I was reading through The Hero with a Thousand Faces and came upon a few pages where Campbell discusses the hero's spiritual guide.

"The dangerous crises of self-development are permitted to come to pass under the protecting eye of an experienced initiate in the lore and language of dreams, who then enacts the role and character of the ancient mystagogue, or guide of souls . . . The doctor [meaning psychoanalyst] is the modern master of the mythological realm . . . His role is precisely that of the Wise Old Man of the myths and fairy tales whose words assist the hero through the trials and terrors of the weird adventure."

He elsewhere says that "in the absence of an effective general mythology, each of us has his private, unrecognized, rudimentary, yet secretly potent pantheon of dream."

It seems to me, that an "absence of effective general mythology" would significantly limit our chances of living out the hero's journey and transitioning smoothly from one stage of self-development to another (ex. childhood to puberty) partly because a lack of general mythology would lessen your chances of finding an appropriate "guide of souls."

Many religious people have ready-made spiritual guides in the forms of priests or shamans, but how does it affect them if they are removed from a situation where their private mythology and the general mythology is the same, and guides are no longer readily available? What happens when you need to face a "crisis of self-development" alone?

The question jumped out at me because we nonbelievers don't usually have a structure in place to provide developmental guidance like this. There's significantly less direction in moving from childhood to adulthood or single life to marriage. I'd like feedback on how you guys think the absence of such a structure might affect us, if it does at all. Does anybody know of something Campbell wrote going into more detail on this issue?

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Excellent questions. I would like to know more on this. I have not read much of Campbell's work but I am wondering if others beyond Campbell and his disciples have explored the role that mythology can play in guiding personal development.
That is a really excellent question and one that I think about (in a slightly different way--but essentially the same) a lot. For me, I have found a potent but non-dogmatic mythology in Freemasonry; but the problem with that is that, in North America, it is open only to men and only those who are willing to profess a belief in "God" (though "God" is left deliberately vague). One of the things that I've learned from it is the value of tradition. The problem is that it is so often hard to separate tradition from superstition and bigotry. I sometimes wonder if there is an existing tradition that could be revitalized to give the mythic grounding for non-theists, but without the dogma of traditional religion. I suppose Le Droit Humain might provide that.



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