Friday, December 28, 2012

Mythopoeia: Building a rich fictional culture

Example of symbolism from Eden's Womb- "6id" pronounced "six-id" is shorthand for "Seeks It", which is, in turn, an acronym relevant to humanity's end-time spiritual quest:  the Soul's Emergent Evolving Knowledge Sustains, Impels, Transcends.  The snake imagery is fundamental to the story, and the central mountain with seventeen-rayed sun represent the destination of the epic quest--the 'Last Fell Capital of the Unpunished', DunCanon.

“May the Force be with you.”

Did you know that there is a religion known as Jediism, officially recognized by the US military, among other government institutions?

Jediism began, of course, as pure artificial myth, rooted in the fictional construction of a venerable religious order in the Star Wars movie series.

The art of building artificial mythology is called Mythopoeia, and it’s an important part of a good Fantasy and Science Fiction tale.  Tolkien popularized the term when he wrote a poem with that title in 1931; and he was, of course, a master at the art. He formulated thousands of years of Middle Earth history and legend, beginning with a creation myth—much more than actually made it to the pages of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  For him, Middle Earth Mythopoeia was a passion and a life work.

A more general term for this ‘research’ that Fantasy/Sci-Fi writers engage in as they develop their tales is ‘World Building’.  I call it writing a ‘Back Story’—stuff about individual characters and their world that might never make it into the story, but which informs their motivations and actions.  And since every culture is heavily defined by its founding myth and legend, I've paid much attention to Eden's Womb's Mythopoeia.  I have extensive back story notes – enough to eventually write several ‘prequels’.  It was forty years ago that I began work on what has become 'Eden's Womb', so in some sense it already has a rich ‘real’ history too.

In coming posts I’m going to share with you some of my ‘back story’ writings.  Today I’ll share a little taste:  the four couplet poem written in the 'Tight Rhymed Fourteener' form that I've pioneered and written about previously.  It's a poem introducing the StrongMother Naja and hints at the course of the plot.  And yes, I have written tens of thousands of words of Mythopoeia underlying these eight lines:

Since primal dawn I’ve conjured spawn, and into Chaos hurled.
Now fly at need, my living seed—approach yon hapless world.

Descend from height by dark of night; invade their misted skies,
There make from cloud an icy shroud—a clever snowflake guise.

Thy prisms train, my devious grain: enslave the witless sun
To scour the land with beacon’s hand—and seize their Chosen One.

He dwells, ‘tis said, where glaciers spread – “For lo!” the prophet cries,
“From ice-bound womb, ere crack of doom, our final King must rise.”

—Strongmother Naja, Book of Collected Inheritance


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