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Jung, Christianity, and the

Evolution of the Western God-Image

According to C. G. Jung, symbols emerging from the dreams and fantasies of his patients indicated that the Western God-image – the imago dei – was evolving in a way that contemporary Christian institutions could no longer contain and mediate. Jung felt that, if Western culture is to survive, we must engage these emerging symbols so that they may once again help us to mediate the dynamic, instinctual energies of the psyche in life-affirming ways. If we fail to do this, we run the risk of becoming possessed and driven by these unconscious instincts in chaotic and destructive ways.

Often, people fail to recognize the effect of the human psyche on culture. One reason for this is the difficulty of fully grasping the scope of Jung’s vision, which must include an appreciation of the role of mythology in his work, and of the function of mythology in human culture. According to Jung, mythology provides healing and balancing energies from the deep unconscious psyche. It provides access to these energies both for individuals, and for culture at large through its mediating function. For Jung, all religions are essentially mythological systems, and the over-riding mythological system that has dominated Western culture for centuries is the Christian myth.

Without these essential insights, it is impossible to understand Jung’s constant preoccupation with the artifacts of Christianity, especially during the last twenty years of his life. For Jung, Christianity was and is a mythological system which had long since ceased to provide its adherents access to the healing and balancing energies of the deep psyche. He saw this in the clients who populated his consulting room on a daily basis. Day after day, he saw people who were psychologically adrift, people who were alienated from, and had no connection to, their own instinctual energies.

With these concerns in mind, Jung initiated a detailed social history of Christianity in the same way he might embark on a study of an individual client’s social history when they began consulting with him. He paid particular attention to those Western cultural artifacts which had been explicitly repressed by Christian institutions, including but not limited to Gnosticism, astrology, alchemy, magic, and essentially all ‘pagan’ mythologies. Beginning with studies of Gnosticism, and culminating in his remarkable small book ‘Answer to Job’, Jung documents what he came to understand as the emergence of an evolving imago dei – a new Western God-Image, something Joseph Campbell referred to as a new myth.

Join us on Saturday, October 10th for a free introductory class on Jung’s study of Christianity and how it informed his understanding of the emerging and evolving Western God-Image. Our journey will take us through a close examination of his basic psychotherapeutic methods, how he applied these methods to his study of Christian institutions, and how they informed his understanding of the healing symbols of astrology, alchemy, and a variety of Western mythologies.

This free class will also serve as an introduction to our upcoming eight-week, college-level course on Jung, Christianity, and the evolving Western God-Image, beginning on Saturday, October 17th.

Click here to register for the free class!

Click Here to Register for Jung and Christianity, 8-week course!

Click here for more information

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The Souls of White Folk Pt. 2: A Community Discussion on the Archetypal Roots of the Trauma of Racism in America
9142452853?profile=originalSavage and Civilized: Which is Which?

CIVILIZATION, n. The act of civilizing, or the state of being civilized; the state of being refined in manners, from the grossness of savage life, and improved in arts and learning.

SAVAGISM, n. The state of rude uncivilized men; the state of men in their native wildness and rudeness.   – Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 (Pearce, 1988).

What can we safely say are the archetypal roots of the trauma of racism in America? For that matter, what are archetypes, and why should they matter in a discussion of the trauma of racism in America? As mentioned in the first post in this series (Click here for part one), in the traditional idea of American Exceptionalism, juxtaposed with the historical facts of the genocide of native people and the enslavement of kidnapped Africans, one can discern what a Jungian might call a cultural shadow complex. Depth psychologist Carl Jung claimed that at the root of a complex one would, as a rule, find an archetype. Generally speaking, an archetype is a basic, unconscious pattern in the psyche, or the tendency to form representations of such basic, unconscious patterns (Jung, 1964, p.67).

To say that there is a cultural shadow complex at the root of the trauma of racism in America is to combine the idea of a cultural complex (Kimbles, 2000) with Jung’s idea of the shadow (Jung, 1959), or to combine that idea with the idea that there is a significant portion of one’s own personal history that one is reluctant to face, the part of one’s history which one pushes into the personal unconscious, or represses. For Jung,

"The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real" (p. 8).

Likewise, the resolution of the cultural shadow complex that has for centuries manifested as the trauma of racism is also a moral problem, one that has long since reached the state of a spiritual crisis in our culture. Becoming conscious of this cultural shadow complex likewise involves “…recognizing the dark aspects of [our culture] as present and real.”

One characteristic of archetypes that Jung has noted is that they always appear in dual aspects: positive and negative, good and evil, black and white. Anthropologists and historians have long pointed out that a similar binary pair can be found at the root of the trauma of racism in America, that of ‘savage’ and ‘civilized’ (Pearce, 1988; Jennings, 1975; Baker, 1998). Anthropologist Lee Baker claims that this binary pairing of ‘savage’ and ‘civilized’ is a later formulation of the earlier binary pairing of the ideas of ‘saved’ and ‘damned’. The earlier formulation claimed religious authority, the latter – appearing at the dawning of the enlightenment – claims ‘scientific’ authority.

9142452678?profile=originalEarly explorers (beginning with Columbus) and early immigrants to the Americas  justified their treatment of the Native peoples that they encountered by claiming that the natives were ‘savages’ and that they were being ‘civilized’ by their encounters with white Europeans. Slave traders and those who built their early American labor forces with kidnapped Africans likewise justified their treatment of those in their charge by claiming that the Africans were ‘savages’ and were being benefited by their exposure to civilization and Christianity. One report has it that some early Native Americans were skeptical about the moral superiority of the ‘Christians’ they encountered when they observed the treatment of slaves in the newly formed European colonies in the New World. When a group of missionaries tried to convince a group of natives of the Delaware Nation to join them and convert to European ways, the natives were reluctant, due to the way they saw Americans treating people with dark skin. It was reported that:

"They [the Delaware Native Americans] therefore had determined to wait, to see whether all the black people amongst us were thus made happy and joyful before they would put confidence in our promises; for they thought a people who had suffered so much and so long by our means, should be entitled to our first attention; and therefore they sent back the two missionaries, with many thanks, promising that when they saw the black people among us restored to freedom and happiness, they would gladly receive our missionaries” (quoted in Katz, 1986).

It becomes clear on closer examination that the claims of those who wished to see themselves as ‘civilized’ and morally superior to the ‘savages’ that they encountered were still struggling with their own ‘savage’ natures and projecting their own repressed barbarism onto the people over whom they claimed superiority. When challenged with how to cope with these encounters, they simply became more barbarous and savage than those whom they had labeled as such. This is classic symptomatology of the shadow complex. As anthropologist and historian Roy Harvey Pearce (1988) puts it, it was important “…for civilized men to believe that in the savage and his destiny there was manifest all they had long grown away from and yet still had to overcome” (p. xvii). This projective identification thrust by so-called ‘civilized men’ onto so-called ‘savages’ inspires one to ask: “Which one here is the savage?”

9142452496?profile=originalIt seems that at the core of this issue there lies a fear of what ‘civilized man’ still has to overcome; a fear of the deeper aspects of human nature that these so-called ‘civilized men’ saw in, that is, projected onto, the native people of Africa and the Americas. The association of these fears with and their projection onto people of color seem to me to be essential elements of the archetypal roots of racism in America. How these fears relate to what Jungian Anthony Stevens (1982) calls our ‘archetypal endowment’ and what Jung (1978) calls “…the 2,000,000-year-old man that is in all of us” (p. 76), will be the topic of our next post. This will be followed by posts on archetypal aspects of cultural trauma and the healing of cultural trauma (Click here for part three in this series - Click here for part one in this series)

In the coming weeks we will be posting more reflections on some of the specific elements of the Archetypal Roots of the Trauma of Racism in America. If you find the topics explored of interest to you, I hope you will join us on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 12:00 noon PT. The Depth Psychology Alliance is hosting a live community discussion/webcast during which listeners will participate with members of the board of the Depth Psychology Alliance as we discuss Depth Psychology and the Archetypal Roots of the Trauma of Racism in America – and please forward this post to your favorite social media outlets and to interested friends!

Click here to register for this event

Read Part 3 of this Blog: The 2,000,000-Year-Old in Each of Us


James Newell, Ph.D.
is an educator, coach/counselor, performing songwriter, and board member of the Depth Psychology Alliance. James teaches mainstream religious studies courses online for Central Michigan University and several other schools. James also holds master’s degree in counseling and theology from Vanderbilt Divinity School. James’ counseling orientation is Jungian, and his goal is to educate and empower others to do their own depth work, individually and collectively. James continues to pursue his own artistic passion through music, having begun his musical career working with such legendary musicians as John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Jr. Wells, Big Joe Turner, and others.


