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Merlin . . . & the Lost Art of Mentorship, with Dr. John Bucher

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 33 total)
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    Loving the conversation so far!

    A couple things come to mind about mentoring. One observation is crystallized by your comments above, John, about the difference between a teacher and a mentor, despite some overlap:

    The differentiation between a mentor and a teacher can easily become another issue of semantics. However, I would offer a few thoughts to consider. In many ways, I believe being a mentor is more about who you are in someone’s life than what you do for them. There was a process in different historical moments where a “master” would sit before a “class” with his (unfortunately for history, it was usually a “he”) back to the class and paint or sculpt a creative work. The apprentices or students would sit behind the master and create the exact same work, mimicking the master’s actions.

    When I read your MythBlast essay, I found myself wondering about parallels to the mentoring relationship in contemporary society – hence my query about teachers, which admittedly was a leading question. As a junior high teacher, though there is no doubt I have influenced the lives of many students, mine was a professional and a formal role imposed by society, focused on training essential to a specific field – conjugate verbs, solve quadratic equations, understand the scientific method, and so on. I believe what success I’ve enjoyed owed less to my command of those fields than to my own sense that the real mission was to help transform these children on the cusp of adolescence into human beings (which is why, though my degree is in history, I taught literature, which is all about the human experience – and that meant I also needed to teach English, so students would have the skills to understand and discuss the stories we explored).

    Teaching is a collective process (very rarely do you have just one student), but for me that involved developing a relationship with each individual student. Still, definitely distinct differences between teaching and mentoring.

    Then I wondered about apprenticeship, which until recently had for centuries been the primary means of preparing an individual for a profession, especially in the craft guilds (printer, wainwright, carpenter, etc.) and the arts.

    Your example, cited above, dispels that notion. Indeed, the master craftsman often exerted total control over the apprentice, who was essentially little more than an indentured servant of sorts (Benjamin Franklin’s experience comes to mind: as a youth he was apprenticed to his older brother James, a printer, which over time he found onerous; Franklin carefully planned his escape, fleeing not just Boston, but Massachusetts, escaping to Pennsylvania, a completely different colony, so the local authorities would not drag him back to his brother’s shop).

    Today there are a number of formal mentorship programs, both in education and the professions, which do wonderful work – I’ve been involved with a few, both as a mentor and a mentee (assuming that’s a real word) – but for the most part, such “mentors” could best be described as tutors or coaches

    True mentorship, it seems to me, is something less formal and more personal.

    I think back to a moment from The West Wing that illustrates this dynamic (no surprise I turn to a modern myth). For those unfamiliar with that television series, in this episode Josh, a White House aide, is suffering from PTSD, which is affecting his relationships and his work. In a meltdown moment the White House chief of staff, Leo, calls him on it – but instead of firing or even reprimanding him, he recognizes Josh is suffering and gets him the help he needs.

    Later in the episode, in a private moment between the two, Josh realizes Leo isn’t acting just as his boss, but taking a personal interest in his welfare. Leo, an alcoholic, then shares the following story:

    This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole – can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me, can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole.

    Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.’ “

    That, for me, captures the essence of mentoring – sharing the accumulated wisdom of one’s life experience not out of duty, but love.


    Hello, John, and thank you for your Mythblast and answering our questions.

    In Stephen’s post/question of November 18, 2020, # 4277, he tells of his experiences as a teacher and of how teachers work with groups more perhaps than 1-1 relationships. I am wondering about (in our contemporary times and aside from fiction/fantasy here:  1) how many teachers who teach classes (larger groups) have also found that often one student (or two perhaps) in particular choose that teacher to be a mentor (and that when that call is answered)  2) what might be the/some difference(s) then of the classroom experience (teaching of larger #’s at one time) and the mentoring 1-1 process (aside from highly individualized attention) within the experience of the same classroom ?  I am also wondering 3) what might certain or special reciprocal qualities be that might make, say 1 out of 28-125 students (big as a lecture hall, perhaps) somehow call to that teacher as a mentor, and 4) when one who is already a teacher is called to be a mentor say regularly of a certain subject matter how often you may have heard that it was a particular student who called (each time?) or a less particular or more general calling (as in offering regular classes)? and if the student does “call” somehow unconsciously to the teacher/mentor in more personal situations than classes.  There is that old mystical saying that when a student is ready the teacher appears. Perhaps sometimes in classrooms the one who calls out (perhaps silently) to the teacher to be his/her mentor is an individual who has a great respect for the subject being taught and also somehow there is some key through the doorway to of the personalities, therefore  5) I am wondering how similar the mentor and one who is mentored might be at the get-go, from the very start and how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.

