Joseph Campbell’s Ten Commandments for Reading Mythology

Joseph Campbell’s Ten Commandments for Reading Mythology (Read the ten commandments below and answer the questions at the bottom).

1. Read myths with the eyes of wonder: the myths transparent to their universal meaning, their meaning transparent to its mysterious source.

2. Read myths in the present tense: Eternity is now.

3. Read myths in the first person plural: the Gods and Goddesses of ancient mythology still live within you.

4. Any myth worth its salt exerts a powerful magnetism. Notice the images and stories that you are drawn to and repelled by. Investigate the field of associated images and stories.

5. Look for patterns; don’t get lost in the details. What is needed is not more specialized scholarship, but more interdisciplinary vision. Make connections; break old patterns of parochial thought.

6. Resacralize the secular: even a dollar bill reveals the imprint of Eternity.

7. If God is everywhere, then myths can be generated anywhere, anytime, by anything. Don’t let your Romantic aversion to science blind you to the Buddha in the computer chip.

8. Know your tribe! Myths never arise in a vacuum; they are the connective tissue of the social body which enjoys synergistic relations with dreams (private myths) and rituals (the enactment of myth).

9. Expand your horizons! Any mythology worth remembering will be global in scope. The earth is our home and humankind is our family.

10. Read between the lines! Literalism kills; imagination quickens.


Send answers to the Mystery School.

A.  Many Asatru people wig out at the term “universal” because they seem to think there is a plot of some kind to make all of us universalists — have one faith. Asatru ended up having three kinds of people in it:  Folkish, Centrists and Universalists.  Our Kindred is centrist all the way, and some of our members are even dual faith.  Anyway, in item number 1 above, Joseph Campbell the great mythologist used the word universal.  Some of you might cringe.  But the word is okay in that context isn’t it?  Tell why or why not in your opinion.  Rattle on as long as you need to, this is a fun topic. <grin>

B.  Look at item number ten.  Literalism has done some “killing” in the modern Asatru community and is one of the reasons we don’t call ourselves Asatru but heathen or Teutonic.  Give an example of how literalism killed.

C.  Item number 8 is nice and very pertinent to our Kindred.  Give some examples of your own private myths and tell how a favorite ritual (not necessarily a private one) enacts a myth.

D.  Describe ways you have done what it says to do in number 7 and 6.

E.  What images are you drawn to or repelled by as described in item 4?

F.  Write a study question and answer it for any of the ten items that do not already have a question about them.