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Sunday, February 29, 2004

the dying god archetype can be characterized as a king/god is killed or dies and is then revived or brought back to life in some other form (Leeming 146).
this character is also similar to the Great Mother archetype in the sense that they have a life and death cycle associated with the agricultural harvest cycle. the rebirth of the dying god symbolizes fertility as well as the transition component of the Separation - Initiation - Transition cycle.

Examples of Dying God archetypes:

Egyptian - Osiris
Babylonian - Adonis
Greek - Dionysos
Aztec - Quetzalcoatl
Christian - Jesus Christ

some of these male deity characters also have a common theme of a tree or wood playing a role in their death. the tree represents growth and the regeneration of the male gods seed. another common element for the dying God archetype is a loss of reproductive organs.

Summary of Campbell’s “Power of Myth” Chapter 5

- the hero is a character who has found or done something beyond the normal range of experience. This character has given their life to something bigger than themselves.
- All people undergo a fundamental psychological transformation in which a child is compelled to give up their childhood and become an adult.
- Otto Rank – “The Myth of the Birth of the Hero”: everyone is a hero at birth because they undergo an enormous transformation that could be considered a heroic act. In this sense the mother of the child is a heroine as well.
- Significance of the trials, tests, and ordeals of the hero:
o Chance for the intended hero to prove whether or not he should be a hero.
o Ultimate trial is to lose ones self or give yourself to something greater
o Myth lets the common man relate the hero’s trials and ordeals to that of his own experience.
- Hero is not necessarily the same as the leader because the leader has a vision of what can be accomplished, and then goes on to pursue that vision.
- Another archetype is when the hero goes someplace unfamiliar and finds himself transformed into another realm or existence.
- Hero archetype is important in mythology because it provides a symbolic example for the awakening to the new world that opens at adolescence
- No big surprise that Star Wars is the classic hero myth in a new age setting. It deals with the powers of life as they are either fulfilled or broken and suppressed through the action of man.
- The belly is symbolic of the dark place where digestion takes place and new energy is created. The hero goes into the belly, unsure of what will happen, and returns transformed . examples of this motif can be found in :
o Odysseus – journey to the underworld
o Jonah – swallowed by a whale
o Luke Skywalker – trapped in the trash compactor
o Neo (from The Matrix) – going into the matrix and getting trapped
-


I think the Great Mother archetype is interesting because of what it represents. the mother motif is basically symbolic of earth itself because they share the common traits of giving life and providing nourishment. in creation accounts the Great Mother generally has a male-inspired deity as a counter part. the male character is typically representative of the sky.

Common male and female deity pairs:

maori - papa and rangi
navajo - sky man and earth woman
hopi - Spider woman and the Sun God
japanese - Izanagi and Izanami
Egyptian - Geb and Nut
mesopotamian - Inanna-Ishtar
Roman Catholic - the Virgin Mary (?)
Greek - Gaia (Mother Earth)

- the Great Mother archetype was worshiped as a source of life and nourishment.


Comments on Joseph Campbell

- professor of lit. and myth at Sarah Lawrence college
- Wrote critical books on mythology including Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Masks of God series.
- Campbell crossed the boundaries between theology and mythology. Theology tries to avoid the pursuit of imagination that coincides with myth, while myth tends to lack the formal structure and restraint of religion.
- Campbell saw a necessity for the influences of mythology in the rigid structure of Christian theology. Other flaws in Christianity observed by Campbell include:
o Distrust of nature and creation
o Overemphasis on the fall of humanity and redemption
o Restricted by cultural confines
- C.G. Jung: Religion can become a defense against the experience of God.
- Mythology is always inclusive of the audience. The archetype of the hero’s adventure is directed toward the individuals own experience. In his book Hero with a Thousand Faces Campbell reflects that some aspect of “the mighty hero with extraordinary powers” exists in everyone.
- In western cultures the power and influence of myth is diminishing because there is an unconscious desire turn metaphor into fact, poetry into prose, and turn the abstract into something concrete.






