Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

THERE and BACK AGAIN,” with MythBlast author Stephen Gerringer”

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 45 total)
  • Author
  • #74717
    Robert Juliano


      Let’s look at Rule #5 more closely. It says:

      Avoid Contemporary Politics: Given the volatile nature of contemporary political discourse, we ask that members steer clear of candidates or current political controversies. Forum members come from across the political spectrum. There are other fora across the internet for discussing myth and politics.

      While neoliberalism certainly includes certain political ideas, it itself is more of a global economic-based approach which is largely orthogonal to local system of government. And the ‘controversy’ involved is not one of party vs. another party, but is the pattern of living which has immense effects with which myth and notions of community must work. And it is close attention to such issues that Joseph Campbell highlighted in the above quotation repeated here:

      I think that in one’s political action and influences, if one can think of oneself as part of a world community without betraying the legitimate interests of one’s local neighborhood, one would be helping the world forward.

      And this was precisely the spirit with which I raised the issue of neoliberalism – it is a pattern whose participants do think about the world community but, crucially, at the expense of the interests of local neighborhood.

      In any case, I won’t raise this issue again on this board and apologize for doing so.

      Have a great weekend!


      Reply to Stephen # 7456

      and Robert #7459

      Thank you Stephen for the post from “Black Elk Speaks.” I’ve always enjoyed Campbell’s reference to that book.
      It’s wonderful how the view of the Central Mountain is expanded. The sacred center is everywhere.
         That brings me back to Robert’s post.
      Robert you include this addition from the book as well:

      “Black Elk said the mountain he stood upon in his vision was Harney Peak in the Black Hills. ‘But anywhere is the center of the world,’ he added.”

      This evokes the idea again, that the sacred center is or can be everywhere.
      Almost a “wherever you go there you are…”

      Joseph Campbell interprets this and says one is to “not mistake their central mountain for the central mountain of the world.” Then Campbell compares that to some stricter religions. But something makes me pause now.
      I certainly understand what Joseph Campbell says. But have a sense there is also something unspoken within that statement.

      “One is not to mistake their central mountain of the world… [AT THE EXPENSE or EXCLUSION of other sacred places/views/or expense/punishment of other people, who do not share that view?]
      Sort of another form of a Thou Shalt energy? Thou shalt not energy?

      But (back to Joseph Campbell) I wonder now, if Campbell in fact contradicts himself in his interpretation? Because if the Sacred Center is Everywhere, when exactly does Harney Peak become less sacred or even less Center? Now, it is part of many sacred Centers everywhere… Because everywhere IS center.

      Black Elk’s view to me, represents the And/Both balance. He has his vision there and it’s the center of the world, but it’s not the only center.  

      Campbell’s take is understandable. It probably comes from his frustrations with more heavy handed “thou shalt” energy in religion and judgement.
      Yet, I wonder if Campbell ever delves into Thomas Merton or St. Francis?

      Not everything has to be fire and brimstone. And Merton opened up a dialogue too between East and West.

      I understand the need and care between a universal view and  local ones.
      The real fear of a universal view is a fear of amalgamation. That cultural traditions will be lost or even cast aside.

      It doesn’t have to happen that way…

      But this is why celebrating cultural uniqueness in places all over the world is stressed even more so now.

      And it is fascinating and wonderful to see the rich and different histories of various peoples!

      And that’s why this quote you provide Stephen hits home:

      “One cannot predict the next mythology any more than one can predict tonight’s dream; for a mythology is not an ideology. It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart.”

      Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space (Copyright © 1986, 2002 Joseph Campbell Foundation), p. xix

      Especially THIS: It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart.”

      That is a hopeful place to be!
      A place that could hopefully listen and understand and discern.


      Campbell does leave the idea of the new myth more of a question mark.

      So IF a new myth arises even in 500 or more years the question is whether it will arise from human shared consciousness and needs of individuals and communities and the planet?

      Or whether it will come with more of a feeling of a think tank?
      With a world woven in technology today, it might be very tempting to predict a myth on the basis of statistics.

      Or even outcomes. Beneficial outcomes.

      To me, Saruman represents the potential damage that can happen in a broader view or illusion of greater good. He was bent on destroying the Shire. But he could not succeed. The Shire remained the Shire…even as middle earth was healed…the darkness gone and battles won. Dwarves, Elves, Men and Hobbits retained their cultures, but now there was just more to add to the tales and histories.
      That’s why I still think Awareness is another strong part in so many of these tales, because that takes it back to a mind/heart balance. And Awareness includes Awareness of more than oneself alone…

      And yes, I know there are more challenges today and different interpretations of various cultural tales including updated versions written by members of local cultures to present the tales from their view now and their voices without interpreters.

      And it’s a balance to present differences between cultures to show respect, kindness and understanding, while at the same time carefully finding common ground to also help with that communication and understanding. *care*

      Stephen, That’s why I admire how you caught your students interest  with the land of dreams. Very cool! You gave them something relatable on a common ground which helped open the discussion and lead it to mythic themes.

