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Welcome to the MYTHSEEKER Project! We are creating intelligent computer applications for users to explore personal mythologies in virtual realities, shaped to their needs. Involvement is based on interactive focusing of a user's life events and mythic aspirations with our software. You are cordially invited to participate in our Project's emergence.
We are proud of what has been accomplished to-date. The MYTHSEEKER software architecture has been awarded a patent in the category Information Processing System Organization—Knowledge Processing, which is highly promising for the project's future. Furthermore, the project is in prototype development. Much more is about to happen as we enlarge the community of creative supporters and extend the intelligence of software for working with individual worlds of experience. MYTHSEEKER has potency to help to heal the mythic fragmentation of our times. We could also be on the verge of a cultural and spiritual renaissance and MYTHSEEKER could assist in this on the level of an individual's Personal Myth as well as mythic aspects benefiting humankind.
Each human being grows up in a culture hearing tales of ancient lore involving many dimensions of experience and relationship to the environment and cosmos, one's place within it. This lore, different in different cultures, gives personal meaning and aspiration. It shapes how the world is viewed via patterns and situations the individual encounters. With MYTHSEEKER you can discover your Personal Myth, spiritual meaning, and can move in that direction. The mythic horizons of a culture shape subconscious processes; this creates "templates" for the contours of one's world. Personal experience is modulated by such templates.
Myth refers to the systems of mythology and spiritual endeavor that have evolved worldwide. Personal Myth refers to the mythic stories, worldviews, and aspirations that guide one's personal life for significant purpose and meaning. Myth is a way of experiencing the world, giving meaning and shape to experience. MYTHSEEKER works with myth at the level of one's greatest purposes. Mythic aspects can be "refocused" as one's life changes in direction as well as circumstance.
Involvement with myth helps with important life transitions—via rites of passage—that are realities in every culture. There is a strong current in depth psychology that views one's world of experience as shaped by Personal Myth. This views myth as a complex system, existing at an inner level, that modulates how a person participates with and shapes events encountered externally in life. A person's experiential world can vary greatly depending on which mythic system is internalized.
MYTHSEEKER works with a broad range of mythological and spiritual systems of times bygone and present—and with future systems now emerging. Examples range from Greek to Nordic mythology; from transpersonal psychology to worldwide systems of shamanism; from Christian denominations to Tibetan Buddhism; from ancient Egyptian spirituality to Chinese Taoism; with presentday transpersonal forms, the holographic universe, new foundations for consciousness; and with Science as systems of metaphors ranging from cosmology to quantum physics to the biological sciences including molecular genetics. These are collectively called MYTHSEEKER Depth Systems. A participant explores a series of Depth Systems. While doing so he or she creates a Personal Depth System which comes to include meaningful involvements chosen from the Depth Systems.
Foreseen applications of our software include psychotherapy and medical diagnosis, drug rehabilitation, hospice care, cross-cultural communication, personal spiritual quest. Initial products will be for psychotherapy and medical diagnosis, for education, and "pocket size" personal systems. Later products will be environments called MYTHSEEKER Centers where users can explore their Personal Myths more fully. It is planned to link MYTHSEEKER Centers in a communications network. Participants at MYTHSEEKER Centers will be able to contribute aspects of their Personal Depth Systems to a World Depth System, aspects they believe would benefit humankind on the level of global myth. The network of MYTHSEEKER Centers will together continually build a composite of these contributions.
MYTHSEEKER is a comprehensive vehicle for shaping Personal Myth and contributing to the emergence of new global mythic patterns akin to what Joseph Campbell refers to as "monomyths". MYTHSEEKER reflects a strong attempt to integrate a number of fields—technical, creative, and humanistic—to the end of building Personal Myth. It utilizes a viable existing patented software architecture applied to a broad range of applications with emphasis on psychotherapy uses. Additionally, contributions can be made to the World Depth System. MYTHSEEKER software allows understanding of a user's personal world by enabling virtual-reality experience of mythic symbolism and patterns expressing meaning and aspirations. A client builds and explores a Personal Depth System—an ability that has not previously been possible.
Envision MYTHSEEKER as a sensitive partner helping you to explore your Personal Myth. Picture what will happen during a session:
You are enabled to experience themes within an array of depth
systems—such as world creation, future mythic worlds,
myth and technology, death/rebirth beliefs, sacred texts, mystery traditions, initiation rituals, varieties of mythic or spiritual quest, existential themes.
