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Articles and Essays

The Joseph Campbell
Audio Collection
Lectures by Joseph Campbell

List of Titles..........Descriptions


List of Titles

Volume 1: Mythology and the Individual (Descriptions) (Amazon)

1. The Celebration of Life [53:53]
2. The Individual in Oriental Mythology [57:26]
3. Symbolism and the Individual [45:39]
4. New Horizons [64:02]
5. The Vitality of Myth [60:19]

Volume 2: Inward Journey ~ East and West (Descriptions) (Amazon)

1. The Thresholds of Mythology [56:39]
2. The Inward Journey [48:47]
3. Confrontation of East and West in Religion [42:53]
4. Imagery of Rebirth Yoga [56:58]
5. The World Soul [78:12]

Volume 3: The Eastern Way (Descriptions) (Amazon)

1. Oriental Mythology [63:21]
2. The Mystical Traditions of India [49:13]
3. Hinduism [57:37]
4. Buddhism [54:43]
5. Creativity in Oriental Mythology [54:35]

Volume 4: Man and Myth (Descriptions) (Amazon)

1. Man and Myth [59:53]
2. Mythic Living [67:54]
3. Society and Symbol [67:07]
4. The Necessity of Rites [61:15]
5. Personal Myths [64:44]

Volume 5: The Myths and Masks of God (Descriptions) (Amazon)

1. Interpreting Symbolic Forms [57:57]
2. Mythic Vision [part A missing]
3. Experiencing the Divine [56:20]
4. History of the Gods [51:45]
5. The Religious Impulse [57:22]

Volume 6: The Western Quest (Descriptions) (Amazon)

1. Origins of Occidental Mythology [52:00]
2. The Mythology of Love [48:55]
3. The Arthurian Tradition [54:47]
4. The Grail Legend [72:36]
5. The Forest Adventurous [74:30]

From the CD Packages (and the JCF Website)

Volume 1: Mythology and the Individual (Amazon)

I 1: The Celebration of Life
In the human heart and in the human mind--no matter what the race, the culture, the language, the tradition--there is at least the sense of a mystery, and an awesome and a very terrifying mystery inhabiting the whole universe: the very mystery of being itself.
~Joseph Campbell
Evidence from early shrines and cave art suggests that more than 100,000 years ago human beings were aware of a mystery reaching far beyond themselves. During the past few centuries, investigations into early mythologies and the religions that followed have revealed certain basic motifs and recurring themes. In this talk Joseph Campbell shows how these ancient myths and symbols celebrate the mysteries of life and sustain humankind to the present day.

I 2: The Individual in Oriental Mythology
In the wonderful Inferno of Dante, as he wandered through these hell pits, he recognized all of his friends. In the Greek world, when the heroes go to the underworld, they recognize their friends, However, in the Oriental hells and heavens--whether of the Buddhist, or the Hindu, or the Jain type--you do not recognize anybody. They are not the same person they were on earth.... This is a continuing theme in the farther Orient; you are not this body, you are not this ego, you are to think of this as something merely put on to be thrown away again.
~Joseph Campbell
In Western mythologies, the individual personality is a permanent entity, surviving as a distinct and definable self even in the afterworld. In Oriental mythologies, there is no enduring personality, but rather a "reincarnating monad," an entity which goes through a series of bodies, putting them on and taking them off as if they were clothes. In this lecture, Joseph Campbell illuminates this fundamental difference between Eastern and Western beliefs and explores the way in which these ideas influence us today.

I 3: Symbolism and the Individual
These two systems of ideal--one teaching the beauty and majesty of the religious submission before God, the other the heroism of the humanistic insistence of the values of man--are in collision, and distinctly so in the Christian tradition, I would say, more than in any others.... Christ is God, who has come down to do this, and we are not God. In the Indian story that I spoke of earlier, all of us are that being. The divine power is immanent in us all, and what the god incarnate represents is our own very being.
~Joseph Campbell
Two systems of ideals--one teaching the beauty and majesty of submission to God, the other emphasizing the values of heroism and humankind--have long been at odds, especially in the Christian tradition. In this lecture, Joseph Campbell explores the concepts of Christ both as a Promethean figure and a Job figure--bringing the fire of redemption, suffering for our sins--and describes the crucifix as a synthesizing symbol, a sign of divinity and humanity alike.

I 4: New Horizons
The old texts comfort us with horizons, they tell us that a loving, a kind, a just father is out there. But according to the scientific view, nobody knows what is out there, or if there is any "out there" at all. There is just a display of things that our senses bring to us.... What lies beyond is a mystery so great that it is going to be inexhaustible in its revelations, and man has to be great enough to receive it.
~Joseph Campbell
With the coming of scientific revolution, the notion of "truth" was replaced by a tireless quest for knowledge. Humankind saw the protective horizon of the universe disappear, replaced by ever-changing hypotheses and indistinct horizons. In this two-part lecture, Joseph Campbell considers how science has challenged human beliefs, the perceptions of the individual, and the meanings of mythology, and then explores the impact of science on the "adventurous enterprise of today."

I 5: The Vitality of Myth
Myths are public dreams; dreams are private myths. By finding your own dream and following it through, it will lead you to the myth-world in which you life. But just as in dream, the subject and object, though they seem to be separate, are really the same.
~Joseph Campbell
Dreams--the intimate noise of our existence--are the place where two levels of consciousness meet: the consciousness we witness, and the consciousness of our inner being. Dreams can lead us to an awareness of the divinity within us. In this lecture, Joseph Campbell explores the significance of dreams and their relationship to myths, how certain Western beliefs have translated myths into "waking consciousness" symbols, and why Eastern teachers have proved so attractive to Westerners. He then goes on to explain how yoga can give us access to "deep sleep awake" and the visions and awareness that await us there.

Volume II: Inward Journey ~ East and West (Amazon)

II 1: The Thresholds of Mythology
In this talk, Joseph Campbell discusses the four essential functions of a viable mythology. He then turns his attention to the fundamental difference between those mythologies that affirm existence and those that reject it. With this review, he provides not only a basis for a philosophy of mythology, but also a metaphor for the crucial decision each individual must make as well--namely, whether to be reconciled with, or to withdraw from, life in all of its terrible glory.
Campbell next elucidates a seemingly irreconcilable difference between Eastern and Western spirituality: in the East an individual turns inward, seeking identification with the divine powers; in the West one looks outward to the social order for the prescribed relationship to God. He then describes the thresholds at which a vital mythology begins to engage the psyche and elaborates on the psychological function of mythology--that is, the way a myth carries an individual across life's great transitions: from youthful growth to middle-age fruition, and then on to the decrepitude of old age and a final exit.

II 2: The Inward Journey
In the imagery of the schizophrenic's experience, Joseph Campbell recognized a synthesis of mythological motifs similar to Jung's archetypes. In this talk, he recounts Dr. John Weir Perry's analysis of an individual's descent into madness: the break away or departure from everyday reality, a retreat inward with dark encounters of a symbolic kind, and finally--in the most fortunate cases--a return journey of rebirth and renewal. He then follows the uncanny parallels between these stages and the "universal formula" of the hero's journey gathered from mythologies of cultures around the world, and reveals how the phases of the schizophrenic's crisis correspond to the separation, initiation, and the return of the shaman's experience during his voyage into other worlds. In later years, Campbell would learn that filmmakers George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick modeled their own work on his monomyth, which reflects the ancient three-act structure of drama itself.
After recounting the four basic responses to a schizophrenic crisis, Campbell moves on to discuss the insights of psychologist R. D. Laing, and poses the question, Can you say "yea" to the final crisis or not? Rather than deny the need to make such dramatic descents, Campbell felt it is imperative both for the individual and for the culture at large. When one responds with a Yea! in the middle of a crisis, the journey changes marvelously, as Odysseus discovered on his twenty-year voyage.

II 3: Confrontation of East and West in Religion
In 1970, when Joseph Campbell delivered this talk, the collision of the East and West was one of Campbell's favorite topics. He saw that the West was deeply mired in disenchantment with traditional religious thinking, and the time was ripe for the cross-fertilization of Eastern and Western cultures. In his introduction, he presents an illuminating analogy to our present situation in the strange plight of the Plains Indian tribes near the end of the nineteenth century, when they realized the old ways were disappearing with the buffalo, and that their old wisdom was no longer effective. For Campbell, the Indian's response was a vivid metaphor for what the modern people must do. Their adoption of the peyote religion encouraged inward visionary experiences and was an example of how a people can find the sacred in themselves even when it has been lost in their society.
Campbell points out that the religious symbols Western societies were built on have lost their authority, and with it their sacred powers. He saw that the reason why people in the West were turning to the East to fill the gap was partly because they realized that in the East people are experiencing God directly. The Eastern philosophy that teaches "the ultimate divine mystery is within you," was for Campbell a "fantastic difference." It is just this distiction that forms the heart of his philosophy, that "life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be experienced."

II 4: Imagery of Rebirth Yoga
In this talk, Joseph Campbell contrasts his earlier comments on the disintegration of man's modern religious practices with what he calls "symbolic systems of rebirth in time." For Campbell, the most fascinating systems are "myths to live by," beliefs and practices to help individuals with the frustrations in life that come from not living our "true self." The goal of the ancient discipline of yoga was important to him because it emphasizes the discovery and experience of the true self. The heart of this lecture is an explanation of the chakras in the body and the meditation techniques that connect daily consciousness to the eternal self, which has been symbolized for thousands of years by the roar of a lion! Through the practice of rousing the kundalini energy of the serpent coiled up at the base of the spine, it's belived one might go to "the place beyond dream." Campbell was personally intrigued by this "place" because, as he said many times, it is the same generating place of myths. As he was fond of saying, "myth is a public dream, and dream is a private myth."
By contrasting the Western philosophies and religions that divide God, nature, and humanity with oriental techniques of yoga, Campbell is able to emphasize his belief in the need to identify with the divine energies of the universe. "You are the mystery you seek to know," he often said, "and all gods are within." As his last story, borrowed from Shri Ramakrishna, vividly illustrates, the trick is to remember -- again and again -- that we all have a noble hidden nature, a "tiger face" that we each have to find.

II 5: The World Soul
In this talk, Joseph Campbell discusses the links between the ancient Hindu practice of Yoga and the modern depth psychology. He then reviews the seven chakras or energy centers of kundalini yoga, and describes how in yoga one may raise the energies up the spine from the first to the seventh chakra by activating the serpent, as it is called, and if this is accomplished, the veil of Maya is raised, and the world of illusions becomes transparent.
For Campbell, Maya is a pivotal point in Hindu thought and is comprised of three distinct powers: The Obscuring Power, The Projection Power, and The Revealing Power. In the language of myth, what is revealed if the illusions of life are seen through is none other that the Mother of the World, the mighty powers of existence in her feminine aspect. The Western counterpart of this image is the sixteenth century statue of the Madonna in the Cluny Museum in Paris. When small doors are opened on the statue, all of the imagery of heaven and hell are represented in a globe that is also her womb. For Campbell, this is one of our prime divine image--the Goddess herself in both creator and consumer aspects, both horrendous and transcendent. In Indian mythology, she is represented as being completely black, an image of the imperceptible abyss that lies at the beginning and the end of life.

Volume III: The Eastern Way (Amazon)

III 1: Oriental Mythology
In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores an extraordinary difference between western belief systems and the wisdom of the Orient: In the West, there is an emphasis on our forebears' exile from the Garden of Eden and, hence, on our separation from God; in Oriental mythic traditions, however, there was no exile and, moreover, one can never be separate from God, because God is within every soul. Problems of alienation arise only when one has not opened up to a realization of the God consciousness within them.
Campbell wrote in his book Oriental Mythology that the central teaching of the East is "You are the mystery that you seek to know." Here, he speaks of the importance of this insight, focuses on how Oriental mythologies provide a vision of the heavens above that is reflected in the social order on earth, and observes that such a macrocosm-microcosm relationship points a person past the illusion of one's separation from the heavens and toward the great mystery behind all of creation.

III 2: The Mystical Traditions of India
Joseph Campbell was fascinated by the various forms of yoga, traditional Indian spiritual practices that use meditation, physical exercises, and special breathing techniques to turn an individual's focus to an inward path. In this talk, he surveys several yogic traditions: the rigorous Kundalini Yoga; Jana, or "philosophical," Yoga; and Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. While extreme psychophysiological exercises such as those of Kundalini Yoga might not be appropriate for everyone, he argues, each of us can shape our personal karmic destiny through the practice of one or another form of yoga.
By so doing—by following fully, without desire or fear, the path that life provides—a person becomes the instrument of destiny itself. In the Orient, Campbell notes, a person's course of action is prescribed by society and the duties of one's position; but in the West, where there is a strongly ingrained idea of self responsibility, one has ample opportunity to practice the yoga of action in a most challenging and affirmative way. In both cultures, however, all paths will lead to the same discovery: the realization that nirvana is to be found in this world, that heaven is here and now.

III 3: Hinduism
Joseph Campbell begins his discussion of the rich mythology of Hinduism by noting that it is an ethnic religion: one is born Hindu; by contrast, a person becomes a Buddhist, a Moslem, or a Christian. Hinduism is, therefore, deeply connected with the soil and soul of India, and its relationship to Buddhism is quite similar to Judaism's relationship to Christianity.
Campbell then turns to the hierarcaical structuring of Hindu society into castes, explaining that divisions among castes are as sharp as divisions among races in other cultures. Yet for all Hindus, regardless of caste, the goal of life is the same: to learn well the lessons of life so as to escape from the cycles of reincarnation that bind one to the wheel of rebirth.
Finally, Campbell tells of yogis who, even to this day, follow the left-hand path and live "beyond caste"—that is, "beyond the pale" of society. Wandering naked or dressed in funerary robes, they "return to the forest," and teach from experience the ultimate aim of Indian life: egolessness, the canceling of the noisy "I." Such people, he observes, even today live in and refresh an archaic tradition that was the source of the sacred Hindu texts known as the Vedas.

III 4: Buddhism
Buddhism is one of the three world religions—the others being Christianity and Islam—into which one is not born, but rather converts or professes. In this talk, Joseph Campbell humbly argues that Buddhist doctrine is, in many ways, the supreme expression of religious techique; for, unlike Christianity, Buddhism is a psychological system.
Campbell then surveys the Buddha's life, describing the crisis that led to his illumination under the Bo tree. Directing our attention to fundamental similarities between the mythological symbols of Buddhism and those of Christianity, he observes: "In the Christian tradition, we find Jesus on a cross; and this cross is also the tree of immortal life, and he is the fruit of that tree. Jesus on the cross, Buddha under the tree—these are the same figures."
Concluding with a review of the different Buddhist "ways," or schools, Campbell argues that, despite their differences, each is an effective "ferryboat" to the yonder shore of enlightenment.

III 5: Creativity in Oriental Mythology
In this exploration of the ways in which the concepts of Oriental mythology are traditionally rendered, Joseph Campbell begins by observing that, in the Orient as elsewhere, all forms of creative expression can be ranged along a continuum: at one extreme, are representational forms, such as portrait painting or sculptures of Buddha, which have an iconographic function. At the other extreme, are more abstracted depictions, such as brush-stroke calligraphy, which seek to express man's transcendental relationship to nature.
Campbell then explores the various ways in which these mystic themes are rendered throughout the Far East. He shows how they are woven into the very fabric of Buddhist art and poetry, articulated in the Taoist idea of "doing without doing," reflected metaphorically in the Indian chakra system, and expressed in the simple aesthetics of Zen. In each of these traditions, he concludes, one finds art that is "at its best, an arrangement of forms pointing to the radiance of all things, and to the radiance of the recognition of the self in all things."

