Myth Reimagined
Myth Reimagined
Myths of the Greeks & Romans Reimagined for the 21st century
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Roberto Calasso
Robert Graves
Walter F. Otto
Camille Paglia
Ginette Paris
Joseph Campbell
James Hillman

People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell

 C.J. Jung. would lead field trips for his students to Basel Carnaval in Switzerland to observe a dream like reality of fantasy and unspoken truth.



All these 20th century authors share a high regard for the great 20th century pioneer and cartographer of the collective unconscious, C.J. Jung. His guides to this world where archetypes live waiting for their cue to emerge into conscious are best understood by cultures  as myths with characters our mind uses to play out the drama of our lives.


"The Aryans entering Greece, Anatolia, Persia, and the Gangetic plain, c. 1500-1250 B.C., brought with them...the comparatively primitive mythologies of their patriarchal pantheons, which in creative consort with the earlier mythologies of the Universal Goddess generated in India the Vedantic, Puranic, Tantric, and Buddhist doctrines, and in Greece those of Homer and Hesiod, Greek tragedy and philosophy, the Mysteries, and Greek science."
     - Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology  

Across all cultures the hero must be purified, fulfill his deeds, return with his boon to the community and be sacrificed in an eternal cycle of fulfillment.
     - Joseph Campbell, Hero of a Thousand Faces


"Nothing will see us through the age we're entering but high consciousness, and that comes hard. We don't have a good, modern myth yet, and we need one.
I think the patriarchal world has reigned supreme for so long that the pendulum's swinging too far the other way. It needed to be rectified, but to swing the pendulum too far the other way is almost as bad.

 We live in a time of great change in how men and women see themselves and how they respond to life and to each other.
Robert Johnson

Explore your active imagination after you sign up for a Carnaval group.  If  their theme works it will move Downloadyou to being actively playing your role with your fellow band members.


The Need for an Ecstatic Vision of Human Consciousness

Ecstasy: Understanding the Psychology of Joy by R.A. Johnson  

Reviving the myth of Dionysus, this book elucidates and brings to us the importance and need for an ecstatic vision of human consciousness. Johnson offers many avenues through which each one of us can find and enjoy inner ecstasy and ecstasy in our connection to the collective unconscious and to each other.
Robert A. Johnson,
is a noted lecturer and Jungian analyst, is also the author of He, She, We, Inner Work, Ecstasy, Transformation, & Owning Your Own Shadow
Establishing a working relationship between the conscious and the unconscious levels of the psyche. The psyche, Jung & Johnson believe, is purposive. If the material arising from unconscious levels is carefully attended to, it can move us toward greater balance, health, and creativity.

According to Robert Johnson:
"It is not active unless you are participating in the drama with your feelings and emotions . . . The 'I' must enter into the imaginative act as intensely as it would if it were an external, physical experience"

Robert A. Johnson on Google Book Search

Roberto Calasso
DownloadTranslated by Tim Parks. New York: Vintage, 1994.
"The Greeks were drawn to enigmas. But what is an enigma? A mysterious formulation, you could say. Yet that wouldn't be enough to define an enigma. The other thing you have to say is that the answer to an enigma is likewise mysterious."
With time, men and gods would develop a common language made up of hierogamy and sacrifice . . . . And, when it became a dead language, people started talking about mythology''
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Italian author Roberto Calasso,  was first published in English in 1993, his ability to take apart the old myths to discover the birth of history and modern thinking amid timeless patterns of behavior has been widely acclaimed.  Calasso's reexploration of the fantastic fables we may think we know explodes the entire world of Greek mythology, and presents it to us in a new, and contemporary way.  The only way according to Roberto Calasso to penetrate deeper into the mythological universe is to retell the stories from beginning to end. Yet believing is deadly for myth,  Calasso believes. When you enter a myth your venture your soul to be engaged in a magic spell.  The myth is where our heroes are created and live. This is a natural reflex of the human condition.  The myths and the gods are not dead. They continue to live on in us, and know them  deeper is to retell the stories from beginning to end

"When the phantom, the mental image, takes over our minds, when it begins to join with other similar or alien figures, then little by little it fills the whole space of the mind in an ever more detailed and ever richer concatenation. What initially presented itself as the prodigy of appearance, cut off from everything, is now linked, from one phantom to another, to everything."

