“…it struck me what it means to live with the myth, and what it means to live without one. . . . So, in the most natural way, I took it upon myself to get to know my myth, and this I regarded as my task of tasks” – Carl Jung
The general use of the word “myth” usually refers to a story from the past. I think Jung here was partly thinking about the general myth of a society.
But more specifically, he goes on to say he wants to know his personal myth that is embedded within that wider societal myth.
The features of a societal myth:
- explains the external world around us (through science, arts, etc),
- guides our personal development (often through stories with heroes to role model),
- provides social values and customs,
- addresses spiritual issues.
Our personal myth does rather the same kinds of things… but is personal.
Is our representation or map of the real world in terms that can relate to our daily experience. It is like the Indian concept “Maya”, in that it is like a veil through which we interpret reality, construct explanations and interact with the world.
We would like it to be a guiding theme that is coherent, without holes and without contradictions. Otherwise, predictions about the future and hence your decision making may be unreliable.
But our personal myth is more intuitive, beyond reason and beyond our direct control. It is like a tangled web that is very deep, yet an integral part of the source of our worldview.
Meaning of Your Personal Myth
The very word mythology is difficult to pin down since even the same writer will use it in very different ways depending on the context. I have found the following possibilities to translate “personal myth”, as being our:
- guiding theme
- philosophy for living
- story or narrative
- set of beliefs
- rules of behaviour or principles you follow
- quality standards we judge ourselves by
- source of feelings and emotions
- created images
- perspective or viewpoint
- source of explanations about yourself
- internal source of wisdom
Link to Dreams
Much of the way we use our personal myth is unconscious and we are not even aware of it.
So Carl Jung’s quest above, to find his personal myth, was an exercise in self-empowerment.
He wanted to find what was guiding his behaviour and actions.
Most of us come across our personal myths when we try to interpret our dreams, for personal myth and dreams come from the same place in us.
That is from our unconscious which can be seen as the dynamic underworld of our lives that is swirling in constant flux and evolution.