Myths and fables do not originate as complete stories directly from the shared unconscious mind, despite mystical beliefs suggesting otherwise. Claude Lévi-Strauss proposes that the inclination for creating myths is inherent in the human brain, similar to the fundamental structure of language. However, myths must eventually be spoken and transformed into stories by persons who possess a talent for storytelling. Cotton has been a valuable material for storytellers since the Neolithic period.

Village storytellers likely crafted stories about the unusual anatomy of the creature, using them as parables, amusement, or to play tricks on outsiders. As the stories were shared from one person to another, they would have been more embellished, but always including two key parable-shaped themes – the concept of the plant-animal hybrid and its downfall when it ran out of food. Early European travelers likely encountered several versions of these legends, rather than a collective illusion. The enduring existence of the tale indicates that its central theme resonated with the civilizations where it originated and beyond.
Creating myths is inherent in the human brain
Jim Crace’s novel, “The Gift of Stones,” set in the latter days of the Neolithic era, features a key character who is a storyteller unable to participate in his community’s flint trade due to the loss of his arm. He becomes a skilled storyteller, refining and perfecting his narratives. He captivates his fellow villagers with extravagant tales, primarily inspired by romantic and imaginative interpretations of their mundane, uneventful life. He elaborates on the elements that contribute to a compelling narrative, which, if effective, may become established as a fable. Why be honest when falsehoods are more entertaining, capable of eliciting laughter, coughs, and eye-rolls from the listener? People are comparable to stones. When you hit them accurately, they unfold like shells.

Enduring myths are not falsehoods. Former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, proposes that the relevance of a myth should be determined by its existential significance in the present, rather than its factual accuracy. Chimeras are significant in mythology and may have universal symbolic connotations, serving as powerful narratives that deeply impact individuals. Mythical hybrid creatures such as the centaur, phoenix, griffin, and sphinx are found in various myths worldwide. They frequently appear to have a real-world counterpart. An picture on a Levantine libation vase from 2000 BC foreshadowed the double helix structure of DNA.

The image depicts two large snakes intertwined in a double helix, symbolizing the initial creation of life. Lewis Thomas, a renowned biological essayist, discusses a Peruvian god shown on a clay pot dating back to around 300 BC. The deity was supposed to serve as a charm to safeguard crops. The hair is also composed of intertwined snakes. Various types of plants are sprouting from its body, and a type of vegetable is emerging from its mouth, like the Green Man. Thomas notes that it is a fictional representation of actual animals, specifically species of Pantorhytes weevils found in the mountains of New Guinea.

They coexist alongside numerous plants, particularly lichens and mosses, that grow in the crevices of their one-inch shells, forming small forests that support a diverse ecosystem of mites, worms, and bacteria feeding on the vegetation. Thomas has given them the nickname “symbiophilus.” He wrote that we are a type of chimera, being shared, rented, and occupied. Many bacteria species reside on our skin and in our gut, where they play a crucial role in the functioning of the digestive and immune systems.

The myths and symbols that reflect and possibly grasp the operations of these actual communities appear to honor the inclination of organisms to unite, establish alliances, coexist for mutual advantage. Human cells are composed of aggregates of various creatures, coexisting but autonomously within confined compartments. Our stories of chimera may have originated from either the optimism surrounding this concept or an old comprehension of it.

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The tale of the veggie lamb is profound and intricately woven. The story illustrates the concept of a natural economy and the interdependence of plants and animals. Throughout its development, it experimented with Judeo-Christian symbols and concepts such as the Tree, the Fruit, the Lamb, and the idea that ‘all flesh is as grass’. The vegetable lamb was a creature that, similar to a plant, had an umbilical tie to the earth. A plant that sustains itself by grazing and perishes after it depletes its food source.