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

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  • #74756

    Writer, mythologist, and magical realist Joanna Gardner, Ph.D., is our guest this week in Conversations of a Higher Order to discuss “Releasing the Dreamings” (click on title to read), her most recent contribution to JCF’s weekly MythBlast essay series. You could say this is the second part of a double-header; she also wrote last week’s MythBlast essay, “In the Company of Coyote,” to close out June’s exploration of the Trickster.

    (Dr. Gardner is also the guiding force behind the Fates & Graces Mythologium,”an annual myth conference and virtual retreat.” This year’s event, on the theme of “Myth and Ecological Consciousness,” will be held via Zoom July 29 – 31; if all goes well, future events will return to an in-person format.)

    I’ll get us started, but please remember this is not an interview; I’m confidant Dr. Gardner would rather hear from you than from me – so please weigh in with your thoughts about the questions posed at the end of her essay. (And, though this might make for a slightly disjointed discussion, feel free to share with her observations or questions you have about last week’s essay as well.)

    Joanna – We are so used to reading and hearing from the mature Joseph Campbell; thank you for sharing this glimpse of young Joe at a time when he was in the process of forming the ideas that shaped his mythological perspective.

    I’m hoping you’d be willing to expand on a term that appears in both Campbell’s letter to Angela Gregory, and in your own discussion. For those readers who aren’t mythologists or depth psychologists, and might not be conversant with Jung, Hillman, and others, would you mind amplifying what is meant here by “soul”?

    Soul is in many ways a vague and vaporous term; I realize defining it is about as simple as stapling one’s shadow to the wall. Many may have an idea of its sense when related to the individual, much as young Joe uses it here, but then you speak of a community’s soul, which expands the concept beyond the traditional, religious conceptualization. Since this is such a basic yet essential term in the fields of psychology and mythology, perhaps you could share your understanding of soul?

    #74775

    Stephen, thank you for raising the topic of soul for discussion! And thank you, too, for mentioning the Mythologium. The Mythologium is a place for mythologists and friends of myth — meaning you, mythic reader — to share ideas, inspire each other, and amplify each other’s work. The 2022 program is now live, and we are so excited about this year’s theme of Myth and Ecological Consciousness. Please do feel free to visit the Mythologium site for more info (of particular interest might be JCF’s panel!) and to sign up to receive Mythologium emails.

    Now, back to the topic of soul. In the Campbell passage quoted in the MythBlast, Campbell was using the term in a colloquial way, and not as defined by Jung or Hillman. Extending the idea of soul to a community, however, does gesture toward depth psychology, relating to Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious (from which Jung believes mythic motifs can arise across cultures), and also to archetypal psychology’s assertion that soul doesn’t live within us, but rather we live within soul. Soul, in this view, is far, far greater than ourselves.

    To me, soul implies a person or community’s (or planet’s) most inward essence and most fulsome totality, both at once. Soul embraces all dimension of experience. For humans, that means mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional experience — and then also an extra something. Soul carries the ever-present possibility of more meaning, more depth, more experience. You could think of it as the greater mind, body, spirit, and heart that encompass and enfold us, each and all and perhaps the entire cosmos. I sense it as the qualitative dimension of all other dimensions, the context in which individual and collective experience unfolds.

    Soul is the truth of our being, and it is that which allows us to recognize misalignments with our truth. When we are aligned, or in accord as Campbell would say, that’s when we can most easily experience the extra something through intuition, insight, synchronicity, and creativity — the images, ideas, and understandings we could never have come up with on our own but instead feel given as though from outside ourselves. These, I believe, are the language of soul.

    What about you? When and how do you experience soul? What images come up for you when you think of the individual soul and/or a community’s soul? I’m also keen to hear your thoughts about the questions at the end of the MythBlast: How might a community release its soul from false beliefs, disidentifying from myths that cause misery and harm? How might a community enter more fully into the realm of truth, beauty, and creativity?

    #74774

    Heidegger imagined that our soul was a divine connection to the everyday experience in the world, but authentic.

    Authentic is a dope place, where one gives up hamfisted connection to material and imaginary realms, and works, works hard to connect to the divine telepathic voice within.  That means working hard to disconnect from defense mechanisms, vanity, recognition and all the other unrealistic predatory illusions that detach us from the fantastic planetary showtime we so quickly reject.

    #74773

    “fantastic planetary showtime” – I love that. And authenticity is such an important avenue to soulful living. Finding authenticity, holding it, safeguarding it, expressing it, and valuing it, in ourselves and everyone else. Your words allowed me to feel that authenticity – thank you @doro!

    #74772

    i love your ability to dig into this mysterious man and his divine intentions.

    his visions are guideposts for us, you are a scout who gets close to the trail.

    Thank you very much.

    #74771
    bishopme
    Participant

    How might a community release its soul from false beliefs, disidentifying from myths that cause misery and harm? How might a community enter more fully into the realm of truth, beauty, and creativity?