Criticism of Joseph Campbell

WARNING: I found this essay to be highly critical of basically everything that Campbell understood in the world of mythology. Personally I LIKE Campbell’s views and agree with what he believed and what he had to say. But I thought it would be interesting to see what someone else has to say on the topic from an opposite perspective. This source seemed to be well organized and the author has a Ph.D. in mythology from Northwestern University. This guy is obviously not a fan of Campbell, but he seemed to have some coherent and valid things to say so I thought I would check it out. THIS IS WHAT DR. TOM SNYDER HAS TO SAY:
- Campbell does in fact seem to have a theology. It is a cross between eternal permeational pantheism, in which an underlying Life Force permeates all that is real, and modal pantheism, where every individual is a mode or modification of God. This is an inherent contradiction which destroys its own validity.
- If God is an impersonal energy source that transcends all categories of human thought, then God transcends even that description and the concept of God becomes empty of all meaning whatsoever.
- Campbell uses reason, science, and history to refute religious beliefs he doesn’t like, but when it comes to some of his own mystical beliefs, his test for truth often changes and becomes purely subjective.
- Campbell makes two critical mistakes throughout his work: he violates basic rules of logic, and he omits factual evidence which does not fit his theories.
As harsh as these quotes sound, I have my own reaction to what Snyder has to say. It sounds like he is way too caught up in a concrete world of concepts that he can get a firm grasp on. Part of that is what Campbell wanted to avoid, I think, because he felt that when something is analyzed too closely and critically the true meaning becomes lost. Campbell seemed to approach things for what they were, even if there were some aspects that weren’t completely clear.




Monday, February 02, 2004

this is pretty cool. i got this from Jennifer Murphy's online journal page.


Poseidon
Poseidon


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

more on caves




Notes on the Role of Caves in Mythology

- Caves represent an entrance into another world of spiritual beings as well as a portal to another time and place.
- Among Native American cultures throughout the southwestern United States caves were considered a gateway to sacred and supernatural realms. Animals such as snakes, lizards, and rodents living in or around caves were thought to be messengers between two different worlds.
- Evidence of the spiritual and mythological importance of caves is displayed by the symbolic artwork that can be found inside caves. Some of this cave art is thousands of years old.
- Caves are considered female in gender because they represent the womb of the Great Mother archetype found in the creation myths of many ancient cultures. Many creation stories indicate that humanity came from a hole in the roof of the hole of the underworld, and this concept is personified by caves.
- Caves are also seen as a place of enlightenment because shamans and religious hermits have been known to retreat to caves in order to achieve inspiration or a vision.
- In many cultures caves are considered the homes of mythological creatures such as spirits, fairies, and demons.
- The fact that caves have been used as tombs and burial sights for thousands of years indicates the fact that they are thought to be spiritual and holy places that serve as connection between two different worlds.


This was a pretty interesting article i found on demons in Iranian mythology:



Demons in Middle Eastern Literature

Iranian literature tells of a Persian king named Jamshid who employed demons to build cities for him. At this time demons were thought of in the context of anyone who held ancient, more traditional religious beliefs and disregarded human manners. They were thought of as people who could not adapt to a progressing civilization. Demons worshipped multiple gods as opposed to more modern religions with one specific deity, and they were thought to live in mountains and caves. There are many instances in Middle Eastern myths where a demon kidnaps a woman to his cave to make her his wife.
One myth that comes from the Kurdish culture tells the story of an old farmer who finds a turtle that can speak. The farmer brings the turtle home with him, and one day the it asks the farmer’s wife to present him to the king’s daughter. The king will let the turtle date his daughter only if he can build a palace of gold and silver bricks in one night. Miraculously, the king awakes to see the majestic temple and has no choice to give his daughters hand to the turtle. On their wedding day the turtle emerges from his shell in the form of a handsom young man. The princess decides to burn the turtles shell against the wishes of her husband, only to discover that he is the son of a demon. The demon becomes angry, covers the world with a storm of feathers, and orders the princess to sweep them all up in one night. The man helps his wife to clean up the feathers, and his demon mother has no choice to consent to their union. The turtles shell represents the old traditions of the demons being overtaken by the new forms of religion and social structure.


