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Mythic Identification


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Mythic Identification is a term introduced by Joseph Campbell.

Campbell argues that Egyptian cultural beliefs about a ruler’s relation to God or gods progressed through several historical stages, each taking its own form.

The first stage is mythic identification, where the ego is entirely absorbed by the real and/or imagined powers of the deity.

In pre-dynastic Egypt, the priesthood articulates this belief. Utterly lost in wonder at the immensity of the creator and the created cosmos, the god-like king willfully submits to self-sacrifice for the good of the community. By losing his mortal life at the altar, the king believes he doesn’t die because he’s already one with God. In tune with the immortal, his death merely signals a passing to a greater dimension.

This differs from mythic inflation, where rulers exhibiting haughty arrogance will lie, trick, exploit and murder to achieve worldly power, desires and prestige. Such rulers would never consider self-sacrifice for the good of the community.

Related Posts » Mythic Subordination, Mythic Dissociation, Mythic Eternalization



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Mythic Dissociation

Sistine Chapel ceiling, Vatican

Image by Richard Carter via Flickr

Mythic Dissociation is a term introduced by Joseph Campbell. Campbell argues that humanity’s beliefs about the ego‘s ideal relation to God (or the gods) takes different forms.

In mythic dissociation, the ego has a relationship with God. The psychologist-philosopher William James argues in The Varieties of Religious Experience that this characterizes the Christian approach to the deity but it also applies to Judeaism and Islam.

Related Posts » Mythic Eternalization, Mythic Identification, Mythic Inflation, Mythic Subordination


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Incarnation of Vishnu as a Fish, from a devoti...

Incarnation of Vishnu as a Fish via Wikipedia

Matsya is the first avatar of Visnu in Hinduism.

Matsya is a fish who saves the first man, Manu, from a flood by acting as a vehicle upon which Manu rides to safety.

Scholars have pointed out the obvious parallel to Noah.

And the Sumerian myth of Gilgamesh also contains a flood story similar but not identical to the Biblical account.

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