Depth Psychology List

Depth Psychology Blog

This blog offers information and education about Jungian and Depth Psychology oriented approaches by psychotherapists, counselors, coaches, speakers, authors, healing professionals, and dozens of other modalities. You'll read personal stories from these practitioners about the power of symbols, the unconscious, dreams, archetypes, Jungian thought, nature, ecopsychology, mythology, and so much more. 
  • 26 Jul 2013 2:57 PM | Anonymous
    In honor of what would have been Jung's 138th birthday, July 26, I'm sharing an excerpt from my essay on Jung's role in Depth Psychology, "Occupy Psyche: Deconstructing the Jungian Shadow in Depth Psychology," published in Occupy Psyche: Jungian and Archetypal Perspectives on a Movement (2012, Eds. Jordan Shapiro and Roxanne Partridge).

    The essay takes a look at how Jungian psychology relates to depth psychology and examines the influence of the larger-than-life persona of Jung on many of us who feel profoundly impacted by his work. 

    It also cautions us, by the way, to regard the shadow cast by the legend Jung has truly become and to ground ourselves in remembering his humanity and not idealizing him. 



    Read on...

    The theories of Swiss-born Carl Gustav Jung (known as C.G. to his peers) developed during the infancy of the emerging field known as psychology, established him as a pioneer and one of the founding fathers of depth psychology. The broader field of psychology was essentially born in 1879 when German physician and philosopher, Wilhelm Wundt, set up the first laboratory that carried out psychological research. The next few years marked the award of the first doctorate in psychology, the first title “professor of psychology, and the establishment of the American Psychological Association in 1892 (Zimbardo, 2001). In 1890, American philosopher William James, published Principles of Psychology, which marked an important transition from a mental philosophy to a scientific psychology. A few years later, in 1896, a Viennese medical doctor trained in neurology, Sigmund Freud, introduced the term “psychoanalysis” to define the practice of “talk therapy.”

    In 1900, the same year that Jung graduated from the University of Basel with his M.D. degree, Freud published his groundbreaking work, The Interpretation of Dreams--strongly establishing this aspect of mental life as an area of study. Freud’s explication of psychoanalysis based on his theories of hysteria, dreams, and word association as a doorway to uncover repressed material was one of the turning points that led to the birth of what was ultimately called “depth psychology,” a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler around the same time. Depth psychology claimed to reveal critical understanding of the conscious mind through exploration of the depths of the unconscious one. Jung’s path to depth psychology solidified when he completed his doctoral dissertation for his Ph.D. in 1902 at the University of Zurich on a depth-related topic, On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena.

    Jung met Freud who became Jung’s colleague and mentor in 1907, and they continued to establish the study of depth psychology both independently and together until 1913, at which time Jung’s capacity to support some of Freud’s theories reached a breaking point. While Freud continued to be entranced by the idea of a personal unconscious that harbored secrets, wishes, drives, and desires that could be mined and explained by childhood experiences, Jung moved more toward his theory of a collective unconscious which was a reservoir for archetypes, dreams, and stories that applied beyond the individual. The ensuing rupture between Jung and Freud was partially responsible for sending Jung into a downward spiral into the depths, instigating the fear that he was losing his mind, and ultimately resulting in an engagement with the objective unconscious that led to his writing the Red Book. When he emerged from his “descent,” Jung went on to make many vital contributions to depth psychology as we know it today.

    By the time of his death in 1961, Jung had become something of a legend in his own time. As John Ryan Haule (2011) pointed out in volume one of his new scholarly work, Jung in the 21st Century, Jung “has become the most beloved of the original giants of psychoanalysis” (p. ix), even though Jung’s credibility in scientific circles and even the general field of psychology has been controversial due to some of his unusual theories which have branded him more as a mystic. Recent years have only emphasized the growing cultural interest in such esoteric topics and in Jung himself, evidenced in part by the warm reception of Jung’s Red Book (published in 2010), and also by the release of the recent film, “A Dangerous Method” (Cronenberg, 2011), which profiles Freud and Jung’s relationship and tells the story of how psychoanalysis developed. And, with growing numbers of Jungian analysts and organizations employing technology like video conferencing to educate or conduct sessions around the world, Jungian psychology is experiencing a golden era of rebirth. In fact, the headline of a January 2012 article in the Guardian boldly proclaimed, “This Could be Carl Jung's Century” (Samuels, 2012).

    On top of his professional persona, Jung’s life was a human life, marked by its own unique set of challenges, and further complicated—as with all of us—by human companions and colleagues. This, however, bears out the opportunity and the invitation to look at our attachment to Jung, the man, and his role as one of the founders of an institution many care deeply about. While it is easy to idealize both Jung and his ideas, it is critical to examine where we are accepting without questioning, buying into unauthenticated stories, worshiping while ignoring foibles, and establishing our convictions based on emotional attachment to an ideal image or outcome.

    Jung's work has personally profoundly affected me in many ways but he would likely be the first to minimize the tendency to put him on a pedestal. He purportedly said--more than once--“I’m glad I’m not a Jungian” and eschewed the establishment of a fixed initiative for studying “Jungian” psychology. 

    Happy birthday, Dr. Jung. I so appreciate your contribution to our world.


    References

    Cronenberg, D. (Writer). (2011). A dangerous method. In R. P. Company (Producer). U.S.: Sony Pictures Classics.

    Haule, J. R. (2011). Jung in the 21st century: Evolution and archetype (Vol. 1). London; New York: Routledge.

    Mogenson, G. (2003). A Review of Sonu Shamdasani, Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science., 387. Retrieved from http://www.gregmogenson.com/Shamdasani.pdf

    Samuels, A. (2012). This Could Be Carl Jung's Century. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/jan/25/carl-jung-century?newsfeed=true

    Shamdasani, S. (2003). Jung and the making of modern psychology: The dream of a science. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

    Zimbardo, P. G. (2001). History of Psychology. Discovering Psychology. Retrieved February 11, 2012, from http://www.learner.org/discoveringpsychology/history/history_nonflash.html    


    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She recently founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free online database to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych


  • 08 Jul 2013 7:14 PM | Anonymous
    household garbage and urban dumpster
    Where does YOUR garbage go when you throw it "away"?

    Many societies have collapsed en masse over the course of human history due to over-consumption and extreme detrimental impact on the environment and ecosystems that supported them. However, the combination of our persistent unconscious and unchecked rates of consumption stemming from a rapidly growing population, our seeming lack of capacity to feel and respond to the need for balance in relationship to the planet, and our rampant exploitation of nature is alarming. It appears that never before have we had such a lethal combination in concert with such pervasive emotional, psychological, and spiritual disconnect.

    The fundamental issues behind our current disorder show up on a spectrum ranging from eco-apathy on one end, and ecopsychopathy on the other. Eco-apathy represents our capacity for denial and our ability to suppress emotional reflection and response to our troubling situation. Sigmund Freud, a primary contributor in establishing the field of depth psychology, based much of his theory on the idea of a personal unconscious in which memories and emotions can be repressed beneath the surface of our conscious thought, but still potent in their effect (Elliott, 2002).

    Often, in order for us to survive or bear the devastating consequences of events or circumstances that surpass our imagination or ability to comprehend, our psyche serves us by burying them beyond our awareness, diffusing their conscious energy and rendering us emotionless or even apathetic. Understandably, when it comes to the mass destruction of our environment, we are collectively unable to surrender to the horror we might feel if we truly allowed ourselves to comprehend what we’re doing as a culture to the planet. In this state of eco-apathy, many of us simply live our lives, unable to question or act on the conundrum we face, incapable of making the necessary changesundefinedor even of conceiving of them in the first placeundefinedthat will allow us to enter in a reciprocal relationship with earth and to find equity again.

    pollution-cars-exhaust-12111725pdWorse, eco-apathy is a dangerous phase that links directly to ecopsychopathy, a condition on the other end of the spectrum, which represents our ability to do violence to nature. When we turn to apathy, the feelings repressed below the surface of consciousness are still very much alive and ultimately will require an outlet to find resolution. Jung (1951/1976) suggested that “when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate” (para. 126). Unexamined issues or emotions we refuse to acknowledge can have tremendous impact on our lives whether we know it or not.

    Could it be that our mass consumption of fossil fuels which leads to toxic exhaust could be making us "exhausted" in our every day lives? Is the pollution we wreak in the outer world polluting our psychological life as well? Is our ongoing tendency to "drive" everywhere we go "driving" us to distraction, dis-ease, or situations that are less than healthy? 

    Now might be a good time for each of us to really reflect on how we feel about the planet we live on and how we are in relationship to it.

    References

    Elliott, A. (2002). Psychoanalytic theory: An introduction (2nd ed.). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Jung, C. G. (1951/1976). Christ, a symbol of the self. In R. F. C. Hull, M. Fordham & G. Adler (Eds.), Aion: The collected works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Vol. 2). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, Bollingen.


    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She recently founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free online database to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych

  • 29 Jun 2013 1:48 PM | Kim Hermanson, PhD
    Do you ever feel that there is so much more to you and you don’t know how to tap into it? Or do you spend too much time of your precious time lost in confusion and overwhelm? Here’s a quote from John O’Donohue that beautifully describes my work in Doorway Sessions:

    "Sometimes on a human journey a person can stay marooned on the surface of their minds, suffering the devastation of doubt, confusion and great turbulence, while the whole time just a couple of inches deeper, there was a vast world within them, a wonderful interiority, an eternity of great life and vision and memory and possibility, nesting in the deep clay of their hearts, that they never even knew was there." [from "Wisdom from the Celtic World" CD]

    Metaphoric images are the language of this deep clay realm. Metaphors naturally arise in our speech (“stuck,” “lost” and “overwhelm” are all metaphors!); but to experience the transformative power of metaphor, we need to open space for it to show up. One method I frequently use is fairy tales…. fairy tales are naturally metaphoric, and they open a pathway for us to enter the ancient, “clay” world that O’Donohue speaks of in the quote above. Once a metaphoric image has arrived (no matter how vague or simple) we can follow the path that leads to its wisdom.

    Metaphoric images have beauty, grace and elegance. As individual paths of healing, we might see ourselves “standing on solid ground,” “weaving a beautiful tapestry” “deeply immersed in rich soil” or “flying freely on the back of a spectacular multi-colored bird.” Our minds aren’t creating these images for us. Instead, we have to let go and open ourselves up to whatever the metaphoric realm has to say to us. When we do that, we receive the specific images that shift us into a new place of expansiveness and possibility.

    One metaphoric image that comes up frequently in Doorway sessions is a spacious, loving circle. It might sound quite simple, but experiencing its presence is profound and beautiful, and “stepping into” the circle invokes shifts, healing and transformation. To hear what the circle has to say, here is writing from a recent Doorway session:

    I am a spacious circle.
    I am very gentle,
    that's what people don't know about me...
    my gentleness.
    The gentleness comes from love.
    There is no forcing here,
    it is about holding things
    in their natural, beautiful state.
    When people allow me to hold them like this,
    their natural beauty expresses itself.
    That's where all the hidden beauty is,
    in the hearts of these people
    who are letting me hold them.


    If you'd like to find out more about Doorway sessions, click here: http://aestheticspace.typepad.com

    Kim Hermanson, Ph.D. is adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute and holds a PhD from the University of Chicago. She is the author of Getting Messy: A Guide to Taking Risks and Opening the Imagination.
  • 28 Jun 2013 7:42 PM | Anonymous


    In this written interview, Depth Insights™ host Bonnie Bright interviews David A. Laveman, who brings depth psychology insights into the business world to help executives and organizations to raise the bar on performance and deliver breakthrough business results. 

    Here Dave shares how depth psychology plays a role in leadership, a critical aspect inside and outside the corporate world today.

    BB: Why is Leadership an area that Depth Psychology should care about?

    DAL: The answer is fairly practical. It begins by looking squarely at the conditions we live in as part of a global economy and international community. These conditions – broadly characterized by ecological fragility, interconnectivity, democratization of information and overall accelerated “change”—are inescapable. The implications of these changes are always surprising us. Consider for instance the dramatic rapidity of regional political change popularly known as the "Arab Spring." Or the ecological dangers triggered by the Japanese Tsunami. In terms of Depth Psychology, I’m reminded of the rather provocative title of archetypal psychologist James Hillman’s (1992) dialogue with Michael Ventura, We’ve Had 100 Years Of Therapy And The World Has Gotten Worse. It is a polemic against the insular nature of psychotherapy and the fact that “personal growth” doesn’t necessarily lead one into active involvement with the world. Hillman notes that while it may be good to have a deeper understanding of how our psyche works, that alone doesn’t ensure that we finds out about the way the world works. 

    Hillman in this same polemic further notes that personal growth often involves “loss”; the loss of inflations, the loss of illusions. However, often those who are widely known as “leaders" are vested with vast institutional powers, which encourages all sorts of narcissistic display. Is this a loss of illusion and inflation – or just the opposite? From Hillman’s view psychotherapy as it is currently practiced, tends to “internalize emotions.” He then aptly points out that the word emotion comes from the Latin ex movere which means “to move out” and that “emotions connect to the world” (p. 11). Following this thread of reasoning, my assertion is rather basic: by applying the insights gained from a hundred years of exploring the unconscious, to the world populated by institutional leaders, we are ensuring that those with the most power to affect the things that affect our lives—our environment, our economy, our safety—are alert to the powerful forces that exist in the psyche, especially the mostly unconscious complexes, and skillful in converting insight into engagement.

    We’ve seen enough of the damage done by leaders who have no idea what inner demons they are projecting onto the social landscape. Given the explosion of technological innovation and its inexpensive and uncontrolled dissemination, the stakes in the second decade of the 21st century couldn’t be higher. It is time for those who have spent decades investigating the nature of the psyche to be far more actively engaged with the “leaders” of all institutions, but especially those of business and government. This engagement needs to happen “on the court” where the game of leadership is played out in everyday decisions, relationships and initiatives.

    This void is now being filled by a thriving leadership development and coaching industry. Unfortunately many of these practitioners know little about the dynamics of the unconscious, how to work with shadow projections on an individual and organizational level and how to recognize archetypal patterns. The emphasis is on conscious mastery, skill building, and behavior modification. These are all useful but not sufficiently effective in creating the “transformational” change that is both promoted by their practitioners and more importantly truly needed by the institutional power centers to become centers of a renewed global culture.


    BB: First, I love that you are connecting leadership to the very significant (and growing) cultural and ecological issues going on our planet. Crises of all kinds seem to be becoming commonplace. As these increase as they are likely to do, we are going to have such a tremendous need for far greater leadership than ever before. It’s so important that the leaders who emerge moving forward have that understanding of emotion, shadow, archetypal patterns at play—all the "depth" aspects that depth psychology is so concerned with. 

    Meanwhile, I agree with you and James Hillman that there is an aspect of leadership that cannot be dismissed or denied: active involvement with the world. How can anyone calling themselves a leader rely on learning without experience in order to make difficult decisions or offer solutions and strategies to solve critical issues? It reminds me of something Jung said: "Anyone who wants to know the human mind will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There, in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling—hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, Socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than textbooks a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with real knowledge of the human soul." ("New Paths in Psychology." In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. p. 409)

    Many of us would consider the types of places Jung refers to as places to avoid, not wanting to expose ourselves to the dirtier, darker, or volatile aspects of humanity. But true leaders need to be able to hold all of it without revulsion or judgment. It’s so important not to sweep the shadow side of our culture and our humanity under the rug for we are likely to sweep our own shadow right under their with it. Again, I’m reminded of Jung who said "The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate." (Christ, A Symbol of the Self, para. 126, Collected Works 9, Pt 2)

    One example of this might be when someone who very vocally promotes his extreme fundamentalist views about fidelity in marriage and ends up being the person who gets caught in an extramarital affair. Can you point to any contemporary examples of how certain leaders either are or aren’t able to embrace the shadow and/or seem to be possessed by shadow or archetypal patterns or images that are playing out? (I should point out that a given archetype isn’t necessarily good or bad, of course, but it’s in the imbalance at play when someone is possessed by it and doesn’t know it). In those examples, what could those individuals have done differently, or what are some ways leaders might begin to learn to recognize the unconscious shadow?

    DAL: These are BIG question with endless implications. First before we dive into examples, it’s worth keeping in mind that as we move into concrete, fact-based situations what remains implicit in the background are our assumptions and already-provided classifications. For instance, most corporate senior leaders and consultants believe they know what is good and what is not. And if they expressed too much doubt, this could easily be seen as signs of weakness. Of course, with a little thought, what is beneficial and destructive needs qualification: do we mean short or long term good? Do we mean that which is strictly beneficial to the commercial interests of the business, or do we mean what is beneficial to the larger ecosystem upon which is our common ground? We can get very philosophical about all this. What I want to remain present as I cite examples are the relative, context bound nature of any given situation.

