Random Acts of Senseless Myths
Jeri Castronova, PhD
King Arthur and Luke Skywalker may be separated by centuries, but they have a strong connection in many ways—two heroes whose exploits transported them along similar paths. Both began in obscurity, embarked on a journey where they encountered a wise mentor, dark forces, and a maiden who needed rescuing, and then returned from their quest in triumph. Typical heroic models exist in all cultures. Male models.
As ancient civilizations rose and fell, their people told and retold beloved stories. These ancient myths stand as testaments to the human spirit, the timelessness of victories, defeats and glories through the ages. These were stories of real people and events, their gods and goddesses, their wars and victories. In living out the inner conflicts of their heroes, the people achieved what we today call authenticity, one's sense of inner identity and the quality of being in touch with one's own spirit.
The Song of the Universe
Myths gave people's lives meaning in a complex, difficult to understand world, and provided an underlying reason for the just and unjust events happening around them.
The Illiad and Odyssey, The Aeneid, the Mahabharata, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and other mythic quests can be read as fictional stories or as ancestral histories of diverse peoples that were originally passed down orally from parent to child, shaman to apprentice, and finally written down by poets and scribes.
Symbolic language was created to bring alive the color and nuances of fantastic times, not fantasy nor unreal times, but a kind of reality to which we are not accustomed. Rich in texture and variety, myths abound as the natural and supernatural, the tragic and comedic, the irrational and joyful, the responsible and mysterious.
These timeless stories speak to human values in all cultures. They transcend time, place, race and civilization, gain credence in the telling and retelling, and solidify the patriarchal hierarchy.
Joseph Campbell called mythology the song of the universe, a means to connect to the cosmos on an inner journey where the hero loses himself through a transformation of consciousness and emerges with a new identity.
The technological identity prevalent today leaves us bereft of personal and cultural myths with human values that allow us to take responsibility for our lives.
Our modern marvels have glaringly revealed their shadow sides: environmental recklessness, political corruption, Facebook compulsions, and religious intolerance, which, if they have no direct relevance to our own lives, we continue skipping through, ready for the next text.
The result of this spiritual emptiness is a clear consequence of the collapse of our value system and our current lack of myths.
Joseph Campbell made the hero archetype the basis of our culture. In doing so, he changed the natural order of the stories, taking many initiation myths and making them heroic. Without first undergoing initiation the hero lacked an emotional foundation on which to pursue his journey and proclaim his deeds, making him deficient in adult maturity and consequently unable to claim his true identity.
Compulsive Exhilaration Disorder
Where are today's heroes? They can be found on the football and baseball fields, tennis courts, golf courses, NASCAR tracks, concert stages, and film screens. We idolize our heroes and identify with their glorious achievements. They provide an emotional outlet, living room dramas at which we cheer our favorites and boo the opposition—war personified, without death.
Sports events are modern metaphors for heroism, personal triumphs of great meaning, without the Heroic Journey.
We become addicted to the exhilaration of conflict, and like any other craving, the levels of tolerance increase until the resulting crash when the effect wears off. This addiction is not lumped into the categories of addictive behaviors, but maybe it should. Alcohol, food, drugs, sex, and gambling bring heavy burdens to the user, until rehab is sought. Hero addiction is so ingrained in our society, that it has become 'normal behavior.'
Luckily for the addict, the media provides an ongoing smorgasbord of events that feed the addiction in a never-ending array of analytical talking heads discussing choices, wagers, and standings.
Campbell laid the groundwork for the hero archetype and has kept us fixated at the adolescent stage of development. I doubt he had any clue that these hero stories would lead to what could be a new diagnostic category—Compulsive Exhilaration Disorder.
This, I believe, is one of the root causes of our current state of mental illness: the hero myth itself can be a defense mechanism that blocks emotional growth, that is, by remaining addicted to the highs, lows, and elation of today's digital heros, we remain stuck in adolescence.
Identifying ourselves as a member of a championship team is the highest honor one can claim and harkens back to the accolades heaped on the returning hero after an arduous journey. If no inner glory can be claimed, an outer one works just as well.
Only What You Take with You
George Lucas wanted to create a modern myth, one to replace the old Greek and Roman myths. Mythology traditionally takes place in unknown areas, and the only areas we have left to explore are outer space and multidimensional planes. Lucas chose outer space.
When Luke entered the sacred grove of initiation on his vision quest, he met his guide, the Jedi Master Yoda, who began to teach him the ways of the Force.
The Force is similar to Zen Buddhism, which emphasizes enlightenment by means of direct, intuitive insights. When Luke enters the cave of the shadow side of the Force, he asks, "What's in the cave?" and Yoda replies, "Only what you take with you."
As the ancient Egyptians and Greeks were initiated into their personal mysteries of the past, Luke finds his darkness in the spiritual labyrinth. He is confronted by his shadow, whom he must face head on. He sees himself as Darth Vader and realizes the dark force is within himself. Unable to accept this, he flees from both Vader and Yoda before his training is complete.
