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


Stephen, there is something I want to add to my two entries I don’t think has been thoroughly addressed enough yet that I think may play into this idea of what the Hero goes for and what he brings back to the community. In this clip from the Bill Moyers interviews with Joseph in “The Power of Myth” they talk a little about this where the idea of the inner Dragon that resides within us all must be subdued. What he is articulating, shown here, is actually the “Unconscious”. And as he describes in the 1st clip concerns how we must come to terms with our inner war and that what we are bringing back from our subterrain adventure into the light world of our everyday reality is what we have integrated, which is what the transcendent function; (i.e. Axiom of Maria), has revealed. Moyers asks Joseph: “So we are going on this adventure to save ourselves?”; (which is really this deep dive into our unconscious); and Joseph further describes: “And in so doing that you save the world because a vital person vitalizes”. This puts the responsibility to answer or respond to the call of their own inner life on the individual to seek out what is troubling him or her, as well as the society or village compound which he often refers to as the “Wasteland” situation.; (or put another way, people living inauthentic lives); which the spell is broken by the hero deed

One of the things I think gets constantly lost in discussing: “The Hero and what “The Call to Adventure” represent is the inner battle and struggle of the individual to overcome what is going on underground within their unconscious in the context of their own life. And one of the main reasons is the outer world is always providing larger-than-life metaphors, (and metaphor is a very important word here in this particular context), that show tales and fantasies completely removed from everyday reality.

Now my point here is not about an actual thing or boon that the hero retrieves, but a transformed individual consciousness. Now that is not to say this is a one-size-fits-all application in any way; but because so much of modern society demands that a person “must fit-into-a-system” to survive Joseph also points out that people have in many ways: “stopped listening to themselves” and what their heart is yearning for. As matter of fact there are many people who don’t even know what that idea means, which Joseph would describe here as: “Following one’s Bliss”.

Now there are several misconceptions I think worth addressing that might apply to the idea of what a Hero Journey might be; and one that continually is brought up is that the adventure is a kind fantasy where happy, happy, joyful things transpire along with a monster that is slain. Another is about this thing called “Hidden Hands”; or what Moyers and Campbell discuss as “invisible means of support”. That is to say as Joseph mentions in several places that the individual has put themselves on a “kind-of-track” that has been waiting for them. For instance: “doors opening where there were only walls before”, kind of thing.) In Jungian terms this I think could in some ways seen as a kind synchronistic interplay between the outer-conscious world and the inner-unconscious, where clues or symbolic references or messages from the unconscious are revealed in the form of dreams, divination, meaningful chance or coincidences sometimes called synchronistic occurrences or events. In Jung’s autobiography: “Memories, Dreams, and Reflections” he talks about this inner/outer relationship with the unconscious. Here is an example of his story of one of his patients during a consultation about a “Scarab”. (For some reason I couldn’t locate the original story which is where I first saw it in the book, so this will have to do.) But the question here I think we must ask ourselves is: “Has not everyone one of us at some moment in our lives had some kind of phenomena occurrence happen to them that speaks to them out of the ordinary that grabs their attention and says something otherworldly and meaningful. Perhaps some kind of clue or symbolic reference of profound importance. (Just saying that both Joseph and Jung often included these kinds of things in their narratives and mentioned these were important things to pay attention to.) The “Village Compound” doesn’t often have these mythical or mystical references except in concretized “thou shalt” religious systems.

But my point is that what the Hero brings back and integrates into society is the: “knowledge, insights, and transformations” retrieved from their experiences; not some golden, sparkling or magical device often portrayed in fairy tales, romances, monster-slaying, bully-toppling adventures. Whether the aspect obtained refers to Christ or Buddha that resides within all of us, or some kind of lifesaving elixir or newly discovered implement or device that serves mankind is only part of the message from the unconscious; the real gift is the potential that is brought forth in you.

Now I know this is only one of many possible manifestations of this “archetypal” reference. But it is one I think that is continually missed and overlooked. Joseph said he never met an “ordinary” human being, and I think he was “specifically” referring to this aspect of the Hero motif or pattern. Especially when he says he saw the continuing journey of “the ages” playing out like Moyers quotes in his introduction on page: xiv: of “The Power of Myth”:

“Coming up from the subway at Times Square and feeling the energy of the pressing crowd, I smiled to myself upon remembering the image that once appeared to Campbell there; “The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stands waiting this afternoon on the corner of Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.”