We suggest you now become familiar with our terminology that will make you ready for detailed aspects of the project. We also suggest that you read the definitions in the order given.
The inventor was inspired toward the goal of integration of fields by a course he took, at a young age, with the mathematician Norbert Wiener who founded Cybernetics—concerned with communication and control in the animal and the machine. In this way the inventor heard a first-hand account of how Cybernetics as a creative unification was conceived by Wiener in an "intuitive flash" on a train during a snow storm. This ideal of unitive understanding stayed with the inventer as a desirable kind of accomplishment, setting a tone ultimately for the MYTHSEEKER Project as somewhat combining hitherto separate areas.
Virtual reality research has led to widespread applications including architecture and design, health and medicine, education, the sciences, information control, telepresence, and entertainment. Applications in the arts and theater are being developed—creative scenarios with imagery and sound, some with mythological expressions. A strong current exists applying virtual reality to clinical psychology including treatment of phobias.
The nature and import of virtual reality suggested applying it to the inventor's research. Consequently MYTHSEEKER involves virtual reality in conjunction with a psychological model, called the qualitative model of personal-world emergence. This model is based on the inventor's thesis Foundations for Personal-World Transformation Using Expressive Arts Rhythmic Imagery Via Computer Interaction (California State University, Long Beach, May 1988).
A summary of the thesis was presented as "The Rhythm Therapy Computer System: A Foundation" at the IEEE conference A Delicate Balance: Technics, Culture, and Consequences held in October, 1989, at California State University, Los Angeles. The inventor's later paper "The MYTHSEEKER Project: Concepts and Realization" was published in the Journal of Systems and Software June 1994. Two papers appeared in the IEEE Wescon/96 conference proceedings—"The MYTHSEEKER Computer System: Virtual Reality for Exploring Personal Myth" and "The MYTHSEEKER Computer System: Existential Variables and Ethics of Application." Our paper "A Software System for Psychiatric and Medical Diagnosis Via Exploring Personal Myth in Virtual Reality" was presented at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 6 in January 1998, published in the Summer 1998 issue of the CyberPsychology and Behavior Journal. A chapter "Virtual Reality in Psychotherapy: the MYTHSEEKER Software" will be in the book Virtual Reality in Clinical Applications published October 1998 by IOS Press, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
We know of no commercial product similar to MYTHSEEKER. To illustrate this:
Mythic agents are persons, beings, or personified forces, sacred/power objects. Mythic agents also include sacred writings, e.g., books of lore and teachings, hieroglyphics, or pictographic writings. Principal mythic agents are the beings and forces; instrumental mythic agents are the sacred symbols and power objects involved in the Depth System. These can include sound-structures (e.g., mantras, constructed patterns) and sacred music appropriate to the Depth System.
Enactments are rituals or role-playings by the user with one or more of the mythic agents. Thus a client can participate with a chosen mythic agent for attaining a ritual goal, for wisdom teaching, for meditation, for realizing meaning of experience; or to assume a mythic being's awareness via a role-play involvement.
This structurization makes working with Depth Systems tractable since a needed framework is introduced and yet no violence is done to content or purpose.
Interactive involvement is a means of inquiry into the user's life experience and preferred future. First, the interactive assessment phase will discover an individual's mythic life patterns of experience and preferred shapes of experienced time, visual textures, and anchoredness. Then involvement with meditational or mythic enactments will be determined in a facilitation phase. Following this an enaction phase will create interactive virtual reality experience. This succession of phases comprises a MYTHSEEKER session.
During a session the user is placed in an immersive visual field called Primal Virtual Space. For philosophical purposes Primal Virtual Space is considered to be intelligent and aware of the user. Depth Systems emerge from it on behalf of the user. There are portals in Primal Virtual Space through which the Depth Systems present themselves to immerse users in corresponding virtual realities.
MYTHSEEKER uses an original qualitative model of how a person's internal world emerges continually from subconscious spiritually-based processes. Needs for assessment, facilitation, and enaction phases are derived from the model. Each phase is defined by operations within regions identified by the model. The "source of realms" within the model is represented by Primal Virtual Space.
