What got you into mythology?

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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marmalade
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Post by marmalade » Sat Dec 29, 2007 4:55 am

I've been a member here for a while, but hadn't got around to posting. This seems like a good thread to introduce myself in.

I can't remember when I first read Campbell. I'd guess it was probably right after highschool. I read some in highschool, but not that kind of thing. For some reason, I only came to love learning after getting out of school. Whereas, in school, I hated learning.

I was a voacious reader in highschool, but mostly fiction and no psychology. After highschool, I started reading all kinds of things. I'm not sure, but I probably read Jung before Campbell. Initially, I'm guessing that I learned about Campbell through his theory about the hero's journey. I suppose I found it because I was into reading and writing fiction, and I loved fairytales. I probably discovered him in a musty used bookshop.

The kind of ideas that Campbell speaks about are so much a part of my mind that I hardly can remember the time before knowing these things. I'm still largely ignorant about Campbell's work. I've only read him sporadically over the years, but I've read a fair amount of Jung and various Jungians.
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Post by tat tvam asi » Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:23 am

Hey marmalade, nice of you to drop in.

It's probably better that you went through Jung before going through Campbell. That must have given you a good knowledge base for understanding his positions on mythology.

When I watched the Hero's Journey dvd for the first time it was like a call to adventure for me as well. I suddenly realized that there was an enormous amount of information that I needed to start going through. Here I am years later still trying to sort my through it, but I wouldn't have it any other way. :wink:
"Scholars conjecture that a sense of divinity in Nature co-evolved with the first emergence of human consciousness, perhaps 100,000 years ago. The earliest god was Nature."

As far back as we are able to look into the past, says historian Colin Wilson, "human beings seem to have worshipped nature, and connected it to a higher spiritual reality, which they called god or the divine."
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Post by marmalade » Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:31 am

tat tvam asi wrote:Hey marmalade, nice of you to drop in.
Howdy howdy! :D
It's probably better that you went through Jung before going through Campbell. That must have given you a good knowledge base for understanding his positions on mythology.
I like Jung alot. I've also only read him sporadically. Then again, I read everything sporadically. What really hooked me was Answer to Job. It was a perspective I had never seen before and I've never seen the world the same since.

I've read a fair amount about archetypes and some Jungian analysis of stories. The subject I've studied the most is typology. I know about every type theory out there and there is a lot of cross-over with Jung's other ideas. Some type theorists(Beebe and Gianninni come to mind) are also psychoanalysts. They both talk about archetypes quite a bit.

I'm a member of several typology forums. I'm an INFP and infp.globalchatter.com is my main forum. I used to visit Socionics forums. Socionics is a Russian off-shoot of Jungian typology, but I found it too confusing. I've been on a Jungian forum a fair amount recently(kaleidoscope-forum.org), and the people there are extremely well-read.

Its interesting that I got into typology through studying Tarot. I was interested in the archetypal meanings, and there were several correlations between the suits and Jung's functions. I'd heard of typology before, but I never connected with it before this.
Here I am years later still trying to sort my through it, but I wouldn't have it any other way. :wink:
I hear you there, brother. The quest is an endless one... a worthy cause to dedicate one's life to. :wink:
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Post by tat tvam asi » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:43 pm

Did you get the main idea that I put down on the truth be known forum about pantheism?

Campbell's scholarship points to the ultimate factor as being the very mystery of life and existence itself. The mystery factor itself is the God over the usual ethnic God (personification) ideas. So it's an all consuming concept.

All mystery = All God.

But it's not as if the idea is limited to Pantheism alone, it actually applies to every religion because every supreme God is considered to be the ultimate factor to the people that believe in it. Whatever is being considered as ultimate gets backed up to being the mystery itself eventually.

The idea of 'all God' is lingering around in every religion though very few people realize this. I've found that to be pretty interesting. It's one of those points that transcend all boundaries and differences. This is where the call to adventure has taken me thus far and I'm digging it. 8)
"Scholars conjecture that a sense of divinity in Nature co-evolved with the first emergence of human consciousness, perhaps 100,000 years ago. The earliest god was Nature."

As far back as we are able to look into the past, says historian Colin Wilson, "human beings seem to have worshipped nature, and connected it to a higher spiritual reality, which they called god or the divine."
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Post by marmalade » Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:21 am

tat tvam asi wrote:Did you get the main idea that I put down on the truth be known forum about pantheism?
Yeah... I get it. I only skimmed your original post over there the first time. I just now read it in detail and its a nice definition of pantheism. I don't think I've quite seen it explained that way. I'd imagine a number of agnostics and atheists could accept such a view.

I was discussing with Og about whether consciousness/mind(at its most basic level) exists other than as a by-product of brain functioning. Panpsychism is similar to pantheism. As there is a natural tendency towards order, so, according to panpsychism, there is a natural tendency towards the arising of mind. I don't know what this would mean, but Og was clear about the brain being where its at... and only where its at.

I just like keeping things open-ended as much as possible. Maybe the brain is the cause of the mind, and maybe not. Some argue that mind causes the brain(ie the formation of matter). I prefer to not reduce either of them to the other.

I already have a thread started over at the agnostic forum and its about various 'pan-' philosophies. I'll post your definition of pantheism over there, and see what others think of it.
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Post by tat tvam asi » Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:49 am

The list of 10 points should be more than acceptable to the atheists and agnostics. I don't know why it wouldn't be. We'll see what they think.

I can see an infinite mind existing that connects the many different things, however I can not know 'why' the infinite mind even exists in the first place.

"The existence of something we can not penetrate..." Einstein

So the mystery factor of the infinite mind is the ultimate factor. This is why Campbell's approach is so solid. Science can't shake it. The great mystery is all encompassing. This is how the 'mind concepts' that we have finally yield to transcendence, whether we consider mind finite, or infinite.

There seems to be good reason to believe in a superconsciousness, yet, it's not what the God symbolism is ultimately referring to.
"Scholars conjecture that a sense of divinity in Nature co-evolved with the first emergence of human consciousness, perhaps 100,000 years ago. The earliest god was Nature."

As far back as we are able to look into the past, says historian Colin Wilson, "human beings seem to have worshipped nature, and connected it to a higher spiritual reality, which they called god or the divine."
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Post by tat tvam asi » Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:27 am

Here's something that I think fits in well with the Final Anthropic Principle:

"Brown: Why have we here in the west lost this sense of what you are calling "accord with nature"?

Campbell: We're getting back to a kind of Lamarckian view - Lamark was earlier than Goethe. Goethe had a theory of evolution. And Shopenhauer has a wonderful paper called "The Will in Nature," where he speaks about these things.

Favrot: So you think that at the protoplasmic level there is some intention -

Campbell: There has to be! I saw a film of my friend, Stanley Keleman, made at the university of Pennsylvania, I think, of just raw protoplasm under a microscope. And you see this acts as a flow, and then there's flow this way, and pretty soon the flow is building a little channel for itself, it's building a house for itself.

When I drove down here to Esalen from San Francisco after that film, all I could see as I drove was protoplasm! Protoplasm in the form of cows eating, protoplasm in the form of grass, and protoplasm overhead. It was a kind of satori, a kind of revelation, the whole world as intentional protoplasm, with consciousness and energy. From then I come to the feeling of energy and consciousness being two aspects of the same thing.

Favrot: The physicists are saying that nowadays.

Campbell: I know they are. I got a wonderful letter from a biologist from Harvard, a professor emeritus, an old, old, man. He sent me a paper that he had read at one of the international congresses, and he said, "It shocks my scientific consciousness but I have to conclude that there is an intention in nature."

Brown: But doesn't that run against his grain? He just comes spiritually to that sense because the physical theories don't allow that kind of thinking.

Campbell: One of the great things about a good scientist is, whether it runs against his grain or not, he speaks out what he finds as EVIDENCE. That's a thing that most religious people don't do. They stick with their religious thoughts and no amount of EVIDENCE will dislodge them.

