What Is This “Mythopoetic Thing?”

One of the first things you may encounter when getting acquainted with men’s work is the reference to the “mythopoetic.” This can be either confusing, off-putting or both. You can find theMythopoetic Men’s Movement somewhat historically defined on Wikipedia. But using ideas from some of the founders, James Hillman, Robert Bly and Michael Meade, they would say that we live on three levels simultaneously: the concrete (our literal and physical world), psychological (the world of thoughts, feelings and emotions), and mythological. The mythological level is at the heart of the men’s mythopoetic community. We can say it is where we live in deep meaning for the soul and spirit in our collective and personal stories, a world most easily accessed through the arts and poetry, seen in our dreams, myths and rituals.  


Shephard Bliss, an early leader in the Men’s Movement, has defined the mythopoetic simply as “re-mythologizing” (http://www.menweb.org/blissiv.htm ).  While we can take that to be knowing oneself and the collective in a mythic and poetic context, it also implies that it’s a way of being we’ve somehow lived in before, a story that can be re-awakened, re-visioned, re-imagined.  What better way to wake that world than to make meaning from our day to day story with a poem:

What Came Across  

Something came across the Brushy

Range this morning in the mist. Is it


the despair I share with my friend

recounting leaving his wife: the packed


bag, the blank canvas of a barren

apartment? I also had a marriage


die like that years ago. And too in the scent

of the wind before this afternoon’s


storm, there was the memory

of Grandpa, his window always open


to winter, setting up an army 

cot for me on the chill floor.  Maybe it came


with the thrill of watching

my granddaughter Violet abandon 


herself into fancy dance on the snowy

deck. It’s a tender


story built today as the light

fades and a Red-tail crosses


the ridge. I can’t see it but

I know it by its cry.


                                            Jim Neill and Larry Sorkin