The folk-tale is the primer of the picture language of the soul

The folk-tale is the primer of the picture language of the soul.

-- Joseph Campbell
Flight of the Wild Gander, The (p. 25)
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The Flight of the Wild Gander: Selected Essays 1944 - 1968

In these essays – contemporary with his years at Sarah Lawrence and with his legendary Cooper Union lectures – Campbell explores the origins of myth, from the Grimms’ fairy tales to Native American legends. He explains how the symbolic content of myth is linked to universal human experience and how the myths and experiences change over time. Included is the famed essay “Mythogenesis,” which traces the rise and decline of a Native American legend.
Review: In this book, as in his other work, Campbell displays his immense learning, drawing evidence to support his case from virtually every branch of human knowledge. —The New York Times Book Review Campbell has become one of the rarest of intellectuals in American life: a serious thinker who had been embraced by the popular culture. — Newsweek
Other quotations from this Title
Living myths are not mistaken notions, and they do not spring from books. They are not to be judged as true or false but as effective or ineffective, maturative or pathogenic. [share]
What is the "meaning" of a tree? of a butterfly? of the birth of a child? or of the universe? What is the "meaning" of the song of a rushing stream? Such wonders simply are. They are antecedent to meaning, though "meaning" may be read into them. [share]
Myths – that is to say, religious recitations – [are] conceived as symbolic of the play of eternity in time.  These are rehearsed not for diversion, but for the spiritual welfare of the individual or community. [share]
God and Buddhas in the Orient are not final terms like Yahweh, the Trinity, or Allah, in the West—but point beyond themselves to that ineffable being, consciousness, and rapture that is the All in all of us. And in their worship, the ultimate aim is to effect in the devotee a psychological transfiguration through a shift of his plane of vision from the passing to the enduring, through which he may come finally to realize in experience (not simply as an act of faith) that he is identical with that before which he bows [share]
The "monstrous, irrational, and unnatural" motifs in folklore and myth are derived from the reservoirs of dream and vision. On the dream level such images represent the total state of the individual dreaming psyche. But clarified of personal distortions and profounded by poets, prophets, and visionaries, they become symbolic of the spiritual norm for Man the Microcosm. They are thus phrases from an image-language, expressive of a metaphysical, psychological, and sociological truth. [share]
If ever there was an art in which the whole community of man has worked - seasoned with the philosophy of the codger on the wharf and singing with the music of the spheres - it is this of the ageless tale. [share]
The folk-tale is the primer of the picture language of the soul. [share]