Lolita Perdurabo

Symbol Withough Meaning by J. Campbell

I came across this fascinating review of Joseph Campbell’s ‘Symbol Without Meaning’ when researching and compiling materials for Open Circle Symbols workshop and talk. I find it so relevant to things I have been doing recently including Bird Magick, working with Trolls and also many thinks that people have posted on KIA recently (specifically Graham Hancock Tedx Talk). Sometimes different things lead you to one place and although I still don’t know what that is precisely I feel I’m getting there.


2 Responses to "Symbol Withough Meaning by J. Campbell"

  1. Very interesting programme!
    It reminds me about certain theory I heard a while ago. According to this theory myth of lost paradise we all know from the Bible relates to the end of the hunters- gatherers culture. On the contrary to what we usually imagine hunters- gatherers spent only couple of hours each day on searching for food. Thanks to that they enjoyed many hours of rest and leisure each day which were inevitably lost when people started planting crops. Together with birth of agriculture people’s daily routine turned into many hours of hard work.

    What I find most intriguing about this whole idea is comparison between this theory with that of Campbells. Campbell said that the very idea of the world order as we know it today was born in inside the agricultural society. According to the Bible hard work is a punishment imposed on Adam in consequence for his disobedience. But if this very punishment effected in the birth of agricultural society and Campbell says that it was that type of society who first created idea of the God’s order then whose order did mythical Adam break? When looking into Qabala and Christian gnostic traditions we will find there an idea of the human “fall” understood as the result of human mind’s separation from God. However God isn’t described as some outside “ruler” of the universe but rather as an inner quality present inside us.

    So it seems to me that by loosing connection with this inner God (who is meaningless and impossible to describe) we lost our freedom. In this case any order we see in this world is not an order created by the universe itself but rather an illusionary order created by our minds. And since this order enslaves us it becomes obvious that our minds creators of our own slavery! And this is exactly what all enlightened teachings talk about. Even Buddhist tradition of sand mandala is rooted in this idea since mandala gets destroyed at the end of the ritual.

    I wonder if Campbell is right in saying that we don’t need the mandala myth any more. I think that it is useful in revealing some aspects of nature and our connection with the outside world. We need to be able to perceive ourselves as part of the greater order before we destroy the mandala and restore our individuality- this time on a higher level of consciousness.

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  2. @hippi I had a similar or related revelation yesterday. Now I am quite sympathetic to humanism on many levels, given the history of persecution and corruption perpetrated by religious hierarchies that continues even today where ever they can get away with it. But I came the startling realisation that an atheist materialist philosophy of ‘who we are’ suffers the same problem as typical religious answer to the same question.

    Whereas the typical religious paradigm inevitably teaches that we are ‘sinners’, or presents a series of teachings that aim at the transcendence of the body, atheist materialism teaches that we are just biological chemical robots. In common both paradigms cut us off from our divine inner self for the purpose of making us into obedient slaves.

    For different reasons, both paradigms teach us to ignore the spirits that contact us in childhood, either because the religion claims they are evil devils, or because current materialist philosophy teaches that they are meaningless hallucination. Both sides ignore a fundamental magical truth. That it seems an essential and important part of being human to see such things and communicate with them, and further, free of persecution, communication with such entities, even if they only exist in our own heads, help us live more rewarding and interesting lives.

    As evidence for the essentially human nature of such experiences, witness the strikingly patterns that recur again and again throughout human history and across different cultures, with only interpretation differing.

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