Taking our Myths Literally

Myths are our Stories:

“Myth” is usually contrasted to “true” or “fact”, as in – “Oh, that’s just a myth.”  However, the “mythos” were ancient man’s stories about gods – they were their experiences with the governing powers of human nature, the earth, and the universe.  The myths were only declared “false” when the Christian religion conquered the nations who told the stories – and decreed that their way of relating to the natural world [their gods] were “false”.

They weren’t true-or-false or factual-or-inaccurate – in the way that we currently use those words.  The myths were just a different way for humans to speak about truth and about facts.  They were a metaphorical or poetic way of expressing true and factual things about life.  Myths would not have persisted as an integral piece of human culture if they failed to accord with reality and didn’t accurately describe the world.

Those who formulated the myths were not attempting to lay down historically-sound, verifiable, and literally-true presentations of what actually took place in a physical sense.  They were how people conveyed true facts about human nature and the natural world.  The myths are the poetic story-language by which those who’d had actual experiences with the governing powers of nature and of the universe [God] brought that transcendent experience back to the community.

Myths were how the community explained to its new members how the world in its present form came to be, how a human being ought to relate to the powers of the world, and what is expected of members of the community.

However, while myths may admittedly be stories – we cannot say that they are not true, real, or literal.  What’s missed [when “myth” gets labeled as “not real”] is that the stories were never meant to convey “history” with all the scientific rigor we’ve developed centuries after the stories were first told.  They were meant to convey the story of how this or that person experienced God – in a language that was metaphorical, poetic, or image-based – to bring that experience back for the community at large.

True Stories and False Stories:

All the ancient language gods were the magic gods as well [Mercury, Odin, etc.] because language shapes our whole consciousness and how we put ideas together [how we tell stories] – and that’s magical.  Casting a spell is really nothing more than spelling – or changing reality through the manipulation of symbols, forms, and images.

All such “magic” is drawn from our imaginations – the right-brain-heart [the spring of living waters inside each of us] – which is patterned after the eternal right-brain-imagination of God, from which the universe has been created [by the will of His left-brain-mind].

However, the mind of God is immeasurably greater than our own – which means there isn’t anything that we can think of that He hasn’t already thought of.  So what we do is take things that He’s imagined, represented, and given purpose [creating it by bringing it from His infinite imagination into the sphere of the created universe] – and run these through our right-brains to imagine, create, and give purpose to them anew [in our own life].

Some of the representations of things in play here on earth have a counterpart that will endure beyond death [a true/real image] – and some representations are empty [vain] and carry only an image of reality [a false image].

And that’s the probation [the test] of mortality – to see, when presented with various images, forms, and representations of things – if we will live out the ones that are of an enduring nature [e.g., power by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, and meekness] and shun the ones that carry only the image, but no reality [e.g., power by compulsory means, coercion, or force].

God desires to inspire people by sending the Holy Spirit into their right-brain-hearts with images for them to create with.  Satan’s desire is that people be inspired with images that lack any enduring reality behind them.  God desires the Holy Spirit to be what’s found in our right-brain-hearts, from which our left-brain-minds draw inspiration from to create things in our world with – instead of us using the doctrines of devils or the commandments of men to create with.

Discerning True Stories from False Stories:

It all starts with someone’s story.  A man or woman experiences a manifestation of God.  By the power of the Holy Ghost:  they have obtained faith unto repentance by having a broken heart and contrite spirit, have wallowed in the fear of being cast-off from God forever, have trembled under a full-on awareness of their own guilt – and what they’ve sown in tears, they’ve reaped in Joy.  Experiencing the complete redemption of their soul from hell and forgiveness of their sins.

This person is now free from the power and captivity of the devil, is free from the separate-Self consciousness that sin causes, has denied their Self and identified with Christ, and has experienced God as a continuous aspect of their own being.

Now this seer [person who has seen] comes back to his or her community with the desire that everyone else experience this same thing.  They no longer perceive separateness among others the way that a mind still ensnared in sin does.  So once free from sin, the seer now fears and trembles for others.  She suffers for the sins of others.  He desires for all others to have the same privilege to be born of God, free from sin.

But it’s an experience, or a happening – it’s like a dance or a song.  To only come back to the community with a “telling” wouldn’t help anyone else see eye-to-eye with them.  They need to be able to sing the Song – so that other people will hear it – and will sing It along with them.

I may be able to break a dance apart into its rhythm, steps, and movements around the floor – I may be able to describe a song in terms of its meter, key, rhythm, tempo, notes, scale, and harmony – but that’s just putting a grid onto something wiggly so it can be perceived and described.  It’s just a “telling”.

