In his book Iron John, Robert Bly writes about the collapse of the mythological layer. He’s referring to our culture’s sacrifice of a truly living mythology for hard idealisms of pure reason and delusional attachments to unattainable glamor. We’ve lost touch with the invisible inner realm of gods and goddesses that the Egyptians, Greeks, native peoples and other ancient cultures knew quite well. From our centuries-long infatuation with science and factual knowledge to the exclusion of the mystical dream source of experience, we’ve piled intellectual boulders before the gates to heaven and left ourselves bereft of its wonders.
This leads to all manner of great anxieties and dysfunctions. A murderer does not know about the mythological layer and thus identifies with the dark spirit that passes through him and acts out its intentions. A man leaves his wife after falling in love with the wrong woman because he confuses the idealized goddess that briefly moves through her as the woman herself. A father terrorizes his children because his ignorance of his own mythology produces resentment at what he believes to be his life’s ruin. The child becomes an adult who has also learned nothing of mythology, so frets endlessly over her terrorized childhood because without a mythological context we can only remain trapped in victimization.
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