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The Mythic Image

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    I have been a Joseph Campbell  reader and admirer for over forty (40) years.  My first Joe Campbell book was, “The Mythic Image”.  Unfortunately, I had very little knowledge and  even less interest in myth, mythology and metaphor.  So, the book stayed on the top shelf of my book case, more as a decorative item, than as a scholarly text.  As I look back at my life’s trajectory, I’d say, as if my soul knew then, that I would need Joe Campbell  more than anything else in my life.

    The arrival of the “Mythic Image”,  seemed so accidental then but now my life seems unimaginable without looking through a mythic lens,  or without Joe Campbell’s accessible and understandable words for an average humanoid.  Love Joe Campbell.


    Welcome, Shaheda!

    Your story about finding The Mythic Image and then shelving it, not realizing what treasures it contained, syncs with my own experience.

    Back in my college days I took a year-long undergraduate course called Ancient Mediterranean History. The primary text was Sir Arnold Toynbee’s final work, Mankind and Mother Earth (an elegant volume with a lot of history compressed into it, that also took into account humankind’s effects on its environment, and where we are headed in the future). However, the class only met once a week, and there were no grades, papers, or tests, and at the end of each semester we graded ourselves – but we were expected to read multiple comprehensive, self-selected academic tones within our individually chosen areas of interest, and meet for half an hour each week with our instructor in his office to discuss what we had read.

    Though no tests, papers, or grades from the teacher seemed oddly disconcerting at first, I was surprised that this turned out to be my favorite class (you may have noticed the format is similar to Campbell’s course on mythology at Sarah Lawrence). The professor, J.W. Smurr, with a distinguished beard and tweed patches on the elbows of his jacket, was nearing retirement and a bit dry as a lecturer (none of Campbell’s verve and sparkle – though in lectures he did impart a wealth of knowledge, albeit in a densely-packed monotone), but he would dive deep, asking penetrating questions in our informal office dialogs. Our session was at 2:30 on Fridays, so at the end of our half hour in his office we would continue the conversation over a beer in the tavern on campus.

    Those were heady times. I chose several ambitious works (such as Russian historian Mikhail Rostovtzeff’s masterpiece, The Social & Economic History of the Roman Empire, published in 1926 – hundreds of pages of dry writing and valuable insights interspersed with details of grain shipments from Alexandria, industrial centers in Italy and the provinces, and such – and 141 pages of tiny, detailed endnotes). One book I read that literally fell into my hands off the top shelf of the university library was called Changing Images of Man – a futuristic study crafted by a team of six scholars for SRI – Stanford Research Institute – that looked at the the central images of humankind that have shaped past cultures, and how the way modern culture perceives itself can shape the future.

    I loved the entire work, which rings true today, but especially the first two chapters, penned by the scholar whose name came first, alphabetically, in the card catalog – one J. Campbell. That book, along with the Toynbee volume above, played a major role in shaping my own perspective. However, can’t say I paid particular attention to the authors, none of whom I’d ever heard of.

    It wasn’t until a few years later, while working my way through the early volumes of The Masks of God series, that I experienced heavy deja vu – I realized I’d come across these concepts somewhere before! I finally traced that back to insights from the Changing Images of Man, and was astounded to realize that Joseph Campbell was the J. Campbell listed among the authors. Little did I know that work, which I spent a week zipping through in college and discussing over a beer with my professor, would have such a profound influence.

    This book is rare and difficult to find today – but is intriguing how our destiny is shaped by what we read. Maybe literature is fate . . .


    Hi Shaheda,

    It is nice to see you here on board in the Forum. I love hearing people’s stories of how they first encountered the works of Joseph Campbell, and thank you for sharing your story.

    I also enjoyed hearing Stephen’s story.

    My first encounter with Campbell’s work was The Power of Myth as a book and not the video. When I was in college someone had recommended it to me, thinking I would like it. And I loved it and kept reading more.

    I look forward to your posts, responses, discussion. Again, it is nice to hear your voice here.

    –Mary Ann


    Hello Mary Ann,
    It’s nice to hear your voice too, and as usual, I loved  Stephen’s story, and his rich and generous response, especially in the Campbellian realm.

    How’s life been in this pandemic? My life has not changed that much, still hiking up to our local mountain, reading, wondering and imagining as before. These days, I have been reading John O’ Donohue, an Irish poet, and have enjoyed his writings tremendously. One is “Anam Cara”, which is most definitely a gem, a link between the human and the divine. “It’s the hunger for the divine, that links all us humans together”, writes O’ Donohue. His other pearls of wisdom are, “The Divine Image” and “A Celtic Pilgrimage”.

