Audio Lecture Series I

Audio Lecture Series I

Always at his best as an impromptu speaker, Campbell shines in these recordings, both as a scholar and as a master storyteller. These lectures are from early in his career, including recordings of his famous lectures at the Cooper Union.

Series IVol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 6

Series I consists of six volumes, each with five audio lectures (at about 60 minutes each).


Use the tabs to navigate the volumes in this series…

Volume 1: Mythology and the Individual
Volume 2: Inward Journey: East and West
Volume 3: The Eastern Way
Volume 4: Man and Myth
Volume 5: Myths and Masks of God
Volume 6: The Western Quest

New! Series I is now available as a megabundle!

Get all 30 lectures in Series I (normally $5.99 each) for $124.99. That’s a savings of $54.71…

Volume 1: Mythology and the Individual

These five talks, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore the ways in which mythology serves and shapes the individual. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Get the five lectures in Series I, Volume 1 (normally $5.99 each) for $25. That’s a savings of $4.95…

Or explore each lecture individually…

In the human heart and in the human mind -- no matter what the race, the culture, the language, the tradition -- there is at least the sense of a mystery, and an awesome and a very terrifying mystery inhabiting the whole universe: the very mystery of being itself. -- Joseph Campbell

Early shrines and cave art suggest that human beings were aware of a grand mystery far beyond themselves more than 100,000 years ago. Modern investigations into early mythologies have revealed basic motifs and recurring themes. Joseph Campbell shows how these ancient myths and symbols celebrate the mysteries of life and can sustain us today.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

In the wonderful Inferno of Dante, as he wandered through these hell pits, he recognized all of his friends. In the Greek world, when the heroes go to the underworld, they recognize their friends, However, in the Oriental hells and heavens--whether of the Buddhist, or the Hindu, or the Jain type--you do not recognize anybody. They are not the same person they were on earth.... This is a continuing theme in the farther Orient; you are not this body, you are not this ego, you are to think of this as something merely put on to be thrown away again. -- Joseph Campbell

In Western mythologies, the individual personality is a permanent entity, surviving as a distinct and definable self even in the afterworld. In Oriental mythologies, there is no enduring personality, but rather a "reincarnating monad," an entity which goes through a series of bodies, putting them on and taking them off as if they were clothes. In this lecture, Joseph Campbell illuminates this fundamental difference between Eastern and Western beliefs and explores the way in which these ideas influence us today.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

These two systems of ideal--one teaching the beauty and majesty of the religious submission before God, the other the heroism of the humanistic insistence of the values of man--are in collision, and distinctly so in the Christian tradition, I would say, more than in any others.... Christ is God, who has come down to do this, and we are not God. In the Indian story that I spoke of earlier, all of us are that being. The divine power is immanent in us all, and what the god incarnate represents is our own very being. ~Joseph Campbell

Two systems of ideals--one teaching the beauty and majesty of submission to God, the other emphasizing the values of heroism and humankind--have long been at odds, especially in the Christian tradition. In this lecture, Joseph Campbell explores the concepts of Christ both as a Promethean figure and a Job figure--bringing the fire of redemption, suffering for our sins--and describes the crucifix as a synthesizing symbol, a sign of divinity and humanity alike.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

The old texts comfort us with horizons, they tell us that a loving, a kind, a just father is out there. But according to the scientific view, nobody knows what is out there, or if there is any "out there" at all. There is just a display of things that our senses bring to us.... What lies beyond is a mystery so great that it is going to be inexhaustible in its revelations, and man has to be great enough to receive it. ~Joseph Campbell

With the coming of scientific revolution, the notion of "truth" was replaced by a tireless quest for knowledge. Humankind saw the protective horizon of the universe disappear, replaced by ever-changing hypotheses and indistinct horizons. In this two-part lecture, Joseph Campbell considers how science has challenged human beliefs, the perceptions of the individual, and the meanings of mythology, and then explores the impact of science on the "adventurous enterprise of today."