"No sooner have you grabbed hold of it than myth opens out into a fan of a thousand segments. Here the variant is the origin. Everything that happens, happens this way, or that way, or this other way. And in each of these diverging stories all the others are reflected, all brush by us like folds of the same cloth. If, out of some perversity of tradition, only one version of some mythical event has come down to us, it is like a body without a shadow, and we must do our best to trace out that invisible shadow in our minds." (p.147/148).

" No victory is ever complete, nor ever enough to last the whole year. Neither Apollo nor Dionysus can reign forever, neither can do without the other, neither can be there all the time. When Apollo reappears and squeezes Dionysus's arm, we hear the last notes of the dithyrambs, and immediately afterward the first of the paeans. The only continuity is sound."

(Roberto Calasso. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, pg 148-149)
more about Apollo versus Dionysos

The book opens with the story of Europa’s kidnapping by a bull, what follows is a seemingly endless array of rape, betrayal, murder and adultery. The abduction of Europa was also the one captured by Zeus that would have the most far-reaching consequences. Europa’s  brother Cadmus would follow his sister and later found Thebe, Europa’s son Minos would become king of Crete and build the labyrinth that would become the home of the Minotaure, which would be killed by Theseus, helped by Ariadne, Europa’s granddaughter. Cadmus would also give the Greeks a seemingly innocent but precious gift: the alphabet.

Roberto Calasso on Google Book Search


'But how did it all begin?' The eternal question that Man has always asked of his universe also forms the opening words of this book.
In answer, and in the voice of the born story-teller, Calasso leads us through the maze, back to the time when the gods were not yet born from the original coupling of Uranus and Ge, Mother Earth; then forward again, all the way to the death of Odysseus, which marks the end of the age of heroes; and—most important of all—to the marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, the last occasion when the gods sat down at a feast with mortal men.

Presenting the stories of Zeus and Europa, Theseus and Ariadne, the birth of Athens and the fall of Troy, in all their variants, Calasso also uncovers the distant origins of secrets and tragedy, virginity, and rape. "A perfect work like no other. (Calasso) has re-created . . . the morning of our world."--Gore Vidal




Jean-Pierre Vernant
The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths Cover
Jean-Pierre Vernant born in 1914 in Toulouse , historian and anthropologist French, specialist in ancient Greece and more especially in the Greek myths. Professor Emeritus of Comparative Study of Ancient Religions at the College de France. In 2002 , he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Crete.
 Jean-Pierre Vernant and Pierre Vidal-Naquet are leaders in a contemporary French classical scholarship that has produced a stunning reconfiguration of Greek thought and literature through a neoclassical reading of Greek myth and tragedy.
"As the only Greek god endowed with the power of maya ("magic"), Dionysos transcends all forms and evades all definitions; he assumes all aspects without confining himself to any one. Like a conjurer, he plays with appearances and blurs the boundaries between the fantastic and the real. Ubiquitous, he is never to be found where he is but always here, there, and nowhere at the same time. As soon as he appears, the distinct categories and clear oppositions that give the world its coherence and rationality fade, merge, and pass from one to the other. He is at once both male and female. By suddenly appearing among men, he introduces the supernatural in the midst of the natural and unites heaven and earth. Young and old, wild and civilized, near and far, beyond and here-below are joined in him and by him. Even more, he abolishes the distance that separates the gods from men and men from animals.

Jean-Pierre Vernant on Google Book Search

Ginette Paris
GinetteParisPhoto: Photograph of Dr. Ginette Paris


 Ginette Paris, Ph.D is a renowned feminist psychologist, teacher, and author of Pagan Meditations: the Worlds of Aphrodite, Artemis, and Hestia (Spring Publications)., Pagan Grace: Dionysus and Hermes, and Goddess Memory in Daily Life and The Sacrament of Abortion.  She is also core faculty in the Mythological Studies Program, and the Research Coordinator. Originally from Montreal, where she taught for many years in the Communications Department at Université du Québec à Montréal, since 1995,  she has been a member of the core faculty at the Pacifica Institute, Santa Barbara, California.
Download"Psychoanalysis somehow has convinced us that it must "make a man" of our weak, irrational, hysteric inner woman, because neither weakness, nor maenadism, nor receptivity, now femininity is valued as part of the human experience. Wasn't the first act of psychoanalysis to replace Dionysos, God of women, with a diagnosis of hysteria?
Domestic Tyrants from Pagan Grace pg 34
But if scholars have tended to pathologize the Dionysian, it's not just because of a lack of words. It's because we've lost the connection to that archetype and, with it, the chance to let off steam without risking denigration as pathological freaks. The translators couldn't find worlds because (as James Hillman says) "they saw hysteria in Dionysos rather than recognizing Dionysos in hysteria!"
Dionysos from Pagan Grace pg 5
"We may well ask what there is about our collective unconscious that feeds this archetype of a revolutionary, law-breaking, destructive God. Why does human society secrete its own destruction? 
Dionysos the Liberator
from Pagan Grace pg 27
Camille Paglia