    I have had two professors who were mentors to me, and I have often felt that certain historical writers and poets and musicians were mentors of a sort as if I could feel some strong kinship and relationship with those deceased for a century or more. You really made me think about how students would model or mimic the teacher/mentor such as in works of art. I know that in each case where I have had a mentor I felt an immediate sense of admiration for that person or that historical personage/artist/writer/musician. Sometimes those that are historical personages seem to me in my own experience to act as the Muse. I know that at least in one case of myself as a young poet I did go about making it an exercise/study of mine to attempt to mimic a particular poet yet in the manner of also finding my own voice (mimicking some of the techniques and modus operandi but not so much copy or imitate per say) and others just less as when their music actually mentors my own life and my own experiences within my life. There are questions I have somewhere in this last paragraph I wrote here but at this time I cannot quite find the words for them and would have to think on that more.

    I am also thinking, on the question on teachers and mentors, if it can perhaps be thought that all mentors are teachers but not all teachers are mentors.

    6 and 7) The idea above also makes me wonder as perhaps a last question if negative examples can serve as a mentor? or mentoring experience or would mentor apply to only overall positive influences? Can a negative academic teacher so long as we learn from them be a valuable mentor?

    Thank you so much.


    P.S. I think my question #2 is related to Stephen’s question about the difference between a teacher and a mentor.


    This is beautiful, Stephen (quoting you here): “That, for me, captures the essence of mentoring – sharing the accumulated wisdom of one’s life experience not out of duty, but love.”A teacher may love teaching and usually it is a paid job unless one is a volunteer, but then mentoring often involves going beyond the scheduled hours for which one receives monetary pay.

    John Bucher

      I really love how you captured the above thoughts, Stephen. I agree. Some of my most powerful mentoring relationships have been more personal and less formal. I really appreciate you bringing in this moment from The West Wing, a favorite show of mine as well. That story that Leo shares really does encapsulate mentorship in so many ways.

      It reminds me of another story from the Jewish tradition about three village elders who went to visit a wise man who was passing through a nearby town. The elders spent the evening with the wise man — eating, chatting, and listening to his speak. Late in the evening when they were walking home, one of the elders apologized to the other two, saying,” Clearly, the wise man spent the entire evening just talking directly to me. I am sure that must have been a disappointment to you two.” One of the other elders stopped him, saying, “Certainly, you could see the wise man spent the entire evening, only speaking directly to me.” And finally, the third elder laughed at both men, stating, “Has your jealousy of me blinded you to the fact that the wise man only addressed me the entire evening?”

      The story reminds me of how mentors are able to speak so directly to our souls, even when perhaps others feel their words were only and solely meant for them. I am sure, as a teacher, you have experienced this, Stephen. Many hear the same words, but they strike at one student or mentee (I like that word you mention) so much more powerfully than another.

      John Bucher

        Mary, these are wonderful questions and ideas to think about. Here are some brief initial thoughts about the individual items you raised.

        1) I have experienced this exact thing, where among a large class of peers, I sought the teacher as a mentors. When I have been so bold, the teachers have answered that call, except for in one particular instance. The alchemical recipe must be there between mentor and mentee, but I think most often it occurs when the student requests the mentor’s wisdom as the initial step forward.

        2) I think the magic between mentor and student can occur in any class, regardless of size. However, because of the often-personal nature of mentorship, my inclination is that it occurs more frequently in small groups. In a larger group, a student might take more responsibility for applying, expanding, and amplifying the mentor’s words, knowing direct access might be more challenging in that larger setting.

        3) Reciprocal approaches that a mentor in a large setting might consider could be 1) Scheduling small group meetings, where the members in a group have more direct access to the mentor than they would in the larger setting. 2) Personalizing feedback to students when possible in the larger setting. 3) Offering an off-site gathering one evening for socializing with the mentor.

        I have a friend whose work brought him great acclaim and so many individuals desired his mentorship that he simply couldn’t honor the requests or it would be all he did.He told me that one of the hardest lessons he had to learn was that whenever you gain something, you also lose something. He gained great popularity and acclaim for his work. However, he lost the ability to offer personal mentoring with most people that approached him. I think this is a balance that must be considered in this conversation as well.

