4/21 Chpt. 2.4 "Atonement with the Father."

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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Post by Lizpete » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Last week’s summary was long overdue. I found this the reading to be so complex that I have decided to break up the reading and to lengthen the summaries. Apothesis will likely appear next week.

Section 2.4 “Atonement with the Father”
The father-god image can be as awful as the goddess. This ogre aspect of the father is of the victim’s own ego- it is derived from the nursery of the past and projected to the present. The fixating idolatry is itself the fault that keeps the individual steeped in a sense of sin, sealing the potentially adult spirit from a better balance and more realistic view of the father and of the world.

Atonement (at-one-ment) consist of the abandonment of the self-generated double monster- the dragon thought to be God (superego) and the dragon thought to be Sin (repressed id). The main difficulty is that atonement requires an abandonment of the attachment to the ego itself. One must have faith that the father is merciful and then rely upon that mercy. In doing so, the center of the belief is transferred outside the circle of the monster father and the terrifying ogres dissolve.

When the child outgrows the idyll of the mother’s breast and turns to face the world of adult action, the child passes spiritually into the sphere of the father. The father admits to his house only those who have been thoroughly tested, in what are often very terrible and painful trials. The father is the initiating priest through the young being passes onto the larger world. The father becomes, for his son, the sign of the future task, and for his daughter, of the future husband. Just as the mother (formerly) represented good and evil so does the father, but with complications there is an element of rivalry. For the son, against the father for mastery of the universe. For the daughter, against the mother to be the mastered world.

The traditional idea of initiation combines an introduction of the candidate to the techniques, duties, and prerogatives of his vocation with a radical readjustment of his emotional relationship to the parental images. The father is to entrust the symbols of office only to a son who has been purged of all inappropriate infantile illusions and for whom the just impersonal exercise of powers will not be rendered impossible by unconscious motives of self aggrandizement, personal preference or resentment. The initiate is reborn and becomes the father. When an indulgent father permits his improperly initiated child to assume the roles of life, chaos supervenes.

The problem of the hero in meeting the father is that he opens his soul beyond terror to such a degree as to be ripe to understand how all of the insane tragedies of the cosmos are justified in the majesty of Being. The hero transcends life with its peculiar blind spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source- he beholds his father and is atoned.

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Post by Lizpete » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

As I said above, I found these two sections to be particularly complex readings and my "summary" is now more than ever just excerpts.

One of the interesting aspects of this section is that initiation and atonement with the father seems to take place after marriage. I think I can make sense of that, yet it also seems backwards.


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Post by Sophie-David » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Yes, I agree, the atonement does seem backwards. Its probably not a good idea to get too caught up in the specific order of the mythic journey - life is not really that linear. For me, the atonement had to come before the sacred marriage, but it was a virtual atonement - I played out a dialogue with my father in my journal. After the sacred marriage, I finally had the strength to actually carry out the atonement again, this time with my father in the flesh. But although this was a great thing to happen, the actual release had come in the first atonement, and the sacred marriage would not have happened without it.
Know that you are - already - the Christ, the Bodhisattva. By your great love the One became Many, as with delight and joy you assumed the cloak of duality. Form is made of but three things: energy, change, and love.
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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

One of my first reactions, re-reading this section, is a feminist one. "Geez, he's a master of the universe (and not the action figure toy) and I'm just a single lousy world?" Sons have an extra struggle- with a bit of rivalry, as if daughters do not.

And then there is that uncomfortable word of "mastered," which from the perspective of a woman seems chauvinist. I have to force myself to remind myself that it is an internal spiritual marriage of which Campbell describes and the male-female nomenclature is perhaps a bit arbitrary designation for a set of opposing (dualing?) spiritual entities.

If "he" is the master of the universe, shouldn't "she" be the universe? That seems to provide a significant duality to the theory.
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Post by Sophie-David » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Anonymous

Yes, I also have a problem with Campbell's language. There is definitely a strong male bias in his exploration of myth. There are many less female than male versions of the myths presented in his books. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, there is a whole chapter on the woman as temptress and no counterbalancing chapter on the man as tempter. However, I take Campbell as he is, with the many profound insights that he did bring forth - I don't necessarily agree with everything he wrote or the way that he wrote it.