The only way to have someone really know the dance or the song – is to dance it or sing it.  Then they’ll know.

Adam knew Eve
and she conceived

[Moses 5:16]

The scriptural euphemism for husbands and wives coming together is “knowing” for this same reason.  Eternal life is to know” God – because unless something is experienced [is known] – then the people will not see eye-to-eye, but will see instead through a glass, darkly.  They will only know about the experience in part, not fully [see 1 Cor. 13:12].

Musical notation [the myths, the story] has its place in telling people about a song – but one should not hand a person a sheet with musical notes on strings of lines when they really desire the Song.

This is what a false priest [not a seer] does.  A false priest simply re-tells the stories of a previous time.  He only administers in the images of an experience with God who was there before he came along — just putting on a show up on his stage every week.

A false priest is handed-down [by tradition] something that was originally experiential and relative — and because he has no first-hand relationship with this story, it get’s turned into something dogmatic and absolute.  He takes someone who was a preacher — and turns them into the preached.  Making a message out of a messenger by pedestalizing those who’ve had genuine experiences and who tried to tell others about it [so they could have it too].

This is why false priesthoods are obsessed with tracing the lines of authority:

we command you to depart

by what authority?


and it came to pass
that on one of those days
as he taught the people in the temple
and preached the gospel
the chief priests and the scribes
came upon him
with the elders
and spake unto him

tell us, by what authority doest thou these things?
or who is he that gave thee this authority?

[Luke 20:1-2]

because their authority has no true basis in the reality of an actual experience – it’s based only on social convention and tradition – having the all the form but denying the reality.

On the other hand, the authority of a true and prophetic seer comes out of that person’s own experience.  He or she has been somewhere that I haven’t and comes to explain it to me.  Now, they may use ritual [right-brain gesture language] or use scripture [left-brain word-based language] to convey this inner experience in an outward form/image for me – but the key to discernment is that the true messenger speaks from his own experience and a false messenger speaks the stories of someone else.

I’ll Make Discernment Even Easier:

The scriptural standard is that if a person does not have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, then they “shall not teach” [D&C 42:14] — or in other words, they should keep silent.

So when anyone interprets the scriptures, presents a doctrine, or is in any other manner “teaching” — ask them:

  • Are you a prophet?
  • Do you have the spirit of prophecy and revelation?
  • Are you a seer?
  • Did you actually experience this manifestation for yourself?

If they say that it’s their own idea, their own guess, or they defer to some other authority, etc. — then stop listening.  You are free to just take it or leave it as you would if anyone else would have said something about any other subject. You can learn nothing extra-ordinary from such people.

If they say that they do have the spirit of prophecy and revelation or that they actually did experience a miraculous work, then listen closely to what they say — because now that means only one of two things:

  • They are true prophets sent from God
  • They are false prophets trying to deceive

A true prophet, when asked if they have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, will always answer in the affirmative.

A man giving his honest, but non-prophetic opinion [“inspired counsel”] will not claim to be a prophet or a seer – because he fears to speak a false prophecy and be called-out as an imposter.

However, a deceiver will also always say that he has the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

So once someone claims to be a prophet or a seer [comes out with a “Thus saith the Lord…”, for example], now the burden is on me, to compare what the word of God says to what the professed prophet has said and do as the Spirit indicates.  If he is declaring a miraculous work, then:

ye shall ask of the father
in the name of Jesus
and if he give not unto you that spirit
then you may know that it is not of god

[D&C 50:31]

Ritual is the Enactment of a Story:

The performance of rituals is an integral part of all religions.  It is through the reenactment of a shared story [a common myth] that the mind of the community is focused towards the same end.  It provides an element of shared experience that facilitates bonding between community members.  The performance of a ritual connects the participants to the specific morphic field that’s associated with that ritual and then each initiate can share the collective memory that is stored there.

The LDS temple endowment follows in this same tradition.

Joseph’s first “endowment” was the experience of seeing two heavenly personages face-to-face.  He went on to behold various ministering spirits, resurrected angels, Jesus Christ, etc. — all personal appearances, face-to-face.

After the Kirtland temple was dedicated and the ordinances there were administered, Joseph wrote:

The Saviour made his appearance to some, while angels ministered unto others, and it was a pentacost and enduement indeed, long to be remembered for the sound shall go forth from this place into all the world, and the occurrences of this day shall be handed down upon the pages of sacred history to all generations, as the day of Pentecost.

