I came to Joseph Campbell through my colleagues, the poets of San Francisco, in the 1970’s. We were all reading Campbell, Jung and the Jungians, Robert Graves etc. , fishing in the dark waters of world mythology and the “collective unconscious” to bring up material for our “deep image” poetry, filled with multi-colored mythological beasts….in the psychedelic 60’s we had aimed for the heights with a lot of strange artificial help, so we had to spend an equal time in the underworld in the next decade, grounding, sacrificing, repenting, incarnating, re-humanizing….W. B. Yeats, in “Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop”, has the lines “ ‘Fair and foul are near of kin/And fair needs foul!’ ” I cried….For nothing can be sole or whole/That has not been rent.” Yet let us not forget the “fair.” There is a higher world too, a Heaven as well as an Underworld; it’s just that you can’t rise to the heights in any stable way until you’ve descended into the depths. The traditional shaman is conversant with both worlds. St. Paul says, “My strength is perfected in weakness” (Corinthians 12:9). Likewise Jesus tells us, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 24:12). In the higher world we see Eternity face-to-face; in the lower one we learn how to make the necessary sacrifices that let stay there. But Eternity itself is not limited to either world, to either height or depth; it lives in the Center, the Heart.
By the way, have you ever read the works of the Lithuanian philosopher/metaphysician/mythographer Algis Uzdavinys? If not, you have a real treat in store for you.