I’ve been reading The Golden Bough recently – an old 1920s work on myth and magic in ancient societies around the world. It talks a lot about vegetation deities – corn gods, maize gods, rice gods, etc. There are striking parallels in early beliefs around the world, in places that as far as we know had developed separately. The idea of plants being personified in a god that dies in the winter and is resurrected in the spring is repeated again and again and again, with different names and details.
As spring has arrived here in England, I have understood why the idea of resurrection is so pervasive. All through the winter it was so dark and bleak…
… and then suddenly one morning a few weeks ago I walked out of my door and was almost blinded by sunlight and cherry blossoms….
I can see how this would have appeared a divine miracle to people around the world, especially as they were dependent on the health of plants and crops for their survival. As spring has continued, the sun and the warmth and the flowers everywhere have changed my mood completely. I find it easier to get up, I have more energy, I feel more optimistic. I feel a kind of resurrection within myself.
The Golden Bough is a huge book, about 800 pages of very dense, small type, so I won’t be posting a full review for a while, but I am reading on, a little bit at a time, and finding it fascinating.
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WOW. What a beautiful post, Andrew! I was feeling FANTASTIC for about a week as spring started to come. Then the temperature dropped to freezing and I woke up to a 1/2 of snow this morning. WTF? Looks like the resurrection isn’t ready to happen yet. Ugh!
That book sounds absolutely fascinating. I can’t wait for your review!
I love the Golden Bough. But an even better work on myth and magic and ancient societies around the world is Joseph Campbell’s four-volume “The Masks of God” (ca 2000 pages). A very accessible read, Campbell was influenced in his writing by Joyce, Mann and C.G.Jung.
Thanks for the recommendation, Meike! It does sound good – will read that after I’ve finished The Golden Bough, although perhaps with a short break in-between 🙂
Lady Glamis, I think I spoke too soon re the spring – it’s turned cold again here too!