Joseph Campbell - The Power Of Myth


After watching the series of videos that j0da posted in this thread (they have since been taken down from youTube) a few months ago, I found this gem of an interview with Joseph Campbell, filmed just a couple of years before his death. The interviewer is Bill Moyers. It is very inspiring - I highly recommend it. Each part is close to an hour long.

Power Of Myth 1 - Hero's Adventure

Power Of Myth 2 - Message Of the Myth

Power Of Myth 3 - First Storytellers

Power Of Myth 4 - Sacrifice and Bliss

Power Of Myth 5 - Love And The Goddess

Power Of Myth 6 - Masks Of Eternity

Biographical information on Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 31, 1987):


A Disturbance in the Force
I saw this series on TV in Australia. I was already a fan of Campbell. I wrote the following prose-poem as a sort ofquasi-eulogy for this great student of mythology.-Ron Price, Australia

Myth works when you know what it is about, when it says something to you because it says something about you. We must become mythic as a species if we are to survive. The great individuation of cultures each based on their myths must lead, through an emphasis on their similarities, to a planetization of mankind. For all things are one; the hero has a thousand faces, a unity in diversity. Myth is like a force field; it unfolds and calls forth our own special genius and is the basis of our understanding of our world, ourselves and our own transformation through life’s inevitable trials and tribulations.-Robert Siegel discussing Joseph Campbell on "The Spirit of Things", ABC Radio National, 17 January 1999, 6:05-7:00 pm.

You popularized an attitude, an understanding,
of myth with a remarkable consistency
with that universal myth
that has captured my heart and mind
in this post-war world1.
I have been redesigning, retooling this protean self
and losing myself, giving myself, expanding myself
around this mythic base, this essence, this core,
where a yearning, pathos, has produced a sweetness,
dulce, settling in, an abundance scooped up, an updraft,
scooped up, with a bliss quotient that is inestimable,
indefinable. But there is always the work, the giving,
always more, a doubling of effort, a fatigue, a mystery,
a sadness, a tension, a working out of the myth in my
own life, in its individuality and its collective identity.

Ron Price
17 January 1999

1 Joseph Campbell is the great popularizer of myth in the post-war period, beginning with his first book The Hero With a Thousand Faces(1949). There are many similarities between Campbell and the Baha’i concept of myth, certainly a great deal that has been useful to me.


I think Joseph Campbell is a great storyteller and I really get the impression that the study and interpretation of myth is a work of love for him. I enjoy much myth and folklore and I have found it has taught me a lot. I was wondering if it might be worth starting a thread where people can put up various folk tales or myths they have heard or read from all over? And maybe what they have gathered from the reading or listening to it?

For anyone interested, I am going to put up a small review of a book called "The Other Within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture & Psyche" by Daniel Deardorff in the books room.


The Living Force
I loved this interview! --Joseph Campbell was one of the people who started me thinking out of the box for the first time in my life. Or, perhaps more accurately, helped me towards the awareness that there was a box.

I began skipping a lot of highschool around the same time I first saw the Campbell/Moyers interview. --A friend had video taped them for some reason, not knowing what they were, and we randomly started watching them. We were utterly fascinated and spent the day absorbing the series. This was back in the early 90's, and around that same time we were watching old re-runs of "The Prisoner", another show which dared us to ask questions about the nature of authority. At 17 or 18 years old, this was a big part of my first crawling towards awakening. There had been glimmers before, but this really helped to train the light; the big idea I took away from Campbell was that of, "Follow your Bliss", essentially, as I interpreted it, "The healthiest and most productive way to live and grow is to trust in that which you are passionate about." --Later on, when I encountered the C Transcripts, I saw that idea reflected. . .

[quote author=transcripts November 7, 1998]
A: D****, your ideas about career are distorted. A job is just that: a
job. A career is your life's work. You have always invested too much
energy in your quest to hold down a "job." Why not consolidate, my
boy? Life would be so much easier.

Q: (BRH) The pursuit of money is the antithesis of my quest, or so it

A: When one worries first about money, the trap is set. When one
pursues one's passion, all else falls into place. What you do not yet
allow yourself to understand is that this principle never, ever fails.
But you certainly are not alone. The 4th density STS programmers
relish the thought.

Another thinker who I find to be quite similar in tone is Ray Bradbury. I found a lot of encouragement in his words as well. His version of the same message was, (and I'm quoting possibly inaccurately from memory): "Live at the top of your Hysteria." (I remember hearing him say this in one interview, but I cannot find it again. There are similar variations out there, one of which was this piece of advice he offered to aspiring writers, "May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories - science fiction or otherwise. ".

As regards people like Campbell and Bradbury, I saw this quote in Ouspensky's, "In Search of the Miraculous" . . .

"Furthermore, no one can escape from prison without the help of those who have escaped before. Only they can say in what way escape is possible or can send tools, files, or whatever may be necessary. But one prisoner alone cannot find these people or get into touch with them. An organization is necessary. Nothing can be achieved without an organization."

Campbell in the Moyers interview was not exploring, if memory serves me correctly, 4th Way practices, and neither was Bradbury, but if there are prisons within prisons, then hearing these two men speak at length definitely helped me break through a couple of walls.


I just went to YouTube to see if I could find any clips of Bradbury talking and ran across an old show I was very fond of when I was younger, "Prisoners of Gravity". Bradbury speaks at the end of it, but the whole episode, (broken into three parts), turned out to be very interesting for other reasons. Bradbury's comments (in the third part) do not really capture what I found so similar in his tone and thinking to Campbell, but the show itself is well worth looking at. I'm thinking of writing a piece on how I see fiction mirroring certain broad thought-patterns in society, (a subject I am utterly fascinated by), but for now I'll just post the episode. You'll see immediately why I found it interesting, I think!



Thanks so much for this post, Woodsman. I hadn't read that transcript of the Cassiopaeans either.

Cassiopaeans said:
When one pursues one's passion, all else falls into place. What you do not yet
allow yourself to understand is that this principle never, ever fails.

That is something to give more thought to. I have tried to live true to my heart for a long time now, but so many times I doubt myself in it. It also seems to me that so much began to fall into place by living true to my heart, but society does not seem to like it or respect it. That's why I doubt it sometimes. It's interesting that they use the words "you do not yet allow yourself to understand....". Why do we not allow ourselves? In my case, I think guilt might play a role.

Thanks also for putting up the links to Prisoners of Gravity....really interesting! Have you read any of the science fiction books they discussed? And if so, what did you think of them?

I really appreciate what Campbell did. I only saw the DVD of these interviews recently, before that I had just read his work. But seeing him speak is something beautiful too, because his joy and laughter and appreciation really comes across and I loved hearing him tell stories.


Woodsman said:
I'm thinking of writing a piece on how I see fiction mirroring certain broad thought-patterns in society

For what it's worth, I'd be interested to read it if you do!
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