Works Cited

Baker, L. (1998). From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896-1954. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Jennings, F. (1975). The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Jung, Carl (1979/1953). Psychological Reflections. A New Anthology of His Writings 1905-1961. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Jung, Carl (1979/1959). Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Jung, Carl (1964). Man and His Symbols. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Katz, W. (1986). Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Kimbles, S. (2000). The Cultural Complex and the Myth of Invisibility. In Singer, T. Ed. The Vision Thing: Myth, Politics and Psyche in the World. New York, NY: Routledge.

Pearce, R. (1988). Savagism and Civilization: A Study of the Indian and the American Mind. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Stevens, A. (1982). Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

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The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.

   W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903, The Souls of Black Folk

The topic of race and racism in America has become a hot button issue in popular culture. However, rarely if ever has this topic been discussed from a Depth Psychology perspective. When viewed from this perspective, and on a collective level, it quickly becomes clear that this is one of the most important spiritual challenges we face as a culture today.  I stress that this is a spiritual challenge because we have tended historically to look to cultural institutions for answers to such challenges. We seek material, social, and political solutions to help us with what is, at root, a spiritual crisis.

It is well known that the impact of discrimination based on racist thoughts and beliefs has had devastating consequences upon diverse populations for centuries. However, members of the dominant culture, those who self-identify and who are identified through the lens of cultural norms and institutions as ‘white,’ have not escaped the spiritual consequences of living in a culture built upon centuries of racism. It is my thesis that our most virulent cultural challenges today – gun violence, income inequality, environmental disaster, mass incarceration, unbridled materialism, and more – are rooted, economically and ideologically, in the historical facts of the genocide of native people and the enslavement of kidnapped Africans. In both cases racial considerations were in  the forefront and the pursuit of profit marginalized any humanitarian considerations.

The emphasis of Depth Psychology is to look for networks of patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior that are not consciously directed. Jungians call these patterns ‘complexes’. Once these patterns, or complexes, are identified consciously, the idea is to begin to heal the root causes and by so doing alter behaviors that do not serve to enhance life. Traditionally, this process is engaged in between two people: the therapist (analyst) and the client. Jungian analyst Samuel Kimbles (2000) has suggested that such unconscious patterns can also be identified in cultural groups, as what he calls ‘cultural complexes.’

When one looks closely at the traditional idea of American Exceptionalism, juxtaposed with the historical facts previously mentioned (the genocide of native people and the enslavement of kidnapped Africans), one can discern what a Jungian might call a cultural shadow complex. That is to say, a history of repressed trauma that has never been adequately addressed on a broad cultural level permeates all aspects of American life. The traumatic cultural memory of these horrific crimes against humanity carries with it a moral imperative to heal. Thus, the work of healing these deep cultural wounds is spiritual work. It seems clear to me that recognizing, owning, and grieving the consequences of our cultural shadow complex is the spiritual work of white people in America. The spiritual growth, and the very souls of white people in America, and the future of all Americans, hang in the balance. If approached seriously, and as a spiritual exercise, this process of grieving our history of violence and discrimination might also have a healing impact on contemporary victims of the trauma of racism, especially Native American people and African Americans, and may ultimately provide a basis for uniting us spiritually and ideologically around shared grief and trauma. (Click here for part two in this series)

In the coming weeks we will be posting reflections on some of the specific elements of the Archetypal Roots of the Trauma of Racism in America. If you find the topics explored of interest to you, I hope you will join us on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 12:00 noon PT. The Depth Psychology Alliance is hosting a live community discussion/webcast during which listeners will participate with members of the board of the Depth Psychology Alliance as we discuss Depth Psychology and the Archetypal Roots of the Trauma of Racism in America – and please forward this post to your favorite social media outlets and to interested friends!

Click here to register for this event

Read Part 2 of this Blog: Savage and Civilized: Which is Which?


James Newell, Ph.D.
is an educator, coach/counselor, performing songwriter, and board member of the Depth Psychology Alliance. James teaches mainstream religious studies courses online for Central Michigan University and several other schools. James also holds a master’s degree in counseling and theology from Vanderbilt Divinity School. James’ counseling orientation is Jungian, and his goal is to educate and empower others to do their own depth work, individually and collectively. James continues to pursue his artistic passion through music, having begun his musical career working with such legendary musicians as John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Jr. Wells, Big Joe Turner, and others.


Works Cited
Du Bois, W. (1903). The Souls of Black Folk. Retrieved from: http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/give-me-liberty4/docs/WEBDuBois-Souls_of_Black_Folk-1903.pdf

Kimbles, S. (2000). The Cultural Complex and the Myth of Invisibility. In Singer, T. Ed. The Vision Thing: Myth, Politics and Psyche in the World. New York, NY: Routledge.

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9142474253?profile=originalA common and compelling component of both shamanism and Jungian or depth psychology is that each seeks to treat soul loss by retrieving and reintegrating vital essence that is missing. This must occur through direct experience; therefore, the underworld journey to retrieve the soul is one of necessity and initiation.

Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung believed symptoms of soul loss, such as disorientation, lack of focus, or feelings of powerlessness, exist because a portion of psychic energy that is normally available to the ego has vanished into the unconscious; becoming lost to the underworld. However, Jung realized when there is a depletion of libido, that life energy is not irrevocably gone; it continues to exist in the unconscious, awaiting the opportunity to resurface. The energy, equally powerful in the underworld as in our conscious life, continues to be busy as it manifests in images and symbols, the language of soul (Ryan, 2002).

The solution, Jung insisted, is for us to descend into the unconscious to engage with the missing libido through symbolic thought. This is what the shaman does when he or she journeys to other realms to...


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New Book Release

Do we feel loved by the images held in a tradition? The essence of soul, hidden in any tradition, can become a source of imaginal strength. James Hillman claims imaginal love is: “this feeling of being loved by the images …”

In her new memoir, Reimagining Christmas:  Discoveries of a Christmas Self, Laura Keller-Wolff extends this quality—harnessed first in working with dreams—into the quality of imaginal love present within the traditions of Christmas.  Hillman states that: “…when we love we want to explore, to discriminate more and more widely, to extend the intricacy that intensifies intimacy.”

In discovering the intricacies of what Keller-Wolff claims as her “Christmas Self,” the widely and wildly held intimacies in the magic of Christmas are exposed as a kind of imaginal love.

Sometimes, resting in a tradition releases it’s wild and tender soul. In the pages of her new book, Keller-Wolff invites the reader to intensify their own intimacy with heart-felt traditions—especially with the soul of Christmas.

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9142473076?profile=originalRituals of Sacrifice: The Archetypal Roots of

Multi-Generational Trauma in the Americas, Part II

In our previous blog on the archetypal roots of multi-generational trauma in the Americas, we looked at how we might trace the roots of contemporary issues via a depth psychological lens. We examined the idea of there being links between early genocidal violence in North America and the genocidal violence perpetrated by the Nazi regime in Europe in the mid twentieth century. We also looked at the traumatic impact of such  violence on both victim and perpetrator.

In this installment, I’d like us to consider the connection between the ancient religious practice of human sacrifice and contemporary events of mass violence, including wars, mass gun violence, genocidal “ethnic cleansings,” and the barbarous treatment of the native peoples of the Americas by Europeans. To those unfamiliar with Jungian psychology, such a connection to religious sacrifice might seem bizarre. It might even seem so to those familiar with Jungian psychology. Even so, I think a case can be made for the idea that the archetypal pattern of religious sacrifice can be seen in cases of mass violence against human beings. These patterns, being archetypal, are unconscious to be sure, but they are discernible – and dangerous – nonetheless. 

As Jung himself observed, the fact that religious phenomena are experienced subjectively as numinous is itself evidence of archetypal phenomena. That sacrifice is at the core of both ancient and modern religion is indisputable. As historian of religion Jonathan Z. Smith has famously said, "Any explanation of sacrifice is, in fact, a theory of religion in miniature" (Smith, 1995). If we are willing to make the leap that both Jung and Smith are correct, then it should be easy to accept the idea that there is an archetypal pattern to be found at the heart of sacrificial practice in religion. This being the case, the classical Jungian is left with two key questions: 1. “What is the role of the archetype of sacrifice in the individuation process?”, and 2. “How do these archetypal patterns of sacrifice relate to behaviors of mass violence?”