an interesting of trickster figures:



Tricksters in Indigenous Mythology

- the trickster archetype according to C.G. Jung:
o a primitive cosmic being of divine-animal nature, on the one hand superior to man because of his superhuman qualities, and on the other hand inferior because of his unreason and unconscious

Cree Indian

Wisagatcak tries to capture the Great Beaver by building a dam across a stream. As the Great Beaver returned home that evening Wisagatcak tries to spear him, but misses when he is bitten by a muskrat under a spell from the Great Beaver. The Great Beaver wants revenge, and decides to create a flood across the whole world that continues for two weeks until there is no dry land to be found. Wisagatcak makes rafts out of logs to keep himself and the other animals from drowning. The log rafts gradually became overgrown with moss, and the wolf began to run around the raft in circles until the moss turned into earth. This is why water comes to the earths surface through springs.
Chinook Indian
The Blue Jay was always playing tricks on people until one day his sister Ioi decided that he needed to settle down and find a wife. Ioi told Blue Jay that he must take a wife from the land of the dead, and recommended the wife of a wise old chief. But he resisted Ioi’s advice and found a beautiful young woman to take to the land of the dead for the marriage. Once he reached the land of the dead, the Supernatural People who lived there instructed to take her to the village where people who were dead for only one day could be revived. When Blue Jay arrived at the village, he learned that he had taken too long for his bride had now been dead for two days. Blue Jay had his wife revived and reigned as the chief of one of the villages in the land of the dead until he got bored and went back to the land of the living, where his wifes family sees her alive and demands a wedding gift from Blue Jay in the form of his hair. When he refuses he is forced to take the form of a bird and return to the land of the dead, where his wife follows once he is exiled.


interesting comments on Egyptian mythology



The Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead is one of three texts that explain the cosmogony of ancient Egyptian civilization. The Pyramid Text is the oldest of the three books and is considered to be written around the time of 3000 B.C. Next is the Coffin Text which is thought to have been written between 2134 and 1660 B.C., while the Book of the Dead was written around 1550 B.C. What is remarkable about these three transcripts is that they were originally discovered as engravings on the inside walls of the Egyptian pyramids. The Book of the Dead is an important text in Egyptian mythology because it contains accounts of the sun deity Re, the sky deity Nut, and the earth deity Geb. The most prominent figure in the Book of the Dead is Osiris, the resurrection god.
Some important geographical and mythological places that can be found in the Book of the Dead are:
- Abtu – The House of Osiris
- Aqert – The abode of the dead
- Bast – a metropolis of lower Egypt
- Manu – the region where the sun sets
- Neter-khertet – another name for the abode of the dead; “divine subterranean place”
- Re-stau – a name for the tomb of Osiris that serves as a portal into another world
- Set Amentet – cemetery, “the mountain of the underworld”


some general info on greek mythology



Overview of Greek Mythology

- The main gods in Greek mythology were the offspring of Sky(Uranus) and Mother Earth (Gaia). They were known as the Titans.
- Uranus forced the children to stay inside the womb of Gaia, until she forged a plan with her son Cronus to take revenge on his father. Gaia makes a sickle for Cronus and hides him until Uranus comes to make love to her, at which point he jumps out and castrates Uranus. Cronus throws the organs over his shoulder into the ocean where they form Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and the drops of blood soak into Gaia from which she produces Erinyes, or the Spirits of Vengence.
- Cronus went on to have twelve offspring with Rhea that would be known as the Pantheon, and at the head of this group was Zeus, the god of thunder.
- Cronus swallows his children to avoid being overpowered by them, and Zeus comes up with a plan to free the rest of his divine siblings. He tricks Cronus into swallowing a rock, and realizing his mistake Cronus regurgitates all of his children.
- Homer’s The Illiad and The Odyssey and Hesiod’s Theogony are the three main collections of Greek mythology
- Some unique characteristics of Greek mythology are:

