In the last two posts on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, I wrote about the creatrix or female world creator, either as Mother Universe (a single creatrix) or as “Morning Star”/”Evening Star” (multiple female creators). These come straight from the One/All/Abyss and are involved in the universal round of creation, degeneration, and destruction leading to a new round on a slightly higher spiritual level. When degeneration is taking the world down, a human female figure brings forth the redeemer of humankind through the virgin birth. I believe the womb of redemption is symbolic of any womb, and the redeemer is each one of us.

Degeneration

Recall that the universal round moves from a state as close to divine as humanity can get to a state of degeneration. Life becomes more violent. People get more selfish. Society gets more superficial. Authorities become more oppressive.

The Little Ego has usurped the judgment seat of the Self.

What I think Campbell is referring to here are Jungian (or Jungian-like) concepts. The Self is our entire consciousness, including what we know we know and what we don’t know we know. The Ego is only one part of consciousness, the one that functions within the material world. Until we expand our consciousness and see beyond the material world, the Ego thinks it’s in charge of everything. This is the state of degeneration that calls for drastic change.

Painting by Irish painter of Mother Mary's visit from the angel Gabriel and the dove of the Holy Spirit hovering above her head

“Seven Rejoices of Mary 1: The Annunciation” The Virgin Mary is told by the angel Gabriel that she will conceive Jesus the Savior. Note the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, hovering above her head and infusing her with Its light. Original painting by Irish artist Richard King (http://www.mayolibrary.ie/en/LocalStudies/MayoPeople/RichardKing/). Photo by Fergal of Claddagh, courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons

Savior/Redeemer

It’s at this point, Campbell tells us, that humanity needs a savior, though only a small number may recognize that need. The savior is of the One/All/Abyss. He, of course, is the hero of the Hero’s Journey. He is a sign of the cooperation of Spirit in the destiny of humankind. He is sent out of the Abyss to lead those who will follow back to it, preferably while still in life (as opposed to death). This is enlightenment.

The savior is born from a virgin, familiar to Christians through Jesus Christ but by no means unique to that tradition. The savior’s mother is generally regarded as pure and morally above the society in which she lives. Campbell writes that she’s a physical representation of the Great Goddess, the creatrix as Mother Universe or “Morning Star”:

Her womb, remaining fallow as the primordial abyss, summons to itself by its very readiness the original power that fertilized the void.

We can see more clearly how the savior represents pure love. It’s the pure love of Spirit sent to aid a troubled humanity bent on destruction.

Recall, however, that one of Campbell’s main messages in this book is that the hero of every myth represents us. And we can even see the virgin birth as representing the birth of every human being. The saying Man and woman make love but only God can make a baby isn’t just folk wisdom. These myths show us we are each and all touched by Spirit from birth. And we are each our own redeemer. In other words, we each have the capacity within us to see beyond the material world.

I don’t see this as necessarily relating to a higher power. As I once wrote in a post on what I think spirituality is, seeing beyond the material can mean seeing the highest we can attain in this lifetime: perfect compassion, perfect kindness, perfect virtue, perfect authenticity, perfect fulfillment. That state of perfect harmony within ourselves is an ideal that we really shouldn’t expect to achieve but should still strive for, and in my eyes, this is spiritual work.

So I see the virgin birth as a symbol of our birth, the birth of each one of us. We’re all born from the womb of redemption. Some spread their messages far and wide, like Jesus or the Buddha. Some spread their messages not so far and not so wide but still touch a lot of people. We all spread our messages of redemption to some people in our lives, whether it’s how to heal from trauma, how to show compassion, or how to give. All such messages take us beyond the material world and thereby raise humanity just a little above its degeneration.