The Study of Myth

Introduction

The folklore of indigenous tribes has been gathered by a variety of sources.  Frequently the people recording this information are not trained anthropologists and just as frequently it seems that their informants do not know the complete story that they are relaying.  However, even considering these drawbacks, there is a great deal we can learn from studying them.  In fact, as sources of primitive mythology diminish, the interest in studying them increases.

The question becomes how should these stories be approached?  How can they be studied so that they not only can be understood, but also so they can be interpreted?  Is there some way that the information they carry can be applied in new and unique ways?

Very different approaches to the study of mythology are represented by two greatly renown people who applied the study of the “primitive” folklore to their own work.  They are Claude Levi-Strauss, an anthropologist and Sigmund Freud, a psychologist.  Each man was a leader in his own field.  Although the approach and application of each man to the study of primitive mythology are quite dissimilar, they have taught us that this study can benefit us in many ways including a better understanding of ourselves and of other peoples.  I would like to look more deeply into the work of these two as it relates to their approach to mythological studies.

Sigmund Freud

Probably Sigmund Freud’s most well know work on “primitive” mythology is his book,
Totem and Taboo. His underlying basis for this study is the assumption that prehistoric man is reasonably represented by the modern primitive and these “savages” [Freud’s term, not mine] provide a “well-preserved picture of an early stage of our own development.”  Freud goes on to say: “If that supposition is correct, a comparison between the psychology of primitive peoples…and the psychology of neurotics…will be bound to show numerous points of agreement and will throw new light upon familiar facts in both sciences.” He introduces myth, ritual and customs as a means to penetrate the psychology of the primitive.

He approaches mythology as a detective looking for clues.  He observes a specific behavior, for example exogamy, then using the mythology of various primitive peoples, he finds evidence to explain the behavior and then extrapolates that this might be the origin of our own societal behaviors.  It is as if he sees these people and their folklore and customs as pieces of a puzzle; a puzzle he is determined to solve.  His sources tend to be from a very broad spectrum of geographic locations, language groups and time periods.

In his book, Totem and Taboo, Freud explores the definition of kinship especially as it affects exogamy and incest avoidance in the “religion” of totemism.  Kinship is commonly a sophisticated and complex system within a society.  For example, he cites Australian aboriginal tribes who receive their totem through their mother’s line and are forever prohibited intimate contact with women of that same totem, thereby preventing sexual intercourse with a sister or mother.  He discusses the lengths that these people go to by means of ritual and customs to avoid unacceptable social contact between various relations.

In this book, he limits his exploration of totemism primarily to sexual prohibitions, animism, magic and omnipotent thought.  In his study of the prohibitions, customs, ritual and mythology, he does not attempt to understand the primitive in their own world, but rather how to understand modern man.  He interprets these prohibitions not as self evident with inherent consequences.  He states that the prohibitions are necessary specifically because man has a tendency toward unacceptable behavior (for example incest) and therefore requires the restrictions to prevent acting these natural tendencies out.  He then goes on to develop the theory that modern man is not that far removed from his “primitive” brother and that these inappropriate desires are still active but suppressed in modern man.

Freud of course is first and foremost a psychologist.  His interest in mythology, especially primitive mythology, is to identify traits of humankind that very likely have not changed much over time.  He saw similarities between patient behaviors and those of the primitive.  For example, he could see how a client with “obsession neuroses” and “omnipotent thought” was not far removed from the primitive.  Of these clients he says: “This [obsessional] behavior as well as the superstitions which he practices in ordinary life, reveals his resemblance to the savages who believe that can alter the external world by mere thinking.” He builds a believable case that the study of the primitive as he was known to Freud does in fact offer us a picture of our own development. And this study is based primarily on the mythology of these people.

The approach of Claude Levi-Strauss is from a totally different perspective.  He is primarily an anthropologist.  Here psychology has little to no influence.

Claude Levi-Strauss

Claude Levi-Strauss developed an approach to the study of mythology called “structural analysis.” Structural analysis takes one story and breaks it down into “cells”. It then takes another story from the same tribe or neighboring tribe or even foreign tribe and similarly breaks this down into cells.  These stories are then laid out cell by cell and similarities become easier to see.  It also is easier to see where one story departs from another by using this method.