    Take for instance, the values of an enterprise so often espoused by leaders, HR professionals, and consultants. Many revolve around three themes: a respect and concern for the individual; the responsibility to be a good corporate citizen; and the importance of being a leading innovator that improves people’s health and quality of life. However as noble as these espoused values are, they are often at odds with the values in action—in other words, the values that the corporation lives every day. In that case the values in action are those of “efficiency,” “doing more with less,” and above all, “growth.” These are what rule the day.

    To be clear, I am not necessarily speaking against these latter values, but rather to the “gap” between the espoused values and those that are in action on an everyday basis. It is in this gap – between these two poles—where the corporate “shadow” lurks.

    A critical value that Depth Psychology can bring into the corporate world is to generate a broad and deep awareness among its leaders the true nature of the shadow. In common language, the “dark side” and “blindspots” to which we are all prone, is often thought of as being synonymous with the shadow in common language. The fundamental nature of the “shadow” that has direct relevance to corporate leaders is this: the shadow does not reveal itself as such, but rather, is often externalized on to a troubling aspect of the environment “out there” and thus it tends to be either denied all together or addressed with simply rational “problem solving” behavior. Because the shadow exists in the nature of the psyche and is secondarily projected to the external world, its recognition requires leaders to tolerate the psychic tension and a searching introspection. However externalization is typically the rule rather than the exception, with the result often being entrenched “us vs. them” boundaries and a continuous search for scapegoats.


    BB: You’ve just offered a compelling description of the status quo, not only in organizations but for individuals as well. This notion that we externalize things is very significant. Executives, coaches and those working in organizations often get training on “problem solving”—and of course step one is to identify the problem. But when the actual problem is incorrectly assigned or the issues underlying the problem are not identified, how can it truly be worked with authentically and solved? It is critical to look at the systemic nature and constantly inquire into what is invisible, hidden, unspoken, or marginalized. This is where the real issues lie, and leaders that have the capacity to recognize it truly have the opportunity to lead, and those who fail to look can quickly move (and move the organization) into dangerous territory, wouldn’t you say?

    DAL: Yes, one example I observed first hand illustrates the real consequences associated with an ignorance of the shadow, and the exponential effects of this ignorance when it takes place in leaders vested with significant institutional power to determine the fate of companies that provide meaningful employment and direct significant natural and economics resources. A private equity firm had just paid billions of dollars to acquire a very profitable sub-division of a major Fortune 100 Global Company. They hired a highly seasoned senior executive to be the CEO of the newly acquired sub-division . This CEO excelled in communication skills, and came from an allied industry (but a different sub-sector) after a successful career as CEO of his former company. His mandate by the new owners was simple: dramatically reduce costs and prepare the business to be resold in a 3-5 year timeframe for three times its original cost. To make this CEO’s life easier, he was allowed to move the corporate office 3,000 miles away to be closer to his home, and of course was given major financial incentives if the owners met their financial goals.

    The private equity buyer was expert in financial engineering and understood precisely what was needed in those terms. The CEO was an expert in cost-take-out  and in communicating effectively with his executive team and the company at large. Neither  of these key power players were expert in the sub-sector in which they were now invested. For that, they relied on existing senior managers in the acquired company who had spent their careers working with the mechanics of their particular market sub-sector. The leadership team, headed by the new CEO with final decision making authority, made rational sense, but here is where the dynamics of the shadow—unrecognized as such—began to show itself.

    At the time of the acquisition, the sub-sector market was beginning to show early signs of a precipitous decline. A senior long-term executive, highly knowledgeable about the sector and widely respected within the company (pre-acquisition), saw the trends developing a year before they became widely apparent. He tried to warn the CEO of an impending disaster and presented a business plan to mitigate the effects of the anticipated full-blown market meltdown. The CEO, whose generous incentives from his patrons and persuasive optimism was not at all open to this executive’s views and would not hear out his analysis of the early warning signs already present, nor listen to a mitigation plan. More, this executive was promptly labeled by the CEO as a pessimist naysayer and subsequently put in the proverbial “doghouse” for not being a “team player.”

    This example is illustrative because it is not at all unusual in the annals of corporate leadership. The business situation was admittedly ambiguous at the time the executive in question was formulating his point of view. One could martial arguments for the market to resume its frothy days and that was, by far, the preferred future that the owners, the CEO, and the majority of the leadership wanted to see happen. All stood to make a lot of money if it did, including the executive in question. The eventual outcome was unfortunate, especially for the 2000+ employees who found employment there. The market deteriorated just as the executive who was completely rebuked and disregarded anticipated, and the company lost a critical 18 months to sell assets when there were still many buyers interested in their acquisition. The company ultimately refused an offer from a major Fortune 50 company to double their acquisition price, and eventually had to seek bankruptcy protection. Most employees lost their jobs, and more, senior managers who were given opportunities to be co-investors with the new owners lost all of their investment.

    The official story of the demise was that the company was caught up (like so many others) in the dramatic deterioration of the their sub-sector. In other words, they were relatively innocent victims of uniformly unseen circumstances. However an understanding of the operations of the shadow provide another view. As a factor of the psyche, not the circumstance, it was never collectively inquired into, though privately some executives acknowledged the role it played. The shadow in this situation expressed itself in the following ways: first, greed. The owners, the CEO and the leadership team were already wealthy by any measure of comparison. Second, hubris: the owners and the CEO’s previous success caused them to overestimate their powers to predict the future. Finally, denial: They failed to make the necessary distinctions between success through financial engineering and knowledge of the larger sector market vs. the more precise knowledge needed to run the company effectively in sub-sector market.


    BB: Unfortunately, those three factors, greed, hubris, and denial, seem to be part of a recognizable pattern in many organizations that collapse. It is indicative of the culture we live in in so many ways, one in which values capitalism, growth, monetary gain, and puts profit above people so often—and it has to in order to maintain the pattern of corporate growth that has been so established for decades, if not centuries. I can imagine it must be really hard for an individual who takes on a new leadership role with lots of good intentions and promises to actually adhere to his or her ideas and principles without caving to those three things. What do you think about that, and how does a leader actually go about implementing his or her ideas in a depth-centered way without giving over to the status quo?

    DAL: The leadership cult popular in today’s business elevates circumstance over psyche; rationality over imagination and externalization over introspection. In short, the reality of the tangible, empirically-observable outer world takes clear precedence over the cloud-like realities of the psyche. This also has obvious implications in not recognizing deeply embedded archetypal patterns. The consequences here are also multiple, but suffice it to say that organizations are constantly interested in “change management.” Over the past two decades as the pace of external change has accelerated, the need to transform rather than merely “change” has given rise to a large network of “transformation” consultants, and Human Resources specialists. However transformation programs rarely achieve a true organizational metamorphosis but rather often devolve into a sub-optimized, energy depleting exercise. A possible reason for this is lack of understanding of archetypal realities and how this has a significant impact on the organizational world.


    BB: “Archetypal realities” is an interesting term. How do you define that, and how would you say deeply embedded archetypal patterns play a role in the process of developing more effective organizational design and interventions?

    DAL: When it comes to archetypal realities in a business context, I would define it as those background patterns of perception and images on the level of the psyche and cultural values and reflexive behaviors on the level of the organization. Because they exert influence from the background they are often unconscious, and operate independent of the ego. They tap into large stores of energy, which can be expressed positively (as in the collective effort to put a man on the moon) or negatively (as in the collapse of checks and balances that aggravated the 2008 financial meltdown). Without an archetypal perspective, leaders resort to making decisions through an over-emphasis on rational analysis, data gathering, and trend analysis. Take the example of the Change Management discipline noted above. As a differentiated discipline that has been around for at least two decades, it has developed a set of tools and approaches to help companies change – that is move from business model A to model B.

    A good example of this is the change forced upon the Utility industry in the face of deregulation; or the change forced upon military contractors in the face of significant government budget cuts. Change programs are approached rationally. Thus a first step is to develop a ‘case for change’, supported by facts and a tight logic thread about why change is necessary. Then there are the objectives which the change will accomplish and why it is good for the company and its employees and finally there are elaborate plans which include the commitments to new model made by senior management, the cascading communication plans, the phased releases of manageable bites, the training of “change agents”, the mitigation strategies (to handle fallout), and the periodic course corrections to address changing circumstances. There is nothing wrong with any of this—its just totally insufficient to address the escalating rate of change, the disruption caused by continual new technologies and the complexity of a global economy. The result is that much corporate energy, human toil and financial expense go to programs that do produce change, but often yield only a fraction of what’s needed. This leaves the organization exhausted where whatever is left over of discretionary effort is focused on short-term survival. The archetypal underpinnings that are orchestrating the forms, their narratives, and accompanying interventions are neither acknowledged nor addressed.

