Beyond the Mist

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cuardai's picture

Author: Peter O'Connor

Publisher: Orion Media

ISBN Number: 0752843834

Publication Date: July 1st 2001

Reviewed by: cuardai


Beyond the Mist is a book that intrigued me from the moment I read a synopsis of it on Amazon. It is a book that is written by a psychologist called Peter O’Connor. I really wanted to see what psychologist had to say about Irish Mythology.

In the preface of the book the author tells us that he is approaching the subject as a student of mythology who happens to be a psychologist rather than an expert on both mythology and psychology. His hope is that the world of Irish mythology will re-orientate our thoughts to the imaginal and re-establish a sense of awe, uncertainty and mystery concerning the human psyche.

Chapters one and two set the stage for the rest of the book. Chapter one gives us a little background on how mythology and psychology are connected and some of the theories from the famous names in psychology like Freud and Jung. The author delivers the best explanation of mythos and logos that I have ever read. His definition of myth is one that I absolutely love and agree with. He also laments the fact that people have elevated logos above mythos. Chapter two is a little bit of history and everyday social circumstances of the Celts to get a background on the people we are going to “analyze” through their myths.

The next ten chapters look at the cycles of Irish mythology, and at the main characters and events in it through the eyes of the psychoanalyst that is Peter O’Connor. The chapters are interesting with interesting points of view on what these myths could mean for us today.

In the final chapter, the author tells us why he doesn’t talk about the Historical cycle of Irish mythology and concludes the ideas he put forth in the ten chapters before.

I absolutely enjoyed reading this book for two reasons. First I was able to see the application of theories of mythology (psychology theories) on Irish myths, which is very rare (at least I’ve never seen it before). And second because the myths were shown for what they could mean to us today, and what we could learn from them as modern people.

Irish mythology, mythological cycle, Ulster cycle, Fenian cycle, historical cycle, development of individual consciousness
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cuardai's picture

Re: Beyond the Mist

I'm not a Celtic Scholar either lol, but I am trying my best to be.  I liked this book a lot precisely because the author was able to show just how relevant the old myths are today.  I'm glad you liked the review.

Re: Beyond the Mist

Thanks for reviewing this Cuardai. I was going to review it myself. Unlike you I am not a Celtic Scholar and so I wondered if a Celtic Scholar would enjoy the book as much as I did. Before reading Beyond the Mist I could not see what the ancient battles of Ireland had to do with my spiritual development. Now I can. Peter reveals in a unique and fascinating way how the Mythological, Ulster, and Fenian Cycles parallel the development of consciousness in an individual, making them relevant indeed!