Mythosphere

atkins-bookshelf-wordsDefinition: the source of sacred stories that explain the origins of the universe and life; the sacred narratives that permeates human life.

Related word: mythopoeia (the making of myths)

Etymology: The portmanteau word (myth + sphere) was coined by Alexander Eliot, a mythologist and former art critic for Time magazine. Eliot explains the meaning of the word this way: “We’re all aware that [the atmosphere] surrounds, protects, nourishes, and energizes the world out there. The mythosphere does all that too, but for the world in here [the soul].” Phil Cousineau, a filmmaker who is an expert on mythology (recognized for carrying on the work of the legendary mythologist Joseph Campbell) and a prolific author, elaborates: “[The Mythosphere] was  thousands of years in the making… it exists in our psyches as stories that ‘ineffably touch the heart.’ They are part of the cultural air that we breathe, and can help reconnect to a dimension outside of time and space. For this reason, myths have ‘shuddering relevance,’ and in most ancient cultures myths have been regarded as truer than so-called facts.” It was Henry David Throueau, the quintessential American author, philosopher, and naturalist who embraced this nature of myth: “Myth may be the closest man has ever gotten to the truth [of the soul].” British novelist and mythographer, Marina Warner, adds this insight: “Writers don’t make up myths; they take them over and recast them.” Indeed, the age-old myths contained in religious texts and literature are the eternal wellspring for writers, artists, and filmmakers.

Read related posts: My Favorite Words – Simon Winchester
Words Invented by Dickens

For further reading: Wordcatcher by Phil Cousineau, Viva Editions (2010)

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