When seeking deeply meaningful symbols, one should remember that behind each mythic figure stands an ocean of local cults, personal shrines, and unrecorded re-tellings. A living culture changes as its participants change, as their needs, hopes, and dreams change. By embracing reinterpretation and retelling, one can explore the idiosyncrasies of their personal experience of the divine. Renewed practices should be grounded in the past but should not be confined by it.

In a mass media saturated culture, one encounters the monolithic image first and foremost. In the recorded performance or the perfect copy, one sees the idealized abstract. When encountering a local incarnation such as a cosplayer or fan drawing, the comparison favors the monolith because it is the basis of their experience. The tendency to revere abstraction reinforces the hierarchy of monolith over local expression. However, when reflecting on the prehistoric experience of the divine, a contemporary person must imagine their accustomed hierarchy reversed.

Patterns of worship in the ancient world appear to be very localized. While everyone in a region may venerate the same god, local cults may have different idols, epithets, or rituals. The available evidence suggests that gods had epithets specific to local worship. One might think of gods as local expressions of common concepts. One does not first learn the common aspects and then encounter the local expression. The expressive form serves as the primary introduction to the underlying concept.

“Mythology” is derived from poetry, drama, and other means of artistic expression. The hymn that one village uses to worship Athena might differ from the one used by a nearby village. Each hymn may offer a different introduction to Athena, a different honorific, or different attributes that suit the local cult. One who travels between villages learns about the differences as changes relative to their experience. The abstraction shared between the two villages grows from recognition of attributes shared across both local cults. When that recognition is elevated, stories summarized, and epithets aggregated, the abstract eclipses the specific.