    I’d love to hear from you, and how the pandemic has played into your life’s work, or not played? Yes, you’ll be seeing a lot of me on Myth Resources, after the autumn equinox, that’s when our winter winds begin to blow.

    Much love


    Hi Stephen,

    Such a heart-warming response.  A few questions emerged from this discourse, so I am going to pose one or two questions here and create a thread for others.

    Question one: Rare books and rare finds. Years ago, I purchased a book by Campbell, first edition, hard cover, beautifully bound, and the first few pages were illustrations & diagrams of humankind’s development through time. I found it at an old book store in Washington DC, called the “The Second Story Book Store”> The store is still there, but not my book, but I keep thinking of the title. Could the first edition have been that of “The Primitive Mythology” ?  Hard cover, rich illustrations, intense and rich in content.  I have searched Amazon but no luck with that particular edition.

    Question two: Where can I read Joe Campbell’s preface to Marija Gimabata’s “Language of the Goddess “. Another masterpiece  edition, that I purchased at the same second story book store, chiefly because of Joe Campbell’s preface, and then fell in love with Marija Gimbatas too. Our local libraries and public libraries, in Montreal do not carry much of Campbell or Marija Gimbatas. Nevertheless, I’d like to have that book too. Amazon has it, at a heavy sum. Of course I did not pay Amazon’s hard cover price then but a most humble amount — A gift from Campbell, I am sure.





    I’m sorry for the lag in reply, Shaheda. I’ve been trying to follow-up on your questions.

    #1 Is this a large, coffee table size volume? The description fits the original edition of the first volume of The Historical Atlas of World Mythology: The Way of the Animal Powers – a huge volume (later published in softcover in two parts, both oversize):
    The Historical Atlas of World Mythology, Vol. I
    All physical editions are out of print, though we have been slowly compiling portions of the whole as eSingles that can be downloaded, though it will be some time before we have the entire work available as an eBook.

    #2 We did feature a free download of Campbell’s intro to Gimbutas’ Language of the Goddess as’s monthly gift in July of last year. I have been trying to track down where that lives on our server, but can’t find it – not sure if it’s still accessible or not, but I will keep looking.

    (By the way, I did the same thing – purchased a softcover edition of Gimbutas’ work many years ago just for Joe’s words – and then tracked down everything else I could find of hers).


    Thank you very much for your thorough research, Stephen. Why am I surprised? That’s what you usually do.

    #1 Bingo! Yes indeed, coffee table size, The Atlas of World Mythology – the way of the animal powers.  And that indeed was the cover. There is an old book store, here in Montreal where I’ll look for it.

    #2 thanks for looking into the foreward by Joe.
    With gratitude.



    Dear Shaheda,

    Like Stephen, I am sorry for my delay in responding to your note. I have not been into the forum for a couple weeks now due to moving and encountering some complexities with the move. I felt that if I were to come here into the forum that I would not be able to focus on the posts enough to do them the justice they deserve; thus, I had no idea you had  written back to me within that time until I finally checked my personal email and saw the notification that you had responded to me. It is so very nice to encounter you again–I have always enjoyed our discussions.

    I am glad to hear you are doing “normal” to a good extent during this pandemic. It sounds so nice to have a mountain to hike! It has been overall normal for me, except for not being able to see my mom and aunt in the nursing home; as a result of them not being in touch with their people, they are both losing their bearings of memories of who is who and other things. At first it was mostly short-term memory, but now it seems to be extending to long-term memory. I also do not see my daughter and granddaughter as much as I would like to and it gets, as many people are experiencing, heart-wrenchingly difficult not to get close or hug them. Like many people, I limit my time shopping (unless online) to only the utmost necessities. I walk the beach along various shores of the lake here and walk some of the paths in the nature reserves here–no mountains here, though!

    Thank you for the suggestion of the Irish poet, John O’ Donohue. Lately I have focussed on some  Native American myths and folklore, with some focus on Campbell’s The Flight of the Wild Gander. 

    On your question of how the pandemic has played into my life work:

    I have been unemployed due to the pandemic. When schools closed,  I lost my M-F school job. When libraries closed, I lost my part-time library job. For a while I was getting a lot of writing done,  then an opportunity for a new home suddenly arose, so I have not been writing hardly at all for the past few weeks due to that. As you know, I have been wanting a bigger place for over two years now since I can barely spread out more than one book at a time in my closet-sized office.  Now I have a large office with also my piano in it and feel so blessed in that regard.