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Myths are public dreams; dreams are private myths. By finding your own dream and following it through, it will lead you to the myth-world in which you live. But just as in dream, the subject and object, though they seem to be separate, are really the same. ~Joseph Campbell

Dreams--the intimate noise of our existence--are the place where two levels of consciousness meet: the consciousness we witness, and the consciousness of our inner being. Dreams can lead us to an awareness of the divinity within us. In this lecture, Joseph Campbell explores the significance of dreams and their relationship to myths, how certain Western beliefs have translated myths into "waking consciousness" symbols, and why Eastern teachers have proved so attractive to Westerners. He then goes on to explain how yoga can give us access to "deep sleep awake" and the visions and awareness that await us there.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Volume 2: Inward Journey: East and West

These five talks, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore the roots of myth, its psychological manifestations, and the ways in which it has expressed itself differently in India and East Asia on the one hand and Europe and the Middle East on the other. These recordings, which have been remastered, were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Get the five lectures in Series I, Volume 2 (normally $5.99 each) for $25. That’s a savings of $4.95…

Or explore each lecture individually…

The first function [of mythology] is to reconcile consciousness to existence or to reject existence. The second function is to present an image of the universe through which the sensed meaning, or power, or nature of life will be rendered. The third function is to validate and maintain a certain given moral order, and it is here that the mythologies differ greatly from one place to another. And the fourth and final function is to harmonize and deepen the psyche -- the psychological structure and experience of the individual. -- Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell first discusses the four functions of a viable mythology, then the fundamental difference between mythologies that affirm existence and those that reject it. With this review, he provides not only a basis for a philosophy of mythology, but also a metaphor for the crucial decision each individual must make as well: namely, whether to be reconciled with -- or to withdraw from -- life in all of its terrible glory.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

When one studies primitive mythologies, the imagery of the mythological world derives from the psychological experiences of the shamans. The source of the imagery of primitive myths is the shaman's psychological crisis. The shaman is a person who in his early puberty has cracked off, broken off and gone into what we would today call a psychosis. -- Joseph Campbell

In the imagery of the schizophrenic's experience, Joseph Campbell recognized a synthesis of mythological motifs similar to Jung's archetypes. He recounts Dr. John Weir Perry's analysis of an individual's descent into madness: the break away or departure from everyday reality, a retreat inward with dark encounters of a symbolic kind, and finally -- in the most fortunate cases -- a return journey of rebirth and renewal.

He then follows the uncanny parallels between these stages and the "universal formula" of the hero's journey gathered from mythologies of cultures around the world, and reveals how the phases of the schizophrenic's crisis correspond to the separation, initiation, and the return of the shaman's experience during his voyage into other worlds. In later years, Campbell would learn that filmmakers George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick modeled their own work on his Hero with a Thousand Faces, the groundbreaking book that explores this "monomyth" of the hero journey.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Just as for the American Indian the buffalo dropped away, and with it their public social mythology, so for us: the world has moved past, and our mythology has dropped off, and we are turned inward, and [the gurus and zen masters] are the ones who are teaching us how to turn inward in this adventurous quest of finding again those images in ourselves which the society can no longer render to us. -- Joseph Campbell

Observing that the "West" is increasingly disenchanted with traditional religious beliefs and practices, Campbell argues that the time is ripe for the cross-fertilization of Eastern and Western cultures. He presents an illuminating analogy to our present situation in the plight of the Plains Indians near the end of the nineteenth century when the old ways were disappearing with the buffalo and their old wisdom was no longer effective. For Campbell, the response of these people of the Plains is a vivid metaphor for what modern people must do. Their adoption of the peyote religion encouraged inward visionary experiences and was an example of how a people can find the sacred even when it has been lost to the society.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

The realms of the gods and demons -- heaven, purgatory, hell -- are of the substance of dreams.... The mythology is the dream of the world. And if taken objectively as though there were gods, well then they are the counterpart of your dream -- this is a very important point: dream and myth are of the same logic. -- Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell contrasts the disintegration of man's modern religious practices with what he calls "symbolic systems of rebirth in time." For Campbell, the most fascinating systems are "myths to live by," beliefs and practices to help individuals with the frustrations in life that come from not living our "true self." The goal of the ancient discipline of yoga was important to him because it emphasizes the discovery and experience of the true self. The heart of this lecture is an explanation of the chakras in the body and the meditation techniques that connect daily consciousness to the eternal self. Through the practice of rousing the kundalini energy of the serpent coiled up at the base of the spine, it is believed that one might go to "the place beyond dream."