9142473264?profile=originalScholars have long been baffled by practices of religious sacrifice, especially human sacrifice. However, when religion and religious practices are seen through the lens of Analytical psychology as symbolic methods of regulating archetypal energies, clarity begins to emerge. In his book Ego and Archetype, Edward Edinger (1973) describes how the grandiose (archetypal) energies of the psyche drive humans to vacillate between experiences of inflated self-importance and states of flattened affect resulting from a sense of alienation from these energies. It is no mere coincidence that the practice of sacrifice emerged simultaneously with the rise of sacral kingship during the early Bronze Age. Just as social and economic differentiation moved culture to develop into more and more complex social groups, the need for an organizing center – the king – also emerged. As the sacral king now served as carrier of the sacred energies of the archetypal Self of the group, the average ‘commoner’ now abdicated (i.e. sacrificed) responsibility for the care of their own archetypal energies to the care of the idealized figure of the priestly king. The practice of religious sacrifice developed as a symbolic representation of this need to regulate the now publicly free-floating grandiose archetypal energies. 9142474078?profile=original

The above is a simplified description of a process that evolved over thousands of years. I hope it will serve as a tentative answer to our first question, “What is the role of the archetype of sacrifice in the individuation process?” I also hope it will help to lead us towards an answer to our second question: “How do these archetypal patterns of sacrifice relate to behaviors of mass violence?” First, in regard to the process of individuation, as we move between the two poles of inflation and alienation from archetypal energies, we must learn to sacrifice our claims to godhood (inflation) and develop a working relationship with our own personal deity: i.e. the archetype of the Self. Through this recognition of our limitations we gain access, through our connection to the archetypal Self, to adequate life energies to help us achieve our own highest personal destinies. This is a healthy, conscious, life-affirming relationship, through the archetype of sacrifice, to the archetype of the Self.

9142474458?profile=originalBut what about our second question: “How do these archetypal patterns of sacrifice relate to behaviors of mass violence?” In the case of mass violence, we are dealing the opposite: an unhealthy, unconscious state in which the grandiose archetypal energies of the psyche have become so repressed and alienated from consciousness that they suddenly rise up from within, unbidden, to overwhelm and possess consciousness. Such unconscious energies can and do grip both groups and individuals with a compelling need to perform a sacrificial offering. Horrifying examples of this can be found not only in the archeological record of early Bronze-age and Mezo-American civilizations, but also in the 19th century Americas, as well as 20th century Europe, Africa, and Asia.

If this topic interests you, please join us for another community conversation on The Archetypal Roots of Multi-Generational Trauma in the Americas. We'll consider questions such as: How can we best address issues of cultural chaos from the perspective of depth psychology? How can those of us who feel that the perspectives of depth psychology can have a positive cultural influence begin to implement positive change in the world? Please join us on Saturday, September 8th at 1:00 PM PT for our FREE community event.

Join Alliance director James Newell and a panel of Alliance board members and others for a community conversation on multi-generational trauma.


In the past we’ve held community discussions on such topics as racism, Islamophobia, and gun violence. On Saturday September 8, 2018 the Depth Psychology Alliance is hosting another live community discussion/webcast during which time listeners will participate with a panel of interested persons as we discuss Depth Psychology and the Archetypal Roots of Multi-Generational Trauma in the Americas: Part II. This current initiative will attempt to address the traumatic and ongoing decimation of the native peoples of the Americas from a depth psychology perspective. Please forward this post to your favorite social media outlets and to interested friends!

Click here to register for this FREE event!

Click here to learn more about this initiative!

Works Cited

Edinger, E. (1973). Ego and Archetype: Individuation and the Religious Function of the Psyche. New York, NY: Penguin Publishing Group.

Smith, J. (1995). Sacrifice. In Smith, J.Z. et al. (eds), The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, p. 948, San Francisco: Harper Collins.


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The Archetypal Roots of Multi-Generational

Trauma in the Americas

In the face of cultural crisis, modern people tend to seek material, social, and political solutions. Depth psychology approaches cultural issues from a different perspective. Depth psychologists tend to look beneath the surface. On an individual level, we look for complexes, networks of ideas and emotions that may have been forgotten, or simply were too complicated to fully process at earlier stages of development. Yet the energy contained in these complexes will continue to act autonomously, upsetting our best laid plans, regardless of our conscious intentions. Often, the early formation of a complex involves an underlying trauma.

Not individuals alone, but cultures, too, can develop complexes (Kimbles, 2000). If, without entering into contemporary political or partisan debates, we were to look at the history of the current cultural chaos in North America, what might we identify as determining factors? What complexes might we find? People in Europe and Asia routinely live among the artifacts of cultures that are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old. The settlers of North America rarely look back that far, and perhaps with good reason. Not so very long ago, the land in which we live was inhabited by people who had lived here for literally thousands of years. These were not simply nomadic tribal people, just passing through. Although that is the origin myth that the modern inhabitants of North America have been taught, the reality is much different. The first inhabitants of the Americas had developed their own agriculture –  independent of, and nearly simultaneous with, the agricultural centers of China, India, and the mid-East – as well as their own civilizations, towns, roads, and systems of trade.

9142465667?profile=originalThe Americas were not discovered, they were invaded (Jennings, 1975, Wright, 1992). This invasion was followed by colonization and involved an ongoing process of deliberately deceiving the native people, breaking treaties one after another, slaughtering whole villages, and finally corralling each tribal group into small sections of land that would not support the production of crops (Churchill, 2004; Stannard, 1992; Grenier, 2005). This system was so effective that it eventually inspired Adolf Hitler.

In an oft quoted passage, Pulitzer Prize winning historian John Toland (1976) writes: "Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination -- by starvation and uneven combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity” (p. 702).

Why do I mention this in relation to contemporary chaos in North America? The origin myth that we have been taught is a false narrative. In the words of historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (2014a):

"Origin narratives form the vital core of a people’s unifying identity and of the values that guide them. In the United States, the founding and development of the Anglo-American settler-state involves a narrative about Puritan settlers who had a covenant with God to take the land. That part of the origin story is supported and reinforced by the Columbus myth and the 'Doctrine of Discovery.'"

The Americas were not a virgin land, free for the taking. They were populated by literally millions of people whose civilizations and cultures, though quite different from European ways, were nonetheless sophisticated and highly developed. Our true origin myth has been, as historian Francis Jennings has said, “buried under an ideology” (p. v).  

9142465688?profile=originalSuch a deliberate attempt to rewrite our origins is important enough for the historian, but it is even more important for depth psychology. Instead of being a culture founded on freedom and high ideals, as we have long been taught, the truth is slowly emerging. This truth is that we are a culture built upon savagery – not the savagery of those whom we once called ‘savages’, but our own savagery (Churchill, 2004; Stannard, 1992; Grenier, 2005). We are a culture that has been built on greed, white supremacy, and slavery (Baptist, 2016; Dunbar-Ortiz, 2014b; Blackmon, 2009; Davis, 2008; Pearce, 1988). That these very traits should once again be emerging from our cultural shadow should be of no surprise to those with any understanding of depth psychology. They are revealing to us elements of the traumatic core of an autonomous cultural complex.   

9142467072?profile=originalMoreover, the atrocities that our antecedents visited upon the native peoples and Africans  whom they perceived to be either impediments to the achievement of their goals or a means to achieve them, carried with them trauma of horrific proportions. Although these traumas were no doubt more virulent for those upon whom they were visited, recent studies show that the perpetrators of violence and injustice are not unaffected by their actions. Researcher Rachel MacNair (2010; 2009; 2005) reports a form of post traumatic stress that she identifies as perpetrator-induced traumatic stress (PITS). In studies of combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those who had killed others or committed atrocities (as opposed to simply having viewed such acts) reported more, and more debilitating symptoms. More research needs to be done in this area, but the evidence remains clear that trauma impacts everyone associated with violence and other morally repugnant behaviors. In the context of our cultural history, it seems that, whether victim or perpetrator, we are all heir to a collective memory of trauma.

