Functions of Mythology

Joseph Campbell suggests four functions of Mythology. The first he says is to “reconcile consciousness to the preconditions of its own existence”. This means a merging of our day to day consciousness with what he refers to as the mysterium tremendum. In cultivating a sense of awe and fascination around our perception of life and fully participating in whatever way we are called we find a mythic sensitivity to life itself.

The second function is interpretive. In this the myth is “presenting a consistent image of the order of the cosmos” . Cosmos means ‘a place of adornment’. On a personal level how do we see our own cosmos? Are there things we know about ourselves we can rely on come what may? If you’re not sure you have a cosmos how would you imagine it to be? What are the ways in which you adorn your world, create a beautiful space?

The third is to “validate and support a specific moral order, that order of the society out of which the mythology arose”. The question I ask myself here is how do I create a moral framework for my own life? What is it about my life that has created my sense of ethics.

The fourth function is to “carry the individual through various stages and crises of life – to help people grasp the unfolding of life with integrity, meaning that individuals will experience significant events in accord with first themselves, second with their culture, third with the universe, and lastly with that mysterium tremendum beyond themselves and all things. What is arising within when you read this? What have you experienced within your life that has given you the tools to deal with the crises that unfold. If all is perfect at all times then we can look for clarification of what is happening now in what has already come to pass. We may be called to honour something that was important in our past that has slipped into the background – something that engendered a sense of awe and fascination at the time.


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One Response to Functions of Mythology

  1. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.