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Beyond Good and Evil

Joseph Campbell

When you get down into the depths of mythology, [mythic] forms are beyond good and evil. With the Indian deities—this is the wonderful thing about them—the upper right hand will say. “Fear not” and below it is the boon-bestowing hand; and the upper left will have a sword, and in the lower a recently amputated head. These are the two aspects of power, the two aspects of being. in our traditions—and this is true even all the way back to the Greeks—the beneficent and the malfeasant aspects of power tend to be separated and contrary entities.

Is that when trouble arises?

No, not necessarily—provided the two are in play with each other. But when one is impugned, as in our tradition where the powers of the deep are consigned to Hell … It’s interesting that the symbols of Shiva and of Poseidon are exactly those that are given to the Devil in Christian mythology—the bull’s foot and the tridents. So the power which is symbolized in those forms has been pushed aside as though it should not be admitted.—Joseph Campbell, An Open Life