In his book, The Story of Lynx, Claude Levi-Strauss focuses on one family of stories.  In his analysis of these stories he sometimes becomes very specific.  He goes so far as to identify the species of flora and fauna mentioned in a story, frequently providing the Latin name.  On occasion he breaks a cell down further into smaller components as he finds meaningful some of the most minute detail.  He points out that the ecological system that a people participate in have significance to their mythology that should not be glossed over.

In this book he focuses on stories from the Pacific Northwest, but by applying his method of structural analysis he finds similarities in the native folklore from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. In this book he summarizes a story.  He then identifies the cells within the story and even sometimes isolates the cell from the story.  He is also able to identify what he calls inversions. An example of an inversion might be where one story explains when certain animals are not found in the same places; whereas a neighboring story might be presenting new conditions under which these same animals can be found together. He also finds a symmetry evident as the story “cells” change from one tribe to another, possibly thousands of miles apart or possibly bordering each other but speaking a different language.

Shown below is an example of a figure from his book showing the graphical representation of his structural analysis. In describing it he says, “This schema. . .shows how complex forms are, so to speak, grafted onto the simpler one. . . this later occupies the right part, while the others occupy the segments in the left part of the network.”

From "The Story of Lynx" by Claude Levi-Strauss

From “The Story of Lynx” by Claude Levi-Strauss

He also says about this same graph: “Finally, it must be noted that the network, drawn here in two dimensions, would require more dimensions…One the left of the schema, the dentalia shells have a positive function as a factor of conjunction. On the right side, where the indiscreet sisters are feature, dentalia shells fill a negative function; they cause the disjunction of the thieves from their parents.  By analyzing the schema, one would easily come across other dimensions that graphic constraints do not allow us to represent.”

Breaking down the native stories in this manner assists in seeing how stories change over time, change from one location to another and even how they migrate from one language speaking people to another with sometimes very little change sometimes with changes that make them almost unrecognizable.

Claude Levi-Strauss seems to want to protect the integrity of the native world from which these stoies came.  Structural ayalysis as an approach to the study of mythology appears objective and emotionally removed from the subject.  However, when Claude Levi-Strauss incorporates this tool into his study of the native people of the Pacific Northwest, a sensitivity to their world comes through. His primary interest in the study of these stories seem to be to enter the world as seen by the people he studies and to share that perspective with the rest of the world. He says,

We thus learn from the structural analysis of myths…each local mythology, matched with a given history and ecological environment, teaches us a lot about the society from which it comes, exposes its inner workings, and sheds light on the functioning, the meaning, and the origin of its beliefs and customs, some of them having, sometimes already for several centuries, raised unresolvable problems. this, however, requires that structural analysis meet one condition: it must never cut itself off from the facts…we should give up pursuing the structural analysis of the myths of a society for which we lack an ethnographic context or, at any rate, a context that is independent from the information carries by the myths themselves. [emphasis mine]

He was an anthropologist.  The conclusions he drew were more specific to his area of study. He was also concerned that structural analysis and the study of native mythology might be misused. He felt that if a story was removed too far from its origin, it would become distorted and lose any significance it might have.

Comparison and Contrast

Both of these men were drawn to study primitive mythology.  There is something about folklore, ritual and customs of these peoples that appealed to them.  But their approaches and application were so different from each other that it is hard to believe that they were studying the same thing. Freud seemed to be looking for some general mythology that might apply to all humanity (and it appears he was successful), while Levi-Strauss seemed to want to understand on a personal face-to-face basis how the native peoples perceived their world.

Freud did not take into account the ecological system of the primitive.  He took their stories out of the context of environment and circumstance and put them on a stand alone basis.  Levi-Strauss argued that if you stood far enough above, looking down on a mythology your perspective laced any detail and the image became indistinct and therefore meaningless. He says,

…the more the field of analysis is broadened, the more resemblances are uncovered, but they have less and less meaning.  Though this is the case for general mythology, it isn’t so anymore when comparison is undertaken within mythological systems bounded in time and space.  For these, the inverse proposition holds true: the more the field is restricted, the more differences are uncovered.  It is to the relations these differences have with one another that meanings are attached.

Levi-Strauss successfully compares these “mythological systems bounded in time and space” looking for the meaning those differences might hold.

Freud interpreted the myths psychologically, but he also seemed to moralize and judge.  He suggested that although primitive behavior still lurks within us and is acted out in the neurotic, it is inferior to what had been made possible with the “scientific” mode of being and immoral by a Victorian perspective.