Rare are the stories of the female hero. Beyond her relationship to the male hero, she is denied the innate power of being in tune with her spirit. We have based our mythology on the old Hebrew, Greek and Roman myths whose women weren't let out of the house or castle long enough to even consider going on a journey. As women are pigeonholed into gender-specific roles, they too have left their spirits before their training is complete.
Women know that these old myths, based on slave societies, are no longer relevant. We are, however, cracking the glass ceilings of male stories and gliding through, despite the opposition, with changed attitudes about old victimization myths.
I admire Campbell, but don't think he went far enough. His hero myth for women is mainly transforming maiden to mother. He did not define for men how the hero lives out his life in a mature way, nor for women how the mother becomes the wise woman.
Up to now, women have had few choices besides participating in events that are no doubt exuberant, but keep us tied to the old myths. Without female heroes and role models, we have a harder task than males, but not an impossible one. In fact, we now have the opportunity to create entirely new myths for the coming generations of young women and men who will sorely need guidance from their wise women mentors.
We have taught ourselves what it means to be female in a male-dominant world. We must do this before we can teach our men about female experiences. We must demystify ourselves, first to ourselves, then to our men. I believe this is the primary step needed in preventing male assaults on women and children. The karmic wheel turns, and women must take the lead in balancing gender inequality. One way is to write new myths.
We have hero myths, slave myths, creation myths, victim myths and war myths. But we have no myths for the future, no myths to inspire the new vision for a new world, no myths to guide us into the New Era beginning in 2013.
These are the myths people crave. They have outgrown the Hero Addiction and long for a new path into the sacred way. Women cannot wait for a mythmaker to do this for them. As Yoda would say—'the myth is what you take with you.'
The new myths will incorporate a harmonious interaction between humans and nature, and will most likely be Nature Mythologies that connect us to Gaia's life forces in a non-controlling way, and Cosmic Mythologies which lift the veils on the truth of humanity's origins. Our imaginations will spark our muses to create these myths from art, poetry, music, intuition, beauty, wisdom, compassion, and love.
The Divine Right Time is Near
Women are getting a much-needed myth-makeover. We are redefining what success is. It is more than power, aggression and achievement and much more than the accumulation of wealth. We are redefining what strength is. It is more than dominance, competition and control. These have been the male models of success and strength. As we have recently seen, these have done nothing to stop the collapse of the economy, the slaughter of innocents, and the betrayal of people by those chosen to lead them.
In fact, the prevailing patriarchal values, lack of integrity, and disregard of Gaia's body have no doubt pushed the markets into world-wide depression.
A universal gut feeling is arising that the continuation of the controlling elite must end. Economic restructuring, religious tolerance, political integrity, and gender balance are practical realities whose Divine Right Time is near. Many women of all ages are pregnant with these new ideas and are about to give birth to a shift in consciousness that will be midwived by their enlightened men.
Global gatherings of women are testament to the archetypal heroic forms undergoing massive transformation. The old myths have failed us because they are not true myths at all. They were invented by the collective who wanted to keep a strong hand on people's psyches. These myths played into the fears and dependencies of those who wanted to avoid responsibility for their own lives, who wanted to be led by a strong father figure and were under the sway of what I call the Zeus Complex.
From personal experience, I know the struggles and pain of being trapped in a marriage ruled by the Zeus Complex which is a doubled-edged sword. As one who had issues with responsibility and commitment, I looked for a strong male with whom I could align.
When I could no longer maintain the status quo and sensed an inner longing for something else, something unknown yet just out of reach, I realized I was stuck, unable to move in any direction. In desperation, I called out to the Divine—"I'll do anything to get out of this."
I began reading about women's search for meaning and their true place in the world. This led to books on ancient cultures and religions, and more insights after discovering several of my past lifetimes. I continued my research and learned that the patriarchal agenda has systematically erased all evidence of the goddess religion for over six thousand years.
Answers from spirit came in the form of physical ailments—my body telling me it had to get out of a hopeless situation. Taking time to heal led to the awareness I had to confront my fears and then to the massive realization that I had to gird myself to displease my husband. Of course, that brought up his control issues and my fear of abandonment, but I knew at a very deep level, this had to be done or else I'd die.
Calling upon every resource I had in order to rescue myself, I became the warrior, wielding the sword to cut away the dependency bonds of the past.
In Tales of Power, Don Juan tells Carlos Castaneda that women are equal heroes with men, and that women are more likely than men to go on the heroic journey. That's because men have more to lose—they would have to denounce their male privileges and superiority over women.
Don Juan says the male hero is a pretender, rather than a true warrior, if he becomes a woman's master, for the true hero always recognizes the heroic potential of each person.
If a man goes on a vision quest and meets a female vision quester, he is immediately jarred out of his old ways of thinking about sex roles, and his development is accelerated. He can then attain his New Myth.
The Feminine is Missing
The body of Western myths are white-male-oriented and told around the campfires. A king or adventurer has had something taken from him, or there is something missing in the kingdom.
A strong young male is given a mission by a divine being, sent to strange lands, overcomes great odds with physical valor and supernatural intervention, rescues or finds a wounded, weak, or sleeping female, and returns with treasure, female, and dead opponents to claim his kingdom or found a new one.