      Sometimes, it feels as though today, we  seek understanding  through differences first. (and those can certainly be respected and celebrated!)

         And there is a need, so we do not assume things about others. It seems a good idea to remember everyone has a different life experience. (Even different cultural experience.)

      But to start communication with differences first could be challenging.

      Even as the typical hero can be de-centralized…and we look towards community/s, it’s still complicated.

      But that pull towards human connection, understanding, even common ground…things we have in common…it’s hard not to find appeal in universal connection. (Especially with all the tensions in the world)

      Connection unforced. 

      So I’m kind of hoping (any New myth) will come from that heart center, which is everywhere.

      Of course you can have people clamoring for all to happen at once or “we might never be part of a international space federation if we don’t all this this and this (and save the planet) hurry, hurry …All On Board.

      Then there’s that one farmer: “I just want to plant my beans and be left in Peace.”

      And someone like Thicht Hahn might surprise us by siding with the ornery farmer because the farmer was looking for Peace within.

      So maybe the real test of any myth is being so busy with what it does or should look like…(appearance) 

      rather than experiencing it or seeing it for what it is even if it points beyond itself…
      Transparent to Transcendence — Joseph Campbell

      Or Thomas Merton to be “Alive and Awake”  from When The Trees say Nothing.

      And maybe that deeper heart awareness (kind of a Bodhisattva?) re-balances and re-vitalizes the mind awareness…

      ….but who knows?



      I’m sorry – my post wasn’t taking issue with anything in yours, but forestalling further movement down that path (shortly after posing, realizing it could be read that way, I edited it to clarify the guidelines are being pointed out “for new arrivals who might not be aware of that” – but you wouldn’t have been notified of edits on replies to your post).

      However, politics isn’t just talking candidates and political parties. I’ve moderated discussion forums where this exact issue (globalism / neoliberalism at odds with relatively recent national / conservative movements) has triggered flamewars. (That played out in especially ugly ways in online forums during Brexit.) It always starts with a friendly conversation among logical, mature adults – but individuals are drawn to Campbell’s mythological perspective from across the political spectrum. At some point, specific contemporary examples are raised, a chord is struck, a complex constellated, and a whole dynamic erupts that carries the exchange far beyond the often laudable intentions of those who began the discussion.

      Didn’t have a problem with the drawbacks to the status quo you raised, and the need for something new. It’s the nuts-and-bolts discussion of how we get from here to there, in terms of implementing policies, sharing power, and/or assigning blame, that can take us away from myth into the political swamp. It’s easier to let folks know before they start down that path that we just aren’t going there, than to put the brakes on once the train has jumped the track.

      But if we keep the focus on the mythological narrative, rather than venture too close to current real world examples, we can explore the interplay through the imagery, without getting bogged down in details given different weight by different individuals.


      On behalf of the collective journey/s…

      Maybe they too, need more of a chance

      and a deeper look to appreciate the dynamics of the group or community adventures.

      The reference of collaboration and teamwork or working together to achieve a worthy goal is certainly admirable!

      But in the solo quests, there are all of these nuances of inner work, struggles, facing one’s fears, aligning with something deeper than surface ego and then either achieving or failing a quest (the loss or gain of a grail or awareness.)

      But within the group adventures, this happens as well.
      Working and Collaborating together is what the group/s do or strive to do…

      But what’s Happening to Them as they work and journey together? Isn’t that part of a collective journey as much as a solo or duo one?

      Stephen said something in post

      # 7444 about the re-integration of an individual after individuation helping to make a stronger and more vibrant community. 

      I think that vibrancy is an important part of the group/community/collective adventures, because it gives life to the communities and multiple characters in any story.
      There might be a  trick with those individual quests out the village gate or even the tensions between adventurers and their society. Because those type of journeys could make the Society or Village feel like a stubborn rock that just sits still in the middle of the story. So then hero quests would definitely pull more attention…

      Except when Life is seen within the village/community…then the Vibrancy Returns.

      Jung’s vision/dream conjures the idea of every journey person being a builder. So that is interesting. Everyone and all are builders and the journey/goal is a Spiritual project.
      I understand that collective journeys rely on teamwork and cooperation and collaboration…working together to achieve/find something important.
      Yet, there is another part of the team journey, which fascinates me…

      “Thinking on one’s feet.”

      Yes, it sounds like the solo adventure, but sometimes in theater, improv plays a role…and in dance…not just solo but Group improv.
      It’s one thing to improv by yourself and quite another to improv on the spot in tandem and to make it flow!
      So what of those tales where a certain Circumstance (back to Juan’s original thought) befalls all the characters collectively? And that Circumstance might cut them off from some of the traditional avenues of solutions?
      Some regular types of teamwork may work, but now there may be a call to use what is it hand, a call to improvise together…to think on the spot together, 

      (yes to work through struggles and disagreements as well.)

      But NOW the collective or community or small group has a chance to show the strength of the human spirit and in collaboration AND thinking together on the feet so to speak.

