From Ancient Myths to Han Solo
“The Power of Myth” takes you back to the beginning of myths and explains their meaning.
About Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was an American author, mythologist, and lecturer, best known for his studies of comparative religion and mythology.
“The Power of Myth PDF Summary”
We have all grown up listening to bedtime stories.
Most of the stories parents tell children are rooted in myths and as such play a significant role in the collective identity.
Myths appeared in ancient times when people needed to make sense of the events that were happening in their surroundings.
However, even though today we have science and technology, we still need myths.
Why is that so?
Well, myths help us understand significant points of our lifetimes such as birth or death.
They make the transition from one stage to another more smooth and less scary.
Also, myths still form the identity of a group and explain the differences that exist among groups as well.
The stories in myths are specific for the places they originate from.
And, as circumstances on those places change, so do myths.
However, although myths change as time goes by, their core message stays the same.
Different cultures share common ideas in the form of archetypes. Archetypes are ideas that transcend culture.
All of us, no matter where we come from, understand these archetypes and what their meaning is.
This is so because we all share the same perennial hopes and fears.
That is why myths will never disappear.
Sometimes, myths are abstract. However, they have their concrete counterpart: ritual.
Rituals are sets of steps that people need to follow to achieve a specific goal.
In contemporary times, myths and rituals do not exist in such a distinct form as before, but we still use them to make sense of our roles in the society.
As we already mentioned, myths also help understand stages of life. Especially death.
They depict death as a fundamental part of life, as the other side of the coin. As a result, they decrease the fear of death that people have.
People also have a problem with depicting abstract concepts, such as god, time and space, et cetera.
When people cannot assign physical or concrete meaning to transcendent concepts, myths also help.
Key Lessons from “The Power of Myth”
1. Blind to the Similarities
2. How Myths Make Death Bearable
3. Why Have Myths Been Pushed to the Margins?
Blind to the Similarities
Many concepts in mythology transcend cultures. However, people still want to seek differences instead of looking for the similarities among myths.
People just want to prove that their notions are true, and on the way to proving that, they remain blind to all the common ideas they share.
How Myths Make Death Bearable
Myths help us make death bearable.
In ancient times, fear of death was nonexistent, since death was considered a part of life, and not as an end of it.
Why Have Myths Been Pushed to the Margins?
First, schools do not teach them anymore and second; societies shift the perspective from the group to the individual.
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