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Reply To: The Power of the Personal,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”


Dear Dennis and Dear All,

Dennis, thank you for this Mythblast that touches upon the personal and the image of the gander and for sharing your background of how you came across Joseph Campbell. I think it is so fitting that Stephen asked you the question about your background and finding Campbell’s works due to the topic of your Mythblast on the personal.

Here are some thoughts that come to my mind as I read this Mythblast on the personal myths and the gander.

Dennis writes, “Campbell’s storytelling gene is a part of all of his utterances, but especially when he works a concept by morphing it into a narrative.” From this, I reflect how Campbell’s writing is pleasant to read and perhaps it is because he has a storytelling quality to his writings in general. When he gives us facts about various mythologies, it still feels like he is telling us Myth’s story. It has that personal feel somehow.

Reading onward, with the following quotes from Dennis in this Mythblast, “the crack, the gap, the thin membrane that allows him to glimpse and discern the symbolic, transcendent nature of the world winking back at us with not a little seduction, through the mask of the sensate realms of the human- and world-body in their fragility and mystery” is where I think of the egg and hatching egg, or the Orphic Egg, and the gander taking its first peek from out of the egg at the “nature of this world.” Inside the egg (as in a womb) is still a sensate world, but it is a whole new sensate world outside the egg (or womb). This is the first time I have ever thought of the yogi as a hatchling, for when the gander cracks through the shell to emerge into this world it is “passing from the sphere of waking consciousness. . .to the unconditioned, nondual state ‘between two thoughts,’ where the subject-object polarity is completely transcended. . .”

I also think of Madame Blavatsky’s books, Isis Veiled and Isis Unveiled; I read these years ago and found their style much more tedious than Campbell’s style. I can almost feel the fireplace hearth whenever I read Campbell. I am reminded of them only because of the idea/symbol of the veil and because her writings were based on concepts from the Eastern world combined then with her form of occult mysticism.

I also want to mention how much I like this description of Campbell’s work that Dennis gives us: “Syncretistic, gathering and clustering, then ultimately clarifying the connective tissue between disciplines to uncover the vast complexity of the human and world psyche on their arc towards unity. He is both hunter and gatherer.” People from all ‘walks of life’ find a core or foundation in their work and philosophy thereof in Campbell’s writings. Musicians, visual artists, deep sea divers, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, poets, anthropologists, historians, teachers, other mythologists, psychologists, etc. all find inspiration from Campbell as we find or seek to find our bliss, enter the caves we are afraid to enter, and find doors where there were only walls and read about Black Elk’s vision of White Buffalo in Flight of the Wild Gander and seek to find our own visions. For these reasons, there is a touch of the mystic in these articles as shamanic and shamanic guide that inspire us to shamanic thought and travels whether in mind or spirit or body. Reading Campbell, I might go back in time in my mind to the days of the buffalo roaming the Great Plains or I might be inspired to travel to modern-day Greece to see the ancient temples. Reading Campbell, I gain insight for living my own life. We see how the personal microcasm can reflect the microcosm, or the little chicken in the egg reflect the archetypal symbol of the Orphic egg.

Then the ““Syncretistic, gathering and clustering, then ultimately clarifying the connective tissue between disciplines to uncover the vast complexity” like the gander or the yogi being formed inside the egg, the tissue connecting…

I very much enjoy Dennis’s metaphor of the jacket lining and the turning of the sleeve inside out to see the hidden myth, the hidden lining. I imagine a golden silk lining because I get such a precious image from that.

That metaphor brought me a memory from my personal myth: That image I received from that metaphor above then became the image of my mother’s coats with their satiny linings hanging in the coat closet where I grew up; from that image,  I can smell English Yardley lavender bar of soap she always kept in that closet. I still have the last bar that ever was in that closet.

From there I think of Shaheda and her story about her uncle’s perfume, from her personal myth.

Thank you for this Mythblast,