When you think of a Voodoo soap company your mind immediately turns to Joseph Campbell. No? Well, it's my company and March 26th is Joseph Campbell’s birthday. This month I am taking time to raise a glass to him. For those of you who are familiar with his work you understand. For those who don’t know who he is, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to his works.

Who is he?

Wikipedia has a wonderful article on Joseph Campbell. It outlines his journey, influences, and work. The short version is; he was a genius at comparative mythology and religions. He was a literature professor for Sarah Lawrence College who specialized in mythology.  Campbell combined his extensive knowledge of world religions and mythologies. He then projected them through the lens of anthropology and psychology. Lots of people do that. What made him so special?

Campbell did not view different myths in isolation, separated by time and space. He channeled his knowledge of mythology through the Freudian and Jungian concepts of the human psyche and the universal unconscious. Campbells unique and powerful contribution was to see  myths and religions from a shared, universal, human perspective. These stories don’t illustrate how different we are. In reality, they reinforce how humans are all, well. . . . human.  They are a sort of how-to guide in being human. The Hero's Journey is the myth Joseph Campbell unified as the monomyth. 

The Monomyth and Why It's Awesome

Joseph Campbell looked beyond the minutiae of each culture’s Hero story and found the trajectory of each was the same. He called this central story the monomyth. The Hero with a Thousand Faces  is the book that explores this topic. This book needs to be on everyone's must read list. Examples of The hero’s journey include; tales of Odysseus, Beowulf, Hercules, the Arthurian legends, tales of the Buddha, Prometheus, Quetzalcoatl, Harry Potter, and Luke Skywalker.  

Merriam-Webster defines myth as “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon.” In other words, myths are stories that explain things that we can’t. OK, so long, long ago they told people why the sun rose, or explained why the seasons change. What do they do for people that have science? There is still a lot science has yet to discover. Plus, myths explain things that lie outside the realm of physical science. 

Why this is important to us:

Remember a myth is a story that explains what we can’t. A deeper look at these myths, especially at the Hero’s Journey, reveals a how-to manual for life. In its essence, the hero’s journey provides perspective on how to handle our own trials and tribulations. In these stories we discover how to turn them into opportunities for growth. The hero’s journey is the coming of age story. It is our coming of age story. We relive this coming of age over and over throughout our lives. During this journey, the hero finds his true potential. This is relevant to each of our own personal journeys. It provides guidance on finding our own true potential. In his own words Campbell states:

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth--penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”- The Power of Myth

This article illustrates this point beautifully. 

This is everything. The Hero’s Journey illustrates what it means to experience being alive. These myths illustrate life to us in the language of the subconscious. Beyond explaining the how of the world around us, they also illustrate the why of our inner workings.  Even with our science and technology, myths are still illustrating what we cannot. 

His Works

As I said at the beginning, if you are familiar with Joseph Campbell you know his works. If not, now you know a little, itty bitty bit about his works. I would HIGHLY recommend reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and The Masks of God series. The Power of Myth is available in text, and is on YouTube.  



Unsurprisingly, when you run a Voodoo soap company, you get a lot of questions about philosophy and religion. Joseph Campbell has shaped much much of the philosophy at the core of this company. Voodoo values community, self empowerment, and personal responsibility. These are vital qualities to us individually, and for us to cultivate for a healthy community. This is what, according to Joseph Campbell, myths, at their very core, are trying to teach us. 

Happy birthday Mr. Campbell. It’s always a blessing to watch someone who has found their passion and mission. Natural educators are one of the greatest treasures we have. I'm grateful to have learned from you.  Wherever you are now, I know you have found your bliss. 


“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell