In the last couple of months, I took an online course with John Beckett at undertheancientoaks.com called Building a New Myth. This was a great time to take the course, because essentially it was an opportunity to examine his beliefs and therefore ask myself: Is this something I believe as well? At a time when we must question a great deal, it is comforting and stabilizing to understand the foundation for your beliefs, and consequently your behavior and spirituality.
What is it we believe? What do we believe that we may have learned unconsciously as children? What is it we believe now consciously by choice based on experience? These were some of the questions I asked myself as we slowly and methodically looked at each of the myths and beliefs put forth by Beckett. Each belief was like a cement block, and at the end he asked us to put them together. He also shared his straw model and asked us what we might change, add, or take away. And when we were done, there was a foundation for a myth to live by.
I particularly like how he defined everything, starting with: What is a myth? He defined it as a story to live by. Beckett said that the purpose of myth is to inform who we are, where we come from, where we belong—what is good and right and true. Myths inspire and encourage us to live with virtue and with valor.
There were exercises for each class, and after the first class I found myself rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to see what myths were shared in that story. My take was that there just might be an alternate reality where a ceiling can look like the night sky, there are some things that evil cannot dominate, animals are sentient and can communicate, and even if you didn’t know who you were while growing up, eventually you may become open to the truth. Not everything can be controlled by our will; some things are determined by the sorting hat (karma, perhaps). And while some tribes believe that bullying is a form of power, other tribes value, acknowledge, and respect individuals for their unique gifts. And sometimes you can reach or create this alternate reality just by believing in it, like finding the 9 ¾ train platform.
Some of the beliefs Beckett shared were that we are part of the Earth, the Earth is our Mother, we live in an inspirited universe, we are related to all beings, some beings have bodies and some beings don’t, everything is alive, and so even things are persons. As a practicing Druid and polytheist, you can probably guess where Beckett’s beliefs went. It was great!
Although the class is over and John will no longer be accepting assignments for review, you can still sign up and take his course, as each unit is an online video. The 7-module class was $50.00, and a description of the course with a recommended reading list is on his website, undertheancientoaks.com. I found it well worth the time and money.