Assessment uses existential analysis to work with areas such as ways of experiencing time and visual texture. Jungian archetypal analysis is used to understand the user's situation and psychological type. There are two forms of assessment: mythic life patterning (MLP) assessment and texture of experience (TOE) assessment.
MLP assessment analyzes the user's life experience based on patterns in Depth Systems suggested by primal myth, affinity with particular mythic agents, etc. This is partly accomplished by assessing the user's temperament type, and Jungian psychological type, via Keirsey Temperament Sorter software. TOE assessment applies existential analysis to understand how the user experiences space, time, anchoredness, and other existential variables.Facilitation uses MLP assessment results and mythic life path possibilities to suggest enactments drawn from Depth Systems.
Connections are made between archetypal life patterns (ALPs) within Depth Systems, and the results of MLP assessment of the person's life experience. Primal myth is used here as a point of departure and comparison. Enactments are scripted and encoded during facilitation for use in the subsequent enaction process. Methods of psychological counseling and clinical psychology protocols are also utilized.Enaction interprets enactment scripts from the facilitation, integrating TOE results into virtual/artificial reality enactments. There is involvement with visual symbols, sound patterns, entities, beings, and persons from one or more depth systems, i.e., mythic agents and enactments that represent the spiritual or sacred in particular Depth Systems.
During enaction, MYTHSEEKER software places the participant in a virtual environment for a chosen Depth System. The user explores the Depth System and can place elements (primal myths, mythic agents, enactments) from it into his/her Personal Depth System. The Personal Depth System comes to contain desired elements the user places there while experiencing other Depth Systems. The goal of seeking Personal Myth translates to building and experiencing one's Personal Depth System during one or more MYTHSEEKER sessions.
The user may also suggest aspects of myth from the Personal Depth System that could benefit humankind on a world or global level; these aspects are placed in the World Depth System.
The software architecture underlying MYTHSEEKER applications is patented. Assessment is performed by the "existential analyzer" module, facilitation by the "facilitator" module, and enaction by the "enactor" module. There is also an "executive" module accompanied by a mythic toolkit for the creation of enactments.
The central (kernel) MYTHSEEKER software is generic and is used for all applications. A specific applicatipon is realized via dedicated user interfaces and data/graphics files used by the kernel. This architecture makes possible the entire approach because the same processes and organization underlie all applications.
Each of the three primary modules will incorporate its own expert system with knowledge base. The existential analyzer and facilitator modules will incorporate interactive multimedia technology. The enactor module will apply virtual reality technology either within responsive environments (projection virtual reality) or via immersion involving donned devices. There will also be psychological immersion not involving donning special devices, such as two-dimensional on-screen representation of three-dimensional virtual space. Use of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) is foreseen for major applications on the World Wide Web.
The prototype and initial products will be implemented under Microsoft Windows via Java rapid prototyping technology and will be available on CD ROM. They will use the MYTHSEEKER software kernel. Applications will be developed using open systems concepts based on the kernel software. The latter—including a mythic toolkit for creating enactments—will be licensed to developers, allowing a full range of applications to be realized, in effect establishing a MYTHSEEKER Virtual Platform usable for standalone, net-centric, or client/server environments.
Thus the main technologies for MYTHSEEKER are virtual reality or its sibling artificial reality, expert systems that can evolve to neural nets, interactive multimedia, and distributed architectures such as for the Information Superhighway, the Internet or the World Wide Web, with object-oriented and message-based design based on the MYTHSEEKER patent.
Present and future development of technology is characterized by revolutions in computer and biomedical technologies. We believe the MYTHSEEKER Project relates to these by applying computer technology to experiencing past, present, and future Depth Systems; and by introducing the scope of existential variables, and experience of mythic reality, to the worldwide electronic network.
The project may also contribute to the biomedical revolution by blending products of biomedical technology with mythic endeavor and aspiration. The myth-seeking process—fundamental to human experience—seems likely to be based partly on genetic roots and may prove to be a valuable adjunct to genetic research related to emerging human purpose and to frontiers that may indeed, by their depth, be truly awesome. An exciting journey is unfolding!
The first item below is a letter from Michael Heim, Ph.D., which explores potential significance of the MYTHSEEKER Project. Heim is a widely-recognized authority and writer about the future philosophical and cultural effects of virtual reality. He teaches virtual reality courses at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. The letter was sent to the editor, Robert L. Glass, of the Journal of Systems and Software and was published in the "Controversy Revisited" section of the June 1995 issue, p. 29.
