Thursday, May 15, 2014

Merging Myth And Science...!

How many times do we totally write off creation myths about a certain place, then find out later that the myths were not that far off from the actual science of their creation?

Crater Lake, the deepest lake in north America, is one such place. Interestingly, the myths and the science are very similar in many aspects. Here is an article that shows just how close they both are!

The Surprisingly Accurate Myth Of The Creation Of Crater Lake
By Debra Kelly on Friday, May 9, 2014

Oregon’s Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed by many, many volcanic eruptions over thousands of years. It’s only with the relatively recent development of sonar that we’ve been able to map the bottom of the lake and understand just how it was formed. Local Native American tribes have known for generations and generations, though, and have passed down stories of volcanic eruptions in their mythologies, describing great spirits who darkened the skies, collapsed a mountain, and hurled fire.

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, with a maximum depth of 549 meters (1,949 ft). That’s only the current depth, as scientists have found that the lake bed has risen and fallen many times, and the geological formations in and around the lake tell the story of a turbulent volcanic history.

First the myths, then the science.

Myths of the local Native American tribes have been passed down from generation to generation; for how long, we don’t really known because of the oral nature of their storytelling traditions. There are a number of legends surrounding Crater Lake and the creation of not only the lake itself, but also the island in the middle, now known as Wizard Island.

According to one myth of the Klamath tribes, there was once a great battle within their people. One side laid siege to the other, and the besieging group prayed to the Great Spirit for aid. Aid came, beginning with a trembling deep within the Earth. The top of the mountain broke and fell into the Earth, swallowing those that had started the rebellion. When the tremors finally ceased, the warriors saw that the rupture in the Earth had caused the lake to form where there had been none before, and the spirits of the dead had been turned into sea creatures.

Another version of the story more directly references the volcanic activity we now know was responsible for the formation of the lake.

Llao, the god of the Below-World and Skell, god of the Upper-World, both fell in love with the same maiden. There was a great battle between them for her hand, and their quarrel caused the destruction of the mountain La-o Yaina. The mountain began to smoke first, running with fires that threatened to engulf the surrounding area. Three religious men sacrificed themselves in order to stop the destruction, and the fires were finally extinguished by Snaith, who controlled the waters and the storms, bid by Skell to fill the ruinous crater that their fighting had caused.

Yet another version of the story gives a warning as to why any adventurous souls should stay away from the lake. In a fierce battle between the earth and the sky, it’s said that the mountain shook, fire poured from the mouth of the mountain, and flaming rocks and debris in turn fell from the sky and started fires for miles around. Those that lived around the lake—then called Klamath Lake—prayed to the spirits to stop their fighting and sacrificed two of their most religious men. The spirits were appeased, and the storms came and extinguished the fires and filled the lake. They passed the story down from generation to generation, telling everyone to stay away from the lake lest they anger the spirits again. Now, the science.

The stories of collapsing mountains and fire raining from the skies aren’t just describing a single cataclysmic event, they’re describing part of a 420,000-year-long history of volcanic activity. The original volcanoes were located to the east of what is now Crater Lake, and over thousands of years, these volcanoes went extinct and gave rise to others. Mount Mazama, the volcano that formed Crater Lake, is a relatively young 30,000 years old. Over the centuries, lava and pressure slowly built up within the mountain until it erupted—7,700 years ago.

That eruption spread ash and pumice over most of the Pacific Northwest and southern Canada. The mountain did, indeed, collapse in on itself, weakened by the volume of magma that had been building up over the years. When the tremors stopped, what was once a mountain was now a crater about a mile deep.

Also like the myths, storms came and filled the new crater, called a caldera. And also like the myth that warns people that angering the spirits will cause them to wage war again, scientists think that it’s likely the volcano will once again erupt with potentially tragic consequences.

I'm thinking that just maybe we should take a little longer to listen to some of the old story tellers as they explain the myths of how things came to be. Could be that we all could learn a little something, ya know? Thanks to the folks over at KnowledgeNuts for this article!


Chickenmom said...

Well I must say that those fighting warriors did a good job of giving us one of the most beautiful lakes ever seen! Good one, Mr. Hermit! It's a Lorna Doone day - I'll bring a big box.

linda m said...

There is a lot to be said for those myths. I think there is a more truth in them than fiction. Cold and raining here. HAd to turn the furnace back on this morning as it was only 62 in the house. Brrrr

JO said...

Good post this morning. I would love to see this lake someday. The lore of the Indians is always so magical.

So far no wind this morning hope it stays like this.

Rob said...

In the last myth, human sacrifice appeased the gods 7,700 years ago. Seems to have worked as the volcano stopped.

I wonder what we're going to do to try & stop today's climate change?

Dizzy-Dick said...

If it starts to rumble and boil again, do you think it would make it worse of appease it if we threw all the politicians in as a sacrifice? It would probably spit them back out. . .

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
It is very pretty, isn't it? I'd like to go there someday!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda M...
There always seems to be a kernel of truth in all of the old tales.

Cold and rainy is not a good thing!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
Like you, I want to see it someday. The older myths are fun to study.

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Hey Rob...
Maybe it's time for some more sacrifices. Better too many than not enough!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Dizzy...
Might be a bad idea to use them. Don't want to leave a bad taste with the big boys, ya know?

Thanks for coming over today!

justastick said...

Before man learned to write, he had to rely on his memory to learn anything. For this he had to b a good listener. A good story teller was always respected. He could easily find an audience, eager to devour every exciting bit of information in their stories. These stories were also shared with others in far away lands, when people traveled. The stories traveled with them. And when they returned home, they brought with them exciting new tales of exotic places and people.