Mythic Transformation

Actaeon being transformed into a deer

Actaeon being transformed into a deer

I’ve had the theme of transformation on my mind these past few days. Myth is so often about transformation after all, and the creative act is in its essence an act of transformation, from something to nothing. There are even some scholars who believe that the only true myths are creation stories, and that any other type of story should fall under the category of folklore, or some other designation.

Sometimes the first thing that people ask me when I talk about my work is what mythology and creativity have to do with each other, and my answer is usually somewhere along the lines of examining the role of transformation in myth, and how we can use those lessons to bring about “creation myths” of our own, so to speak.

Transformation is such a prevalent theme in myth that the Roman poet Ovid themed his greatest work, Metamorphoses, around mythic stories of gods and humans transforming.

Sometimes it seems to me that the act of transformation is the one true magic that we as humans are able to perform or experience. As children, it’s a daily part of our lives; our bodies and minds are changing and growing every day. Once we’ve reached adulthood, however, transformation is something that must often be fought for. We become set in our ways, the Gorgon head of habit moving us into immutable tracks that should be fought against, resisted, jumped if possible.

Reading myth helps me to remember the magic of creating something from nothing, and from changing my bad habits to better ones. I remember Pygmalion’s story, and I know that stone can turn to flesh.

  One thought on “Mythic Transformation

  1. March 27, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Perhaps water is advisable as one ages. Lots of water.

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