Following the Marga

Joseph Campbell believed that "...each of us has an individual myth that's driving us, which we may or may not know." This forum is for assistance and inspiration in the quest to find your own personal mythology.

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Clemsy
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Post by Clemsy » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:41 pm

The more I study these stories the more I'm taken with how they tend not to end when they "should." Quest ends, dad dies, hero becomes king (atonement with the father), marries the queen (individuation, the reconciliation of opposites) and they lived happily ever after.

Not quite.

Seems as with Jason, Theseus becomes complacent and dies an ignoble death. This came up in class this year and we decided that the hero didn't do what everyone must do and that's move on. Life is one uroboral round after another, one hero journey after another. You stop growing, you die.

There's something of this in Beowulf also.
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Post by JamesN. » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:49 am

Hey Clemsy.

Indeed it seems this is a recurring situation throughout a lot of these different myths; also depending upon which period of time they are located in and who is telling the story. Joseph Campbell talked about the differences in the Christian interpretation for instance and how one culture would see it one way and another would have it differently. I assume this probably would be a similar condition with the Buddhist or Hindu traditions as well; ( especially the oldest ones ). Really adds a nice conundrum over which one to believe; huh? Seeing these metaphorically is one thing; but which one to choose is the trick I guess. :wink: Time passage also seems to play a lot into this as well. As I was looking through the " Muses " link there were a lot of variations between the different stories in some ways; but they were still vessels or givers of these divine gifts. Another interesting example might be the difference between the " The Odessey " and " The Aeneid "; the Romans really admired the Greek mythic sensibility so they just stole from them; their " Gods " and all. ( I liked the way Joe put it: " Realm or Garden of the Muses. " It seems to suit the dilemma; but after that you are on your own. :lol: )


Addendum: Another thought that occurred to me was it is perhaps very difficult I think to truly know how the ancients perceived and experienced a " Myth "; and by that I mean interpreted within a spiritual connection. In today's technological world; ( especially in the west ); I think many people may have a more abstract way of separating themselves from the spiritual or divine view of things as it were; than say the ( Ancient World ) or a more " folkloric " centered culture. Even from within the " Christendom " of the past there exists a huge difference between the cosmological display of a Gothic Cathedral and a Protestant Sanctuary as expressed today. And " East of Suez " as Joseph used to say; would have an entirely different utilization of this whole set of functions and roles that are employed. Then of course there are the other various myths such as: ( African; indigenous or native North and South American; and so on ). Although " cultural " instead of ( primitive ) would probably be the best way to frame this particular aspect.

One last thing I think also plays into this is that humans really like " formulas "; and life definitely doesn't operate by a set dynamic; ( expect the unexpected. )


Speaking of the Greeks I just now came across this quote from Diane Osbon's " Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion ":
The goal is to live with godlike composure on the full rush of energy, like Dionysus riding the leopard, without being torn to pieces.
:)
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Post by Cindy B. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:45 pm

the Romans really admired the Greek mythic sensibility so they just stole from them; their " Gods " and all
It was religious syncretism. :)
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by JamesN. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:54 pm

Thank you Cindy.

Although I presented this in a somewhat humorous manner as always you are spot on; ( this is always helpful and always appreciated ). Here is another link; again from Wikipedia; taken from Cindy's that further illustrates this understanding:
The Romans, identifying themselves as common heirs to a very similar civilization, identified Greek deities with similar figures in the Etruscan-Roman tradition, though without usually copying cult practices. (For details, see Interpretatio graeca.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretatio_graeca


( I'm not sure if the Romans had a substitute for the " Labyrinth ". :wink: ) :P
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Post by JamesN. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:56 pm

Clemsy and Cindy; I found this quote from Carl Jung since the symbol " Ouroborous " seems to be at the heart of so many issues concerning the Psyche. It was taken from a site with the link posted within the quote. I am not sure as to it's authenticity but it seems to be correct. I especially like the last part which seems to bear a similarity with the " Chrysalis or Alchemical " process referred to in some of the past ( metamorphosis or transformational ) related discussions.
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung saw the Ouroboros as an archetype and the basic mandala of alchemy. His description of the significance of this symbol was a complex one:


“The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness. In the age-old image of the Ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which [...] unquestionably stems from man’s unconscious.”