"The Left is hollow, nothing left but this snob cool attitude. The only thing the Left can offer is ART, but it has done nothing but trash ART. That notions of quality are ideological quotas. I embrace the ideological seeking the best.
Religious when we only see the politics of the sixties. There was a truly mystic spiritual vision of the age of Aquarius. The left cannot defeat the right till this is recovered. ... Until the left comes up with something of equal value, gravity....
Lose this idea it is unhip to be too enthusiastic. "

Camille Paglis  in San Francesco for the Booksmith April 22nd 2005


Camille Anna Paglia (born April 2, 1947 in Endicott, New York) is a social critic, author, and self-described Amazon-feminist. She is University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Paglia is an intellectual of many apparent contradictions: a classicist who champions art both high and low, with a view that human nature is inherently dangerous, while at the same time celebrating Dionysian revelry in the wilder, darker sides of human sexuality.
Her significance in the 1990s intellectual world was two-fold: First, the seventies had sef a particularly rigid, doctrinaire "feminism" that many were finding stifling but only a few were challenging (e.g., the "sex positive" S/M lesbians, perhaps typified by Susie Bright). The second concerned a challenge to the cannon of Western Civilization often championed by her mentor Harold Bloom. The left was pushing for a change in the traditional focus deriding the curriculum as the study of "dead white males".

Against this backdrop, cultural critic Paglia appeared on the scene as a female intellectual who enjoyed challenging the left-wing position in these areas. But she did so by arguing from an unusual position that also embraced homosexuality, fetishism, and prostitution. She describes herself as a Democrat and a libertarian as well as an atheist with Italian-Catholic sensibilities, who thinks comparative religion and art history should be at the center of world education.

"My point of view on life is cinematic, as is abundantly clear from my prior books, not only my study of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds for the British Film Institute (1998) but Sexual Personae (1990), where I argue that the cinematic "Western eye" was born in ancient Egypt. Others beside myself have noted how Plato's allegory of the cave in the Republic strangely prefigures a movie screen and theater. The cinematic nature of Western perception, intellect, and psychological projection is one of the major, motivating, and of course controversial hypotheses of my work. "


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Despite the unflattering review of The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche remained respected in his professorial position in Basel, but his ailing health, which led to migraine headaches, eyesight problems and vomiting, necessitated his resignation from the university in June, 1879. From 1880 until his collapse in January 1889, Nietzsche led a wandering, gypsy-like existence as a "stateless" person (having given up his German citizenship, and not having acquired Swiss citizenship), circling almost annually between his mother's house in Naumburg and various French, Swiss, German and Italian cities. His travels took him through the Mediterranean seaside city of Nice (during the winters), the Swiss alpine village of Sils-Maria (during the summers), Leipzig (where he had attended university), Turin, Genoa, Recoaro, Messina, Rapallo, Florence, Venice, and Rome, never residing in any place longer than several months at a time.

Lou Salomé Muse to both Nietzsche & Freud

On a visit to Rome in 1882, Nietzsche, now at age thirty-seven, met Lou Salomé, a twenty-one-year-old Russian woman who was studying philosophy and theology in Zurich. He soon fell in love with her, and offered his hand in marriage. She declined, and the future of Nietzsche's friendship with her and Paul Rée appears to have suffered as a consequence. In the years to follow, Salomé would become an associate of Sigmund Freud, and would write with psychological insight of her association with Nietzsche.

These nomadic years were the occasion of Nietzsche's main works, among which are Daybreak (1881), The Gay Science (1882), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-85), Beyond Good and Evil (1886), and On the Genealogy of Morals (1887). Nietzsche's final active year, 1888, saw the completion of The Case of Wagner (May-August 1888), Twilight of the Idols (August-September 1888), The Antichrist (September 1888), Ecce Homo (October-November 1888) and Nietzsche Contra Wagner (December 1888).