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

In the ultimate illumination, all pairs of opposites are transcended, are left behind. And this world as we know and experience it is the perfect lotus world -- this is nirvana, as it looks.... The whole world as it lives is a manifestation of this radiant mystery, and we do not see it. -- Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell first discusses the links between the ancient Hindu practice of Yoga and modern depth psychology. He then reviews the seven chakras (energy centers) of kundalini yoga and tells how a practitioner can raise kundalini energy up the spine from the first to the seventh chakra. If this is accomplished, the veil of Maya (illusion) is raised, and the world around us becomes transparent to the transcendent.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Volume 3: The Eastern Way

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore the myths and symbols of the religions in India and East Asia. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Get the five lectures in Series I, Volume 3 (normally $5.99 each) for $25. That’s a savings of $4.95…

Or explore each lecture individually…

The whole point of the Oriental wisdom and mythic themes is that we are not in exile, but that the god is within you. You can’t be exiled from it. All that can happen is that you don’t know it—that you don’t realize it, that you haven’t found a way to open your consciousness to this presence, which is right within you. -- Joseph Campbell

In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores the fascinating differences between western belief systems and the wisdom of the Orient. In the West, there is an emphasis on humanity’s exile from the Garden of Eden and, hence, on our separation from God. In Oriental mythic traditions, however, there was no exile and, moreover, one can never be separate from God, because God is within every soul. Problems of alienation arise only when one has not opened up to a realization of the God consciousness within them.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Yoga is the intentional stopping of the spontaneous activity of the mind substance. Now the notion is that within what is called the gross matter of the mind… there functions what we now call electricity. This is called subtle matter in the Indian tradition, and this is in continuous activity. The goal of yoga is to make it stop being active.— Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell was fascinated by the various forms of yoga, traditional Indian spiritual practices that use meditation, physical exercises, and special breathing techniques to turn an individual's focus to an inward path. In this talk, he surveys several yogic traditions the rigorous Kuṇḍalinī Yoga; Jñāna, or “philosophical,” Yoga; and Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. While extreme psycho-physiological exercises such as those of Kuṇḍalinī Yoga might not be appropriate for everyone, he argues, each of us can shape our destiny through the practice of one or another form of yoga.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

In traditional Hinduism, each caste has its own laws, its own morality, its own place in the society, and the individual is given so many laws to attend to that his whole life is spent doing what he aught do and he never has a moment to think, What would I like to do? The function of these laws is to bind the individual to the group absolutely so that he is not what we would call an individual.— Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell explores the rich cultural tradition of Hinduism, its basis as a tribal religion, and way in which its myths, laws and rituals shape the lives of its adherents. He speaks at length about the caste system and the structure that it gave traditional Indian life, as well as the idea of dharma (duty or virtue) as the driving ideal. He speaks too of the traditional āśramas or stages of a pious Hindu life, as one seeks to become the perfect manifestation of one’s dharma, first within the society and then outside of the culture’s boundaries in the forest.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

No experience can be taught; all that can be taught is the way to an experience. Hence Buddhism is something that is implicit in ourselves and is to be achieved through experience but cannot be delivered to us like a package. No sooner did [the Buddha] have this illumination than the deities themselves came down and they said, "Teach." So he said, "For the good of man and the gods I will teach." But what he teaches is not Buddhism; what he teaches is the way to Buddhism; and this is called the Middle Way. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell argues that, more than any other religion, Buddhism is a psychological system. Campbell then surveys the Buddha’s life, describing the crisis that led to his illumination under the Bo tree. He directs our attention to fundamental similarities between the mythological symbols of Buddhism and those of Christianity, and explores some of the various ‘ferryboats’ or yanas by which Buddhist teachers have sought to help their followers find nirvāṇa, the extinguishing of the self that brings enlightenment.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

