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Reply To: Merlin . . . & the Lost Art of Mentorship, with Dr. John Bucher


Stephen: I really like the way you framed this; (especially the last paragraph); since I think much of our lives can revolve around coming to this realization path of an individual destiny and life course. And the process involved with an individual experience of this can take many forms; especially concerning the life momentum out of which they have come.

(Stephen): “This does ring true. Archetypal energies will not be ignored. In the absence of a society that has space and place where such energy is observed and honored, what form might this dynamic then take? (I think of some mighty strange helpers and guides who have emerged the past couple years, initiating many, including a few of my friends and relatives, into strange shadowy worlds.)

How, then, do we properly honor this archetype? What I take away from John’s essay is that we do so not just through being mentored, but when we step up to the plate, actively acknowledging, embracing, and giving life to the Mentor born of our own experience and life wisdom.”

I think the part: “born of our own experience and life wisdom” speaks to what the mentor is trying to transfer to the individual. A sense of: not only developing self-responsibility for their own life; but that they have the possibility of creating their own model for finding and fulfilling their own destiny; and if the situation presents itself of passing that (received) self-knowledge on. Joseph talks about this very subject concerning life models in society on pages 109-110; in Michael Tom’s: “An Open Life:

“The hero-as-model is one thing we lack, so each one has to be his own hero and follow the path that’s no path. It’s a very interesting situation.”

“Or at least the models we tend to use are very strange ones. I think of Hollywood stars…”

“Oh, now those models come flashing in front of us and they are heros of sorts. I think of the athletic hero is right there. But these are bizarre kinds of heros because they can’t really be incorporated into one’s life. Actors, personalities, politicians–they’re mostly heros in life contexts that are not of the people who admire them. That’s just a curious result of the fact that our society’s changing so fast. But I think they are heros–there’s just no doubt about it. I think Martin Luther King was a hero. Kennedy was a hero–both Kennedy’s. And certain athletes.”

“They filled the model.”

“They filled the model. But they’re not doing much for us in the way of helping us build our own lives. There are very few models for life. I think the individual has to find his own model. I found mine.”

“Isn’t it important to respect our own uniqueness?”

“I think that’s the most important of all. That’s why, as I said, you can’t really follow a guru. You can’t ask somebody to give The Reason, but you can find one for yourself; you decide what the meaning of your life is to be. People talk about the meaning of life–there are lots of meanings of different lives, and you must decide what you want your own to be.”


Joseph talks about something on page 123; I think is extremely important concerning Jung’s ideas and developing his own independent way of interpreting something:

“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 think of  me as kind of a 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’s always a risk there, but it’s the risk of your own personal adventure instead of gluing yourself to what someone else has found.”


To me this is a central feature that should be held up as something to strive for; the ability to not only follow your own unique individual path; but to use your own point of view as a guide. Something that speaks to you out of your own center in your own voice; something that gives you a sense you are following your own: “North Star” as your guide. We all need models and the mentor I think helps the individual to find and develop their own idea of possibility of their own: “reason for being”.; or put another way: their own: “personal myth”. I think this is Joseph’s main theme around which many of the other aspects or dimensions constellate. (The hero is a major archetype that resonates in everyone; and Joseph stated this another way from the ancients: “It is in you, go and find it”.)


One little addendum I just remembered that might be worth mentioning. As I was thinking about what I was going to post there was a movie playing in the background. As I turned around to see what it was I realized it was a new takeoff version of the classic: Don Quixote that had Adam Driver as Sancho Panza set in modern times; with a very different twist on the plot which would be very difficult to describe. But my point in bringing this up has to do with the emotional power this story conveys concerning this “crazy” old man that thinks he is a knight errand with his noble squire setting out to right wrongs by fighting villains and charging at windmills to rescue his lady fair – Dulcinea; (and what the hero and his adventure symbolizes toward modern life). For those unfamiliar with this story it transfers a deeply poignant understanding of life and the importance of the hero which struck me immediately as relevant to this topic. The hero as a model or an archetype in this story brings a sense of meaning towards many of the things worth living for in a way that has served as a model for centuries. This book use to be one of “the” most read on the planet next to the Bible years ago; but with today’s social media I am not so sure that would still be the case. At any rate I thought it relevant to this topic even though the context might seem a bit far fetched.

(Thank you for your kind thoughts; there have been so many great points brought up in this discussion I’ll try to stop by and contribute something more later on.)