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Reply To: THERE and BACK AGAIN,” with MythBlast author Stephen Gerringer”


Robert, what a wonderful articulation you offered. Yes, I’m aware of the various part-to-part relationships of the hero-(and)-journey motif and the unconscious (S)elf with ego’s developing relationship which you so thoughtfully laid out. And the Campbell text illustrates what my humble description left out along with your added clarifications.  Daryl Sharp has a great description of the Hero archetypal motif, (which he called “A Round”), from his Lexicon: (listed under Hero), complete with an illustrated drawing which you might find of interest here.

But my goal was to suggest that many people get wrapped up in a kind of concretized form of this motif where the larger picture is not addressed. In other words what we might call the “work-in-progress-of “becoming” aspect. All too often the archetypal image as a symbol instead of the actual archetype itself is hijacked, and the larger mission of the self as ego is misunderstood for the Self which is the regulating center of the entire psyche.


Jungian analyst James Hall describes it this way on page 11;”Jungian Dream Interpretation”:

“In Jung’s model of the Self is the regulating center of the entire psyche, while the ego is only the center of the personal consciousness. The Self is to the ordering center which actually coordinates the psychic field.  It is additionally the archetypal template of individual ego identity. The term shelf is further used to refer to the psyche as a whole. There are thus three separable meanings of the Self:

1) the psyche as a whole, functioning as a unit.

2) the central archetype of order, when viewed from the point of view of the ego: and

3) the archetypal basis of the ego.

Because the Self is a more comprehensive entity than the ego, the perception by the ego of the self often takes the form of a symbol of higher value: Images of God, the sun as the center of the solar system, the nucleus as the center of the atom, etc. The affective tone of an experience of the Self is often numinous or fascinating and inspiring of awe. The ego experiencing the Self may feel itself to be the object of a superior power. When the ego is unstable the Self may appear as a reassuring symbol of order, often in the form of a mandala, a figure with a clear periphery and a center, such as a quadrated circle or a square within a circle, although the forms are capable of endless elaboration. In Eastern religious traditions, mandala arrangements often contain god-images and are used in meditational practices. Although the Self is the least empirical of Jung’s structured concepts-because it is at the borderland of what can be clinically demonstrated–it is a useful term in describing psychologically what is otherwise indescribable. Indeed, phenomenologically the Self is virtually indistinguishable from what has traditionally been called God.

(Relation between the Personal and the Objective Psyche):

Our point of reference in the psyche is the ego complex, that structure we refer to whenever we use the first person singular pro noun “I”. The personal layers of the psyche, however, rest upon an archetypal foundation in the objective psyche or “collective unconscious”; (quotation marks mine), The “personal sphere”; (again quotation marks mine), both conscious and unconscious develops out of the matrix of the objective psyche and is continually related to these deeper areas of the psyche in a profound and organic fashion, although the developing ego inevitably tends naively to consider itself the center of the psyche. It is similar to the difference between the sun revolving around the earth or vice versa.


Now James Hall goes much deeper in his descriptions as in the relationship of the psyche with dreaming and complexes and so forth. But as I was mentioning my goal was to point out that the “Everyman/Everywoman” mission of the Hero is to answer this inner call of the psyche to know itself as it develops over time, hence “the template”. This potential lies in each one of us, as Joseph figured out and attempted to illuminate in his 1949 book: “The Hero of a Thousand Faces” but as he also pointed out personal history, society, and culture often provide barriers that prevent this process from taking place. And I think the more public notion of what the Hero represents as a model is often confused with the celebrity image most often utilized as a template substitute for what is misunderstood as the potential Hero that resides in everyone as Joseph articulated in the role of the uniqueness within every individual to express itself.

Now I’m saying this suggestively per individual, not as any set-in-stone type of model to build one’s life on as Joseph was describing in many of his lectures. But my point being that so often the legendary motifs are used, and the “everyday heroic individual” gets left out of the narrative as I mentioned. Thank you again Robert for your most thoughtful input and I sincerely appreciate your kind efforts at clarification.


I need to offer my sincere apologies as I mistakenly started the opening of this post and said Juan when I actually meant Robert and I corrected the error.