Levi-Strauss on the other hand didn’t do either.  He uses his structural analysis to understand and explain how these people integrate their existence with their environment, create the structure of the respective societies, and function in a challenging world avoiding judgement or moral commentary.

Conclusion

The study of mythology is as richly varied as the myths that are under investigation.  The completely different approaches that each of these men applied in his study of the primitive folklore exemplifies the diversity of humankind and the uniqueness of the individual.  However, each in his own way, seemed to be searching to understand this thing called humanity, which clearly exemplifies characteristics common to all, such as the desire to understand who we are! We continue to be a curiosity to ourselves and the study of mythology is one of our ways to see more deeply into the species Homo Sapiens.

These difference of approach and their application are very striking.  But what is just as striking is that study of mythology can offer to such different people such satisfying results.  This is very exciting for the student of mythology but just as intimidating.  Which direction should the serious student of mythology go? And how can you follow in the footsteps of such eminent men? All I can say is that like these men, it calls to me and I anticipate the result being just as satisfying if not as eloquent or profound.

The Titanic Role of Myth in Modern Scriptwriting

James Cameron said in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, March 28, 1998, the movie, Titanic, intentionally incorporates universals of human experience and emotion that are timeless and familiar because they reflect our basic emotional fabric. By dealing in archetypes, the film touches people in all cultures and of all ages. These archetypal patterns turn a chaotic event like the sinking of an ocean liner into a coherent design that asks questions and provides opinions about how life should be lived.

Image from filmquadposters.co.uk

Image from filmquadposters.co.uk

The Hero’s Journey is the foundation upon which the vast majority of successful stories and Hollywood blockbusters are based. Some successful writers subscribe to the notion that there is really only one story; what James Joyce named the “monomyth.” Every great story essentially alternates situations and superimposes them over the same structure. The Godfather, Slumdog Millionaire, Brokeback Mountain, Gladiator, Annie Hall, Shrek, The Fighter, The Shawshank Redemption and other successful stories are all one and the same – various situations built on the same foundation. Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, Coppola, Nolan, Cameron all use this structure. Shakespeare used this structure. Stories in the Bible, the Vedas, the Torah and the Koran use this structure.

As the late great script writer Stewart Stern said: “Structure is inevitable.” William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, The Princess Bride, among others) says it even more strongly. He says: “Screenplays are structure.” Structure is more than simple three or four acts or plot points etc. Structure is a consistent, complex process through which your characters are led that results in their resolving their initial challenges; battling past their historical and personal limitations.

By familiarizing yourself with mythic narratives, you will see character archetypes in action and avoid making caricatures or stereotypes of archetypal images. You will be introduced to enduring mythic themes that showcase the human condition. You will see where these concepts that originated from the study of myths have been utilized in film and how to apply them to your story. Understanding myths helps writers better execute and deepen their stories.

Your story is uniquely yours.  The structure of the Hero’s Journey is a tool.  Tools in the hands of a master create art where the tool is transparent to the viewer. The toolbox then becomes a launchpad for freedom.  In the hands of a novice it can help get your hands around those random ideas and get them on the page. Structure is not a dirty word.  As quoted above “structure is inevitable.”  Your job is to harness it and utilize it to give voice to your story.

 

Psyche, Eros, and Aphrodite: The Beauty/Soul Connection – Part III

In Part II of this series (Psyche, Eros, and Aphrodite Part II), I explored three of the four tasks demanded of Psyche by her future mother-in-law, Aphrodite, from the story of “The Invisible Lover” which is a chapter in the greater work of The Metamorphoses (also known as The Golden Ass).

Here, I continue my reflections on this myth with the fourth and final task.

Psyche’s success at accomplishing the previous three (seemingly impossible) tasks set before her does nothing to satisfy Aphrodite. Instead Psyche’s accomplishments tend to whip the frenzy of Aphrodite’s wrath into higher intensity.

In the fourth task Aphrodite sends Psyche to the depths of hell to gather a small bit of the beauty of Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, and deliver it to Aphrodite “with all speed.” Many descend to the Underworld, few return.  This fourth task appears to be beyond impossible.

