Communicated via traditional stories, songs and sayings which are the distillation of countless ancestral memories, and their elaboration into profound truths which have their origins in real-world-events. Folklore is an inclusive and truly democratic framework for the genesis and propagation of culture. This generates unique forms of highly-accessible and easily memorable/ retrievable information. As far as a means of building complex culture, it’s nothing short of a stroke of genius.
These intricate cultural mythologies are – in another sense – narratives which define very real human interactions with the biosphere; as such they are techniques of orchestration, means of resource appropriation and allocation; moralities and values which define the appropriateness of behaviour and technology alike. These ‘stories’ fulfill vital economic roles, defining the perceived viability of a given action within the context of the wider ecosystem of cultural potential; and in extension the ecological viability of a given culture. Myths can imbue mountains, rivers, plants and animals with a sacredness of value to the functioning of the natural world and everything in it. Other myths, like the myth of human-supremacy and ‘progress’ can be used to justify ecocide and ethnocide on a scale that is almost unimaginable, but no less real for its enormity.
Objective realities – or what little of them we may claim to experience – are not nearly as important as the manifestations of belief: the ability of narratives to define the nature of our relationships to each other and to the non-human and external world is that which either sustains or destroys life. In this way, mythologies are not something which merely ‘happen’ in some materialist sense; they are not ‘real’ or measurable in physical space – instead they precede experience, and define the framework in which worlds are constructed. They are the means of measurement, not the unit thereof. The who (that sees) before the what (that is); the ‘being’ which precedes, observes and alters reality.