- See more at: http://ouroboroscycle.com/blog/?cat=9#s ... K4gTn.dpuf
Addendum: I realize this topic has been discussed elsewhere in the forums but was not sure if this particular quote had been spotted. :)
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Post by Cindy B. » Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:05 pm

Yes, Jung considered the true alchemists to be history's "first depth psychologists." :)
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by JamesN. » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:10 pm

Cindy B. wrote:Yes, Jung considered the true alchemists to be history's "first depth psychologists." :)
Thanks Cindy. I found these 2 Wikipedia links and thought they added further insight:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose practitioners have, from antiquity, claimed it to be the precursor to profound powers. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied, but historically have typically included one or more of the following goals: the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone; the ability to transform base metals into the noble metals (gold or silver); and development of an elixir of life, which would confer youth and longevity.

Alchemy differs significantly from modern science in its inclusion of Hermetic principles and practices related to mythology, magic, religion, and spirituality. It is recognized as a protoscience that contributed to the development of modern chemistry and medicine. Alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory, terminology, and experimental method, some of which are still in use today.
( And )
Psychology[edit]

Alchemical symbolism has been used by psychologists such as Carl Jung who reexamined alchemical symbolism and theory and presented the inner meaning of alchemical work as a spiritual path.[101][102] Jung was deeply interested in the occult since his youth, participating in seances, which he used as the basis for his doctoral dissertation "On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena."[103] In 1913, Jung had already adopted a "spiritualist and redemptive interpretation of alchemy", likely reflecting his interest in the occult literature of the 19th century.[104] Jung began writing his views on alchemy from the 1920s and continued until the end of his life. His interpretation of Chinese alchemical texts in terms of his analytical psychology also served the function of comparing Eastern and Western alchemical imagery and core concepts and hence its possible inner sources (archetypes).[105][106][107]

Jung saw alchemy as a Western proto-psychology dedicated to the achievement of individuation.[101][107] In his interpretation, alchemy was the vessel by which Gnosticism survived its various purges into the Renaissance,[107][108] a concept also followed by others such as Stephan A. Hoeller. In this sense, Jung viewed alchemy as comparable to a Yoga of the East, and more adequate to the Western mind than Eastern religions and philosophies. The practice of Alchemy seemed to change the mind and spirit of the Alchemist. Conversely, spontaneous changes on the mind of Western people undergoing any important stage in individuation seems to produce, on occasion, imagery known to Alchemy and relevant to the person's situation.[109] Jung did not completely reject the material experiments of the alchemists, but he massively downplayed it, writing that the transmutation was performed in the mind of the alchemist. He claimed the material substances and procedures were only a projection of the alchemists' internal state, while the real substance to be transformed was the mind itself.[110]

Marie-Louise von Franz, a disciple of Jung, continued Jung's studies on alchemy and its psychological meaning. Jung's work exercised a great influence on the mainstream perception of alchemy, his approach becoming a stock element in many popular texts on the subject to this day.[111] Modern scholars are sometimes critical of the Jungian approach to alchemy as overly reflective of 19th-century occultism.[20][85][112]
( And ):
Relation to Hermeticism[edit]

In the eyes of a variety of esoteric and Hermetic practitioners, the heart of alchemy is spiritual. Transmutation of lead into gold is presented as an analogy for personal transmutation, purification, and perfection.[6] This approach is often termed 'spiritual', 'esoteric', or 'internal' alchemy.
8)



( Although it seems from there if we get deeper into " Hermeticism " the slope can get a little more slippery and religion starts to become more of a dynamic . ) :wink:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermeticism
Hermeticism, also called Hermetism,[1][2] is a religious and philosophical tradition based primarily upon pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus ("Thrice Great").[3] These writings have greatly influenced the Western esoteric tradition and were considered to be of great importance during both the Renaissance[4] and the Reformation.[5] The tradition claims descent from a prisca theologia, a doctrine which affirms that a single, true theology exists which is present in all religions and was given by God to man in antiquity.[6][7]
( And )
Much of the importance of Hermeticism arises from its connection with the development of science during the time from 1300 to 1600 A.D.[citation needed] The prominence that it gave to the idea of influencing or controlling nature led many scientists to look to magic and its allied arts (e.g., alchemy, astrology)[citation needed] which, it was thought, could put Nature to the test by means of experiments.[citation needed] Consequently it was the practical aspects of Hermetic writings that attracted the attention of scientists.[citation needed]

Isaac Newton placed great faith in the concept of an unadulterated, pure, ancient doctrine, which he studied vigorously to aid his understanding of the physical world. Many of Newton's manuscripts—most of which are still unpublished—detail his thorough study of the Corpus Hermeticum, writings said to have been transmitted from ancient times, in which the secrets and techniques of influencing the stars and the forces of nature were revealed.