Seeing the Lord and ministering angels face-to-face is the foremost purpose of the temple ritual.  Such an eye-to-eye experience was key to what was formulated as “the endowment”.  It’s why temple-goers are taught the order of prayer and prepared in all things to receive further instructions at the veil.  It was all given with the assumption that a real experience would follow the image [or enactment] of an experience.

and inasmuch as my people build a house
unto me
in the name of the lord
and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it
that it be not defiled
my glory shall rest upon it
and my presence shall be there
for I will come into it
and all the pure in heart
that shall come into it
shall see god

[D&C 97:15-16]


sanctify yourselves
that your minds become single to god
and the days will come
that you shall see him
for he will unveil his face unto you
and it shall be in his own time
and in his own way
and according to his own will

[D&C 88:68]

Essentially — that was the endowment Joseph was trying to give the church of God [not special underwear and secret hand gestures] – but the same experience that was had by all the ancient prophets.  Bringing us eye-to-eye with them, connecting them to us by a common experience, a common morphic field.

That’s what all rituals do – establish a morphic field that anyone connects to when the ritual is done according to the same pattern.  That’s why the ordinances of the gospel are strictly described in terms of the manner and wording of the ritual.

Paul warned the Corinthian church that their failure to administer the ritual of the sacramental meal in the worthy/appropriate manner was the reason there were many sick and dying among them.  There is a healing effect associated with the sacrament ritual — but it must be reenacted according to the pattern given by the Lord in order for us to be connected to the proper morphic field.  The same is true for the other ordinances of the gospel and their respective effects as well.  [See, The Healing Gifts]

The reverse side of this is seen in the hidden symbols, catch-phrases, etc. that are put into movies, TV, pop music, advertising, bank notes, buildings, orchestrated world events, etc. – where satanic secret combinations are working to achieve the same end.  Just like there are wars over physical land here in the material world — the mental world likewise has its own battles for control over the common-space there.

The more people connect to a certain idea – myth, story, system, etc. – the more powerful it becomes.  Were enough people to connect to a single morphic field [were it to ever reach a sort of “critical mass”] it could end the world.  The historical “Zion” communities have done such a thing [Enoch, Melchizedek, Nephites, etc.].  The latter-day Zion will in fact bring a complete end to this world – a revelation sufficient enough to melt away our current systems, politics, economics, and ideas about the world – and usher in a new earth.

Having Images with no Reality:

I think that it’s common for LDS to take little instruction from the current temple ordinance.  It is my opinion that this is because we have reached the point where the meaning of the images have been lost long enough ago — that even the priesthood among us have no idea what to make of the thing and what it’s all about.

However, it is not the jurisdiction of the priestly-class to give form [or life] to the images of our stories.  Is it be reasonable to expect church leaders to initiate members of the community into the meaning of the images and display what it’s like when they’re brought to life — rather than just initiating them into the empty-images themselves alone?  Sure.  But that’s simply not the state of affairs we have right now, in a church of God informed by and operating under the doctrines and commandments of men.

All that means is that it’s on you [not them].  They administer the forms — but you must then go on to make that word flesh – you must bring the forms to life, give the image reality.  To just take the empty forms they administer and do nothing with them only perpetuates the whole problem.  Our calling is to take the images and create with them.

Bringing Them to Life:

Religion, myth, stories, ritual, etc. – it’s about the experience.  It all begins as an attempt to tell stories about a connection with God – of an experience of the transcendent level of being called Joy – the communion of a human being with The Supreme Being or Ultimate Doing.

In this form, it’s fluid – like poetry or metaphor.  Apostasy and false priesthoods come in as the story gets reduced to a creed, as the relative gets hardened into the absolute, as the poetry is taken as prose.  The reality behind the image, myth, or story is lost — and only thing that remains is the the empty shell what what’s left after meaning or purpose departs from something.

The religion itself, the actual stories, the stage show-like enactments of ritual – they are purely functionary.  When it has nothing to do with actually having the experience — if it becomes an empty-image, a form without life – then it’s as harmful as additions to processed food, pornography, or social media can be.

Religion is the religare – the connecting bonds of ligaments and tendons that knit us together.  When the ligaments remain fluid [the relative, right-brain, poetic form], then we relate to God as a continuous experience, as a state of Supreme Being.  We don’t prescribe ethical or moral codes – but act out of expediency and charity.

But when they atrophy [harden into the absolute, left-brain, creedal form] – instead of knitting us together, religion binds us down – God becomes the This-Thing that must be related to in That-Way, that you must now believe/do accordingly to get Him to respond to you.

Reading the scriptures, participating in the rituals, etc. – they are just the retelling or reenactment of someone else’s story.  It is in vain unless it is pursuant to you having the same experience – connecting to the same morphic field and seeing eye-to-eye with them.

