“The artist is the true seer and prophet of his [sic] century, the justifier of life and as such, of course, a revolutionary far more fundamental in his penetration of the social mask of his day than any fanatic idealist spilling blood over the pavement in the name simply of another unnatural mask” (The Inner Reaches of Outer Space).

Artemis the Hanged One is one of the virgin Goddesses fertility epitaph’s. The image of a hanged figure and fertility doesn’t seem to work quite right at first and so we consult Robert Graves who writes that dolls were hung from fruit trees to ensure good crops, a practice recounted in Crete, Mycenae, Rhodes and Arcadia (Graves, The Greek Myths 298). The sanctuary to Artemis the Hanged One was at Condyleia in Arcadia.

Artemis, Athenian-red figure lekythos C5th B.C., State Hermitage Museum

This connection between sacred fertility and tree worship is ancient – think of the Trees of Life in various mythologies like Yggdrasil of the Nordic Eddas and those of knowledge in the Judeo-Christian Garden of Eden.

Frequently it is assumed that because Artemis was a virgin goddess she is not connected to fertility or growth. In fact this is one of the divine paradoxes in mythic figures for not only was Artemis understood as the fertile energy of flora and fauna  but she was also invoked by women in childbirth by her name Eileithyia.

“O Lovely One [Artemis], you are so gracious to the tender whelps of fierce lions, and take delight in the suckling young of every wild creature that roams the field.” – Aeschylus, Agamemnon 140

“[Artemis] over births presiding, and thyself a maid, to labour pangs imparting ready aid: dissolver of the zone, and wrinkled care [midwifes].” – Orphic Hymn 36 to Artemis

“We have lost our containers; chaos threatens. Without rituals to make a firm demarcation between the profane and sacred, between what is us and what is not us, we tend to identify with archetypal patterns of being – hero, Father, Mother, etc. We forget that we are individual human beings; we allow ourselves to be inflated by the power of the unconscious and usurp it for our own. And we do this not knowing what we do and that we do it” (The Pregnant Virgin, 19).

OPUS awarded 13 New Mythos Grants in the winter of 2009 and all year we have been gifted in return with learning of new gems hidden in the manuscript and image collections. One of the inspirations for the grant came form Joe Campbell, of course.

In the famous “Power of Myth” interviews with  Bill Moyers, Campbell said “the only myth that is going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet, not the city, not these people, but the planet, and everybody on it. And what it will have to deal with will be exactly what all myths have dealt with – the maturation of the individual, from dependency through adulthood, through maturity, and then to the exit; and then how to relate to this society and how to relate this society to the world of nature and the cosmos. That’s what the myths have all talked about, and what this one’s got to talk about. But the society that it’s got to talk about is the society of the planet. And until that gets going, you don’t have anything.”

Craig Chalquist’s New Mythos research project focuses on the language of the Planet and I see that as a thread to the myth of the planet that Campbell was referring to. Chalquist’s preliminary research report is titled “Earthrise:Decoding the Speech of the Planet” and he writes:

“If Earth were a sentient non-human being trying to speak to us, how would we decode the message?

As the paradigm of modernity—a “Big Machine” worldview of reality as subject to linear operations of interlocking parts—continues to give way to a more comprehensive, systemic, “Deep Web” understanding of the cosmos as alive and participatory, forms of knowledge abandoned by modernity rise to the surface once again. One of these is a view of the world as animated, sensitive, and reactive, a pre-industrial view held by all our indigenous ancestors and by certain later alchemists, naturalists, and poets uninvested in mining and consuming a world of supposedly dead matter.

This essay proposes to “listen in” on the depths of nature by combining what Goethe developed as an “exact sensorial imagination” with depth-psychological methods of symbol amplification. This allows us to interpret natural events like storms and earthquakes as meaningful symbols: non-verbal, imagistic words in the vocabulary of animate Earth.”

You can read the essay on his website at www.chalquist.com/earthrise.html or visit us at www.opusarchives.org

We love sharing this kind of opportunity – a CFP for a conference on myth in contemporary literature…and I agree with Graciela, it is definitely an under-represented theme in academia.


