Beyond the Mist by Peter O’Connor

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. 

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4 thoughts on “Beyond the Mist by Peter O’Connor

  1. Interesting. There are a lot of psychological (esp. Jungian) takes on Greek/Roman myth, mainly since it’s more well known, and a little on Norse, but this is the only one I’ve seen on Irish.

  2. Simian says:

    Like you being intrigued the moment you read the synopsis, I was while reading this line “His definition of myth is one that I absolutely love and agree with” from your review. At first I thought or wished that you would have gave more detail to what that definition in fact was, but by not doing so gives me reason to get a hold of a copy and read for myself.

    • celticscholar says:

      LOL, yes I thought about adding his definition, but realized that I would be copying pages of what he wrote, so I left it at that. I do hope people will go and at least check out the book from the library. Whether you agree or disagree with him (or me) you should be given the chance to do so lol.

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