As with the first three tasks, in this fourth task Psyche receives outside guidance.  However, this time it comes from an unusual source: a tower. Previously Psyche’s helpers have been from nature (ants, a water reed, and an eagle). The tower is a manmade object. It tells her how to get to the Underworld.  The Dead find this easy.  For the living, the descent is a demanding task all by itself.  And, of course, the return is rare indeed.  However, by heeding the tower’s advice, Psyche successfully descends and returns to the human realm of the living with the desired potion safely sealed and with a strong edict not to open it.

All the tasks Aphrodite cruelly demanded Psyche was able to accomplish as directed, much to Aphrodite’s chagrin. Now, with this final task, Psyche disobeys the powerful goddess of beauty. She does not deliver Persephone’s beauty cream. Psyche, overwrought that she lacks the divine beauty that the person she loves, Eros, would desire, she does the forbidden; she breaks the seal of the container holding the beauty from Persephone, that even the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, holds in high esteem.

When the seal is broken, instead of divine beauty, a thick cloud of slumber pours over Psyche and she collapses as if a sleeping corpse. If the story were to end here, we might say that Psyche overstepped her bounds and brought about her own demise. How often it seems we struggle and when we are close to success we give up or give in. The soul’s journey is fraught with obstacles. In this particular myth, these obstacles are set by divine beauty in the path of mortal beauty. And if this is where the story ended, it would seem the soul is not up to what is required of it.

Significantly, this is not the end of the story. Her beloved, Love himself, comes to her aid. He takes the sleep off Psyche and returns it to its container. Psyche continues her return to Aphrodite with the beauty from Persephone as originally required.

In the meantime, Eros marches to Mt. Olympus and pleads to his father god, Zeus. Zeus is swayed and admits Psyche to the halls of the Olympian gods.  Psyche is made immortal making her an acceptable wife in Aphrodite’s eyes for her son, Eros, and accepts her as a legitimate daughter-in-law.

If you recall, during all these trials and tribulations, Psyche was pregnant.  The child’s name that came of the union between Love and Soul (Eros and Psyche) is Pleasure.

This is a sophisticated myth and there are many interpretations of it.  I find it meaningful that it brings together Soul, Beauty, and Love in close familial ties. Aphrodite is not the the beauty of wilderness; that is the realm of Artemis. Aphrodite’s realm is the realm of culture.  Aphrodite is present when we make everyday life more beautiful and more ‘civilized.’  The art of Aphrodite often celebrates the beauty of life and reflects the divine in daily aspect.

This story is a story of Soul’s awakening.  Psyche enters the story as a beautiful but naive shallow untried girl who lacks the ability to discern. Psyche’s tasks represent the transformation of beauty of the natural soul into the beauty of a loving conscious soul.  The soul of mortals may innately be beautiful, but this tale reminds us that beauty is not enough. The soul’s awakening is a process in beauty. Beauty without soul is Apollonic aesthetics (line, form, frame, etc). Soul without Beauty is immature and incomplete. The trials that Aphrodite caused Psyche to undergo transforms the ignorant and naïve girl into a woman who was aware of what love costs and who knows at last the true face of her husband. If you reflect on your own life, undoubtedly you will find examples where your personal growth was comprised of these three elements (soul, love and beauty) making demands that formed and tempered you into a mature balanced whole.

Psyche’s story show us the birth of a new self, forged out of her pain and her growing capacity to disobey. She disobeys mortal and divine laws primarily due to her expanding commitment to love.

An often required component in fairy tales is an injunction not to do something.  If the protagonist is to succeed in many wonder tales, this injunction must be broken.  Here, too, in this myth, disobeying is precisely what leads to attainment of the desired outcome.  I am not suggesting that you go out and find a law to break.  Rather, think about that voice in your head that tells you “It must be done this way” or “Don’t do that”.  What is the origin of that voice?  Is it a parent?; a minister?; a coach?; etc.  Reflect on the relevance of that injunction in your current adult life.  Is it time for you to nurture a “growing capacity to disobey” those injunctions of childhood that are no longer relevant?

For much of this story, Psyche and Aphrodite are prominent and Eros is off stage.  Soul and Beauty are front and center.  One way to view this narrative is as a depiction of the connection soul and beauty have in the growing, maturing, and creative process. The path of balancing this connection of Beauty and Soul is arduous. It requires a commitment to love, a stout heart, and perseverance. The reward is the experience of the divine.

