#Mythology

Episode 70 - Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey is Founder Director of the  Institute of Sacred Activism, an international organization focused on inviting concerned people to take up the challenge of our contemporary global crises by becoming inspired, effective, and practical agents of institutional and systemic change, in order to create peace and sustainability. Sacred Activism is a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world. The large-scale practice of Sacred Activism can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants.

Andrew was born in south India in 1952, where he lived until he was nine years old. It is this early period that he credits with shaping his sense of the inner unity of all religions and providing him with a permanent and inspiring vision of a world infused with the sacred. He left India to attend private school in England and entered Oxford University in 1970 with a scholarship to study history. At the age of 21, he became the youngest person ever to be awarded a fellowship to All Soul’s College, England’s highest academic honor.

By 1977, Harvey had become disillusioned with life at Oxford and returned to his native India, where a series of mystical experiences initiated his spiritual journey. Over the next thirty years he plunged into different mystical traditions to learn their secrets and practices. In 1978 he met a succession of Indian saints and sages and began his long study and practice of Hinduism. In 1983, in Ladakh, he met the great Tibetan adept, Thuksey Rinpoche, and undertook with him the Mahayana Buddhist Bodhisattva vows. Andrew’s book about that experience, Journey in Ladakh, won the Christmas Humphries Award.

In 1984, Andrew Harvey began a life-long exploration and explication of Rumi and Sufi mysticism in Paris with a group of French Sufis and under the guidance of Eva De Vitray-Meyerovitch, the magnificent translator of Rumi into French. Andrew has written three books on that subject: The Way of PassionThe Celebration of Rumiand Perfume of the Desert, an anthology of Sufi mysticism. With Llewellyn Baughn Lee, he founded the Sufi Conferences, which have played a prominent role in uniting Sufis of all persuasions during the past six years. He has close connections with great Sufi teachers in America, Africa, India and Pakistan, and a very clear, comprehensive grasp of the state of modern Sufism in both the west and the east.

In 1990, he collaborated with Sogyal Rinpoche and Patrick Gaffney in the writing of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In 1992, he met Father Bede Griffiths in his ashram in south India near where Andrew had been born. It was this meeting that helped him synthesize the whole of his mystical explorations and reconcile eastern with western mysticism.

Andrew has since lived in London, Paris, New York, and San Francisco, and has continued to study a variety of religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. He has written and edited over 30 books. Other honors he has received include the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Mind Body Spirit Award (both for Mary’s Vineyard: Daily Readings, Meditations, and Revelations). Among Harvey’s other well-known titles are: Dialogues with a Modern MysticHidden JourneyThe Essential MysticsSon of ManThe Return of the Mother and The Direct Path.

Episode 57 - Dr. Catherine Svehla

Dr. Catherine Svehla is a cultural mythologist, storyteller, artist, and activist with a PhD in Mythological Studies. She draws on her knowledge of mythology and psychology to bring the story to life and share insight into the contemporary meaning of the tale. She uses myths and stories as the catalyst for conversation, group discussion, and shared reflection. Her goal is to teach as well as entertain, and to provoke thought as well as laughter. Among other projects, she runs the Mythic Mojo project that seeks to create a mini-revolution in consciousness by helping individuals explore the mythic dimensions of their lives. She states, 

"I’m calling for a mini-revolution because I think the old images of big and loud and violent have outlived their usefulness. I think that’s time for us to appreciate the quietly powerful, the tiny but significant, and the subversive nuance. As James Hillman says, “Think subtly, act simply.” Welcome to Mythic Mojo and the mini-revolution in consciousness."

Here, we discuss the significance of myth in the modern world, how stories are templates for engaging authentic human experience, and the transformational power of mythological consciousness. 

Episode 52 - Bob Walter

Robert Walter is an editor and an executive with several not-for-profit organizations. Most notably, he is the executive director and board president of the Joseph Campbell Foundation (JCF), an organization that he helped found in 1990 with choreographer Jean Erdman, Joseph Campbell's widow.

In 1979, Bob began to work on several projects with Campbell, who subsequently named him editorial director of his Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Following Campbell's death in 1987, Bob served as literary executor of Campbell's estate, completing Volumes I and II of the Atlas and supervising its posthumous publication. 

With JCF publishing director David Kudler, he continues to oversee the publication of Campbell's oeuvre, including the video series Joseph Campbell's Mythos and the other works in the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series, including the 2008 edition of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Prior to his work in publishing, Walter was a founding faculty fellow at the California Institute of the Arts; lectured widely on experiential education; and pursued a professional theater career, working for a decade as a director, production manager, and playwright. 

He has taken the Joseph Campbell Foundation to some wonderful places since Campbell's death in 1987. Here, we talk about what it's like to be responsible for the legacy of an intellectual titan, how recent discoveries in fields ranging from anthropology to neuropsychology have filled the gaps in the foundation laid by Campbell and how myth can be seen as living story, both individually and collectively.