But the scientific attitude is: We haven't found truth. We have a working hypothesis that explains a new fact. We may have to change the whole thing. People don't understand this about science.

Now I'm interested in the biological thing because I think of mythology as a function of biology. Let's say that every organ of the body has it's energy impulse, and impulse to action, and the experience of the conflicts of these different energies inside, is what constitutes the psyche.

It's nature talking. And mythology is the expression in PERSONIFIED IMAGES of these energies."
"Scholars conjecture that a sense of divinity in Nature co-evolved with the first emergence of human consciousness, perhaps 100,000 years ago. The earliest god was Nature."

As far back as we are able to look into the past, says historian Colin Wilson, "human beings seem to have worshipped nature, and connected it to a higher spiritual reality, which they called god or the divine."
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Post by marmalade » Wed Jan 02, 2008 3:12 am

tat tvam asi wrote:The list of 10 points should be more than acceptable to the atheists and agnostics. I don't know why it wouldn't be. We'll see what they think.
Here is my pan- thread from the agnostic forum:
http://www.agnosticforums.com/general-r ... ies-2.html
I can see an infinite mind existing that connects the many different things, however I can not know 'why' the infinite mind even exists in the first place.
There can be mind or consciousness in everything without there necessarily being an infinite mind connecting it all. There might be something else that connects or not. Maybe mind is just a process of arising in the world.
So the mystery factor of the infinite mind is the ultimate factor. This is why Campbell's approach is so solid. Science can't shake it. The great mystery is all encompassing. This is how the 'mind concepts' that we have finally yield to transcendence, whether we consider mind finite, or infinite.

There seems to be good reason to believe in a superconsciousness, yet, it's not what the God symbolism is ultimately referring to.
Transcendence isn't a thing in itself and so anything can be transcended.
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Post by tat tvam asi » Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:11 pm

Yeah, anything can be transcended.
Last edited by tat tvam asi on Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Scholars conjecture that a sense of divinity in Nature co-evolved with the first emergence of human consciousness, perhaps 100,000 years ago. The earliest god was Nature."

As far back as we are able to look into the past, says historian Colin Wilson, "human beings seem to have worshipped nature, and connected it to a higher spiritual reality, which they called god or the divine."
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Post by CarmelaBear » Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:35 pm

The transcendent mystery of God, the infinite and eternal, is like the number 0.....all and nothing. Just add a number in front and the magnitude increases exponentially. Add an attribute, like time, space, power, memory, love, or whatever your heart desires, and it expands to a magical degree.

There is the problem of description. When I was Catholic, the catechism described God as all knowing, all powerful and so on. When I began to think about it, the idea offended me, because I cannot comprehend why someone who loves and is powerful and intelligent would create things that don't work well. I think a class action product liability lawsuit is in order, and God should be held to account for life that feeds on killing and omelettes that can only be built from broken eggs and what the hell was he thinking with the platypus? Ten billion per person living and another ten each as new people arrive.....at least.

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What got me into mythology

Post by vanbengler » Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:58 am

Dear friend and reader;

At the risk of being "too personal" I would like to share this. I grew up in your normal, average, dysfunctional family. I was tortured and abused by my mother until the age of sixteen. (My personal survivor story is posted on my website if you are interested.)

We had a set of encyclopedia's "The Book of Knowlege". Book 14 contained a set of mythological stories from the Greek, to the Roman, to Charlemagne, to King Arthur to Joan of Arc. After I learned how to read and between protecting myself and my little brother from my mother's uncontrolled (insane) outbursts of anger and rage I totally immersed myself in the heroic stories.

Of course as an easily impressionable child I had an open mind and a vivid imagination. I internalized the stories. I had a direct personal relationship with the heroes (and the villians) of those stories. Book 14 was easily my favourite book for about five years until I was 12; and I knew all of their names.