I could offer more quotes to further expand on these different interconnected or related ideas but needless to say; ( if I am stating this correctly ); this " Mystical " element combined within the psychological ( search for meaning ) I think plays a part in the individual's ( Quest ) or " Marga " in the ( Individuation ) process. :idea:
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Post by JamesN. » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:02 pm

I have recently rediscovered an old resource of Joseph Campbell's themes which is a series of dialogues between Joseph Campbell and Michael Toms.

Here is one exchange I that think fits quite nicely within the concept of " Marga " within a societal understanding starting with cultural hero's:
Toms: " They filled the model "; Joseph: " They filled the model. But they're not doing much for using the way of helping us build our own lives. There very few models for life. I think the individual has to find his own model. I found mine ".

Toms: " Isn't it important to respect our own uniqueness? " Joseph: " I think that is the most important thing of all. That's why, as I said, you really can't follow a guru. You can't ask somebody to give ( The Reason ), but you can find one for yourself: you decide what the meaning of your life is to be. People talk about the meaning of life; there is no meaning of life - there are lots of meanings of different lives, and you must decide what you want your own to be "
.

:idea:
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Post by CarmelaBear » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:56 am

We invent or adopt our own Yellow Brick Marga.

~
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Post by JamesN. » Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:21 pm

CarmelaBear wrote:We invent or adopt our own Yellow Brick Marga.

~
Carmela if you remove the " Yellow Brick " I think you would be closer to what he is saying about this process. This is not necessarily about creating a " sacred space " of refuge but of experiencing an " illumination of realization ". I believe " discover and follow " as in ( path ) would be more correct as to what Joseph Campbell meant by the term " Marga ". To me the assimilation or reflective aspect toward understanding life's meaning as applied to one's self is the key to what he is pointing out in this regard.

From page 83; " Reflections an the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion ":

Quote:
( Jung speaks of the curve of a lifetime being divided in half: the first half is the time of relationships, and the second half is the time of finding the sense of life within; or, as the Hindu's say, " following the marga " -the path, the footsteps of the human experience you've had -to your own inward life. )
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Post by JamesN. » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:29 pm

One of the things I have been focused on lately that has been very helpful to me is the theme of " Personal Myth " which I think is directly related to the idea of ( Marga ). And this idea that both Jung and Campbell stress seems to indicate that it is within this ( discovery process ) of one's own individual experience of this " awareness " that the consciousness of " self-realization " occurs.
When Jung said he wanted to find out what the myth was by which he was living, what he wanted to find out was what that unconscious or subliminal thing was that was making him do these peculiar, irrational things and giving him problems that his consciousness then had to resolve. Joseph Campbell (Pathways to Bliss, 90) - See more at: http://mythicdreams.org/454/#sthash.84DqG6AQ.dpuf

( This site has a wealth of information in easy digestible bites of subject matter that explores many of Carl Jung's concepts that are connected to Joseph Campbell's ideas. )

http://mythicdreams.org/archive/
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Post by creekmary » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:01 pm

James I like that quote! "Following the footsteps" of your experiences back to yourself. Kind of like the saying that you have to go where you've been to get to where you are. All of those "why me?" questions. Sometimes it's just to get you ready for something down the road.

Susan
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Post by JamesN. » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:39 pm

creekmary wrote:James I like that quote! "Following the footsteps" of your experiences back to yourself. Kind of like the saying that you have to go where you've been to get to where you are. All of those "why me?" questions. Sometimes it's just to get you ready for something down the road.