o Gods have humanistic physique and emotions
o No special revelations or spiritual teachings
o No formal structure or written code
o Unorganized religion practiced in a variety of ways
- The gods lived on Mt. Olympus and roamed freely about the heavens, sea, and earth.
- The majesty of the Greek gods served as a contrast to the weakened human condition. The Greek culture came to understand that myths were a misperception of history and that gods were heroic figure whose stature had been embellished over time.
- Tradition comes from the primitive traditions in Crete dating to about 3000 b.c. that considered all natural objects to have a spirit. Despite the loose structure and lack of formal organization, the mythology was incorporated into every aspect of life in ancient Greece.


more on greek mythology:




Prominent Greek Figures – Theseus and Daedalus

Theseus is another important character in Greek mythology because he is a classic symbol of human struggle. Throughout his life he is responsible for many important conquests like the defeat of Media, Periphetes, and the Minotaur. He was the son of Aethra and Aegus, the king of Athens, but he was raised to adulthood in the kingdom of Troezen. Aegus placed a sword and a pair of sandals under an enormous stone and told Aethra to direct Theseus to the kingdom of Athens when he was big enough to move the rock. The day came when Theseus had grown strong enough to move the stone and he began his journey back to Athens.
Once Theseus had been reunited with Aegus, the set out to free the Athenians from the oppression of Minos, the king of Crete. Minos ordered the Athenians to pay an annual tribute to him in the form of seven young men and seven maidens that would be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Theseus volunteered himself as one of the victims by convincing Aegus that he would return on the sea with white sails. Upon reaching Crete Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, fell in love with him. She gave him a sword with which he slew the Minotaur, and he escaped from Crete. But as he returned to Athens he forgot to replace the ships black sails with white, and Aegus killed himself out of grief and therefore making Theseus the king of Athens.
Another classical figure from ancient Greek mythology was Daedalus, a gifted carpenter and architect. Daedalus built the legendary maze that contained the Minotaur, the beast that was half man and half bull, for King Minos. Later in his life Daedalus was imprisoned by Minos in a tower on an island with his son Icarus. Being the craftsman that he was, he made two pairs of wings out of bird feathers for Icarus and himself to escape from their prison. Once the project was completed and the two were about to fly to their freedom, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too high or too low in the sky, because the heat of the son and the water of the sea would destroy the artificial wings. As Icarus got caught up in the joy of flight he lost track of his father and flew too close to the sun, melting the wax that held the feathers in place. Icarus met his end as he plummeted from the sky into the ocean, and upon reaching Sicily safely the heartbroken Daedauls built a temple as an offering to Apollo.


an interesting story about the greek figure perseus



Perseus

I found this interesting story on the ancient Greek figure Perseus. He was the son of the princess Danae, and his grandfather was a king named Acrisius. King Acrisius was told by an oracle that the son of Danae would kill him one day, so he imprisoned his daughter in a bronze tower so that he could avoid the prophesy of the oracle. One day Danae was visited at the tower by the Zeus, and he made the tower into a land of beautiful sunshine and golden fields. When Acrisius saw the light coming from inside the bronze tower, he went to investigate and found Danae with her newborn son. He put Danae and Perseus into a chest and threw them into the ocean.
The pair eventually came to live on the island of Seriphos which was ruled by king Polydectes. Over time Polydectes desired to make Danae his wife, but by this time Perseus had grown up to be a man, and he looked out for his mother. Polydectes comes up with a plan to get rid of Perseus when he sets him up by pretending to marry someone else. When Perseus arrives at the wedding without a gift, Polydectes flies off the handle and calls him worthless and lazy. Perseus insists that he will bring the king any present in the world, and Polydectes responds with a challenge to bring him the head of Medusa. Perseus sets out on his voyage in pursuit of the gorgon.
Along his way Perseus encounters Hermes and Athena, who give him gifts of winged sandals, a sickle, and a shield to help him along his journey. He then went to visit the Nymphs of the North where he received the Cap of Darkness, and a magical wallet. Perseus ventures into the gorgons lair hidden by the Cap of Darkness, and he cuts off the head of Medusa with the sickle as he uses the shield to protect himself from her deadly gaze. He puts the head into the magic wallet and flies away with the sandals from Hermes.
Perseus encounters many more adventures on his way back to Seriphos, and he takes the beautiful Andromeda to be his bride. He becomes enraged when he discovers that Polydectes tried to marry his mother Danae, but when she refused he turned her into one of his servants. Perseus returns to the castle of Polydectes to save his mother, and then he reveals the head of Medusa, turning the king and his court into stone.
I liked finding out this story about Perseus because it had so many wild adventures and fantastic characters. It also had many references to other figures in Greek mythology.