      If anything, maybe that’s the part of those collective journeys we enjoy the most: so and so thought this…and the two of them came up with that…and now the whole group made that play, built that shelter, fooled the antagonists. Cheer the team!

      Of course there are 1001 of these Circumstance Befalling tales from fantasy to sci-fi and other fiction.

      And I certainly appreciate the beauty and ability of humans or communities who can come and work together and follow various blueprints.

      But I’m just as impressed with community/collective adventurers, who learn how to work together when there are no obvious blueprints or the blueprints are lost in the storm.
      Of course there will be conflicts, anger, and other frustrations and dramatic irony and learning curves,but when that improv does come together….YEAH!
      (Unless the tv show enjoys reveling in conflict shadows indeterminately-laugh)

      And as much as I enjoy individual journeys, some of my favorite parts of a story is when fave characters on another geographical side of the realm cross paths with other protagonists. Then everybody comes together.
      I think the challenge for me about the collective journeys is not about everyone working together on journey together, but it’s about appreciating these collectives as something less broad and random… “collective group of humans on journey working together.”
      I want to know about these humans, who they are…their village, community…and who are the humans who make up the team of adventurers?
      One of the things I think we seem to relate to in team adventures is getting to know and appreciate the characters with all their different traits. And how they relate to each other. I can’t help but want to know their names, their gifts and  their flaws /idiosyncrasies.

      If it’s to be a collective adventure, I want to see the Heart of the collective…not just teamwork, but friendship, compassion, thinking on the feet together, working through struggles together...not just “following set plans to a desired goal”  but the ability and creativity to make new plans together if necessary.  That’s what I enjoy.

      We know humans can cooperate and collaborate together but that latter also hints that humans can create together.

      Imagination and inspiration are available to groups as well as individuals. In music it takes more than one note (most of the time) for the whole song.

      And maybe the old draw away from the beauty of the group adventure was a sense of a loss or lack of vitality,

      The sense when a “village”  begins to feel more like moving wallpaper (extras) in a movie or story.
      But to be fair there are plenty of visual stories who give “life” and energy to the villages these days.
      And part of the appreciation for various villages, communities, group adventurers, fellowships, teams and so forth is appreciation for the individual people/characters who are in and part of these teams/communities.
      Then, when we hear This Team/These Knights/This Community, we have the vision of the people within it.
      Even in a broad Earth-from-moon view, where one cannot possibly name every person on the planet…still one can remember humans are on Spaceship Earth (along with other living beings.)

      So even if we cannot name the individuals of the Collective on Spaceship Earth, we can still know the vibrant living essence of it pulsing through…humans/animals/plants trees/living ecosystem.
      If we see Gaia as a living organism  then perhaps we desire the poetry for it or at least for Spaceship Earth and for the stars beckoning beyond and watching from the firmament. Or poetry for humanity.
      Maybe it takes some gentle digging and dusting through the strata of the collective to see the real heart of it. Community shifts the energy…humanity shifts the energy…

      It’s wonderful to do things for Community…but community is much more than one thing (local and extended.)

      A person can walk through and be a part of many communities in their life or even in one day.
      And it’s the people  who make up those communities, who stick with us. Regardless of whether they’re old friends or someone new we meet on the journey.

      It’s sort of hard to think of the Beatles without doing a: John, Paul, George and Ringo…

      But heck the groups of people we meet don’t have to be famous to stick with us. Because there is something much deeper at work. And more real.

      And Yes, it may be hard in a book with numerous characters to remember every one of them…but there will be some we do.

      Of course there is a beauty in sharing a smile or the kindness/help of a stranger and never knowing the name of the person.
      But the connection happens.
      Maybe it seems rare but every little glimmer counts. And maybe the trick is that collective or universal energy sought, somehow is already there or here just waiting to be noticed.

      Trying to “make something happen” that already exists (if given awareness) might prove interesting and challenging.

      Wasn’t that the issue Campbell had about “fixing the world” unintended consequences?

      Though there may not be enough glimmers of awareness to convince any of us there is something already there/here waiting.

      So it is humanly natural to look for logical, active solutions. Humans like the action of fixing things or making them better.
      And Awareness may just not seem active enough, by itself for the practical logical mind. And in the moment world.
      Even though the stories keep hinting awareness has potential barely imagined.
      But those are stories and this is the world right?

      But alas the world has been full of stories from the beginning in the first view of woodlands, deserts, jungles and tundra and prairies…with the light of sun, moon and stars and reflection in the sea, the rise of buildings and cities and a rickety airplane in NC…rockets to the moon and telescopes collecting galaxies to view from far away…and behemoth computers shrunk down into slips of pocket size glass predicted by Nikolai Tesla…how very strange.
      And for all our concerns of an age, our earth dwarfs us in years of experience.      We are still catching up in the space of time given to us here. It’s mind blowing.
      So yes we are a collective made up of many collectives or we are many hoops, part of one hoop (love the image of the flowering tree.)

