Your mythic life: mythological musing #2

Remember when you were young? How your history teacher would tell you with radiant eyes- about the Greek mythology? Mythology seems far away. How are mythological stories relevant in your life today? Mindfunda explores mythological themes in 2 blogs :

Your mythic life
Myth Stories

Your Mythic life

To be aware of your mythic challenge in life is to understand that the meaning of your life is bigger than your day-to-day drama. Getting in touch with your cultural and ancestral roots will renew your sense of self.

“Personal myths are laden within the hopes and disappointments of prior generations. Your mythology is your legacy from the past, as well as a source of guidance and inspiration for the future.” Personal Mythology David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner.

Personal Mythology

The book Personal Mythology suggests a process of five sequential steps:

  1. Recognizing when a guiding myth is no longer an alley.
    I recently had a sleepless night looking back at my life and realizing that I always felt like the odd one out. Lying awake I could feel and see how this had been a comfortable feeling: being the artistic unappreciated one. But I also felt how I alienated myself from others by being shy and introverted in public. The first step is realizing that you are in a mythological pattern and recognizing that this pattern does not fit you any more.

In mythological terms I always felt like Hephaestus, being lame and mocked at. I am used to working so hard to gain approval but I never did right. Time to change myths.

2. Bring the roots of mythic conflict into focus.
The second step into writing your own fairy tale is writing a solution to the conflict discovered in step one. Richard Gardner‘s method of story telling is used as a way of guiding you through the next step. He asks a child to tell a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. He retells the story to the child with another ending. It is kind of like the way we usually deal with nightmares: we retell the story in a positive way.

3. It is time to conceive a new mythology. In the workshop Stanley gave in Utrecht the Netherlands we danced, visualized and wrote down a new vision. We were guided into a meditation to meet our tribe animal (mine was the deer: strong but gentle).


4. From vision to commitment.
After re-writing your personal fairy tale it is time to feel it in your body. Like Catherine Wikholm said in her interview with me about her book the Buddha pill: you need to involve your body to grow spiritually. You can’t go sitting around meditating all day.

5. Weaving this new mythology into your daily life.
Right now I am very aware that I keep engaging in conversation in social situations. I keep alerting my self not to wander off during conversation that I do not find extremely interesting. I always engage by asking people to tell more, so I can make sure to ge engaged.

These are five wonderful steps and it is worth to go through the process on a regular basis. Especially when you are in a crises. And because the book is so good and I really want you to buy one (if it is not in your book closet already, I have some extra comments for you. A Mindfunda bonus.

Your mythic life and epigenitics

When it comes to family you also have to take epigenetics into account. Lately a lot of research has shown the conditions of the environment are being passed on from generation to generation. “It means that a parent’s experiences, in the form of epigenetic tags, can be passed down to future generations”.
Sometimes it is so much easier to understand the behavior of the family you grew up in terms of genetics or epigenetics.

When I got a workshop in personal mythology from Stanley Krippner we got an assignment. We had to step back, literally, into the feet of our ancestors. If you do that think about the following questions:

  • What are your major concerns?
  • What are your primary sources of satisfaction?
  • How do you understand your position within society: its limitations, privileges and responsibilities?
  • If you look at a nonhuman authority to explain human destiny, what is its nature?

I have found these questions to be very insightful. I have done genealogical research into my fathers’ as well as my mothers’ family. So it was relatively easy for me to step back into the shoes of my ancestors.
Being farmers their major concerns had to do with having enough food. They worked hard. That is the spirit I grew up in: I have to work hard. I always run around doing things. And I like it. I do not like lying on the beach in the sun for more than two days. I get bored. After two days I want to go out and explore. See new things.

