The Summer Solstice has just passed, signaling the official beginning of summer. And for many of us long past school age, this time triggers a nostalgia for the freedom to roam and play, a freedom much curtailed in today’s world. But then some kids now go to all those cool camps! In truth, I’m just nostalgic for playing in the back yard with neighbors and running through the water sprouting out of a sprinkler in the Houston heat!
However, I cannot complain about this summer. David and I just returned from the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, NM, where he won silver and bronze medals for track and field throwing events. We also spent a great couple of days in Santa Fe celebrating our anniversary and being inspired by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. And, this will be a summer of fun. I’m soon going off with a grandchild to a wolf refuge for a week; with David to Toronto for another masters competition; and also with David for three weeks to Colorado and those Rocky Mountains where I so love to hike, do NiaDance, and see friends. I’ll stay on a week longer for a writer’s retreat and time to meditate and reflect.
I hope that you have a wonderful summer, whatever that means for you!
In recent months, I’ve been working hard on a soon-to-be-announced launch of the revised Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator™, a revision that started in 2011 with research based on 15,000 results from individuals that had taken the instrument online. As often happens, after three years of hard work, there was a long lag time, while all concerned were doing other things. In the last two years, efforts began to build once more. My work during this period has focused on developing new report forms and revising all the supplementary materials, including taking What Story Are You Living? from being a workbook to a book that incorporates neuroscience with depth psychology to offer a more complete theoretical basis for the instrument. This book will soon be supplemented by a workbook focusing on advanced approaches to understanding and working with PMAI results.
Right now, the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) is developing a PMAI website, with a cool name that I am not at liberty to reveal— that is, not until it is up for all to see.
All this is a great advance that I’m so excited about, but every advance also requires some sacrifice. The new instrument and supporting materials, while still growing out of my work in Awakening the Heroes Within, will have renamed three of the archetypes because of requests by major users of the PMAI and will no longer stress the Preparation (Ego), Initiation (Soul), and Return (Self) theory, nor will it by no means reject it. However, if you miss that model, you can still get copies of the current PMAI instrument and the current What Story Are You Living? while they remain available.
I cannot tell you when the new launch will happen. This is a collaborative project, so that decision is out of my hands, except to do my part. However, I’m excited about this and would like it up yesterday! Yet, what I most love about this collaboration is that all concerned are committed to high quality results, and these take time.
While all the PMAI revision has been transpiring, my mind has been turning to issues of archetypes and spirituality. I finished an interfaith Doctorate of Ministry in 2012, based on the Creation Spirituality mystical idea that the Divine is in us all and in The All, including the earth and the cosmos. This belief can inspire a sense of mystic oneness and also result in politics that focus on making the world work for everyone (and hence social justice) and caring for the earth (and hence environmental sustainability). I’ve also been engaging in a serious study of what is now known about Mary Magdalene, and what that means for our understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition and for our understanding of spiritual archetypes that are evolving in our time. In addition, I want to put some of my efforts behind the 2020 presidential candidate I most relate to, while retaining a willingness to work for anyone who supports my values.
I’m scheduled to give a Friday night lecture and Saturday workshop for one of my favorite organizations, the Houston Jung Center, on September 13th and 14th. We are in the process of determining the topic. It is possible that I’ll be giving the workshop on the flow of archetypes in a life, on archetypes in authentic leadership, and/or on the spiritual gifts of archetypes. However, I’ve also proposed the following, which would be a new presentation for me.
On Friday, September 13th, the proposed lecture would be entitled “May the Real Mary Magdalene Please Stand Up: An Archetypal Reflection.” The topic is an outgrowth of my reading and other explorations into emerging discoveries in the Christian tradition, and will focus on the woman who has been at the center of much of this revisionist history. Long besmirched as merely a repentant prostitute, in the oral tradition over time and recently in scholarship, Mary Magdalene has also been imagined variously as a virgin in the ancient sense of being one-in-herself; a gracious wealthy funder of Jesus’s work; the mother of Jesus’s daughter (the sought-after grail) and ancestor of the French Merovingian dynasty; Jesus’s spiritual and romantic partner/wife; and/or the leader of the apostles, Jesus’s successor, and the original framer of the ideas in the Gospel of John. In my lecture, I will delve into the archetypal meaning of this history and the explosion of interest in this Biblical character. I will discuss the archetypes that have been evolving over 2,019 years that Magdalene is viewed as embodying, and what they mean for us now.