We cannot look to another to give the ideas and forms of our religion life because that is our job.  The scriptures are just the stories of Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Lehi, Nephi, Abinadi, Jesus, Peter, Paul, Moroni, John, etc.  They are simply their stories about their experiences with God.

Their stories will not save you.  Reenacting events from their stories as rituals will not generate real Life or Joy in you.  Such things are meant to motivate you to get on the same pathway, to receive a similar connection with God, and to see eye-to-eye with them.

However, history has shown the Gentile church of God to be a hard-hearted and faithless bunch — content with having one person sit atop a hierarchal power-pyramid and habitually obey what he says.  They largely receive equal “experience quotient” from images and representations compared with the reality of what is being imaged and represented.  It’s why advertising works, it’s why industrial food is so widely consumed, it’s why people enjoy pornography so much, it’s why social-media is so popular.  But that’s receiving the image with no reality behind it.

When Life and Joy are about the happening — about human beings being about the same thing as the Supreme Being.

Next Article by Justin: … and I’m a Mormon

Previous Article by Justin:  Going from Concrete to Flowers


  1. Rubbish

  2. Wow — you’ve cut me right to the core with that one…

  3. Hey Justin,
    I love the stuff about the spiritual fight for mental realty. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, and quoting you all over the place.

    You know, it’s so funny, but it’s true, when there is one dominant morphic field, people just want it, they don’t even know why they do. I was talking to this homeless man the other day and he was saying that he wanted a better cell phone with a digital package and a large screen, and I was sort of like, “What for?”…

    And then I invited him into my home and gave him some food and we were talking about the things he likes to do, “drink beer, watch movies.”… I told him that I was trying to seriously curtail “watching” in our lives, and he was like, “it’s just pure entertainment, that’s what it is. It’s not bad”..–And this is where I brought in my Justin Philosophy, “Representations of reality on a screen?” I said, and I think he really heard me. It was just a simple enough way to frame it. It’s true. I think it’s really messed up our culture.

    because it’s not reality. I’ve been talking a lot to my daughter about this, too. This morning we woke up and she was watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (a show I watched when I was little, too). And Mr. Roger’s talks to the camera as though he were actually talking to *you* (but obviously, he’s not). And she said to me, “That’s a lie, mommy” and it’s true. I think you feel like there’s some sort of real interaction going on, but as you say, it’s “relationship porn” and it doesn’t end in Joy. It never does.

    And it also would seem (to me) that God wants us to keep all our mental pathways clear (to communicate with us through our real desires) and that we should keep from clouding them with advertising. My husband was just telling me last night that all of the media stations are owned by 6 corporations.

    Anyway, I think you are really onto something. We just moved our tv out of our main room yesterday. I’m all about unplugging and getting back to the real. People– that’s where the joy is. And also, the joy is trying to figure out what to do with all that free time that we have because we’re not watching our “fake friends.” What can we build?

  4. We too have been trying to get at what brings out the Joy naturally — instead of hoping that some doing will make it happen or that we’ll get it after we die in heaven.

    That Joy that people reach for — it bouquets out of life. It’s not something placed on top of things externally. It comes out of just Being — in accord with Jesus, resting securely in the Love He’s promised us, instead of trying to use spiritual disciplines [the ethics, the rituals, praying/meditating, etc.] as means to an end.

    The experience itself is the end.

    No missionary work needed, no advertisement — just create. Once a connection is made with that still-point, that Holy Grail, that kingdom of God within you [in the right-brain-heart], etc. — it’s the spring of living waters bubbling up to everlasting life [like John 4].

    My daughter calls it “that Happy-ness and that Love-ness“. I learn about the experience when she tells me where she feels it and where she doesn’t feel it: just recently, she told me she doesn’t feel it at church — but does feel it when we have our sacramental meal at home.

    Tells me all I need to know about where the Life can be found — and where only the image or show of Life is at. The show on Sunday is fine — but we try to remember that it’s just for show — just a little act on stage.

    It’s useless if it’s not brought to life at home.

  5. Excellent post! I haven’t finished all of it yet. I was hoping to write a post about myths but you beat me to it. And you expressed it better than I could have.

    The simplest way I’ve been able to describe with myths are is this:

    Myths are truth stories.

    They aren’t true stories(literal histories), nor are they false stories(lies). Rather, they are vehicles to convey truth that is applicable in our lives(truth stories).

  6. I needed this right now. To know I am not alone in my thoughts on all of this, to know I am not crazy or if I am crazy that I am crazy with the “right” people. Ha!

