The Power of Day

The Power of Day

Pentecost 37

Imagine a journey of a thousand miles, rather one thousand, three hundred and forty-five miles to be exact. Now imagine walking that distance. In determining the length of time, walkers often use something called Naismith’s Rule. William Wilson Naismith was a Scottish mountaineer and key founder of the Scottish Mountaineering Club. He firmly believed that the mountains of Scotland deserved the same respect as those of the Alps, the famed mountain range found in Austria, Germany, and Italy. An avid walker in Victorian times, Naismith devised a way to calculate the amount of time it would take to complete a specific walk. Based upon his own formula, Naismith determined one could walk three miles in one hour. He allotted for both climbing up his beloved mountains and for going back down.

Naismith allotted one minute for every ten meters of ascent and one minutes for every twenty meters descending. His calculations, however, are for the somewhat professional walker and do not fully allow time to enjoy the scenery nor do they account for heavy foliage, boggy soil, and even attempting to avoid brambles and poison ivy. A more modern rule for walking is allowing two and a half miles per hour and the occasional break time.

If we were to walk our one thousand three hundred and forty-five miles, on relatively flat terrain, it would take approximately 53.8 hours or two-plus days. However, on our journey, which is the distance from Germany to Greece, we must allow for the mountains we would encounter. There are plentiful Alps walking tours from Germany to Italy and most offer an itinerary that includes Bavarian villages, alpine meadows, numerous summits, and delightful villages. The average time estimated for such a journey is ten days. That still leaves us with five hundred and twenty four miles from Italy to Greece and here we would encounter difficulty. There simply is no way to “walk” from Italy to Greece unless one goes barely touches Italy and instead goes through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and finally to Greece. Needless to say, we would be almost doubling our travel walking time and walking we must because airplane travel had not yet been invented at the time of the Greek mythologies.

If we undertook such a journey, somewhere along day five or six (I am a slow walker, I confess and would most likely slow us down a bit) we would reach the Pitzal Valley and the glorious glacier tongues that hang from the steep walls of the mountain pass known as Seescharte. The area is very near to the location of the “Glacier Mummy” or Oetzal, a discovery we have previously discussed. The spirituality of nature is accompanying us all along our journey which is very fitting for our discussion of Greek mythology because the greatest of all the Greek gods has a connection with such a journey – his name.

The deity we know as Zeus is really a Greek version of an Indo-European deity called Dyeus or Dyews. Dyeus was the patriarch or monarch in the deity society and was considered the god of the daylight sky. The Indo-European or Indo-Germanic mythologies believed in a deity who was able to manifest many forms at various levels, being at times male and at other times female. This deity was eternal, could not age nor could it be destroyed unlike some mythologies which account for the gods and goddesses aging or being injured or killed. Germanic mythologies were full of gods being maimed as were Norse and Celtic deities.

Carl Jung, a noted psychologist, compared the eternal deities such as Dyeus to archetypes dwelling in what he called the collective unconscious: “Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, but which it can find again at any time. An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channel for itself. The longer it has flowed in this channel the more likely it is that sooner or later the water will return to its old bed.”

There once was a medieval rune or alphabet which described Zui as the “father of the Gods” with a thunderbolt to display his power as the supreme sky God. Zeus was believed to control the powers of the sky, the clouds, etc. His father was said to be Cronus and his mother Rhea. Since Cronus had taken power from his own father, the story tells of his distrust of his own children. In imaginative storytelling form, Cronus is said to have swallowed all of his children except Zeus, hidden by his mother. This story of salvation of an infant by being hidden by the mother is not only found in Greek mythologies but is revisited in the Abrahamic faiths’ religious story of Moses.

Legend has Zeus assuming power and then forcing Cronus to regurgitate or somehow revive the children he had swallowed to full life. The Titans, brothers and sister of Cronus, attempted to regain their once-held power from Zeus and his Olympic deities and a ten-year battle ensued known as the Titanomachy. Then Zeus found his reign challenged by the Giants which led to another battle called the Gigantomachy. Both battles had been encouraged by Gaia, the earth mother goddesses of all but eventually, after even being challenged by other deities on Mount Olympus, Greek mythology gave Zeus his lasting place as the Father of Greek mythology.

It seems like an unlikely journey for one name to travel – Dyeus to Zeus. How the name traveled those one thousand-plus miles by mere word of mouth is something only history knows. The power of this daylight deity, though, is long-lasting even in our world today. More work occurs in the daylight than in the night. People seldom fear the day and even our word for gods, deity, is derived from the Latin form of the name.

Today we think of daylight and many think of the sun. Exposure to the ultra violet rays known as UVA and UVB can have negative effects but they also provide us with some positive effects. Our eyes need exposure to light for a number of reasons and even our personalities can be affected by the lack of such light. It is not hard to understand why the Greeks made their most powerful deity the god of the sky. The rain provided necessary water for sustaining life in all forms and most natural disasters seemed to start in the sky.

In more recent times, mankind has attempted to alter the timing of the day with the introduction of daylight savings time. First developed in colonial times, more and more countries are using this tool of time to seemingly create more daylight workability. While there is a higher incidence of health problems associated with the week before and after the switch to the time adjustment, there are some health benefits. Now implemented in over seventy countries, daylight savings time can reduce energy consumption and major crimes, increase recreational activities, and lead to an overall better sense of wellbeing. The power of the sky god seemingly once again is recognized.

The real value of any belief is the light it sheds on our own lives. It is said that when we walk in the light, we are aware and better able to conduct ourselves as we would want. Certainly visibility is improved, not just for our eyes but for our intentions, our goals, our going forward in life. As we walk through our life today, we need to seek the light and set our goals up high, perhaps as high as the sky. American writer Louisa May Alcott explained: “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”  I hope today you find your own personal light and are able to move forward, following your dreams and writing your own myth, your own story of personal success.