Immanence Journal is proud to present a series of free webinars and classes exclusive to our newsletter subscribers. Our first topic will be “Mythology and Archetypal Activism,” an interview with Craig Chalquist, PhD, department chair of East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
In this webinar Dr. Chalquist will discuss the role of myth in today’s world, and how we can use mythology to navigate the challenges that our contemporary society faces – be they environmental, political, or personal issues. Hope you enjoy the conversation!
To find out more about the upcoming class Deep Storytelling and Archetypal Activism at Pacifica Institute, please click here.
Read below for an excerpt from the interview…
Elisa Markhoff: For someone who is interested in myth, and has read some of the stories, how can you incorporate it in your daily life? I assume that pay attention to your dreams would be one of them.
Craig Chalquist: Absolutely. The mythic images and motifs seem to show up a lot when one is contemplating some sort of change of direction in one’s life, coming up on some sort of a rite of passage.
So right now at this time of year, a lot of my students are graduating, and the ones that I’m talking to about this report a lot of mythic events that are coming up for them, big existential decisions like “Where do I go next?” and “How do I use my degree?” and “What is my life going to look like after I leave this school?” and things like that.
Whether it’s that, or some new phase of life, or one’s entering or leaving a relationship, or one of the many things we do that make a major change of direction for us, there are many times when a lot of mythic motifs and images play out.
They can be useful in the sense that they show us that we don’t walk alone through these, that there have been storytellers all the way back through antiquity and before who saw that these are recurrent situations and they had things to say about them. …
So knowing what myth is happening for you can give you some hints about what to avoid and what new directions to go in.
EM: Where do we start, or is there a way to start, in terms of what mythology to explore? For instance, I was born in South America and I know about some folktales that come from that region of the world, and maybe some European tales that are related to my ancestors from Europe. Do you have any recommendation about that? Or do we just follow whatever interests us?
CC: That, but also, I would definitely look at myths from your culture of origin. Absolutely. There’s a tendency, especially in the West, to stick mainly to the Greeks and the Romans, but it’s not necessary, not unless they speak to you. And they do for some people but for others they don’t say anything to.
In my case, I have a strong Norse and Celtic background in terms of my birth family, so that mythology is very alive for me. The Greeks and Romans to some extent, and I use them because they’re handy, but for sure, the myths and stories and folktales that come up through our culture of origin are great.
Oftentimes when we’re very little, we’re fascinated by certain stories or films that we have to see over and over or ask our caregivers to read us over and over. Those can bear some scrutiny. Those are good sources of exploration, because they often have a mythic theme built into them.
Also, just being curious. Being like, “I’m just going to go grab a book on myths or search the web a little bit – which of these stories light me up, and which of them, eh, I don’t really care about those.”
But the good thing in all this, is that if one has the fantasy that a myth is not just a story that people tell, but is actually a psychologically living thing, like a being, like a piece of dream floating through the world, then one can see that the myths that want to speak to us will find a way of finding us if we’re open to it. So I mentioned Baucis and Philemon earlier opening the door. So oftentimes a mythic event or story will put itself right on our doorstep, and then all we have to do is welcome it and it leads to all the others.
EM: And hopefully another way to get in touch with myth will be through our journal, Immanence. …
What exactly is Immanence? What can our readers expect to see or how can they expect it to help them in their lives with myth as a motive?
CC: It’s exciting that it’s coming out and the work that we’re doing on it. Immanence will have a lot about myth, and a lot about folktales, fairy tales, some artwork, and some other kinds of commentary as well. When we put it together we decided to have one academic take on myth, one academic article per edition, but only one. …
I thought, wouldn’t it be nice, for the educated public who are not academics and don’t know the jargon and all that and are not interested in the theories – wouldn’t it be nice to have something about applied myth? You know, what do you do when you’re confronted in a mythic situation? How do you know when you’re in one and what are some good resources? So that’s one of the reasons we put the journal together in the way that we did.
I hope that it will fill a huge cultural gap too and start actually offering some education in myth and how it shows up for us.
EM: I hope so too. Also, I think it will be a great way for people to start an exploration and perhaps take Immanence as a steppingstone to investigating myths or areas of their life that until then maybe, I don’t want to say they weren’t interested in, but maybe they didn’t know how to take it farther.
CC: Absolutely. What I always visualized and what I hope will happen is the reaction I’ve had over the years when I’ve come across a new story, or a commentary on a myth or a fairy tale or some other piece of folklore, and I immediately light up with it and say, “Wow I’m actually living this. This is actually happening to me.” I think that’s the reaction I would like to see in our readers too. …
Thank you for reading and being part of our community! You can subscribe here to read Immanence Journal coming out this Fall 2016.