Your mythic life and your inner shaman

Stanley Krippner and David Feinstein propose in their book that dreams are the portals of your personal mythology. And that dreams are either supporting a new personal myth or an old one. Having been through all the exercises and been tought by the master (Stanley Krippner) in a workshop myself I can assure you that looking at your life from a bigger perspective is good for you.


connect with your inner shaman


The book invites you to take your culture, your ancestors and your own personal history as a starting point. Looking at your own life in terms of a fairy tale will enhance your love for yourself. The best gift I can give my clients is to ask them to tell me their life story. They are almost always surprised about their inner strength. The way in which this book connects you with your inner wisdom: your inner shaman will be a precious gift for the rest of your life. No matter what you believe in:
in a god,
in science or
in atheism, connecting with your inner wisdom will always help you.


I have several ways in which I ask my inner shaman for help in times of crises. I envision my third eye as a window and I draw open the curtains. I feel or see the thing that is right for me. Yes, your inner shaman can only be a feeling.

picture: Iona Miller on Jungiangeneology.weebly

Sometimes my inner shaman is the old man archetype. At the workshop Stanley was very clear about shamanism: seek your inner shaman. There is no need to travel into distant countries to be educated as shaman. You are free to search within.

Your mythic life and your dreams

David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner suggest that dreams either represent an old personal mythology that does not function anymore, or a new personal mythology to replace the old one.

“...You can learn to sense the relationship between patterns you find in your dreams and your developing personal myths. Dreams serve to mediate between your daily experiences and your underlying myths. Working with your dreams can reveal changes in your personal mythology that are occurring outside your awareness” (Personal Mythology).

I had a dream about my image of god, one that I have talked about in my stories about reading the Red Book. Stepping back into the shoes of my ancestors made me realize that they were very religious people. I was raised in the Catholic faith. Both my grandmother and my mother had a child every year.
One night I had a dream about one of my ancestors, my grandmother Sophia. Sophia is also the name of the Goddess of Wisdom, the wife of God, the eternal mother.  In my dream I leave a party. I walk outside and in the shade I find a lake. At that lake is a woman. She looks familiar. She looks like the lady who raised my father: Sophia. She puts her hand into the lake and grasps out a fish. According to Jung, the fish or ichtus was a symbol of religion. She takes the fish and smashes its head against a stone. The eye of the fish flies up in the air. In my dream i am very angry at her for destroying an innocent life like this. I grab the fish and put it back into water. But it is death.

This dream was the onset of a changing vision of religion. I explored the concept of “the god within”. Humans are wired for religion. The idea of something bigger than us organizing things, the idea of your life as being part of “The Plan” it can add value to your life. It can add value to your happiness.

Your Mythic life: writing your own fairy tale

One of the nicest things of this book is that it encourages you to write and re-write your life. You are the hero of your own story. The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis is used as a model to structure your own story. Adam and Eve lived in paradise. And one day, they lost it.

If you look at your life, there was a time when you were a child that you lived in paradise. Than a crises occurred, and everything changed. Paradise lost.
Start writing part one, and don’t criticize yourself. Let the story unfold. Start with the magic words: “Once upon a time...”.
The book is loaded with exercises to help you through this process. To help you use your dreams to clarify your own mythology.
Than write the second part of the story. How your paradise was lost. What crises occurred? Your original mythology had to be replaced. What was your new mythology?

Each crises makes you want to re-define your mythology. Obstacles need to be transformed into opportunities. The book gives rituals, dream incubation, shamanic techniques and movement to help you through this transformation. Needless to say that I am a big fan of the five steps the book gives to guide you through this process. Identify your mythology, identify when an old mythology does not fit anymore, discover a new mythology, bring the new vision into your daily life and tending this new vision into the community you live in. I have used this book over and over again and still find new treasures.
One tiny bit of criticism: I do not think that every dream represents either an old or a new myth. I am always aware that looking at dream with only this mythological scope does not serve the magnitude of significance you can attach to a dream. But if you want to start working with the guidance that myths have to offer you, this is the book for you. “Myths are not legends or falsehoods. They are rather, the models by which human beings code and organize their perceptions, feelings, thoughts and actions“. Diving into your personal Mythology will bring you at the root of your being.

< Jumped in from elsewhere? Start at part 1 part 1

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What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” Joseph Campbell used to say. This part of Mindfunda shows you how your personal mythology can create peace in your life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.

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