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Reply To: Psyche and Symbol – Mythos I – Campbell, Jung, and the Left Hand Path


    Yes Mars; I think so. I can’t speak for anyone else; but I am so grateful to have had Joseph’s influence in my life because his insights have helped to provide the tools I’ve needed to navigate many of the life crisis I would normally not been able to weather; and so here is my take on this if I’m understanding what you are saying correctly.

    To me the left-hand path is not one of conformity; but this symbol represents more than just rejection of the (thou-shalt system of: “not doing what you are told”); as Joseph is explaining; it also represents a psychological approach of going out past the normal social construct to find your own way. The maverick does not necessarily know what he or she is doing; but is venturing out beyond the safe boundaries normally traversed by everyone else; they are following an internal instinct that tells them I’m going to find and live what’s meaningful to me; not the social order they are living in; and this hero journey into the dark forest may include danger as well.

    One of the things that Joseph also stresses that’s not always mentioned is we all have to live in some kind of social system; and part of the difficulty of this challenge is to bring your own personal program into this relationship. Being a modern individual is not an easy thing to accomplish because all around you there are signs that tell you how to live and who you should be and the signals you are getting are in many ways dehumanizing so that your uniqueness is extinguished because you are told what to say and what to think pretty much most of the time.

    People are more than just consumeristic automatons; buying and selling goods and services that serve a system; and the human wants and needs in this situation are not being adequately served; either by their religion or by their social order in which they are living. Now how this condition materializes will vary from person to person; but the potential maverick says to themselves: “this just won’t do”; and so they begin this left-handed journey of the Hero Quest to find out who they are by answering this destiny call of their interior; (as Joseph says by: “finding and following your own bliss”); that’s the destiny calling of the quest; the call of your life; that you should live from the push from your own inside; not by the dictates of the right-hand village compound. Something is missing and so you go looking for what that something is to bring it forth into your life and live it. It’s not a destination; but a journey or process that’s yours alone and not a scripted stereotype; but unique to you.

    Also there is the Jungian issue of later life; (individuation and integration); where the symbols and the meanings of the life you’ve already had begin to change. Instead of the emphasis on adult accomplishments and achievements; there is now the challenges of aging; where assimilation and meaning begin to take center stage; and all those things that have been stuffed down into the unconscious begin to surface and you now must face and integrate them into this later life stage. The persona must now be readjusted; and the shadow begins knocking under the table demanding to be heard are two usual suspects right off the bat; so this journey really never ends; it just changes forms with different demands. (But the left-hand path deals with these issues as part of the understood schedule of a human life; and they are to be expected; but the good news is it’s your life journey and not one lived by someone else’s ideas.)

    One of my very favorite of these clips of Joseph’s referenced here I’ll leave below covers some of these issues in rich detail.