    I hope all your family members have stayed safe and unaffected. I know several people who have had corona and one friend is recovering now. Another friend tested positive for the antibodies and is awaiting his covid test. We have had two scares with family members being exposed to corona, one of them via work where there was an outbreak in a nursing home–then my daughter tested negative so I was able to see her and my granddaughter for my granddaughter’s birthday–from a safe distance, of course!

    My biggest hope right now is that people in general stay safe and that children can stay safe with the schools opening–I find that a bit nerve-wracking.

    With Much Love to You Too, and Wishing the Best to All in the Forum,

    Mary Ann


    That is so exciting that JCF is putting together The Way of the Animal Powers.

    From what I recall, The Way of the Animal Powers was also available as Vol. 1 in The Atlas of World Mythology volume series. I did not see on your photo here of the cover a “Vol. 1.”

    The other book you are looking for, The Language of the Goddess by Gimbutas, is now available on Amazon and in several other online bookstores, as well as some of her other books on goddesses and goddess culture. I hope you can find the download in the server, Stephen–I missed that one!


    Dear Mary Ann,

    Delighted to hear back from you. Oh worry not about your delayed response. I have had my hands full in a pleasant way too.

    I am sorry to hear about the job losses due to pandemic. I think, you’ll soon get back your jobs, or as soon as the schools open.

    Ah, how wonderful to have a new larger/better place to live in.  Borrowing words from John O’Donohue:

    ”And so may a slow
    wind work these words
    of love around you,
    an invisible cloak
    to mind your life.”

    Too bad that your mom is far away from you now, but maybe you can visit her soon.

    Regarding the books: I actually was looking to replace my first editions of the books that I lost in DC, and which I had purchased in DC from an old books book store.  I could not remember the name of the first one, hence, I gave in a few clues, and Stephen got it right away, with the image of the exact book. It was “The Atlas of World Mythology” (hard cover, beautiful illustrations, deep, and intense). The Language of the Goddess by Gimbutas was also  a first edition, and it was Joe’s rich foreward that had grabbed me. I wanted to read that foreward again, without buying Gimbutas’ book, and Stephen said, it was once on the’s book shelves. Anyway, the idea now is, to visit McGill University’s Book Sales, and look for first editions. Or, visit DC and look through the second story book shop again. Here is glimpse of this magnificent store:

    How is your family, your daughter, grand daughter, and your life’s partner, (Kenny?)

    How is your dream world? My dream world has been on the quiet side these days, but one dream that needs mention is a dream with Joe Campbell:

    Scene: It appears that Joe’s fans had arranged sort of a celebration for Joe’s 100th anniversary. Joe was walking into the celebration, and I was walking out, essentially, we were walking in opposite directions?!! Joe looked young fit, and lean, so I thought to myself, “must be the 44 laps at the Manhattan Athletic Club”, and then said, “Good Morning Joe”.  Some dream, short and sweet, and unforgettable!

    All else is well. My son is in a good place now (job wise) and daughter is fine too. I visited her in Denver, and enjoyed surveying the city and hiking the Rocky Mountain Trails.

    Warm wishes




    Thank you for your warm wishes for me in my new abode! I do feel it will be a new lease on life to be in a space in which there will be more space, space for more harmony!

    My significant other’s name is Dennie. I do have a cousin named Kenny 🙂 Dennie has been a big Campbell fan for years ever since he saw/heard The Power of Myth, which he finds a lot in common with his musical experiences. He is not much into computers or technology other than electronics with his music speakers, electric guitars, microphones, or sound boards, etc. He is not much online, very rarely on Facebook, and rarely uses email–most his music business as well as conversations with friends and family is all on phone or in person. (Very old school!) So it is doubtful he will come into the forum! 🙂

    My daughter is good–she found out on the 8th that her covid test was negative, thank goodness; we were all on “pins and needles” for a while because of the outbreak of covid where she works at a nursing home. My granddaughter is well also–she just had a birthday, my dear little Leo lioness!  She is certainly the lion-hearted. Thank you for asking.

    I am so glad to hear the good news that your son has a good job and that your daughter is well and that you had the opportunity to visit her in Denver and walk the trails in the Rockies. We could share our stories of hiking in the Rockies sometime–for me it was decades ago since I have been there except for the airport! We have no mountains here in OH, so it was quite a treat to be in the mountains.

    I hope you find the books you are looking for! Your search sounds like a fun adventure! The bookstore you mention reminds me of a bookstore I used to frequent in Ann Arbor, MI that was in the “underworld!” It was in a sort of tunnel going down some steps under another building on the street and it was second-hand books. I have stumbled across some interesting books there–I don’t even know if it is there anymore, I would have to search or visit again, it’s been so long.

