is widely presumed that myth and religion are two different things.
To the extent that religion involves a whole array of non-myth
elements – a moral code, a faith in a supreme being, and
an obedience to the Church – this is true. However, if
we focus on the primary element in religion, namely the Supreme
Being (or God), then religion and myth become synonymous. Indeed,
the conclusion of my life-long study of religion is that God
is actually the personification of myth.
God – the
personification of myth? The idea will sound weird to modern
ears, and many people
will think that I am denigrating
the Supreme Being. After all, the word ‘myth’, in
modern linguistics, is held to be synonymous with a fiction or
But this is not my definition of myth. Far from it.
fact, the word ‘myth’ derives from the ancient Greek
word muthos, which meant simply an ‘utterance’ or
tale’. And these utterances, or traditional tales – usually
concerning Gods and heroes – were generally considered
to be true stories.
in what sense can a myth be true?
the past two centuries, mythologists have been fixated by the
idea of historical truth.
They have sought to understand
myths as poetic portrayals of events in human history.
is a fundamental mistake.
to Greek times, ancient civilisations had very little interest
in history as we understand
that term. Rather
than seeing the
past in terms of a linear history, they saw it as a repeating
of cycles – the day, the month, the year, the reign
of the king, and the periods of the planets and stars.
At the beginning
of each of these cycles, the creation was renewed and time
began again. As for human beings, their machinations served
only to validate
this great cosmic mystery play. As Mircea Eliade writes
in 'The Myth of the Eternal Return':
past is but a prefiguration of the future. No event is irreversible
and no transformation is final. In a certain
sense, it is even
possible to say that
nothing new happens in the world, for everything is but the repetition
of the same primordial archetypes; this repetition,
the mythical moment
when the archetypal gesture was revealed, constantly maintains
the world in the same auroral instant of the beginnings.
and historical truth were thus alien concepts to
the ancient mind. For the ancient myth-makers,
truth lay rather
in the primordial cosmic drama
the Universe had been created and brought to life. The only
true story in town was the myth of the genesis of the earth,
and all living things.
In short, the myth of creation.
ancient civilisations had their creation myths. The stories in
the Old Testament Book
of Genesis are but a reflection of
told in ancient
Egypt and Mesopotamia from at least 3000 BC. Indeed, the
further back we go, the more dominant the creation myth becomes – to
an extent that has yet to be fully apprehended by scholars.
the creation myth lies the Supreme Being, who was worshipped
by the ancients under a variety of names and guises.
This Great God – or indeed Goddess – was
the Creator of all things, and thus the cognate of Religion
in the sense that He-She bound mankind back to its origins
(the word ‘religion’ derives
from the Latin religare ‘to bind back’).
or what, was this Supreme Being? In what sense was
He-She the Creator of the Universe and mankind?
out of your mind all those images of God as an Old Man with a
just absurd. Consider instead the evidence from the
world’s oldest civilisations – Egypt
and Mesopotamia. Here, in the creation myths, the
Great God, or Goddess, personifies the formative cosmos. He,
is identified with the
death of the old cosmos;
with the fall of the sky and the seeding of the earth;
with the chaos of the primeval earth and waters; with the separation
of the heavens
from the earth;
and with the new-born Sun, Moon, and stars. In short,
the God and Goddess personify the entire myth of creation and
the entire created Universe.
lies the key to the modern concept of God. As the Creator, God
by definition becomes his
star-god, a nature-god,
a god of this river and that river, a god of this
tribe and that tribe. But He is always much more than his
is mysteriously greater
than the sum of his parts. His pure essence is
thus said to be the Divine Soul, or Spirit, or Intelligence.
form, God stirred
himself to life, created the Universe, filled it,
and surrounded it. Thus He became immortal, invisible,
omnipresent – visible
and yet invisible, closer than we can possibly
conceive, and yet further away than we
can possibly imagine.
God is not a person. Rather, he is a personification. He personifies
the ‘true’ story
of the creation of the Universe. In this sense,
God is the personification of myth.
the ancients worshipped God under many different names and guises,
region or city had
its own local
traditions. Thus in Egypt
was known variously as Atum, Re, Khnum, Amun,
Osiris, Horus, and Thoth, whilst in Mesopotamia
as Anu, Enlil, Enki, Utu,
And for each God there was a corpus of myth
which described how he had created the
Universe. The same went for the Goddess too,
who was known in Egypt as Hathor, Isis and
Ninharsag, Mami and Inanna.
only to mention the most popular names.
behind this multiplicity there was only ever One God, One Goddess,
and One Creation – by definition. The ancients knew
this well, and would have much to say about the modern-day
the devotees of Judaeo-Christianity
lies the key to the future unity of all Gods and all religions.
did not appear with the establishment of Judaism, nor with the
nor with the
and Mesopotamia. No, as
the Creator of the Universe, God existed
from the beginning of time, by definition.
knowledge of this eternal, ever-unchanging axiom, the chasm
between pagan religions
and modern religions
and the scattered ‘truths’ of
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can
be reunited into the One Great Truth
of the One Great God – a God
who by definition cannot be the God
tribe or the other but must be the
God of all humanity.
principle is straightforward enough,
and many people intuitively will
know it to be
difficult part, though, is to resolve specific points of disagreement
For example, was
Christ the Son of God,
as Christianity maintains, or just
another prophet, as Islam maintains?
do this, there is only one way forward and it involves going
backwards – into
the past. If we can understand
how religion evolved over the millennia, then we stand our
best chance of reconciling the modern-day differences.
my work has focused on deciphering
the meaning of the
world’s ancient religions,
notably those of Egypt, Mesopotamia,
and Greece. It has become apparent
to me (as it
has to many scholars) that
Judaeo-Christianity and Islam
stem in very large
part from these older religions.
But it has also become apparent
to me that all of these religions
can be unified
if we look beyond
their differing exoteric forms
to perceive the sameness of
their innermost esoteric meanings.
And the key to this potential
unification is the
God, in all of his many names,
personifies the myth of creation,
in all of its many forms.
God, One Creation.
a myth in the sense of a fiction or a lie, but a
myth in the sense
of a true
to the ancient
mind – the
creation of the Universe,
of life, and of mankind.
the linked articles, I summarise the results
(for much lengthier
see my books) and invite
you to compare and consider:
expressed aim, in making
lay the groundwork
for an eventual unification
of all the