Nietzsche on Google Book Search

Robert Graves


The author and poet Robert Graves' study of the nature of poetic myth-making, The White Goddess, first published in 1948, and revised, amended and enlarged in 1966, represents a tangential approach to the study of mythology from a decidedly idiosyncratic perspective. It proposed the existence of a European deity, the White Goddess of Birth, Love and Death, represented by the phases of the moon, who he argued lies behind the faces of the diverse goddesses of various European mythologies. In this work, Graves argued that "true poetry" or "pure poetry" has inextricable links with ancient cult-ritual of his proposed White Goddess and of her son. His conclusions were based upon his highly speculative conjectures about how religions formed, and there is no historical evidence that this White Goddess as he describes her was ever a feature of any actual belief system.

Graves described The White Goddess as "a historical grammar of the language of poetic myth."  The book draws from mythology and poetry from Wales and Ireland through most of Western Europe and the ancient Middle East. Relying heavily on arguments from etymology, Graves argues not only for the worship of a single goddess under many names; but also that the names of the letters in the Ogham alphabet used in parts of Gaelic Britain contained a calendar that contained the key to an ancient liturgy involving the human sacrifice of a sacred king; and also that these letter names concealed some lines of ancient Greek hexameter describing the goddess.

The Golden Bough (1922) by Sir James George Frazer, is the starting point for much of Graves's argument, and Graves thought in part that his book made explicit what Frazer only touched upon. Graves wrote:
"Sir James Frazer was able to keep his beautiful rooms at Trinity College, Cambridge, until his death by carefully and methodically sailing all around his dangerous subject, as if charting the coastline of a forbidden island without actually committing himself to a declaration that it existed. What he was saying-not-saying was that Christian legend, dogma and ritual are the refinement of a great body of primitive and even barbarous beliefs, and that almost the only original element in Christianity is the personality of Jesus."

Graves' The White Goddess deals with goddess worship as the prototypical religion, analyzing it largely from literary evidence, in myth and poetry. Instead of skirting the issue, as he accused Frazer of having done, Graves said what he meant, creating controversy that cost him some friends. The book was originally only read by scholars, but as interest in goddess-based religions increased since the 1960s, the public demand for books about the alleged roots of goddess worship has increased as well.

Life -Death - Rebirth: the oldest story ever retold

Karl Kerenyi


Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life

The mythographer Karl Kerenyi (January 19, 1897 - April 14, 1973) devoted much energy to Dionysus over his long career; he summed up his thoughts in Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life (Bollingen, Princeton) 1976. which traced the career of the cults of Dionysus from his origins in Minoan culture to the cosmopolitan religion of late Antiquity.
For Kerényi, mythology lays the foundation for a meaningful world. Myths are always unfolded in a primordial time.



"No festival or cult -- that is, no festival or cult in the real sense -- was ever founded for the relationship of persons to persons without the Divine, which is the presupposition of the religious phenomena of "festival" and "cult" being experienced in it. There have been and are ceremonies of love and friendship. The same is true of love poems and poems of friendship, but they are truly poems only as they become elevated into the realm of art. Similarly there are festivals of love and friendship, but they are proper festivals and proper cults only when they have been elevated to the sphere of the Gods" Athena, Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion (1952)  Karl Kerenyi 

Later, when the Christians wished to lend their God legitimacy, they would claim that his first miracle mimicked those of Dionysos, by turning water into wine (John 2-3). Although they would also claim that Jesus was the "True vine" (John 15) the people knew otherwise, and continued calling out the name of Dionysos during the treading of the grapes, even after a Council of Constantinople in 691 CE forbid them to do so, or to wear satyr masks while they worked.
(Carl Kerenyi, Dionysos pg 67)

Dionysus is a god in whom foreignness is inherent. And indeed, Dionysus's name is found on Mycenean Linear B tablets as "DI-WO-NI-SO-JO"1, and Kerenyi traces him to Minoan Crete, where his Minoan name is unknown but his characteristic presence is recognizable. Clearly, Dionysus had been with the Greeks and their predecessors a long time, and yet always retained the feel of something alien.

