Essays on a science of mythology

Jung, C. G and Kerenyi, C (1969) t. R. G. C. Hull. Bollingen series XXII. Pantheon Books.
fyi: Károly (Carl, Karl) Kerényi

aker:books_and_literatureEssays on a Science of Mythology The myth of the divine child and the mysteries of Eleusis

Prolegomena (by C. Kerényi)

p2 First we have the question… “We have to ask ourselves: is an immediate experience and enjoyment of mythology still in any sense possible?” Then we have the question…

p2-3 “We shall only concern ourselves with the question: what has mythology to do with origin or origins?”

p2 “We have to ask ourselves: is an immediate experience and enjoyment of mythology still in any sense possible?”

Then p2-3 “We shall only concern ourselves with the question: what has mythology to do with the origin or origins?”

There is then a brief exploration into the etymology and construction and intention of the word mythology - from the original Greek.

Then there is a holistic 'description' of what mythology is with the conclusion that it is:

p4 - Pictorial

p4 - specific, or significant. By this the author means “Mythology is not simply a mode of expression in whose stead another simpler and more readily understandable form might have been chosen…”

p4-5 - its musical aspect, both creator and created. Concluding that mythology should speak for itself to the right ear, by ear, the individual must have the right resonance (p5).

Then another question, “But where is mythology's spring? In us? Only in us? Or outside and only outside? (p5)

This reminds me of the idea that consciously - like love - if it is conscious, it cannot be numinous as it must stem from the unconscious.

Then there is much about the aetiological aspect of mythology, its ability to explain itself and other things. The paradox.

Then another objective/question: p6 “Our aim is finally to come to real grips with the aetiological aspect of mythology, the “how” of it, and not to regard it as anything easy and self-evident.” (What a curious comment)

Then they go on to bring in the work of anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski. p7 “On the basis of his experience Malinowski denies two things: firstly, the symbolical, and secondlyJ the aetiological character of living myth.”

Then here come the German word, Begründen, to be grounded. Absolute, but also reasoning. And now the return to the Greek wording, the 'cause' the 'principles' = archetypes here I think. The Archai, ἀρχαὶ (archai)

p10 “This return to the Origins and to primordiality is a basic feature of every mythology.” This primordiality relates to creation, and here the divine child and maiden goddess enter. p11. Mythological fundamentalism is defined as the immersion in to oneself…very curious. p11. Absolute and Relative.

The child is the origin of life - top of p13


To rebuild the world from that point about which and from which the “fundamentalist” himself is organised, in which he by his origin is (absolutely as regards bis unique and specific organization, relatively as regards his dependence on an infinite series of progenitors) - that is the great and paramount theme of mytbology, that is foundation κατ' εξοχήν : “par excellence”

Now it moves in to building cities, microcosm, macrocosm. …and the ceremonies associated with the building of the city.

p14 paragraph 2, what contradiction?…ahh, paragraph 2, p15…the quadrata = 4 sided figure, as opposed to the circle.

“Ceremonial is the translation of a mythological value into an act.”

p15 An explanation for this contradiction between the two geometric shapes, “He reminds us-what seems to have been forgotten - that the verbal adjective quadrata also means “divided into four.””

p16 So now we have the quadrata and circle ceremony. The square in the circle is a mandala. Plutarch is mentioned quite a lot here as he was the one who mentions both the quadrata and circle ceremony without contradiction - it seems therefore that the contradiction then is resolved by the 'divided into four parts' explanation.

p17 Crystal, gold, ruby and emerald…the colours of the world's four quarters. Cf. Alchemy here.

p17-18 Four heads signify the elements - Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Four infinite feelings of Buddhism:

  1. perfect virtue of sympathy
  2. perfect virtue of compassion
  3. perfect virtue of joy
  4. perfect virtue of equanimity

So we have a brief expose on the Buddhist and mandala's - circles and squares, then p18, then to ancient Italy, where similar ground plans are to found.

p18 We come to a conclusion here, the 'fusion of opposites' …I imagine they are referring to the square vs circle motif in the mandala's.

