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Living Myths for Transformation,” with futurist Kristina Dryža”

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    Author and archetypal consultant Kristina Dryža joins us in Conversations of a Higher Order this week for a discussion of “Living Myths for Transformation,” her most recent MythBlast essay (click on title to read). Ms. Dryža, who currently resides in Lithuania, focuses in her work on archetypal and mythic patterns and their influence on creativity, innovation and leadership.

    This thread is your opportunity to share your questions, comments, and observations about Ms. Dryža’s essay with her (and each other), which is what makes this a “conversation of a higher order.”

    I’ll start us off, but I’m confident Ms. Dryža would much rather hear from thee than from me, so don’t be shy.

    Kristina – Thank you so much for this reflection on how myth is so much more than mere entertainment, more than sparkles and rainbows and “Happy Happy Joy Joy!”

    Reading your words, I am reminded of an exchange from The Power of Myth. Bill Moyers recalls a theme from Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel, Zorba the Greek: “Zorba says, ‘Trouble? Life is trouble.”

    Campbell responds:

    ‘All life is sorrowful’ is the first Buddhist saying, and so it is. It wouldn’t be life if there weren’t temporality involved, which is sorrow––loss, loss, loss. You’ve got to say yes to life and see it as magnificent this way . . .  And the way to awaken from it is not to be afraid, and to recognize that all of this, as it is, is a manifestation of the horrendous power that is all of creation. The ends of things are always painful. But pain is part of there being a world at all.”

    Your article reminds us that mythology supplies tools to embrace the agonies as well the ecstasies of life with courage – which includes the courage to look into the shadows and face unpleasant truths about oneself – getting to know the whole person that one is, warts and all.

    The following strikes me as a key passage from your piece:

    Yes, myths are timeless and transcendent, but when we don’t consciously invite them into our lives, we are prone to live them out unconsciously and compulsively, and therefore, sometimes quite destructively. The more we resist the presence and power of myths, the more their archetypal patterns push upon us. And so they must be recognised. When we can perceive (or at least intuit) the mythologies that influence our lives, we realize that the mythic realm is mightier than our prideful common sense.”

    I know from personal experience, as I’m sure you do too, the pain of living the unexamined life. It can be scary to turn the lens back on oneself, but that is far less risky than ignoring the archetypal energies that help shape our lives and letting them run amuck.

    I certainly appreciate your useful advice on this subject, such as how to seek the message in the moment – any moment, good or ill. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share an approach I sometimes employ when going through a difficult patch, one borrowed from philosopher and astrologer Ray Grasse (author of The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives), and elicit your feedback.

    For me, this requires a dedicated hour or so, and some journaling. When dealing with confusion, stress, and uncertainty about where I am or the direction my life is taking, it can be difficult knowing what archetypes are in play when in that bubble – so I step outside myself, metaphorically speaking, and look at recent experiences as I would the elements of a dream, or a work of literature or film. It’s not that hard to analyze the motivations and actions of characters in a novel or film (we all do it, whether we know it or not, at the end of every movie), or recognize recurring patterns in a dream that one might be blind to in waking life.

    There are two advantages to that.

    One is that I take myself out of the equation, at least to a limited extent, rather than getting caught up in the drama (which is where so many of us spend most of our time). Amazing how much this helps clarify my vision.

    The other plus is that, especially when it comes to a work of literature, it’s much easier to embrace a character’s flaws and revel in their challenges than when we find ourselves living at the center of the story. I’ll admit I’m not sure why this works, but “de-centering” myself makes it easier for those archetypal figures driving my story to emerge.

    Of course, I suppose that could lead to a psychological dissociation; this only works if, eventually, I pivot and embrace “the gods” who have come to life through me, as part of my own being

    . . . which changes everything.

    This is one of the doors I walk through to encounter the archetypal realm. I’m curious what your thoughts are – does this strike a chord with you? Am I making sense, or does madness lay these way . . . ?


    Ah, Stephen, you speak directly to my heart! And hello dear COHO friends! How are we travelling?

    For someone who spends a lot (too much!) time in the realm of ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, if only’ thinking, your words are like a tonic to me! One of the only ways I can get myself out of this insidious loop is by saying ‘yes’ to the situation. ‘Yes,’ without wanting to change it or make it right or wrong. When I say ‘yes’ to life exactly as it comes through for me to experience, new movements can arise in my psyche.

    And to your marvellous suggestion about externalising our issues, I literally just filmed something on this very topic:

    I also recently had something ‘taken’ away from me, but until I could perceive that I needed to ‘surrender’ it à la Inanna, I was in great emotional distress. And I was reminded of Hans Leisegang’s words in ‘Die Gnosis’ that “every myth expresses, in a form narrated for a particular case, an eternal idea, which will be intuitively recognised by he who reexperiences the content of the myth.”

    This week I watched ‘Mission: JOY,’ a documentary about the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu’s friendship: My summarising of the Dalai Lama’s words were that suffering is an opportunity testing me. And no matter how difficult, I have the inner strength to meet it. And if I can reframe the situation to liberate myself from resentment and bitterness, it becomes a new opportunity to learn, to gain more experience, and to become more useful to society. It was a reminder that I’m being put into a fiery furnace to be refined and that the suffering helps me to become more magnanimous and is a necessary ingredient for developing compassion. And the suffering is the very thing that actually helps me to appreciate joy! And the key to joy is getting in touch with my own natural compassion and living from there. There was also a part in the documentary that touched on the difference between offering comfort vs. courage – but that’s for another conversation!

