Traditionally, the first function the living mythology is to reconcile consciousness to the preconditions of its own existence; that is to say, to the nature of life.
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The first, primitive orders of mythology are affirmative: they embrace life on its own terms. I don’t think any anthropologist could document a primitive mythology that was world-negating. When you realize what primitive people run up against–the pains and the agonies and the problems simply of existing–I think it’s quite amazing. I’ve studied a lot of the myths of these cultures around the world, and I can’t recall a single negative word in primitive thought with respect to existence or to the universe. world-wariness comes later, with people who are living high on the hog.
The only way to affirm life is to affirm it to the root, to the rotten, horrendous base. It is this kind of affirmation that one finds in the primitive rights. Some of these rights are so brutal you can hardly read about, let alone look at, them. Yet they present a vivid image before the young adolescent mind: life is a monstrous thing, and if you’re going to live, you’ve got to live this way; which is to say, within the traditions of the tribe.
that’s the first function of mythology: not merely a reconciliation of consciousness to the preconditions of its own existence, but reconciliation with gratitude, with love, with recognition of the sweetness. Through the bitterness and pain, the primary experience at the core of life is a sweet, wonderful thing. This affirmative view comes pouring in on one through these terrific rights and myths.
Joseph Campbell (Pathways to Bliss, 4)