The following day, Saturday, September 13th, I would offer a workshop on “Archetypes in the Christian and Eleusinian Mysteries.” Many Christians were also initiates of the Greek Eleusinian Mysteries, an outgrowth of the myth of Demeter and Persephone, seeing no actual conflict between these two traditions. The apostle Paul was a Hellenized Jew who is credited with converting the Greeks to Christianity. He also clearly recognized a connection between Jesus’s teachings and Greek beliefs, especially those that promised resurrection. This workshop will compare figures from the Eleusinian and Christian mysteries to expand our understanding of archetypes that remain alive today, with a focus on their spiritual gifts. While the workshop will be based on spiritual narratives, its purpose is not to weigh in on theological debates, but rather to promote self-awareness in participants about how these four archetypes might be alive in their psyches, offering them unexpected gifts, whether or not they are religious or whatever their actual religious or spiritual beliefs may or may not be.
More information on both the lecture and the workshop—with the final, approved topic—will soon be available on the Events page of my website and on the website of the Houston Jung Center in August. I will let you know when it is posted.
In the Blogosphere
Over the past three months, I’ve posted four blogs on my blogsite—one of my own and three provocative guest blogs. In my April blog, “Finding Yourself and Expanding Your Horizons,” I explore the many ways in which we form our identities and the importance of remaining open to new influences that can help us grow and prosper. Drawing on some of my experiences being involved in the feminist movement at the same time that I was pursuing an academic career, I delve into the kinds of challenges we face in maintaining our integrity and relay one of the most useful pieces of advice I ever received, which allowed me to maintain my own center while working with people whose views were markedly different than mine.
I also reflect on how, as I have moved through life, I have had to transcend my rather narrow personal upbringing in the face of changing social realities and the challenges—both positive and negative—they present. Of course, my own story is but a microcosm of what so many others have experienced. I find that “The richness of what is available to us in today’s global society can be overwhelming. However, the better we know who we are—as individuals, groups, and whole societies—the more open we can be to learning from others without being threatened by them.”
Also in April, my former colleague Jennifer Selig contributed a guest blog, “The Creator Meets the Critic at the Nursery,” in which she discusses how, as co-author of a newly birthed book, she anticipates the responses of readers and reviewers as well as her own judgment. The book, Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit, was written with Deborah Anne Quibell and Dennis Patrick Slattery and appeared this spring. “The truth is,” she says, “the vulnerability of the Creator is, well, vulnerability. We are twice vulnerable to the Critic—once, to the Inner Critic, that wily time traveler who shows up before, during, and after we put pen to the page, notes to the song, or brush to the canvas, and then again to the Outer Critic, if we’re lucky enough to have an audience for our work, a reader or a listener or a viewer.”
At the end of the blog, Jennifer offers valuable advice to any Creators who anticipate sending their work out into the world.
In May, Angela Sells contributed the first of two guest blogs focused on archetypal aspects of the immensely popular HBO fantasy TV series Game of Thrones. In her blog, “Arya Stark: Transforming an Image of Abduction,” Angela draws parallels between Arya, who defeats the Night King, “a white-walker who causes interminable winter and living death,” and in doing so saves the world, and Persephone, the Greek goddess who is abducted by Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, and whose ascent to the upper world signals the return of spring. Angela notes that “Arya’s dance with Death is the point of change that brings with it a return of hope and an assumed end to winter.”
(In my most recent book, Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within, I do a deep dive into the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone and its relevance to the current political and cultural moment.)
Angela followed up with a second guest blog about Game of Thrones, which I posted earlier this month: “Sansa and the Strength of Endurance,” which focuses on the archetypal nature of Arya’s sister, Sansa Stark. Sansa is a survivor, treated terribly throughout the series, suffering pain, violence, and assault. As Angela maintains, “Sansa is an ‘innocent,’ a sacrificial bride, the bleeding heart of the series. If Arya’s battle with the Night King injects into the myth of Persephone clear female agency that reflects back to us a necessary cultural shift (by her choosing to descend), Sansa reflects Persephone’s narrative as it is: survival through sheer endurance.”
But Angela also holds that Sansa’s survival, and ultimate triumph, is not a product of the abuse she suffers, but rather of her innate strength. “During the last three seasons, she transforms into a self-composed, strategizing, and noble woman when surrounded by liars, traitors, and murderers. By the last episode of the series, as winter comes to an end, Sansa is the only suitable choice for the position of Queen of the North…. She is strong, fierce, and capable, ‘the wisest woman’ her sister has ever met. She is a changing goddess, evolving from a young and naïve girl to a confident sovereign, who will rule with grace in a house of honor.”
I welcome and encourage your comments on any of the blogs posted on my blogsite, several of which have inspired a rich exchange of ideas. 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.
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Carol S. Pearson