    I believe in a similar fashion and lately I have been unable to call myself a Mormon because of it. Is one a “true” Mormon is they do not take everything in the rigid literal? I started to feel I couldn’t be much like I can’t call myself a vegetarian if I eat meat. But now I’m not so sure. Isn’t this what Mormonism is at its core, its base? I don’t know the answer to that with 100% certainty but suffice it to say it’s been on my mind. This post came to me at just the right time. Thanks for continuing to be so thought-provoking and soul-stirring, Justin! I have missed our conversations over on Facebook.


  7. Hey Maggie — some of what got me thinking about myths initially came from a comment thread on your husband’s profile. He asked how we are supposed to take our traditional narratives when we can’t take them literally anymore.

    In answering his question — I wrote that to take something literally is related to the literature — the word, the story, etc. I wrote, for example, that Aphrodite is real — not because a physical woman was historically birthed by the foam created in an ocean by castrated testes — but because she is how Greeks/Romans personified and dealt with Love, and love is real — love exists.

    A myth is taken literally when you live with fidelity to the story — taking the words seriously, and making that system of images and ideas become fleshy and alive in you — the stories are “real” insofar as you live them out, create something physical with them by embodying them in yourself, etc.

    Can unorthodox members “be Mormon”? Sure. You are Mormonism as it is taken literally by you. Someone can’t dislike Mormonism — but like Mormons. They dislike Mormonism as lived out by this person — but like Mormonism as it is lived out by that person.

  8. I liked what your daughter said about not feeling the “happy-ness” at church meetings.

    Recently our most progressing investigator told us that she dosent feel the “happy-ness” at church. She said it seems like everyone at our church seemed like empty bodys. My companion asked her what she thought she could do so that she would feel the “happy-ness” at church. She replied, “I could go to a different church”……cue lecture on proper lines of authority. According to my wonderful companion “other churches don’t have the authority to teach, so you won’t ever feel close to god there”

    The poor guy really believes it to.

    This post was very satisfying.

  9. Yeah — our activity rate is quite dismal — rough estimates indicate that we lose at least as many [if not more] converts than we gain.

    People can only “do” something as long as they have the energy to “work” at it. Where there is Joy, where there is the Spirit — the “activity” flows out of the person spontaneously or naturally.

    Yet the current approach to to keep ’em coming to church — as a way to make ’em feel the Spirit. It’s backwards.

    People aren’t stupid — it doesn’t take long for an interested investigator to realize that the Happy-ness and Love-ness they would feel in the spontaneous meetings with missionaries is lacking in our church meetings. The Spirit that manifests while studying the gospel in a more intimate setting with missionaries is not repeated in the meetinghouse.

    I just told a friend:

    To me — that’s a great lesson on what’s wrong with the current way of “doing” church. The religious experience is being brokered by an all-male merchant-class who deal in religious products and religious paraphernalia. It’s all image and no life — because the Life’s been suffocated by the Box we’ve put Her in.

    I think our current practice of assigning everything before church meetings for example [the songs, sermons, etc.] is based on the doctrines and commandments of men, which is why there is no one prophesying or healing or speaking in tongues, etc. during our meetings. The commandments of men are not accompanied by manifestations of power. To get back to a reliance on the Spirit, in which it is the Spirit that directs and guides the conducting of our meetings [and not any man or group of men], I think we need that room for spontaneity — because that’s how She works.

    Nobody should be selected beforehand to say prayers, or prepare talks, or prepare musical numbers, or be given sermon topics, or be given material from which to base a sermon on, etc. Because the scriptures say that if the Spirit is not given to you, then you should not speak. And the scriptures say that everything must be done at the moment, spontaneously, as the Spirit directs.

    There is no “spiritual gravity” drawing converts together — keeping them gathered in a body of the church of God.

  10. Myth & Legend taken literally:

  11. Absolutely nailed to the floor by this part:

    “But when they atrophy [harden into the absolute, left-brain, creedal form] – instead of knitting us together, religion binds us down – God becomes the This-Thing that must be related to in That-Way, that you must now believe/do accordingly to get Him to respond to you.”

    Hello to the formulatised modern day church. Followed by:

    “However, history has shown the Gentile church of God to be a hard-hearted and faithless bunch — content with having one person sit atop a hierarchal power-pyramid and habitually obey what he says. They largely receive equal “experience quotient” from images and representations compared with the reality of what is being imaged and represented. It’s why advertising works, it’s why industrial food is so widely consumed, it’s why people enjoy pornography so much, it’s why social-media is so popular. But that’s receiving the image with no reality behind it.”

    I think I’m going to go home and rethink how I LIVE my religion.

  12. Good — because if it’s not being lived, then it is dead.

  13. great post every thing i seen het a mark thanks for the blog

  14. Someone has way too much time on their hands.

  15. Someone has way too little content in their replies.

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