In keeping with the mission and vision of the Depth Psychology Alliance (DPA), we are continuing our practice of initiating discussions, conversations, and healing activities around key, non-political issues that appear to be active in the cultural unconscious of the people of the Americas. Our most recent initiative is an attempt to address the traumatic and ongoing decimation of the native peoples of the Americas from a depth psychology perspective. How can we best address such issues from the perspective of depth psychology? How can those of us who feel that the perspectives of depth psychology can have a positive cultural influence begin realize such ideas in a way that actually inspires positive change in the world? How do these historical events impact our current world? How can we respond to historical events in a constructive and healing way?

If these questions interest you, you may want to watch the video replay of our online community conversation on the topic of Multi Generational Trauma in the Americas.

Click here to watch a video replay of this event!

The Depth Psychology Alliance supports

The Native American Heritage Foundation

We hope you will, too!


Works Cited

Baptist, E. (2016). The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic Books.

Blackmon, D. (2009). Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Anchor.

Churchill, W. (2004). A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books.

Davis, D. (2008). Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014a). Jacobin. America’s Founding Myths. Retrieved from: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/11/americas-founding-myths/

Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014b). An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Grenier, J. (2005). The First Way of War: American War Making on the Frontier, 1607–1814. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Jennings, F. (1975). The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Kimbles, S. (2000). The Cultural Complex and the Myth of Invisibility. In Singer, T. Ed. The Vision Thing: Myth, Politics and Psyche in the World. New York, NY: Routledge.

MacNair, R. (2010) Psychological reverberations for the killers: Preliminary historical evidence for perpetration-induced traumatic stress, Journal of Genocide Research, 3:2, 273-282.

MacNair, R. (2009) Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress in Combat Veterans, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 8:1, 63-72.

MacNair, R. (2005). Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing. Bloomington, IN: Authors Choice.

Pearce, R. (1988). Savagism and Civilization: A Study of the Indian and the American Mind. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Stannard, D. (1992). American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Toland, J (1992). Adolf Hitler. New York: Anchor.

Wright, R. (1992). Stolen Continents: The Americas Through Indian Eyes since 1492. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

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9142468897?profile=original Carl Jung’s body of work has set into motion a scientific revolution on the order of Copernicus. While many mainstream academic psychologists and mainstream intellectuals dismiss Jung and his work as regressive and unscientific, little by little his ideas have been seeping into major academic disciplines, although incognito. Many anthropologists (including the celebrated Levi-Strauss) have been influenced by and have capitalized on Jung’s ideas with not a single reference to him. Many of Jung’s ideas and methods, once considered heretical, are now employed by several major psychological schools – again, with no credit given to Jung. One key academic discipline most historically resistant to Jung’s ideas has been the field of folklore and mythology. In this field, again, slowly, his ideas are beginning to be integrated by some brave academic scholars.

Of course, Jung is not alone in scientific history in being ignored or dismissed by his peers. Many great minds have been ignored, dismissed, or otherwise disparaged despite the revolutionary brilliance of their ideas. What great idea is the herald of Carl Jung’s alleged scientific revolution? The claim that the ego is not the center of the psyche. Rather, Jung (1959) contends, an unconscious ordering principle that he calls the ‘archetype of the Self’ is the object around which the healthy ego revolves. This is the new paradigm that Jung’s work is slowly bringing to birth in contemporary culture.

In his classic study The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, historian and philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn (1970), popularized the idea of scientific paradigms. According to Kuhn, the idea of a scientific paradigm
9142470062?profile=originalsuggests specific examples of scientific practice that “…provide models from which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research” (p. 10). An example that Kuhn uses is that of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), who challenged the Ptolemaic paradigm of his day. The Ptolemaic paradigm saw the earth as the center of the universe, and asserted that the sun revolved around the earth. This was also the biblical paradigm (though Kuhn ignores this, since by definition the biblical paradigm is not scientific). Copernicus asserted that the earth revolved around the sun, and he was roundly criticized for this outrageous claim. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) later supported the Copernican heliocentric theory, and was tried and arrested by the Catholic church. Galileo spent nine years under house arrest (until his death) for supporting this heretical Copernican theory.

What was Galileo’s crime? Aside from violating certain theological decrees, Galileo proposed to dispose of the geocentric (earth-centered) paradigm and replace it with the heliocentric (sun-centered) paradigm that today every school-child takes for granted. Carl Jung is guilty of a similar crime: claiming that the ego is not the center of a healthy personality. Jung asserts rather that a healthy personality features an ego which listens to, and is in touch with the organizing principle of the archetypal Self, by way of what Erich Neumann (1973) has called an ego-self axis (p. 59). Though these metaphoric ideas are today as widely rejected as Copernican ideas were in times past, I am confident this new paradigm will one day be as commonly accepted as Galileo’s is today.

It would appear that what most academics find distasteful about Jung’s work is not so much the ideas themselves, but their implications. Jung’s ideas imply that there is not only value in what rises from the unconscious, but there are also clear implications for those scholarly disciplines which continue to remain unconscious of the affect of the unconscious psyche on their own academic work. Jung’s work also implies that so-called primitive humans, those historian of religion Mircea Eliade (1959) called homo-religiosus, were actually engaging in healthy, community strengthening activities when they prayed to their gods, danced and sang out ritual re-enactments of their tribal histories, and treated their mythological canons as their most valuable possessions. Moreover, Jung claims that these same types of activities are sadly lacking in the contemporary world and that this lack of connection to the mythic realm has led to enormous psychological distress.

Were the academic world at large to rightly understand and accept these novel claims of Jung, they, each and everyone, would be required to completely rethink the premises upon which their disciplines rest. For now they would have to accept and incorporate into their work the psychic fact that before they ever put pen to paper, or conduct a single experiment, their unconscious psyche is manipulating their activities in ways of which they are completely and blissfully unaware. All science is based upon assumptions, but just because a large group of people believe these assumptions to be true does not therefore mean that those assumptions align with objective reality.

Jung’s work encourages us to enter into this new paradigm with him. To enter as into a mythic realm what he called the reality of the psyche, without losing sight of the importance of our rational, discriminating consciousness. Jung's work allows us to enter the symbolic, mythic realm of the psyche and bring back lost parts of ourselves to examine them in the light of a healthy, discerning consciousness. The ultimate goal being to integrate these contents into consciousness and make their attendant creative energies available to us. This is a Copernican revolution that completely re-writes not only our understanding of psychology and the human psyche, but also our understandings of myth, religion, and culture. Jung's work invites us to learn a new, higher-order thinking style that integrates intuition, feeling, and sensation into a new, more comprehensive way of knowing ourselves, and our world.

Join us for an exploration of the scientific revolution of our day in the upcoming course Jung and Mythology. A free introductory class will be offered on Saturday, February 24th at 1pm PT. The following week on Saturday, March 3rd, at 1pm PT, we will begin the first module of the eight week, college level course, Jung and Mythology.

9142471465?profile=originalClick here for more information

Click here to register for the free introductory class.

Click here to register for the eight week course.

Eliade, M. (1959). The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. New York, NY: Harcourt, Inc.

Jung, C. (1959). Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kuhn, T. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Neumann, E. (1973). The Child. New York, NY: Harper.

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Dear Depth community. Warm greetings for a happy new year.  

At this time last year many of us were preparing to launch the Earth, Climate, Dreams online symposium, which was a program consisting of 12 recorded interviews with some of the expert scientists, psychologists, Jungian analysts, and educators who are providing some of the most critical thinking about the topics.

Now, in honor of the anniversary of that symposium, I'm pleased to let you know that all 12 of the depth dialogues are being released to the community. Those of you who attended the original symposium had the benefit of meeting together each week for six weeks online, along with many of the presenters, to discuss each week's featured interviews and to sit together in contemplation of some of the challenges we are facing in our current culture--a culture which seems to be changing drastically by the day.

Thank you to each of you who make space each day for the transition we are going through, and for the opportunity to engage with something much larger than ourselves--a sense of soul that is so greatly needed by all.

Following are links to each of the 12 interviews on YouTube.If you feel inclined to make a small donation in exchange for the interviews, please do so. Either way, enjoy the depth and breath of these wonderful thinkers in the field.

In soul,

Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.




Earth, Climate, Dreams: Depth Psychological Reflections in the Age of the Anthropocene 

Over time, humans in western cultures have undergone a profound restructuring of the psyche resulting in a traumatic sense of separation. In modern day, we face a growing set of challenges on ecological and social fronts. The era of what is now informally called the Anthropocene—a term referring to the significant impact of human activity on the planet— has arrived. The current crisis requires that we reflect on our situation from a depth psychological perspective, contemplating how we might tap into the underlying archetypal themes at work in the culture and begin to articulate them in ways that inspire and move us to personal and collective action.

