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Paperback The Flight of the Wild Gander : Explorations in the Mytholological Dimensions of Fairy Tales, Legends, and Symbols Book

ISBN: 0060964901

ISBN13: 9780060964900

The Flight of the Wild Gander : Explorations in the Mytholological Dimensions of Fairy Tales, Legends, and Symbols

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This description may be from another edition of this product. In The Flight of the Wild Gander , renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell explores the individual and geographical origins of myth, outlining the full range of mythology from Grimm's fairy tales to...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Many insights and many quotable sections.

I found the first three essays rather challenging to read. The author draws parallels between the outpouring of the subconscious(dreams), especially in reference to the theories of Freud and Jung, and the development of myth. Those who probe the psyche can see similarities in people everywhere that go beyond culture. Like dreams, myths are "enigmatic to the uninitiated ego" and "protective of that ego".They are borne of visionaries, poets, dreamers, artists, shamans, "the tender minded" who refer to symbols but are not fixed on symbols like the "tough minded." Human beings have a gestation period in which myths are vital for passing through initiations and travails, especially for facing life and death; and in the end the goal, at least where the absolute authority of a doctrine can be eclipsed, is to be released from myth. The last three essays are more concerned with the broad sweep of mythic themes and meanings, as in the study of comparative mythology. It helps to have read a good portion of THE MASKS OF GOD in order to get background for a better understanding. As in the first part of the book, the author still dwells on the abstract and esoteric, as in the use of Jung's differentiation between sign and symbol; but here, there is more of that broad comparison that involves the Orient and the Occident, the primitive and the modern; that gives a fascinating perspective into the basis of the major religions, that explains something of what Jung meant when he said that "religion is a defense against a religious experience." For a very long time, humankind lived as hunters and food-gatherers, independent in the sense that each person could master all the technology known and could act as a self-sustaining unit. Only in the last ten thousand years or so, since the advance of agriculture, have humans organized into a division of labor and lifetime pursuits. This recent trend toward organization resulted in a cosmology, as seen in the hieratic (priestly) city state, built on the basis of astronomical order applied to all of creation; and this emphasis on order spread to other parts of the world and can be seen in the geometrical designs of "mandalas, icons and yantras." The ancient shamanistic practices that are individualistic no longer had a place in this world. But the cosmology of old, conceived well before anyone had seriously contended that the earth is round or that the earth revolves around the sun, has been shown by modern science to be deficient; and therefore, there has been every reason to question religions that insist upon belief in outdated conceptions. The spirit of the shaman, then, has returned - the flight of the individual as symbolized by a bird or wild gander. And, the author notes this symbol of flight is also applicable to certain ascetic traditions, especially those that have been derived from India.


For devoted fans who cannot get enough of Joseph Campbell's thoughts, I highly recommend THE FLIGHT OF THE WILD GANDER. Although the book was first published in 1969, Campbell's thinking on the subject of religion and shamanism was well formed by then, and many of the ideas he discussed with Bill Moyers in the famous PBS interviews are more fully developed in this text. Also, if you have read his HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES you will find much of what he has to say in GANDER further distills and elaborates those ideas. GANDER includes several related essays. Essays of greatest interest to me were also the most difficult to follow - `Primative Man as Metaphysician' `Mythogenesis' and `The Secularization of the Sacred' the latter essay summarizing and complementing the earlier essays. Campbell describes first step of the process of individuation, as a growing awareness of a higher power accomplished by traveling a singular path versus merely accepting and acting on the teachings of a `religious' tradition associated with one's social group. He suggests that truly coming to know God is a frightening prospect(other people may persecute you as a heretic to say nothing of the sheer awe of the experience) and lonely experience(no one, neither priest or medicine man/witch doctor can do it for you) that one can only carry out by letting go through a `Shamanistic' experience comparable to those expeienced by American Indians, Eastern yogis, and other traditional people. Even after you have got yourself out on a limb, so to speak, you will only know finite things because `that which stands behind' the Masks of God is unknowable by humans. Any summarization of this text I might provide is trite. You owe it to yourself to read this book and find your own path. BTW, if you are searching for more material to continue your "Da Vinci Code" experience you will find that Campbell was aware of the search for the grail long before many of today's popular writers.

From myth symbols to temporal terms in spiritual thinking

Joseph Campbell's Flight Of The Wild Gander provides selected essays by the author, which cover mythological explorations from 1944-68. From myth symbols to temporal terms in spiritual thinking, this provides many intriguing insights.

Myriad-Minded Mythologist!

This is Joseph Campbell at his most wide-ranging--from intense academic essays like his foreword to the Grimm Bothers' Tales to philosophical explorations of the place of myth in today's world like "Secularization of the Sacred" and "Symbol without Meaning." My favorite essay in the collection is "Bios and Mythos", where Campbell goes into the question of the biological basis for spiritual thought. Really mindblowing stuff!

Terrific reissue of a classic.

This is one of my favorite JC books. The essays in this book stand up to the test of time, albeit not THAT long ago. Campbell was a romantic Jungian and Neumannian, but he took their work, and Zimmer's to greater heights and broader sights. This book is just lovely-- a treasure-filled collection of comparative mythology and psychological insight. Definitely one of Campbell's best. It was so hard to find, I pleased that it has been reissued.
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