Myth, Ritual, Intention

Joseph Campbell’s words hung in the air as I was driving through a serene afternoon. In The Power of Myth, he was discussing foundational myths and why people are always ascribing meaning to life. Myth is what people use to find the resonant connection of life’s meaning to their own life experience. By having a story to relate to, it provides a very specific kind of self-knowledge, like having a mirror to reflect on.

As Joseph Campbell recognized his own mortality, he explained why myth helped him accept and welcome the changes that come with age. The body can be viewed as a vehicle for the consciousness, and as such the conscious mind can look on as the vehicle begins to fall into disrepair. When it no longer functions, the consciousness separates and joins the big universal consciousness, and it doesn’t seem so daunting of a transition. In response to death, Mr. Campbell says, “no problem.”

Ritual was described as the active portrayal of a myth. By participating in ritual, one participates in a myth. I thought about how many people, right that minute, were engaging in the ritual of Facebook scrolling. I mused over which myth this could be related to. One ritual that was very simple, yet powerful, was simply a way of addressing things as “thou,” instead of “it.” Changing this small detail can yield a psychological change and fosters a different connection to the environment. Plus, it can turn your life into a Renaissance Fair before you know it.

I remember enjoying his writing in a Religious Studies class, and I will continue to find his philosophy comforting and rewarding to mull over. The Power of Myth is a new favorite.

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