The depth dialogues for this  symposium offers the  opportunity to engage the topic from a depth psychological perspective, allowing deep reflection and thoughtful response.


Video Presenters with the links to view each Dialogue Below:

Bonnie Bright, Founder, Depth Psychology Alliance, HOST

Steven Aizenstat, Chancellor and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute


Susannah Benson, Academic, Researcher, Educator, and Counsellor


Jerome Bernstein, Jungian Analyst


Michael Conforti, Jungian Analyst


Nancy Swift Furlotti, Jungian Analyst


Sally Gillespie, Jungian Psychotherapist


Veronica Goodchild, Professor Emerita at Pacifica Graduate Institute


Jeffrey Kiehl, Jungian Analyst and Senior Climate Scientist


Jonathan Marshall, Anthropologist and Senior Research Associate at the University of Technology Sydney


Robert Romanyshyn, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute


Susan Rowland, Chair of MA Engaged Humanities & the Creative Life at Pacifica Graduate Institute


Erel Shalit, Jungian Analyst



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Watch the Video Interview here

Daniel Foor, PhD, is a teacher and practitioner of practical animism who specializes in ancestral and family healing and is helping make humans relate well to the rest of the natural world and in helping humans relate well to the rest of the natural world.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Foor’s doctoral research in psychology focused on the use of shamanic healing practices like clinical mental health professionals. He has trained and lived in other societies, immersing himself in different lineages of spiritual practice, each of which has informed his kind and non-dogmatic approach to ancestor and earth reverence.

A self-described “white guy from Ohio of European ancestral lineages German, English, Irish,” Foor has sought out and trained with many different lineages of practices and teaches ancestry and earth reverence to people in the United States in “an accessible way that helps them to feel connected to their own ancestors and to the land where they live in a way that's also mindful of the history, and social justice.”


In our recent conversation, Foor, who is the author of a recent book, Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing, explains the difference between animism and shamanism, tracing some of their historical evolution and key ideas.

A mature or well-evolved animist is someone who learns how to relate skillfully, respectfully with other kinds of beings, Foor believes, but that doesn't mean that person necessarily holds any specific role in their community as a healer. It's a way of seeing the world. He prefers to use the term, “earth-honoring spirituality,” to describe a critical part of his worldview and practice, in part because it does not take away from or appropriate specific indigenous traditions, or contribute to the history of genocide and colonialism that has taken place among indigenous peoples around the world.

When one is drawn to “shamanism,” or earth-honoring spirituality, it benefits us to get to know our own ancestors, and to come into relationship with both what is beautiful, and also with what needs healing from our own ancestral lineages, Foor insists. That enables us to go about the needed healing in more grounded and more culturally sensible way because it honors our own history.

In our conversation, Foor explained how many modern day shamanic practices are taught by western practitioners—including soul retrieval, extraction, de-possession work, energy balancing, and connecting with spirit allies, among them. Most of the mental health practitioners Daniel drew from in his doctoral research were drawing on those types of practices, he acknowledges, and the conclusion of the research is that it is possible to harmonize or bridge some of those practices into a mental health setting.

9142469896?profile=originalHowever, practices from animist cultures or indigenous traditions generally assume that each individual who comes to Earth has our own destiny, our own unique instructions and original medicine and gifts to bring to the world, he notes. These cultures tend to have a profound respect for diversity because the natural world offers tremendous diversity in the form of revelations and manifestations that are highly sacred, in addition to all the things we can't physically perceive.

It is important that we each get clear about what our particular destiny is, and then determine which specific or unique teachers, spirits, or practices we need to be working with in order to fulfill that destiny. There's really just one script or one pattern, even within the same tradition of practice.

Many of these traditional practices revolve around cultivating relationships and learning to feed and tend a relationship with certain ancestors or spirits through offerings, prayer, invocation; by allowing those beings to speak through dreams, waking intuition, through embodiment or incorporation, possession practices, and also potentially knowing how to also work with different plants and elements of the natural world, which have their own vibration, their own medicine, as Daniel suggests.

For me, this is all a very archetypal idea that information is available which we can tap into through the instruction or the teachings of certain spirits, entities, or deities, but Foor quickly reminds me that, while some traditions favor the practice of  journeying, for example—of moving one’s consciousness intentionally out of the body in order to gain information from some other “world”, not all traditions expect or require the practitioner to journey to them, and may even see it as a practice that necessarily favorable.

Another critical tool that some traditions engage in when relating with ancestors or spirits is through divination. This includes an appreciation for dreams, synchronicity, spontaneous events, and ancestral memory in the form of stories—many of which can be invoked to amplify what elders may be seeing in certain situations.

Part of our “predicament” in the West is that people are drawn to spirit, but they don't necessarily have a community to support them, Foor maintains. While working alone can offer a certain modicum of freedom, there can also be loneliness, sadness, or a sense of loss or disconnect from the nourishment that a lineage provides, and also the accountability that comes from a lineage. Ideally, we have elders to whom we can turn for guidance, for analyzing dreams or events, or to help us from getting overwhelmed by archetypal forces. They can also help us deal with inflation, which can potentially be problematic when one feels “called” in a certain way, even if that calling is valid and authentic.

9142470700?profile=originalOne critical tenet of healing is to seek clarity about your own unique destiny and what your needs are as a result of that. This requires “getting well with your own ancestors” and healing your ancestral lineages. The process encourages the psychological inner work that everybody needs to do, aids healing in families, and allows us to come a balanced relationship with the land and the earth where we each live.

Community protects us from “getting too far into the weeds” when it's functioning in a healthy way, Foor suggests. Counterparts who see us on a spiritual level and can help us course correct when we need it, and grounded spiritual teachers can help us move things along and they also help us establish some psychological resilience so we don’t become disillusioned with our sense of calling.

Foor, who has been guiding ancestral trainings around the U.S. over the last decade, believes that everyone has loving and wise ancestors. It's important to expand our understanding of the ancestors to include not only all of our lineage who are remembered by name, but also those who are note, and to know that they can be called upon in the present. “The ancestors live as a spiritual force, or collection of forces, in the present and so we can call on them now,” Foor contends. It’s also important to identify the dead who can help us from those who have passed but are not yet well. That’s another important reason for healing our lineages—not just for our own families and for our psychological well-being, but also for “the cultural healing that we need with respect to racism, sexism, homophobia, all the different cultural poisons that we're trying to metabolize.”


Doing the work of healing the inter-generational pain that's been inherited is also very complementary to social justice work and cultural healing work that's needed. In contemporary shamanism, people tend to gravitate toward relating with certain deities, animals, plants, mountains, etc., but often tend to forego relationships with ancestors, partly because there's so much unconscious trauma about family and a desire to avoid that. If family is seen as a source of pain and disconnect rather than spiritual support, is not surprising that we might view our families in a truncated and incomplete way rather than seeing that we have lineages that go back to tribal, pre-Christian, pre-colonialism times, Foor suggests.

That psychological motivation to avoid the ancestor part of shamanic practice because of the history can potentially prevent us from engaging in the opportunity for healing through the ancestors. The “ones who lived before the trouble” have the potential to bring healing into our own hearts, relationships, and lives. They want to reconnect with us.

As a doctor of psychology and a therapist, Foor sees many individuals struggle with intergenerational pain or ancestral trouble—even sometimes ghost interference—that's been inherited. Our older ancestors have the remedy to shift that, he believes, but these situations involve collective-level medicine. “The older ancestors have the remedy for the poison that we have inherited from recent family,” he asserts. “And they want to help. They're available. But there needs to be a calling on them.” In our conversation, Foor goes on to share some practical and helpful ideas about how to work with ancestors.

“There are literally thousands of intact cultures on earth that continue to maintain daily relationship with their ancestors,” he notes. We have a natural human capacity to engage in direct, nourishing, helpful relationship with our own ancestors. Once we make that gesture, we then just need to trust that the universe will actually respond.

9142471261?profile=originalAnd sometimes, we have to be a little tenacious about it. If you're serious about it, we have to remember we’re building a relationship, and these are real being—not just a part of your own mind. You can't control them. Foor goes on to note several books, authors, and even YouTube videos that have made a difference in his own life.

