“Myths speak psyche’s language.”
“A myth is a way of making sense in a senseless world. Myths are narrative patterns that give significance to our existence… Myths are like the beams in a house: not exposed to outside view, they are the structure which holds the house together so people can live in it.”
There are many approaches to understanding and engaging the mysterious world of myths. In the context of depth and archetypal psychology, we recognize myths as the stories of our most profound experiences -- cryptic portraits of our fate and reflections of our nature. Or, as archetypal psychologist James Hillman put it, myths might be understood as the “root metaphors for our existence."
If we imagine a riverbed carved out by experience, we might imagine myths as the gathering and flowing waters. In other words, myths were not just randomly invented. Like the waters to a riverbed, myths have taken shape and form around common human experience. In that way, they reveal the ways of the deep psyche and of soul.
Through sensitive and respectful engagement with myth, we hope to cultivate a mythic sensibility and the ability to walk through life metaphorically. Perhaps we can learn to see into our lives and look beyond the surface, into the stories we are actually living. In this way, we deepen into a life that knows its habitat, that understands what it is made of.
Myths invite us to enter the realm of soul, into the unknown edges. They do not tell us how to live. Rather, they offer an invitation and a way into fertile inquiry and curiosity.
“A myth is the psyche telling of itself in disguise.”
Careful and gentle engagement with myth offers us an opportunity for cultivating deeper meaning as we learn to perceive and understand our lives and the world through a metaphorical sensibility—through a sensibility that is able to see beyond the surface and into the larger and underlying narratives, stories, and mysteries within which we are embedded.
“Stories are medicine… they do not require that we do, be, act anything- we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories… Stories are embedded with instructions which guide us about the complexities of life.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes