The Crystal Skull Narrative, Developing theory and methodology for the study of composite myths in new religious movements through the analysis of an exemplary narrative

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The Crystal Skull Narrative, Developing theory and methodology for the study of composite myths in new religious movements through the analysis of an exemplary narrative

Type: Master thesis
Title: The Crystal Skull Narrative, Developing theory and methodology for the study of composite myths in new religious movements through the analysis of an exemplary narrative
Author: Jong, Wilhelmina Johanna de
Issue Date: 2015-09-25
Keywords: Crystal Skulls, modern mythology, narrativism, new religious movements
Abstract: Years ago a fascinating story with a true ‘Indiana Jones’ feel to it sparked my interest. The story recounted of crystal skulls, brought to our planet by alien beings with the objective of aiding us in our quest to save the world. Intrigued I aimed to learn as much as I could about this narrative and the movement that carried it. Several obstacles were encountered: There was no previous research or secondary literature about this story or its movement. There was little to no theory regarding the development of new mythology in modern religious movements (except for fiction based religions in which the story is the primary motivator of the movement) and no method has been developed to study new religions and their formative myths within the social environment. This thesis therefore pursues three objectives: a comprehensive analysis is made of the myth of crystal skulls. Based on this analysis, a preliminary theory on the emergence of new mythological stories is formed. A methodology is developed to study those religious stories and to make the results comparable. The results lead to the development of a proposal for a review of terrain: narrativism, a method of studying stories that differs from existing disciplines such as narratology and myth studies and aims to be an interdisciplinary approach to story-study with emphasis on the operation of the story within a community of believers. Not the technical structure of the story is leading, but the effect of the story his surroundings. One of the striking features in the story of the crystal skulls is its complexity: there seems to be different story elements, unrelated at first sight, that are rather haphazardly connected with each other to arrive at a new story. This is why, both in the title and in the further thesis, I speak of composite myths. To further understanding of this type of myths a distinction is made between 'intra mythical analysis' and' extra mythic analysis. Another concept that was developed during the analyses is ‘the oyster mechanism' that describes the way in which narrative layers are build up around a core story within the cultic environment. The basis for the theories on the origin of complex myths is the notion of ‘realms of realities’; clusters of views that naturally are felt to belong together in the human perception in spite of the fact that there are no objective criteria for it. Based on the crystal skull story a detailed example of these realms of reality is developed. This study is based almost entirely on written sources which are as noted previously, mainly primary in nature and consist of books as well as texts on websites. A minimum amount of field work is carried out during the first phase of the study. The theoretical foundation is largely based on the work of the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur and the developed methodology borrows elements from the work of the American philosopher Loyal Rue. The work of both authors is discussed in the thesis. The outcome of this thesis consists of the redemption of three promises made in the first chapter: 1) There is insight into the creation and operation of the crystal skull story and the conclusion is made that the crystal skull movement - despite its own statement not be either a movement or a religion- in fact does fall under the banner of new religious movements and should be studied as such studied. 2) A foundation has been laid out for the development of the theory on the emergence of new religious myths and a tool had been presented to map these emergences. 3) A methodology has been developed to make the study of myths objective and comparable.
Supervisor: Davidsen, Markus
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Theology and Religious Studies (Master)
Specialisation: Religion, Culture and Society
ECTS Credits: 20
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/36045
 

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