        4) The same friend I just mentioned also told me that when he was supposed to mentor someone, he just knew, whether they explicitly asked or not. I think there is much truth to this. When the right moment rises, you just know.

        5) I love this question and am going to think more about it. I think you might be on to something here. I need to give it more thought.

        6) I think the questions you pose here get back to this bifurcation (that often is gray and unclear) between teachers and mentors. I certainly have had negative experiences with teachers that taught me a great deal. I think we often learn from those that don’t have our best interests in mind. In my own thinking about mentors, I think a mentor, in the most ideal sense, is invested in their mentee. I think they hold that individual’s best interests in mind, so I think negative influences and examples would rarely fall into the category of “mentor” for me, thought they often fall into the realm of “teachers.”

        Loving these insightful questions!


        John, Stephen, Maryanne, Jamesn, and all, thank you ever so much for such an important topic, and I am enjoying it tremendously.

        Stephen, you write, “True mentorship, it seems to me, is something less formal and more personal.”

        Stephen, I am going back 15 -20 years, and  am reminded of the many hours of selfless, dedicated service you accorded at the   “ Joseph Campbell Mythology Group (JCMG)”  Our group gathered for Saturday night chats on JCMG.. We (Sabrina, Veronica, Tami, Janice, Doug, Michael,  and many others) came together to discuss, myths, folklore, Joe Campbell, James Hillman, dreams, and much else.

        A typical JCMG evening: As I look back,  you as “Bodhi”, became the mentor and perhaps  teacher too.   Here the line between teacher and the mentor becomes blurred, because you developed a personal relationship with all of us, sharing your personal stories, your “wandering years”, your Joe Campbell years — not out of a sense of duty, but out of  love. We asked questions of you, “What does Joe mean by “being transparent to transcendent”, “I think Joe says, Holy Grail, is ‘Unconditional Love”, what do you think it is? “ “What’s your favorite Joe Campbell book? Or what does Joe think of  unconditional love?”  “ Let’s  talk about dreams.  Do you write your dreams?  And, by the way I had an amazing dream….and this is what I dreamt.”

        Many hours you spent going over our dreams, asking us to describe the colors, the scene, dark or light,  what are your associations with this or that.  You were my mentor, in every respect of the term mentor. Did I thank you for the immense selfless devotion to your coaching and mentoring? Actually, not then, not 15 – 20 years ago, but lately, about two years, I did. I recognized your influence in mine and many of other lives. So, yes thank you, dear mentor.

        And yes, this sentence captures it well, “essence of mentoring – sharing the accumulated wisdom of one’s life experience not out of duty, but love.” You did just that.




        Hello John, Stephen, Maryanne, et al.,

        Maryanne, as usual I loved reading your views on the topic.

        You write, ” I am wondering how similar the mentor and one who is mentored might be at the get-go, from the very start and how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.”

        Your question, “how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.” resonated with me, and I’ll have to tell a personal story about myself and my in-person mentor, my Uncle,  to explore opposing qualities. Even in opposing qualities, a story is told.

        Story:  My Uncle Athur, my mentor, was an Indian Air Force Officer/Pilot   from 1940 –  late. 1970s. He chose not to leave India at the time of the Partition, in 1947, and settled in a lovely area in Hyderabad, which is near Bangalore, India.

        My father, Safdar, (Athur’s brother) was a Junior Railway Officer in the Indian Railways of 1940s, a few years  before I was born, but at the time of the partition, he chose to leave Indian Railways, and was promptly transferred to the Pakistan Railways.  He became a Signals Officer in the Pakistan Railways of the  50s. His job involved tracking signals, and railway lines under scorching sun, sometimes in a trolley. The salary of the Railway Officers in a new country was just pittance. Therefore, there were a few perks in the way of   two small private saloons, which are a home on wheels that go wherever the Railway  lines go. One Saloon for the narrow-gauge and one for broad-gauge, both for my father’s exclusive use. Employees were also given a house, which is where my Uncle visited us.

        It was his (mentor – Uncle’s) habit to set his suit case, and a few pieces of  clothing in one section of the house where they were well-guarded and safe. I was about 12 years old then, and spotted a very elegant perfume bottle among his belongings, and I took it upon myself to dab a little one morning, before heading out to school.  At school, I was met with lovely flattering compliments, “how lovely you smell”, “where did you get this scent?” “Oh can you get us some?” Oh the compliments kept coming.  Encouraged by the compliments, I made it my morning ritual to dab a bit the entire week. Mind you, all without my mentor’s knowledge and consent.

