Furthermore, the old in many societies spend a considerable part of their time playing with and taking care of the youngsters, while the parents delve and spin: so that the old are returned to the sphere of eternal things not only within but without. And we may take it also, I should think, that the considerable mutual attraction of the very young and the very old may derive something from their common, secret knowledge that it is they, and not the busy generation between, who are concerned with a poetic play that is eternal and truly wise.
The Masks of God, Volume 1: Primitive Mythology
Explore the power of myth as humanity first discovered itIn this first volume of The Masks of God — Joseph Campbell’s major work of comparative mythology — the preeminent mythologist looks at the wellsprings of myth. From the earliest expressions of religious awe in pre-modern humans to the rites and art of contemporary primal tribes, myth has informed humankind's understanding of the world, seen and unseen. Exploring these archetypal mythic images and practices, Campbell examines the basic concepts that underlie all human myth, even to this day. The Masks of God is a four-volume study of world religion and myth that stands as one of Joseph Campbell’s masterworks. On completing it, he wrote:
Its main result for me has been the confirmation of a thought I have long and faithfully entertained: of the unity of the race of man, not only in its biology, but also in its spiritual history, which has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony, with its themes announced, developed, amplified and turned about, distorted, reasserted, and today, in a grand fortissimo of all sections sounding together, irresistibly advancing to some kind of mighty climax, out of which the next great movement will emerge.This new digital edition is part of the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series. Joseph Campbell Foundation has worked with scientists and academics to bring the anthropological and paleontological information Campbell explores in line with the best twenty-first century scholarship. (Comparative Mythology: paleontology, Neanderthal and Cro-magnon culture, neolithic and paleolithic art and religion.)
"[T]he mask in a primitive festival is revered and experienced as a veritable apparition of the mythical being that it represents — even though everyone knows that a man made the mask and that a man is wearing it. The one wearing it, furthermore, is identified with the god during the time of the ritual of which the mask is a part. He does not merely represent the god; he is the god."— Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology