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Jonathan Young, Press Release

Joseph Campbell Scholar To Discuss Sacred Myths

Storyteller, psychologist, author, poet Jonathan Young will be visiting the area lecturing on the wisdom of mythic stories and promoting his book: SAGA: Best New Writings on Mythology, an anthology of exceptional depth with contributions by James Hillman, Thomas Moore, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Toni Morrison, Ursula Le Guin, Robert Bly, and Marion Woodman among others. SAGA has been hailed as an important contribution to myth and ritual studies by reviewers.

Young studied the uses of myth in psychotherapy with Rollo May and the role of the search for meaning in human development with Victor Frankl. But his most important teacher was Joseph Campbell, who he assisted at many seminars for a number of years. Following the death of the distinguished mythologist, Young founded the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. But Young does not just "get by" on Campbell's coat tails. He is a well-respected authority on myth and fairy tales within the academic field of myth and ritual studies and is a popular speaker and workshop leader specializing in the archetypal and psychological dimensions of fairy tales.

Young is a sought after lecturer because of his gift and great love for telling stories and giving talks on matters of the soul. A captivating speaker, he meticulously weaves his way through myth and magic. "Whether simple parables or complex tales from ancient myths, every scene is a collection of images we can study for spiritual significance," Young explains.

It was perhaps his destiny to become a storyteller. His father, who worked with crusading evangelist Billy Graham, loved stories. In their world travels, Young's parents instilled the love of mythic stories in their children. "I heard the Arabian Nights in Baghdad, stories of the Buddha in India and Japan, The Little Mermaid in Denmark, the Pied Piper in Hamlin."

His father's travels to visit missionaries had an unexpected impact on Young. "I went with him to visit missionaries throughout the Middle East, India, and Asia. I'm sure these travels were meant to show me the truth of my father's religious views. But it had a somewhat reverse impact on me as I could see the grandeur and the ritual and the temples. It was evident that there was an abundance of the divine present in the belief systems of other nations."

Young maintains that there is more than just a good tale in our myths and fairy tales. "I believe that all those fairy tales and beloved stories were sacred to begin with," he observes. "And as they have been passed along from generation to generation, the spiritual bits have been lost and the stories that remain do so because they were good yarns.

"All stories," he contends, "have symbolic meaning, hidden wisdom that illuminates the soul's yearnings to go home to its beloved. For example, I believe that Cinderella's going to the ball in the palace filled with lights was not good sociology-making a good marriage, upward mobility and all that stuff. I believe that the palace was the sacred realm. "

"Mythology allows us to reconnect with a dimension beyond ordinary time. In this moment of history, consumer values dominate the media. Ancient stories give us a chance to visit with the eternal characters involved with primal adventures. This can provide perspectives that go beyond trendy concerns with possessions and appearance."

Young takes mythology and teaches its practical application to everyday living. "Stories teach us how to pay attention to everything that happens in life and to perceive the options available. One's least honored attribute may come to the rescue on some fateful day when circumstances require that very quality," he observes.

Dr. Young spends about 150 days per year travelling-reading in bookstores, speaking at spiritual gatherings, literary and story-telling festivals, and academic conferences.

Marion Woodman says, "Jonathan Young's sensibilities touch into the yearning of the contemporary soul. He shows us how the guiding characters in stories can take us into another place -- where we are given a special image, a symbol -- that brings everything together. That's what we need for healing, a moment when we are whole -- intellect, soul, imagination, body, and emotion. His work is about recognizing the true longings of the soul -- and the wisdom that comes out of being an eternal presence in a temporal body. His passion and clarity open the reader to exciting new insights. "

Jonathan Young

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