In Greece in 1929 he met W. F. Otto, who influenced him to combine the studies of comparative religions and social history, while his friendship with Jung induced him to take the findings of modern psychology into consideration as well. Kerényi's long correspondence with Thomas Mann was published in 1975. In 1949 Jung and Kerenyi published together Essays on the Science of Mythology: the Myths of the Divine Child and the Divine Maiden. Kerenyi and Jung both furnished commentaries to Paul Radin's The Trickster: a Study in American Indian Mythology, where Kerenyi saw the trickster as an enemy to boundaries,

“The teller of myths steps back into primordiality in order to tell us what `originally was'” According to Kerenyi, it was not intoxication which was the essential element of the religion of Dionysos, but the "quiet, powerful, vegetative element which ultimately engulfed even the ancient theaters, as at Cumae."
 (Dionysos, pg xxiv)

Kerenyi sees Dionysus a life-death-rebirth deity.

One of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology, Karl (Carl, Károly) Kerényi (January 19, 1897 - April 14, 1973) was born in Timisoara, then in Hungary, to a family of some landed property.  In Greece in 1929 he met W. F. Otto, who influenced him to combine the studies of comparative religions and social history, while his friendship with Jung induced him to take the findings of modern psychology into consideration as well. Kerényi's long correspondence with Thomas Mann was published in 1975.

He was a close friend and collaborator of Carl Jung, who described him as having "supplied such a wealth of connections [of psychology] with Greek mythology that the cross-fertilization of the two branches of science can no longer be doubted." In 1949 Jung and Kerenyi published together Essays on the Science of Mythology: the Myths of the Divine Child and the Divine Maiden. Kerenyi and Jung both furnished commentaries to Paul Radin's The Trickster: a Study in American Indian Mythology, where Kerenyi saw the Trickster figure as the "enemy of boundaries."



Otherness Inspires Creativity

Walter F Otto

 God of ecstasy and terror, of wildness and of the most blessed deliverance. - Walter Otto
Otto's Dionysus ISBN:0882142143

Dionysos was known as a god of women, to the extent of being sneered at as womanish. His whole existence, Otto writes, was illuminated and crowned with the love of women

To become creative, however, the human mind has to be “touched and inspired by a wonderful otherness.”

 At the beginning, that is, at the center of all religions, stands the appearance of a God. It is only such a divine epiphany that gives meaning and life to all primordial forms of religion. Rejecting all the modern explanations of the origin of ritual and myth, Otto writes:
“Let us finally be convinced that it is foolish to trace what is most productive back to the un-productive: to wishes, to anxieties, to yearnings; that it is foolish to trace living ideas, which first made rational thought possible, back to rational processes; or the understanding of the essential, which first gives purposeful aspirations their scope and direction, to a concept of utility” (
Dionysus ., pp. 29-30).

"Greeted with wild shouts of joy, the form in which the truth appears is the frenzied, all-engulfing torrent of life which wells up from the depths that gave it birth. In the myth and in the experience of those who have been affected by this event, the appearance of Dionysus brings with it nourishing intoxicating waters that bubble up from the earth. Rocks split open, and streams of water gush forth. Everything that has been locked up is released."



For Greek scholar Walter F. Otto, it is impossible to understand Dionysos, except through madness. Madness is a state of intense emotional overflowing, when our small rational minds are swallowed up by a far greater thing - the beautiful but terrible Mad God himself, Dionysos - and for a brief moment, we see the world and ourselves as we truly are. In this sublime state of ecstasy, when we feel our soul to be touched by the hand of God, the most amazing things are possible.

Otto's book is widely considered the best on Dionysus, the Greek God of ecstasy, mystery, and culture.  Complete illustrations, notes, and a rich index have made this book the standard reference work in the field, as well as a profoundly moving experience that carries the reader into participation with all things Dionysian.

 Walter Otto Dionysus: Myth and Cult: explores the divine drama of the deity and his various roles as conqueror, deliverer, Lord of Souls, God of Wine and vegetative nature, his special relationship with the Feminine.
Greek scholar, Walter Otto, brought out Dionysus in 1933. Complete illustrations, notes, and a rich index have made this book the standard reference work in the field...."a profoundly moving experience that carries the reader into participation with all things Dionysian."
Also important: Walter F. Otto's Homeric Gods (Pantheon, 1954)

walter f. Otto on Google Book Search

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