Creation myths and national foundation myths are common mythic forms. The myth of the Jewish promised land is one such ancient story that continues to have very material consequences.
As Richard Kearney describes these myths of origin they have both a past and future orientation, each ‘once-upon-a-time’ also holds the promise of ‘one-day’. (2002:80) Their ritualistic recounting was meant to heal “fractures of the present by invoking some primordial event…and so revive a feeling of primordial oneness and belonging.” (2002:87). However Kearney also sounds a note of caution reminding us of the mobilisation of this type of myth by totalitarian and supremacist regimes. He notes that these myths can just as easily lead to bigotry, racism and fascism as they can lead to “the reactivation of a genuine social imaginary open to universal horizons.” (2002:89)
In her 1993 Reith lectures Marina Warner identifies “Home” as one of the six “myths of our time.” She notes two critically new dimensions of this myth for contemporary times. Firstly for the world’s increasingly large numbers of refugees “home has become a mythical lost continent, visible under the flux, but harder than ever to reach” (1994:107). Secondly migration and multi-culturalism has led to increasingly more complex mythologies of home: “the old ideas of assimilation in an adopted country are being overtaken by different thinking on identity and belonging, by a new mythology of home, as somewhere else to which attachment is felt, by blood by religion, by language or even by elective affinity – by choice” (1994:109).
The homeland myth tells stories of both the national culture and of individual relation to place and history. In microcosm it is expressed in stories to do with housing and living arrangements. In very contemporary form it can be seen functioning in the media’s obsession with the real estate market and home renovation. Stories concerned with multiculturalism, asylum seekers, border-security, Aboriginal reconciliation and the republican debate are some of the wider Australian stories that are also currently told, at least in part, under the aegis of this mythic pattern.