    A well-known example of an archetypal reality is “the hero’s journey.” Mythologist Joseph Campbell in his landmark study, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” identified the archetypal hero’s journey as circular process that moves one to go forth from a settled existence, journey into unexplored territory in order to win new powers that can be brought back for the benefit of the community (p. 245). It begins when the Hero hears a “call” to adventure. In corporate terms this would mean create a compelling vision of possible future. The archetypal pattern then requires the hero to cross over the threshold of the known world where one encounters “the shadow presence which guards the passage” (p. 245). In corporate terms this means creating the necessary resources in the form of executive sponsorship, budget, and a team of change agents that will guide the change process.

    Now the change agenda is public and the engagement with the significant forces of status quo are in earnest. Campbell identifies this part of the journey as unfamiliar, where one encounters “strangely intimate forces some of which threaten him (tests) and some of which give magical aid (helpers).” In my experience, this where organizations are least prepared and over-rely on only what’s in the change management “toolkit.” This often gets translated into more and better change education, contingency planning, and communications. The helpers that show up are not mined for their potential commitment. The tests that accompany them are often interpreted in terms of self-protection and blind resistance to change. The missing realization that archetypal powers are at work as a company struggles to bring into being a new order of reality, leave those who are advocates of the transformation at a severe disadvantage. Without an archetypal perspective they are left with only their own efforts and superficially literal interpretations of challenge they face. This undermines their confidence and leaves them ill prepared for the next predictable phase of the journey to authentic transformative change.

    Before the sustained benefits of a successful transformation can be realized the corporation must pass through the “supreme ordeal” (p. 246). In corporate terms this can show up in many forms. Common are major opposition by a key power center, acquisition by a new owner who has no stake in the transformation, the old culture ignoring the change without consequences. The compromise made at this point often dooms the possibility of authentic transformative change and settles for half measures. In corporate terms, leadership points to real but fairly incremental changes to justify a premature declaration of victory and most importantly to move on to the next “urgent” issue of the day. The result after too numerous outcomes like this, is that employees have become highly skeptical of new change initiatives, take on a ‘wait and see’ attitude which inadvertently becomes ensures that there was never a real desire for transformation in the first place.

    It is easy to point a finger at business leadership for being too wedded to their collective views of change based on standard organizational psychology, change management and overarching pressures to produce financial results while the hoped-for transformation is under way. However I think it more productive to challenge those who are committed to the perspectives of Depth Psychology to take it out of the highly ritualized and controlled academic and psychotherapeutic environments, and test its merits to create meaningful change with the business institutions that for better or worse dictate the pace and direction of today’s world. This engagement will force depth psychology to endure tensions previously avoided and engage businesses to reevaluate the role of the soul and psyche in the renewal of our world.

    ###

    David A. Laveman works with clients to raise the bar on performance and deliver breakthrough business results. He synthesizes practical understanding of business realities with in-depth insight into human and team behavior, and partners with companies and executives to build capabilities, enhance leadership skills, and generate transformational change. Dave’s background and his knowledge of cutting-edge research inform his down-to-earth approach to optimizing executive performance and driving bottom-line results.

    Dave’s career has been distinguished by significant pioneering in the areas of organizational and cultural transformation, breakthrough performance, leadership development and coaching, public-private partnering, and multi-company alliances. He has presented innovative thinking on leadership, transformational change and breakthrough management at The Wharton School, The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, The Society of Information Management, The GMAC Annual Senior Management Meeting, and The Executive Concours. Dave’s thinking on culture, strategy, and paradigms have been cited by Forbes and Harvard Business Review.

    Previous to founding Laveman & Associates, Dave served as officer, senior executive, or partner at CSC Index, Accenture, and The Concours Group. He co-founded the Praemia Group and The Pharmaceutical Performance Institute.

    Dave is an accomplished chess player whose competitive success has appeared in The New York Times. He holds graduate degrees from Columbia University and Pacifica Graduate Institute.


    Bonnie Bright is the principle and and founder of Depth Insights™, Depth Psychology Alliance™, and Depth Psychology List™. She holds M.A. degrees from Sonoma State University and Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, where she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Depth Psychology.

    Depth Insights™ provides media, content, and education for the greater depth psychology community, including written and audio interviews and the semi-annual peer reviewed publication, Depth Insights scholarly eZine.

    Depth Psychology Alliance
    , the world's first online academic community for those who are active and interested in the fields of Depth and Jungian Psychologies in 2010--a dynamic organization that surpassed 2,000 members in January 2013. The Alliance is a hub for finding depth psych-related events, blogs, videos, articles and for discussion, learning and connecting with likeminded others.

    Depth Psychology List
    is a premier destination to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners by location or type of services offered.

    This interview is also posted on Depth Insights.

  • 08 Jun 2013 2:01 PM | Anonymous

    “The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not?
     That is the telling question of his life.”
    -(-C.G. Jung, 1961, pp. 356-7).

    Watching what’s going on on our planet each day, I am continually struck by the suffering and grief that seems to be inherent in the human condition. It occurs to me that part of the problem is that western culture places so much value on individualism, independence, and getting ahead, venerating community and interdependence less. As a result, many of us generally live lives of separation, disconnected in various ways from a larger kinship of our fellow human beings, unable to perceive how intrinsic each of us and every single aspect of earth and nature is to each other. It often seems to take a tragedy to bring us together in community, force us to meet our neighbors, or realize a felt sense of being part of something larger than our individual selves living our everyday lives.

    Due to our overwhelming self-centeredness (a term I use not to mean arrogance so much as the unconscious evolutionary tendency to create our lives to revolve around what’s important to “me”: my life, my schedule, my work, my preferences, my family, etc.), it seems  our cultural evolution has led us to abandon both the general human community as well as the earth itself. Little do we realize this leaves us vulnerable on many fronts.

    Without a larger circle of support from interconnection, or the sense of being held within a greater fabric of being, stressors stemming from challenges we’ve created for ourselves through various aspects of culture and development (along with their correlating psychological issues) affect us more deeply. Climate change, ecological destruction, natural disasters, and pathological culture-related events including outbreaks of violence all feed into our anxiety and fear, triggering sometimes unhealthy coping mechanisms. In addition, without community, we lose the capacity for having our own actions reflected back to us, causing those actions to appear to occur in a vacuum without apparent consequence.

    Navigating the Coming Chaos - Carolyn BakerThe unconscious ways we each contribute to our collective discomfort and dis-ease in a world where we have isolated and alienated ourselves only serve to amplify and perpetuate a drastic systemic imbalance for both nature and culture. This imbalance continues to feed on itself, manifesting in a critical rise in adverse conditions for earth and all its inhabitants. Carolyn Baker offers some excellent and compelling insights into the powerful need for community as we face life’s increasing challenges in her book, Navigating the Coming Chaos. (Special thanks to ecopsychologist Linda Buzzell, co-editor with Craig Chalquist of the 2010 anthology,Ecotherapy, for bringing Baker’s work to my attention.)

    Put more succinctly, while the notion of Culture Collapse Disorder appears to be an issue of the collective, each of us plays a critical individual role in the overall situation. In a complex system, if one element fails, the system then has the strong potential of being endangered as a whole. Many indigenous and earth-based cultures throughout time have understood the concept of interconnectivity. One individual who failed in his responsibilities, committed a wrong, or offended the gods or spirits of nature could bring wrath or misfortune down on the heads of the entire community (Mircea Eliade, 1957). Now this rogue-style individualism is more the norm instead of the exception.

    Much as when an individual bee fails to return to the hive to deliver much needed sustenance or service to the whole (as in the case of Colony Collapse Disorder), in today’s society we humans are failing to come “home” to the greater whole. We live in an increasingly fragmented way, often acting as if decisions we make in our daily lives have no consequence or impact on others or our environment. We tend to perceive ourselves as individual entities with dominion over our own little piece of the world, separate from each other, from nature, from a web of life that is more encompassing than our individual egoic selves. C. G. Jung referred to this larger whole the Self. Various spiritual traditions have referred to it as the “sacred,” the “holy,” or the “divine.”

