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Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell discovered a common theme to storytelling. A common theme to all cultures regardless of race, region, or religion makes it archetypal. Archetypes are structuring patterns in the collective unconscious that emerge into the mundane as images. Images can be smells, tastes, sounds, feelings, or actual images. Those images symbolically represent attributes of the psyche. For example, mother, child, time, night, God, etc.


What Campbell discovered through his research of myths, fairy tales, and folklore is that the most common archetypal theme is the hero. In his book titled, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, Campbell presents a phenomenal understanding of how the hero archetype is reflective of the ego’s psychological process. In other words, the hero is symbolic of the ego and how it functions. The hero is ego struggling to achieve something, to reach some kind of goal that will culminate in its own evolution. Hero stories are “projections” of that psychological process of turning the alchemical lead into gold, or ego into spirit.


Joseph Campbell found his inspiration. He had a clear passion for stories and the ability to see through those stories for symbolic significance. He was an investigator, a writer, a philosopher, a teacher, and many more archetypes. The only way to discover something completely new like he did, is to follow one’s inner guidance and trust it. Campbell said, ‘Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else” (Goodreads, n.d.).


What Campbell calls “following your bliss” shows his ability to trust his inner guidance, and more importantly, how to get the ego out of the way so you can make the connection to follow higher self.


What we know from Campbell’s work is that the hero always has to overcome challenges to reach their goal. Humanity as a collective now stands on the precipice of our biggest challenge. Reaching the goal of our collective evolution (the prize), as well as our individual evolution (personal evolution). The problem is that we didn’t know how to work with our own psyche to accomplish the goal, but now we do.



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