Archive for the ‘Hero With a Thousand Faces’ tag
“The hero task is apparent in the humblest of lives, especially in those who rise wearily and go off to demeaning labor to support their families. It is seen in the willingness of any person to sacrifice the creature comforts, narcissistic interests, personal agendas on behalf of a larger value. We do not customarily accord these persons hero status, but their acts renew the world each day, redeem it even, as a place of enduring value. In our narcissistic and superficial society, we transfer our own yearning for the heroic onto others, grant such status to movie stars, sports figures, celebrities of all kinds, all of which is a measure of how dismal is our understanding or our own daily summons to the task of individuation. We are all, every day, faced with death, depression and despair. Whoever rises to do what must be done, does a deed for us all.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p.60)
These men placing wires on new towers are just some of the men and women that Hollis talks about here, the real heroes. It makes one feel humble to realise that all that one takes for granted is only present in the world because of the many who trudge off to work in order for the rest of us to be gifted with the end results. Their work is that much harder because they don’t see the value to others in their work. They only see that the small wages that never seems to be enough for their needs and the needs of their families.
People such as this old woman do what they must each day. Being in China as a “laowai” I get to see the world differently. Old men and women pulling carts gathering cardboard, broken bits of wood, carrying grandchildren, washing clothes in cold water on the side of a street while the air hovers around the freezing mark. There is little room for complaining as that will not put food on the table.
With eyes becoming clearer, I now see my own heroic efforts as well as those of others that I know. My children are doing heroic work as they struggle raising families in a modern world in which they will never have all they desire. I see them worry and yet refuse to quit. My wife takes each day at a time doing what needs to be done while following me from country to country while I do a different kind of work.
And what is this work? It is my hope that in becoming a bit more conscious, I bring some value to this world, to my relationships, to my family, to the students I now teach in a foreign university, to the new acquaintances, and to you, my readers through this blog. It might not be much, but it is authentic.
A photo taken a few days ago, not one for the SoFoBoMo project though, featuring a few young Pronghorn antelope does. The scene is only about eight kilometres (five miles) from my home. I am now about half finished the book project and one week has passed since I began. Saying that, I have already begun experimenting with different “looks” for the book including size and shape. Do I go square or portrait? I am starting to lean toward the portrait format as I think the haiku poetry belongs beneath the photos and not above the text story. I am also reconsidering a white versus black background for both text and photos. I imagine that I will dither on final presentation for a number of days after the last text and photos are in place. I am having a number of people “read” the text so that I can avoid some unnecessary typos and logic issues, people with and without a Jungian psychology background as I will be going through the process of printing the final product. I am dithering between “Blurb” and “First Choice Books.” First Choice provides ISBN numbers and copyright protection, but there is a cost difference. Should I choose to go with Blurb, I would have to obtain an ISBN number on my own and place it in the book with a code on the back cover (more work) before sending to Blurb. Oh well … Now on with another page from the “book.”
Meeting with Goddess
Embracing the feminine
In the journey within, along the road of trials, one comes to the eye of the storm within. Campbell describes this part of the journey as the “meeting with the goddess.” His description:
This is the crisis at the nadir, the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of the earth, at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle of the temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber of the heart. (Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p. 109, 1968.)
At this point of the journey, there is a reunion with the anima, a reintegration of soul within the self. One way to describe it symbolically with the common image of yin and yang, the union of masculine and feminine, a holy union of the opposites, as Jung describes this in his book, Analytical Psychology: It’s Theory and Practice:
When the unconscious brings together the male and the female, things become utterly indistinguishable … (t)his is the primordial condition of things, and at the same time a most ideal achievement, because it the union of elements eternally opposed. Conflict has come to rest and everything is still or once again in the original state of indistinguishable harmony. (Jung, Analytical Psychology: It’s Theory and Practice, p. 133, 1968.)
One is tempted to think that now, the hero’s journey has reached a successful conclusion. Not a good thing to think. There is a long way to travel, yet. This union is a necessary condition for one’s journey to wholeness in which energy, libido is freed for that the integration work yet to happen.
Well, I have completed nine photo pages for the project which I started on May 5th. At this rate, I hope to finish in about two weeks. That leaves me a good amount of time for tidying up the text and photos, getting it right for publication. The photo on the right isn’t used in the project though the text below is. In order to find the will to enter the hero’s journey, often a collapse of ego is required, just like this old car. Now, the post from the book …
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First encounter on the road
Old man bearing gift
Midlife crisis – the real thing, not some precursor which as painful as it felt, forces the issue. Will the crisis result in action? Will it result in denial? Assuming that one decides, or falls into following the quest by default, it is then time for help to appear on the scene. After all, no one is really prepared to go on any quest, especially into unknown country. One is filled with doubts, with fear. But the will to go forward allows one to move forward from the known conscious world into the shadow world of the unconscious, the inner spaces of the human psyche.
Without consciousness there would, practically speaking, be no world, for the world exists for us only in so far as it is consciously reflected by a psyche. Consciousness is a precondition of being. CW vol. 10, “The Individual’s Understanding of Himself,” paragraph 528, 1958.)
To turn back to the certainty of the world left behind is rejected because to return would be the end of ego, of the known self. That much is certain. Because the outer world has betrayed, the idea of another world becomes a considered possibility. And there is hope.
For those who have not refused the call, the first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass. (Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p. 69, 1968.)
This is an important thing to realize. Should one facing this crisis of “self” and find the will to begin the work of taking the journey of self-discovery, there will be help along the way. All kinds of our stories, myths and tales provide us with examples of such supernatural aid. In Jungian psychology, one turns to the myths to find the common threads of our human story, aspects of being human that are stored within our personal and collective unconsciousness.
In my back yard in Elrose, Saskatchewan, Canada, there is still snow. There isn’t much snow left though, just along the north side, in the protected shady areas. This too will soon be gone. I am practising using my tele-extender lens for the camera to see if I want to do my next photo book with this format as a theme.
It’s Easter Sunday morning as I write this. No one else is yet awake in the house. We have two of our grandsons staying with us for the week. When they wake up they will take off on a treasure hunt following clues that their mother and I worked on late yesterday afternoon. This has become a family tradition, the hunt. We do it twice a year, once for Easter and again for Canada Day – two occasions when the family typically gets together. It’s interesting what we bring into the lives of our children. The “hunt”. Solving clues with a reward at the end. Like some mythological adventure, we introduce the simplist form of the heroic quest, the search for the philosopher’s stone or the holy grail.
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. (Joseph Campbell, A Hero With a Thousand Faces, 1949)
Between the traditions of treasure hunts and the new activities of Internet gaming, the idea of heroic quests is remaining prominant in the eyes of the young. There will be time enough for growing older and finding out about the real pitfalls and the difficulties of the journey. For now, it is enough to enjoy the wonder of the quest.