Observations on Hesiod’s Theogony

Hesiod was a Greek scholar who gave structure to Greek mythology by putting the entire lineage in order from start to finish. His Theogeny basically explains the history of the universe by laying out the order of the Greek gods. At the very beginning everything comes from Chaos, and proceeds through the basic family history of the gods all the way to the offspring of Zeus. What is remarkable about the Theogeny is that it accounts for all the figures of Greek mythology in an organized, hierarchical format. Hesiod’s Theogeny incorporates many themes and motifs from classical literature and creation myth archetypes such as the formation of the earth and sky out of essentially nothing, a conflict between deities in heaven, and the recognition of an order of the gods. In doing this the structure of the extended family of gods in Greek mythology is clarified.




Link to 309 class journals page (Created by Andrew McLeod):

http://www.cs.montana.edu/~amcleod/engl309/Links2.htm

Summary of Campbell’s “Power of Myth” Chapter 5

- the hero is a character who has found or done something beyond the normal range of experience. This character has given their life to something bigger than themselves.
- All people undergo a fundamental psychological transformation in which a child is compelled to give up their childhood and become an adult.
- Otto Rank – “The Myth of the Birth of the Hero”: everyone is a hero at birth because they undergo an enormous transformation that could be considered a heroic act. In this sense the mother of the child is a heroine as well.
- Significance of the trials, tests, and ordeals of the hero:
o Chance for the intended hero to prove whether or not he should be a hero.
o Ultimate trial is to lose ones self or give yourself to something greater
o Myth lets the common man relate the hero’s trials and ordeals to that of his own experience.
- Hero is not necessarily the same as the leader because the leader has a vision of what can be accomplished, and then goes on to pursue that vision.
- Another archetype is when the hero goes someplace unfamiliar and finds himself transformed into another realm or existence.
- Hero archetype is important in mythology because it provides a symbolic example for the awakening to the new world that opens at adolescence
- No big surprise that Star Wars is the classic hero myth in a new age setting. It deals with the powers of life as they are either fulfilled or broken and suppressed through the action of man.
- The belly is symbolic of the dark place where digestion takes place and new energy is created. The hero goes into the belly, unsure of what will happen, and returns transformed . examples of this motif can be found in :
o Odysseus – journey to the underworld
o Jonah – swallowed by a whale
o Luke Skywalker – trapped in the trash compactor
o Neo (from The Matrix) – going into the matrix and getting trapped


This was an interesting article. here is the link for it:

http://www.fccps.k12.va.us/gm/faculty/english/archcrit.htm

Archetypal Themes in Mythology

- Archetypes exits throughout mythology in the forms of common characters, images, narratives, themes, and other literary techniques. The similarities between these themes are the subject of academic research on their relationships.
- Some literary critics argue similar patterns in archetypes are only a result of a lack of originality from the authors, while others say that the quality of a piece of writing depends on references drawn from other great literature.
- Criticism of archetypal literature has roots in the field of psychology, where philosopher C.G. Jung raised the issue of personal unconscious versus collective or archetypal unconscious.
o Personal – repressed personal memories that influence the individual
o Collective – theoretical shared memories existing in all people
- Some common archetypes that exist in literature dating from ancient through modern times are:
o The Heroic Journey – symbolic of mans individual struggles and accomplishments
o Death – serves as a constant reminder of human vulnerability
o Shadow – symbolic of original sin or a personal weakness of the hero
o Wise Elders – give guidance and advice from experience to the hero
o Man versus Nature
o Good versus Evil
o Ressurection from Death