Consciously or intellectually I didn't understand some of the terrible things that these mythological figures did and/or experienced; but maybe subconsiously I did. Zeus, Jupiter, Diana, Hermes, Mercury (some of the names are interchangeable between the Greek and Romans - the difference in mythology wasn't that distinct.) Prometheus, Andromeda, Cupid, Narcissus, Sir Galahad, Gawain, Lancelot, Robin Hood, Roland, Merlin, etc. etc. etc. I knew them all. They were my friends.

And then when I grew up I forgot them. When I read mythology now it doesn't speak to me the way it did as a child. I don't see myself as being with them in their adventures, disasters, conquests, dilemmas as I did as a child. Today, it's just a story and it's not even really that interesting anymore.

I don't have Book 14 anymore. That got "left behind" on my journey and in my subsequent adventures through life. But sometimes I wish I did. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those childhood flights of fancy and be those hero's and heroines; gods and goddesses again; if only in my imagination. Today, as part of my spiritual practise, I pray and meditate and contemplate. It's not nearly as interesting . . . .

Today, I have "Bullfinchs Mythology" It's the classic edition with hardbound leather cover, gold foil, and crisp clean white pages. Somehow, I still wish I dog-eared, finger-stained, beat up, good old Book 14. Something is missing . . . and maybe it's just the child that I used to be . . . and have somehow also forgotten.

And then sometimes I wonder . . . Or did I really forget ? It's all in the subconscious now and who knows.

Anyway, that was my introduction to mythology: It was real and it was true and it spoke to me in a way that nothing has ever spoken to me since.

If there was one good thing about my childhood, it was my introduction to mythology and the support that it gave me (and perhaps only subconsciously) in surviving my childhood.

And for that I guess I can only thank the gods . . . and the goddesess, and the heros and the heroines who were my imaginary friends and my role models.

Maybe you don't really "get" mythology unless you "get" it as a child. I don't know. But this was my introduction to it and if I have gone on too long in this post I hope you will indulge a 56 year old man and his memories of the mythology of his childhood, and his introduction to it.

For me, my introduction to it was almost literally life or death; or maybe life and death . . . .

Thank you for your patience and understanding in reading this post (and) in closing,
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Post by Clemsy » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:09 am

Maybe you don't really "get" mythology unless you "get" it as a child.
vanbengler, I think there is something quite profound in this. I can identify with your relationship with those stories. As a child, they resonate in a magical way difficult (impossible?) for an adult to duplicate, and that experience lay at the foundation of our adult psyche.

Encoded, you might say.

As an educator, I've found that many students have discovered and experienced these stories on their own. However, the common stories, the myths in the cultural DNA, are often absent. This is why my wife and I had our kids in Catholic Sunday school: not for the religion, but for the stories.

Thanks for your post. At the risk of being presumptuous, I suspect those stories were a powerful refuge for you.

Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by vanbengler » Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:44 pm

Hi Clemsy,

First of all, thank you for your comments. No, that wasn't a presumptuous comment at all: But they (the mythological stories) were much more than a 'refuge'; and at this point words fail me: words can't explain what can't be explained.

I found your comment about DNA interesting. What did you mean by that? With respect, I don't think that "mind" or "psyche" actually has DNA. Our brains (the physical instrument) certainly do have DNA; but "mind" or "psyche" or "ego" is not physical.

Sort of like a radio. The radio (physical instrument) is not the broadcast; it just ransforms the broadcast (depending on the station, frequency and carrier wave (AM or FM) it is tuned to) into someting we can understand and comprehend . . . and how we actually do that as far as our brains and our bodies are concerned is still a vast mystery.

Remember that ultimately at the nuclear level all we really are (and all our DNA is; DNA being a form of physical matter) is a collection of sub-atomic particles that arise and pass away at the rate of 10 raised to the 23rd power i.e.: 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times per second!!!

And please don't get me wrong: I concede in advance that our brains are somewhat more complicated than radios.

So, we are not just our DNA or a collection of sub-atomic particles: We are much more than that . . . And that leads me to those thre BIG questions: "Who am I ?" "Why am I here?" "What is going to happen to me?" . . . indeed.

It sure beats me, but every day when I wake up I find out a little bit more about what those questions really mean (for me) today.

