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  • Writer's picture Brian E Pearson

Joseph Campbell ("The Power of Myth")


There's a certain type of myth which one might call the vision quest, going in quest of a boon, a vision, which has the same form in every mythology. ... All these different mythologies give us the same essential quest. You leave the world that you're in and go into a depth or into a distance or up to a height. There you come to what was missing in your consciousness in the world you formerly inhabited. Then comes the problem either of staying with that, and letting the world drop off, or returning with that boon and trying to hold to it as you move back into your social world again. And that's not an easy thing.

There are both kinds of heroes, some that choose to undertake the journey and some that don't. In one kind of adventure, the hero sets out responsibly and intentionally to perform the deed. ... Then there are adventures into which you are thrown. (pp. 157-8)

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), American mythologist

... there is a certain typical hero sequence of actions which can be detected in stories from all over the world and from many periods of history. Essentially, it might even be said there is but one archetypal mythic hero whose life has been replicated in many lands by many, many people. A legendary hero is usually the founder of something--the founder of a new age, the founder of a new religion, the founder of a new city, the founder of a new way of life. In order to found something new, one has to leave the old and go in quest of the seed idea, a germinal idea that will have the potentiality of bringing forth that new thing.

You might also say that the founder of a life--your life or mine, if we live our own lives, instead of imitating everybody else's life--comes from a quest as well. (pp. 166-7)

This Week on The Mystic Cave podcast: How the Light Gets In: Short Stories



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