Power of Myth Quotes

Jul 6, 2020 / Inspirational Quotes / Joseph Campbell quotes

man falling from cliff and swept underneath ocean waves
The Fall. Cyanotype Print with Digital Drawing, 2013. 13” x 17”. Limited edition of 12.

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The End of the Hero’s Journey

Ironically, to Campbell the end of the hero’s journey is not aggrandizement of the hero. ‘It is,’ he said in one of his lectures, ‘not to identify oneself with any of the figures or powers experienced…The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.’ One of the distinctions between the celebrity and the hero, he said, is that one lives only for self while the other acts to redeem society. (Power of Myth, location 107 kindle)

All references below are to the amazon kindle version of Power of Myth.

What is a Myth?

“A myth is a mask of God, too—a metaphor for what lies behind the visible world.” (location 173)

“To him mythology was ‘the song of the universe,’ ‘the music of the spheres’—music we dance to even when we cannot name the tune.” (location 146)

“Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.” (p4)

“Mythology teaches you what’s behind literature and the arts, it teaches you about your own life. It’s a great, exciting, life-nourishing subject. Mythology has a great deal to do with the stages of life, the initiation ceremonies as you move from childhood to adult responsibilities, from the unmarried state into the married state. All of those rituals are mythological rites. They have to do with your recognition of the new roles that you’re in, the process of throwing off the old one and coming out in the new, and entering into a responsible profession.” (p14)

“I think of mythology as the homeland of the muses, the inspirers of art, the inspirers of poetry. To see life as a poem and yourself participating in a poem is what the myth does for you.”

“Myth is a manifestation in symbolic images, in metaphorical images, of the energies of the organs of the body in conflict with each other. This organ wants this, that organ wants that. The brain is one of the organs.”

Metaphor Power of Myth Pyramid and Eclipse Sun and Moon seal eternity permanence
Eclipse. Collaged & Toned Cyanotype, 2020. Two print sizes. © Jonah Calinawan

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Why Mythology Has to Evolve

“You can see it in the Bible. In the beginning, God was simply the most powerful god among many. He is just a local tribal god. And then in the sixth century, when the Jews were in Babylon, the notion of a world savior came in, and the biblical divinity moved into a new dimension. 

You can keep an old tradition going only by renewing it in terms of current circumstances. In the period of the Old Testament, the world was a little three-layer cake, consisting of a few hundred miles around the Near Eastern centers. No one had ever heard of the Aztecs, or even of the Chinese. When the world changes, then the religion has to be transformed.

…That is in fact what we had better to do. But my notion of the real horror today is what you see in Beirut. There you have the three great Western religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and because the three of them have three different names for the same biblical god, they can’t get on together. They are stuck with their metaphor and don’t realize its reference. They haven’t allowed the circle that surrounds them to open. It is a closed circle. Each group says, ‘We are the chosen group, and we have God.’ (p25-26)

Difference between a Dream vs Myth

“…a dream is a personal experience of that deep, dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is the society’s dream. The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth. If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got an adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.” (p48)

About the Author

Jonah Calinawan

Hello! I’m Jonah Calinawan, and I create cyanotype art that makes you think and feeds the soul. I also write about the quest for a meaningful life using art and positivity.

On August 6, 2020, a dream(!) led me to pursue a PhD in Mythology. I don’t know how grad school will connect to my art, but I’m willing to find out. Subscribe to updates.

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