Anyway, I appreciateted your comments and once again, thank you. I do tend to ramble and expound forth sometimes, so; in closing and I don't mean to be abrupt about this; may "God" bless you and those you love and care for.

-Brian
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Post by Clemsy » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:38 pm

Hi Brian,

My DNA comment was strictly metaphorical. There are stories that act, you might say, like cultural genetic material guiding behavior in certain directions and not others. At this juncture, the impact of those stories have diminished. To what effect?

Not really sure. Are the stories being replaced by new ones? If so, which ones? South Park? CSI? Video games?

Fortunately, the great stories are at least still available and, just as with yourself, can be found by those who need them.

Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by vanbengler » Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:49 am

Hello, again:

Totally agreed, the 'soup' or 'stew' of collective information, messages and conflicting priorities we find ourselves in daily can be very complex and confusing indeed. It's just simply too complex to describe.

There is a very old saying by either Socrates or Plato I'm not sure which: "the unexamined life isn't worth living" (Brian's corollary: But examining it and changing it can be a real pain in the ass).

It seems like a very long time ago now; but at one time I had a very serious nervous breakdown; there were other things involved; drug addiction, money addiction, sex addiction; complex post traumatic stress disorder; and a diagnosis of bi-polar type 1. You may have heard of people with dual diagnosis and the problems that people with that have; and they are very serious problems. Well, I had a triple diagnosis.

Once again, very briefly; in the process of therapy I "examined my life". And somehow, out of that I was able to decide what kind of life I really wanted to live. In the process of literally losing almost everything that I thought was important to me; I found and discovered what was really important to me: a well trained and disciplined mind.

I also had to change the "broadcast message" I was listening to and trying to live by. It was like I was tuned to about 100 different stations at once!! That was very confusing and very painful; but I had a good therapist and I found a lot of help in the 12 Step Program.

What has mythology got to do with this? I don't know for sure; but I know that I have had some adventures and some experience in taming my dragons and embracing my demons. i.e. the process of personal transformation. So, maybe; in learning how to relate to the mythology of my youth I learned something or was able to draw on something stored far back in the recesses of my subconscious when I really needed it most.

And it is not just "my" subconscious; it is the "shared" or collective or archetypical subconscious as Carl Jung called it. And we can all access it; but sometimes we have to (almost literally) destroy our "ego". Or, perhaps more to the point, sometimes, it is our "ego" which almost destroys us.

So, how do we fix it, or heal it or transform it? Certainly not through drugs and or medications; but at the same time they can be helpful in stabilizing us mentally and emotionally (initially) so that we can engage in "doing the work". As any good therapist can tell you that is an inside job; and a bad (or poor) therapist who does not understand this can do a lot a damage; and sometimes it is irreparable. The myth of the Phoenix comes to mind. i.e. sometimes the ashes of a shattered i.e. "burnt out" psyche/mind/ego don't transform . . . . and rise again.

Anyway; as a result of all of this (and I have described my experience elsewhere) I have a good life today: simple, happy, quiet, contented. I am very grateful and thankful for that. And somehow; it's related to mythology. I don't know how for sure; but it is. I have been off my meds now for over four years, I have been clean and sober for some time, and I no longer have symptoms of PTSD.

I've got Mr. Campbell's two DVD series "the Power of Myth" and "Mythos I" and boy does he ever know his stuff!!! And perhaps it by his articulation of his understanding that now I am beginning to understand the importance that mythology had/has in guiding my decisions, choices and behaviour today; and where I got the courage to confront and tame/transform my dragons, demons, monsters and tyrants.

Once again, it was almost literally life . . . or death.

I chose life.

I guess that pretty much sums it up right there. I chose life.

Anyway, this wasn't what I intended to say at the start; but it is what I guess I had to say. I hope I didn't ramble on. I have a hunch we are very much in agreement and my comments are just intended to amplify the chord that your comments struck in me.

Once again, thank you for your comments and in closing; may "God" bless you and those you love and care for.

I am most sincerely yours,

-Brian
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