by Aubrey Cole Odhner|
[This primiere publication
represents many years of the author's work teaching mythology
at the Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. See Introduction.]
THIS BOOK IS A "PRE-PUBLICATION" VERSION.
IT IS STILL IN THE PROCESS OF REFINEMENT, INCLUDING PROOFREADING, FORMATTING, SPELLCHECKING, ETC. THERE WILL ALSO BE PICTURES INCLUDED IN FINAL VERSION.]
Mysteries of Faith
A. The Hero
Monomyth. (Rank, Raglan , Campbell,
Friends and family tell me I should write a book but my days are getting shorter and the days of this year are getting longer. My grandchildren and garden call! Hollyhocks and Lavender need to be dug. My fence needs painting. Thyme needs replanting and Rosemary-ah "Rosemary is for Remembrance." There's the answer! One of the sweet sorrows of old age is not so much that we forget, it is that we remember too many times over. In the thirty years of responding to speaking invitations I have probably written at least once anything I might have to contribute at this time. Now I know why I have kept an orderly chronological file of papers and addresses beginning in 1971.
So, with the forgiveness of any possible reader, rather than write a new "book," I will rearrange for republication my file by topics introduced by each of the five days' summary lectures given at Eldergarten '96. Reprints of each paper already published will happily find comfortable homes under one of those days' topics because the human mind has a beautiful hidden way of unifying and organizing oft repeated ideas. Then I can get back to the important task of getting ahead of the weeds of my garden and, more important, see the correspondence of that activity to the primary task of divesting myself of the weeds of my soul.
This collection represents a modest attempt to gather together some of my myth studies for the sake of posterity, for my personal family and for the church family whoever may be interested in carrying on the beloved tradition of Correspondences research. My studies have been made in an effort to link some of the early Conference and General Church and other 19th Century secular Mythology studies to more recent scholarship of the 20th Century. Between the two World Wars there seemed to be very little interest in pursuing myth studies within the church or in the world at large, but now their is certainly the dawn of a "new age." The recent awakening of interest has ignited a new age of secular scholarship in occult subjects. The light that these studies have thrown on the better understanding of inner meaning, "correspondences," has refueled for me an early burning quest.
It probably all started with my beautiful Mother, a veritable Greek goddess, reading to me from the colorful book Myths and Enchantment Tales with its idyllic illustrations by Margaret Evans Price. No ugly demons or worlds created by turtles pictured here, but lovely Persephone eating the six pomegranate seeds; she was shown in this book having been kidnapped by a not- too-scary Hades whose flaming cape described not a devil but a god of a colorful underworld kingdom of precious gems, a mineral kingdom.
Somewhere along the path of my Girls Seminary education we copied pictures of Egyptian gods and symbols from C.T.Odhner's Correspondences of Egypt. History teacher, Vera Bergstrom, inspired us with the graphic assignment of depicting symbolically the History of the Churches in chart form. I chose for my illustration a picture in the Price book of the glorious Sun God Apollo surrounded by the Four Seasons, to represent the Crown of All Churches amidst the historical progressions of the earlier Four Churches.
My youthful intention was never to be a teacher and follow in that dreary family tradition. My earliest interest, aside from making a home for my many dolls, was that of being a detective, following in Sherlock Holmes' foot prints with spyglass and scientific deduction. Mother modified this with the suggestion that I might want to be an Archeologist.
How marvelously the stream of Providence leads us. When I was about to be a senior in the Academy College, Bishop de Charms called me into his office, and with my mother present, told me he had asked her to leave the teaching of her Girls Seminary courses so that she could become Dean of Women and Sociology/Astronomy teacher in the college. He then asked me if I would pick up her term of Church History for sophomores and a term of Mythology for seniors while I was finishing college. Teaching! I must have said yes, because I taught those courses that year and was employed to continue them in addition to a full time assignment of other courses, for the next two years until I was married in 1949. I was hooked.
Retiring to raise a family for twenty years, I was called back to an exiting career when the Girls School Faculty was faced with a large enrollment and the staffing of a challenging new curriculum in the fall of 1969. How the doors opened! Once again after twenty years of offering no separate courses of Mythology and Church History we were going to offer two heavily enrolled one-term sections of Mythology! Sadly, the colorful courses in Church History are buried, if they exist at all, within small more cognitive units of Religion classes. Gone are the colorful history charts, but beginning was a twenty-year offering of two term sections of Mythology every year. That too is gone with my retirement, but hopefully my enthusiastic army of girls will someday insist on its return to the curriculum, because it is not merely a study of Mythology as might be found in any school but an approach to the study of Correspondences through Mythology.
Approaching my new assignment with great energy I started buying all the books on the market on Mythology, and there was suddenly a flood of them. With the flower children of the 60's and 70's came an intellectual revolution of occult studies. Hard sciences gave way to serious studies of psychological and imaginative research into meaning. Searching for meaning again became as popular as it had been in the 19th Century. What a feast for a one-time detective! Search for the Grail became, of course, search for the Ancient Word. To me that quest would not be geographic. As I told my friends, no sand pits and gritty sifting for me, bring me the reports from the thirsty snake pits of the Middle East and I will study them with my feet in a Roman fountain. Seriously, my interest was in understanding the ancient language of correspondences because I believe if and when we find parchments or traces of the Ancient Word we may not be able to understand their meaning unless we engulf ourselves within the study of the meaning and milieu of ancient writing.
It was English Department Head, Lyris
Hyatt, who assigned this course to me and it was Lyris Hyatt who, in 1971, as
program chairman for the General Faculty's monthly meetings, said she had
noticed that I had been making some interesting looking studies and invited me
to speak to the Faculties in November of 1971. It was the paper I gave at that
time which seemed to open so many incredible doors for me and, I hope,
benefited the Academy in spreading anew the interest in the beloved Tradition.
It is with that paper, as it was published in New Church Life in February and
March of '72, which I have selected to introduce this collection of papers and
addresses. The title of the paper was: Search for the Ancient Word through
Myths and Correspondences. This launched my humble career as a searcher for
meaning in ancient writings and, not incidentally, this paper led to the
incredibly exiting revival of the old Academy Museum and the organization of
the Ancient Church Conference of 1975.
Aubrey Cole Odhner