Volume IV: Man and Myth (Amazon)

IV 1: Man and Myth
In this thought-provoking talk, Joseph Campbell explores the origins of myth. Building on Jung's observations that myths are like dreams, he argues that the source of both myth and dream is the human psche. Myths, it could be said, are public dreams; dreams are private myths.
Campbell then takes us on a fascinating exploration of the ways in which cultural values emerge from myth. From ancent ideas such as Tao and dharma, which are woven throughout cultures in the Far East, to various religious beliefs of contemporary western society, myth significantly influences the development of society and culture. Finally, he demonstrates how an individual's inner development is influenced by reactions to the symbols and images of myths.

IV 2: Mythic Living
Joseph Campbell opens this wide-ranging talk by observing that the living of life is itself a ritual act, and if society is to function, people must play various roles. Mythology gives us images of an array of roles to play, teaches us how to transcend our egos and play human roles, and helps us relate our inner worlds to outer realities.
One great mythic theme, the puting on and taking off of masks, reminds us that we play roles but are not the roles themselves. This perspective, Campbell argues, enables us to face such mysteries as death, the unimaginable cosmos, and our place within it. He concludes by interweaving legends of the grail, Yeats' vision of the lunar cycle as metaphoric of a person's life, James Joyce's musings on art and and the role of the artist, medieval traditions of amor, Dante's revelations in this 35'th year, and Carl Jung's insights into the human unconscious.

IV 3: Society and Symbol
Joseph Campbell begins this talk by noting how a symbol can work as a sort of "automatic button" to release and channel energy. Why do some symbols seem almost univerally potent? It is because such resonant symbols speak to human experiences that have remained throughout the ages.
From this perspective, Campbell explores how an individual's relationship to society changes as one grows from infancy to old age. A culture's view of this shifting dynamic is best understood, he argues, by examining the symbols with which the society expresses its ideals. He shows how western psychologists, particularily Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, have shaped our understanding of the human experience. He concludes with a discussion of several key Oriental beliefs, demonstrating how the prevailing myths and dominant symbols of each culture reinforce its understanding of an individual's place.

IV 4: The Necessity of Rites
Joseph Campbell begins this talk by noting that a principle function of mythology is to reconcile human consciousness to the preconditions of its existence, to life that lives on life. He explores how rites and symbols, seemingly burdensome and punitive to the adolescent mind, reveal deeper meanings as the individual matures. Thus, Campbell observes, rites and symbols enable a society to affirm life and ensure that certain values are passed along to future generations.
Campbell then examines the innate need of the human mind to question its purpose and search for meaning; this propensity drives cultures to develop mythologies, systems of images that provide a sense of meaning. Yet, he cautions, all such systems are merely arbitrary, the name given to each image simply a label. The underlying realities have no meaning, they simply exist.

IV 5: Personal Myths
In this compelling talk, Joseph Campbell discusses what it means to live with a personal myth and what it means to live without one. In the past, every great culture grew out of a mythic base. Each had a vibrant mythology, expressive rituals, and potent symbols that infused meaning into such experiences as death and loss, pain and sorrow, fear and desire.
Today, however, most societies have no unifying myth, and people everywhere feel adrift in a random universe. Campbell argues that we must create meaning in our own lives. To what would you give your life? What is shaping your destiny? How would you go about finding your personal myth, learning what it is, how to live it? He urges us to answer these questions, and suggests fascinating ways that we can do so.

