Text and image by Rick McVicar
After Jesus quiets a storm on a lake, he is confronted by a man with a stormy personality in the fifth chapter of Mark, verses 1-20, NIV.
In the ancient world, a love triangle exists among humans, nature and the supernatural. Demonic possession is used to explain all types of diseases, especially mental illness.
The man meeting Jesus may have multiple personalities, as he is possessed with a multitude of demons, resulting in the man being called “Legion” (v. 9). The man lives in a graveyard and is shackled to prevent him from harming himself. He tends to “cut himself with stones” (v. 5).
Jesus responds by driving the demons into a herd of 2,000 pigs, which then rush down a hill to drown in the lake where Jesus had just escaped a storm. People who witness the event are not amused and demand that Jesus leave.
Here we have the intermingling of the supernatural, mental illness and the natural world. The occurrence of multiple personalities and self-harming behavior is blamed on demons.
Nevertheless, Jesus brings the man’s disturbance into the natural realm by driving the demons into pigs. While supernatural spirits are the cause of bizarre behavior, the cure is brought back into nature.
Interestingly, the story is eerily similar one about Circe, a witch in Homer’s Odyssey, a source for Greek mythology, written in the eighth century BCE. The myth is told by Mike Greenberg in “Circe: The Famous Sorceress of Greek Legend,” published June 20, 2020 on mythologysource.com.
Circe lives alone in a forest on a remote island. She is surrounded by friendly lions and wolves. When she is visited by soldiers, Circe turns them into pigs.
Other parallels between Mark and Homer have been found by Dennis MacDonald, who wrote The Gospels and Homer, published in 2014. MacDonald argues for a Greek mythological influence on the writers of Mark and Luke-Acts.
These stories of Mark’s Legion and Homer’s Circe bring the supernatural to bear on the natural world. Only a fine line distinguishes nature from a world of spirits.
Hopefully, these stories can be used for you to have artful health today.
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