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Reply To: Releasing the Dreamings,” with mythologist Joanna Gardner, Ph.D.”


Lovely and poignant Joanna.

Sometimes I wonder if awareness, that child of sudden dawning might hold some possibility? Both individual and collective/universal?

Awareness: That which comes through insight as much as “reasoning out the wherefores?” Or at least a balance between the two?

It seems to be on the flip coin of the trickster (last month’s theme,) that some myths point to a different kind of spontaneity, even compassionate spontaneity, which can sometimes lead to inner knowing or even a type of healing or resolution larger than oneself alone?

I think Campbell is right on about the drudgery of the world or being caught up in the daily grind just to survive.   It makes it hard to seek the truth and beauty, unless they catch you by surprise like a piercing ray of a sunset flashing against a glass sky scraper turning it to molten gold or the echo of a hawk’s cry against the mountains.
Maybe that does not work for everyone, but perhaps something else might. I don’t know.

My thought is that myth is perceived both as something within and without the system. And we are told myths are born out of human systems.

Yet, near the end of the essay Joanna,  you mention myths connection to human subconscious or the collected subconscious (or consciousness?) A very familiar theme for those acquainted with Campbell, Jung or other fields of myth/psychology.

I understand that particular myths can “grow” out of societies through time or systems. But it seems like the primary system of the myth seems to be within the subconscious or consciousness and some of that is still not fully understood.
And with myths occasional ability to dance between human systems and outside of those systems; it’s almost easy to imagine these stories as something that flow through these systems but are not always dependent on them. Not to say we don’t need the systems, but for me occasionally it feels like the myths do not require the systems for their existence. It sounds strange and maybe I’m off the mark, but if the myths are tied into the collective dream or universal dreams of humanity (minus maybe particular instructional myths or landscape myths still beautiful like the aboriginal song lines)…

then the systems that birth myths are not just social orders. But maybe they are the subconscious (or universal/collected subconscious, that exists even prior to social orders in which the myths can be adapted to fit.

In David Abram’s “Spell of the Sensuous,” and in Joe Campbell’s reference to the times early people would address both animals and features of the natural landscapes around them as Thou…there is a raw direct experience. And experience is a word Campbell seemed to love. Meaning through experience first.
Now, with all the battering of the tides of the world, we are so overloaded for many; it may feel impossible to reach that. So that is a challenge.

Because I know what works for me might not work for another. My only thought on this is if a natural awareness could perform the archetype of a pebble in water? Maybe there is too much stress and angst for this. How long can any one or many wait? Difficult question.
Yet,  awareness in the stories can come when least expected and not always in the way one expects. And there are those rare moments in life of dawning awareness. But maybe they are too rare to dwell upon.
I could be hopeful but would that make me foolish? Not aware of the real world? Dreaming impossible eucatastrophes? After so much pain?
Maybe I’m not fully appreciating myths connection to societal systems, yet I’m also reminded of the Wasteland of the Grail King…in one translation where Campbell says the rules are not the same in the wasteland and there are no guides…well apparently none except for spontaneous compassion.
This is what gives me the imagining of the myths and stories being like an old River that flows through many societal comings and going’s even perhaps prior to those societal orders…because there is the deeper River maybe even through our subconscious or our collected subconscious…or perhaps something transcendent of that impossible to describe if limited by the various dragons of thou shalt and cannot be.

in the month of the trickster we fear chaos and dangerous floods…death and doom…

But the River has also been a symbol of Life.
The question then is knowing when to dam and when to let the River flow?

Even a more metaphorical River.
What if even simple awareness of the River is like a reconnection to life giving waters in a time of drought? Or perhaps even a drought which has dammed up limited time for appreciating  “truth and beauty” and experience? What if the awareness of the river even can help with the stagnation of course…or being trapped in a current.


Maybe the pain reflects our “thirst” both real and perhaps spiritual?

My sense is that a centering in Awareness would allow for a potential change in energy both individually and collectively where discernment is more present…than blind judgement…and an Awareness, which is not only aware of more than itself but is not so deeply and understandably rooted in painful or fearful emotions or frustrated ones that it can no longer feel the Life Giving Waters of the River.

Because if the Centered awareness is not there, then my guess is that it’s pain, (real pain) which takes center stage and that makes communication very difficult. Because it is the Pain being addressed and the Pain addressing you back not simply the person in pain or frustration …and it’s not going to be a normal conversation.
Or  fear. There is a difference between facing, embracing  or acknowledging fear and thinking with fear…because   fear can paralyze…and can turn to anger…which may harm both an individual and others around them.

And that’s why I choose kindness…

But maybe I’m off on a current. How can I possibly know a strangers life story and experiences?  I cannot… except to know their story might be completely different from mine. And to respect that or be aware of that the best I can.

Because I don’t know…I am still working things like this out for myself (laugh) and can often wind in circling muddy eddies…but maybe one day? Who knows?
I send my best to all who are struggling and working through these challenging times. Take care.