this is a pretty neat article about mythology in northern Europe and Scandinavia:

http://www.bulfinch.org/fables/bull38.html

Northern Creation Myth

The countries of Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway in northern Europe all share a common creation mythology. This record has been kept in a collection of two poetry and prose books called the Eddas that date back to the Middle Ages. The Eddas contain a story of when the world was a bottomless abyss from which flowed a misty fountain that fed twelve rivers. The world was created when the running water met the far end of the twelve rivers and turned to ice, eventually filling the void. When the warmth from the world of light fell on the world of mist the giant Ymir and was created from the frost. Ymir’s cow provided food for him and his people, until one day he began to take the form of a man from liking at the frost. This man married one of Ymir’s daughters had three offspring named Odin, Vili, and Ve, who were both god and giant. The three brothers killed Ymir and formed the earth, mountains, seas, trees, and skies. Odin placed the sun and the moon in the sky, which then began to grow trees and vegetation. The gods concluded that the world was incomplete without humans, so they created a man named Aske from an ash tree and a woman named Embla from an alder. Aske an Embla made their home in Midgard, which means middle earth, and they produced the human race.
Another prominent figure in Northern mythology is Thor, the god of thunder. He has three mystical objects that consist of a hammer, a belt of strength, and a pair of iron gloves which he wears for swinging the hammer. Thor is one of many gods that play a part in northern mythology. One interesting story is about how Thor paid a deceitful mountain giant for building a fortress for the gods and men.
An artificer approached the gods and proposed to build a fortress that would protect Valhalla from the giants. It was agreed upon that if the man finished building the structure in one winter he could take the sun, moon, and the goddess Freya as his reward. The man convinced the gods to allow him to use his horse named Svadilfari, and they watched as the horse hauled gigantic stones into place. The building went as planned and all that was left to be built was the gateway, and the gods realized their mistake in agreeing to give away Freya. They blamed the mischievous god Loki for their mistake, and Loki swore an oath that he would make sure the fortress would not be finished on time. That night as the builder took his horse out to work a mare appeared in the forest and Svadilfari gave chase, forcing the man to follow. Because of this the man lost a night of work, and upon realizing that he would fail to meet the agreement, he revealed his true identy as a giant. The gods felt betrayed and summoned Thor to give him what he deserved. Thor promptly threw his hammer and shattered the giants skull.

This link is to an interesting analysis of Plato's Allegory of the Cave:

http://theosophy.org/tlodocs/AllegoryoftheCave.htm

Criticism for The Allegory of the Cave

Plato opened his Republic with an allegory about slaves trapped inside a cave. Light entered into the cave, and a fire burned between the entrance and where the slaves were chained to the wall. The slaves could see neither the light from the entrance nor the fire, but only their own shadows cast on the wall in front of them. The slaves live in a world of darkness, confusion, and shadows. Plato used this allegory to discuss the relationship between true knowledge and enlightenment and the delusional ideas of humanity.
The shadows on the wall are symbolic of the false and distorted reality that men have fallen into. They represent concepts, ideas, and beliefs that humanity has come to accept as truth over time, and in doing so become blinded to reality. The light at the entrance to the cave represents the reality and truth that man has lost. The light has been replaced by the shadows that have become accepted as truth. When a prisoner becomes freed from the wall, he must begin the journey from the shadows toward the light. This journey represents the human soul moving out of shadowed delusions and into the intellectual world. When the prisoner first begins to move toward the entrance, his eyes hurt as they become adjusted to the light. The prisoner is reluctant to let go of the shadows he is accustomed to and accept what he sees. This is to show how the path of education toward enlightenment is at first difficult to accept.
Once the prisoner reaches the mouth of the cave he is faced with the decision of continuing on his own or returning to the cave to release the other prisoners. This aspect of the allegory represents the difficulty of presenting truth and reason to those who do not want to accept it. The gradual transformation of the soul from deception toward intellectual enlightenment is a goal that can only be accomplished with genuine effort.