Incidentally, in my interpretation, Campbell was not referring to the internal spiritual marriage at all. His understanding of the basis for the myth of the sacred marriage was in the union between persons, not in one of the unions of the self. I have presented this in more detail on page four of the Anima/Animus discussion.

My experience of the sacred marriage within is that the hidden self who emerged and became one with my male consciousness was - and is - definitely and undeniably female.
Know that you are - already - the Christ, the Bodhisattva. By your great love the One became Many, as with delight and joy you assumed the cloak of duality. Form is made of but three things: energy, change, and love.
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-06-30 13:55, Sophie-David wrote:
Yes, I also have a problem with Campbell's language. There is definitely a strong male bias in his exploration of myth. There are many less female than male versions of the myths presented in his books. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, there is a whole chapter on the woman as temptress and no counterbalancing chapter on the man as tempter.
Sophie-David, one reason for this focusation on the male hero might be, that the traditional societies, who's myths Campbell retells, are focused on the male adventure. Also, I don't see why a male author should have any commitment to write about the female adventure. That does not mean, that a "more balanced" book wouldn't be desirable. But maybe Campbell was able to write only the one book, he has written, based on his individual and, of course, male perspective.

You can learn from many of Campbell's statements about women, that he saw the male hero as a kind of auxiliary person of women. The hero masters the universe not in the way a despot would do. It's rather a bilateral exchange.

Anonymous wrote:
If "he" is the master of the universe, shouldn't "she" be the universe? That seems to provide a significant duality to the theory
Yes, anonymous, Campbell reognized, that without duality there is no life. But it's not meant as a duality between master and servant, but between female and male, between creating and acting in the field of creation.

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Post by Sophie-David » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Martin and Anonymous

I think we also need to recognize that Campbell was a man of an earlier generation. For example, his core book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, was first published in 1949 when Joseph Campbell would have been about 55 years old. It would be unrealistic to expect that he would be as sensitive to gender issues as would those from later generations who grew up with much greater exposure to feminist ideals. I think he did a great job writing from the perspective of his time, and he did at least try to include some content depicting the journey of the female hero.

I would hope that it is one of the functions of these Conversations of a Higher Order to bring Campbell's ideas into a contemporary context. But some of what we say here will in its turn be viewed by those of succeeding generations as naive, trite, bigoted, insensitive, or irrelevant.

Other authors have since brought more gender sensistivity to the field of applied mythology. Jean Houston, a woman who partnered with Joseph Campbell in presenting workshops and seminars on the subject, is a good example.

As Isaac Newton wrote in a letter to his colleague Robert Hooke, February 1676:
If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Yes, I agree that Campbell had his own limitations. And that he is a product of his time, like we are products of ours. And so there is nobody to be blamed.

I do not know the books of Jean Houston, but I remember they were mentioned a couple of times in the forums. I think it's fine that Campbell did not the whole job, but left some work for Jean Houston and for you & me.

It's not so important, how our insights may be viewed by succeeding generations. I agree with you, that we have to find the right and limited approach for our own life. We are indeed standing on the shoulders of imperfect giants, and our own view is imperfect too.
Works of art are indeed always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

[It is a duality] between female and male, between creating and acting in the field of creation.

Hmmmmm, I'd still take "male" and "female" out of the explanation, particularly because they are so rooted in physical gender issues.

Instead of a dichotomy between "creating" and "acting" how about between acting and being? That's more of what I think of between a mistress of the universe and the universe...
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Post by Sophie-David » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Anonymous

As stated above, some of Campbell's language also makes me uncomfortable. Even before my encounter with my anima I was a feminist, but now I am living as one.

But I can't see how we can remove gender from psychology. As humans we have to have had the experience of a mother or substitute mother. We also have the experience of a father or at least of older male siblings or other adult males. These experiences can't help but colour our psyche and our world view. In particular, the experience of the mother has a profound effect on the psyche of the child, for she is the whole world both before birth and for many months after it.

