Dear Depth Psychology Alliance book club participator,

I want to welcome you to the book club for the month of February. During this month we will discuss my book The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, and I invite you to share your thoughts, comments and questions on this theme.

I write these lines from my home in Ra'anana, a small town north of Tel Aviv, at the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. This is the narrowest part of this small country, around 9 miles from the sea to Israel’s border with the Palestinian National Authority in the east (the local bus will take you cross-country).

This place in which I live, seems to eternally waver back and forth between profound creation and relentless destruction. Here, history fuses with mythology, and the heart of three monotheistic religions beats from within an area of a third of a square mile; a heartbeat that sends hurricanes of the spirit and floods of blood, across the face of the earth. From this same harsh earth arose, as well, some of humankind’s most powerful beliefs and influential individuals.

Hope and despair are common visitors in the souls of the peoples that dwell here, coloring their passions in dark red and their spirits in deep blue. You will find the terrors of war alternating at your doorstep with the dreams of reconciliation, reminding you how small we humans are, particularly when we have power and guns in our hands (on all sides). We are constantly reminded of the responsibility that rests on the shoulders of Psyche in each and every one. As Jung said, man’s psyche is the origin of all coming evil.

I have shared my thoughts about these issues in other books.* However, one further characteristic brings us to the cycle of life: the seasons. Here, at the eastern Mediterranean (which means “the sea in the middle of the earth”), the seasons don’t flow gently into each other. The seasons that soften the transition between summer and winter are very brief, sometimes barely noticeable. Likewise, the transitions along life’s journey, from the fires of adolescence to the gray ground of adulthood, for instance, may be sharp and painful. In some, this may evoke resistance and the desire to stay forever young, as in the puer aeternus or the puella aeterna, the eternal youth, who refuses to grow up. Others may prematurely, and sometimes unprepared, have to take on the burden of adult responsibilities, experiencing how the fire and the spirit of youth are extinguished.

My book focuses less on actual development through life’s stages, but rather on the archetypal core of the respective stages, or ages of life, from the perspective of their archetypal meaning. Consequently, the emphasis is not on the child’s development through the stages of childhood, but rather on the child as carrying the image of living in “the mysterious world of mythical images and magical relatedness,” as Gerhard Adler says.

I suggest that whoever wants to participate travels the journey of the book in whatever personal way you find suitable. The reading of the book’s 182 pages easily lends itself to be divided in four: first week we’ll concentrate on the journey, second week on the child, third week on adolescence and adulthood, and fourth week on old age. But find your own path! Sometimes, some of us, start reading a book from the end, or are drawn to a chapter of particular interest. I do suggest, however, that we share thoughts and comments according to this weekly schedule, to keep a certain structure in a world that too easily lends itself to chaos.

So this first week, let us focus on the journey. I have chosen the image of the river, from its source, and then the course the river of one’s life may take, until it finally dissolves in the sea. When Jung, in his essay on the stages of life, emphasizes the importance of ‘problem’ on life’s journey, his intention is clearly living the conscious life. What does that mean? How do we live consciously?

Please be free to relate in whatever individual way you choose, with comments and questions. I will respond regularly, and I hope it will be an enjoyable journey together.

If you are interested, you may listen to or watch an interview that Bonnie Bright conducted with me.

Furthermore, there will be two drawings, one on February 14th for The Hero and His Shadow, and one on the 28th for Enemy, Cripple & Beggar. The winner of the book will be announced the following day.

Looking forward to sharing thoughts and perspectives along the journey,


Erel Shalit


*Please see my The Hero and His Shadow (the most recent, revised edition of this book was published this January by Fisher King Press); and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return (if you sign up for my newsletter, you will receive a free pdf eBook edition of the novella, but those of you who, like me, prefer the ‘real’ thing, can purchase it at Fisher King Press, Amazon or elsewhere).

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  • Dear Carita, What a week you have had! I can imagine what a frightening experience you have just had, but if I understand correctly, while Death sent a message, also through your pneumonia, it fortunately went on and "passed over."

    While we need to listen to Death's messages, and they certainly humble us, i am glad that you are alive, and wish you, and all, many good years of health and creativity.

    warmly, Erel

  • Dear Friends, Participators in February's book club,


    Since I will depart tomorrow for a couple of weeks in the States, I let my oldest granddaughter do the drawing for my book Enemy, Cripple & Beggar a few days early.  I am pleased to announce that the winner is Leigh Christ Cassity, who will soon receive a copy of the book.


    I will be following further possible comments, and will reply as soon as I am able to, before we hand over the book club to Michael Conforti, who will be presenting his wonderful book Field Form and Fate: Patterns in Mind, Nature and Psyche.

    I warmly recommend that you actively join in what promises to be an exciting reading and interaction – those of you who know Michael, know well what a wonderful person he is! (He will, by the way, be contributing a chapter to a book that I am co-editing, called The Dream and it Amplification, forthcoming in 2013 at Fisher King Press).


    Erel Shalit

    • Hi Erel and all. I haven't made the time to comment much here this month, but I have been profoundly touched by the reading and also by all of the comments from the group. Erel, you began the month with the reference to the river as a metaphor for the journey, and I feel there is a depth to this particular work that HAS run through me like a river these past few weeks. 

