Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Power of Myth

I. Myth and the Modern World - People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

II. The Journey Inward - One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.

III. The First Storytellers - The animal envoys of the Unseen Power no longer serve, as in primeval times, to teach and to guide mankind. Bears, lions, elephants, ibexes, and gazelles are in cages in our zoos. Man is no longer the newcomer in a world of unexplored plains and forests, and our immediate neighbors are not wild beasts but other human beings, contending for goods and space on a planet that is whirling without end around the fireball of a star. Neither in body now in mind do we inhabit the world of those hunting races of the Paleolithic millennia, to whose lives and life ways we nevertheless owe the very forms of our bodies and structures of our minds. Memories of their animal envoys still must sleep, somehow, within us; for they wake a little and stir when we venture into wilderness. They wake in terror to thunder. And again they wake, with a sense of recognition, when we enter any one of those great painted caves. Whatever the inward darkness may have been to which the shamans of those caves descended in their trances, the same must lie within ourselves, nightly visited in sleep.

IV. Sacrifice and Bliss - If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you areif you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

V. The Hero's Adventure - Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.

VI. The Gift of the Goddess - Myths of the Great Goddess teach compassion for all living beings. There you come to appreciate the real sanctity of the earth itself, because it is the body of the Goddess.

VII. Tales of Love and Marriage - So through the eyes love attains the heart: For the eyes are the scouts of the heart, And the eyes go reconnoitering For what it would please the heart to possess. And when they are in full accord And firm, all three, in the one resolve, At that time, perfect love is born From what the eyes have made welcome to the heart. Not otherwise can love either be born or have commencement Than by this birth and commencement moved by inclination. By the grace and by command Of these three, and from their pleasure, Love is born, who its fair hope Goes comforting her friends. For as all true lovers Know, love is perfect kindness, Which is bornthere is no doubtfrom the heart and eyes. The eyes make it blossom; the heart matures it: Love, which is the fruit of their very seed. -Guiraut de Borneilh (ca 1138-1200?)

VIII. Masks of Eternity - The images of myth are reflections of the spiritual potentialities of every one of us. Through contemplating these, we evoke their powers in our own lives.

Author: "The Power of Myth", 1988 by Joseph Campbell, (1904-1987)

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