Tag Archives: joseph campbell

“The creative act is not hanging on, but yielding to a new creative movement. Awe is what moves us forward.” — Joseph Campbell

Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: “Follow your bliss.”

Campbell often described mythology as having a fourfold function for human society. These appear at the end of his work The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, as well as in various lectures:
     –   The Metaphysical Function: Awakens a sense of awe before the mystery of being;
     –   The Cosmological Function: Explains the shape of the universe;
     –   The Sociological Function: Validates and supports the existing social order;
     –   The Psychological Function: Guides an individual through the stages of life.

Campbel’s views of mythology are not static and describe how mythologies evolved through time, reflecting the realities in which each society had to adjust. Various stages of cultural development have different yet identifiable mythological systems. In brief these are:
     –   The Way Of The Animal Powers: Hunting And Gathering Societies: At this stage of evolution religion was animistic, as all of nature was seen as being infused with a spirit or divine presence. At center stage was the main hunting animal of that culture, whether the buffalo for Native Americans or the eland for South African tribes, and a large part of religion focused on dealing with the psychological tension that came from the reality of the necessity to kill versus the divinity of the animal. This was done by presenting the animals as springing from an eternal archetypal source and coming to this world as willing victims, with the understanding that their lives would be returned to the soil or to the Mother through a ritual of restoration. The act of slaughter then becomes a ritual where both parties, animal and mankind, are equal participants.
     –   The Way Of The Seeded Earth: Early Agrarian Societies: Beginning in the fertile grasslands of Europe in the Bronze Age and moving to the Levant and the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, the practice of agriculture spread along with a new way of understanding mankind’s relationship to the world. At this time the earth was seen as the Mother, and the myths focused around Her life-giving powers. The plant and cultivation cycle was mirrored in religious rituals which often included human sacrifice, symbolic or literal. The main figures of this system were a female Great Goddess, Mother Earth, and her ever-dying and ever-resurrected son/consort, a male God. At this time the focus was to participate in the repetitive rhythm the world moved in expressed as the four seasons, the birth and death of crops and the phases of the moon. At the center of this motion was the Mother Goddess from whom all life springs and to whom all life returns. This often gave Her a dual aspect as both mother and destroyer.
     –   The Way Of The Celestial Lights: The First High Civilizations: As the first agricultural societies evolved into the high civilisations of Mesopotamia and Babylonia, the observation of the stars inspired them with the idea that life on earth must also follow a similar mathematically predetermined pattern in which individual beings are but mere participants in an eternal cosmic play. The king was symbolised by the Sun with the golden crown as its main metaphor, while his court were the orbiting planets. The Mother Goddess remained, but her powers were now fixed within the rigid framework of a clockwork universe. But as the Indo-European (Aryan) people descended from the north and the Semites swept up from the Arabian desert, they carried with them a male dominated mythology with a warrior god whose symbol was the thunder. As they conquered, mainly due to the superior technology of iron smithing, their mythology blended and subjugated the previous system of the Earth Goddess.
     –   The Way Of Man: Medieval Mythology, Romantic Love, And The Birth Of The Modern Spirit: Campbell recognized that the poetic form of courtly love, carried through medieval Europe by the traveling troubadours, contained a complete mythology in its own right. In the The Power of Myth as well as the “Occidental Mythology” volume of The Masks of God, Campbell describes the emergence of a new kind of erotic experience as a “person to person” and “falling in love” affair, in contrast with the purely physical definition given to Eros in the ancient world and the communal agape found in the Christian religion. Campbell believed that in the modern world the function served by formal, traditional mythological systems has been taken on by individual creators such as artists and philosophers. In the works of some of his favorites, such as Thomas Mann, Pablo Picasso and James Joyce, he saw mythological themes that could serve the same life-giving purpose that mythology had once played. Accordingly, Campbell believed the religions of the world to be the various culturally influenced “masks” of the same fundamental, transcendent truths.

Campbell’s work has highly influenced director George Lucas, Hollywood screenwriter Christopher Vogler, and novelist Richard Adams. Novelists, songwriters, video game designers, and even amusement park designers have studied Campbell’s work to better understand human responses to narrative patterns, as well as mythology and its impact. (WIKIPEDIA)

“For it is the artist who brings the images of a mythology to manifestation, and without images (whether mental or visual) there is no mythology. Moreover, it is the nonjudgmental way of seeing that is proper to the arts which allows things to stand forth and be seen simply as they are, as neither desirable nor to be feared, but as statements, each in its own mode, of the nature of being.” — Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches Of Outer Space

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Alice Cohen – Backwards Music Video (w/ Musician & Director Micki Pellerano Interview)

"[Director] Micki [Pellerano] focused on the lyric: "The planets open wide", and we had the elevator going to different planets, rather than floors -- each planet representing a different element of my psyche. It feels like this inner journey, activated by exploring and "trying on" these different aspects of Self, the way you would "try...
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Swahili – Self-Titled Album Review (w/ Full Album Stream)

The relationship between ritualistic drumming and consciousness alteration is an age old tradition stemming largely from the overlooked shamanic cultures of antiquity. It should go without saying that viewing the supposed “triumph” of Western materialism thought over the more “primitive” concepts of animism is a retardedly short-sighted way of oversimplifying the universe, but that’s the...Read...