From: Graciela M. Báez, New York University:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The upcoming ACLA conference titled World Literature/Comparative Literature, sponsored by Simon Fraser University will be held on March 31-April 3, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada.

I am leading a seminar titled Myth in Contemporary World Literature, and welcome any papers or presentations on how global, ancient myths are reflected, renovated, implemented, restructured and narrated in contemporary world literature.  Personally, I will present a paper with the working title: Myth in Contemporary World Literature: A Latin American Perspective on the Great Mother Structure and her Son/Lover; a retelling of the age old classic myth structure in a couple of canonical Latin American novels.

I welcome papers/presentations on mythology within contemporary literature, children’s literature, art, music or film, for instance, that refreshes national or cultural projects of rejuvenation/recuperation through ancient mythic structures, whether it be about the Great Mother, the Trickster, Gods/Goddesses and Hero myths, either from Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia or Africa.  If I missed something, please note I am open to learning and sharing so much more, so please suggest!  This seminar, I hope, will be a truly open, intellectual exchange that will offer one another the dialogue that is missing in academia and post-modern literary theory.

If interested, kindly view the link below and submit a paper proposal.  I look forward to sharing with you this rich and important, however, under-represented theme in the study of the humanities.

Abstracts must be received by 5PM CST on November 12, 2010 in order to receive full consideration.


Reading Joe Campbell’s lectures that were transcribed for Transformations of Myth Through Time really gives the sense of being in a classroom with him. Coupled with the recordings of the lectures in the “Mythos” series – it becomes a complete experience!

We will continue with the lectures series and this upcoming meeting will be on the goddesses and gods of the Neolithic period and the transformation of culture from the agrarian to the city centered. This chapter includes the work of archeologist Marija Gimbutas whose collection we have in the archives housed alongside Campbell’s.

Event Info:

OPUS Archives & Research Center on the Ladera campus of Pacifica Graduate Institute
801 Ladera Lane
For more information or questions, contact OPUS at info@opusarchives.org or 805-969-5750.

This event is free and open to the public.

This image includes a photo that Marija Gimbutas used in The Language of the Goddess and includes the book editing aspects – note the caption with her handwritten edit as well as measurements of the image for proper setting for production of the book.

Chalk replica of a Bronze Age drum with face of an owl from Folkton Wold, East Riding, Yorkshire c. 2000 B.C.

Gimbutas wrote in The Language of the Goddess that this is “evidence for the Goddess’ association with music, particularly drums [and] comes from a bronze age inhumation grave of a child in a British tumulus.”

Last night was the monthly discussion group I lead on Joe Campbell and his work on mythology. We watched him give a lecture on the Navajo myth “Where the Two Came to Their Father”,  a warrior initiation myth. The myth itself was published by Maude Oakes who got the myth from Jeff King, an elder of his tribe who shared the ceremonial myth with her, it goes, because the young were not undergoing the time intensive training required to learn the story. So the myth and its pollen paintings were recorded in the book Where the Two Came to Their Father by Jeff King, Maude Oakes and commentary by Joe Campbell. We have 2 first edition copies of it in the Campbell library here in the archives available for research or perusal.

Here are 2 images from the book:

First pollen painting - image from pbagalleries.com

Image from theosociety.org

One of the observations Campbell makes in his lecture on this myth is the highly symbolic quality of the drawings. It is not that the Navajo didn’t know how to render animals and nature naturalistically, but that in these sacred paintings the images are rendered so to be transparent to the transcendent. In other words, they’re rendered in the form of their spiritual reference.

“Living myths are not mistaken notions, and they do not spring from books. They are not to be judged as true or false but as effective or ineffective, maturative or pathogenic…They are not invented but occur, and are recognized by seers and poets, to be then cultivated and employed as catalysts of spiritual (i.e. psychological) well-being” The Flight of the Wild Gander

The image on the book cover is from the Bhaghavata Purana and tells of how Krsna hid Brahma's cows.