        One day when I returned from school, my mentor-Uncle had flown back to India, and my mother presented me with that beautiful (still ¾ full) perfume bottle, saying, your Uncle left this for you.  He had not said a word about my clandestine activities. Relieved I took the bottle and used it well. Never had a chance to thank him, really.

        The reason for this story is that Maryanne’s question, “how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.”  lit a light bulb in my brain. That my in-person mentor and I were opposites. He was a very ethical, noble, kind and caring man, and I a younger 12 year old, had neither ethics, nor care, nor nobility in my heart.

        On discussing this with Maryanne, last night, she brought in the idea of the  Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, and James Hillman’s, senex and puer.





        I loved reading that you bring up the senex/crone archetype and the puer, and your thoughts on these, such powerful symbols for those still open to be “seekers” in life on their paths, who never stop being curious and never stop learning, and also one of my favorite Hillman books.

        –Mary Ann


        Hi Shaheda,

        It was wonderful hearing your lovely story the other evening in our chat, and here I love too all the extra details you have provided that really put in into context and create strength in sense of place. It all sounds like a historical novel with all its romance of one’s memoirs. And yes, when I brought up the senex/crone/Hillman I also included the reference to James N who brought it up and discussed it in this forum. I have to say thank you for being open to sharing some of your personal myth with us in this story. The railroad is such a powerful symbol/metaphor in and of itself and so is perfume/fragrance, and psychologists have mentioned that one’s sense of smell is the most powerful memory-bringer that we have, as you and most here are probably aware of already. Whenever I smell roses, I think of my grandmother, for instance, sinch she always had rose water and roses around.

        As children we sometimes have less impulse control to resist something so aesthetically pleasing as a bottle of perfume that not only smells good but is most likely beautifully designed as well! I suppose we adults still have a bit of that lack of resistance in us when we see or smell chocolate and we eat it, but are by then less apt to eat it if we would have to sneak it out of our uncle’s coat pocket or from his dresser! You say you and your uncle were opposites when you were that age, yet knowing you now, I would find it so difficult to believe that you were so totally without ethics back then (as you say he was ethical and you were not at that time, and that you lacked nobility). Children all slip off and away with their hands into the mysterious world of discoveries of all the things they have to touch, smell, taste, and experience while still learning so much about our sensory world. I question if such nobility as yours (as I know you to possess) could grow out of the 12-year old child you were who you say had no nobility. And your uncle was in on the secret, which I find so sweet and endearing! It was obviously excused!–at least by your uncle.

        From what you told me about him, he seemed to have impeccable taste, and a certain sensory appreciation of life, which you have seemingly obviously inherited.

        You reminded me of how much I loved the smell of my grandmother’s rosewater.

        I don’t know how many of us could resist opening the genie bottle! Perhaps your daimon needed you to open the bottle and let her out! Let us chat some more soon–I have a collaborative idea. This is so numinous to me that you write about this now when I consider an experience I had the other day that I have been meaning to blog about. It is about a message in a bottle. I will include a photo with the story here below if I can. I just love it when the archetypes in myths become part of our personal myth(s).

        So here is the story in a nutshell, or the Message in the Bottle Blowing in the Wind:

        The other day the wind was very strong. It had that lake effect, when/where it blows in from the south and wraps around the lake atmosphere somehow to circle back from the north making leaves and everything else in its path swirl around, like little mini-tornadoes that can lift small objects off the ground. When I went outside on the porch, I saw a glass bottle that had been sitting on the ledge “caught” by the thin rope that pulls the blinds up and down, and it was hanging there in suspended animation swinging back and forth in that wind and sometimes bumping into the wooden porch fence rail. I hope my photo below will “stick.” I could also try to upload the video I took of this. In regards to mentors, when thinking of the daimon as one’s genii, I hope I have not steered too far off the forum topic (as I do tend to free associate a lot).

        "Message in the Bottle Blowing in the Wind"
        Message in the Bottle Blowing in the Wind
        (Photo taken my M. Bencivengo, mid-November 2020)

        What messages are waiting in the bottle, whether from genii or magician mentor or human mentor? I have been wanting to write on this as I meditate on it. 

        (Oh, and if anyone is wondering, that is an old delivery truck with historical plates–it comes in handy now and then, and we had wanted to have it converted into a camping/RV type van by now! Sorry I did not move the trash can out of the pic but it was one of those spontaneous pics. I figured maybe the genii wanted to tell me about all the things I could use less of in my life, all the things I could let go of!)

