Traversing the Underground: Exploring Ancient Mythos


Article by David Rosales.

Ancient myths are the remnants of an age when oral traditions were the main way by which humans preserved and passed on knowledge. This may be the reason why multi-layered symbols and complex relations in stories awkwardly designed to fit differing messages into a form that we may now consider silly. Differing schools of scholarship have developed distinct theories when compiling, reconstructing, and interpreting these messages. Many keep their own “updated” versions which have morphed on their own into the age of the text when the written word defined the transferring and preservation of human knowledge.

Independently of the ways of reading different cosmogonic traditions espoused by academicians in related fields, who, like most professionals, are usually experts in a rather narrow area, there exists multiple other takes on them with different aims in mind. While the academician of the late 19th century may have been heavily influenced both by his own religious background, the politics of his country or university, those today are still not free from the burden of the scholarly traditions from which they learn. Each area of study carries useless appendages that take different spans of time to be completely caught off due to human ego. So entrenched are some of these despite their unfounded short-sightedness (Marxist political theory) or even unscientific fanciful projections(Freudian Psychoanalysis), that they form part of a modern scholar’s dogma.

The point being made here is that when approaching analysis and interpretation of abstract meanings of psychological import from ancient sources, a well-read underground lurker may be better off diving into the sources than listening to academic theories that are simply based on a different set of premises that are not necessarily more valid in a given context. To be fair when the modern politics of atheism and globalization happen to align themselves with a given interesting and elucidating point of view, it may be the case that academia finds itself on the unpopular side, while society at large ignores the situation or tries to snipe the particular scholars who dared come up with such ideas. This is the case with anything related to the historicity of Judeo-Christian Biblical accounts — mostly obvious shoplifting of symbology from other traditions, but distorted and made flat in order to appropriate and destroy the old.

Mythology, cosmogony, etc, present us with a fascinating area of exploration in a spirit of the underground that is not alien to the rebellious, distrusting but equally curious attitude of metal. Underground Metal tends to scorn petty contemporary superficiality, and is instead fascinated by the obscure well of information through the imagery of ancients, especially as channeled through continuous esoteric traditions through the centuries. The individualism and worship of the strong and independent that is central to the metal pathos lends itself to the exercise of exploring mythology, and not shying away from personal intepretations grounded in whatever knowledge and logical insight is available to us.

The following is a list of myth compilations by Donald Alexander Mackenzie recommended for such an activity:

  1. Teutonic Myth and Legend
  2. Egyptian Myth and Legend
  3. Indian Myth and Legend

But the exercise would not be complete without its own soundtrack, so to speak, although the intended effect here is different than a simple functional, background enhancer. The following are three conspicuously outstanding albums that strongly embody both the underground, elitist self-alienation, and mature stylistic expression kept organic. An unpetrified but mature style tends to sound simple and a little too familiar on the surface, but the proficiency in encoding communication in its musical coherence and hidden psychological power sets it appart as quality material.

  1. MercilessThe Awakening (1989)
  2. Crimson Relic – Purgatory’s Reign (1996)
  3. Serpent AscendingThe Enigma Unsettled (2011)

Franz Berwald’s excellent symphonies fit the bill for the last description, but it is important to preserve the consistency in metal voicing for this particular case. Richard Kieckhefer’s Forbidden Rites1 is recommended as well to go further with the the relations between metal pathos, esoterism, and occultism.

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10 thoughts on “Traversing the Underground: Exploring Ancient Mythos”

  1. HH says:

    Great piece, thanks.

  2. Phil says:

    I like reading old books/ancient myths because they are free-er of any modern ideology/bias, either inherent or assumed.

    1. LostInTheANUS says:

      Same, the only problem with reading ancient myths is that they’re translated from their original language, so some things can be vague due to the fact that one word may not have an equivalent in another language, but good publishers and translators put footnotes for those instances to point that out and explain it to hide any ambiguity or misunderstanding.

    2. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

      Me too.
      I’ve read Norse poems and stories (which were originally oral) recently, and after getting used to their dry prose and archaic language, I’ve enjoyed them more than most modern novels.

      1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

        The poems were better in old Norse, by the way. I don’t want to imply that the poems are dry, but translating poetry always messes it up.

  3. Chris says:

    Great write up, David. Thanks for sharing the links.

  4. Son of the Damned says:

    If you’re interested in ancient myths and narratives,you can also try out:

    -The Epic of Gilgamesh

    -The Seafarer(preferably in the Ezra Pound’s rendition).

    1. I second you on The Epic of Gilgamesh.
      Donald A. Mackenzie also published a book titled Myths Of Babylonia And Assyria.

    2. Pelagius says:

      Tolkien’s myth of creation in the Gnostic teachings is also interesting.

  5. Can you survive the blitzkrieg says:

    Crimson Relic is fucking great, I do want a physical copy, hopefully someone is too over it has one they may save from the trash if they so please

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