      But we know this because we are also Story. And it is story, which has brought all of us here to this moment and every moment yet to come.





        Stephen, there is something I want to add to my two entries I don’t think has been thoroughly addressed enough yet that I think may play into this idea of what the Hero goes for and what he brings back to the community. In this clip from the Bill Moyers interviews with Joseph in “The Power of Myth” they talk a little about this where the idea of the inner Dragon that resides within us all must be subdued. What he is articulating, shown here, is actually the “Unconscious”. And as he describes in the 1st clip concerns how we must come to terms with our inner war and that what we are bringing back from our subterrain adventure into the light world of our everyday reality is what we have integrated, which is what the transcendent function; (i.e. Axiom of Maria), has revealed. Moyers asks Joseph: “So we are going on this adventure to save ourselves?”; (which is really this deep dive into our unconscious); and Joseph further describes: “And in so doing that you save the world because a vital person vitalizes”. This puts the responsibility to answer or respond to the call of their own inner life on the individual to seek out what is troubling him or her, as well as the society or village compound which he often refers to as the “Wasteland” situation.; (or put another way, people living inauthentic lives); which the spell is broken by the hero deed

        One of the things I think gets constantly lost in discussing: “The Hero and what “The Call to Adventure” represent is the inner battle and struggle of the individual to overcome what is going on underground within their unconscious in the context of their own life. And one of the main reasons is the outer world is always providing larger-than-life metaphors, (and metaphor is a very important word here in this particular context), that show tales and fantasies completely removed from everyday reality.

        Now my point here is not about an actual thing or boon that the hero retrieves, but a transformed individual consciousness. Now that is not to say this is a one-size-fits-all application in any way; but because so much of modern society demands that a person “must fit-into-a-system” to survive Joseph also points out that people have in many ways: “stopped listening to themselves” and what their heart is yearning for. As matter of fact there are many people who don’t even know what that idea means, which Joseph would describe here as: “Following one’s Bliss”.

        Now there are several misconceptions I think worth addressing that might apply to the idea of what a Hero Journey might be; and one that continually is brought up is that the adventure is a kind fantasy where happy, happy, joyful things transpire along with a monster that is slain. Another is about this thing called “Hidden Hands”; or what Moyers and Campbell discuss as “invisible means of support”. That is to say as Joseph mentions in several places that the individual has put themselves on a “kind-of-track” that has been waiting for them. For instance: “doors opening where there were only walls before”, kind of thing.) In Jungian terms this I think could in some ways seen as a kind synchronistic interplay between the outer-conscious world and the inner-unconscious, where clues or symbolic references or messages from the unconscious are revealed in the form of dreams, divination, meaningful chance or coincidences sometimes called synchronistic occurrences or events. In Jung’s autobiography: “Memories, Dreams, and Reflections” he talks about this inner/outer relationship with the unconscious. Here is an example of his story of one of his patients during a consultation about a “Scarab”. (For some reason I couldn’t locate the original story which is where I first saw it in the book, so this will have to do.) But the question here I think we must ask ourselves is: “Has not everyone one of us at some moment in our lives had some kind of phenomena occurrence happen to them that speaks to them out of the ordinary that grabs their attention and says something otherworldly and meaningful. Perhaps some kind of clue or symbolic reference of profound importance. (Just saying that both Joseph and Jung often included these kinds of things in their narratives and mentioned these were important things to pay attention to.) The “Village Compound” doesn’t often have these mythical or mystical references except in concretized “thou shalt” religious systems.

        But my point is that what the Hero brings back and integrates into society is the: “knowledge, insights, and transformations” retrieved from their experiences; not some golden, sparkling or magical device often portrayed in fairy tales, romances, monster-slaying, bully-toppling adventures. Whether the aspect obtained refers to Christ or Buddha that resides within all of us, or some kind of lifesaving elixir or newly discovered implement or device that serves mankind is only part of the message from the unconscious; the real gift is the potential that is brought forth in you.

        Now I know this is only one of many possible manifestations of this “archetypal” reference. But it is one I think that is continually missed and overlooked. Joseph said he never met an “ordinary” human being, and I think he was “specifically” referring to this aspect of the Hero motif or pattern. Especially when he says he saw the continuing journey of “the ages” playing out like Moyers quotes in his introduction on page: xiv: of “The Power of Myth”:

        “Coming up from the subway at Times Square and feeling the energy of the pressing crowd, I smiled to myself upon remembering the image that once appeared to Campbell there; “The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stands waiting this afternoon on the corner of Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.”



        I confess I’m not clear on what it is you see as a contradiction. You observe

        Black Elk’s view to me, represents the And/Both balance. He has his vision there and it’s the center of the world, but it’s not the only center. “

        I could not agree more, but neither could Campbell – this is exactly  his point. That’s why, when discussing Black Elk’s vision in his Power of Myth interviews with Moyers, he relates it to another metaphor from a different culture that uses similar imagery (which, as Robert notes, is from the 12th century “The Book of the Twenty Four Philosophers”):

        There is a definition of God which has been repeated by many philosophers. God is an intelligible sphere – a sphere known to the mind, not the senses – whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. And the center, Bill, is right where you’re sitting. And the other one is right where I’m sitting. And each of us is a manifestation of that mystery. That’s a nice sort of mythological realization that sort of gives you a sense of who and what you are.

