WILLIAM EDELEN: Homo Storialus


isis and horus

The Contrary Minister

Biologists may classify us as Homo sapiens, “The Wise One,” but I would call us Homo storialus, the animal who tells stories. We tell them through folklore, legend and myth. We then act them out in ritual. It is safe to say that stories plus ritual equal religion. Stories are the threads by which we weave the tapestry of our culture, our religions and traditions.

The literalistic skeptic says: “I don’t want legends. I want facts.” He does not understand the observation made by D. H. Lawrence that there are two kinds of truth, a truth of truth and a truth of facts. A truth of facts has to do with dates, names and places and so forth. But a truth of truth is revealed through legend, myth, folklore and fairytales and has to do with the inner world of the imagination and emotions. They reveal the inner shape and contour of our minds, our longings and needs, our spirits.

We are now entering a beautiful, lovely period of folklore, legend, fantasy and myth.

“We Three Kings of Orient Are” is a perfect example. A beautiful carol, but no one has any idea how many wise men there were. There could have been two or fifty. And they were not Kings and they did not come from as far away as the Orient. They were magicians and came from no further away than Persia. The magicians were not Hebrew and would have been considered pagans. At any rate, through folklore, they and their three camels are with us every Christmas.

We forget that long before the birth of Jesus, Egyptians worshiped before statues of the virgin mother, Isis, suckling her child, Horus, who was miraculously conceived in a stable. Early Christians, for 500 years after the death of Jesus, still worshiped before the statues of Isis suckling her divine child Horus.

We forget that 600 years before Jesus was born, in Persia and India, there was the virgin birth of Mithras with shepherds present. Mithras became known as “the Son of God”… the Way, the Truth and the Light, as well as The Good Shepherd. Everyone knows that December 25th is not the factual, actual birthday of Jesus. It is not a truth of fact. A truth of truth is that all gods were born of virgins during the Winter Solstice in mythology. This included Jesus, Osiris, Mithra, Horus, Marduk, Sol, Saturn and Apollo, among countless others.

Legends, folklore and mythology are the raw materials of our spiritual life and traditions. Where would they end? We are still the storytelling animal who celebrates annually the stories that enrich our lives and the inner world of our emotions and our souls. We still hunger for a story that will in some way dramatize a meaning to our existence. A meaning that gives our lives significance.

It is in our inner world that we take the threads of stories and weave the tapestry of our own life… and the world we live in… a world that is our very own… truth of truth.





There is another truth in between, ‘oral history’, passed on through generations in cultures who have, or did not have, the written word. Oral history, not that of legends and myths, but history which tells us how peoples have lived, their rules and traditions, ought to be an important part of ‘factual’ truth and recognised as such by historians.
I understand when you say “truth of truth” with a “meaning that gives our lives significance” as you put it. However I would not call it truth, because it allows anyone to make his or her own truth into an ideology to be followed and accepted by others. I think the religious fanaticism, exercised by followers of various faiths at the moment, shows that it is not the search for truth and meaning in life but the adherence to folklore as truth. This perception of what people want to be true, and call truth, will be the destruction of all of us if it is allowed to be considered fact.

Homo sapiens is probably best defined as “thinking one” or “reasoning one.” He is certainly not the “wise one!” I am proposing that ritual is not necessary to religion and is really a phase of immature faith or religion. Christianity is about relationship with the Divine. Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said you must be born again. The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound thereof. But you cannot tell where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 5-8) Ritual is perhaps necessary for the early learning, but must evolve to the open dynamism of honest relationship and intimacy with the Divine. “After faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal 3: 25) As a Christian, I don’t care about the “fact” of an incorrect birthdate known as Christmas. I am celebrating the Incarnation, Emmanuel, God the Spirit, the Creator, the High and Holy one who inhabits eternity and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit….” (Is 57:15) My God is a God of relationship. Love is an open, dynamic door, not bound in ritual.