When one looks at the glorious panorama of Indian art one sees a repetition of themes; beautiful themes, dependable themes, motifs that recur time and time again. And if you compare that galaxy of forms with their counterDisks in post renaissance Europe you’ll be struck by the absence of individual inflection in any of these works.
—Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell begins this exploration of the ways in which the concepts of Oriental mythology are traditionally rendered by observing that, in the Orient as elsewhere, all forms of creative expression can be ranged along a continuum at one extreme are representational forms, such as portrait painting or sculptures of Buddha, that have an iconographic function; at the other extreme, are more abstracted depictions, such as brush-stroke calligraphy, that seek to express man's transcendental relationship to nature.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Volume 4: Man and Myth

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, examine the way in myth and symbols affect and serve the individual, tying together lessons from religion, anthropology, art and modern psychology. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Get the five lectures in Series I, Volume 4 (normally $5.99 each) for $25. That’s a savings of $4.95…

Or explore each lecture individually…

There are two orders of dream. There is the simple personal dream, where you get tangled up in your own personal twists and resistances to your life and so forth…. But then there is another level of dream which we call vision where one has gone past the sphere of his personal horizon and confronted the great universal problems that are those rendered in the great myths. —Joseph Campbell

In this thought-provoking talk, Joseph Campbell explores the origins of myth. Building on Jung’s observations that myths are like dreams, he argues that the source of both myth and dream is the human psyche. Myths, it could be said, are public dreams; dreams are private myths.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Sample:

https://www.jcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/10-The-Moth-and-the-Flame.mp3

Jung began reading ravenously the works that had already been published on mythology, and this thought came to him—what it means live by and with a myth and what it means to live without one. And he asked himself on this occasion by what myth he was living and he found he did not know. And so he proposed it to himself as his task of tasks that he should find by what myth he was living. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell opens this wide-ranging talk by observing that the living of life is itself a ritual act, and if society is to function, people must play various roles. Mythology gives us images of an array of roles to play, teaches us how to transcend our egos and play human roles, and helps us relate our inner worlds to outer realities. Campbell looks at the way in which twentieth-century psychology and literature have explored the ways in which myth informs our secularized society.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

I think one could define a symbol as an energy-releasing and -directing image, and since the symbolic systems of the world include many symbols that are practically universal, the questions comes up as to the universality of symbol, and then how the universal symbol should be directed to this, that or another culture intention. What is it that affects these directions? —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell begins by noting how a symbol can work as a kind of “automatic button” to release and channel energy. Why do some symbols seem almost universally potent? It is because such resonant symbols speak to human experiences that have remained constant throughout the ages. Campbell explores how an individual’s relationship to society changes as one grows from infancy to old age. A culture’s view of this shifting dynamic is best understood, he argues, by examining the symbols with which the society expresses its ideals. He shows how western psychologists, Diskicularly Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, have shaped our understanding of the human experience. He concludes with a discussion of key Oriental beliefs, demonstrating how the prevailing myths and dominant symbols of each culture reinforce its understanding of an individual’s role.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Life is a monstrous, horrendous presence and you live on it. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that. The first function of a mythological order has been to reconcile consciousness to this fact. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell begins this talk by noting that a principle function of mythology is to reconcile human consciousness to the preconditions of its existence, to life that lives on life. He explores how rites and symbols, seemingly burdensome and punitive to the adolescent mind, reveal deeper meanings as the individual matures. Thus, Campbell observes, rites and symbols enable a society to affirm life and ensure that certain values are passed along to future generations.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Now what do you have in your life for which you would sacrifice your life…? What is the great thing? What makes you do what you do, what is the call of your life to you? Do you have it? In the old traditions this was given to people and it held whole culture worlds together. Every great civilization has grown out of a mythic base. In our day there is great confusion and we’re thrown back on ourselves. We have to find that thing which in truth works for us this way. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell discusses what it means to live with a personal myth and what it means to live without one. In the past, every great culture grew out of a mythic base. Each had a vibrant mythology, expressive rituals, and potent symbols that infused meaning into such experiences as death and loss, pain and sorrow, fear and desire. That is not, unfortunately, the situation today.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Volume 5: Myths and Masks of God

