To part 1
The search for the lost unity
Globalisation, neoliberal exploitation, environmental destruction, species extinction, climate change, people on the run, fear of cultural alienation, decay of traditional values and now the pandemic with the associated effects on our lives – this is not a causal chain, nor a cycle, but a systemic interconnection of symptoms of a sick system that gives the individual a feeling of blind fear and powerlessness. Ethical guidance by religion hardly takes place any more; the church as an institution presents itself as eternally outdated and remains silent. Instead, we have ‘science’ as the only still intact authority. Regardless of academic falsification, it has increasingly become the dogmatic proclaimer of truth. Anyone who questions the official doctrine – the very activity that should be the essence of free research – Is excluded.
Only now do we realise that myth in the wild thinking of indigenous peoples was not an inferior, pre-logical understanding of the world, but a different one. In connection with the ancestors, the understanding of an Otherworld and forces that cannot (yet) be measured with scientific instruments, the interdependence of human beings with their environment is intuitively recognised. Connected with this is a sustainable, emphatic, mindful, forward-looking action that involves the individual in the responsibility for future generations. All this is diametrically opposed to our current situation. We have allowed our politics and economics to propagate something like a law of never-ending economic growth. This is as far as we can go from what myth used to be: collective wisdom and knowledge passed down in an eternal story.
The path of the hero
Instead, the gods that C.G. Jung considered archetypes within us, but that Walter F. Otto understood as real experienced effective powers, live on worldwide in a monomyth as superheroes through film adaptations. The identification with the hero and his values (friendship, tolerance, forgiveness, charity) happens individually, but also opens the possibility for communal intercultural action. The myth itself is intercultural in its basic statements. It enables inclusion. The path of the hero is the path of a person who breaks out of previous patterns of life in order to accomplish a significant deed. He has to go through difficult trials that open his eyes to the depths and heights of his own being and of life as a whole. His adventures are initiations in which the eternal and indestructible in him shines forth. The figures and events in the myth symbolise aspects of the human interior that want to be experienced. The result is an inner transformation, a maturing, through which life’s behaviour changes altogether. The hero returns to human interaction in order to recognise and fulfil his task in a new way. The messages of the myth thus want to touch the individual in depth and prompt him to take a path. Today, however, they are obscured by pure entertainment. The fast-paced thrill of bombast cinema is geared solely towards commerce. Our world is loud and fast, the flood of information overwhelms us – now the fear of an invisible enemy is added. The abyss of perfect delusion has opened before us.
We are completely out of balance. If we do not allow the “both-as well” of myth, we will not survive. Man needs both perspectives on the world – the ratio of enlightenment as well as the mystery in mysticism. Myth and logos must find a balance so that we can reach our centre! We need a new approach to the question of meaning: Where do we come from? Why are we here on earth?
Steps in a paradigm shift
Since the eighties, a paradigm shift has been invoked. Fritjof Capra, Rupert Sheldrake, Marilyn Ferguson, Hans-Peter Dürr and Ken Wilber, among others, wrote at the time that it must happen everywhere at the same time. A collective leap in consciousness. Now this change is breaking into our everyday lives so clearly that we can no longer close our minds to it. The myth can guide us and give us strong roots in our search for our own identity.
The first step would be a return to what we always seek and need: Deceleration and mindfulness. On this basis, we can comprehend the steps that the myth demands of us. It is the essential enabling of a personality development that turns away from the hedonism and narcissism of the inflated ego. We are guests on earth, together with all other living beings. The archetypal motifs of myth can illuminate a comprehensive commonality before our inner eye. We can experience a carrying power that can be called cosmic love, the power of the great interconnection of all things. We can give it space within us.
The second step would be to integrate our own ritual into everyday life. Integral spirituality and mysticism will replace religions. According to Andreas Mang, rediscovering myth is not about believing in old gods, but rather about visualising cosmic principles that can be worshipped as entities. To regain access to myth requires spirituality, which begins where man realises that he is not really at home in his previous world. He begins to fathom the metaphysical and develops empathy for the connections in the cosmos and his own integration into the whole. Thus, the myth, for example in the hero’s journey, is the recognition of our own, which we always encounter in the other (in Sanskrit Tat Tvam Asi – This is you).
The third step would be a reorientation of the individual and communal model of life. We ourselves create our reality with every thought, every word, every action. It is about the question of how I lead a true, authentic life in a world that is becoming more and more technocratic and makes surveillance dystopias by salvation-promising transhumanists more and more likely.
Like our childhood, Christoph Jamme notes, the myth is always present – in the way we deal with it. Let’s see it as an opportunity in the crisis! It is up to each individual. We can hear it whispering inside us, feel it around us. The rational logos only takes us so far – the myth, however, gives us access to the imagination and inner vision without which creativity and out-of-the-box thinking would not be possible. Rediscovering it as an access to the world enables us to create a future that can call itself worth living.
studied art history and communication design in Florence and adult education in Kaiserslautern (Germany). As a lecturer, speaker and seminar leader, he is fascinated by the cultural-historical background of myth and symbol. His main topics include symbol research, comparative mythology and religious studies, especially sacred symbolism, ancient mysteries and the topos of the sacred. He is active in adult education.
Karen Armstrong (2004), Eine kurze Geschichte des Mythos (A Brief History of Myth), Berlin Publishing House
Joseph Campbell (2001), Thou art that, Novato, California
Rüdiger Sünner (2020), Wildes Denken: Europa im Dialog mit den spirituellen Kulturen der Welt (Wild Thinking: Europe in Dialogue with Spiritual Cultures of the World), Europa Publishing House
Andreas Mang (2014), Aufgeklärtes Heidentum: – Philosophien – Konzepte – Vorstellungen (Enlightened Paganism: – Philosophies – Concepts – Ideas), Edition Red Dragon
Andreas Weber (2007), Alles fühlt: Mensch, Natur und die Revolution der Lebenswissenschaften
(Everything feels: Man, Nature and the Revolution of the Life Sciences), thinkOya Publishing House