    Your dream of Campbell and his birthday sounds like quite a nice gift from the dreamworld; how special that you got to meet Joe! 🙂

    My dream world has been very rich and detailed. I write my dreams down in my journal with my interpretations always, so my journal has been very full. I am looking forward to the dream topic on the forum that Stephen mentioned he might launch. There is probably a Campbell quote that could apply to many a dream we have had, since dreams and myths (as we all know) come from the same place as Campbell stated.

    Looking forward to more discussions!~

    Wishing you blessings as always!~

    Mary Ann




    Dear Mary Ann,

    Oops, yes indeed, your significant other’s name is Dennie, but somehow, Kennie came to mind. I am sure you’ll excuse me, because it has been a while since we chatted.

    Yes, I am looking forward to the Dream topic too. I can imagine it will turn out to be the most popular mythic item, a mythic night ritual, a celebration of dreamers, gatherers and lovers of ritual.

    These days my dream world is asleep, or I have not been able to recall much, still there are times, I do get a flash or two, just as I am about to fall asleep. The Shamanic Drumming Circle that I belonged to, suspended its meetings because of COVID 19, and I am not sure we’ll be gathering at all, at least not this year. The coordinators started an online circle but there has not been enough interest in the online drumming sessions.

    Tell me about yourself. Is your school reopening soon? Some are and some are not. Maybe you’ll be called for online teaching?

    Wishing you all the best.




    Shaheda and Mary Ann – I am definitely enjoying the conversation (I’m pleasantly surprised the “Meet & Greet” forum has actually provided a platform for so many profound, in-depth discussions, though it would be nice to nudge some of those participants to share some of those deep thoughts in some of the other forum categories here in COHO).

    Along that line, I apologize for being slow to getting around to a initiating a dream discussion … though there is no rule that says everyone has to wait for me to bring that up.

    (And this is where one of those winking face emoticons would come in handy – a sign of how successful Facebook has conditioned me.)


    Thank you Steve for your heart-warming answers, when you do reach out. And that you do, is also very generous of you, given your various hats on and elsewhere. The Dream Circle with you or another Dream expert,  would be a great boon to this forum.


    Dear Shaheda, Steve, Everyone,

    Shaheda, of course you are excused–I myself am not always as good at remembering names as I am at remembering faces!

    Stephen, I too love how this Meet & Greet has brought up discussion. It is a nice atmosphere here in the Meet and Greet for personal and casual discussion on the topics at hand in the forum. Thank you for providing this space in the forum and the entire forum itself.

    I am finally back online and back to the forum after a couple-few weeks offline. We got settled into our new place and it took awhile for us to get our online service here. It felt like camping out when we did not have internet connection, TV/movies, or hot water. To shower or do the laundry, we had to drive back to our old place. But we did get the gas hooked up a few days ago finally.

    If there were a dream topic space, I would begin posting and discussing some of my dreams, but I am not sure where to place them. I would be happy to help out with the dream topic forum if any help would be desired, along with Shaheda since we are both so into dreams. I studied dream interpretation/analysis through a Jungian lens, and I also enjoy the correspondences to Campbell’s writings and quotes to dreams in the mythic realm, which I think Shaheda is very good at doing.

    It is interesting to me that when we moved in here to the new place that my dream images were strange, very much changed. I was seeing images in the hypnagogic state (right before or at the time of falling into sleep) that were not at all typical of my “type” of archetype or archetypal symbols. They were much “darker,” for lack of a better word, and some of the images were disturbing. I may have picked up on some of the previous owner’s psychic (psyche’s) residue, as I sense she had been troubled when she moved about her move and some health matters she experienced before leaving. There were remnants of things around, too, that hinted at health matters. It is possible too that most the “residue” was my own psychic daily residue of encountering/seeing those remnants she left behind that (again) hinted at a health matter. Plus, even though she was happy to be leaving to start a new life elsewhere, she also seemed a bit sad to be leaving this house, even though she was happy we bought it, loved it, and would take care of it.

    I wondered if the woman who used to live here was a Tim Burton fan–so many of the images I saw were of his style of animation and I did even see some of the characters as I fell asleep! It seems she had grandchildren here with her a lot and perhaps those were some of the films they watched together…  <Smile face emoticon could go here!>

    Oh, I could go on, but will stop here!

    Could we do dream discussions in one of the other already existing forum topics? Maybe I will post one under the place where we can discuss our own work, etc.

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