Woden’s Day Wisdom: Origin of the Hero – and why it’s needed

June 17, 2009

Super-hero movies are the golden boys of Hollywood these days, but success breeds contempt as fans struggle with just what it is that makes a “good super-hero movie.” Again and again we hear, “origin movies are cliché,” “don’t make origin films,” “long drawn-out origins are boring.”

The evidence, however, does not bear this out. What’s more, the origin of the hero is an essential part of just what makes a hero epic. Without an origin a story is just a day-in-the-life, but with an origin it becomes mythic.

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: LOLcat finds religion

May 20, 2009

Not every legend at Monomythic.com need be millennia old, here’s one that’s been around for less than a decade.

Yes, LOLcat, the bane of internet intellectuals and boon of every tween to discover e-mail forwarding, but what does this oft-derided web meme have to do with the origins of myth?

Simple: it is mythmaking in action.

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: Gilgamesh, First Action Hero

May 13, 2009

We’ve already talked about how Gilgamesh inspired Dragonball, but the ancient King of Uruk was a lot more than just a brawler.

He was an action hero.

In a lesser known legend of the Two-Thirds God, Gilgamesh fought Akka, his old commander and mentor, and did so with the bad-assery of today’s grittiest celluloid brawlers.

In this story, Gish (our name for Gilgamesh) is a young demigod. He learned a lot about the ways of the world from Akka, king of Kish. It was through Akka that Gish gained his first real tastes of leadership, but with the safety of a people under his protection, Gish felt compassion.

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: That Time Thor Wore Drag

May 6, 2009

Sure in the comics, Thor’s been a woman and there have been women (and girls) who have tried to take his place, but back in the land of the ice and snow they tell the tale of Thor’s wedding day and forsaking the dignity of the God of Thunder, it’s absolutlely hilarious.

In the 800-year-old-poem Thrymskvida the great Thor is shown at his best – well, his finest anyway.

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: Hero Twins, Original Ballers

April 29, 2009

Long before we began to worship athletes on TV, long before the invention of basketball – heck, before man walked on the Earth – the first ballplayers were winning games and signing autographs.

They were playing…

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: Once and Future King – Of Mexico

April 22, 2009

Most people know the legend of King Arthur, but not enough know about the once-and-future king of Mexico, Cē Ācatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl. This hero-king has just as much right to have cheesy movies, over-the-top cartoons and avant-garde comic books about him as Arthur does.

Say what you will about Mel Gibson, Apocalypto helped raise awareness for the sheer awe and grandeur of Mesoamerican civilization.

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: Holdfast, the ultimate super-villain

April 15, 2009

darkseidThe monomyth is famous as a way to describe the journey of the hero, oft cited by writers, novelists and moviemakers as their main source of inspiration, but anthropologist Joseph Campbell’s seminal work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, was about a lot more than heroes.

After all, what good is a hero without a villain?

He is Lex Luthor trying to stop Superman from making a better world, Magneto resisting the thought of peace, Darth Vader clinging to his childhood pain. Campbell called this archetypal bad guy Holdfast, and yet the word has never entered the popular lexicon.

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: From Gilgamesh to Goku

April 8, 2009

It’s more or less common knowledge that the original Dragonball manga was based on the Buddhist legend Journey to the West about the Monkey King who had a flying cloud and a size-changing staff asked a great dragon to grant his wish before going on a journey with a shape-shifting pig and a dessert nomad. The story is pretty popular worldwide, and is the basis of numerous movies and even a rock opera.

What strikes me though, is how much Dragonball Z seems reminiscent of another, much older tale: The Epic of Gilgamesh.

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Woden’s Day Wisdom: Odin’s brother was the mother of his horse

April 1, 2009

Wednesday was named for the father of the Germanic gods, Woden himself, so in honor of that mythic patriarch, every hump day a different myth, legend or history will be spotlighted. Why not kick it off with the story of Woden’s horse?
Woden, known as Odin to most, wasn’t the nicest guy in the nine worlds. Sure, his friend Loki (better known as his son Loki) was worse, but to be fair, Odin was pretty mean to the children of his supposed blood brother.

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