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Realms of Mythos and Logos



A fundamental premise of depth psychology is the importance of being able to live symbolically - having the capacity to find the symbolic, the psychological that exists within concrete behaviours or thinking. In that sense, we are all citizens of the two ever-present realms of Mythos and Logos. This requires a cultivation of double vision that embraces what the ancient Greeks called logos - principle of speech, discourse, reason, and judgement or logic as well as mythos. For the pre-Socratic philosophers, the word mythos did not mean a fiction, fallacy or falsehood; it was a term which meant 'breathed from the divine,' a divinely inspired sacred truth. Mythos is a worldview or way of seeing reality, which embraces 'the poetic, metaphoric, the symbolic, the affective and the imaginal.'


To apply these concepts to our working lives, the logos side is our résumé or CV. It represents the verifiable of what have occurred, where we have worked and when, and what we have accomplished in an external kind of way. The mythos side is the mythic, inner story which we have lived and are living alongside this. Rooted in the unconscious, our myths are not concerned with practical matters or what happens literally but with the meaning of what occurs.


So how can we use this particular binocular or double vision to re-imagine and re-enchant our working lives? We can cultivate an awareness of both our inner, imaginal as well as collective, social realities to help us find and follow a vocational calling - a practice that challenges us to engage with and bridge both the symbolic, soulful, unconscious and the rational, material, practical dimensions of life. This entails honouring paradoxical imperatives: of the ego, to be secure and sustainable in the world; and of the psyche, or soul, to be engaged in work which holds resonance and meaning.


To further illustrate the way in which the two realms of mythos and logos weave together, clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst Donald Kalsched has offered the image of a mask of a human face, with one eye open and one eye closed. Carved by an unknown Inuit from the vertebrae of a humpback whale, the mask is called "The Storyteller." The closed eye focuses on the inner world of dreams and the mytho-poetic images of the imagination, while the open eye focuses on the harder edges of material reality and human relationships. Thus the image of The Storyteller gives dramatic expression to the "two worlds" which must be kept in view if a genuine and compelling story of our lives is to be told. In other words, one is able to hold both mythos and logos perspective simultaneously so as to "...sustain a dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm, we name and exploit reality in another." - Rabbi Abraham Heschel.


Today the rational, pragmatic, scientific thrust of the logos principle predominates in our society. Yet the crisis of meaning and imagination which many people experience today related to their work, may well be due to an excess of logos' literalism and a dearth of a mythic perspective and commensurate absence of imagination. An antidote to this lies in the reunion of mythos and logos by bringing in an imaginal, mythic, archetypal perspective towards all aspects of existence and towards our creative engagement with the world.


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Reference: Work by S. Cremen





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