        . . . What you have here is what might be translated into raw individualism, you see, if you didn’t realize that the center was also right there facing you in the other person. This is the mythological way of being an individual. You are the central mountain, and the central mountain is everywhere.”

        That’s the same “Both/And” vision as Black Elk, as you describe it – “He has his vision there and it’s the center of the world, but it’s not the only center.”

        Joseph Campbell is not taking issue with Black Elk – he’s not saying Harney Peak isn’t sacred, for it is, nor that the Oglala Sioux should not experience it as such and make it central to their worship; his problem is with those traditions that read myths and visions literally: the sacred mountain of the world is Mt. Sinai, and only Mt Sinai (or, say, only the Mount of Olives), and not Harney Peak, not Mt. Olympus, not Mt. Kailash.

        That should be no surprise – the only “sin” from Campbell’s perspective is reading a myth literally, which is common primarily among the Levantine religions (specifically Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – though there are branches of each, generally considered heresies by the dominant orthodox traditions, that do embrace a symbolic understanding).

        Read a myth literally, and you are relating to it as if it is history, or a newspaper report – a literal fact – and not mythology.

        So, depending on one’s tradition, the center of the world might be Jerusalem or Rome or Mecca or Benares or Bodh Gaya – religious centers and places of worship – but, in the Jewish and and Islamic traditions, for example, there is only one center of the world (Jerusalem or Mecca, respectively), which is so exclusive that to disagree has, at points in the past, merited death; in the Buddhist tradition, on the other hand, Bodh Gaya, while sacred, is not the only center of the world, which is understood to be at Bodh Gaya, and everywhere.

        Campbell describes Black Elk’s vision as “a real mythological realization.” He illustrates that same mythological realization elsewhere, in a discussion of Hinduism, with this brief tale:

        A certain Hindu ascetic who lay down to rest beside the holy Ganges placed his feet up on a Śiva-symbol (a ‘liṅgam-yonī,’ a combined phallus and vulva, symbolizing the union of the God with his Spouse). A passing priest observed the man reposing thus and rebuked him. ‘How can you dare to profane this symbol of God by resting your feet on it?’ demanded the priest. The ascetic replied, ‘Good sir, I am sorry; but will you kindly take my feet and place them where there is no such sacred liṅgam?’ The priest seized the ankles of the ascetic and lifted them to the right, but when he set them down a phallus sprang from the ground and they rested as before. He moved them again; another phallus received them. ‘Ah, I see!’ said the priest, humbled; and he made obeisance to the reposing saint and went his way.”

        (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 144)

        Campbell emphasizes this is a fairly consistent reading of myth across cultures throughout history (one that can even be found within the Levantine faiths, if one looks closely – e.g. God as “All in all” in I Corinthians 10:28).

        Like Black Elk, maybe you and Joe really are on the same page.


        My apologies Stephen. When I wrote that post originally, I was thinking exactly what you said about Exclusion by particular literal views. But it was late and I was second guessing my words (probably due to the fact I have friends from various backgrounds and faiths…so I hedged and muddied up the intent. Ah well. But I do agree with you and Joe. You made it clear again, that it is the literalness that is the issue.
        So Joseph Campbell does not contradict himself. It is also the literal used at expense or harm to others that creates the tension, pain and problem.
        I was thinking too subjectively, that one can feel a place is sacred without condemning others but of course that is exactly what Black Elk and Joe are doing! That’s what happens on a tired musing. Sorry about that. But I think you are right 😉 no contradiction here.

        Robert Juliano


          I’d like to respond to your claim that the inner dragon that Joseph Campbell talks about is the unconscious (“What he is articulating, shown here, is actually the ‘Unconscious’ “). First, let me quote from the transcript of this part of the interview:

          Campbell: … Psychologically, the dragon is one’s own binding of oneself to one’s ego. We’re captured in our own dragon cage. The problem of the psychiatrist is to disintegrate that dragon, break him up, so that you may expand to a larger field of relationships. The ultimate dragon is within you, it is your ego clamping you down.

          Thus, the dragon is used here, not as a symbol of the unconscious, but as an image of the individual who has identified with the ego.

          Now, one of the places where the unconscious has been imaged as a dragon is in the 16th century alchemical text De Lapide Philosophico Libellus or Book of Lambspring which contains a set of Emblems (images) which depict certain steps in the alchemical opus. One image is an individual in medieval armor with sword unsheathed facing a dragon. This is only the second image of the book, the preceding one expressing a set of positive conditions which have formed due to the efforts of the adept and his/her readiness to embark on the work. Now, when the ego first confronts the unconscious, there is great danger and the ego must protect itself during this confrontation. This protection is in the form of holding strongly to its position and its view and, as Dr. Jeffrey Raff writes in his commentary on the book, in having a “theory, a way of anticipating and understanding its interaction with the unconscious.” Crucially, at this stage, if the ego cannot protect itself, it is in danger of being completely overwhelmed by the unconscious.