Susan
Very nicely put Susan; especially this:
you have to go where you've been to get to where you are.
This " realization " actually seems to be a part of the ( stage of life ) illumination I think that both Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell are hinting at within the " Individuation " process itself. ( Cindy might be able to frame this better; but this is the impression I am getting. )

8)



( Here is another quote that I think refers back to this theme of " Personal Myth " and it's relationship to both Life Stage; Individuation; and one's individual path or " Marga " ):
I say the way to find your myth is to find your zeal, to find your support, and to know what stage of life you’re in. The problems of youth are not the problems of age. Don’t try to live your life too soon. By listening too much to gurus, you try to jump over the whole darn thing and back off and become wise before you’ve experienced that in relation to which there is some point to being wise. This thing, wisdom, has to come gradually. There are something like 18 billion cells in the brain alone. There are no two brains alike; there are no two hands alike; there are no two human beings alike. You can take your instructions and your guidance from others, but you must find your own path, just like one of Arthur’s knights seeking the Grail in the forest. It is this quality of the Occidental spirit that strikes other cultures is so silly in romantic. What is it we’re questing for? It is the fulfillment of that which is potential in each of us. Questing for it is not an ego trip; it is an adventure to bring into fulfillment your gift to the world, which is yourself. There’s nothing you can do that’s more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence; in this way, you will find, live, and become a realization of your own personal myth. Joseph Campbell (Pathways to Bliss, 108) - See more at: http://mythicdreams.org/become-a-realiz ... E2bfo.dpuf
:idea:
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Post by JamesN. » Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:55 pm

One of the things within the topic of this thread that seems to emerge on a regular basis throughout much of Joseph Campbell's work and his connection to Carl Jung's themes is the idea of a " Personal Myth " and how this relates to what is ( driving ) the individual. So the problem then becomes identifying what that is within the individual's consciousness; ( recognizing it; coming to terms with it; and then utilizing it ). This exert from Dan Gronwald's: " Mythic Dream " site takes a passage from Joseph Campbell's: " Pathways To Bliss " and frames this understanding very well I think:

http://mythicdreams.org/jung-what-myth-do-i-live-by/
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Post by JamesN. » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:51 pm

( I am moving a response I posted on the " Jung in the weeds " thread over here since there is already a connection to ( personal myth ) established and the fit seems better suited to this one. The topic under discussion that I brought up was concerning a chapter in Stephen Larson's book " The Mythic Imagination: The Quest For Meaning Through Personal Mythology " and how it relates to Carl Jung's and Joseph Campbell's themes.
The difficulty I feel for many people who try to access this Jungian element; ( at least as I am coming to understand it ); is the ability to " isolate and identify " within one's own individual consciousness not only what determines a ( personal myth ); but to recognize the often nebulousness of difference between what constitutes one's identity and their own personal myth. Like for instance say a parental or cultural myth that might be imprinted upon a child and the extraction of a separate individual or personal identifiable essence that could be defined as unique to them alone. ( i.e. goal of individuation ). Idea

What I seem to be finding time and again is not only a very loose and " very " nebulous definition of the term " personal myth "; but how one might identify the unique qualities that define for the individual what that might be. Larsen for instance relates a story of female a patient's dream of her mother and herself having a conversation while looking in the mirror. Her mother is somewhat aloof, distracted, and disengaged where upon the patient as a child looks into the mirror and asks the question: " What is my myth? " Larsen makes the distinction here that there is difference in asking: " Who am I? " and " What is my myth? " ( Now this is a somewhat oversimplification of the issue; but indicative I think of the problem of making these very complex and subtle distinctions. ) And if one starts with the premise of finding and unraveling their own personal labyrinth to understand what is ticking inside them I think you have to be clear on this starting place. )

Larsen addresses this issue from several different vantage points and identifies many of the reasons for this confusion; but in the end I think the central question remains for any individual of: ( " What is " my personal myth ? " ). If there is not a clear distinction of what exactly constitutes a personal myth it is going to be extremely difficult to navigate the process of finding it within many of the given cultural forms from the religious to the scientific whether from concretized fundamentalism or the non-religious more secular domain. For instance to see a myth as a group of constellated concepts and symbols or images within an enclosed understanding of interpretation is one thing; such as Classical Greek, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, or Christian; but how then does one translate or interpret this perception into a psychological understanding? Throughout the chapter Larsen goes into William Blake, Yeats, Joyce, Mann; as well as quotes from other various other analysts in addressing different perspectives concerning the topic; but he continues to refer to the theme of " personal myth and the individual's task of assimilation ".
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