Where in your life are you exposed to beauty in art?; beauty in nature?; beauty in personal care?These are pathways to nurture, soothe or enliven the soul. Next time you are aware of an experience of beauty such as a sunset, fragrance, spa treatment, etc., try to envision it as an opportunity for soul to take flight. (Psyche in art was often depicted as a butterfly or moth.)  Listen to music and dance; abandon yourself to color at a paint store, touch every bolt of cloth at a fabric store. Immerse yourself in an experience of beauty and watch soul’s reaction.

 

If you are interested in pursuing this myth further, try these sources:
Amor and Psyche by Erich Neumann

The Myth of Analysis by James Hillman

The Golden Ass of Apuleius by Marie-Louise von Franz

The Worlds of Aphrodite, Artemis, and Hestia by Ginette Paris

“The beauty which brings desire is closer to a ‘state of grace’ and is composed more of audacity and charm than by conformity with an external norm.” – Ginette Paris

The Myth Lab: Myth and Permaculture

Activist, Permaculture promoter, and myth maker, Willi Paul, will be presenting his Myth Lab, “Mythic Roundtable: Tools and Inspiration for Creating New Myths” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Granada Book Store, 1224 State St., Santa Barbara.

I was curious about his method of combining myth with his passion for permaculture. I sent him a couple of questions and he was kind enough to respond. Here is our correspondence:

Question – I hear the word “myth” used more and more frequently. As a term is popularized, it becomes a victim of its own success. Even in Classical Greece, the term had multiple meanings. When you use the term “myth” please clarify what you mean by it and if that meaning is consistent throughout your work?

Willi Paul – Myth is a new, universal story that is generated by issues / crisis of our times like climate change, species extinction and drought. Classic myths support with general structures and motifs like hero, journey and initiation. My myths deal with new community types like the permaculture and Transition movements. But my myth also includes bliss, an alchemic power to see past the hype and empower solutions. I believe that creative mythology, as described by Joe Campbell, is the right overall framework for individuals in these times.

Question – The mythic motif of death and resurrection or rebirth is founded in agricultural/vegetative mythologies (e.g. Aphrodite/Adonis, Jesus the Christ, Ishtar/Tammuz, Inanna/Damuzi, etc). What mythic motifs, if any, are you seeing emerging from the permaculture phenomenon?

Willi Paul – I prefer to use symbols rather than motifs as these are more powerful connections.

Shovel – turning, renewal
Cob bench – community
Pond – water birth, diversity
Sun flower – Nature Steward
Moon – magic, Nature wisdom
Bees – togetherness, eco-business
Lightning – ecoAlchemy – transmutation
Cob feet – dance, new Nature rituals
Broken concrete – reuse – recycling
Butterflies – metamorphosis, freedom

(for more on Willi Paul’s perspective click here: Permaculture Symbols)

Secondly, new archetypes work with new symbols now:

A. Permaculture & Nature Archetype: A love to preserve unique landscapes for future generations. Mistrust of greedy, short-term land and energy developers
Symbols: Tree of Life, Permaculture logo, Yosemite, Seeds, Amazon Rain Forest, US Gulf Coast

B. Permaculture & Nature Archetype: Our hope is to build sustainable systems in our local neighborhoods and towns. Fear of food and fuel shortages; fights for resources between neighbors and governments
Symbols: Crude oil on rails, GMO; Convergence and sharing expo events; neighborhood plans and new rituals

C. Permaculture & Nature Archetype: A deep love for freedom to own fire arms; fear of guns and killing.
Symbols: AK-47, US Flag, Scenes from mass shootings, vigils, pawn shops

D. Permaculture & Nature Archetype: Fear that global warming will destroy all life on Earth. Mistrust of business and goal of short-term profits
Symbols: Rising coastal tides, melting polar ice, coal fired power plants.

E. Permaculture & Nature Archetype: Mistrust of energy privatization and corrupt safety practices. Love of the system and blind faith in corporate responsibility
Symbols: BP, PG&E, Duke Energy

(for more on Willi Paul’s comments on this click here: Permaculture, Carl Jung and the New Archetypes)

Question – I believe humans are hard-wired for story. There is much distress in some groups that Hollywood is dying. It is possible that form of storytelling is in decline, but I doubt if humans will ever be storyless. Please detail your experience in using story to explain, enlist, and engage in expanding permaculture awareness.