Foor goes on to profess that one of his” favorite demographics of people” is “white people like him who are ancestrally disconnected from indigenous culture.” It is possible to reclaim animist, earth-honoring, soulful depth level relationship with your own ancestors, practices, community, he affirms, even as he emphasizes that we must be hopeful about it. “It's possible to do it in a way that isn't culturally offensive,” he stresses in closing. “Don't let those things discourage you. We need the reconnection. The others, the not human ones, miss us, and we desperately need to get our framework for how to live and how to relate well with the others back on track”—not just spiritually but politically and culturally, as well.


Visit Daniel Foor’s website, www.ancestralmedicine.org to find lots of resources, including a calendar of workshops Foor offers both in-person or online.

Learn more about Daniel Foor’s upcoming online series, “Ancestral Lineage Healing”, starting October 29, 2017: http://www.depthpsychologyalliance.com/events/ancestral-lineage-healing-online-course

Watch the video interview
, Ancestral Healing: Insights on Animism & Shamanism—Dr. Daniel Foor with Bonnie Bright PhD (approx. 42 mins) at http://www.depthpsychologyalliance.com/video/ancestral-healing-insights-on-animism-shamanism-dr-daniel-foor-wi

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For Jungian analyst and professor, Jorge de la O, the desire to become a therapist began in the late 1970s when he saw Violet Oaklander[1] the founder of Gestalt therapy with children and adolescents, at a confluent education conference at USC. Oaklander presented some slides on the process of sandtray (a somewhat different process from Sandplay, the Jungian approach to sandtray which was created by Jungian analyst Dora Kalff)[2]. When Jorge saw the trays and the work Oaklander was doing, he was completely taken by it. "It was magical," he reports. As a kindergarten teacher at the time, he knew he wanted Sandplay in his life, and a seed was planted....

After starting the program at Pacifica Graduate Institute (where he now holds a faculty position), Jorge’s early fascination with Sandplay was renewed. The Counseling program required that each student training to be a therapist undergo their own personal therapy, so Jorge immediately looked for a Sandplay therapist who was also a Jungian analyst. All the tumblers just sort of fell into place right from the beginning, he notes.

sandplay_by_dora_kalff.jpg?t=1507063614125&name=sandplay_by_dora_kalff.jpg&width=200I can relate to Jorge’s perception of Sandplay as “magical,” having been completely taken by some of the case studies presented at a recent conference I attended on Sandplay, and how Sandplay works so magnificently in the healing process. The founder of Sandplay (and author of the book by the same name), Dora Kalff, saw Sandplay as a free and open space where individuals create images in the sand using miniatures[3], Jorge informs me. It is a nonverbal form of therapy which allows psyche to come to the surface, much like active imagination. Part of the magic, as Jorge explains it....

Read the full post here

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Education Institution

We are pleased to announce that the new issue of Depth Insights™ Journal, the official peer-reviewed publication for Depth Psychology Alliance is out!

From the Editor, Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.:

When the world seems to be falling apart all around us, depth psychology provides perspectives and tools that can help us make some sense of things, even in some small way. Through the study of the unconscious, we can often get a glimpse of patterns at work, or underlying aspects that help us gain a new understanding of how we are truly supported by something larger—how the boundaries and attachments of our ego selves can soften and give way to soul, which sustains us.
In this issue of Depth Insights, we encounter a variety of topics which, when we apply a depth psychological lens, we begin to understand at a deeper layer. Several of these seven compelling essays build on the authors’ personal experiences in order to truly explore the many ways soul reveals itself in our lives and in the collective. Others offer a broad academic view that integrate philosophy or systems science with depth psychology to further enrich the lens by which we might perceive soul at work in the world. ...

 Essays include:

—Stories of Longing: Beaver, Bear, Wolf
—The Space Between Breaths - An Exploration of Grief and Final Threshold Rituals
—The Art of Facing Darkness: A Metal Musician’s Quest for Wholeness
—The Numinosity of Pluralism: Interfaith as Spiritual Path and Practice
On Romanticism in Jung’s Psychology: A Reflection on The Passion of the Western Mind by Richard Tarnas
—How Jungian Psychology, Brain Research, Quantum Physics, and Systems Science Lead to Pansystemology and Depth Psychology
—A Child’s Edenic Dream: “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in The Nutcracker Ballet
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 9142464887?profile=originalWhen there is wounding in our culture, there is wounding to the of the world. Many may be feeling “world weary” at this moment in our modern world, but this mood of despair has happened before, suggests mythologist . A distortion in the culture, whenever it occurs, weighs on everyone in the culture—but people have survived this before.  has been collecting myths about the renewal of the  for years,  he tells them elegantly  jubilantly with the use of a drum, a rare treat to watch or listen to.

“The dream of the beauty of nature in its diverse dynamic has been disrupted in so many ways. We have fallen out of the dream,”  reflects, but “if we will look into darkness, we will find something there which, on the individual level, is the image of the .”

To sustain ourselves in the chaotic ways of modern life, we need a practice which allows for a re-imagination of the whole  our part in it….


Read the full summary article or get the link to listen to “Touching the  of the World: A Mythological View of Chaotic Timesfrom ’s Opening Keynote  at the “Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century” Conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute, June 16, 2017


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Life in the 21st century is challenging for all of us. We are living in a globally interdependent world, where time has accelerated, learning challenges are constant, and it is difficult to keep up with the pace of change and not feel overwhelmed. On top of that, physicists tell us that time and space are relative, which is difficult for any of us to understand when they seem so absolute. At the same time, neuroscientists are finding that our brains filter out much of what we see, organizing what is taken in through pattern recognition, which includes archetypal narratives, but also alerting us that what we, individually, take to be reality might be only partially true or not true at all. How to function when we cannot count on reality being what we thought it was? Even though much knowledge is now available to us about brain plasticity, which provides hope that we can learn to see things differently in addressing new challenges, such changes do not happen overnight.

The movie Arrival is an example of the 21st century thinking that potentially is available to many of us, at least in small ways. In it, a seemingly mild-mannered heroine, Louise Banks, who by day is a professor of linguistics, responds to a call that seems to require a superwoman: to help save the world. Mysterious spacecraft have landed at 12 sites around the planet. The extraterrestrials in them are heptapods, which look a bit like octopuses—that is, if the latter had one less tentacle and could stand upright. Louise is recruited by the American military to decipher the language of the aliens and enable communication with them. By ordinary standards, a linguist might be a bit player in such a situation, but instead, Louise is the one who facilitates a positive outcome to this encounter, and she does this by utilizing very feminine capacities that have morphed to meet the needs of this new time.

The movie has a very dreamlike ambiance. After news of the landings has spread, Louise is awakened by a helicopter in the middle of the night, and a U.S. Army colonel gives her ten minutes to decide whether to go with them and pack her things. As soon as they arrive at the Montana site where an elliptical spaceship hovers vertically above the ground, she is given some preventive injections, suited up to be protected against contamination, and taken to the ship, where she, her companion physicist, Ian, and an Army team ascend into a tunnel (like a birth canal or near death experience with light at the end) where there is no gravity, finally arriving in a setting with the heptapods, surrounded by mist, behind a clear, window-like wall.


Seen symbolically, the heptapods can represent a new archetype arising from the unconscious, ready to take form in the conscious world, as they also provide a stand-in for the contemporary challenge of dealing with others in this new—and confusing—contemporary reality. In such a time, any of us might have new impulses, images, desires, or ways of viewing the world arising from the unconscious. Just as Louise’s task is to translate the primal growls and moans of the aliens, and engage with them to be able to find out their purpose in coming, eventually we also need to be able to articulate what we are sensing.


Even as Louise has accepted the external challenge of communicating with these strange beings, she is visualizing scenes with a daughter that could be memories, future events, or her imagination, but they are undercutting her and the viewer’s sense of time. Similarly, we can learn from the waves of information coming to us from the outside and inside in our thoughts, sensations, feelings, and dream images. The gift of the heptapods for Louise is the ability to move out of linear time, and in doing so to understand the world through different lenses than before. So, too, in the world today, our task is to give voice to what is emerging in us, as we also face unexpected events and relate to people who may initially seem “other” to us.