Volume V: The Myths and Masks of God (Amazon)

V 1: Interpreting Symbolic Forms
In this delightful talk, Joseph Campbell uses the biblical tale of the Garden of Eden as the starting point for an exploration of how we interpret symbolic forms. Observing that certain Western religious traditions view this story of Man's "fall from grace" as a recounting of an actual event, he insists that this literal, historical perspective provides a limited understanding of the Garden story.
Then, in a wide-ranging investigation, he discusses the origins of key symbols in the Eden myth--in earlier traditions, for example, the divine serpent was a symbol for the part of life that survives death--and he shows how the meaning of these motifs shifted as they passed through a progression of societies between 7000 BCE and 1900 CE. Finally, he councels, "feel free to read any form you like into these symbols, and realize it will be a symptom of you."

V 2: Mythic Vision
In this insightful talk, Joseph Campbell first distinguishes myth from the adventure story and the fairy tale. Then he describes the way in which myths are true. Though people who live by a mythology might not regard their myths as empirically true, mythic images continuously penetrate their psyches. So these people are living, Campbell argues, in a mythological realm, where their normal sense of space and time is suspended, and their visions in that dimension are therefore true.
Such mythic visions can serve as the foundation of an entire society, or they can become points of departure for heroic, culture-transforming adventures. In either case, a successful mythic vision will reflect and point us toward eternal forms, while also giving us mortal forms with which we can comprehend and accept the passages of life.

V 3: Experiencing the Divine
In this remarkable talk, Joseph Campbell charts the evolution of our experience of the divine. He describes the worldwide view of early hunters on the open plains, who deified their animal providers; the different reality of denizens of tropical forests, whose sacrifice rituals reflect the world around them; and the desire of inhabitants of the first villages to harmonize daily life with the mathematical progression of planets and stars. Common to these mythic visions, he observes, is the idea that the divine is "out there" in some form.
Yet, Campbell argues, recent voyages to the moon tell a different story. They have given us, not only the first pictures of spaceship earth, a blue-green oasis in the vast desert of space, but also the realization that we have not come into this place from somewhere else. Rather, we have grown out of the earth as plants do and are, Campbell suggests, the sense organs of a living planet.

V 4: History of the Gods
In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores the original sources of various images of divinity in religions around the world. No experience, he reminds us, can be fully understood except by the person who has had that experience; and nowhere, he observes, is this limitation more apparent than in the context of religious experience. As a result, the poetic images used to describe such experiences are often misunderstood by others.
In fact, he argues, most popular religions around the world are based, by and large, upon such understandings of poetic images. When most westerners think about the religions of the Orient, for example, what comes to mind is the idea of reincarnation or the notion of karma, the belief that your path in the future is determined by your actions here and now. Yet this understanding is as naive as an image that depicts the Occidental God as a gray-bearded old man sitting on a throne above the clouds.

V 5: The Religious Impulse
In the final talk of the series, Joseph Campbell explores the origins of important Judeo-Christian religious motifs. He interprets a range of religious symbols, from the western crucifix (and its associations with the tree of life) to the "fear not" mudra (the gesture of raised hand with exposed palm) in eastern sacred sculpture. A central concern of all great mythologies, he notes, has always been the dynamic relationship between life and death.
He explains how great symbols of antiquity--the crescent moon, the serpent, and the bull--suggest an understanding of the life/death dyad that predates by thousands of years Near Eastern ideas of divine conception and resurrection. Behind these ancient symbols, he speculates, lie entire mythologies with similar stories of creation and tales of heroic adventures.

Volume VI: The Western Quest (Amazon)

VI 1: Origins of Occidental Mythology
Throughout the myths of the world, certain elementary ideas appear that transcend all borders and languages, yet these universals are always clothes in the historical and social trappings of their native culture. In this far-reaching talk, Campbell explores the dynamic balance between these universals and their local manifestations by focusing on the central myths of the four ancient centers of high civilization: China, India, the Near East, and Europe. Central to his exploration is the way in which their primal myths continue to or fail to serve them to this day.
Looking at the state of religion in our own culture, Campbell points out how many religions have become disconnected from people's daily experiences. Nonetheless, the old myths can still resonate in our psyches today if we can rediscover their universal truths. To do so, he argues, we must, in short, reinvent our myths; in the process, we will renew our religions and philosophies.

