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Metaphysics & Psychology

The Importance of Mythology to Manhood

The Importance of Mythology to Manhood 94

By Jon Socrates | returnofkings.com

One of the most profoundly insightful books I’ve ever read is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. In this book Campbell uses myths from around the world and psychoanalytic theory to reveal the Monomyth, the archetypical hero journey that underlies the many-varied myths and folklore from the world’s cultures, past and present.

In this article I can only give an introduction to the basic concepts of the Monomyth, with a few examples and some notes on the importance of mythology and the usefulness of understanding it better. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell goes into much more detail, discusses the nuances and variations of the Monomyth, and provides a ton of interesting examples. I encourage you to read it.

Why Mythology Is Important

The Importance of Mythology to Manhood 95Myths are psychological. The symbols and metaphors of mythology are the outer representations of the inner spirit—the animating force that shapes meaning, purpose, and our connections with each other, society, and the world. This animating force is powerful and transformative, but it lies deep within, beneath and behind the solid forms of the everyday world and the small fancies of human reason. Myths are able to guide us to that animating force and help us on our own spiritual journeys. According to Joseph Campbell:

 

“Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.”

“It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back.”

 

Some knowledge of mythology is especially important for men today because modern society has been transformed by rationalism, mechanistic paradigms, and a preoccupation with the material world. Many people no longer believe in a formless, unfathomable, yet enduring spirit-energy, and instead they see only forms that can be understood by the human mind—the ephemera of ideas, feelings, and material stuff.

As a consequence, people discard rites and traditions when they become inconvenient, and they often treat myths as nothing more than entertaining stories, thereby casting aside the guidance and wisdom of the past. This, of course, is destructive. As Campbell notes:

 

“It may well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows from the decline among us of such effective spiritual aid. We remain fixated to the unexorcized images of our infancy, and hence disinclined to the necessary passages of our adulthood. In the United States there is even a pathos of inverted emphasis: the goal is not to grow old, but to remain young; not to mature away from Mother, but to cleave to her.”

 

Campbell published this in 1949, pointing out the social and spiritual breakdown of manhood that has only worsened since then. Modern culture does little to foster spiritual growth, and so many men have fumbled in the dark, trying to make their own spiritual journey without the kind of guidance and wisdom available to men of the past. Luckily, though, myths both old and new are waiting to speak to those who know their language.
The Monomyth

The hero journey is one of rejuvenation. It begins with a problem, with society out of balance and in decay. The hero is called to adventure, and must leave the ordinary (human) world and enter the dangerous and mysterious world of the divine, such as a magic realm or the wilderness. The hero is tested, and his reward is the Ultimate Boon. He carries this boon back with him to the ordinary world and uses it to rejuvenate, to redeem the world.

The Importance of Mythology to Manhood 96My favorite illustration of this is the story of Perseus from the film Clash of the Titans (the 1981 version). At one point in the movie, the queen of the city of Joppa blasphemes against the goddess Thetis. As punishment, Thetis demands that Joppa sacrifice the princess Andromeda to a giant sea monster, the mighty Kraken. If the people of Joppa do not comply, then the Kraken will destroy the city and all its citizens.

 

The Importance of Mythology to Manhood 97To stop the Kraken, Perseus must defeat Medusa, whose eyes turn all who look at them into stone. Perseus defeats Medusa and brings her severed head back to Joppa where he confronts the Kraken, a monster so huge and terrible that not even an army could defeat it. And yet Perseus, armed with the Ultimate Boon, defeats the Kraken—he reveals the severed head of Medusa and turns the giant monster to stone, saving both the princess and the city.

Here is a succinct diagram of the Monomtyh from the book:

 

The Importance of Mythology to Manhood 98

 

Monomyth

This model is the archetype, the complete hero journey. Some of these elements are obvious from their names, but others are not. The Sacred Marriage is also called the Meeting with the Goddess, and it’s the stage wherein the hero tempers himself with a feminine force, such as intuition or compassion, to gain the knowledge or power unobtainable by a purely masculine approach. The Father Atonement is when the hero no longer resists the father figure, but reconciles with him, and the Elixir is another name for the Ultimate Boon.