        –Mary Ann

        (I know my name spelling  is confusing–I recently switched the spelling of my name to “Marianne.”  I will try to change it here on this website/forum, too. )


        John, thank you for the helpful answers to my questions, and you have given me a lot to think about here. I am going to think on these things before responding, except for now to say that I really “get” what you say about a negative teacher not being a mentor since the negative (“bad”) teacher is not invested. The word “invested” here is so clearly definitive–thank you so much. I also like the ideas you give about mentoring in smaller groups aside from a larger group where mentoring is less apt to take place. I recall some college profs who would sometimes join in at writing students’ discussion circles much like a round table whether the table was round or not and whoever was there that evening had that sense of being mentored, developing that closer relationship. Wine and poets, yes, that was a classic key!

        –Mary Ann



          Mary; a quick thank you response to you, Shaheda, and John’s kind references to my earlier offerings. (My computer connection may sabotage me before I finish so I’ll attempt to describe some of my recent thoughts about these “awesome” posts this week. It’s been a real privilege to join in so I’ll try to add something worthy that compliments them.

          More and more I keep coming back to the role archetypes play in the different influences the mentor makes in it’s appearance in our lives whether as teacher or mythical advisor. Whether as the (S)elf as the main regulating center of the entire psyche in it’s journey towards wholeness; or as the “ego/self/hero” as the “I” that we perceive with that interplays with: the shadow, persona, anima/animus systems; I think the mentor wears various costumes in influencing our lives. The “wounded-child or wounded-healer”; the Merlin/Crone advisor; the young male as Arthur seeking forth as self/initiator or maiden as young mother or Joan of Arc all represent various characters as vehicles of transformation to the individual lost in the woods with no direction of where to go. The mentor or teacher appears whether: as Obi Wan or Yoda or Gandalf or whatever other figure this form takes as a guide dispensing wisdom of the individual’s inner power they have not yet discovered. Joseph referred to what they may give us as not only a skill but more importantly a: “psychological center” and may also provide a inner commitment course to follow to come to this self-realization.

          I also think there are different life stages these archetypes can make their appearance depending on what type of psychological crisis may be occurring; and the “thresholds” that must be crossed for achievement to take place. And whether there is a boon or a transformation to be brought back from the battle with the unconsciousness that must be addressed these mythical figures help to provide the necessary inner tools; (often in the form of some sort of symbol); that will help them in their heroic journey. Joseph talks about some of these forms such as: apotheosis, atonement, the sacred marriage, and the flight of the Promethean fire theft in his discussions with Bill Moyers in: “The Power of Myth” as these are motifs where many of these psychological transformations present themselves.

          (One such story with the symbol as tool is the Navajo”: When the two came to their Father”; where a (feather); as a psychological device; is provided as something to hold on to so they won’t (crack-up) on their adventure. This is not the same as the sword; “Excalibur” lodged in the stone which young Arthur must pull out; so these devices and their application may vary. Two of my very favorites of this psychological transformation are Robin Williams’ roles; one as the mental health therapist; Sean Maguire; in: “Good Will Hunting”; and the other as high school English Teacher: John Keating in: “Dead Poet’s Society”. These are definitely mentors worthy of the term for what they exemplify in providing knowledge of these inner terrains that must be traveled; although for different reasons. One for inner healing; and one for the transformation of youth into adulthood.

          But to me the chief questions that must be asked are:

          “What do these figures and devices symbolize in relation to the individual’s unique quest; what is the mission? What does this adventure or journey symbolize where this figure is conjured forth whether by circumstance or from the unconscious?” (Whether as a real personal relationship; or as a symbolic realization what does this figure or crisis situation represent; what is it’s message?; (And we all need mentors whether we know it or not).

          (Okay; so this seemed to work regarding my internet connection and I got it all in. I did a “system restore”; so maybe everything is back to normal; lol). This discussion has been a real thought provoking treat to participate in; so please keep it up!


          I appreciate the kind words, John.

          Something else that stands out for me from your post (and those of others) is how much  the process of mentoring revolves around sharing stories (one of our mutual mentors, Bob Walter, has a gift for knowing, considering his wealth of life experience, the appropriate anecdote applicable in any given circumstance).

