Flexing Our Mythos Muscles


The imaginative and symbolic way I perceive dreams and ordinary life is somewhat different from the way we are normally taught to think in school. I assure you this is not just sloppy thinking, but a conscious choice I’ve made to use more of my brain’s potential.
Plato was the first great thinker in Western history to define the two modes of thinking that are the specialties of the two hemispheres of the brain. He called them logos and mimesis. Following the lead of psychologist Gisela Labouvie-Vief I call the latter mythos. It is generally accepted that while there is some overlap, the left hemisphere of the brain is primarily oriented to logos and the right, to mythos.
Mythos thinking is symbolic, metaphoric, instinctive, imaginative, visual, intuitive, emotional, and subjective. Receptive to chaos, mystery, newness, and change, mythos is a compass that points us to the eternal and the universal. Mythos is the mother of original thinking, self-discovery, spiritual growth, and personal meaning. It is the basis for all forms of creative expression and every form of inner work that leads to self-knowledge.
Although Plato loved mimesis/mythos and was himself very imaginative, inner-directed and spiritually oriented, he considered reason to be a more advanced and mature form of knowing. He preferred logos to mythos for two reasons: because of mythos’s appeal to the emotions — which, of course, can be dangerous and uncontrollable when they are not made conscious — and because he thought logos was fostered by written language, which he considered an advancement and refinement over oral language. Following Plato’s example, the writer of the Gospel of John proposed that logos is cosmic reason and the self-revealing thought and will of God.
Plato passed this bias on to Aristotle, Aristotle passed it on to us. Due to the enormous influence of these men on Western philosophical thought, today virtually everyone but writers, artists and mystics vastly underrates the potential of one half of our brains. I find it very bizarre that we still haven’t overcome this prejudice against inherent qualities of our own minds! Certainly there was a time in the history of our species when it was essential to hone our left-hemisphere qualities if we were to continue to evolve beyond our earlier, right-brained orientation, but we’ve had this bias for the past 5,000 years now, and expanding our consciousness has never been more crucial.
Why? Because we’re killing ourselves, each other, and our beloved planet. In his book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, vascular surgeon Leonard Shlain writes about the brain’s role in the evolution of our species. His research suggests that historically there has been a cause-and-effect relationship between an obsessive left-hemisphere orientation and the ascendency of the separate, abstract, male Sky God, the dominator mode of governance, and the repression of women and minorities. If Shlain is correct, the root cause of many of the world’s current problems is the intolerance the left hemisphere of our brains has for right-brained otherness!
In short, we’ve been projecting our fear and hatred of vital parts of ourselves onto others and now we’re suffering the consequences. Isn’t it time we started flexing our mythos muscles?
You can find more on this topic in my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, which can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.larsonpublications.com.

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0 Responses

  1. Hi Jeanie,
    Love seeing you quote Shlain. That is a remarkable book. Wonder where he is now. Alive? I read your blog yesterday too, and felt your difficulty with the “selling of the Mandorla” and I want to log in as someone who knows that difficulty of yours and someone who encourages the effort “because it is so worth it”. Consider adopting the essence of G. Stein of Hemmingway’s time in Paris. She seemed to love being an author and having them all around to talk about their writing and seeing who they reached. Wear a butterfly and be a social one just as long as need be and them back to first love “Momma bear”. These are just thoughts delivered just because I love you and maybe they might help a little. Ann PS..I know you can act!
    My dream group is the best ever, with one of the 10 members somewhat challenging. He is teaching me the most because I must define the problem and find the appropriate way to handles it so that I protect my class. One person must not be allowed to take away unyielding time from the others. But last night in my dream I saw that if I can handle it a certain way, we can all learn some valuable warrior energy. It is the darn penguin running back and forth that has me stumped. Well for now I am working on a new handout for us to have explaining what is happening to the best of my ability.

    1. I’m afraid Shlain is gone now. He died of a brain tumor. A huge loss for humanity.
      Thanks for the pep talk, dear friend. Yes, I know the struggle is worth it and I can act. Although I long for transparency, I know I must have a persona to survive in this world.
      Good luck with your dream group. I love the exsquisite irony of your dream showing you how to manage it. I know you’ll do great.

  2. Jeannie, thank you for voicing and valuing/naming the “Mythos: right brain in bringing it into more consciousness of valuing in ourselves and in others as opposed to unconsciously colluding with the world Logos devaluation of this aspect of the “Divine Feminine”, both in ourselves and in those who lead from it. This resistance is needing to be dismantled within ourselves and between ourselves and those who live from its genius. Accepting this right brained aspect of myself more consciously, as opposed to judging it “inferior” has been a long journey for me. Yet, it is where my true peace and strength as a woman resides in partnership with my animus; he who has previously colluded with negative judgment and kept me “split” too often from my whole self. Peace Be

    1. You’re very welcome, Julie. Obviously I’ve been on the same long journey to accept the mythos aspect of myself and free myself from the judgment of my animus. I see now that these splits within myself were the challenge my soul needed to push me forward into freeing my creativity and fulfilling my destiny; something I feel I may have done by writing “Healing the Sacred Divide.” Perhaps you feel the same way about your wonderful work at MorningStar. Jeanie

      1. Yes, Jeanie,
        I do believe my journey with M* has been just that process of self-acceptance and integration unfolding over time. It occured to me yesterday, while biking to a Lake Michigan beach, the frequent question of what direction my life is unfolding toward came up again. I heard very clearly “You must let go of what has been before you know what is yours to follow.” Then at the beach I checked my phone messages and this had come from “Inward/Outward, a site I so appreciate with this post from Mary Oliver’s To Live in This World, from Blackwater Woods
        Every year everything I have ever learned
        in my lifetime leads back to this: the fires and the black river of loss
        whose other side
        is salvation,
        whose meaning
        none of us will ever know.
        To live in this world
        you must be able
        to do three things:
        to love what is mortal;
        to hold it
        against your bones knowing
        your own life depends on it:
        and, when the time comes to let it to,
        to let it go.
        This continues to be my task moment to moment, day to day; what to continue to hold close, and what to let go of with gratitude. This seems the Way of embodying more Wholeness and Love.
        Peace Be, Julie

    1. Julie, in response to your second comment, I just want to note that I “came across” the same poem yesterday! Love these synchronicities. I agree. It is about loving and holding on until it’s time to let go. Seems like I do that in lots of little ways every day: letting go of an old self-image to embrace a new one, letting go of expectations to simply love what is, etc. It’s a never-ending dance, at least while we’re mortal! Jeanie

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