          The reason the unconscious poses such a danger to the ego at this point is that a relationship between the two has not yet been established. Furthermore, before an enduring relationship has been established, there is little stability in how the unconscious expresses itself. The ego experiences this as perceiving the images presented by the unconscious as constantly morphing into one another and having little or no stability. Here, developing a dialogical relationship between the ego and the unconscious is exceedingly difficult and must be done with great care.

          But, tending this relationship can result in changes to both the ego and the unconscious. Practically speaking, one can bring a certain amount of stability in the dialogical relationship between the ego and the unconscious as well as to the manifestations of the unconscious. Eventually, the unconscious will have come closer to the conscious position and, likewise, the ego will have come closer to the unconscious.

          Thus, we see here that the unconscious is only initially imagined as a dragon due to its overwhelming power and dynamism, but that it is not inherently dangerous nor does the unconscious remain imagined as a dragon, especially after a dialogical relationship has been established.


            Robert, what a wonderful articulation you offered. Yes, I’m aware of the various part-to-part relationships of the hero-(and)-journey motif and the unconscious (S)elf with ego’s developing relationship which you so thoughtfully laid out. And the Campbell text illustrates what my humble description left out along with your added clarifications.  Daryl Sharp has a great description of the Hero archetypal motif, (which he called “A Round”), from his Lexicon: (listed under Hero), complete with an illustrated drawing which you might find of interest here.

            But my goal was to suggest that many people get wrapped up in a kind of concretized form of this motif where the larger picture is not addressed. In other words what we might call the “work-in-progress-of “becoming” aspect. All too often the archetypal image as a symbol instead of the actual archetype itself is hijacked, and the larger mission of the self as ego is misunderstood for the Self which is the regulating center of the entire psyche.


            Jungian analyst James Hall describes it this way on page 11;”Jungian Dream Interpretation”:

            “In Jung’s model of the Self is the regulating center of the entire psyche, while the ego is only the center of the personal consciousness. The Self is to the ordering center which actually coordinates the psychic field.  It is additionally the archetypal template of individual ego identity. The term shelf is further used to refer to the psyche as a whole. There are thus three separable meanings of the Self:

            1) the psyche as a whole, functioning as a unit.

            2) the central archetype of order, when viewed from the point of view of the ego: and

            3) the archetypal basis of the ego.

            Because the Self is a more comprehensive entity than the ego, the perception by the ego of the self often takes the form of a symbol of higher value: Images of God, the sun as the center of the solar system, the nucleus as the center of the atom, etc. The affective tone of an experience of the Self is often numinous or fascinating and inspiring of awe. The ego experiencing the Self may feel itself to be the object of a superior power. When the ego is unstable the Self may appear as a reassuring symbol of order, often in the form of a mandala, a figure with a clear periphery and a center, such as a quadrated circle or a square within a circle, although the forms are capable of endless elaboration. In Eastern religious traditions, mandala arrangements often contain god-images and are used in meditational practices. Although the Self is the least empirical of Jung’s structured concepts-because it is at the borderland of what can be clinically demonstrated–it is a useful term in describing psychologically what is otherwise indescribable. Indeed, phenomenologically the Self is virtually indistinguishable from what has traditionally been called God.

            (Relation between the Personal and the Objective Psyche):

            Our point of reference in the psyche is the ego complex, that structure we refer to whenever we use the first person singular pro noun “I”. The personal layers of the psyche, however, rest upon an archetypal foundation in the objective psyche or “collective unconscious”; (quotation marks mine), The “personal sphere”; (again quotation marks mine), both conscious and unconscious develops out of the matrix of the objective psyche and is continually related to these deeper areas of the psyche in a profound and organic fashion, although the developing ego inevitably tends naively to consider itself the center of the psyche. It is similar to the difference between the sun revolving around the earth or vice versa.


            Now James Hall goes much deeper in his descriptions as in the relationship of the psyche with dreaming and complexes and so forth. But as I was mentioning my goal was to point out that the “Everyman/Everywoman” mission of the Hero is to answer this inner call of the psyche to know itself as it develops over time, hence “the template”. This potential lies in each one of us, as Joseph figured out and attempted to illuminate in his 1949 book: “The Hero of a Thousand Faces” but as he also pointed out personal history, society, and culture often provide barriers that prevent this process from taking place. And I think the more public notion of what the Hero represents as a model is often confused with the celebrity image most often utilized as a template substitute for what is misunderstood as the potential Hero that resides in everyone as Joseph articulated in the role of the uniqueness within every individual to express itself.

