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Psyche and Symbol – Mythos I – Campbell, Jung, and the Left Hand Path

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      From Stephen’s description of links to the JC Foundation YouTube collection:

      “The description of this forum includes a link to over 50 snippets of Campbell lecturing or answering questions, with some as brief as a minute, and others stretching over seven minutes, but most in the two to four minute range. I appreciate having this collection all in one place without having to hunt through YouTube to find them.”

      I’m glad Stephen mentioned the video clips that are accessible in the JC Foundation YouTube Channel because for me they have become invaluable as a resource for understanding the mythological connection between Campbell’s: “Hero/Night Sea Journey” and the Jungian psychological concepts of the Psyche; especially involving the identification of the metaphor of the “Left-Hand Path”.

      The one hour lecture from “Mythos I” in chapter I; titled: “Psyche and Symbol” specifically addresses the ideas of Carl Jung and how they are related to an individual’s understanding of certain themed motifs encountered in modern life. The understanding of how Bliss is related to an individual’s life course and fulfillment is a major theme within the Quest of the Hero and what society expects is often opposed to this internal call to adventure pushing from deep inside the emotional landscape of the individual. Joseph articulates a key understanding that helps to clarify this confusion.

      Throughout his work the theme of the Hero is present as a guiding force that directs the individual from inside their own interior to instinctually follow something; and that the path that is forged takes them to into a realm of danger of an unknown landscape where the unrealized unique potentials of the Self are called forth into confrontation with the Shadow. The Ego resists, but these forces must be integrated into the psyche to form a new understanding required for the stages of later life on it’s journey towards realization, healing, and wholeness.

      There are many manifestations of this hero/journey motif or template; which are determined and directed by the individual’s own character. And in the clip below Joseph explains how the pieces fit; and what the two choices are the individual is presented with.


      Joseph Campbell did not speak in soundbites. It’s not easy finding little snippets of video, absent the larger context, to highlight on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and elsewhere – but JCF’s team is doing a wonderful job of posting segments that inspire poignant reflections and prompt passing viewers to delve deeper.

      Once every week or two I visit that link and randomly click on a link, just to re-boot my mentality with a two to five minute dose of Joe . . .


        Yes Stephen; I like this resource a lot because just when I get deep into a discussion with someone concerning one of Joseph’s ideas and am having trouble breaking it down to something manageable or relating to several other themes often there is something here that will explain it or make the connection in much simpler terms.

        The one I posted is one of my favorites because it makes the connection to both the Hero and Jungian psychology in an accessible way. It’s a tremendous metaphor for describing the modern individual’s dilemma of navigating a complex world without a losing a sense of self; of going into the Labyrinth without losing that piece of string to find their way out again.

        There is so much good stuff here that often late at night I’ll just pay a visit to find something inspiring to think about before I retire; (and it works really well too).


          This sub-four minutes snippet made clear to me my lifelong ongoing unease with the safe and nurishing right hand direction, whereas the left hand expressionalism suits so much better, no matter what social or materalistic assurance is lost. Lots employments and equal quits when hitting the encaging walls of others within five years. Yet prosperous though, but in unease to engage full. The offered suggestion by G’s platform was Jung’s archetypes, a modality of the sought expression by me.


            Yes Mars; I think so. I can’t speak for anyone else; but I am so grateful to have had Joseph’s influence in my life because his insights have helped to provide the tools I’ve needed to navigate many of the life crisis I would normally not been able to weather; and so here is my take on this if I’m understanding what you are saying correctly.

            To me the left-hand path is not one of conformity; but this symbol represents more than just rejection of the (thou-shalt system of: “not doing what you are told”); as Joseph is explaining; it also represents a psychological approach of going out past the normal social construct to find your own way. The maverick does not necessarily know what he or she is doing; but is venturing out beyond the safe boundaries normally traversed by everyone else; they are following an internal instinct that tells them I’m going to find and live what’s meaningful to me; not the social order they are living in; and this hero journey into the dark forest may include danger as well.