Relating to the Other: It seems to be a human tendency to demonize the ”other,” and we see this now in our own time with the spread of attitudes toward immigrants that regard them as criminal types, as well as the Warrior archetype’s desire to find someone to blame for whatever has gone wrong and/or to divert attention from his own misdeads—and to punish them. In a diverse society and a global community, the ability to move past appearances to assess someone’s actual character and potential for positive collaboration is important to us all if we are not to miss out on how our own minds could be expanded and our lives enriched by learning from their strengths and gifts. Louise and Ian, the primary figures in the film, are able to put their fears aside and respond to the aliens with curiosity and empathy, just as later Louise helps the Chinese general—who had been leading the charge to vanquish the aliens he saw as invaders—to do.


The Warrior Archetype Complex as Obstacle: Developing interspecies communication takes time, and Louise constantly has to push back against pressure generated by a panicking population, media incendiaries, and the militaries in 12 countries, all of which assume that the thing to do is to use force against the aliens to drive them away or kill them. The combined impact of countless science fiction movies with Warrior archetype plot structures provides the default explanation for why the aliens would be here: They have come to invade our planet and destroy us, first causing us to fight amongst ourselves (as human invaders do); thus, we should annihilate them. So, in a twist on the stereotypical science fiction film, the potential threat to the success of Louise’s work is not so much the aliens as the clutch of the Warrior archetype on the attitudes and expectations of the time. It is not that the Warrior archetype is unimportant; the problem is that it has become the primary lens through which reality is perceived, creating a kind of Warrior trance that makes it difficult to see things differently—in this case, a more benign reason these strange extraterrestrial visitors have landed on earth.


The Lover Archetype at Work: The Lover archetype can break a Warrior trance, which is why it is utilized in peace-building, encouraging antagonists to shed their defenses, stop posturing, and show up authentically, sharing their experiences and feelings. It also assists in any human encounter with difference. In Louise’s second visit with the aliens, she is frustrated by not being able to get much response from them, and realizes that they need to see her to trust her. Her reaction is immediate and reveals how traditional elements of the Lover archetype are morphing to meet new challenges. Louise breaks the rules she has been given by taking off her protective gear, walking to the wall that stands between her and the heptapods, and pressing her hand against it. Her action is reminiscent of scenes in other films where disrobing moves characters to a new level of intimacy or where we see a woman visiting someone she loves in prison, whom she cannot touch directly, who then meets her hand through a glass wall.


The heptapods cannot meet Louise’s hand in quite this way since they do not have hands and are so much larger than her; but a tentacle stretches out to match her gesture and a sense of trust and connection is established. Louise, who seems to have slipped into a trance state for a moment, sighs with relief, saying, “Now, that is an introduction.”


Learning from Interconnectivity: There is so much in our society that separates the private realm from work and public life, but within our minds, thoughts and feelings about all of these, as well as memories of the past and imagined events in our future, are constantly going on. Most of us try to stay present to one or the other by shutting off everything else. Louise is dealing with so much internal turmoil that she cannot do this, even though she continues to work effectively: Her mind is being reprogrammed by learning the alien language, so she can see the future, or at least one of many potential futures. Her experiences demonstrate the power of the Jungian concept of synchronicity (meaningful coincidences). The clues that Louise gains from her visions of her daughter provide her with information she needs to decode what the heptapods are saying. At the same time, she also is feeling overcome with love for this child. All this requires her to take multi-tasking in mental processing to a new level.


Louise embodies the Magician archetype’s ability to transform situations through expanding consciousness, so that everything that is going on simultaneously, aligned through the catalyst of love, turns her into the person who can deal with it all. As also occurs in the recent film Interstellar, a parent’s powerful love for a child energizes the Lover archetype, which, in turn, helps make the unimaginable happen. You may have observed a similar transformation in someone (maybe you) who is fielding a demanding career with an intense learning curve along with some kind of intense personal crisis and is transformed by intense feelings of love, with the result that she or he becomes a more complex and mature human being.


Entering the Unknown and the Known with Courage and Openness: The complexities we face in the second decade of the 21st century, when everything is influencing everything else, make it nearly impossible to predict the future with any degree of certainty. However, we can recognize some very definite patterns. For example, we know from scientists about the likely progression of climate change. Some people today are so scared by this that they simply have to deny that it could be true. Others of us can break through this denial by tapping into our love of nature and the planet that is our home. That can energize us to get active to do what we can to slow down and perhaps eventually prevent further environmental damage.


In our personal lives, we all know that eventually we will die, and that, when we love someone or something, we may lose them. So, the question is: Do we choose to say yes to love or not? One choice would be to hold back from commitment, while another is to live fully into the time available to us. Spoiler alert: In her personal life, Louise commits wholeheartedly to a “yes” even when she feels sure, based on her visions, that her daughter will die young and that Ian will leave her.


Near the end of the movie, Louise must answer an essential question facing all of us today, in so many areas of our lives: If we could know what is likely to happen in the future, would we take action to change it? And, however complex what confronts us today—known and unknown—might be, can we face it whole-heartedly with love and an openness to transforming and being transformed?




Think of anything in your life right now that feels confusing or even scary. Then:

  • Note that fear generates adrenaline and the “fight/flight” response, but love can channel this into “tend and befriend.” To trigger this effect, imagine with gratitude who and what you love.
  • Use curiosity and empathy to understand the person or situation you are dealing with, and consider what you might do to check the accuracy of what you have imagined.
  • Finally, when you have thoughts chaotically moving through your mind, don’t panic. Instead, think of this as a gift. Then breathe deeply and slowly for a bit to allow these thoughts to realign, and notice whether you suddenly have an insight that helps you know what to do next or simply to feel differently about things.
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Dreams, Births, and Ghosts . . .

Dream images of having a child, a newborn, are familiar within depth psychotherapy. Also, symbols of haunting spirits, poltergeist, come at a certain point. We either do inner work and birth new developments and potential, or we suffer from haunting in the inner world and outer reality, archetypal energy turned dark and destructive.

When we hold back, don't permit ourselves to experience new things, we thwart our growth potential. It is best to live in the conscious world with full confidence. Then, at night, our dreams help to keep us in balance. 

"Doctor, I dreamed of a ghost haunting me. Then I got up and swore I saw flickers of the same presence out of the corner of my eye. Going into the bathroom, I noticed the rug along the floor was wrong side up. I went back to my bedroom, and the pillows were tossed on the floor."

He looked at me wide-eyed and continued, "Strange thing was I dreamt it all. When I got up, saw the flickers in my bedroom, went to the bathroom and then back to my room, shocked at what I saw, I'd been dreaming the whole time. I was haunted in my dream so I wouldn't be haunted in waking life. It's happened before, and I know it could happen again.

We explored the presence of the ghost in the dream within a dream. He admitted to emotionally "clutching up," holding back out of fear in his professional life. He needed to take a risk, be more expansive. Dreams may have been those of having a newborn to care for, tending to the creative dimension of his psyche. To pull energy inward, without purpose or reason, was dangerous. It became a haunting in his dreams that could have turned into a haunting in his daily life.

Ghostly dreams and synchronous meetings of inner and outer energy happen when we need to pay attention, and when it comes to spiritual haunting in dreams it's best to listen, so they don't become outward problems, mischief making from the unseen world of creative energy gone south. Ghosts are unseen potentials calling for attention, tending, nurturing so that our life might flourish. 


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Education Institution

In this latest interview from Depth Alliance founder, Bonnie Bright, PhD, Dr. Jean Houston makes a passionate call for us to each "elect ourselves" and to "become party to all our parts." There couldn't be a more compelling and poignant call at this critical time in our world....

Jean Houston is almost legendary in popular culture for her passionate engagement, poetic rhetoric, and her poignant appeal for transformation and belief in what she calls “the possible human,” also the title of one her nearly 30 books.

One of her many current projects is the collaboration and production of a play which will be previewed at Pacifica Graduate Institute on March 4. “Tonight in Dreamland,” a “serious comedy” as Houston refers to it, was written with Cheri Steinkellner, an award-winning writer and producer of a multitude of plays and TV shows (including the hit series, Cheers), and who is also currently a student in the Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life program at Pacifica.

houston_rally.jpg?t=1487805406511&name=houston_rally.jpg&width=320Having just returned from the “Sister Giant” conference in Washington D.C., where presented alongside Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Thom Hartmann, and Robert Thurman (among others), Houston’s passions were clearly stirred when she sat down to speak with me.

