“The symbology of religion is, in many of its most essential elements, common to the whole of the human race; so that, no matter to what religion you may turn, you will––if you look long enough––find a precise and often illuminating counterpart to whatever motif of your own tradition you may wish to have explained. Consequently, the reference of these symbols must be to something that is antecedent to any historical events to which they may have become locally applied. Mythological symbols come from the psyche and speak to the psyche; they do not spring from or refer to historical events. They are not to be read as newspaper reports of things that, once upon a time, actually happened.”
Joseph Campbell, “The Interpretation of Symbolic Forms,” The Mythic Dimension, p. 198
Image: William Blake, Elohim creating Adam.
2 thoughts on “Joseph Campbell on religious symbols”
While the particulars of each religious tradition are beautiful and important, J.C. does such a good job on identifying the universals, which in the end, I think, are more important. Thanks for your thoughts. CMK.
Indeed, the more I study and compare spiritual traditions the more this becomes apparent. Great quote. I really dig Joseph campbell!