VI 2: The Mythology of Love
Love is central to all of the world's mythologies. Why does love--that most transcendent, yet most personal, of emotions--occupy such a primary place in our most fundamental myths? The Greeks saw Eros, the god of love, as both the oldest of the gods and as the infant reborn "fresh and dewy-eyed in every loving heart." In one Persian myth, love is the reason for Lucifer's fall: he loved God so much he would not bow to God's creation, Man. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the poet has a vision of a strand of love connecting the lowest depths of Hell, through Purgatory and Heaven, to God Himself.
In this historic talk, Campbell explores the importance of love in cultures from Hinduism to the classical Greeks, from medieval Christianity and Arthurian legends to Buddhism. Love is the power that transcends the temporal suffering of the world, transports us beyond our egos, and fills us with bliss and compassion. The joy and agony of love--the passion that fired the Arthurian legends and inspired twelfth-century troubadours--has been celebrated by romantics ever since.

VI 3: The Arthurian Tradition
The high period of the Arthurian romances is exactly that of the building of the great cathedrals: that wonderful century from A.D. 1150 to 1250. The grand tales of Arthur and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, Galahad, and Percival express the spirit of their time as passionately as their great stone counterparts at Chartres and Notre Dame. In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores the causes of this cultural explosion , tracing social, mythological, and cultural clues in the stories back to the prehistoric Celts and to classical China.
Christianity, Campbell argues, was an Oriental religion brought into Europe and transformed. "What you get then in the creative life of Europe," he explains, "is an attempt...to assimilate this and translate it into European thinking." Using the Arthurian legends as a key to the mind of medieval Europe, Campbell looks at the way in which the European tradition of individualism melded with, and transformed, the transcendental Eastern mythology. "In my view," Campbell says, "the great moment of that achievement is the moment of the Arthurian romances."

VI 4: The Grail Legend
In this fascinating recording, Joseph Campbell explores the historical roots of the Grail lengend. He discusses the development of the Roman Catholic Church in the Dark Ages, and shows how new conceptions of love, marriage, and worship gave rise to a secular "religion," that of courtly romance. He then examines the quest for the Holy Grail, both as an expression of these new ideas of love and as a reaction against the dogmatic practices of the medieval Church. Finally, in his own inimitable style, he recounts the Grail Legend.
The story of Percival's search for the Holy Grail is the greatest of the Arthurian Romances. Percival, Campbell's archetypal hero, is the son of a champion and a queen. Raised in ignorance of his own station, he sets forth naively to join the Knights of the Round Table. While undertaking a great quest to heal a wounded king, the unsophisticated man has a series of fantastic adventures, earns his knighthood, discovers his manhood, becomes truly himself, and consummates a love-marriage. The mythic power of this timeless tale has influenced many great artists over the intervening centuries.

VI 5: The Forest Adventurous
In this talk, Joseph Campbell concludes the story of Percival's exploits. Plagued with doubt, beset with travail, and tormented by temptation, he wanders through the wilderness for five years, steadfastly pursuing his quest for the Holy Grail. It's in the forest adventurous, Campbell reminds us, that we meet our adventures when we are ready for them. Our Grail hero is at last united with his brother, succeeds in his quest by virtue of his noble character, and becomes the Grail King.
Campbell then continues his investigation of the Grail Legend by exploring a central theme, that of the Waste Land, the place where everybody is living an inauthentic life. Those who escape from this cultural morass do so only by following their hearts, for in life the Grail is that which is obtained and realized by people who have lived their own lives.

Contents (C) 2006 James Baquet

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