I love how your personal experiences mirror what Campbell believed was the origin of mythic thinking. Here’s an excerpt from a manuscript being prepared for publication (from a Q and A with Campbell):
WHERE DO MYTHS COME FROM?
It’s the experience of death that I regard as the beginning of mythic thinking – the actual seeing of someone dead who was alive and talking to you yesterday – dead, cold, beginning to rot. Where did the life go? That’s the beginning of myth.
That’s what happened, I think, in the Paleolithic caves when burials came in. “I thought that was all you were, but now, my gosh, there’s another dimension to this.” And if that can be recognized after death, well, to have it recognized before death, look what it does!
Whether a Neanderthal hunter-gatherer, or a small child in our contemporary era, the imaginal process would appear to be the same . . .