Among the myths of the world, these components are manifested in different ways. Each component can have more or less prominence, and some components may be absent in some myths. Here are some examples of these components drawn from a few contemporary stories:

Call to adventure: Neo gets a call from Morpheus

Helper: Morpheus

Threshold crossing: Taking the Red Pill

Tests: Martial Arts and Jump programs

Helpers: Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda

Sacred Marriage: Luke switches off targeting computer, trusts his feelings, and uses The Force

Father Atonement: Luke stops trying to fight his father and surrenders to him

Apotheosis: Neo becomes Matrix Jesus

Elixir Theft: John Connor destroys Cyberdyne Systems, steals parts from original Terminator

Flight: The T-1000 chases John Connor and friends

Threshold Struggle: T-1000 is defeated / John must accept the death of the good Terminator

Elixir (after return): The world is safe from Judgment Day and John has become a man

What does it all mean?

After you understand the basic cycle of the Monomyth, you can recognize it again and again in stories and in the rhythms of life. People every day cross the threshold into the energetic abyss of sleep, and later they return to the waking world, renewed. The hunter leaves his village and crosses into the wilderness to test his strength and skill—if he succeeds, then he will return with life-sustaining meat.

The young man leaves his family in search of a mate, and if he passes the tests and wins his bride, he brings her back to become part of his family and to create new life. Out of the darkness of the womb we come into this world of tests and growth, and inevitably we pass into the darkness of the grave.

More practically, familiarizing yourself with the Monomyth will allow you to appreciate stories in new ways, and may help you learn some valuable lessons. After all, there are plenty of myths and folklore in which the would-be hero fails. There is a high price for he who takes the journey unprepared—he who doesn’t control his id, or can’t set aside his ego; who abandons his duties; who disrespects the forces of nature.

In your own life, what might these components represent? What journeys are you on? What are the thresholds you need to cross? What are the tests you need to pass? How is the world of your life in decay, and what do you need to do to redeem it? Listen for the call of adventure, and then strive to become a more heroic man.

Source: returnofkings.com

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an ‘experimental’ patient

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an 'experimental' patient 111
Image: Giphy.com

US doctors described the story of a man who tried to relieve depression with psilocybin mushrooms in an unconventional way. He injected an intravenous infusion of mushrooms, causing the mushrooms to continue to multiply in his blood and cause multiple organ failure. The case was reported in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.

Many drugs that people traditionally use as psychedelics are increasingly becoming the focus of medical attention. Some of them have already been repurposed and started clinical trials: for example, micro-doses of LSD have proven to be at least safe in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, and psilocybin has helped patients with  migraines and  depression. Often in such experiments we are talking about microdosing – that is, the mass of the substance is not enough for a psychoactive effect.

The story of an American who decided to experiment on his own was described by doctors led by Curtis McKnight of Creighton University School of Medicine. According to relatives, the 30-year-old American suffered from bipolar disorder, but shortly before the incident stopped taking his prescribed medications and suffered from alternating states of mania and depression.

When he stumbled upon research on the potential benefits of psychedelics, he boiled psilocybin mushrooms and injected the filtered solution into his vein. A few days after this experiment, relatives found him in a lethargic state with jaundice, diarrhea and bloody vomiting and took him to the hospital.

Doctors discovered the patient had a problem with multiple organs at once: acute renal failure, liver damage, tachycardia, and low blood saturation and ionic imbalance. He was prescribed droppers to normalize the composition of the blood, vasoconstrictors to raise blood pressure, antibiotics and antifungal drugs. Despite this, he developed septic shock and DIC (excessive blood clotting) and needed plasmapheresis. Only eight days later he was discharged from the intensive care unit, and at the time of publication of the article he had already been in the hospital for 22 days.

In the patient’s blood tests, in addition to the Brevibacillus bacteria , there were also Psilocybe cubensis fungi  – the same ones from which he injected himself intravenously. Apparently, due to insufficient filtration of the solution, the fungi entered the bloodstream and multiplied there, causing intoxication and multiple organ failure.

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an 'experimental' patient 112

The authors of the work note that this is not the first such case – at least in the 80s of the 20th century, doctors already described a patient with similar symptoms after an intravenous injection. Therefore, McKnight and coauthors warn their colleagues: since psychedelics are increasingly used as a medicine (at the end of 2020, they began to legalize it in the United States), it is important to remind patients of the inadmissibility of self-therapy. Intravenous administration can be dangerous – doctors still do not know if it has the same psychoactive effect as the classical methods of administration.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

A part of a person’s essence accompanies him throughout his life: this is confirmed by a brain scan

A part of a person's essence accompanies him throughout his life: this is confirmed by a brain scan 113
Photo: pixabay.com

A new method of scanning the human brain has produced amazing results. It turns out that in every person there is a certain part of his essence, which accompanies him all his life from the moment of birth to death.