    Looking forward to spending the week with you all – Kristina.


    The first time I heard the expression “Joyful Sorrows of the World,” was through Joseph Campbell. This Eastern philosophy resonated a deep poignancy inside. Beautiful and painful. But I understood it. Everyone has days with height and depths. But in spite of it all there are some days, I stand out in nature and feel the wind in my hair or watch a meteor in the night or see the kindness of another person and count blessings to just be HERE on this beautiful planet…(even with all its sorrows.)

    You speak of personal pain and suffering (and perhaps internal conflict as well.) it makes sense to me that looking in the mirror aspect…and now I’m much more aware of my own responsibility, when certain challenges arise.

    You are so right about the need for courage! It is Vital!

    And I completely agree we also need those myths as a vital living experience in all our lives!

    Those stories are more than words…perhaps they are also energy?

    Thank you for your essay Kristina!





    You’re so right sunbug! Yes, now, in this moment, at this stage of our life, the possibilities no longer appear endless, but us – in truth – will never again be as young as we are right now. We live ‘with’ the past, never ‘in’ it. It accompanies us as an echoing, lingering memory, but we ought never to stay in it. We often have this ferocious loyalty to stewing in regret. Why? We were meant to go and get this far lost off the beaten path. To find us in this moment. Us as we are, with all our past baggage. To develop the courage to seek redemption and to question what’s beyond this temporal existence. To feel that which always is. And always will be. There’s no other way it could’ve been, nor any other way it will be. Every left turn was meant to have us turning left, no matter how much our hindsight bias tells us that we should’ve turned right.

    Always love your thoughtful inputs – Kristina.


    ”we live with the past never in it. It accompanies us as an echoing lingering memory”-Kristina 

    Yes that is it!
    That “stewing in regret” letting it be or go (mostly ha ha) that is getting better but it’s still a work in progress!

    It most definitely can be a muddy eddy and whirlpool where one becomes literally stuck.

    But I like to remind myself, the past is not just filled with regrets. There are also other stories there. Other memories there. Beautiful, poignant, exciting, quiet, unforgettable.

    And those are stories I can carry forward with me into the present…just as other myths and stories have been carried throughout time.
    If I obsess on All the pain then what room do I leave for those other stories in my life? Or room to add new stories and adventures?
    There is a reason the Joyful is emphasized in the sorrows of the world.
    How could I ever say no in a million years to the memories I shared with my family and friends and others I have loved? Or the other memories I have found in solitude that is not quite singular when a deer eyes me from my yard? (Smile.)

    It’s taken me a long time but I’ve begun to look at “scars” in grief no longer as unhealed wounds, but “proof of love.” And that’s not easy. But I would worry if I did not have those scars.
    It’s hard to be a witness to suffering. I know what it was like for me and can only imagine for other people whether personal or universal.
    But is not that very ache compassion itself? It turns one outside of oneself but also within because of a connection or life force awareness shared?
    And sometimes *sigh* there are not always easy resolutions.
    But I love Tolkien’s quote about love and grief mingled in all the lands. About the love being stronger.
    And I love the expansive way you have approached this subject of suffering.
    You approach it from a view of observation and awareness also tying into all those myths, which have accompanied us through the ages.
    I think the sad part is in the past certain religions (or more fundamentalist versions of those religions) have “pedestalized” suffering.
    Not as an awareness or even an initiation. But almost more of a doctrine. Almost like an external “creature of thou shalt and must.”
    And such literalism was put to foul and ill use. (i.e. constant punishment and self punishment as well)(Which just proves a complete misunderstanding)

    And encourages that “unhealthy stewing,” rather than compassion, which is open ended. 

    That is why your approach and the eastern approach and Joseph Campbell’s take are much healthier.

    One last thing, a little off subject…You are a futurist. I have heard that word before but was curious about that philosophy, psychology.
    Do you work from a standpoint of “probability?” I know there is a mathematical approach to that.
    Or is this more akin to observation…and building ideas of what paths could be likely to unfold based on repeated patterns of observation of people and human behavior (psychologically and mythologically speaking?) *grin*




    Hi sunbug!

    I often describe myself as an ex-futurist. I got out of ‘the game’ some 5 years ago or so when it was all about AI/algorithms/transhumanism/Mars etc. and often consisted of men presenting PowerPoints on large stages totally disconnected from their bodies!!! I don’t really trust anyone who talks about ‘the future’ that doesn’t have a relationship with the collective unconscious or nature. What I’m more interested now is the effects of ancestral trauma, the role of archetypal patterns/myths and Presence.

    Kristina X


    I love the term “ex-futurist” – a telling oxymoron, indicating a past focused on the future (I’ve always thought you as a bit of a paradox, Kristina, in the best possible sense).

    I don’t really trust anyone who talks about ‘the future’ that doesn’t have a relationship with the collective unconscious or nature.”

    This rings so true, Kristina. We live in an ensouled world – yet so many decisions that effect us and the world around us today, big and small, are made by individuals who have little sense of their own interior life, much less the inner lives of others, and don’t think to take into account that there is an interior dimension to all that exists in the material universe. The technocrats and futurists (mostly male . . . hmm) you allude to may mean well, but manage nevertheless to miss that we live in nature, and that same nature lives in each and all of us.

    I am very much intrigued by your interest in ancestral trauma, and trust we will hear more in future essays.

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