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


Reply to Stephen # 7456

and Robert #7459

Thank you Stephen for the post from “Black Elk Speaks.” I’ve always enjoyed Campbell’s reference to that book.
It’s wonderful how the view of the Central Mountain is expanded. The sacred center is everywhere.
   That brings me back to Robert’s post.
Robert you include this addition from the book as well:

“Black Elk said the mountain he stood upon in his vision was Harney Peak in the Black Hills. ‘But anywhere is the center of the world,’ he added.”

This evokes the idea again, that the sacred center is or can be everywhere.
Almost a “wherever you go there you are…”

Joseph Campbell interprets this and says one is to “not mistake their central mountain for the central mountain of the world.” Then Campbell compares that to some stricter religions. But something makes me pause now.
I certainly understand what Joseph Campbell says. But have a sense there is also something unspoken within that statement.

“One is not to mistake their central mountain of the world… [AT THE EXPENSE or EXCLUSION of other sacred places/views/or expense/punishment of other people, who do not share that view?]
Sort of another form of a Thou Shalt energy? Thou shalt not energy?

But (back to Joseph Campbell) I wonder now, if Campbell in fact contradicts himself in his interpretation? Because if the Sacred Center is Everywhere, when exactly does Harney Peak become less sacred or even less Center? Now, it is part of many sacred Centers everywhere… Because everywhere IS center.

Black Elk’s view to me, represents the And/Both balance. He has his vision there and it’s the center of the world, but it’s not the only center.  

Campbell’s take is understandable. It probably comes from his frustrations with more heavy handed “thou shalt” energy in religion and judgement.
Yet, I wonder if Campbell ever delves into Thomas Merton or St. Francis?

Not everything has to be fire and brimstone. And Merton opened up a dialogue too between East and West.

I understand the need and care between a universal view and  local ones.
The real fear of a universal view is a fear of amalgamation. That cultural traditions will be lost or even cast aside.

It doesn’t have to happen that way…

But this is why celebrating cultural uniqueness in places all over the world is stressed even more so now.

And it is fascinating and wonderful to see the rich and different histories of various peoples!

And that’s why this quote you provide Stephen hits home:

“One cannot predict the next mythology any more than one can predict tonight’s dream; for a mythology is not an ideology. It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart.”

Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space (Copyright © 1986, 2002 Joseph Campbell Foundation), p. xix

Especially THIS: It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart.”

That is a hopeful place to be!
A place that could hopefully listen and understand and discern.


Campbell does leave the idea of the new myth more of a question mark.

So IF a new myth arises even in 500 or more years the question is whether it will arise from human shared consciousness and needs of individuals and communities and the planet?

Or whether it will come with more of a feeling of a think tank?
With a world woven in technology today, it might be very tempting to predict a myth on the basis of statistics.

Or even outcomes. Beneficial outcomes.

To me, Saruman represents the potential damage that can happen in a broader view or illusion of greater good. He was bent on destroying the Shire. But he could not succeed. The Shire remained the Shire…even as middle earth was healed…the darkness gone and battles won. Dwarves, Elves, Men and Hobbits retained their cultures, but now there was just more to add to the tales and histories.
That’s why I still think Awareness is another strong part in so many of these tales, because that takes it back to a mind/heart balance. And Awareness includes Awareness of more than oneself alone…

And yes, I know there are more challenges today and different interpretations of various cultural tales including updated versions written by members of local cultures to present the tales from their view now and their voices without interpreters.

And it’s a balance to present differences between cultures to show respect, kindness and understanding, while at the same time carefully finding common ground to also help with that communication and understanding. *care*

Stephen, That’s why I admire how you caught your students interest  with the land of dreams. Very cool! You gave them something relatable on a common ground which helped open the discussion and lead it to mythic themes.

Sometimes, it feels as though today, we  seek understanding  through differences first. (and those can certainly be respected and celebrated!)

   And there is a need, so we do not assume things about others. It seems a good idea to remember everyone has a different life experience. (Even different cultural experience.)

But to start communication with differences first could be challenging.

Even as the typical hero can be de-centralized…and we look towards community/s, it’s still complicated.

But that pull towards human connection, understanding, even common ground…things we have in common…it’s hard not to find appeal in universal connection. (Especially with all the tensions in the world)

Connection unforced. 

So I’m kind of hoping (any New myth) will come from that heart center, which is everywhere.

Of course you can have people clamoring for all to happen at once or “we might never be part of a international space federation if we don’t all this this and this (and save the planet) hurry, hurry …All On Board.

Then there’s that one farmer: “I just want to plant my beans and be left in Peace.”

And someone like Thicht Hahn might surprise us by siding with the ornery farmer because the farmer was looking for Peace within.

So maybe the real test of any myth is being so busy with what it does or should look like…(appearance) 

rather than experiencing it or seeing it for what it is even if it points beyond itself…
Transparent to Transcendence — Joseph Campbell

Or Thomas Merton to be “Alive and Awake”  from When The Trees say Nothing.

And maybe that deeper heart awareness (kind of a Bodhisattva?) re-balances and re-vitalizes the mind awareness…

….but who knows?