    Since words and ideas such as “sacred” and “holy” frequently carry highly personal interpretations and may not resonate with everyone, in this case, it may be easier to consider that which I’m referring to—that is, the encompassing essence about in which all things are interconnected—as the “hive” itself: that greater container in which individuals interrelate within a system that is far greater than the sum of its parts. As individuals failing to return “home” to this larger field of connectivity, we are impacting the entire whole.

    honeybee working on a cell

    The contemporary science of complexity theory sheds some light on our dilemma. Beehives, like ant hills, flocks of birds, brains, termite nests, immune systems, and social and economic systems among others, are complex systems in which “nothing is fixed, but all the agents are reacting to each others’ actions in a constantly changing landscape” (Helene Shulman, 1997, p. 110). In Colony Collapse Disorder, for each individual worker bee that fails to return home with vital stores of nectar and pollen to feed the hive, another must be sacrificed from her appointed role to go and take the place of the missing bee. As each hour passes, fewer bees are dedicated to tending the queen, feeding the unhatched brood, making honey, or guarding the hive as more are charged with the vital task of collecting the provisions that are critically needed. Eventually, there are not enough bees to sustain the dynamics of the community and it collapses.

    But where does that leave us as humans who have somehow managed to isolate ourselves from the earth community over millennia of rational thinking and industrial and technological development? How do we learn to forego our fragmentation, and navigate “home” to that larger whole? The concept, while perhaps not totally foreign to many reading this post, is likely not top of mind in the “to do” list of daily life. Unless you have a daily yogaspiritual discipline like yoga, meditation, or depth psychology oriented practices like dreamwork, active imagination, art or art therapy, shamanic journeying, or somatic work, you may be one of so many of us who is missing the chance to come “home” to both contribute to the greater whole as well as to be continually welcomed and renewed to a new sense of being. Engaging in some kind of ritual practice that helps you listen, observe, or otherwise tap into the often invisible force underlying all our lives is one powerful way to reconnect. If that seems out of reach, sometimes just slowing down, unplugging, and making space in your life for reverie, stillness, or spending time in nature can open the door to the web of interconnectivity that we so often fail to notice.

    Committing ourselves to come “home” in this way can enable greater reflection on our thoughts, our actions, and our conditioning, revealing ways we each buy into contemporary culture as it is and empowering us to start challenging some of our ingrained habits and beliefs that may not be right for the whole (or the individual), but which have gone unquestioned before. At worst, we may find we can improve our quality of life through more authentic and meaningful connections and activities. Better, we may actually start to notice the voices of the earth and our fellow inhabitants (human and otherwise), and even find ourselves in a more intimate relationship where we recognize the value of the “other,” care about each others’ well-being, and are motivated to change our previously unconscious habits and break out of our isolation.

    Bees communicate in various ways: the “waggle dance” shares the location of a good find of nectar or pollen, and when bees swarm, scouts offer details of potential new locations for the hive. Inside the hive, bees share the daily activity, each fulfilling critical roles to keep the hive running smoothly. Without this constant interaction, the hive would not exist. We also cannot survive in isolation. Our capacity for interaction with the community of earth and the ensouled world is ages-old, and we cannot sustain our alienation much longer. The effects of our lack of connection to “home” are already dire. Our culture, created perhaps as a bubble that moved us further away from authentic relationship with the “sacred,” may yet burst, landing us once again more squarely in the multitude of voices arising from earth, enticing us to join them in the Eros of existence. Stop, listen, and hear the echoes of the earth community and the very ground of being reaching out to you.

    References

    Navigating the Coming Chaos: A Handbook for Inner Transition, 2011, by Carolyn Baker
    The Sacred and the Profane; The Nature of Religion, 1959, Mircea Eliade
    Memories, Dreams, Reflections, C.G. Jung, 1961
    Living at the edge of Chaos: Complex Systems in Culture and Psyche, 1997, Helene Shulman

    (Note: This article is also crossposted on www.CultureCollapseDisorder.com)

    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free online database to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, where she is currently writing her dissertation on Culture Collapse Disorder. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych

  • 31 May 2013 4:33 PM | Anonymous

    Holding the Opposites, Grounding in Earth to Cope with Difficult Times

    When we are not grounded, not connected to our roots, terrible psychic issues occur, which lead to feelings of intense fear and anxiety suggests Jungian analyst Judith Harris, in her book Jung and Yoga: The Psyche Body Connection. She quotes C. G. Jung, who, in his complex work, Mysterium Coniunctionus, establishes that the element of earth holds the exact central point between the tensions of two opposites.


    Grounding oneself in the earth results in feeling held by the Great Mother, rendering one nourished, nurtured, and whole. The center is the eternal, Harris states, and all that is contained within it is represented by the archetype of the Self, which contains the totality of the psyche. The center implies stillness, and in the stillness there is space for something new to emerge. When we connect to the sacred center, the earth, “the deep-seated origins that existed thousands of years before us brings healing at a profound mystical level” (Harris, p. 76).

    “He who is rooted in the soil endures,” wrote Jung (1927). “Alienation from the unconscious and from its historical conditions spells rootlessness. That is the danger that lies in wait for the conqueror of foreign lands, and for every individual who, through one-sided allegiance to any kind of -ism, loses touch with the dark, maternal, earthy ground of his being. (Jung, 1927, p. 103).

    According to Jung, when we go “down” (the direction of earth), we connect with the collective unconscious which includes the past: we go back in time, and in so doing, we touch all the unfulfilled lives that have been lived before us, allowing them to be lived out; redeeming them. This alignment with the center, the earth, the archetype of the Great Mother allows us to discover the miracle of creativity (in Harris, 2001).

    Man facing coming night storm

    Judith Harris reminds us that when sufficient energy moving in one direction accumulates, it will always ultimately be reversed in order to prevent one-sidedness. When torn between the opposites, chaos results, and we are literally torn in two—unable to stand, to move, to bear the confusion—while still being drawn further into the chaos. The age-old motif of descent, or “dark night of the soul,” carries with it the theme of a quest, an initiation, a purification that will lead to liberation, renewal, and rebirth.

    When times seem dark, there is little we can do but to hold the tension, the grief, and the pain. We must be willing to be still and grounded enough in order to witness the fall of night, the darkness that makes its cold nest all around us, cutting us off from home. There can be no regeneration until we can do so. Until we all are willing to reconnect with our roots in Mother Earth, to take on the darkness and embrace it, we will continue to colonize others, to disregard the spirit and inspirited that surrounds us, and to suffer. Sometimes symbolic death can occur in the process, but in dying, new life occurs. When the Gorgon, Medusa, of Greek myth was decapitated by Perseus, it is said that her blood gave birth to the Pegasus, the winged white horse who represents poetry and creativity.

    Somewhere within me, as I write these words, I have the sudden felt understanding this underlying eternal tenet: that in holding the tension of the opposites, a miracle occurs. The transcendent solution that arises is tangible; real. If I can just be aware and still myself in that center between the opposites of any seemingly hopeless or stressful situation… If I can just feel my feet on the ground and hold the tension, even in the midst of two end points that don’t appear they can ever be reconciled… If I can ground myself down into the earth, I can actually be present enough to behold the process taking place.

    It seems like few of us in our fast-paced (often overwhelming and sometimes frightening) contemporary culture are willing to embrace the dark earth; the deep, devouring feminine that insists we surrender and be purified. Collectively, we tend to mill about our daily lives with their myriad of responsibilities, activities, and worries, disconnected, lost, homeless, fearful, and alone. Where do we begin?

    It begins with the individual taking root and making a stand even in the midst of fear, anxiety, and despair. Rather than fleeing into panic, distress, or anger, or trying to distract ourselves, we must each learn take on that dark night, to stop the frantic buzzing of useless wings and allow the night to wash over us, silent and still as we embrace it; as it engulfs us and devours us. We must hold the tension; trusting that something bigger exists, releasing the attachment to the notion that we will ever see the hive again, but knowing that the earth is so much bigger. 

    References

    Harris, J. (2001). Jung and yoga: The psyche-body connection. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.

    Jung, C. G. (1927). "Mind and Earth" (1927). In Collected Works Vol. 10: Civilization in Transition.