If, as I suggest, Campbell was writing about the sacred marriage of persons, then gender is obviously going to be involved, in either a gay or a straight relationship. If we take Campbell's words as applying to the traditional Jungian model of each person having a male and female self then there is more room for interpretation.

I would suggest that Jung himself built this model from his clinical observations. Jung was of course a Freudian long before he was a Jungian. To explain the observations which didn't seem to fit the Freudian model, Jung advanced what would have been quite an odd theory at the time, that the unconscious expresses itself in the opposite gender.

In the development of a child, particularly of a male child for whom our society has much less tolerance of contra-sexual behaviour, all those things in the personality that she/he is taught are not or should not be go to the realm of the unconscious. No one is born purely male or female, but our society tends to treat us as if we were. In our male dominated society, much more of a boy's potentials are repressed into the unconscious than are a girl's. In general, a boy is not permitted to be "a mother's boy".

So as the years go by a man ends up with a rather large area of presumeably discarded potentials that are actually still living on in the unconscious. These unfullfilled potentials cause psychic tensions that frequently erupt as negative behaviour of one sort or another. The pysche has a natural desire to achieve its own wholeness and live in as complete a way as possible, so it will attempt to reassert the hidden self in whatever way it can.

If a man is fortunate, and very few are, the right set of circumstances will arise in which he will be able to reclaim these lost potentials in a positive way. A large part of the unconscious will then be revealed, and in a heterosexual man this lost self will be identified as female, since that is where his female sexuality has dwelt since it was first repressed.

In the case of a girl growing up in our patriarchal society, she is encouraged - and it becomes clear to her that it is an advantage - to take on male values and behaviours, the values and behaviours of her father or father figures. A girl tends to develop much less repression of the contra-sexual. In general, a girl is permitted to be "a tomboy".

Women therefore tend to grow up with more wholeness - less of humanity's behaviours and values are considered inappropriate for them. For example, in her sexuality a woman tends to have more tolerance for her own homosexual interests, just as society as a whole has a somewhat more tolerance for female gay couples than for male.

It would be wonderful if our society did not repress the contra-gender in its children, but that is not the case. Until that time, gender polarities will remain a very real element in the psychic structures of ordinary women and men.

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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

"But I can't see how we can remove gender from psychology."

Hmmm, perhaps my words have mislead you. I mean to substitute a different way of thinking about the journey. Both men and women have a "being" spirit and a "doing" spirit within them.
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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Sorry S-D, I just re-read your last post and have something else to include.

In an earlier post (in this thread), you indicated that you viewed Campbell's writings through a "time" distinction. I would carry that distinction over to your analysis of Jungian psychology, since Jung's writings *predate* Campbell's writings by several decades! Please note that what was considered a "tom-boy" in respect to girls may no longer be the same standard today as it was in Jung's day. Heck, just wearing a bikini would have been considered traitoriously way back then.

I am still thinking about the impact of "taught" gender distinctions you detailed in your last post.- Maybe its time to free the subconscious. To discuss the journey in an alternate way?

Perhaps the left had path...
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Post by Sophie-David » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Anonymous

Yes, Jung was also limited by the perspective of his time, as we all are. Like all psychological models, it is a starting point. For me, it was a way to understand the experience of a radical and unexpected change in my psyche that began with the discovery of an internal lover. The experience of the sacred marriage within came first, then I looked for an interpretation.

Recently I have been reading Jean Houston's book The Search for the Beloved. I think we can consider Jean to be our contemporary since she is very active in workshops and writing as we speak. From the intro and page 126:
...in nearly all traditions, sacred psychology assumes that the deepest yearning in every human soul is return to its spiritual source, there to experience communion and even union with the Beloved... Sacred pyschology asks, "Who is your double in the extended realm of the soul?" "For whom are you here as the asymmetrical partner, the exotype of the archetype?" "Who or what is yearning for you, calling to you, who is the Beloved you are always trying to remember?" The remembrance, discovery, and development of this union is key to this work, for it enables the emergent creative forms of the depth world, the world of the archetypal Beloved, to enter into you and, by extension, to enter into time and space. Thus the critical importance of pothos, the yearning for the great communion that completes our reality and causes the patterns of essential and existential realms to connect. The great desire for the Beloved of the soul, while always present, emerges from background to foreground when civilizations undergo whole-system transitions.
Do you use a different model altogether or have you refined the Jungian model in a different way? You're going to have to give me a bit more to go on here...