That conference, also streamed live around the world, explored the intersection of spirituality and politics—a befitting arena for Houston’s long track record of advocating and fostering leadership and personal and social transformation. We are powerfully connected, she asserts, because we don’t just live in the universe; the universe also lives in us. We are called now, more than ever before, to use the incredible powers that exist in us, tapping into powers that we have rarely collectively been required to use... (Read the full post or access the audio interview)

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On Inauguration Day in the US, I was interviewed on the Women in Depth podcast.   It was deeply symbolic for me, because intense feminine energies that have been underground for centuries have been showing up in full force in Doorway sessions these past few months. There's a whole other realm that urgently wishes to be known by us. 

You can listen or download the podcast here: 


IN·AU·GU·RA·TION (iˌnôɡ(y)əˈrāSH(ə)n) noun

1. the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.
2. a ceremony to mark the beginning of something

The Feminine has been inaugurated.

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“Firstly, thank you to the mediator and the panel guests for providing the event as an open event for new-comers to attend, and as a 'free' event! It was very worthwhile of the time spent to attend this, albeit a Sunday morning in New Zealand.

For this posting, please accept my response to Panel member, Steve Wood [PhD], who wrote “Going Somewhere: implications of electronically inflated psychological acceleration”.

For the blog, my notes that followed Steve Wood's conversation, include the following:

To recap: Our response to the speed of the ‘technological world’ is to recognise that there is an increasingly growing unconsciousness that is related to the sophisticated functions of technology; in human consciousness, this becomes almost as for 'an extension of the body, that is, the computational device is observed as an extension of the body', but it's operation is not always in the awareness of the conscious mind.
What is outside of an individual's awareness, or what is not known by 'the average consumer’ about technology/these systems, appears as a function outside of the conscious existential day-to-day life or what is possible for conscious-life. Consequently there is a blurring of the actuality of the lived and electronic worlds, and the worlds of truth and falsehood.

My ponder-ful response regards the interface of Self and Technology, and is related to the entity of technology and the human-being complex as separate. Recognition that the complex Body-Mind knows inter-subjectively, is also to know something of collective unconsciousness, as we become increasingly aware that there is self and other, or other entities that are not our self. Knowing this can provide the distance or separation necessary for us to begin to make sense of what we need to understand, and/or know about an other, with more depth.

The externalised self is a part of the collective being-in-the-world, which appears differently as we integrate newness as change, and acknowledge our ability to make sense of Self and otherness. The role of the implicit mind is signified necessarily, to reiterate events and knowledge with authenticity and truth.

Consequently, my lifeworld that has also a counterpart virtual lifeworld, questions the following with interest:

‘How much phantasy do we realise and integrate as a deliberate story-telling?

How does phantasy contribute to making sense, when learning anew is for the development of knowledge?

How we can teach/learn other ways/methodologies, to seek and make connections where reference to the implicit-knowing of self, provides explicitly, a sense of the otherness that we need to know as 'an other'.

How we do this may elucidate further consciousness regarding the process/es required to extend the existing senses, selves, and knowledge of rapidly changing ways-of-being, in a world that exclusively integrates modern technology. 

Please accept my few words as a response to the essay/conversation presented online. I have a response to the others if there is interest, acknowledging that I have only just purchased the book, and look forward to reading this too”.

Maree Brogden MA, PGcert MindBody Health Sciences
New Zealand

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Depth Psychology and the Digital Age:

For one of the founders of modern depth psychology, Carl Gustav Jung, who was born in 1875 and died in 1961, the “digital age” was not conceivable, but even more than half a century ago, Jung had significant concerns about the challenges of a growing mind/matter split and the excessive focus of western cultures in particular on science, technology, and rational thinking.
Jung believed this trend toward “modernity” emerged at the expense of more soulful, reflective, poetic ways of being and issued a strong caution against our increasing reliance on machines and technology. He warned of severe consequences that might ultimately propel our civilization toward collapse, unless modernity could be adequately acknowledged and dealt with from a psychological view.

If you Google “the digital age,” you’ll discover it is rather broadly defined as “the present time”—when most information is available in digital form, as compared to the era before the rise of computers in the 1970s. 

Depth psychology is the study of the soul, first and foremost associated with uncovering and exploring the unconscious. The Greek word psyche means “butterfly,” as one of the key founders of depth psychology, C. G. Jung, pointed out in Modern Man in Search of Soul. The word is also linked to the Greek aiolos, meaning “mobile, colored, or iridescent,” and to the Greek anemos, meaning “wind” or “breath,” as well as “soul” and “spirit”—all concepts that appear distinctly unrelated to technology.

Your Google search for “the digital age” will return a multitude of opinions on the pros and cons, with some contending the digital age is “good” because browsing the Internet stimulates our minds, and video games are teaching us new skills. However, if you entertain the notion that there are a multitude of detrimental side effects and disorders initiated by the digital age—illustrated by creative new terms such as “cyberchondriacs” (those who self-diagnose medical symptoms online), and “Facebook Addiction Disorder,” —and if you experience moderate concern, as many of us do, that as a digital culture we are becoming hooked on the web; that we are ruder, less empathetic and we procrastinate more; that our memory is deteriorating; and that we are developing increased anxiety about “missing out” because of the rash of information on social media—you might quickly see the benefit of looking at the digital age from a depth psychological perspective to begin to understand the archetypal aspects at work in our individual and collective lives.


In his seminal work, The Discovery of the Unconscious, Swiss medical historian, Henri Ellenberger (1905-1993), suggested that an exploration of the unconscious might offer a “renewed knowledge of the conscious mind, with a wider application to the understanding of literature, art, religion and culture.” Ellenberger didn’t make mention of the study of the unconscious to better understand technology specifically, but it is clear from his writings that even C. G. Jung himself believed depth psychology might shed light on a multitude of topics, including modernity and all its challenges.

The debate about the digital age is every bit as alive in depth psychological discussions as it is in the collective forum today. Technology is the magic of the modern world and plays a key role in our relationship to earth, writes depth psychologist Robert Romanyshyn in his timeless book, Technology as Symptom and Dream. Romanyshyn refers to technology in conjunction with the imagination of earth. In a still, quiet place like an African Sahara, he asserts, one “can still imagine technology as a vocation as the earth’s call to become its agent and instrument of awakening.” But technology can be both a danger and an opportunity, becoming a threat when it is too literal—when imagination falters.

The authors in the new anthology, Depth Psychology and the Digital Age, proffer a chance to redeem ourselves, to re-invent our relationship to the digital age and re-infuse these sacred tools with meaning and soul.
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family_photos.jpg?t=1475105168568&name=family_photos.jpg&width=320For Sandra Easter, author of Jung and the Ancestors: Beyond Biography, Mending the Ancestral Web, her journey toward ancestral healing has been filled with synchronicities. Growing up, Sandra always heard from her mother that they were descended from Roger Williams, a man who is credited with founding Providence, Rhode Island, in 1636. Synchronistically, the very same day Sandra’s own daughter decided she wanted to write a school report on this alleged ancestor, Sandra received a document which surprised her by actually confirming direct ancestry on her mother’s side from Roger Williams.

Easter also discovered a synchronicity related to the date of her own birthday, which coincides with the date Providence was burned to the ground in 1676 by descendants of the Native Americans of the Narragansett tribe from whom Williams originally secured the title for Providence.1 Ironically, Sandra also learned that Roger Williams had earlier been banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by a man named John Cotton, who was discovered to be the direct ancestor of Sandra’s ex-husband. The synchronicities continued as Sandra realized that Roger Williams and John Cotton had actually met historically on the date on which she and her (now ex-)husband decided to get married.

family_tree.jpg?t=1475105168568&name=family_tree.jpg&width=320These kinds of synchronicities often show up when people began researching their own ancestry, Easter notes. Anne Schutzenberger, a Freudian analyst, calls it “the anniversary syndrome,”2 where it often emerges that dates of significant events in an individual’s life, such as births, deaths or other important dates synchronistically coincide with dates of significant ancestral events, often related to trauma or pivotal moments in the life of the ancestor.

C. G. Jung offers a strong perspective on working with our ancestors, Easter believes, particularly through his work in the Red Book which suggests “the dead” can have a significant effect on us. Jung himself looked at his life as being a “historical fragment” in a much larger story, Easter affirms, noting that, according to Jung, each of us “adds an infinitesimal amount to what he would consider to be the evolution of consciousness.”

The story Sandra was lucky enough to uncover about her own ancestor is merely ... (READ the full post or listen to the interview here)

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