    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free online database to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych

  • 22 May 2013 5:53 PM | Silvia Behrend
    Leaving Las Vegas

         I had the opportunity to accompany my husband to a work conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in May. His conference was held at the beautifully appointed Bellagio Hotel, complete with singing fountains, Chihuly glass ceilings, flower gardens, flowing chocolate fountains and what seemed like acres of pools. And, of course, there was heat and sun which is a rare commodity in Western Washington.
         Initially, I struggled to enjoy the beautiful hotel and the pool because, even though everything looked beautiful in the light, I knew that there was a dark and dangerous hidden and unknown world. I had work to do before I could order a margarita at the pool. How could I relax in the sun when surrounded by what some might call evil?
         So, I followed my training as an archetypal pattern analyst and perceived that I was sitting at the liminal space between the conscious and the unconscious worlds. The ego believes that reality is what it sees and nothing more. People are having a good time, this is what fun looks like. I can have another drink, another shot at the dice. This is it.
         But behind the bright lights, conference rooms, restaurants, gift shops, there exists an entire other city, unseen, unheard and unknown which drives the Las Vegas machine, much like the unconscious drives our ego when we are unaware. In addition to the many thousands of people that it takes to run the hotels behind the scenes: engineers, electricians, food preparers, cleaners, reservation personnel, bell hops, concierge, servers and myriad other service personnel, there are other unseen actors and forces; drug lords, pimps, prostitutes, and owners who create the illusions that feed thrills.
         It made me think of how those of us who look at the world through an archetypal lens cannot just live in the illuminated world. We live with an eye on both the conscious and the archetypal. We know that the sun and show lights are just one aspect of existence. The unconscious which is just outside our vision is the real driver. This is not to say that all is dark and pernicious, evil and death dealing. Going to Las Vegas can be a rejuvenating dip into the unconscious, it can be a healthy enjoyment or it can be a nightmare from which one wants to wake up. We have to know both realities so we are not surprised by what we are drawn to do and can choose.
    Going through that thinking process allowed me to bask in the sun, order a margarita, and have a wonderful dinner with my husband. We could just sit back and enjoy what we were seeing and not seeing!
         As we were returning to our room, a visibly agitated man stepped into the elevator and incredulously exclaimed: “I just lost three thousand dollars in thirty minutes! Can you believe that?”
         I could believe it, because I knew where we were.
  • 22 May 2013 7:03 AM | Kim Hermanson, PhD
    More than anything else, creating something new requires space. Our rational, thinking selves believe that “creative space” means making time in our schedules and physical space in our homes or offices. (You could call this “linear space.”) But the truth is, the creative process works on a different level and requires a different kind of space. Depth psychologists often call it imaginal space.

    Imaginal space looks like this. Let’s say you have an important event coming up… like being asked to sing on stage for the first time ever, and the event planners are expecting an audience of 300. This recently happened to me and I was terrified. Many years ago at the end of an improv workshop, I was required to participate in a public performance. On stage in front of the audience I froze, and all I could do was walk off the stage… painfully shamed and embarrassed. The person who I was supposed to perform with was upset because I ruined her moment in the spotlight as well. After this event I never “performed” on stage again. I’ve taught seminars and given book talks, but for me, teaching is different terrain. In my view, singing is like acting, and I feared that I would once again freeze with stage fright.

    When I work with imaginal space I use a method called Doorway Sessions. During the Doorway Session around my singing performance, I saw myself--with ‘imaginal vision’--drawing a BIG circle and I realized that all I needed was the infinite space inside this circle. With this circle, I had space to have anything, be anything, forgive anything, and let go of anything that wasn’t serving me around public performance.

    Now you might be thinking… an image of a circle. That’s ridiculous! That is WAY too simple to resolve serious stage fright. How can a simple image of a circle (one could call it child-like) have ANY transformative effect on the psyche of a grown adult? I would say this. Metaphoric images from the imaginal realm ARE simple. If they were complex, they’d be coming from the mind, not the heart. The language of the heart is simple; its wisdom is not complicated.

    Second, working in the imaginal is a holistic, whole-body, synaesthetic (multi-sensory) feeling of stepping into something new. Shifts come from whatever unique movements are happening with the image, as well as the feeling that you get when you become the image. I could feel what it felt like to be a big, spacious, beautiful, carefully-drawn circle. Being this circle was peaceful, loving and healing and in this infinite circular space, stage fright was no longer an issue. I had space around me.

    Since these images are not coming from our minds but from our imagination (which is a real place), it’s quite possible for us to step into them--we can become them. After the Doorway Session, it’s not necessary to go back later to remember and analyze the image… because you’ve already stepped into it. You’ve already become it.

    Try it right now. Ask your imagination for an image, whatever healing image you might need. Be patient and welcome whatever shows up (when we’re new to the imaginal realm, it’s easy to discount or brush aside its simple language.) It doesn’t matter if you don’t consider yourself to be a “visual” person, because this is synaesthetic, holistic knowing--so the image can arrive in many different forms. You might kinesthetically feel it, or hear it, or simply sense it, rather than see it. Whatever image you receive, imagine stepping into it. For example, let’s say you received an image of a tree rooting itself in the soil, or a ship resting on calm waters, or you saw yourself tying a rope together. What does it feel like to root yourself deeply into nurturing soil, or rest on calm waters or tie something together? This synaesthetic, multi-sensory feeling is wisdom and it's where transformation comes from.

    Transformative work (and all creative work is transformative) requires imaginal space. It’s a truism that once we imagine something, it can happen, but the problem is--our rational minds are limited in their capacity to imagine. The power of the imagination comes from the heart and its ability to speak in its own language. Creative, transformative shifts happen when we dive below the surface of our very smart thinking selves…to a place that is murky, messy and full of nurturing, interesting, dynamic metaphoric imagery. One could say it is alive.

    And just in case you’re curious, here’s the video of the first song I have ever sung on a stage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTFOUMRRJxw
  • 20 May 2013 2:52 PM | Anonymous


    “To the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance.”

    —Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: Guide for Cultivating Depth
    and Sacredness in Everyday Life

     

    Recently I had the chance to tune into a free teleseminar with author, religious scholar, professor and lecturer Thomas Moore of the book, Care of the Soul, fame. The teleseminar focused on how to make a masterpiece of your life. According to Moore, the word “masterpiece” harkens back to Renaissance, which he’s been studying for thirty years or so. It offers up beauty like painting, architecture, and is such a rich source of pleasure and psychological and spiritual insight. Moore points out that the word “masterpiece” can be sometimes be overused to mean perfect or refer to something too sentimental. For him, the first thing that occurs is “making an art of your life.”

    Beauty is even more important for the soul and spirit than physical health, Moore insisted. When it comes to soul and spirit, we might not think of health, but rather what it takes to make a beautiful life. How might people look at life and find pleasure in it, rather than being so concerned about being right, correct, or even healthy.

    Back in the third century, it was Plotinus who said we should “sculpt” our soul and chip away anything that doesn’t quite fit in order to reveal a beautiful life, a beautiful personality. As a therapist, coach, or mentor, Moore suggested, it might be helpful to ask those you’re helping: “What would it take to make your life beautiful?” rather than focusing on any other value.

    Moore alluded to the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi, an art form where imperfection and transiency plays an important role. Truly, we can find beauty in anything, even cracks in the walls. Aphrodite (in Greek mythology) or Venus (in Roman myth) is a goddess of beauty or of the soul. She is a metaphor for living a beautiful life. She restores a sense of value for things that today are not considered so important – like taking a luxurious bath or taking care of our hair. One aspect of our contemporary lives is that we have lost soul, and beauty is an important part of our lives.

    A masterpiece originally could have meant a major piece an artist has done, Moore reminded us, but it can also represent work an apprentice has done in order to show the master; it is master work. It is important to align yourself with someone you consider to be a master in order to do your own work. For Moore, archetypal psychologist James Hillman was a great teacher and master as well as a friend for 38 years. A masterpiece is not something you create at working hard at it for a long time. It requires good luck and good timing. It’s not always the quality of work or effort one puts in so much a magic of timing and having good luck come your way. One thing, Moore does is try to bring luck in and make it happen and not just wait for it.

    Talking about mastery is talking about “craft.” Moore said as he gets older, more people are asking how they can be a good therapist or a good writer. His suggestion: Learn the basics. Grammar, language, punctuation are critical to good writing. For therapy: it would be helpful to study alchemy, to read the Collected Works of C.G. Jung. For everything, it’s a matter of trying and failing,

    We are bombarded right now with information about science and health: but it might be a good idea to tone down expectations in that arena. Health is important, Thomas agreed, but maintained that he allows myself some unhealthy foods and gives time to things he needs in his own life for beauty. Before getting on the call, for example, Moore went to his piano and played some Chopin. He says he’s not a great performer but he still likes to play for the beauty of it. His wife is an artist, so he surrounds himself with her art and others. Someone just sent him an image of St. Francis of Assisi surrounded by animals and nature. It’s wonderful to focus on simple things, and look for aspects of the beautiful. Moore tries to have erotic art around him to invoke the spirit of Eros, the spirit of the beautiful, he said. We have to have it in his environment before we can get it into our hearts, he said.