            Now I’m saying this suggestively per individual, not as any set-in-stone type of model to build one’s life on as Joseph was describing in many of his lectures. But my point being that so often the legendary motifs are used, and the “everyday heroic individual” gets left out of the narrative as I mentioned. Thank you again Robert for your most thoughtful input and I sincerely appreciate your kind efforts at clarification.


            I need to offer my sincere apologies as I mistakenly started the opening of this post and said Juan when I actually meant Robert and I corrected the error.


            Where is Ariadne when you need her? I lost my thread a while back. I want to say thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on my post and everyone else’s. A very thoughtful exchange of ideas. Thanks.


              Juan; my profound apologies. I started my reply and for some reason said your name when I actually meant Robert’s and I have gone back corrected the error. I hope my error had nothing to do with your desire to leave the thread.

              “Where is Ariadne when you need her? I lost my thread a while back. I want to say thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on my post and everyone else’s. A very thoughtful exchange of ideas. Thanks.”

              My reply to Robert’s thoughtful response had nothing to do with you, and I hope you’ll reconsider.

              Robert Juliano


                In Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book Hero with a Thousand Faces, he devotes Part I to the adventure of the hero. His three chapters correspond to the nuclear unit of the Monomyth which was based on the work of ethnologist Dr. Arnold van Gennep, author of Rite of Passage. Now, I have read the individual sections of each chapter, not as stages of the hero’s journey, but as amplifications of each element of the nuclear unit. Unfortunately, others have read this part of the book very differently. They read it as a directed loop consisting of 12 connected stages of the hero’s journey, and some have even gone as far as to say that every piece of new storytelling must have these stages. It is quite unfortunate, but the organization of this part of Campbell’s book has led to a certain concretization of the hero’s journey and, in addition, its use in storytelling. One thing I point out to people is that the Monomyth was a proposal, not a theorem, that there exists a pattern underlying all myths, that pattern being the hero’s journey. And in the rest of Campbell’s ~20+ books, he refers to the Monomyth only a handful of times. It is most unfortunate that the Monomyth has been so concretized.

                There can be no doubt that there exists an archetypal motif (archetypal image) for the hero which Campbell and Jung have examined. And as we have gathered many examples of the hero from numerous cultures, it might be more appropriate to stress that this should be plural – archetypal motifs for the hero. James Hillman holds that the hero pattern is not applicable in our time under our present circumstances. There is a certain validity to this view, because depth psychology and other fields have shown the hero pattern to be problematic as a lens and as a behavior. Having said this, let us look at a critical event which occurred toward the beginning of Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious.”

                In the Black Book entry for December 18, 1913, Jung writes that he had a dream (in the Red Book, it is described as a vision) where he and a companion murdered the heroic prince Siegfried of old German and Norse epics. In the Red Book, this is contained in Liber Primus, chapter 7, “The Murder of the Hero.” What Jung says about this dream makes clear that he was in great danger and that he had to fulfill his responsibilities in this journey of confronting the unconscious, for he wrote:

                But after this dream I went through a mental torment unto death. And I felt that I must kill myself, if I could not solve the riddle. I knew that I must shoot myself, if I could not understand the dream.

                So, here, at the beginning of Jung’s confrontation, he kills the hero! Jung laments:

                Oh that Siegfried, blond and blue-eyed, the German hero, had to fall by my hand, the most loyal and courageous! He had everything in himself that I treasured as the greater and more beautiful; he was my power, my boldness, my pride. I would have gone under in the same battle, and so only assassination was left to me. If I wanted to go on living, it could only be through trickery and cunning.

                So, what does this indicate? For Jung, he came to realize as a result of this dream and his reflections on it that “the highest truth is one and the same with the absurd.” Murder of the hero may be understood in other ways. Perhaps it means, as Hillman may see it, that the hero should no longer be the ideal in our time. Or, put a different way, there are numerous patterns to the hero, but this specific one may no longer be the ideal for the 20th (and 21st) century.

                From an astrological hermeneutic, given Jung’s analysis of the two millennia since the birth of Christ in Aion (CW 9ii), we have some basis from which to make predictions on what is coming in the next astrological age of Aquarius. The Aquarian Age is one of the few in which the zodiac sign is a human. The Aquarian figure is one who pours water from a vase (the Water Bearer). Now, since Pisces was the age of the opposites (“hostile brothers”), Jung felt that Aquarius will constellate the problem of the union of opposites. Aquarius, according to Jung, “is the sign of the man whose ideal is the union, the oneness, of animal and divine,” where the Water Bearer symbolizes the Self. So, this is the possible path of human beings which addresses your issue of the need to recognize the dynamic process of becoming.

                One more thing. It is critical to always note that the Self, like all psychoid archetypes, governs both the realm of the psyche as well as the realm of matter (physis).


