The power of myth lies in its ability to translate the energy of our untapped human potential that exists in our subconscious minds into our fully realized potential so that we are able to live the lives we deserve to.
Wow, that’s a mouthful.
And yes, this does sound like some mumbo jumbo, psycho babble so let me rephrase it. Because it’s important…more important than you can realize right now.
If you’ve taken my course on overcoming writer’s block you will know that human beings actually have three minds; the conscious, the unconscious and the super conscious or, as James Bonnet calls it in his book Stealing Fire From The Gods, the creative unconscious.
The conscious mind is very limited in its awareness and can only concentrate on seven, plus or minus two, bits of information at a time. This is why we hyphenate phone numbers in order to remember them.
But, at the level of your unconscious mind we all possess a vast, unrealized potential.
Now, the creative unconscious is also referred to as the collective unconscious because it is the warehouse of everything everybody has ever known.
This is the universal mind which includes Shakespeare, Einstein, Newton, Jesus, Buddha, Bob the janitor and everyone else. So it’s a pretty rich storehouse of information.
And, we can all access it.
Well, in his book Bonnet explains how the power of myth, through the stories we tell, does just that.
You see, stories are actually devices, engines even, for translating all the psychological issues we have at our subconscious level (the bully in 3rd grade said you had a big nose) into something much better for ourselves (“yeah, big noses are awesome that’s why people love me and consider me a hero”).
These stories, because of the way they are structured, speak to us on a subconscious level without us even knowing it and help us to realize our true potential.
But, the important thing to understand is that, as we moved from the oral tradition to the written word, the power of myth to transform us through stories, was castrated. Yes, the stories of today have, for the most part, literally become cut off from the power of stories from a previous age.
Bonnet explains that, even when modern stories employ just one or two of the elements of the great stories of old, they go on to be bestsellers. Star Wars and Titanic are just two examples of stories that have employed some of the techniques, and reclaimed the former power of the old, great stories.
The Secret Lies In The Hero’s Journey
You see, it has to do with the idea of the hero’s journey, a journey that each of us faces thousands of times in our lives.
The hero moves from a location of comfort and understanding (which represents the conscious mind) to a destination of fear and chaos (unconscious mind) where the hero must dig deep within himself or herself to win the prize (his/her unrealized potential) which he then brings home (he consciously realizes his potential).
This is the power of myth to create lasting change in your readers and this is why stories that employ these techniques are so popular and have such lasting power.
They are virtually irresistible to readers.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg and this is a pretty big topic so, if you’d like to learn how to use the power of myth to write stories that are irresistible, I highly recommend reading Stealing Fire From The Gods as well as The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structures For Writers by Christopher Vogler.