    When asked how we can talk about things that matter and free people from frustration that occurs when things don’t go as planned, Moore responded that when it comes to creating a masterpiece, you can end up focusing on the rosy part of life, but you have to be able to confront the dark as well. Times when we are beating ourselves up are the times to be stronger rather than to keep doing that same kind of thing. We need to shift out of the masochistic role and be stronger and tougher in the world, he insists. In Renaissance times they said your anger could work for you if you can transmute it into firmness and strength, into having the spirit of the warrior. Moore said when finds himself getting down on himself, he reminds himself to be stronger and firmer and to look and see where he’s being too vulnerable, too soft or easy; where he needs to be tougher, maybe event going so far as to say things people are going to dislike. It’s part of beautiful life, he insists. The beauty is there only because the artist is there and allows it to happen. The artist doesn’t let people mess with them. If you do this regularly, it doesn’t build to explosion. We need both: it’s two sides to the coin.

    Returning to the idea of wabi-sabi, Moore stated that it’s related to Hillman’s idea of polytheism. You don’t have to settle on one or the other. You can dye your air to cover the grey all the while appreciating the moss growing on the wall. It’s about allowing the natural aspect of things. As you get older and feel older, you can reveal your age. You begin to realize the things you can’t do outnumber the things you can do. In nature, for example, you try to create a house and before long you’ve got moss growing where you don’t want it. After awhile, you get cracks but those cracks can look beautiful. Allow your self with all the light and dark and good and bad and see the beauty in the whole picture. If you repress or hide elements that are imperfect then the perfection you personally try to show won’t be complete; it will look suspicious to yourself and others. Part of wabi-sabi is allowing yourself to be seen.

    In the conversation, the moderator, Katherine mentioned an article she had seen recently about Stradivarius trees. There is a culture of people who look for the perfect trees to make the violins. These trees grow so slow sometimes they stop growing altogether in order to gather their strength. Our culture is so much about “new” and “do,” she said. But the trees that stop growing produce the most beautiful sound.

    James Hillman wrote an essay against the idea of growth, saying human beings shouldn’t try to grow, Moore responded. In Moore’s books, he doesn’t promote growth as he believes there are times when there is no growing taking place at all in the soul. It’s a sentimental idea that we should be growing all the time. There are times of setback and when we seem to be going backward. Those times are important too. When we stop growing, people go to a therapist or coach. That’s often why these periods are good for a psyche or soul, because it forces you to stop and wonder why. A deepening happens. It’s not about being better, but deepening more into who you are; it creates more substance to you. If you’re growing all the time you don’t have the substance necessarily.

    Moore took questions from listeners at the end of the teleseminar. I took the opportunity to ask him what he thought about something that is frequently on my mind these days: how to cope with the extreme devastation of the planet we see all around us on a daily basis in media and in nature. Moore’s response was to reinforce the idea that can do or hold many things at once. You can be concerned about the devastation AND you can appreciate the beauty. Every year for twelve years, Moore went to Schumacher College in England with his family, he related. Even though he’s not a scientist, he would talk to the people he met there about philosophy and spirituality and the arts. One reason we are treating nature badly is that we personalize it by thinking hierarchically, that humans are the top of the pile. It takes more of an artistic sense for people to appreciate nature. Maybe it would be helpful for us when we are deeply disturbed to paint or photograph nature. Turning something into art gets it into yourself, gets it into us, he said. Turning more to nature as art might help develop that relationship. We need more art and spirituality. Moore mentioned that his new book has a chapter on natural mysticism. To be mystical you don’t have to go off and be in the ethers, he said. Just stopping to contemplate allows you to meditate and it prepares you for what you need to do. Moore said he learned this from Thoreau, for whom these types of activities were a sacrament. Read Walden closely, Moore suggested. Follow it and learn from it.

    Walking in nature or watching bees may more important than you think, he insisted. It’s a form of meditation. The things that seem the least significant may be the most important. To go out in nature, feel like you’re wasting time; the sight of nature is a darshan –it transforms. It gives you the courage to go on and do your work.

    Find out more about Thomas Moore and his work at www.careofthesoul.net


    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She recently founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free online database to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych

  • 01 May 2013 2:48 PM | Anonymous

    The Myths of Mary Magdalene: An Interview with
    Kayleen Asbo & Bonnie Bright for Depth Insights

    In this written interview, Depth Insights host Bonnie Bright interviews Kayleen Asbo, cultural historian, musician, writer, and teacher on the topic of “The Myths of Mary Magdalene,” also the title of her upcoming webinar series. The first of that series, “The Many Faces of Mary Magdalene” is free to the public (must register to join) and takes place May 1, 2013, at 7pm PT. 

    BB: How did you get interested in Mary Magadelene, and where did you begin your research?

    KA: My first memory of Mary Magdalene is as a five year old little girl, crying at the song "I Don't Know How to Love Him" in a movie theatre when I saw Jesus Christ Superstar, The song haunted me and a few years later, when my first piano was delivered, I spent the first few days trying to pick it out by ear. About ten years ago, I had a very powerful dream in which Mary Magdalene appeared and said if I wanted to find the real Christianity, I should follow the trail from France to Wales. I took the dream seriously, and have been researching early Christianity and its manifestations in France and the British Isles every since. I don't know if it is "real" Christianity, but I have discovered an amazing set of stories and myths and had incredible adventures along the way.

     

    BB: That speaks so strongly to the power and influence of the unconscious on our lives—both through music and through dreams. When the dream said "follow the trail from France to Wales," did you know what that meant? Were you already familiar with manifestations of Mary Magdalene in those places? Are there real-life instances of Mary Magdalene there, and if so, what are some of the specific images or stories you found? Tell us about your discoveries, how you felt, and what they meant to you at the time and even now.

    KA:I had no idea what the dream meant at all. Mary Magdalene and France?...That made no sense to me at the time. It was the year before The DaVinci Code came out, and I had no knowledge about the Medieval legends of her there. I drew a picture the following week filled with other symbols which also made no sense to me then—an Egyptian ankh and some symbols that I later discovered were alchemical images. It has been a slow process of putting together the pieces- and it has taken me on a wild adventure, returning almost every year to Europe to follow new clues. I identified primarily (and still do) with a form of spirituality that is based in Benedictine monastic practices. One of the things I discovered in tracing her pathway in Provence is that the site where she ostensibly spent the last 30 years of her life praying and meditating in a cave is the very site that John Cassian also founded a double monastery after he left Egypt—and he was the foundation upon which St Benedict built his Rule, with its emphasis on imaginal connection to scripture and the idea of the prayer of the heart.

    I feel like Wales was a bit of a goose chase. I was expecting to find some sort of wonderful spiritual community there that spoke to my deepest longings—and that didn't happen. What did happen, however, is that I went pony trekking on my birthday (the feast day of Mary Magdalene, July 22) in the wilds of the Black Mountains. We were talking to the proprietor of the tiny B & B and she was telling us stories about her artist father. I got cold goose bumps on my arms and asked his name. It was Eric Gill, the lithographer. My spiritual director, a Dominican nun, had given me a copy of his picture "The Nuptials of God," which had carried around in my wallet. It is as you see [at right], an image of Mary Magdalene and Jesus in an intensely erotic embrace. He had created the image on the very ground I was standing. I'll be going back to Wales this Fall to facilitate a women's dreamquest- I hope I can find a few more clues while I am there this time!

     

    BB: It's very exciting to hear stories of synchronicity like the connection you made in Wales to Eric Gill. I believe the best research happens out of paying attention to such synchronicities. What if you hadn't paid attention to those goosebumps—or even engaged in conversation with the proprietor? Its great you're going to follow up. On that note, can you say more about the images that exist of Mary Magdalene and Jesus in erotic relationship and how you perceive that aspect of Mary's life? While its true that the Dan Brown novel brought this idea to the forefront of pop culture, I can't imagine there are many of those images, or artists who have had the courage to realize them.

    KA:There are implications of an intensely erotic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene from the earliest days of Christianity, even in traditional orthodox literature. For example, the very erotic love poem The Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) was assigned as one of the Catholic liturgical readings for her feast day. It is filled with images of powerful yearning and union with lines like "Let him cover me with kisses, for your love is sweeter than wine",  and "I am sick with longing." The imagery is of nuptial union and it is very explicit. That theme of yearning is also present in the psalm that was chanted on her feast day as well: Psalm 42, "As the deer longs for the waterbrook, so yearns my soul for you, O God.” 

