World Mythology Term Paper

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Mythology Through the Eyes of Joseph Campbell

This essay discusses a little part of world mythology as perceived through the eyes of Joseph Campbell. It also relates to his conceptualization of the myths associated with different geographical regions of the world. This uses 1 source in MLA form.

Long has existed the phenomenon of myths and religions. Mythology is defined as the study of myths, which is a strong belief that is associated with someone or ancient figures. If it is brought under proper observation its exact era from where it all started is difficult to find as even the existence of the first man on the universe has been associated with mythological happening. As there exist different explanations and myths with the existence of the world these explanations also tend to vary when concerning different geographical areas. There is a lot of text available even belonging to ancient times that has substantial proof of the involvements of myths in religious happenings and as well as in the smallest of the fairytales. These symbols of mythology cannot be manufactured, ordered, invented or suppressed. They are spontaneous revelations of human psyche and each bears with in it the complete power of its source. Here the question is what is the secret of these timeless visions?

Mythology comprises of different figures and actions. Figures being the entities associated with a certain mythological perspective and actions being the acts performed by them or are believed to be carried out continuously till the time falls into infinity. As figures being the integral part of the era, we can divide them into several different categories like gods, heroes, supernatural, preachers, prophets, evil beings and even angels.

If a mind tries to grasp the knowledge and take a short journey into the realms of the different mythological occurrences, some dissimilarity is found. The question being if mythology has such a great impact that it shapes sometimes even religious rituals there must be a conceptual link between them regardless of the geographical area or era as human mind that perceives is almost the same everywhere. There might be godless religions or mythology but the only common factor mainly be found in all mystical folklore are heroes. Heroes as discussed and glared at, through the eye of curiosity displays, even supernatural beings or gods can be heroes, which metaphorically transcend into them later on with mythological enlightenment.

Psychologically, if it is believed that heroes being the integral part of mythological occurrences time through time in almost every area, it can be compromised that the conceptualization of heroic acts, existence, perception and criteria should have certain similarities.

One of the most significant theories of this perceptual similarity amongst the heroes of different regions and different myths was the textual vision of Joseph Campbell. He wrote several books concerning the mythological topics as he walked through different regions and grasped in depth knowledge of them. He was born on 26th March 1904 in White Plains, NY, in a middle class family of a Roman Catholic couple Charles and Josephine Campbell. In his early twenties he became possessed by Native American culture, which was conflicting with his Irish Catholic heritage. This conflict continued in his sub-conscious, which reflected in his writings in the later years. He graduated from Canterbury University in 1921. And he continued his studies in at universities of Paris and Munich. He was influenced by the psychological studies of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. During his journey to Europe he also met Jiddu Krishnamurti of the theosophical Society and was in his contacts till late. He returned to New York in 1929. In 1934 he accepted a position in the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College and served there for thirty-eight years. He got married to Jean Erdman a student in the same college. He died of cancer in 1987.

Campbell was influenced by the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer the philosopher who observed. That the events and experiences in one's childhood consciously or unconsciously set a pattern on the thinking of an indusial in the later years of life. A person views the daily happening through its past the fulfilled or unfulfilled wishes have some affect on it.

The theory relating to mythological heroes came from his first publication, which was "The hero with a thousand faces." It was printed in 1949, which gave him great popularity and won him an Award for Contributions to Creative Literature by The National Institute of Arts and Letters. His personal multicultural experience during his extensively traveled life all had a bearing on his writings. This congregates led to Campbell's theory that all myths and epics are linked and that they are national indication of the universal need of the human psyche to explain social, astrophysical, and spiritual truths.

Joseph believed that all the historical figures or heroes found in a myth have some resemblance with the figures in other myths. He explains that the hero in one geographical area would have been the hero in the other mythological place as well. He related myths to psychological perceptions, meaning that as human minds perceive different occurrences with almost the same view it can be concluded that the perception of a hero would have the same criterion even if the area of concerned is changed geographically or in different races. Every mythological occurrence has in fact the same description of a hero. This description is often associated with an amazing heroic act. Campbell asserts that all the heroes follow the same heroic journey, and all the cultures of the world wherever they may be located in any period of time, history at any geographic location. They go through the same path, "the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man" (The Hero With a Thousand Faces, page 30). He also believed that though the hero is on ground but the actual fight is of self-discovery within oneself. "The passage of the mythological hero may be over the ground, incidentally; fundamentally it is inward -- into depths where obscure resistances are overcome, and long lost, forgotten powers are revivified." (The Hero With a Thousand Faces, page 29). In the book the writer also delineates the basic settings, stages and outcome of the archetypal ride.

Campbell also narrates that the fantasy stories of the mystical heroes is a method to discover your own self and may help one to fulfill your personal goals. He also portrays that most of the time the hero's journey is from childhood to adulthood this may actually be in search of his past. He describes a myth as human need to the actual realities of life. The way to narrate this may be different in different cultures and thus the title the hero with thousand faces. The people tell stories in every region of the world but they all have a beginning, middle and an end.

One can edit, manipulate, over emphasize any section, ignore a section completely but they all end up with the same message. The term world navel meaning the center of the world is perhaps originated from the ruins of Teotihuacan situated in a high valley about 65 kilometers from Mexico City The myth says the bond between sky and earth is formed here.

In the beginning of first century AD when Tehtihaucan was just a small settlement folks magnified the stories of this cave site and they built an immense pyramid along with stairs over it. The temple faced, and the stairs pointed to, the sun's setting point. Thus earth, cave, sky, pyramid, and temple came together in perfect alignment and harmony.

Campbell's unique concept has tried to convey in his book that all legendary heroes of the world are interwoven where ever they may be and the folklore and the religions provide spirit and origins of humanity. The Historical-cultural analyses has divided the old world civilization into four zones namely Europe, the Levant, India, the Far East.It is believed that each of the regions have a distinct determined methodology and religion, Christianity in Europe, Buddhism in east Asia and Islam in India.

It becomes clear from the mythology of the hero with thousands faces that the hero where ever he comes from is the person, our envoy in our world of dreams. He engages himself in the dim world of the mystic, overcomes those who would destroy him there, and then returns to the ordinary, infatuated of powers and new knowledge for the benefit of his people.

In most of the stories the mission begins with a call of adventure from the divine. In the case of Moses the God calls Moses from the burning bushes, Arthur is called by the manifestation of the Holy Grail, Buddha is called by the "Four Signs" when he rode about with his charioteer. Most of the time the hero at first refuses to act according to the directive, being human by nature all of us resist…[continue]

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