On Stories, Our Stories

Poor little birdie teased, by the 19th-century English illustrator Richard Doyle depicts an elf as imagined in English folktales.

Poor little birdie teased, by the 19th-century English illustrator Richard Doyle depicts an elf as imagined in English folktales.

There is so much fantastic fiction out there that captures the minds of children and adults alike, but in my opinion, none have done so in quite the way that the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series have done in our lifetimes.  Though written in the modern age, both tales are teeming with classic European themes and archetypes.

Boromir’s death is the absolute pinnacle in the LOTR series.  Self sacrifice is a clear, key element in the collective Western Mythos.  The God Tyr and, of course, Christ, come to mind immediately.  The hero who gives himself up for the greater good of his group, his friends, and his people is as old a concept in mythology as any.  Harry Potter in The Deathly Hallows takes his final walk into the woods to meet Voldemort knowing well that he will die so that his world may be peaceful for those he loves once again.  He too, in a Christ-like or Balder-like way, returns from death.

It is my belief that movies and books such as these and even Star Wars and The Hunger Games have been replacing the need in the collective unconscious for religious heroes.  ”Popular culture” has gone out of its way since the social revolution of the 1960’s to discredit and defame religion of any kind in the Western world.

We’ve all heard a million times from fart-sniffing lefty liberal types that to believe in God is stupid, that He’s just a “flying spaghetti monster”, that life is just one giant accident, etc.  Regardless of your opinion on Christianity as an institution, a lack of religiosity in society equates to a lack of morality.  The impact that this giant accident mentality has had on our culture is immense.  Turn on the radio right now and on any given channel, you are GUARANTEED to hear a song with one of the following themes, possibly word for word:

-“Live it up tonight ‘cause there might not be a tomorrow…”

-“Drink with my friends and be a degenerate while I’m still ‘young’…”

-“DJ play my song just one more time, since I might not be hearing it again since there might not be a tomorrow, most likely due to my own degenerate behavior and excessive drinking…”

This “YOLO” mentality is a direct result of the moral depravity and general spiritual and cultural nihilism forced upon us by the powers that be.  Though I doubt they realize it, the mass media tools they use to propagate this nonsense are also the tools by which many people find themselves enthralled in the cinematic retelling of our old Folk Tales in the forms of these modern series.

Han Solo in his swaggering, lady-loving, take-no-bullshit-from-nobody tough guy ways has many Thor-like qualities to me.  Luke Skywalker, the son of the evil Darth Vader, fights to end his father’s reign of terror, much like Zeus and his father, Cronus.  Cronus was warned in a prophecy of his son overthrowing him, much like Voldemort was warned through prophecy that a boy would be born who would someday overthrow him. Dumbledore and Gandalf are both clearly Merlin-like characters who is, himself, as Odinic as a character can get.  The parallels are massive and at this point, to list more examples would  be very redundant.

Modern literature and cinema lovers read these stories and watch these movies for the same reason men have always read and told tales.  They give us hope, teach us important lessons about conduct in every day life, entertain us with love, tragedy and comedy, force us to introspect, and most importantly, they give us a sense of belonging.  To lovers of the aforementioned series, do yourself a favor and find out where it all comes from.  Read The Volsung SagaThe Iliad and The Odyssey, or countless other classic tales.

Though not originally of European origin, even The Bible’s massive influence on our culture cannot be overlooked and it would do one much good to have a working knowledge of it.  You’ll find the characters you love have been reincarnated for our entire existence as Europeans in our stories.  After reading them, reflect on the similarities and differences between them.  Understand the differences and similarities of the times which bore them.  Think back on the story tellers who have given us these archetypes, from the first Cro-Magnon men and women to endure Mother Europe’s harsh ice age, to the comfort of your parents’ lap as they read you the stories you loved as a child.  Share them with your children, too.

Our stories are our souls.



The importance of great literature in the transmission of culture, which includes the formation of character, can hardly be overestimated. The danger now is that it is powerless to compete with the tidal wave of baseness and mediocrity we imbibe 24/7 from the mass media. Everyone has to take responsibility for what he or she takes in, culturally, as much as for what he or she takes in, nutritionally.

To your examples I would add Virgil’s Aeneid, translated by Robert Fitzgerald; Beowulf, translated by Alan Sullivan and TIm Murphy; Dante’s Divine Comedy (many good translations); Njal’s Saga; Shakespeare’s tragedies and history plays; Don Quixote; Paradise Lost; the works of Daniel Defoe; of Herman Melville; of Charles Dickens; of Dostoevsky; Sienkiewicz’s With Fire and Sword; Frederick Turner’s sci-fi epic poems, The New World & Genesis; and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels.

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