    Hi Joanna,

    Thank you so much for Releasing the Dreaming, I loved your insights and questions, as well as your response about the soul.  I have pondered this question about the community because I am centered in a marginalized one.  Releasing the soul from a false belief is difficult when everything you see confirms the lie you’ve been told.  Our minds are powerfully creative and attracts or confirms what we believe.   So if we are told that the world is filled with lions, tigers and bears we move through the world on alert looking for lions, tigers and bears.   The news reports spots one confirming the narrative we’ve been given.  We double down on our vigilance to stay safe from those lions, tigers and bears.

    So to your question how do we release a community from the false belief, it is almost impossible.  If any evidence that supports the false claim that lions, tigers or bears the tension remains.

    This is an over simplified answer to your question, but this is a question I have sought to answer for some time.   I  thought talking about how trauma still impacts our communities and explaining epigenetics would be the answer but what haunts from the past shows up so powerfully in the present most of can not tell the difference.

    Media, advertising, education, religion and politics points to outward appearances as the barometer for how good life is or is not.  Unfortunately, when basic needs are still a daily struggle people have little concern for truth or beauty.  What is created from the pain seems to stir up more pain for those dealing with it.    Is is beauty from ashes or beauty of ashes?  Whatever it is, if it was yours it hurts.

    #74770

    Releasing false beliefs can be difficult, for sure, and the path is rarely easy. Especially when it requires telling the truth over and over, louder and louder in order to be heard over the cacophony of  lies.

    I’m interested in your metaphor of lions, tigers, and bears, too. Dorothy makes friends with her lion, tiger, and bear, and finds in them the exact soul qualities that she needed to have accompany her. It’s an image of teaming up with what seems to be the opposition, making friends with antagonists, releasing all the energy that would have been wasted on conflict and making the energy available for collaboration and cooperation. Not always possible, but sometimes it is.

    I salute you on your journey, @bishopme, and wish you every blessing.

    #74769
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Joanna, a very warm welcome back to the forums.
    Joanna and Stephen, bishopme brings up what I think is an extremely important connection of the psyche as to the Jungian concept of projection and its’ ability to evoke or conjure up the “dark side” in human nature and to be influenced by and for political purposes. Indeed, the Star Wars concept of the “power of dark side” I think is an interesting metaphor which Joseph expounds on at length in: “The Power of Myth” as a perfect example. (There was an open disclaimer on this clip about learning to live within a system, so I hope there is no copyright conflict. But it makes the point extremely well concerning the psyche.) My apologies but I’m not familiar enough with the point Doro was bringing up to comment, so I’ll leave that up to everyone else.

    For instance, the US political consciousness as to the use of “hatred” as a weapon for political purposes; or what Joseph might have called the demonizing aspect of the other side and its’ ability to conjure, evoke, manipulate, emotions for political ends and purposes has put so many people at risk of harm because they do or do not agree about something. The ability to turn a “thou into an it” and use it as a device to spread fear and uncertainty, or to turn ones’ idea of their neighbor into their opponent or even worse their enemy. It’s an age-old tactic used by clerics and politicians to drive a point of view, but with possible disastrous results as with yesterday’s “4th of July shooting” by a mentally disturbed or deranged young individual who has lost touch with reality as just one of many possible examples like that of school shootings and other public massacres.

    Guns and violence as an expression of anger or paranoia are a deadly mix that this country is now trying to come to terms with; and getting both political sides to agree on how to solve it is proving an almost insurmountable task at the moment. And emotional projection of shadow contents onto another because of fear or some other anxiety driven emotion I think is a major social and political concern right now that we as individuals must learn how to recognize. In other words, I think this is more than just a “golden rule” issue but a major psychological concern countries across the planet are now having to confront. So: “lions, tigers, and bears, Oh my!” I think hits the nail right on the head, so to speak, as a huge social as well as individual concern right now.

    It was hard enough to get people to wear masks during this last Covid pandemic surge; and it’s not over yet either as new variants continue to emerge. How people handle fear is one thing, but “projection” can take on many faces, and bishopme and your interest in this particular feature might open some interesting aspects to explore. Stephen or anyone else may also have some interesting thoughts about this to add as well.

    Please forgive my rather clumsy attempt at description, but hopefully it will be enough to illustrate what I’m trying to get at.

    #74768
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Upon thinking about this a little further a couple of additions might help as to why this is seeming to speak to me so profoundly. One is we have to project to be able to navigate reality, which should be “a given” if we are thinking in terms of everyday existence and how we make meaning of things. And two, is the “nature of conflict” which Jung points out is a major point of the (S)elf coming into realization of itself; (i.e. libido or psychic energy as in Enantiodromia and the “Axiom of Maria” or transcendent function unlocking what is blocking us from moving forward).

    But this brings me to the second half of life where the difference between achievement and meaning take place within the individuation process. So, what I’m attempting to ask is this: “As we navigate our uncertainty, (and our conflicts), we are projecting meaning about what we are experiencing; (and as Joseph has mentioned in reference to Jung these symbols and experiences of life we are digesting are also changing meaning because not only are we changing internally but the things around us are also evolving as well. (Stay with me.) Now we get to “Eros” and how this affects what and how we internally see ourselves.

