Letter from the Editor
My name is Brendan Graham Dempsey. I'm a writer, artist, and editor living in Vermont, and I created PersonalMythology.org in 2019 to help people find a deeper sense of identity through personal mythic storytelling.
I know that learning to tell my mythic Story proved absolutely crucial for getting out of a pretty hopeless place and back into a meaningful sense of existence. I suspect that there are many others out there who could benefit from the same medicine.
We all need a Story. From an early age, I was immersed in the rich myths of the Biblical tradition. My family was very religious, and the Christian Story of sin and redemption became my Story—the one I lived by.
Because it was so important to me, so foundational to my sense of who I was and what was important, I chose to devote my life to that Story. I wanted to learn to tell it as best as I possibly could. I wanted to know it inside and out. And so, when I got to college, I chose to study the Bible with a plan of someday teaching at a seminary.
Because I had to learn Greek (the language of the New Testament), I found myself taking a lot of classes in Classics. I wasn't looking for it, but the study of the Greco-Roman tradition opened up a whole new world of stories—myths and legends I'd never heard of, all told in a rich, poetic language of symbols.
But those were just silly myths, I thought, not the true Story I lived by...
And yet, the more my studies progressed and the deeper I delved into biblical scholarship, the less confident I became and the more my own Story came to seem like, well, myth. The historical reality I sought behind the miracles and mighty acts kept receding further and further until...I could no longer believe my own Story.
As I said, we all need a Story. Losing your Story is one of the most disorienting things that can happen to a person. When I lost mine, I didn't know who I was anymore, or what I was supposed to do. My whole life trajectory had been aiming towards the end of that Story. Without that end, I had no aim, no goal, no meaning.
For me, the solution came accidentally, gradually, but instinctively. I'd been a writer since I was a kid, and was used to processing my experience through the medium of fiction. Now that I was familiar with the epics and myths of the Classical tradition—stories of warring gods and struggling humans—as well as many other canonical works of world literature, it felt right to engage my psychological struggle with losing God in that way, using myth to tell the loss of myth.
I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into.
Translated into mythic symbols, my stifling inner experience was suddenly opened up to exploration. Converted into narrative, my grappling with Meaning became comprehensible, a story meaningful in itself.
Before, God had been a figure whose actions I could only read about. Now, I was writing them, describing His fall from Heaven, dramatizing His descent, etc. Suddenly, God and I were on the same plane, and, quite literally, the same page. I could address Him, yell at Him, even help Him. Through myth, I entered into the landscape of my psyche, and found that I could walk around in it, investigate it, work things out in ways that purely rational thinking could never have allowed. Through mythologizing my experience, I found a therapeutic means for spiritual catharsis.
Dramatizing my existential problems using the personae of mythology ultimately helped reveal a new ending, and thus a new path. By telling my story about a loss of meaning, I had actually stumbled upon a plot for a new Story, a new meaning. In exploring my loss of faith I was simultaneously building a new one by the very crafting of my personal mythology.
Now, what was really made to mark the end of something has become the beginning of a much bigger project. I have a Story again----it's one I myself am writing. PersonalMythology.org is a part of my journey, part of my mission and meaning: namely, to help other people discover or reclaim a sense of sacred meaning through imagination.
It'd be awesome if you joined on the adventure.