"The ancient world was full of magic," writes novelist C.J. Cherryh. "Most everyone north and northwest of the Mediterranean believed that standing barefoot on the earth gave you special knowledge, that the prickling feeling at the back of your neck meant watchers in the wood, and that running water cleansed supernatural flaws.
"True magic, magic as our ancestors practiced it, contained very little concept of good or evil as the modern world understands such terms. The ancient world understood powers, and Powers, and believed that if you should trespass beyond the natural and convenient boundaries of your birth and natural status, as very little prevents you from doing, you must enter into the natural and convenient boundaries of Something Else...which may resent your presence, may be curious about you, or may deal with you in ignorance perilous to both. On the one hand, that ancient belief encouraged the timid to stay by their own firesides. On the other, it placed no barriers of class or skill or gender between the adventuresome and the adventure.
"That was the real ancient world -- a period in which I have some background," Cherryh continues. "My study in university was the ancient Mediterranean, and that interest led me into both Egyptian and Celtic lore, which led... everywhere, ultimately.
"What can the ancient world offer a modern world that has encroached so recklessly into the deep forests and the sea, and by ax and fire and iron brought the Powers of domestic fields up against those of the wild places? It can offer encounter, strange meetings with the not-evil, not-good, and an examination of one's own actions. It can teach one to look under bushes and beside trails, and listen in the Wild and not chatter. It can teach us what our ancestors knew: that you can't divide nature into good and evil, that you can't speak to the earth politely if you've only gone shod and on concrete, and that you can't know the wild countryside if you roar through it in glass and steel on asphalt ribbons.
"The ancient world can teach us, too, as Virgil suggested, 'Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit,' that adventures are most pleasant to contemplate not while rain is dripping down one's neck, but when one is safe and warm at home, and confident of supper."
"I believe in the power of myth to inform our lives and illuminate our common path," says novelist Stephen R. Lawhead. "Unfortunately, the myths we receive at long remove are often so sullied and shopworn that their power has ceased to flow. As a writer, I find I spend considerable time and effort trying to rescue the mythic spirit of the stories I tell, and then restore both shape and substance to their rightful prominence so that the myth's inherent power can flow....
"The myths and legends of long ago are meant to show us who we are and what we may become, and to point out the pitfalls along the way to our final destination. We are travelers on a spiritual journey. There are guides and spirits along the way to befriend us -- if our eyes are open and our hearts are willing."