Mythic Polygenesis

Have you ever found an article so exciting and facinating that you knew you had to write and share it but neglected to for months? “Myths Over Miami” sat in my bookmarks for over half a year after I first read it after Neil Gaiman pointed it out in his journal. Tonight I’ve finally cleared out all my old bookmarks except for this one and it needs to finally be mentioned so those folks who pass by here and haven’t read it can have the chance.
Folklore is one of my strongest interests, part of my deep appreciation and obsession with storytelling in general. I love exploring how folkstories are developed and the connections their evolutions create and splinter. From Jesus to Huldra and the Wild Hunt to Robin Hood, the richness of our collective myths is astounding. Especially facinating to me is when myths emerge that combine multicultural motifs to form distinct new stories.
Myths Over Miami” presents a jarring and stark mythology that has developed in various parts of the world among homeless children. Their stories are incredibly dark and opposed to those traditional religion.

This is the secret story shelter children will tell only in hushed voices, for it reveals Bloody Mary’s mystery: God’s final days before his disappearance were a waking dream. There were so many crises on Earth that he never slept. Angels reported rumors of Bloody Mary’s pact with Satan: She had killed her own child and had made a secret vow to kill all human children. All night God listened as frantic prayers bombarded him. Images of earthly lives flowed across his palace wall like shadows while he heard gunfire, music, laughing, crying from all over Earth. And then one night Bloody Mary roared over the walls of Heaven with an army from Hell. God didn’t just flee from the demons, he went crazy with grief over who led them. Bloody Mary, some homeless children say the spirits have told them, was Jesus Christ’s mother.

This inventive continuation of myths (mostly Christian) shows that these children are forming genuinely new and complex myths to reflect their harsh lives.
There is also a sense of righteous struggle in these stories. The children feel helpless and are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds both mythically and in their real lives. There is a consistant theme that, even though the good may lose, it’s always better to struggle and fail than to give in to evil.

“One thing I don’t believe,” says a seven-year-old who attends shelter chapels regularly, “is Judgment Day.” Not one child could imagine a God with the strength to force evildoers to face some final reckoning. Yet even though they feel that wickedness may prevail, they want to be on the side of the angels.

This bleak view coupled with conviction to stand for good is full of such remarkable sophistication for such young people that it must give us pause as we try to understand the effects of poverty and other social ills on the most vulnerable. There is a message in all art and these emergent myths hold ones we should heed and take as a call to our duty to create positive change, to make this struggle for good less futile.

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