes her head and says, "It's one thing if you see something jumping in the water and you assume it's a mermaid. It's another thing entirely when a human-like creature with a fins looks you dead in the eye."

So, I think it's only fair that everyone with an interest in mythical things keeps an open mind. Not so open that your brain falls out, but open just enough so that should the day come when proof presents itself, you won't find some absurd explanation for it. There's nothing worse than turning a blind eye to the truth.

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