The June, 1994 issue of the Journal of Systems and Software struck a bell. In the "Controversy Corner," McCagie Brooks Rogers describes the Mythseeker Project as a framework for computerizing traditional religious experience. The bell that was struck sounded to me less like the gong of the boxing ring calling us to "come out fighting" than like the peal of an ancient church bell that gathers human energies around a project that radiates awe and respect for the sublime.
Reference: Heim, M., The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality, Oxford University Press, 1993
The following quotation is from a report (Number r-97-47) Constructivism in Practice: The Case for Meaning-Making in the Virtual World by Kimberley Osberg at the University of Washington Human Interface Technology (HIT) Lab. The report describes (Section 220.127.116.11) four virtual reality projects, including MYTHSEEKER, that "make meaning" in very non-traditional perceptual manners. MYTHSEEKER is described as the only one of the four intended to be intellectually educational. This is a strong, challenging statement about the potential of MYTHSEEKER for educational applications.
"The potential to explore virtual space and make meaning from it in a very non-traditional perceptual manner has perhaps best been embodied to date in the works of Brenda Laurel (Placeholder), Char Davies (Osmose), Margaret Dolinsky (Dream Girls) and McCagie Brooks Rogers (Mythseeker). These projects demonstrate the extensibility of the technology by illustrating places that virtual reality can take us, but that traditional simulations cannot.
"In Placeholder, Brenda Laurel uses Native American legends to explore the boundaries of representational art and environmental backdrops, allowing participants to "become" the personification of one of four petroglyphs (crow, spider, fish or snake), and to share their experiences with the narrator and another participant. The environment allows the participant(s) to experience the world from the perspective of the personified animal, as opposed to their traditional (human) perspective.
"In Osmose, Char Davies has created an ethereal, surreal environment in which navigation takes place through breathing. The interface to the environment is a chest sensor, that tracks the participants' breathing to control movement. As one inhales, one rises, as if scuba-diving. This is one of the most spectacular representational and experiential art forms ever presented that maximizes the capabilities rather than the hindrances of the technology to date.
"Margaret Dolinsky is a visual artist and virtual environment creator at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her work Dream Girls, there are many representations that women in her milieu wanted to include as part of a girl's "dreams." It is a wonderfully colorful yet mystical place, where one can gateway to a number of different personal dream representations by entering a virtual head or other representational object present in the environment.
"This mystical component of virtual reality is enhanced, and also made more educational in an environment called Mythseeker, created by McCagie Brooks Rogers. In this virtual world, participants can explore the cosmology of six different spiritual systems: Christianity, Shakti, Shamanism, Kabbalah, Greek Mythology, and Indian Mythology. The purpose of this environment is to provide the participant with the opportunity for self exploration, deepening of spiritual connections and personal meaning making by experiencing the symbology, rituals and relationships within six different cosmologies. The Mythseeker project's sole purpose is to provide a means by which individuals can explore, at their leisure and within the privacy of their own virtual domain their beliefs, fears and hopes for personal and spiritual growth.
"What these four environments have in common is the highly experiential component; all of them are deeply interactive and are designed to give the participant(s) a strong sense of presence in an alternative space. With the exception of the Mythseeker project, they are not directly intended to be intellectually educational. However, they provide an alternative design framework that goes beyond traditional use of the technology, and are therefore useful examples for future application to education".
McCagie Brooks Rogers—founder and inventor of the MYTHSEEKER Project—software systems analyst and designer, writer, explorer of mythic and meditational systems worldwide, inventor of the qualitative model allowing a unitive view for MYTHSEEKER.
PRIMAL VIRTUAL SPACE ANIMATION
We hope you will choose to view the animation of Primal Virtual Space which demonstrates the dynamic nature of involvement with MYTHSEEKER. You will need Quciktime or similar viewer to see the animation. The Primal Virtual Space animation file and the viewer are large, so please allow extra time and storage for downloading either or both of them. We will periodically update the animation as it evolves to show portals opening to allow the emergence of Depth Systems.
If you need the Quicktime viewer, go to www.appple.com/quicktime
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This page last updated on March 24, 1999.