Emu and his friend argued, and the latter threw an egg of Emu’s "...up into the sky, when it broke and became the sun, and the world was flooded with light, and a thousand birds became men."
Legends and myths from every continent are filled with metamorphoses: a person becomes a bird, an egg becomes the sun, a star becomes a person. Our stories return to this theme so often that we can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t hold a critical clue to what we are.
But myths also reveal better than anything else the dark side of transformation. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid retells the Greek myth of the hunter Actaeon, who, out in the forest with his hounds, strayed into a forbidden grove by mistake, was transformed into a stag by Artemis, before being chased and killed by his own hounds. A Native American myth tells of a supernatural being who, daring to raise the corner of his blindfold, killed a man accidentally, and as a result was then cast into a lake and drowned.
Those who will transform the world might themselves be brutally transformed – turned to dust, tossed overboard. In myth, one often has to fall from a cliff before turning into a bird. That so many of these stories involve violence points to the dangers involved when we leave the known paths and established channels. When we try to see what others would like to keep hidden. Non-conformists, outsiders, artists and visionaries know intuitively that the path to greatness is the same as disaster.