          Authority figures provide directions and rules that must be followed; mentoring, on the other hand, seems most often fostered through the intimacy of story. Though we certainly borrow stories from a number of sources (from myth and folklore to movies and TV and everything in between), with each passing year the fund of stories accumulated from my own life experience expands at an exponential rate. Sharing one of those with a “mentee,” rather than just telling him or her what to do, carries so much more weight (especially accounts of failure or falling short).

          But seems mentors also contrive to set up circumstances that allow the mentee to rise to the challenge. I think of Athena, in her guise as Mentor, urging Telemachus, son of long-absent Odysseus, to embark on a journey in search of his father – but then Athena heads downtown, so to speak, disguised as Telemachus, where she arranges a ship and hires a crew in his name, clearing away obstacles to the journey; similarly, as you note in your essay,

          . . . Merlin constructs and crafts realities meant to attain a certain end. He arranges Arthur’s conception and birth and builds the framework on which the entire sword and the stone episode, as well as the Grail quest, hangs.”

          My mentors have often done the same for me, pulling strings behind the scenes to create opportunities, which I did not fully realize until well after the fact.

          One other observation re Mentor in Homer’s Odyssey: when acting in the way of a mentor, Mentor isn’t himself, but the goddess Athena wearing his form (which sets up a scenario where “Mentor” appears in two places at once). This reinforces the role inspiration plays in mentoring, at least in my experience.

          Thank you for inspiring this whole conversation, John!



          I thought I would touch bases on your post with questions on teaching and mentoring – not so much addressing specific questions as musing on my own experience.

          I taught 12 and 13 year old students in junior high on the cusp of adolescence – right at that fuzzy divide between childhood and adulthood, where all sorts of calls and projections are in play. I conceive my role not as an authority figure or father substitute (despite plenty of hooks for such projections from the children), but as a guide helping these in-between beings navigate a particularly fraught passage . . . in part by pulling back the curtain, initiating them into the mysteries of what it is to be a human being.

          Definitely a magical helper aspect to that, but the classroom experience is more a collective ritual, whereas mentoring I experience (whether serving or receiving) as a relationship between two individuals.

          As to how that relationship emerges when teaching, the Call I hear isn’t something the student issues, or even initiates, at least consciously: rather, it’s more a quality, trait, or act that triggers a resonance – something I recognize (re-cognize) in that person. I’d feel a sense of flow working with the student; though I often invested far more time and energy professionally into students I wasn’t mentoring, whether those students were struggling or succeeding, there would be a more personal investment to my interactions with those who sparked that sense of recognition.

          The shift from teacher to mentor is nevertheless subtle, and never really complete until after graduation (at least in my mind). The student moves out of my classroom and on to high school, to other subjects, other teachers who assign their homework, give their tests, and issue their grades, which breaks the bonds of our student-teacher relationship (at least in part – there more than a few adults on Facebook, with children older than they were when in my classroom, who, decades later, still address me as Mr. Gerringer – such is the power contained in the Teacher archetype).

          But a few of the students who woke that sense of recognition stay in touch. That, for me, is when the mentoring really begins. Sometimes that’s related to my field (such as having coffee regularly with a former student while she was working on her first novel), to life stuff (relationships, drug problems, life’s work, children and such . . . ).

          Not sure that answers any questions – just the shape the energy takes when flowing out of one alchemical vessel (teacher-student) and into another (mentor-mentee), from my perspective.

          ” . . . Actual user experience may vary . . . “


          Oh Shaheda,

          Thank you for sharing such sweet memories of our days in the  JCMG (Joseph Campbell Mythology Group) on Yahoo – which, speaking of mentors, is where Robert Walter “found” me (you may recall that day when the JCMG was selected as the “Editor’s Pick” on Yahoo and BOOM! – the next day our membership ballooned, our intimate, informal salon-like setting inundated with a thousand new members walking through the door and getting into fights and flame wars with each other; that brought us to JCF’s attention, as Bob Walter and David Kudler wrestled over whether or not to shut us down for IP violations and riding Joe’s chi).

          Seems your post also answers the first question I posed John: is it possible to be a mentor and not know it? I didn’t consciously think of myself as mentoring – I just loved that I had found friends who shared my enthusiasm for myth, dream, creativity, imagination, art, story, soul, and Joseph Campbell’s mythological perspective.

          I really appreciate your kind words.

          I also appreciate your memory of your Uncle, in response to Marianne’s question about stories of mentors and mentees who are opposites at first – and once again, whether myth or lore or one’s own life, I am reminded again there is such power in Story.

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