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Reply To: I’m surprised there is no topic for Personal Mythology


Greetings Sidian MSJones.

Sidian wrote, “The topic is fascinating though as it unlocks a slew of highly metaphorical information about ourselves: when have you taken on the role of the warrior? In what ways have you been searching for the Holy Grail? Have you ever unknowingly acted out the myth of the hoarding dragon?

Is anyone else here interested in Personal Mythology?

I am Sidian, very much so, and as Stephen wrote, “Investigating the subjective contents which are the products of unconscious processes . . . to explore the manifestations of the unconscious” (again borrowing from Jung’s description of his personal myth) can be uncomfortable and emotionally wrenching – not at all the “happy happy  joy joy” misunderstanding some critics have of what they think Campbell means by personal mythology.

That’s it, Sidian,  exploring my personal myth is not “happy happy joy joy’ for me, and sometimes I am not sure whether I am looking at my personal myth from “inside looking out” or “outside looking in”. But it’s a friend’s  story/myth that had me quite taken. Talk about searching the “Holy Grail” — To me it appeared a myth of  “unconditional love”

No matter how difficult, no matter how trying, she was on the side of “unconditional love”.   Then one day,  Joe Campbell’s quote freed her from her ‘old personal myth’, and she had a soft landing into a ‘new personal myth’. By the way, I was recently acquainted with this term ‘old personal myth’ vs. ‘new personal myth’ through Prof. Dennis Slattery’s presentation called “Belief as Myth”.  A fascinating presentation, where in the Q&A session he reflected on a few questions, one being, ‘how do we know that we have come to the end of one myth, and need to move onto a next one?”  But I digress, because my intention here is to share the old myth story vs. the new myth story.

Here is a brief glimpse, (without names)

Her father was a banker, and her mother a fixer of all things, from furniture to linen, from doors and window sills and all others in between. Her mother could fix furniture like none other in business. This I know because I now own three hand-polished chairs from Kirkland Lake, hand scrubbed, re-polished and hand stained to a silky satin finish by her mother.

By and by, as she got older, she began to question the culture of the place, the place of women, especially smart women in it. She observed the condition of the mine-workers, working for pittance, in the gold mines owned by Mr. Oaks.  Their plight is well illustrated in this 2002 article,

An accident in a mine is usually sudden. Hard rock, steel and blasting powder are not considerate of soft flesh and brittle bone. Death in most cases is gruesome, lonely, painful, bloody or suffocating. Death in a mine is not gentle.[i]

As she grew, so did her longing to fix the condition of the mine workers around her. She took it upon herself to talk to the ladies, and make them question their despondent state and misery.

In school, she wrote fascinating stories, and perhaps poetry too. Her writings were rich with words that she had collected and sewn together for a dramatic effect on listeners and especially her teachers. She thought of the many widows, left behind, and the cruel and most ugly treatment delivered to their families.

The teachers never expected her to write so well, so instead of empowering her with more challenging work, they politely hid their admiration in a way that was natural to them. And on her side, she hid her talents in the service of modesty and humility.

One can well imagine from these brief glimpses into her life, as to the direction it would take.  She was no longer interested in Kirkland Lake because it lacked music and it lacked life.  Music was one thing that stirred her little world, and each time she had enough left over from all her benevolent activities, she would run over to a local store and buy a new LP.

Once while running to the store for a LP,  she met a young woman in distress, and from then onward, she made sure that her own pockets were full so as to be of help to her and all others living through some sad misadventure. She ensured that  her personal pocket funds were enough for five or six different families. Now you can well imagine her collection of people and places that needed her attention in Kirkland Lake. With such a kind heart and gentle ways, she also attracted many suitors.

Among her suitors, there was one handsome lad named “B….”, and he couldn’t help admiring her, couldn’t help loving her, he couldn’t help gifting her with flowers when she was far away.  Even though she made it clear, that she was far too independent to be just ‘someone’s wife’, he harbored the deepest sentiments for her. When she left Kirkland Lake to live in London, England, he was broken-hearted, but he comforted himself by sending her a dozen red roses a week.

Fast forward into 2020:  Now in her senior years, she found herself quite burned and scorched through years of sacrifice she realized she could not deliver that ‘unconditional love’, without injuring herself. Yet she hung onto her “Holy Grail”. Then one day, (2021) while surfing the net, she came across Joe’s words,

I personally don’t even think that unconditional love is an ideal. I think you’ve got to have a discriminating faculty and let bastards be bastards and let those that ought to be hit in the jaw get it. In fact, I have a list. If anybody has a working guillotine, I’d be glad to give them my list.”
A Joseph Campbell Companion

That was the end of her old myth, and beginning of a new one. The discriminating faculty is working towards a new adventure. Here again,  I am reminded of what Dennis said in his presentation, “you know that the old myth is dying when you can’t do much anymore..”

Shaahayda (with gratitude to all who participate here)