Our ancestors used traditional tales as vehicles for transmitting ancient wisdom accumulated over millennia to inform, instruct, and to heal. Myths, for example, are stories that have stayed alive in human imagination over long periods of time because there is a ring of truth in them about shared human experience. According to Joseph Campbell, myths, guide us in the “experience of being alive.” They are told to enlighten us about our origins, our inner realities, and what it means to be human.
Traditional folk tales and multicultural myths can be used as powerful tools because they are repositories of ancient wisdom about the human condition and because they teach the language of symbolism, imagery, and metaphor. These wisdom tales can help us gain insight into behavior and can function as effective catalysts for bringing about change. Through storytelling, we can learn the language of metaphor, which can help us intuit the existence of deeper meanings and truths.
Accessing the Truth Within
According to Marion Woodman, Jungian analyst and author, the healing power of metaphor lies in its ability to provide us with images that can transform unconscious material into conscious awareness. She believes storytelling and the use of metaphor have more of an immediate impact than abstract analysis. “So long as it’s theory, it’s removed from the actual feeling…if I put it in a story form or use images, the mind may not hear it, but the body responds. And if it’s reverberating in the body, sooner or later it’s going to get through to consciousness.”
...if I put it in a story form or use images, the mind may not hear it, but the body responds. - Marion Woodman
Our mind is the scene upon which the gods perform their plays, and we don't know the beginning and we don't know the end. ~Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 1306.
On a parallel track, beginners to genealogy often ask if it is indeed possible to trace their pedigree or lineage back to Adam. To answer this question, I always quote from The Ensign, February 1984, an article by Robert C. Gunderson, senior royalty research specialist at the Family History Library. “The simplest answer to this question is no,” he said.
“In my 35 years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years, and I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion, it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (circa 450 AD to 752 AD). Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between that time and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication. Generally these pedigrees offer no evidence as to the origin of the information, or they cite a vague source.”
Ancient genealogy suffers from four marked defects: it can hardly be disentangled from mythology; it is fragmentary, frequently unreliable and contradictory; it confuses tribal origins with individual names; it is artificial in that often its main purpose is to offer a descent that would allow a person to qualify for office, priestly or secular.The psyche is nothing different from the living being. It is the psychical aspect of the living being. It is even the psychical aspect of matter. It is a quality. ~Carl Jung; Conversations with Carl Jung and Richard L. Evans
Because much of genealogical best-practice includes mythic and fictional characters, the process is best approached with a Jungian orientation, rather than as hard historical fact. In terms of the collective unconscious it has psychic reality, and Jungian and post-Jungian practices allow us to interact with such material in a deeply meaningful way that enhances integration.
Once one withdraws projections and 'sees through' things, then virtually everything becomes myth. This may make the world seem meaningless but that is only so if one only believes in personal and cultural ego power. If one views the human as potentially creative within the context of a mythical world then one can engage with myth and narrative and experience the connection to one's ancestry, to one's physical, intellectual, spiritual roots. Art is rooted in participation mystique.
"Participation mystique." is fusion or merger, the illusion necessary to maintain our unconscious lives in the external world. It is experienced due to "Our knowledge that we are in a fictional world [which] lets us mark off the experience. We know we are reading; we know we will not act. This knowledge allows us to sink into the fiction, to connect to less conscious experience, to reach back into less differentiated or undifferentiated levels of psychic life. We never lose our connection with reality (unless one is psychotic): we know we are reading. In one part of psyche, we are in a state of fusion and, in another part; we maintain our state of ego integrity: in that state, we can link up with the unconscious fantasies that are the ground from which the text emerged."
In the Orient, the realms of the gods and demons, the heavens, purgatories, and hells, are assigned to this sphere and are of subtle matter. They are the macro cosmic counterpart of the microcosmic images of dream. But since we do not encounter on this level the sort of clear distinction between A and not-A that is proper to the field of waking consciousness, micro- and macrocosm on this level are not as different as they seem, and all the gods, therefore, all the powers of heaven and hell, are within us.