heavens are] the most neutral space--no nations lay claim
to the heavens--[they are] undefined without top, bottom
and sides and are accessible to every human being.
- Gavin Jantjes, 1996
Art • Language Arts
and folktales are the world's oldest stories. People have
told myths and folktales since language was created, keeping
them alive and vital through the centuries by word of mouth.
Myths and folktales are important in every world culture.
A society without stories about its beginnings, its heroes,
and its deepest values is like a person without a name,
a family without roots. A myth is an anonymous, traditional
story that explains a belief, a custom, or a mysterious
natural phenomenon. The word myth comes from the Greek word
muthos, which simply means "story." Myths had
specific purposes in their cultures. In every culture, however,
the main functions of myths were:
explain the creation of the world and the universe.
To explain the human condition: how and why people were
created, why they are flawed, why there is suffering in
the world, why people must eventually die, and what happens
to people after death.
To explain natural phenomena, such as the setting of the
sun and the phases of the moon.
To explain the nature of gods and goddesses and how these
deities and humans interact.
To explain rituals, customs, and beliefs.
To explain historical events.
To teach moral lessons.
of the hero and the heroic quest occur in nearly every world
culture. If we look closely at the hero tales from all over
the world and compare them, we find what the American mythologist
Joseph Campbell called the mono-myth - literally, “the
one story.” This mono-myth, or archetypal heroic quest
story, has remarkably the same structure from culture to
culture, but is really the same hero underneath, facing
the same kinds of challenges. Today, movie heroes Luke Skywalker
and Indiana Jones serve as modern versions of the quest
Jantjes Mythology Paintings
Monuments Fund List of Most Endangered Sites
Myth Lesson Plan