This past week I have been reading the classic A Hero With A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. Although it is quite academic, it is also an incredibly powerful book. (Hey- people are still reading it past the turn of the century- do you need more proof?)
The book is all about heroes and mythology. The journey a hero must go through, and how these patterns are played out time and time again.
The forward to the 2004 edition (I couldn’t find the author- sorry! – I believe it was Phil Cousineau) talks about how children in the Hungarian countryside were traditionally expected to learn 12 stories by the time they were twelve years old.
Here is the quote-
There was a serious piece of advice given by the very old people in our family. It was that every child ought to know twelve complete stories before that child was twelve years old. Those twelve tales were to be a group of heroic stories that covered a spectrum—of both the beautiful and the hellacious—from lifelong loves and loyalties, to descents, threats, and deaths, with rebirth ever affirmed. No matter how much “much” a person might otherwise possess, they were seen as poor—and worse, as imperiled—if they did not know stories they could turn to for advice, throughout and till the very end of life.
What are we without our stories? How can we live a decent live without this knowledge?