Myths as Metaphors
This chapter reflects on how we can use myths to explore and illuminate the inner landscape through which we journey, and in which we are, inevitably, often lost. It describes the Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, New York, and its centerpiece: the Walled Garden, or “Garden of Eden.” A brainchild of Samuel Untermyer and designed by William Welles Bosworth, the Untermyer Gardens also features the Lion's Gate and the Tree of Knowledge. In the same way that Untermyer and Bosworth grew a garden by mythologizing a place, we can start to “grow a soul,” as anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff once put it, by mythologizing our lives. The trek through the gardens invites us to consider our inner journeys where ancient myths entwine with our own life stories. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell writes about the patterns in ancient mythology, offering as examples Prometheus and Jason. These ancient myths resonate not just in our popular culture but as metaphors in our own lives.
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