In Mesopotamia, in the last three days of the month of Tammuz (June/July), there was a funerary ritual called “exhibition, or exposition,” during which an image of the dead god Tammuz was exhibited. In the Northwest Semitic world Tammuz was associated with vegetation, its sprouting and its death.97 In “Ishtar’s Descent to the Netherworld,” Tammuz is Ishtar’s lover, whom she betrays and sends to the netherworld to take her place, thus putting into effect his cyclic resurrection. This was a Mesopotamian way of explaining the seasons. While Tammuz was in the netherworld, the vegetation on earth was dying, dried up by the sun.
Walton, J. H. (2009). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel (Vol. 4, p. 422). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Is it the case that mythology is a mere “way of explaining” or is it something deeper? I would imagine for the ancients it is a representation that our expressing it as a “way of explaining” diminishes. It is hard to perceive the depths of the transformation into secularism.