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore what it means to approach and experience the divine. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Get the five lectures in Series I, Volume 5 (normally $5.99 each) for $25. That’s a savings of $4.95…

Or explore each lecture individually…

One way… to destroy the value and spiritual effect of a symbol of this spiritual kind is to say that it refers to a historical event. A spiritual symbol, a religious symbol, a mythic symbol is valid and true here, now and for always. It is not a reference to something that happened somewhere else at another time. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell uses the biblical tale of the Garden of Eden as the starting point for an exploration of how we interpret symbolic forms. Observing that certain Western religious traditions view this story of Man’s “fall from grace” as a recounting of an actual event, he insists that this literal, historical perspective provides a limited understanding of the Garden story.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

The mythological realm is the realm that supports our realm. In philosophical language it could be compared to the realm of Platonic ideas. It is that realm of eternal principals, eternal forms which bring forth the passing mortal forms of the world. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell first distinguishes myth from the adventure story and the fairy tale. Then he describes the way in which myths are true. Though people who live by a mythology might not regard their myths as empirically true, mythic images continuously penetrate their psyches. So these people are living, Campbell argues, in a mythological realm, where their normal sense of space and time is suspended, and their visions in that dimension are therefore true.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

When our guiding mythology corresponds to that of our culture, our dreams will be regarded, so to say, as visions. We will be experiencing the divine in the form in which our society regards and cherishes it. But if we are dislocated a little bit, our dreams will be rather bizarre and odd; those, however, are [nonetheless] the signals of our own myth. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell charts the historic evolution of our experience of the divine. He describes the views of early hunters on the open plains, who deified their animal providers; the different reality of denizens of tropical forests, whose sacrifice rituals reflect the world around them; and the desire of inhabitants of the first villages to harmonize daily life with the mathematical progression of planets and stars. Common to these mythic visions, he observes, is the idea that the divine is “out there” in some form.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

A myth is a poetic image that points past itself to an ineffable truth and so it can’t be called a concept…. But a myth, a mythology is a total image of the universe which operates in a social context to shape the society and it operates in a physiological context to shape a coordinated, harmonious psyche. It points past society, the universe, and the psyche to this mystery that I’m speaking about. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell explores the original sources of various images of divinity in religions around the world. No experience, he reminds us, can be fully understood except by the person who has had that experience; and nowhere, he observes, is this limitation more apparent than in the context of religious experience. As a result, the poetic images used to describe such experiences are often misunderstood by others.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

We have a highly differentiated society able to absorb people of many, many different faiths, but that means that the society itself cannot be governed by a single faith. Even that phrase that we have on our coins, ‘In God We Trust,’ does not evoke a response from everyone. For instance if you were to go to Hawaii… over half the population are Buddhist, [who] do not believe in a god. Even that apparently rather innocuous statement is not valid anymore for many of the citizens of our community. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell explores the origins of important Judeo-Christian religious motifs. He interprets a range of religious symbols, from the western crucifix and its associations with the tree of life to the “fear not” mudrå the gesture of raised hand with exposed palm in eastern sacred sculpture. A central concern of all great mythologies, he notes, has always been the dynamic relationship between life and death.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Volume 6: The Western Quest

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore how the modern European cultural explosion from the Middle Ages to the present, with its emphasis on the individual’s quest for fulfillment, has expressed itself mythologically. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Get the five lectures in Series I, Volume 6 (normally $5.99 each) for $25. That’s a savings of $4.95…

