We’ll take a deep dive into 50 Applied Mythology Quotes and how they apply to your life in practical ways. From business to health and relationships.
“There’s nothing new under the sun”.
This adage, from Ecclesiastes 1:9, has always stuck with me. Every time a new idea or concept emerges, I like to take a look at what other people have said about it already.
Most of the time, I realize that the foundation is already there. And that gives me a boost to keep searching and synthesizing, knowing that I have what you’d call proof of concept!
Applied Mythology is no different. Even though, as far as I know, we’re the first to take a stab at formally systemizing and unifying mythology into a self-improvement tool, the original purpose of these stories was always pedagogical in nature
From Aesop’s Fables to comparative mythology, the expression of our psyche found footing in the primordial arcs and narratives of the sacred traditions of our civilization.
In this blog post, I want to reiterate how we’ve been struggling to integrate these stories into our day to day lives. Great men and women found inspiration and the insight they needed in mythology.
Let’s take a look at 11 applied mythology quotes.
Applied Mythology Quotes
1. “If you take myth and folklore, and these things that speak in symbols, they can be interpreted in so many ways that although the actual image is clear enough, the interpretation is infinitely blurred, a sort of enormous rainbow of every possible color you could imagine.”
This is a beautiful quote from the writer of “Howl’s Moving Castle”, Diana Wynne Jones.
It resonates with me and the vision of applied mythology for many reasons. It underlines how mythology is an arrangement of symbols, a form if you will, where everyone will see a different story emerge.
Instead of looking at myths as plots and characters, we can see them as expressions of our inner world through symbols and their interactions. We project our life and experiences, infusing these stories with our energy.
2. “The thing about playing gods, whether you’re playing Thor and Loki or Greco Roman gods or Indian gods or characters in any mythology, the reason that gods were invented was that they were basically larger versions of ourselves.”
From the actor portraying Loki in the Marvel Universe, Tom Hiddleston.
It’s one thing to hear this from a writer but when it comes from someone who has actually embodied, whether it’s fictional or mythopoeic, the qualities of a God it’s that much more important.
“… they were larger versions of ourselves”. We are part of them and they are part of us. When you read about Gods and Goddess, you’re reading about a version of yourself, a simulacrum of your personality traits and behaviors.
Their insights are your insights. We’re dramatizing our daily lives through myths and legends!
3. “Mythology is composed by poets out of their insights and realizations. Mythologies are not invented; they are found. You can no more tell us what your dream is going to be tonight than we can invent a myth. Myths come from the mystical region of essential experience.”
Joseph Campell, the father of comparative mythology, perfectly understood the nature of your public dreams, as he’d call them.
I want you to focus on the phrase “mystical region of essential experience”.
We don’t read mythology as much as we’re experiencing it through our actions. You cannot invent, you can only find legends – and they exist in the recesses of our not-so-aware-of subconscious.
And it is a mystical place because it is the unknown or that which we don’t recognize anymore. And we don’t recognize it because we’ve stopped examining our lives through these terms.
4. “A myth is far truer than a history, for a history only gives a story of the shadows, whereas a myth gives a story of the substances that cast the shadows.”
Annie Bessant, a prolific theosophist writer and human rights activist, understood the origins of the “story”.
The metaphor is quite beautiful. From my perspective, history journals the effect of human nature on reality, while myths explore human nature itself.
So, indeed history deals with the shadows that we cast – one could probably take this literally; the Jungian shadow – while mythology focuses on the stories that encapsulate who we are.
5. “Myths which are believed in tend to become true.”
So simple, yet so plethoric in its meaning. George Orwell needs no introduction but perhaps his ideas do.
This one in particular highlights the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy. How we often hold beliefs, subconsciously, that influence our fate. Myths in that regard outline the mechanical, schematic progression of the stories we tell ourselves.
There are unspoken, almost superstitious beliefs, about the way different events in our lives should play out.
The influence of Hollywood is a testament to that. Movies create certain tropes and character stereotypes that can direct our decisions subconsciously.
(A concrete and obvious example is how the good guys always win in the end… which isn’t always the case in real life)
Escaping from these modern paradigms through myths can provide clarity to your path.