            One of the things that Joseph also stresses that’s not always mentioned is we all have to live in some kind of social system; and part of the difficulty of this challenge is to bring your own personal program into this relationship. Being a modern individual is not an easy thing to accomplish because all around you there are signs that tell you how to live and who you should be and the signals you are getting are in many ways dehumanizing so that your uniqueness is extinguished because you are told what to say and what to think pretty much most of the time.

            People are more than just consumeristic automatons; buying and selling goods and services that serve a system; and the human wants and needs in this situation are not being adequately served; either by their religion or by their social order in which they are living. Now how this condition materializes will vary from person to person; but the potential maverick says to themselves: “this just won’t do”; and so they begin this left-handed journey of the Hero Quest to find out who they are by answering this destiny call of their interior; (as Joseph says by: “finding and following your own bliss”); that’s the destiny calling of the quest; the call of your life; that you should live from the push from your own inside; not by the dictates of the right-hand village compound. Something is missing and so you go looking for what that something is to bring it forth into your life and live it. It’s not a destination; but a journey or process that’s yours alone and not a scripted stereotype; but unique to you.

            Also there is the Jungian issue of later life; (individuation and integration); where the symbols and the meanings of the life you’ve already had begin to change. Instead of the emphasis on adult accomplishments and achievements; there is now the challenges of aging; where assimilation and meaning begin to take center stage; and all those things that have been stuffed down into the unconscious begin to surface and you now must face and integrate them into this later life stage. The persona must now be readjusted; and the shadow begins knocking under the table demanding to be heard are two usual suspects right off the bat; so this journey really never ends; it just changes forms with different demands. (But the left-hand path deals with these issues as part of the understood schedule of a human life; and they are to be expected; but the good news is it’s your life journey and not one lived by someone else’s ideas.)

            One of my very favorite of these clips of Joseph’s referenced here I’ll leave below covers some of these issues in rich detail.


              jamesn, not spect on this topic…

              “…to bring your own personal program into this relationship…” is our personal (heroes) journey indeed. So much we’re priveledged to be aware of this, were the vast majority of mankind endure utter dispair. What bitter fruit hangs from the manmade poplar tree, unsurpassed failure by irrational beasts calling themselves demigods.

              On the same plane, being able to understand the ultimate coincidences happened in ones life and releasing the gains of life and acceptance of the inevitable oblivion, is in direct contrast to and inconceivable for the many of man/womankind. Stuck to hope and old stories told, a promise of better, in subordination to their choosen deamons.

              Every human equipped with two hands, sides, perspectives. Yet so few to grasp any fruit. If at all old enough to reach for this distant star. Autumn thoughts.


                I really like your reflective mood and tone with this post Mars; yes; an air of Autumn indeed. Thank you for sharing your personal perspective and opening it out more. One of the things that Carl Jung said was: “we are in a constant state of becoming.” And your thoughtfully rendered addition compliments this thread beautifully.


                  Odd to read my critisism of current affairs, politics and social desintegration (avoiding to colour it collapse) is likened as a certain, positive mood. Being from a somewhat political family and education myself (my fathers course and save my own electronic education), gettings these common things in a less fragmented fashion, to ‘solve the puzzle’, is what I consider as my left hand duty to lift it with my right hand. Destruction in ones own interest is the predators habit to rule the increasing emptying land, the barren desert, the wasted land. Creation however, even if initiated by those who prefer to have it as ‘the great miracle’, is of another league. How much effort (&) for what reason, cause or salvation are laborious stones erected, rude or polished, to co-ordinate the actual society to raise from the mud of savage to abundance of aware (sans conjugations)? But this awareness has its price: we are not able yet to raise from the mud enough to be responsible, the now most succesfull species conquering the earth to possess it, to mark us in the landscape, mutulating ourselves in bloody wars, and act and live as sincere concious beings, gazing at the stars we’re made off. The tidal waves of human kind are verocious nibblings and of short swell. Fall is coincidence of fruit and decay – my most favourite season by so bittersweet memories. But due south blossom awakes.

                  Let us keep on track with our guiding helmsman JC. What’s in an abbreviation!

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