Another bit of info on caves:


http://www.luc.edu/publications/loyolamag/winter2001/recesses.htm

Reflection on the Cultural Importance of Caves

I think caves are fascinating because they have been important to humanity on multiple levels for thousand of years. For the earliest human beings caves provided a vitally important place to call home. Caves provided shelter from the elements and protection from predatory animals. As humanity began to evolve, caves became spiritually important, as reflected by ancient artwork and painting found on the walls of caves. As suggested by Dr. Michael Schuck caves came to be thought of as a holy place and an entrance into another realm of existence.
Caves developed a new context in the Middle Ages when clerics utilized caves as a hermitage. These religious recluses attracted followers to their caves of seclusion that would eventually develop into a religious order. Schuck cites the Caves Monastery in Kiev that was constructed around the 11th century as an example. A monk named Antony retreated to a secluded cave for religious meditation, and soon attracted followers that would eventually construct chapels, living quarters, and catacombs within the cave. Over the centuries this cave came to be considered a very sacred and holy place.
Caves are important in both theology and myth because they are present in creation myths and religious teachings around the world. They also serve as a quiet place for religious retreats and quiet meditation. Caves represent different forms of religious faith, and they are considered separate from the world of reality.


i am definately enjoying the readings from joseph campbell. it was pretty interesting in the film showed in class how campbell cites common elements stemming from mythical behaviors and various religions that are present in native cultures across the world.

a couple of these elements that i liked were the concept of the circle as a religious symbol. if you think about it the circle is a perfect symbol of the life cycle . there is a beginning, a middle, and an end, and then it repeats itself. the circle can be found throughout religous artwork from Roman catholicism to buddhism to traditional Native American religions. Another thing i liked was the concept of the word "AUM" in buddhism. Cambell cites the word as being a four element syllable, very similar to the circualr concept. there is "A", the birth, "U", the coming into being, and "M", the dissolution. the fourth element is the complete silence that occurs before the next repetition.

campbell cites four primary functions of myth:

- mystical: myth helps reconcile our own consciousness with the preconditions of its own existence.

- cosmological: myth provides an image of the cosmos acceptable to the science of the time

- sociological: myth tells us who we are in the social scheme

- psychological: myth helps us through various life crises occuring from life to death

Helpful Vocabulary:

- logos: truth

- mythos: fiction

- en illo tempore: "the great time"

- cosmos: structure, order, goodness

check out these weblinks to some of the creation myths discussed in the leeming text.
i got these from a biblical and classical literature class:


- Babylonian creation story "The Enuma Elish" http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/enuma.html

- Sumerian creation myth "The Epic of Gilgamesh"
http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh/tab11.htm

Summary of Campbell’s “Power of Myth” Chapter 1

- Campbell offers a few explanations for myths and mythology

o Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of life
o Myth is not the search for meaning, but the experience of life
o Myth supplies a sense of meaning and direction that transcends mundane existence while giving it significance.

- The four primary functions of myth are:

o Mystical – discloses the world of mystery and awe; this function portrays the world as a holy picture
o Cosmological – relates to science and the constitution of the universe
o Sociological – supports and validates a certain social order
o psycological – explains how to live your life

- The process of life is an example of mythological rights. One must recognize a new role that one is in and go through the process of growing out of the old role and moving into the new. Once a person has a grasp on this new role, they are ready to move on to the next phase in their life.