Scientists believe that this is the core of a person’s self-awareness. It combines memories of the past with fleeting sensations of reality and provides a basis for anticipation of events in the future.

It turned out that a certain part of a person’s consciousness is consistent as they grow older and older.

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been interested in the question: can this sense of “personal self” be stable throughout life? A new psychological study with the results of a brain scan made it possible to conclude that a certain part of a person’s consciousness really accompanies him throughout his life.

It is consistent as it gets older and older. Miguel Rubianes, a neuroscientist at the Complutense University of Madrid, says the aim of the study was to answer the question: Are we the same person throughout life? In combination with the results of other studies, scientists have concluded that there is a certain component that remains stable from birth to death.

The other part of consciousness remains susceptible to current changes. The scientists recognized independence as the basis of identity. And every time a person uses the word “I”, he means a thread that connects together all the events and experiences that have occurred in life.

Experience gained over the years changes a person, changes the components of his identity. Each case associated with personal experiences, a broken heart, a successful career step, expected or unexpected failure lead to the fact that a person compares himself to himself before and after these events. It is a neurological programming scheme that involves visual self-knowledge as an indicator of connection with your impressions of yourself.

This effect makes it possible to cope with memories and recognition of information when it is associated, for example, with one’s own photograph of an infant. Although this principle has a lot of evidence, scientists believe that the very mechanism of the brain involved in this remains a mystery.

This study was published in the journal Psychophysiology.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop 114

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we sometimes do not notice how time flies past us, what miracles surround us. We do not have time to listen to the rustle of leaves in the wind and we miss those minutes when the crimson moon hangs at the very horizon.

Below are 10 films that reflect the beauty and diversity of our world. You watch such a movie and forget about everything.

Kytice

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

7 fairy tales-ballads based on Czech folklore are filmed colorfully and poetically. 

They endure a time when people were closer to nature, believed in miracles and the spirits of the forest, when the terrible and the beautiful were merged together.

Ashes and snow

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

Gregory Colbert’s documentary has no plot, but it attracts with its stunning, unrestrained beauty, reflecting the unity of man with nature.

The film was shot for 13 years in the most exotic corners of our planet: Burma, Ethiopia, India, Antarctica, Sri Lanka, Tonga islands and many other picturesque places.

The fountain

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The main character Thomas tries to find a cure for his wife Isabelle. Every day she gets worse, and he cannot be near, because he puts experiments in the laboratory. In his soul, love, the desire to be with Isabelle and the desire to extend her life are fighting. 

Darren Aronofsky’s philosophical drama was filmed in vivid colors, despite the fact that the director did not use computer special effects.

Samsara

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

This is a beautiful one and a half hour trip to the most amazing places on the planet. 

Director Ron Fricke showed the inextricable connection of all people and events on earth, the cycle of death and birth, the versatility of our world, where beauty coexists with nondescriptness, and the end means the beginning.

The Bear

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The story of a bear cub that lost its mother and nailed to a large wounded bear. Together they have to go through many trials, the worst of which is meeting the hunters. 

The wonderful plot of the film is combined with stunning music that helps you immerse yourself in the world of nature and feel it with your whole body.

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The harsh Siberian nature, untouched by man, the majestic Yenisei River and the small village of Bakhta with a simple way of life. 

People live and survive in these parts, rely only on themselves and also ask only themselves. Four seasons – four lifestyles for each of them.

August Rush

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

Young musician August Rush does not know his parents, but he really wants to find them and for some reason is sure that if he plays, they will hear and recognize him by his music. 

Mesmerizing music permeates the entire film and works wonders to dispel the evil spell of separation.

Baraka

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

A documentary masterpiece, a philosophical essay accompanied by superb cinematography and music, goes without words. The only and main actor here is life in all its diversity and unity. 

The gaze of a monkey sitting in a hot pond is equal to all the depths of cold space, and the dances of the aborigines are synchronized with the movements of the forest.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

This is a beautiful and unhurried philosophical parable about a wheel of time moving into infinity. Each time, with the beginning of a new cycle of rotation, life on earth is renewed, and everyone has the opportunity for a new rebirth. 

The film by Korean director Kim Ki-dook tells about two monks – a teacher and his student – and the obstacles that must be overcome on the way to finding harmony.

Chronos

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The main characters of the documentary narration are cultural and historical monuments. 

They absorbed the life of the people who created them, and have remained for centuries as an imprint of bygone eras.

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