Joseph Campbell and the Lunar Vision

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Earth looks back at Herself

On the evening of the full moon of August 1972, Joseph Campbell was lecturing at the Mann Ranch Seminars in northern California. *

I was on staff at the Mann Ranch. That evening we'd surprised the guests by leading them on a long hike up to the top of the highest point of the coastal range above Mendocino. There on the rocky ground, covered now with blue-and-white-checked tableclothes, we'd laid out a sumptuous picnic supper spread. (What the guests hadn't known was that the peak could be reached easily by road from the other side.)


As we were preparing to eat under the deep twilight sky, Campbell pointed out what was going on in the heavens above us. At that very moment, he said, as the sun was slipping below the edge of the earth to the west, the full moon was rising over the brown brink of the horizon to the east. Joe explained that as the sun was setting, the Greeks imagined, in its last ray it shot forth an arrow that wounded the full moon. And it was for that reason that the moon would then begin to wane until reborn two weeks later when it would rise with the rising sun.


Campbell also said, under that darkening azure sky with the great lunar globe ascending with ponderous majesty, that now the most powerful image in the mythological imagination--indeed since the crucifixion of Jesus--is the vision of the Earth from lunar orbit over the surface of the moon taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts, Christmas Eve 1968. It signified that for the first time the Earth was able to look back on itself through the eyes it had grown in human beings. The planet had evolved self-awareness.

 earth rise

That Campbell could entertain both the ancient mythological image and the modern scientific accomplishment as evidences of the dynamics of consciousness impressed me. From Campbell, I learned a certain enlightenment: that achieving perspective is the highest enterprise of the spiritual life. After all, it's all metaphor. The goal is to be able to understand truth from over and above, and to not make others wrong for how they see the world differently. That was also the message I'd discovered in my homosexuality: that being gay meant being outside the narrow confines of "normalcy," over and above the opinions of people, so that one could see, with critical distance, from a higher perspective and discover that nobody was wrong--us especially.


Joseph Campbell, though himself not gay, offered a way to think about truth and religion that seems to me especially appropriate for gay people. The attitudes that follow from his matter-of-fact and compassionate way of looking at things would result in the world of acceptance and honor we as gay people long for.

If religion is one of the biggest problems the gay community faces, then we'd do well to encourage and support the transformation of religion.

Keeping alive the vision of Joseph Campbell is the work of the Joseph Campbell & Marija Gimbutas Library on the campus of Pacifica Graduate Institute near Santa Barbara. Membership in the Library supports the kind of revolution in religion that most of us seek. For info, write the Campbell & Gimbutas Library, 249 Lambert Rd, Carpinteria CA 93013. Click here for the web sites of: Joseph Campbell & Marija Gimbutas Library Joseph Campbell Foundation

This article appeared in White Crane Journal, Winter 1997 (#31): EXERCISES IN SPIRITUALITY

*Memory can be a strange thing. The event described above is one of the pivotal experiences in my life. I have written about in my Great Secret books; I've told the story in lectures and over dining tables after a fine meal numerous times. It is how I understand the nature of the modern perspective on consciousness.

In May 2018, I was researching Campbell's appearances at the Mann Ranch to assist identifying the date and place of a set of tape recordings from the Mann Ranch that were titled by the subject matter of the talks. "Moonwalk" was one of the labels. I wondered how this talk could have been recorded since it was outdoors. I compared the descriptions of Joseph Campbell's talks in the Mann Ranch brochures I could find in a box in my office closet. I found that these talks seem to come from his August 10-13, 1972 seminar. But checking against the dates, the full moon of August, 1972 wasn't for another week and a half. The event I remembered couldn't have happened.

The full moon of August, 1973, however, a year later, happened on the 14th. The speaker at the Mann Ranch at that time, Aug 13-17, was Daniel C. Noel, an exponent of Campbell's thought, and specifically author of a book titled Approaching Earth: A Search for the Mythic Significance of the Space Age. His seminar was titled Re-entry: The Space-Age Search for Earth Archetypes.

It must have been Daniel C. Noel who gave that talk, explaining Campbell's idea of the Moonwalk as a mythological symbol of consciousness achieving a perspective on itself. The point was the same whether it was Joe or his disciple. But it is a totally different memory.

In my memory, I see, the disciple became the master.

OR—I have to add whimsically—what if history changed around behind me? That is, of course, a preposterous proposal, but it certainly would add another layer, another dimension to the phenomenon of consciousness achieivng perspective on itself.

By way of further introduction of Daniel C. Noel, here's part of an entry in the Encylcopeida of Religion and Nature written by William C. Doty. Doty cites Noel about the Campbellian idea of the Moonwalk.

Doty citing Campbell and Noel

click here to go back

rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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