Of course the definition of "tom-boy" has changed since Jung's day (not that he would have used that term), but it still is an expression of one of the ways that society sexually stereotypes its children. Could you elaborate on what you are suggesting here?

Its hard to imagine how much freer my unconscious could be at this point without surrendering to madness. I have been experiencing a continuing path to greater wholeness, since the sacred union it has been a very rapid journey - in two months I have covered an unbelievable distance - so I'm not sure that this is a good time to be second-guessing alternate routes...

It's too bad this thread is not over in the Animus/Anima section where it would be more appropriate - perhaps one of the moderators could move it for us. I do hope you've read my posts on page four of that section, it may help us come to a more complete understanding.

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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Dear S-D,

Your post is intriguing.

“The experience of the sacred marriage within came first, then I looked for an interpretation.” Oooh, I’d really like to hear more about this experience. Can you tell me more?

I have not heard of Ms. Houston’s work before. I am just trying to read Campbell from my own (and I hope) more modern perspective. From the excerpt you have selected:

“Who is your double in the extended realm of the soul?" "For whom are you here as the asymmetrical partner, the exotype of the archetype?" "Who or what is yearning for you, calling to you, who is the Beloved you are always trying to remember?" The remembrance, discovery, and development of this union is key to this work, for it enables the emergent creative forms of the depth world, the world of the archetypal Beloved…”

I would note her use of the phrasing “asymmetrical partner” which I believe undercuts Campbell’s use of “duality” when speaking about the mythic journey. In fact, to me it sounds like she might be talking about the atonement with the “Father.”

Really my efforts at reading the material are aimed at minimizing the "expression of society's sexual stereotypes." I’m trying not to just blindly reestablish old ways of thinking, rather to try something on my own- perhaps like your Ms. Houston? Personally, given the wide variety of men that I know, both hetero and non, its very difficult for me to envision the whole spirit of the gender into one entity. Trying to envision the whole spirit of women, of which I am one, is equally impossible.

As to your final point, I don’t quite understand. I think the discussion is fine where it is. Why should it be moved to the Animus/Anima thread?

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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Folks!

S-D, wouldn't really be appropriate to move these posts into the anima-animus thread, as this thread was started by another associate, Lizpete, for the specific purpose of discussing a section of Hero with a Thousand Faces. Seems to me you are very much on topic.

I concur with my colleague Martin. Campbell deals with the myths that have been handed down to us, which do tend to have a heavy male focus. A couple reasons I can think of are that traditional cultures make a very big deal over ritualizing a boys passage to the men's camp... because there isn't an overt and powerful biological event that signals such a change, as there is for the girl. Something of an overcompensation! Indeed, the aboriginal rites of subincision that Campbell goes into, in great and uncomfortable detail, in Primitive Mythology, would seem to bear this out.

Women's rituals were either secretive or assimilated by a dominant, patriarchal systems. The stories that come down to us show us glimpses into what had gone on before in the form of the many goddess images from Medusa and Circe to Mary, which gives quite a range of imagery.

...And poor Telemachus is still trying to find his father.

Psychologically what's the message? I agree that we can look with a fresh eye from today's perspective. I'm wondering if the traditional male/hero journey to the father is a seperate but parallel female/hero journey to the mother. Are males still trying to compensate for the lack of an overt and powerful biological transition to manhood?

I think these questions are particularly significant for our mythologically bland culture.

Here's a tragic story of someone who was forced to take the wrong journey: LINK

Hope I haven't veered too much off the line you folks were pursuing.

Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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