As I write this on the first full day of spring – and my birthday! – six inches of snow has fallen, and the view from my office window is just lovely. And, I know that Persephone is rising, as the crocuses that already had popped their heads up will survive, and Persephone’s promise to restore life to the land will be fulfilled.
It has been a harsh winter indeed. In January, a historic rainstorm in Santa Barbara resulted in mudslides that killed 23 people in Montecito, where we used to live. Several of our close friends were stranded for days without electricity or running water, and others were forced to evacuate their homes and couldn’t return for weeks. Fortunately, all of them survived unharmed. The disaster also inflicted severe damage on La Casa de Maria, the beautiful retreat center where I was scheduled to offer a workshop in February, forcing the cancellation of all programs, including mine, for at least six months. Successive rainstorms, including a massive one predicted for this week, have resulted in mandatory evacuations in an effort to prevent further loss of life.
The harsh weather, with frequent snowstorms, heavy winds, and severe cold on the East coast, would seem to be an appropriate accompaniment for the harshness of our national politics and the recurrent tragedies. Yet there is cause for hope. We can find it in the activism of students across the country in response to the tragic shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Finally, after years of school shootings (another took place in Maryland just days ago), we are seeing a reaction, led by young people, that is touching the conscience of the nation. All of us as adults have a responsibility to keep our children and adolescents safe. We have been failing in that responsibility – as hard as many of us have tried to do something sensible about guns and adequately address our nation’s mental health crisis. But when the children march, change sometimes happens.
For my part, in addition to supporting the walkouts and marches, I continue to develop and present my ideas about how an archetypal analysis can help us understand what is happening in our politics and about stories that might restore a greater sense of national unity and cohesion. These were themes in my recent lecture and workshop for the C.G Jung Society of Sarasota and in several recent blogs or others in the works. You can read about the former in this newsletter, which also tells you about interesting guest blogs I’ve posted and some of my upcoming public events.
I am pleased and honored to serve as a faculty member of the Seeing Red Certificate Course, organized by Loralee Scott-Conforti, who also is executive director of the Assisi Institute: the International Center for the Study of Archetypal Patterns. The course brings together an internationally recognized faculty of analysts, psychologists, authors, and artists with the goal of acquiring an archetypal understanding of feminine oppression and preparing for the emergence and development of a deep-seated feminine wisdom. On Thursday, March 29th, I will be offering a webinar on “Persephone Arising” as part of the course. A video of my talk will be posted afterward on my website. Further information on the course is available on the Seeing Red website.
Sacred Earth: Sacred Work
From Thursday, April 26th, to Sunday, April 29th, I will be participating in the international gathering of the Creation Spirituality Communities in Asheville, North Carolina. The gathering, entitled “Sacred Earth: Sacred Work,” will feature a variety of speakers and performers, headlined by a keynote address by spiritual theologian, activist, and author the Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox. On Friday morning, I will offer a workshop on “Archetypes of Gender Partnership in Via Transformativa” that will compare four spiritual energies as viewed through the ancient Greek Eleusinian mysteries and early Christian mysteries – two masculine and two feminine – with a focus on their contributions to creation spirituality’s emphases on gender partnership, social justice, and environmental sustainability. That afternoon, I will facilitate a roundtable with other authors in which we discuss our writing process. Information on the gathering is available on the CSC website.
In fall 2018, I will be offering an online course through the Houston Jung Center. The course will utilize the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®) instrument to help participants understand the archetypal stories they are living. Because the course is being offered online, people anywhere in the world can participate. Planning for the course currently is under way, and I will let you know further details as they become available.
In the Blogosphere
In the past few months, I have posted three new blogs on my blogsite. The first – “Why Do People Think Such Nutty Things, and How Can We Talk With Them Anyway?” – posted in January, addresses the problem that, in the U.S. and elsewhere, the political opinions of different groups have begun to ossify, so that it is difficult for citizens to hear one another or have civil discussions about areas of disagreement. To overcome these differences, I propose that it is important to understand not only the facts about any particular issue, but also the archetypal story that people tell themselves about it. Doing so can help us both learn to understand humankind better and sometimes feel more compassion for others who are different from ourselves.
In February, in a blog entitled “Ghosts, Zombies, Vampires, and the Apocalypse: What Are They Warning Us About?”, I posit that the popularity of horror stories in so much of our entertainment media reflects the fear and discomfort many Americans experience in a rapidly changing culture that not only threatens their values but also undermines their sense of their place in society. At the end, I offer some suggestions for how to heed the warnings in these cautionary tales so as not to fall into their traps.
Also in February, I wrote about one of the most contentious issues currently roiling – in a positive way – society in the U.S. and some other countries. In “Archetypal Remedies for #MeToo and #TimesUp: How Not to Be Part of the Problem,” I argue that to understand why there still needs to be a #MeToo movement this long after the feminist movement of the 1970s, it is important to recognize that we are in the midst of a major unfinished revolution, so that behaviors persist in both men and women that are remnants from a patriarchal legacy that defined people by roles within a hierarchy and believed that social good came from everyone staying in the roles to which they were assigned. Through archetypal awareness, particularly the perspectives of the Warrior, the Explorer, the Caregiver, and the Lover, I maintain that it is possible for individuals of any gender to develop the qualities that will expand their range for their own good and that of others.
In January, Katherine Culpepper, a marriage and family counselor who has been a counselor in the Providence School Department since 1995, contributed a blog entitled “Projective Drawing and the PMAI®: Helping Autistic Students Gain Greater Self-Knowledge.” Combining a narrative approach to the interpretation of a work of art the students create with the PMAI® enables them “to relate readily to the method and enjoy gaining insight into themselves,” she says. “The method offers many students hope that their lives can be enriched through self-understanding and responsible decision-making.”
In another January guest blog, “The Shape of Water: The Shape of Change?”, Jean Raffa, an author, speaker, and leader of workshops and dream groups, writes about how courageous and gifted artists are creating books and films that depict ordinary people who evolve into heroic individuals. Focusing on the motion picture that received the Academy Award for Best Film of 2017 and other groundbreaking movies that feature women as the central characters, she argues that such stories tap into the collective unconscious and offer “mythic themes and archetypal characters [that] limn the shape of our own souls.”
Several of these blogs have inspired a rich exchange of ideas. I welcome and encourage your comments on these and other blogs posted on my blogsite. Also, if you have an idea for a blog that you might like to submit, please send me an email with a brief summary and I will let you know whether it is suitable for my website and, if so, what guidelines you should follow in preparing it.
In addition to my blogsite, you can find many of my blogs on those of Psychology Today and the Depth Psychology Alliance, and you are invited to make comments on the former and on the latter if you are a member. The easiest way to learn when a new blog goes up on my website or any of the others on which I post is to follow me on Facebook at Carol S. Pearson, PhD and Twitter @carolspearson. Posts and tweets will inform you of the topic and how to access it. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram at carolspearsonphd. Just click on one of the buttons on the right to connect, and let me know what is going on with you.
As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might be interested.
Carol S. Pearson