Willi Paul – The best place to start in your journey to new stories is Texting Joseph Campbell – Five Methods to Design New Stories & Myths eBook #18:

The Five methods that I have invented to date are:
1. Building a Mythology Generator for the Sustainability Age
2. Mapping Future Myths for the Transition –
Workshop & Video, First Study of Myth Symposium, Pacifica Graduate Institute
3. Myth Lab
4. SCORE: sounds symbols myths
5. Mythic Engine

Thank you Willi Paul for you input on this important issue.  Your creative integration of myth making and permaculture promotion are truly inspiring.

Psyche, Eros, and Aphrodite: The Beauty/Soul Connection – Part II

In my last post (Psyche, Eros, and Aphrodite Part I) I presented an overview of the myth of The Invisible Lover. I continue my reflections on this myth with tasks the goddess of Beauty and Love, Aphrodite, demanded of Psyche.

The Tasks

Aphrodite assigns tasks to Psyche that Aphrodite is confident Psyche will be unable to fulfill. The first task requires Psyche to separate a vast heap of seeds as the first of four seemingly impossible tasks. Seeds imply a masculine principle. In order for soul to come to terms with beauty an ordering of the masculine principle is required. But in this Psyche herself does not participate but is served by the small but energetic industrious and plentiful ants. Psyche neither asks for help nor commands it. She does, however, allow the ants to come to her aid.

The ants act out of pity for Psyche’s plight and objection to the cruelty of Aphrodite. Both the seeds and the ants have an earthly quality. Although Psyche isn’t involved with the activity, this scene represents an alignment with the earth element.

For the second task, Aphrodite requires Psyche to harvest wisps of wool from sheep whose fleeces shine with hue of gold. This time Psyche’s aid comes in the form of advice from a reed of the river near where the sheep graze. Psyche for a second time contemplates suicide by drowning but the reed intervenes. The vegetative advisor tells Psyche that the sheep shine with hue of gold because they borrow fierce heat from the blazing sun. If Psyche delays her approach until after “the sun has assuaged its burning and the beasts are lulled to sleep by the soft river breeze, and gather not the from the sheep directly but rather from a grove where their wool has been rubbed off onto crooked twigs.”

The image of these sheep who borrow fierce heat from the blazing sun and are prone to wild destructive frenzy suggests a powerful solar masculine energy. If Psyche were to approach them directly during the apex of their strength, she surely would be destroyed, which is probably the point the of the exercise from Aphrodite’s perspective. However, through the wisdom of the supple reed, by biding her time until the noon day sun is on the wane and harvesting their fleece from an indirect source, the demands of Aphrodite will still be met without risking harm to Psyche.

Throughout the four ordeals, Psyche is “big with child”. The third task tests “whether you have a stout heart.” Psyche is sent to draw a small urn of water. Like the previous tasks, this is assumed by Aphrodite to be impossible to accomplish, for the waters flow from an inaccessible mountain cliff with dragon sentinels protecting it from anyone’s approach.

To accomplish this task, Psyche is aided by an eagle of Zeus who is allowed to pass by the sentinels because he says he is on an errand of the great goddess. The eagle fills the urn and returns the water to Psyche. Although Psyche is greatly relieved to be able to satisfy the demands of Aphrodite, the great goddess is not appeased.

So far Psyche has been assisted by ants, a water reed and an eagle. Earth, water and air realms are represented. The ants introduce order to the chaos of the heap of seeds. Through the water reed’s advice the ‘fierce and frenzied’ power of fire (the heat of these solar sheep) is tempered. And the third task by means of the medium of air, the water element is delivered to Aphrodite.

If we use this myth as a guideline for the connection between Beauty and Soul, what do these three tasks reveal about that relationship? In each of these three tasks assigned by Aphrodite to Psyche, Psyche doesn’t “do” anything. For the soul to mature, as Psyche assuredly does throughout the myth, beauty must first of all be acknowledged as the divine energy that it is.  The soul must also not turn away from the demands of the power of beauty.

As this myth unfolds, we see Soul with a tendency to be overwhelmed by the enormity or impossibility of the tasks. However, this myth tells us that just by being present to the demands of beauty, those demands will be satisfied on behalf of soul in ways the rational mind could never conceive.

It is often through unpleasant impossible tasks that the soul matures. Its mettle is tested even as unusual resources come to its aid. If you deeply contemplate this statement reflecting on the examples from the myth, you may bring to mind specific examples in your personal life experience.

In my next post, I will present the fourth and final task.