    I’m not trying to get overly complicated about this but our individual nature or mixture of the 4 functions; (thinking-feeling-intuitive-sensation), and our introvert/extrovert expression of these are changing and we are attempting to find our psychological, emotional, and spiritual balance, as it were. (An example might be retirement for instance so everything we’ve known must now start to be reinterpreted, but the external world we must continue to navigate presents a whole different landscape and we must combine or marry the two and still keep our trajectory; or at least be able to change or go with it in a way that makes sense and not fall off our individual path we have been following.

    So back to the question concerning: “Lions, Tigers, and Bears; Oh my!” And our “Yellow Brick Road” we’ve been on as we find our way back “home”, with or without our Ruby Red Slippers. My impression is we are now on a completely different path or trajectory concerning society than we use to take for granted because many of the social and psychological supports are starting to change. Joseph called this: “A Freefall into the Future” in a number of his lectures. But some of this landscape; (i.e. concerning all this psychological darkness many people are experiencing such as these shootings); is making so many things very uncertain and scary right now; especially with Covid. Your thoughts about any of this would be most appreciated because it’s been giving me fits as I watch the news and see my landscape that I grew up in starting to evaporate! I know that we must be able to change as all this unfolds; that too is a given. But it’s sometimes difficult to find one’s moorings as these unpredictable storms wreck so much social havoc. In other words, the world seems much more uncertain than in times past, so I’m hoping for any extra clarity anyone would like to share looking ahead.

    Again, my apologies if any of this seems a bit off topic or out of place. Namaste

    #74767

    Hello @jamesn.! I think you are spot on about propaganda influencing the projections that separate people from reality. That connects back to the Campbell clip you shared, where he describes how systems can separate us from ourselves, from our authenticity. Combine the two ideas and we have people separated from the reality of their own authenticity, and the authenticity of their own reality — which is perhaps another way to say they are separated from their souls.

    Thank you for sharing that clip. Campbell sounds prescient there, especially in light of the people we keep seeing in the news who have been conditioned into senseless violence and aggression through some combination of propaganda and vulnerability. I hope they find their way back to their souls.

    #74766
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Thank you so much Joanna; your kindness helps more than you know! Yes, I was feeling extremely uncertain concerning how I was interpreting this outer landscape we are all navigating right now. And your insights concerning one’s authenticity really help put what I was feeling into a more balanced perspective. You made my night! Namaste

    #74765

    Regarding your second comment, @jamesn., for me two things are more important now than they have ever been before: heart-centered courage, and amor fati, or love of one’s fate — which can be challenging, to say the least. But if fati were easy, we wouldn’t have to work at loving it!

    I believe we can do whatever we are called upon to do. The questions are, will we listen and hear the callings of our hearts? And when we act on them, how will we do it? Will we drag our feet, or will we dance along the way?

    #74764
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Joanna; I love the way you have framed this very difficult insight. Yes, not only the “love of one’s fate”, but the patience and effort in understanding the personal alchemy that may be required as you try and hold to your path. Joseph called this the “Marga Path”; the animal trail back to its’ den; which symbolizes the “human heart”.

    #74763
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Joanna; I was thinking about our wonderful conversation last night and it reminded of a particular quote that came to mind about one’s inner Dragon that keeps us from following our call.

    You said:

    “for me two things are more important now than they have ever been before: heart-centered courage, and amor fati, or love of one’s fate — which can be challenging, to say the least. But if fati were easy, we wouldn’t have to work at loving it!

    I believe we can do whatever we are called upon to do. The questions are, will we listen and hear the callings of our hearts? And when we act on them, how will we do it? Will we drag our feet, or will we dance along the way?”

    ____________

    So often the world tells us we are not worthy or that what we are thinking about doing may be silly or childish or that we may not measure up to others’ expectations and we continue on doing things that keep us in the village compound where it’s safe and warm and we are not challenged about our beliefs in either ourselves or the quest that may be calling us from inside. Here is another clip where Joseph shares his thoughts about our inner Dragon with Bill Moyers; again from: “The Power of Myth”.

    ____________

    I’m not sure but it sounds like it would address at least part of what Doro was suggesting also.

    Doro said;

    “Authentic is a dope place, where one gives up hamfisted connection to material and imaginary realms, and works, works hard to connect to the divine telepathic voice within.  That means working hard to disconnect from defense mechanisms, vanity, recognition and all the other unrealistic predatory illusions that detach us from the fantastic planetary showtime we so quickly reject.”

    ____________

    Again Joanna, thank you for your extremely helpful insights!

    #74762

    Yes @jamesn., thank you so much for circling back to @doro’s observations, and thank you for another refreshing clip from The Power of Myth. These are insights and ideas that I need to keep relearning over and over!

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