Tag Archives: myth

Chuck’s Place: Anxiety—The Curtain Call To Mythic Encounter

What form does your mythic encounter take? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What form does your mythic encounter take?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I was energetically drawn to read Scott Stossel’s article, My Anxious, Twitchy, Phobic (Somehow Successful) Life, in the January/February issue of The Atlantic. Though totally appreciative of his full personal disclosure, I was disappointed in the outcome of his lifelong journey to lift this pervasive, crippling symptom from his life; his seemingly best cure—a combination of Xanax, Inderal, and either scotch or vodka—necessary prior to a speaking engagement in order to pull it off. It’s pretty clear that the subject of anxiety needs revisioning beyond the failed rational therapies of our time if we are to truly tackle this mythic giant.

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell spent much of their lives demonstrating the relevance of myths to modern life. Carl Jung insisted that analsands discover the myth that governed their own lives that they might effectively find the path to their individuation. I propose that we treat anxiety as the curtain call to our personal myths, that is, that when anxiety calls, we treat ourselves to a mythic encounter, a mere mortal summoned to interact with the gods.

When anxiety calls we become helpless children, shuddering before a world of giants—adults—who have total power over our life and death. How will we fare in the encounter? Will we survive, be cared for, tossed aside, punished, welcomed, accepted? These are the fears and hopes we harbor in our smallness when we enter into our mythic encounters.

What will his/her mood be when he/she enters the room? I shudder.

Will my work be acceptable? I shudder.

Will I get promoted? I shudder.

Will I be expected to have sex? I shudder.

Will I be capable of having sex? I shudder.

Will the plane fall from the sky? I shudder.

Will I be able to perform? I shudder.

Will I lose it? I shudder.

Will I be attacked? I shudder.

Behind each of these anxious anticipations lies a mythic encounter, whether it be with a goddess, a good witch, a bad witch, an ogre, a wise god, or some other permutation of power that we feel inadequate in the face of. Our challenge, in this life, is to become the hero that takes the journey to secure our rightful place and find fulfillment. That journey, like all heros’ journeys, is filled with adventures into mythical realms; encounters with dragons, tricksters, witches and helpers that challenge and support our growing ability to hold our own as we follow the yellow brick road.

Anxiety is the necessary alarm that summons us to our challenge and ultimately asks us to turn off its shrill call. The tasks are formidable; all myths are epic and lifetime adventures. Sometimes the challenge is to unmask the larger-than-life wizard, like in Oz, to subdue a projection that generates anxiety. Sometimes the challenge is to marry into the gods, to experience the numinous and ecstatic without disintegration. Sometimes the challenge is to wrestle the giant to the ground, overcoming our fear that we are not enough, that we have no power. Turning off the anxiety alarm might also mean challenging ourselves to consciously learn to deeply relax and regulate the nervous system; the mythic encounter here being with the body itself.

Don't worry… be happy! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Don’t worry… be happy!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In revisioning our lives in this world as, ultimately, anxious encounters with the mythic realm, we offer ourselves the opportunity to hone our beings to continue as mythical, magical beings in infinity beyond the human form. Thank you anxiety for waking us to our magical selves! May we all be heroes that accept where we are, our starting points of fear and trembling pointing out our immediate challenges.

Heroes come in all forms and each must face their own unique challenges. If we are here in this world, we are already heroes, even if reluctantly so. We all made it through the dark canal, cut the cord, and became adventurers in a new world. Don’t stop now!

On the mythic adventure,

Chuck’s Place: The Origin Of All Myth Lies Before You

The great mythological Eye in the Sky... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
The great mythological Eye in the Sky…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Home from the office, I sink into a chair on the deck. I’m drained, fatigued. My energy continues to plummet. I end up frozen, immobile. My depleted energy directs me to the sounds and smells of nature. I crave the open sky. The thought of entering the inside cooled space of sealed containment is unbearable. Sleep must happen out-of-doors, under the stars.

The sky darkens. The constellations brightly impress themselves upon my eyes. I drift into sleep. I am awoken with these words: “The origin of all myth lies before you.” And before me, at the moment of awakening, lies only sky.

My relationship with life and experiences such as this-with nature, with the heavens, and with the mysteries-is the basis of my personal myth. This is something I share with all who have ever lived in this world. All the shared encounters with the mysteries, with the awe of life, are accrued and recorded in the myths we inherit and contribute to. How foolish it would be to not partake of the nectar of such accumulated knowledge and wisdom encased in the great myths that have been handed down to us.

Myths are our natural history, recordings of the ancient psyche that resides within us all. Myths are the language of the soul that, in a myriad of forms, speaks to us in dream and projection. Cracking the code of the myth, collective and personal, means discovering the greatest guidebook for life. However, the journey is always, first and foremost, in direct experience, in the here and now. Study the artifacts of the ancient myths to discover the mysteries of life, but directly live now, this day, this night.

Sadly, I see nothing in the structures we build and value to encapsulate and make sense of our lives. Modern humans are too busy, too distracted, too consumed, too pre-occupied. In truth, with a little knowledge of the ancient myths, we need only a direct encounter with the Big Dipper, nothing more, to send us into the direct experience of discovering our own myth and the experience of being fully alive now. It’s that simple.

Every day we are beckoned to wake up, to open our eyes to the stars, to discover where we are in our own myth—to engage life fully in the tragedy and comedy of it all—to live the magical, the mystical, the awesome; to break the spell of the fixation of the assemblage point that Jan referenced in her recent blog. Beyond that fixation lies access to the greater mysteries, to the hidden truths of our journeys through infinity, to why we find ourselves where we are at the present moment. The rigid fixation of the assemblage point is life lived at the level of the mundane, screened from the broader journey we’ve all taken—and are taking right now—without our even realizing.

The Bite of the Ostrich... another myth, referenced in Jan's book, The Edge of the Abyss. - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The Bite of the Ostrich…another myth, referenced in Jan’s book, The Edge of the Abyss.
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In her blog, Jan writes of a dream she had when she was a young woman. In the dream, she buries her dead child en route across the American frontier, traveling by covered wagon, a recent Swedish immigrant. The dream foreshadows her return to Sweden in this life to ultimately rediscover an ancient strength that would allow her to lift the veils that hid a brutal life, already lived in this lifetime yet completely unknown. This is living the greater myth. This is cracking the code of the personal myth, daring to take the journey into the awesomeness of the personal myth, connecting lives lived with the here and now, but also bridging with life to come.

We are all living lives of greater myth, myths that are constantly seeking our attention, desiring to be lived and united with us, reconnected in a wholeness that transcends just this life and connects us with life in infinity. This is the journey that each and every one of us is on, charged with discovering our personal myth through direct experience with life, with nature, with the heavens, and with the mysteries. This is the meaning of the guidance I received. We all have access to it in our everyday lives, in the world we live in and the world we dream in.

As you dare yourself to wake up and live your own myth, I humbly pass on the guidance presented to me by the stars: “The origin of all myth lies before you!”

In the myth,