    Sculpture by Rodin

    There are a surprising number of artists who have created images long before Dan Brown that bespeak of intimacy—the Rodin sculpture  "Jesus and Mary Magdalene" [at left] in the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco is one, made all the more potent because Rodin modeled Mary Magdalene after his own doomed mistress, Camille Claudel. The question is—and has always been—do we take these images and poems literally or symbolically? The Song of Solomon was the favorite of Christian mystics and monastics, vowed to lives of celibacy, but individuals who saw in these texts (and sometimes images as well) a beautiful representation of the soul's yearning for union with the Divine in a spiritual sense.

    I meet many people who have a very strong and intense reaction one way or another to the idea of Jesus and Mary in an erotic union or marriage. Some are horrified, others fascinated and compelled. For me personally, it is not one of the central questions. Theirs was an Erotic relationship, in the largest, Platonic sense of the word: full of vitality, life force, intimacy and transformational power. And it could have been physical, but it didn't have to be. I think at a collective level what we see behind the current fascination around this question of "Did they or didn't they?" is the hunger in our world to bring together the sexual and the spiritual in a sacramental way of integration. How do we do that ourselves in our own lives? For me that is a much more important and urgent question. Our culture has (for the most part) a radically secular understanding of sexuality and then there is often a radically disembodied spiritual life. For many people, there is church on Sunday and then there is Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday. I think this causes all kinds of shadow issues and psychic disintegration, with suffering at both an individual and collective level. Mary Magdalene invites us to consider how to hold the tension of those seeming opposites together.

    One of the things that most intrigues me about Mary Magdalene is how she has been perceived as virtually every possible female archetype. While so many people identify her with the sexual element, with the penitent sinner, adulteress or prostitute, this was really an invention that developed only in the west during the 4th through 6th centuries. Catholic dogma from the time of Pope Gregory taught that once she repented of her sexual sins, she lived the life of a celibate ascetic. It is an interesting case of enantiodromia [an abrupt shift of direction]. This was never part of the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church where she is perceived as the Apostle to the Apostles—always both pious and virginal. Martin Luther and Brigham Young are just two of the figures in history who believed she was married to Jesus, and once again many people are wanting to fit her into that role. 

    What I love is that she can't fit into a box because she is so multifaceted. You see this particularly in the history of art. The Virgin Mary always looks about 22, lithe and lovely, and almost always blonde with a face of placid serenity. With Mary Magdalene, there is a radical diversity. She is young and old, voluptuous and emaciated, prim and pornographic, glamorous and haggar; of every race, with every hair color, and with expressions of every emotion from hysteria to meditative contemplation, and desolate grief to ecstatic joy. [See *note below and image at right by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo]. The word that the gnostics used to describe her is “anthropos,” a word meaning “fully human.” I think she is a profound mirror (and teacher) of what it might mean to be just that—fully human. 


    BB: It is interesting that we have projected so much onto Mary Magdalene—as you say, she has been perceived as virtually every possible female archetype. In many ways, she seems to be a unifier. In fact, Carl Jung spoke poignantly about the the long-repressed call for a return of the feminine as a Deity and in 1950 when the Catholic church made the announcement of the Assumption of Mary, he called it "the most important religious event since the Reformation." (in The Essential Jung by Anthony Storr 1983 p. 324), adding that as the Virgin had bodily entered Heaven, it meant that "the heavenly bride was united with the bridegroom," their union signifying the hieros gamos, or sacred marriage referred to in alchemy. In other words, Jung believed the event fulfilled our archetypal need for a feminine deity on some level, in that the bringing together of these two archetypal forces allowed a release of the tension of opposites. I would argue that while it was indeed helpful for our culture on some level, we still have a long way to go before that archetypal balance will be restored on a broad cultural plane. What role do you think Mary Magdalene has played in helping to establish balance in the collective, and how might each of us engage with her in our own individuation processes?

    KA: I think Mary Magdalene really could be the figure for our times who holds the key to alchemical transformation. For us modern seekers, it much easier to relate to the idea of a sacred partnership or hieros gamos between Jesus and the Magdalene than bridal mysticism through Jesus and his mother. She holds fascination for people regardless of their religious background. I've met Pagans, Christians, Jews, and Atheists who are all equally drawn to her. Many of the Gnostic texts indicate that she was seen as the embodiment of Sophia or Divine Wisdom—but a kind of embodied wisdom is what we really need now. She holds that better than any other figure I know. She was called “The Woman Who Knew All,” and the arc of her legends encompasses both grace and disgrace, the body and the spirit, grief and joy in equal measure.

    Her symbols as well, encompass a profound duality. Magdala means “tower," but she is also associated with the symbols of the wild forest, returning to nature. While she lived the first part of her life a wealthy city woman in Palestine, according to French legend, her last thirty years were spent in silent meditation in a cave in the remote mountains of Provence. Her color, red, is both a symbol of sin (scarlet woman, woman in red) and spiritual authority (cardinal red, the pope's red shoes). For a decade now, I have witnessed in my workshop participants a profound transformative spark once they see the range of images that have been created inspired by her or begin to create their own stories, poems, and paintings through active imagination. One of my favorite paintings is by Georges de la Tour [see right]. In it, there is both deep shadow and a gentle candlelit illumination as Mary Magdalene is deep in reflection, symbolized by the mirror. Mary Magdalene seems very pregnant and on her lap she holds a skull. How much we need that as a symbol in our times! To be able to hold death and suffering in our laps, and still be filled with hope and new life as we reflect upon the light of illumination! That is such a powerful symbol for all us, both as individuals and as a collective—one that has the power to truly transform us if we let it enter us.

    ###

    To register for the free webinar on May 1, “The Many Faces of Mary Magdalene” which explores Mary Magdalene through myths over the centuries, from faithful disciple to penitent prostitute, embodiment of Wisdom and possible bride of Christ to contemporary guide to fulfillment and wholeness—or the entire upcoming series, “The Myths of Mary Magdalene,” with Kayleen Asbo, M.A., click here or visit Kayleen's web sites at www.kayleenasbo.com and www.mythsofmarymagdalene.com

    ###

    *Note for second image above: The wise, knowing half smile on this Magdalene's face and the silvery sheen of her cloak have made many viewers assume that this is the work of a very modern painter. Surprise! This image of Magdalene—one which embodies such an air of mystery-was painted in the year 1540. While it depicts Mary coming to the tomb (you can see the annointing jar to the far left), the focus here is not on outward action, but inner insight in the moment before she sees the world in a transfigured way. This is the perfect image to accompany the timeless sense of Mary Magdalene which has been reclaimed in our era: a woman of profound wisdom whose spiritual teachings focus on inner contemplation and awareness. 

    **All images provided by Kayleen Asbo and retain their original copyrights by the original owners.


    Kayleen Asbo is a cultural historian, musician, writer and teacher who weaves together myth, history, and the arts with experiential learning. Kayleen is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Sonoma State University in the Psychology department and the Osher Life Long Learning Institutes at UC Berkeley and Dominican University. Her classes on a wide array of topics ranging from Dante to Contemporary Music have been hailed as "inspirational", "fascinating and compelling" , "transformational"  and "truly life changing".

    Kayleen holds three master's degrees in music, mythology and psychology. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute. Kayleen has been a guest presenter and lecturer on the intersection of history, psychology and the arts at Oxford University in England, the Assisi Institute of Depth Psychology Conference in Italy, Chartres Cathedral in France, Grace Cathedral, the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, and other colleges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Kayleen is one of four Master Teachers worldwide for the Veriditas Labyrinth Organization, and facilitates workshops at Chartres Cathedral in France every year.

     

    Bonnie Bright is the principle and and founder of Depth Insights™, Depth Psychology Alliance™, and Depth Psychology List™. She holds M.A. degrees from Sonoma State University and Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, where she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Depth Psychology.

    Depth Insights™ provides media, content, and education for the greater depth psychology community, including written and audio interviews and the semi-annual peer reviewed publication, Depth Insights scholarly eZine.

    Depth Psychology Alliance
    , the world's first online academic community for those who are active and interested in the fields of Depth and Jungian Psychologies in 2010--a dynamic organization that surpassed 2,000 members in January 2013. The Alliance is a hub for finding depth psych-related events, blogs, videos, articles and for discussion, learning and connecting with likeminded others.

    Depth Psychology List
    is a premier destination to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners by location or type of services offered.

    This interview is also posted on Depth Insights.

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