6. “A myth is a metaphor for a mystery beyond human comprehension. It is a comparison that helps us understand, by analogy, some aspect of our mysterious selves. A myth, in this way of thinking, is not an untruth but a way of reaching a profound truth”
Christopher Vogler understands how mythology works better than most academics and intellectuals. After all, he wrote one of the most famous myths of our time; the Lion King.
I want to focus on that little parenthetical; “by analogy”.
It is through analogy, relative and comparative story-telling, that we can safely bring out and explore the dark corners of ourselves.
We cannot go down there naked. We need protection. The myth is our way of looking at humanity through the protective glass. Safe from the terrors and the monsters hiding under our bed.
Analogy is how applied mythology can show you how evil you can be in a specific context – without actually committing the metaphorical murder!
7. “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”
Another quote by Joseph Campell.
This was one of the earliest inspirations about the title of this blog, Dreams and Mythology.
The same way we attempt to interpret dreams through oneirology, applied mythology is an attempt to interpret the public dreams of the collective unconscious and how we relate to the larger narratives of reality.
8. “A myth or legend is simply not made up out of a vacuum. Nothing is–or can be. Somehow there is a kernel of truth behind it, however distorted that might be.”
Issac Asimov, a modern mythmaker, understands how myths aren’t made up stories but a retelling of our personal, inner workings of our soul.
That kernel of truth is what we’re trying to palpate. Perhaps we can’t truly feel what’s underneath but we can definitely observe the effects.
9. “We must have a new mythology, but it must place itself at the service of ideas, it must become a mythology of reason. Mythology must become philosophical, so that the people may become rational, and philosophy must become mythological, so that philosophers may become sensible. If we do not give ideas a form that is aesthetic, i.e., mythological, they will hold no interest for people.”
There’s a lot to unpack here. After all, it’s Hegel we’re talking about…
I’ve mentioned in my latest post how aesthetics breed meaning. One of the functions of applied mythology is to embellish psychological truths with the vibe and aesthetics of mythological stories.
That way, your experiences become tangible, concrete, and easier to mold.
But why’s that important?
Well, sensibility for once. Instead of relying on the abstraction of our imperfect minds, we can lean on the timeless wisdom of the story. To make ideas mythological as Hegel puts it is to take the conceptual and make it literary.
Through your personal mythology. Through the application of the fables and parables to your life.
10. “Everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is. And you should know what your myth is because it might be a tragedy and maybe you don’t want it to be.”
Your myth. Your personal mythology. Your place in the grand story of the world.
Jung echoes what we’ve been trying to do here. Flesh out your fate, your myth, into a substantive, organized story.
To know who you are is to know where you’re going.
And it is precisely that process of awareness and active imagination that can result in the sort of life that’s nothing less than magical.
11. “We can keep from a child all knowledge of earlier myths, but we cannot take from him the need for mythology.”
Even if you remove from the curriculum all mentions of myth, the child will find a way to tell the very same legends we took away.
You will find a way.
Bonus from Tolkien’s Biography from Humphrey Carpenter
“But, said Lewis, myths are lies, even though lies breathed through silver.
No, said Tolkien, they are not.
Just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.
We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
You mean, asked Lewis, that the story of Christ is simply a true myth, a myth that works on us in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened? In that case, he said, I begin to understand.”
I don’t know another passage about mythology so powerful and succinct.
Tolkien is the father of modern myth-making. The progeny of Homer and Orpheus. He spent his whole life weaving a new world, another layer on top of ours. He was closer to the truth than history is because he understood how humanity self-organizes and consumes information.
Applied Mythology: The Alchemical Transformation of your Soul
This subtitle could become a book one day. In the meantime, I want to reiterate the lessons we learned from these 11 applied mythology quotes under this banner.
I have no interest in the pure, academic analysis of mythology. There are far more skilful people already doing that.
What I’m interested in is transformation. Using these stories and narratives to ignite the transformative power of our psyche. Unifying mythology through a systemic approach to the practical and grounded praxeology of archetypes, the mythoneiric process, and the allegorical nature of myth.
If you have more applied mythology quotes, feel free to share them below.
Writer. Seeking to discover my private mythology through dreams.