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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Archetypes
How Stories Can Change the World and Ourselves

Stories matter. In fact, human beings have been called “story-telling animals.” Every day we consume stories on the media and in books, films and TV shows. We can spend hours on Facebook reading the posts of friends, relatives, and even total strangers. We hunger for narratives that give us hope but all too often run into descriptions filled with horror, abuse and despair.
 
The narratives we’re told and the ones we tell ourselves interact to shape our way of thinking. They provide the context in which we place our experiences and the lens through which we interpret what happens to us. Stories affect our self-esteem, our emotions, and our mental health. They can be empowering or debilitating, life-enhancing or toxic. Though we seldom realize it, our relationship with ourselves and the world depends on stories, especially on the ones we’ve come to accept as “objective truth.” If these tales happen to be destructive, they can wreak havoc on our inner world.

Stories have a powerful grip on the human mind. Research shows that most people are unwilling to change their beliefs even when confronted with facts that contradict them. Facts appeal to the rational mind; hence their power is limited. Beliefs, on the other hand, are often rooted in narratives that we’ve been told from a young age or myths that are constantly cultivated by the media and which we’ve come to accept as facts.

We live in a society that relies on oppression and exploitation, hence the narratives we’re told are meant to maintain the status quo. For example, even though the story of Adam and Eve is an obvious myth, it's still used to stigmatize women, sexuality, and everyone who doesn't conform to gender norms. Furthermore, those who are at the top of the social hierarchy maintain power by portraying human beings as inherently greedy and aggressive, blaming on individuals all the evils created by the system itself. We learn that injustice, violence and war are inevitable because well, that's human nature, so what do you expect?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    I am, I suppose a "literal polytheist,. I do have a problem with the idea that somehow we are taking over Paganism, because we ha
  • Scott
    Scott says #
    When I look at Jung's Red Book I am in awe of how individualistic his encounter with the gods seemed to me. And yet, he described
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Yes, Jung's is a very individualistic approach. I think we have shared archetypes (although we may call them by different names);
  • Scott
    Scott says #
    Oh BTW...I do believe that those of us who think the gods are part of psyche but also transcend us are an offshoot of the contempo
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I agree that Jungian psychology lends itself to a kind of post-theism. It is a new religion, but one which is familiar to many Ne

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This past summer, Morpheus Ravenna delivered the keynote speech at the Many Gods West polytheist conference. Her speech was entitled, "Deep Polytheism: On the Agency and Sovereignty of the Gods". It was later published at polytheist.com, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. I’ve been meaning for some time to write a response to Morpheus’ speech, for a couple of reasons. First, I am always interested in the intersection of Jungian psychology and polytheism. In fact, it was the pairing of these ideas in Margot Adler's 1979 Drawing Down the Moon that drew me to Paganism in the first place. Second, I think Morpheus is one of the most interesting polytheist writers out there, and I am often surprised at how much of what she writes I agree with. Her keynote speech was no exception.

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  • Billybareblu
    Billybareblu says #
    Another great article concerning these concepts.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you. Insightful, clear, and helpful!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I recently came across these five questions posed to "Pagans who believe that the Gods are merely psychological archetypes and are created by the mind of [hu]man[s]." I will answer each in turn. (But first, let me say that I object to prefacing the word psychological with the word "merely" -- something I've written about before here.)

1. Do you believe that the Gods can assist you with anything physical in nature? If so how can the Gods assist you with anything physical in Nature given that they are only psychological?

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Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 2 of Helsen's series.

Helsen argues that the gods are “objective, discrete, and separate beings”.  I’ve explained in Part 1 and in my original post about "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism", why the “separate and distinct” language is problematic.  More recently, I’ve written about how we confuse the question of the objective existence of the gods and the question of their subjective meaning — as if something must objectively exist for it to have subjective meaning. If you want to read more on those issues, follow the links above.  

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Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 1 of Helsen's series.

Helsen begins by describing the two "camps" within Paganism: the archetypalists and the hard polytheists:

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"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"

-- Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882)

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