About the Facts of Myth

When these [biblical] stories are interpreted, though, not as reports of historic fact, but as merely imagined episodes onto history, and when they are recognised, then, as analogous to like projections produced elsewhere, in China, India, Yucatán, the import becomes obvious; namely, that although false and to be rejected as accounts of physical history, such universally cherished figures of the mythic imagination must represent facts of the mind: “facts of the mind made manifest in a fiction of matter,” as my friend the late Maya Deren once phrased the mystery. And whereas it must, of course, be the task of the historian, archaeologist, and prehistorian to show that the myths are as facts untrue—that there is no one Chosen People of God in this multiracial world, no Found Truth to which we all must bow, no One and Only True Church—it will be more and more, and with incasing urgency, the task of the psychologist and comparative mythologist not only to identify, analyse, and interpret the symbolised “facts of the mind,” but also to evolve techniques for retaining these in health and, as the old traditions of the fading past dissolve, assist mankind to a knowledge and appreciation of our own inward, as well as the world’s outward, orders of fact.

Joseph Campbell – Myths to Live By (1961)

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