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Sacred Stories, Holy Paths

An Interview with Jonathan Young, Psychologist, Mythologist, and Storyteller

by John Dutro, Carmel Pine Cone

THROUGH the public television series he filmed with Bill Moyers, mythologist Joseph Campbell gave this nation long looks at how ancient themes bear upon our most riveting spiritual concerns.

And then the astute and witty voice was stilled. The 83-year-old Campbell died in October 1987 at his Honolulu home.

These days, the great work continues and even thrives because of Dr. Jonathan Young.

Young assisted Campbell at seminars and supervised research on Campbell's scholarly papers. He later was founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, where he developed the Mythological Studies department.

New anthology

Young is editor of SAGA: Best New Writings on Mythology. This first in a series comes from White Cloud Press and includes articles by such valued writers and scholars as Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Thomas Moore, Ursula Le Guin, James Hillman, Jean Shinoda Bolen and others. It seems obvious that lines from Young's introduction to the volume serve as another preview of the peninsula appearances:

"A minor figure can hold the secret to the whole tale... This helps us to enlarge our perceptions to embrace many possibilities in difficult situations. We begin to see the abundance of wonderful options in our surroundings," he writes.

"The mythic stories are powerful psychologically partly because they have mysterious qualities. Unexpected developments let us know that experience is not orderly. We are propelled past our expectations into something larger."

Finally: "Mythology helps us face the best moments and the worst... It provides us with maps... We learn to allow the divinities to speak, and to invite other energies..."

Campbell Said It

Under sponsorship of Pacific Coast Church in Carmel and Monterey Religious Science Church, Young will offer two seminars at the latter site.

And you, my pretty, you've been more trouble to me than you'r worth.  But it'll all be over soon.

Young will discuss "Images of Hope" from 2 until 4 p.m. Sunday, says local spokesperson Kedron Bryson. This poet and radio broadcaster adds that the other session - "Mythic Stories to Live By" - will be on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Bryson checks her rich notebook and cites these words once spoken by Campbell: "Where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world." And she offers descriptions of the Monterey occasions:

Sunday - "Here's initiation into the wisdom of ancestral voices. Participants will find delight in the power of The Princess and the Frog King. The ancient parable lets us reconnect with a dimension beyond ordinary time."

Aug. 19 - "Here's discovery of the spiritual treasures in Dorothy and the Wizard of OZ. Young brings real immediacy to a wise tale that we might have thought was for children. It's actually a fascinating mythic vision to enlarge our sense of place and purpose."

"Dorothy may well be the American Heroine Journey. By the time she returns to Kansas, we all will know what it means truly to come home."

And Bryson says in relation to both events: "The man is erudite and enthusiastic about the spiritual journey. Also, he is able to articulate the profound spiritual turbulence that is forcing us into the third millennium, whether we're ready for it or not."

August 10, 1995, Carmel Pine Cone