      I've been thinking a lot about your image of "the craftsman." In chapter IV, The Adult, you write of the craftsman, saying "I see the craftsman as a central image of the archetypally rooted adult ego, in the sense the that the Self unfolds in the ego. ...for the hero to set out on his journey into the depths and the vast lands of the unconscious, he or she needs to be ignited by the very sparks of the beyond as they manifest in ego-consciousness..." In many ways, I think we also each reach a point in our spiritual journey where we are initiated into spiritual adulthood, and I feel this in my chosen career of depth psychology as well. I feel I'm finally starting to master some of the concepts that are the beginnings of that craftsmanship---but there is so much unknown. Being able to integrate what's come before and still embrace that unknown, unconscious part that lies in wait is a true skill. And that's also what I see you doing so well with this book, your upcoming journey, and your other work in the world. You are truly a craftsman of this work and I thank you for sharing it with us.

      I'm so grateful for your contributions--Erel (and all of you)--and wish you a safe and pleasant journey tomorrow and a fulfilling stay as you share your work in ever wider circles. 

    • Dear Bonnie, dear participators in the DPA Book Club Community,

      I write these lines now from Colorado, where I have the honor of presenting some of my thoughts about the Cycle of Life, before going to New Mexico.


      Thank you Bonnie for your important comment. I am glad you picked up on the idea about the craftsman ego. I see that as an opposite to what I call the transient personality – the one is able to endure, stay in one place, learn to master the task, with a sense of humbleness to the world, to the soul, to nature, the other moves all too swiftly from one point to another, without giving the Other (call it object or person, a meeting or nature or the divine) any real value, because it is all a game to be played.

      This is also an opportunity for me to thank you Bonnie for inviting me to participate, and for all of you in this community for having read, shared, thought and having enriched me – thank you!!

      I hand over the baton to Michael Conforti, who is the author of very fine and important books, one of which is Field Form and Fate: Patterns in Mind, Nature and Psyche, which he will discuss during the month of March. I am sure that you Michael, will enjoy this as I have done, and that you will greatly contribute to this very warm and engaged community. 

      Erel Shalit

    • Thanks Erel for your book and this opportunity to read it in this way. Unfortunately I was hospitalized 2/28 with pneumonia . But Death was also coming very close, they first thought I had cancer in my lungs, a fairly advanced cancer..A feeling you just can't explain !!

      greetings Carita

    • Hello Erel and everyone,

       I'd like to join in by giving us a poem to reflect on for the end of the discussion and the book.:

      When Death Comes – A Poem by Mary Oliver
      When death comes
      like the hungry bear in autumn
      when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

      to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
      when death comes
      like the measle-pox;

      when death comes
      like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

      I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
      what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

      And therefore I look upon everything
      as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
      and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
      and I consider eternity as another possibility,

      and I think of each life as a flower, as common
      as a field daisy, and as singular,

      and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
      tending as all music does, toward silence,

      and each body a lion of courage, and something
      precious to the earth.

      When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
      I was a bride married to amazement.
      I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

      When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
      if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
      I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
      or full of argument.

      I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

      ~ Mary Oliver ~

    • Dear Susan,

      Thanks for bringing Mary Oliver's profound poem to the book club! There is no need for further words. I write this having just arrived at Philadelphia Airport, on my way on to Denver. I have not brought into our discussion the issue of the Transient Personality, which I mention for instance in a paper in the Jung Journal - the person for whom the transient condition of airports fits better than the contained process of therapy and analysis, where change takes place in the Hermetically closed vessel.

      Thanks Susan for the poem, and those who are not familiar with your deep and important art work, I recommend you take a look at Susan also contributed the painting Emerging to the cover of my book Enemy, Cripple and Beggar, for which I am thankful (as I am for our long friendship across the seasons of our lives),


      Susan Bostrom-Wong - Home
    • It seems to me,thinking about Franz Kafka, and some other great artist, that although they died fairly young, their lives were not cut short. They had lived with such an intensity and fire,that their lives were full, though short.

      Other people can live long, but empty lives. So it's not really about how many years you are given, rather how you fill those years.



      Dear Carita,

      Kafka, like for instance Erich Neumann as well (who died at 55) lived very creative and in many ways very full lives, while it certainly seems that the lives of many people who live to see old age, seem rather empty. But I am curious what for instance Neumann and Kafka would have written, were they to have lived longer!


  • Dear all participants,

    I think Kafka's extremely brief story is a wonderful piece reflecting the different perspectives we may have of life. Bertold Brecht and Walter Benjamin had an interesting discussion about this story. It seems to me to reflect, so precisely, the life that is being lived by the young (no matter what age we are, but as an aspect within each one of us), when we depart for the as yet unknown, versus the life we recall and reflect upon, as contained in the minute space of our memory, by the old person (again, as an aspect in all of us, whatever chronological age). For the one who departs, the distance to the next village is unknown, having to pass fields and rivers, mountains and valleys, going through as yet unknown future experiences, yet, the call for adventure, as Campbell says, requires one to go ahead. And if not overwhelmed by inhibiting anxiety, there is a life to be lived. For the one who has done the travels, the journey may seem so complicated and complex, so full of twists and turns, that it becomes difficult to grasp that a fully comprehended journey can be carried out during the short span of a life time.

    I believe that we naturally strive to integrate these two aspects – to fully live our life by not letting it be inhibited by too much reflection, yet to reflect deeply enough about our life so that it becomes meaningful.

    Erel Shalit

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