The Power of Myth and Symbols

Madeline-It's JUST a photo?
Madeline-It’s JUST a photo?

I have to laugh at how we dismiss our ancestors as superstitious primitives, while we are no different. And when I laugh, I make it a rule to always laugh at myself first.

I was watching a documentary on the power of symbols, like crosses and flags. When people are reminded of their own mortality, they are much more reluctant to deface a symbol.

“Oh, how silly we are,” I thought. Then I read that I would be very reluctant to poke a hole in the eye of a photo of a loved one, even though I know full well that it is just a photo. So I got a photo of my grand child-just one of many. I held a pencil over that eye and told myself, “It’s just a photo.” And I found I could not do it.

I just watched a documentary on the influence of the occult during the Third Reich. Himmler was totally into it, Goebbels saw the power and exploited it in propaganda, and no one knows for sure what Hitler thought. How silly. But do you remember when the first thing a prospective date asked was, “What’s your sign?” Because where the planets were when you were born will determine if we are going to get along.

Ronald Reagan consulted his horoscope to determine when he should be sworn into office as governor of California:

Early in his political career, Mr. Reagan scheduled his inauguration as Governor of California in January 1967 to take place at an odd time, 12:10 A.M. News reports at the time said the decision was made to take advantage of favorable astrological portents.

Good thing his horoscope never said, “This would be a good day to press that red button.”

Very educated, smart people don’t go in for this stuff-unless it involves a scientist, like Isaac Newton, who was up to his powdered wig in alchemy or Karl Jung, who was forced to write “Seven Sermons for the Dead,” he said, by poltergeists.

In those cases, very educated, smart people will make excuses, just as I did regarding the photo “I just don’t WANT to poke a hole in the photo.”  They will say Jung was an imaginative genius and “everybody” was into alchemy in Newton’s day.

Honesty is still the best policy. Myth and symbols influence us powerfully. Let’s just admit that before we go goose-stepping down Main Street wrapped in flags and waving crosses.





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