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


    Dennis; your kind and thoughtful reply sent me off into a reflective reverie today where I was held in a kind of aesthetic arrest thinking about all sorts of mythical related material in relation to your book and the things we have been discussing. The metaphor of: “My Fathers House has many rooms” seems to fit as I began comparing some of the different books and approaches I have been utilizing over the years and how many of these ideas seem to run along similar pathways leading back to one’s personal myth. One is Sam Keen’s and Ann Valley-Foxe’s: “Your Mythic Journey” where the various forms of the “self” engage with our interior processes of assimilation; (thinking about how both the personal and collective unconscious connect within the dream and waking states that connect to one’s constant “becoming” Jung talks about; these things called archetypes); and how these things manifest themselves in our lives. Both in our self-image and that ever illusive thing that pulls us forward. Sometimes they come out through our emotions; sometimes they are expressed in our pens as we write; sometimes we try to see and understand them and sometimes we are successful but often they seem to be just out of reach as they lead us ever onward toward some unknown destination we are not aware of.

    Joseph’s conversations with Michael Toms in: “An Open Life” brought up an interesting thing that always grabs my attention in a powerful way when I think about the relationship between Jung’s ideas and how people mistake Joseph for a Jungian which he defiantly refuses. I thought you might have some thoughts about this since you are so familiar with his work and it deals specifically with how one should approach their own myth they are constructing.


    On page 123 the conversation states:

    “Jungian psychology seems to be more open than other more traditional forms of interpretation.”

    “You know for some people, “Jungian” is a nasty word, and it has been flung at me by certain reviewers as though to say, “Don’t bother with Joe Campbell; he’s a Jungian. ” I’m not a Jungian! As far as interpreting myths, Jung gives me the best clues I’ve got. But I’m much more interested in diffusion and relationships historically than Jung was, so that the Jungians view me as a kind of questionable person. I don’t use those formula words very often in my interpretation of myths, but Jung gives me the background from which to let the myth talk to me.

    If I do have a guru of that sort, it would be Zimmer—the one who really gave me the courage to interpret myths out of what I knew of their common symbols. There is always a risk there, but it’s the risk of your own adventure instead of just gluing yourself to what someone else has found.”


    I think this is a huge statement because to me he is saying: (You) are the God that is creating your own life; and you are the one deciding what your myth is to be not someone else. This is the left hand path Joseph talks about that informs the modern hero archetype the individual must listen to in traversing out of and beyond their ropes in order to find and know who and what they are to become. They are not only flying blind making their path up as they go; but they are not obeying any kind of set rulebook on how this is done.

    This links back to our earlier conversation of our: “freefall into the future” we were discussing Joseph seems to be pointing out. The older mythic prototypes or stories no longer work because they are out of date; and “all” of these older global myths seem to be combining into some kind of new unknown form. In one comment he made to Bill Moyers in “The Power of Myth” he says: “We can’t have a new myth for a long time because things are changing too fast. So the individual has to find their own way”. So the old tribes we are accustomed to only keep us within the Village Compound of the Right Hand Path that the hero must leave to find or answer their own call of their life. (Then of course we get into these other components and dimensions of the mythical applications of the Jungian cosmology Joseph uses to describe what these things mean and how this quest can be accomplished through the individual’s own interpretation.

    On a lighter note Shaheda, Marianne, Stephen, and I were discussing how we all name things and their significance to our lives. We started exchanging stories about this sort of thing and objects that we name came up and one included Joseph’s car he named “Gander”. Well come to find out from Stephen that Joseph gave this car to Sam Keen as a wedding present; and there is a lovely little metal sculpture of a Gander Joseph uses as a paper weight on his desk that Jean gave him that’s now on display in a recreation of Joseph’s writing desk where he composed all his work. (I just love these kinds of things because it gives you a sense of connection to how he created his own: “sacred space” where he wrote all this stuff that is putting you right there with him. Kind of like how you show others how they might create their own inward path.)

    Again Dennis; thank you so much for what you do and taking the time out to share it with us.  Namaste