                  Robert, your points are very well described, and yes, I agree with most of them. Yes, it is unfortunate that “The Round” that Daryl Sharp described as the Hero template has become concretized, which is something that comes up from others who feel this is somewhat confining to what “The Journey/Adventure” as process represents and serves, which is mainly the maturation of the individual psyche to know itself as it develops over time in service to its’ own: “reason for being”. To make sense of life when there is no reason for existence other than what the individual brings to it is one way to look at this; and indeed, Joseph emphasized this idea a lot. But he also made the distinction just as emphatically that he was not a Jungian, but a “comparatist” who was more interested in diffusion of cultural influences than Jung was when he pointed out how cultures of different histories and backgrounds but that were not geographically connected kept on showing the same hero qualities within the way these people responded to individual human trauma or crisis.

                  You bring up an interesting point about the future, and since this is Stephen’s topic and others have been adding input, I’m curious as to their views about this last section because as you mention it is an unwritten yet to be discovered future the Human Race is facing; and after seeing the recent Webb telescope pictures that have been coming back to earth, we now have indisputable confirmation the Universe is even bigger than we could have possibly imagined and the world’s eco systems are now becoming at risk. (I see Campbell’s version of The Hero as a constant, but that is just my view; at least for now as a species if the human race is going to be able to survive.) And yes, I know this thread has already covered a lot of ground.

                  You stated:

                  “So, what does this indicate? For Jung, he came to realize as a result of this dream and his reflections on it that “the highest truth is one and the same with the absurd.” Murder of the hero may be understood in other ways. Perhaps it means, as Hillman may see it, that the hero should no longer be the ideal in our time. Or, put a different way, there are numerous patterns to the hero, but this specific one may no longer be the ideal for the 20th (and 21st) century.

                  From an astrological hermeneutic, given Jung’s analysis of the two millennia since the birth of Christ in Aion (CW 9ii), we have some basis from which to make predictions on what is coming in the next astrological age of Aquarius. The Aquarian Age is one of the few in which the zodiac sign is a human. The Aquarian figure is one who pours water from a vase (the Water Bearer). Now, since Pisces was the age of the opposites (“hostile brothers”), Jung felt that Aquarius will constellate the problem of the union of opposites. Aquarius, according to Jung, “is the sign of the man whose ideal is the union, the oneness, of animal and divine,” where the Water Bearer symbolizes the Self. So, this is the possible path of human beings which addresses your issue of the need to recognize the dynamic process of becoming.”


                  Again, a wonderfully thoughtful post Robert, and thank you for your sensitivity in the way you presented it. These are difficult times for many of us these days, and considered discourse or dialogue is a precious gift.


                  That’s probably my fault Juan. For some reason, I posted three in a row or almost …so am thinking I am the one who needs Ariadne to snip my threads! *laugh.* Too many tangents sunbug!

                  But just in case anyone would like to see your (Juan’s) latest muse again…here it is…

                  without a circumstance there is no hero.” -Juan 

                  Love this Juan! Very clear and succinct.

                  And Beautiful…:-) I believe Stephen said it rings true and I agree!

                  here is Juan’s Quote

                  Juan: . “It has been said that heroes are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This points out, to me, to the relational nature of the heroic act. Without a circumstance, there is no hero. The individual or ego alone is never the hero, nor initiates, motivates or is the source of the quest. In fact, it could be argued that the individual has to break out of the ego shell before he/she becomes the hero. This is what the initial resistance to the call describes, in my view. The ego does not want to go there. The call to the heroic quest comes to the individual not from the ego but from a dimension that transcends it. That is why, when accepted, it is transformative.”


                    Sunbug, thank you for addressing this. Yes, I agree with both you and Juan for the clarity concerning his point: “without a circumstance there is no hero”.

                    I started to add something about this but stopped and went back and erased it because this thread has gotten so large it’s easy to get confused; (which I obviously did in my mix-up). I realized if I waited this issue might clear up. (But Sunbug, I don’t think it’s necessarily because you contributed a lot of entries; more a nature of the beast as it were. Plus, I think looking back I could have been a bit clearer in what I was saying.)

                    “WordPress” as a provider for this version of CoaHO isn’t really constructed in the same way that the old CoaHO was; (which was built for multi-person dialogue and carried a huge load of discussions all going on at the same time complete with multiple moderators overseeing for any help that might be needed). Saying that, I think we are extremely fortunate that Mark and Stephen and others in the Foundation have seen fit to put heart and soul into keeping this format alive and have done an excellent job.

                    Yes, it’s a bit difficult to keep track of who said: what – where and when if a topic begins to carry or contain a lot of posts, which this one has, and I think we just have to be more aware as a topic grows with more participants and entries this possibility is going to be a concern we need to keep in mind. So far, I think this is one of the larger MythBlast topics to date. But I personally love all the input.

                    One other thing I think that’s important to keep in mind is this is not idle chit-chat going on but deep dives into dissecting complex subject matter, and not necessarily easy to sort through or keep up with. This not Facebook thank goodness, and glad to have a place such as this to engage in thought-provoking material you are rarely going to find on social media. (Just saying.)

                  Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 45 total)
                  • The forum ‘MythBlasts’ is closed to new topics and replies.