Individuation - or 'refounding' or 'reorganisation' as they call it.

p18-19 Quoting Jung, a Mandala is an ” autonomous psychic fact charactersed by an ever repeated phenomenology that is identical wherever it is met.“ (Emphasis mine)

p19 Quoting Jung again, The mandala-symbol is for bim “a sort of nuclear atom of whose inmost structure and ultimate meaning we know nothing” (The Integration of the Personality, p. 178)

The Secret of the Golden Flower (p. 105): “Such things cannot be thought out; they must grow again from the darle depths of oblivion if they are to express the supreme presentiments of consciousness and the loftiest intuitions . of the spirit, and thus fuse the uniqueness of consciousness as it exists today with the immemoral past of lite.”



Primordial images, mythologems, ceremonies

p19, Another question, “Where, then, does a definite mythological idea spring from, such as the mandala, which is still drawn today in East and West alike with the same meaning and yet without any communication between them, and which is probably at the bottom of the Roman foundation-ceremonies?

Mandala = myth?? …really???

Bottom of page 19 - What???

p20, talking about the quadrapartition of things. Back to the Buddhist mandala's. Consideration is made for the four cardinal points - as a reason. He talks of the rays of the mandala going out to define the cardinal points, not the cardinal points defining the four quarters. Then another question, “Is the origin of the fourfold division to be sought not, after all, in man but in the world at large?”

So where do the four points come from???…interesting question.

p21, Jung had presented an argument for the cosmic origin of the mandala symbol

p22, top, “Professor Jung nevertheless does not believe in the direct cosmic origin of fourfoldness.”

p22 Jung says the phenomenon of fourfoldness is not just an invention of the conscious mind but “a spontaneous product of the objective psyche,” the collective unconscious…. Curious comment at the end of this paragraph, also, he talks of the fourfoldness theme as a fundamental theme of mythology.

A lot of focus on fourfoldness

p22-23 mitosis meiosis …the splitting of organic cells. Somehow, this is a reference to where we come from, who we are…the fourfoldness split of cells from the fertilised egg from when we are born. …thus, does mythology have an organic origin, from us?…a psychic germ. So now to fourfoldness psychic activity.

Now onto the world clock, fourfold and threefold division.


Founding ceremonies!…and city plan.

p25 Man, moon, and the number three. Woman, sun, and the number four.

3 cows and a bull = 4

Goddess Hecate in triple form.

Zeus: Mother (Rhea), wife (Demeter), daughter ( Persephone) Compare with the Holy trinity (masculine)

p25-26 Now there's discussion of the different views of gender numerology; m=3, f=4. Or f=3, m=4. Or m=3, f=2.

“I'll Syrtian culture the moon pertains to man and tbe number tbree, the sun to woman and the number four.”

Apollo in Agyieus

p27 - the focus on the monad.

p28 Interesting view on the cosmic and the cosmic contained in us, and thus the cosmos meeting itself. Basically, like a seed exposed to the appropriate environment, we have the propensity for spirituality and thus the germ will grow in us. And then, woe to the environment if it kicks off the growth and there is nothing in the environment to correspond to it…like trees growing on buildings I reckon. Growing - an exposure as mush as an arising….mmm, interesting, the right exposure for growth.

Paideuma from Frobenius.

So the world needs to have the threefoldness and fourfoldness that is in us already - the exposure, the growth….from the monad (the single).

…leap into the world and possession of it.

p29 - we're all from the same Monad. First two stages, compulsion and monadic structure. The third…??? The round whole?? Artists = The giver of grounds. People are monadic??

p30 “universally human” = our monadic origins. The mythologems that come closest to these naked encounters with the Godhead we regard as the primary mythologems. Themes?? There are primary themes - mythologems from which all other content derives?

These in their pure state, e.g. the pure idea of the mandala, its “archetype,” so to speak, are pre-monadic. Cf. here the etymology of archetype. pre-monadic. The closer we get to these, closer to a mystic experience.

p31 - this is why its the same around the world.

On p3, the mention of the word 'mythology' from the original Greek. μυθολογία

p3-4 Mythology is both the creator and created of mythology. ἀρχαὶ

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