The Babylonians, Egyptians, Hindus, Hebrews, Persians, Greeks and Romans all used this same storyline because it appeals to the masses—the male masses—with seductive power to impel them with drama, wars, love, pathos, conquest, demigods and demons.
What is missing from these lands? What has demanded so much energy, so many lives, so many conquered nations over thousands of years? The answer is very simple and known to all women.
What is missing from the land is the feminine.
The Divine Feminine has been missing from the global lands since Lemuria sank beneath the waves of the Pacific. She has emerged at various times of Earth's history, mainly in the Isis Mystery Schools of Initiation and in ancient civilizations that worshipped the goddess, only to have her loving power quashed in such a way that women instinctively knew the goddess had to remain hidden, both within physical women and in the outer world, in order to be resurrected at the Divine Right Time.
As my inner warrior sword slashed away the need to align with the strong male, I began to see a glorious sight. Before me stood the missing part of myself—the Divine Feminine. My muse and imagination led me to the dark cave where I confronted the dragon. I didn't know it then but what I had besides the sword was "only what I took with me."
As Lucas did in writing Star Wars, we must return to the past and look at the old stories—the Olympian gods and goddesses, the Indian Mahabharata, and the Hebrew Talmud—which serve as beginning blueprints. But from these we must craft female myths that are symbolic of female bodies and female spirits. Where do we find them?
We will find them in the dark cave of the spirit and, as Yoda told Luke, what we find there will be — "Only what we take with us."
From Chaos, a Hero is Born
What we take with us is our belief systems, our talents, our successes, our failures, our fears, our loves, and our Inner Goddess. Each woman must confront the Dragon of Darkness, society's negative messages which keep her in the victim role and estranged from her power. She must confront it by herself, not through a rescuer or savior.
The scene in Star Wars when Leah overcame her fear of the giant slug, Jabba the Hutt, and used the very symbols of slavery, the chains she was bound with, to strangle her enslaver, became a powerful statement in the saga. She underwent her own initiation in the underworld and emerged with awakened power.
Women must muster the courage to face their giant slugs, dragons, or any enslaver—go around it, over it, seduce it, or slay it. Then she can integrate the power of the dragon into her True Self and emerge into the consciousness of light. This act defines her New Myth.
The new woman has undergone initiation rites of exploring the shadow and facing her demons. She has made the choice to move from addiction to exhilaration in the hero myth. She no longer feels the need for that addictive behavior, and joyfully moves into the maturation of the Wise Woman. She has faced her fears, overcome her old myths, and willingly lived in chaos for a while. From chaos, or emptiness, her hero is born.
She has claimed mastery of her life and lives as an empowered Goddess. When enough women have done this, we have reached a critical mass in the mythmaking of the new Divine Feminine.
Overcoming the Zeus Complex of allowing males to dominate my life was a major hurdle and became my first new myth. Claiming responsibility for my life enabled me to commit to myself in new ways I'd never considered. My imagination held several choices that permitted me to leave a dysfunctional marriage and go back to school. My self-esteem blossomed in ways I'd never imagined, and the dragon of my despair lay dead in the cave of darkness.
It was only when I studied the goddess religion and felt the compassionate loving energy of her Divine Being that I knew my true self. The mythic journey takes us outside the realm of the Known into the Game Board of Human Existence, the birthplace of Mastery. Isis tells us it is time to lift the veils—all of them—and become our own Masters.
Since then, the mythic journey has taken me along many roads of discovery and introduced me to healers, shamans, gurus, ascended masters and beloved spirits in the multidimensional planes that brought new meaning to my life's purpose.
My mystical thriller trilogy was the result of these journeys. These books enabled me to claim the ancient wisdom I'd gained through many lifetimes of initiations.
With the new myths come the birthing of the Shift of Consciousness for our lifetime and beyond.
The Divine Right Time of the Goddess is Now.
Excerpted from my book Paint the Sky and Dance: Women and the New Myths
Award-Winning Author Jeri Castronova, PhD, is a Psychologist and Spiritual Mentor who brings her books on Egypt, ancient wisdom, and mastery, to a wide audience. She lives in Sedona where she writes, sees clients, and leads retreats that empower women to free their Inner Goddess and bring magic and mastery into their lives. Go to www.jericastronova.com for information on books, healings, and her next Sedona retreat.
Book 1: CODE OF THE KING: A Deadly Search for Ancient Wisdom;
Book 2: QUEST FOR THE EMERALD TABLETS: The Secret of Alchemist Gold;
Book 3: SYMBOLS OF THE GRID: Matrix of Mastery.
The prototype City of Light chosen long ago was Sedona, Arizona.
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Excerpted from Jeri's book:
The Goddess and the Game Board
Speaker at the Earth-Keeper Crystalline Stargate Gathering 5/13
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Jeri Castronova, Ph.D.
Published in Sedona Journal of Emergence 6/12
Published in the 11/11 edition of the Sedona Journal of Emergence