Or explore each lecture individually…

As I say, the function finally of myths is to introduce you by way of the mārga, of the [universal] path, to the deep psychological and mystical the two being ultimately one. The mystery of your psyche and the mystery of the universe is one. —Joseph Campbell

Throughout the myths of the world, certain elementary ideas appear that transcend all borders and languages, yet these universals are always clothes in the historical and social trappings of their native culture. In this far-reaching talk, Campbell explores the dynamic balance between these universals and their local manifestations by focusing on the central myths of the four ancient centers of high civilization: China, India, the Near East, and Europe. Central to his exploration is the way in which their primal myths continue to or fail to serve them to this day.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

The Persian poets asked, “What is it that sustains Satan in his eternal, infinitely painful exile?” Because the deepest pain of Hell is not the fire or the stench but the depravation of the true love of the soul—namely God. And the answer with respect to this Satan is that he is sustained by his recollection of the sound of the voice of God when God said, “Be gone.” —Joseph Campbell

Love is central to all of the world's mythologies. Why does love—that most transcendent, yet most personal, of emotions—occupy such a primary place in our most fundamental myths? The Greeks saw Eros, the god of love, as both the oldest of the gods and as the infant reborn “fresh and dewy-eyed in every loving heart.” In one Persian myth, love is the reason for Lucifer's fall he loved God so much he would not bow to God's creation, Man. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the poet has a vision of a strand of love connecting the lowest depths of Hell, through Purgatory and Heaven, to God Himself.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Europe had perfectly good religions and mythologies going fine and then [Christianity] is brought in on top of it. And what you get then… is an attempt on the part of the European mind to assimilate this and translate it into something like European thinking. And in my view the great moment of that achievement is represented in the Arthurian romances. You have a Christian vocabulary but completely European form of consciousness. —Joseph Campbell

The high period of the Arthurian romances is exactly that of the building of the great cathedrals that wonderful century from A.D. 1150 to 1250. The grand tales of Arthur and Guinevere, Tristan and Iseult, Galahad, and Percival express the spirit of their time as passionately as their great stone counterparts at Chartres and Notre Dame. In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores this cultural explosion, tracing social, mythological, and cultural clues in the stories back to the prehistoric Celts and to classical China.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Galahad is a word from the Old Testament that means Mountain of Testimony; [Sir Galahad] is a mountain of testimony to Christ. The whole tradition of the virgin knight as the Grail knight belongs to a Cistercian monastic line.

Whereas the line of Wolfram is the secular line of a secular knight [Parcival] who is married. And as we’re going to see it’s because of his loyalty to his marriage under all circumstances and his courage and resolution in combat, fearlessness and also integrity in love that he becomes finally the Grail King. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell explores the historical roots of the Grail legend. He discusses the development of the Roman Catholic Church in the Dark Ages, and shows how new conceptions of love, marriage, and worship gave rise to a secular “religion,” that of courtly romance. He then examines the quest for the Holy Grail, both as an expression of these new ideas of love and as a reaction against the dogmatic practices of the medieval Church. Finally, in his own inimitable style, he recounts the Grail Legend.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

We left our two heroes, Percival and Gawain, on their quest, and we now come to the story of the resolutions…. Percival has been wandering for some five years on his steed through this area where he found the Grail castle [but is] now unable to find it. This is the forest adventurous… where we meet our adventures when we are ready for them. The adventure that we meet is the one for which we are ready. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell concludes the story of Percival’s exploits. Plagued with doubt, beset with travail, and tormented by temptation, he wanders the wilderness for five years, steadfastly pursuing his quest for the Holy Grail. It is in the forest adventurous, Campbell reminds us, that we meet our adventures when we are ready for them. Our Grail hero is at last united with his brother, succeeds in his quest by virtue of his noble character, and becomes the Grail King. Campbell continues his investigation of the Grail Legend by exploring a central theme, that of the Waste Land, the place where everybody is living an inauthentic life.