- Campbell on consciousness : “the head is an organ that inflects consciousness in a certain direction, or a certain set of purposes. But there is a consciousness here in the body. The whole living world is informed by consciousness.

- The Pythagorean tetrakys: a triangle composed of ten points, one in the middle and four on each side. This is the primary symbol of Pythagorean philosophy . the point in the center of the triangle represents the creative center out of which the universe from which all things have come.

Summary of Campbells “Power of Myth” Chapter 2

- common aspects of life, whether in NYC or in a prehistoric cave
o childhood, sexual maturity, transformation into the responsibility of adulthood, marriage, failure/weakening of the body, gradual loss of physical and mental power, and finally death.

- All people, regardless of place and time in history, share the same bodily experiences, and therefore can relate / respond to the same images.

- Dreamtime is the time you experience when you go to sleep and have a dream that talks about permanent conditions within your own psyche as they relate to the temporal conditions of your life right now. Dreams are a place where you can learn about yourself.

- Mythology exists here and now in “dreamtime.”

- Campbell compares world creation stories with the Christian Genesis 1 account:
o Pima Indians:“in the beginning there was water and darkness everywhere”
o Hindu Upainshads: the great self saw only a reflection of a human and said “This am I”
o Bassari – West Africa: Unumbotte made Man, followed by antelope and snake, and told them to pound the ground smooth and plant all kinds of seeds
o Pima : Thus I make the world, and lo! The world is finished

- Campbell says that fear is the very first experience of the fetus in the womb.
- In the old Testament God pointed out only one forbidden fruit knowing that man would of course eat it. In doing so man became the initiator of his own life through an act of disobedience.
- Three centers of mythological and folkloristic creativity in the Middle Ages
o The cathedral ( including hermitages and monasteries)
o The castle
o The cottage

- Elements of these three centers of creativity are present in any area of higher civilization.

- Religion is no longer the way in to an experience because they address social problems and ethical issues instead of mythological experiences.

Summary of Campbell’s “Power of Myth” Chapter 3

- Ancient myths were designed to create harmony between the mind and the body.
- Greek mythology embraces the glory and beauty of youth as well as the wisdom and experience of old age.
- The relationship between primitive hunters, who kill out of basic human necessity, and their prey is based on respect. Hunting is a participation ritual in which the hunter recognizes his dependency upon his prey.
- Ritual is the physical enactment of myth. rituals are vitally important on both the psychological and cultural levels because they can be transformations and initiations.
- God is an intelligible sphere – a sphere known to the mind, not to the senses – whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

im setting up an online journal for English 309 Mythologies class. the purpose of the journal is to reflect on issues from the class and share ideas with other class members. I will try to contribute an entry to this journal for every class meeting. this page will also have

- links to other peoples websights for ENGL 309
- a record of group #3's activities
- other helpful material that is pertinant to the class

Mythological Backgrounds:

"Myth is the source of reality and truth inasmuch as it provides human beings with models and patterns of behavior thought to be divinely established."
- Sexson

Key People to Remember:

- Xenophanes: greek thinker ca. 600BC; Gods are a projection of the human mind.

- Euhemerus: Greek ca. 300AD; mythology is based upon history, The Gods were characters based on actual people whose achievements and reputation have become greatly exxagerated.

- Copernicus: 1543 developed heliocentric theory; myth that the world is flat is scientifically disproven.

- Sir james g Frazer: mythical behavior and the fundamental basics of all religion is a "crude attempt to explain the natural world"(Sexson).

- Friedrich Nietzsche: "God is dead"

- Karl Marx: "Religion is the opiate of the masses"

- Sigmund Freud: religion is "the obsessional neurosis of children"

- mircea Eliade: mythical happenings took place in "illo tempore"; basically in a time before time was being recorded. Myths are sacred, exemplary, and significant.

- joseph campbell: myth is comprehinsive symbolic form that orients people to all dimensions of reality. all heroic characters share a common pattern of "separation - initiation - return."; "the hero is the depiction of the quest of the human soul for complete realization."(Sexson)

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