Fall Musings on Current Crises, Archetypes, and Consciousness
Summer has come and gone, as has the fall equinox. We are entering the time of going inward and also letting go of what no longer serves us in our culture and our own attitudes and attachments. Here in Maryland, the days are still warm, but a few leaves are starting to turn gold and orange, with promise of fall beauty and cooler weather.
I’m contemplating the urgency of the new climate change reports, the casualness with which leaders are talking about a nuclear buildup, and the current crisis for our democracy with leadership that seems to be becoming more and more autocratic. I remember that early in my life, in graduate school, my professors already recognized that humankind’s capacity for innovation had outreached our consciousness. Post-World War II, the existence of nuclear weapons was understood to spell the end of civilization as we know it, if they were used. It seems that for some, consciousness is regressing rather than evolving to meet our new challenges.
I, and so many others of my generation and since, have chosen to do work that is about consciousness and helping people to become more aware of their emotions, fears, and desires.
This is why I persist in working with archetypes and why I’m still so excited about fine tuning a book to be released along with the revised Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®) sometime soon. I’m thrilled about what is now an even more revolutionary growth instrument and by supporting materials that provide theory from not only psychology but also neuroscience to help people understand the narratives they are hearing, thinking, telling, and living.
My attention is also going to spiritual matters. In my research for Persephone Rising, I learned that the Greeks knew many things we moderns have forgotten that could help us now. I’ve started writing a short summary of Persephone Rising for people who are reluctant to read a 400-page book. It stresses the consciousness of the Greek mystery tradition based on the story of Demeter and Persephone as a spiritual narrative and a precursor to Christianity in its original forms, before it became greatly influenced by the consciousness of the Roman Empire.
I am more and more interested in new Biblical scholarship that seeks to reveal what Jesus actually said and did, and disentangles it from what various religious institutions have added or subtracted over time. Out of this curiosity, I became fascinated by what is now known about Mary Magdalene, who was the chief of the apostles, not a prostitute—a fact that the Catholic Church has validated, saying that she was the Apostle to the Apostles. The discovery of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene in the 20th century also provides valuable insights about what Jesus wanted his legacy to be that could not be fully understood then by most, but could now.
I’m also interested in how contemporary science has a way of shifting my worldview as I read more and more about it and I have time to take in what it means. So much that many believe is simply not true. Darwin’s work was misunderstood, for instance. The survival of the fittest was not about being better than, but about fitting into the ecological system at play. Racism is based on the idea that there are races, but our DNA is the same. All that is different is skin color. The laws of nature here on earth do not always seem to apply in the larger universe and in the microscopic world. And, yes, people have the power to disrupt the ecosystem, and are, with predictable dire consequences.
I’m rereading a book that was the basis for the final chapter in the Persephone section of Persephone Rising with attention not only to the worldview of the mystical Greeks, but also to the contemporary science that supports that worldview. One example from this book is the wisdom of seeing the planet and our societies as like our bodies. “Each of our cells is a living system, or holon, in its own right. Yet, as a holon, it is also a part of larger holons—organ, organ system, and whole body—together forming a physiological holarchy. Clearly every cell manages to look out for its own interests—to care for itself and to reproduce itself—while also working at the interests of its organ, its organ system, its body.”
Elisabet Sahtouris, author of Gaia: The Human Journey from Chaos to Cosmos and that quote, sees the body as a model for society where each of us looks out for ourselves, our families, our organizations, and our larger society. She argues that the whole of each of these social units needs to care back or the entire system falls apart, as when any of us fails to care for our bodies and its parts. She then argues that right now our society is failing to care for all its citizens, and many citizens emphasize their own self-interest over the good of the whole. Her larger message is that the earth and all its creatures, including us, are living systems and our best hope for a positive future is not to conquer nature, but instead to allow it to guide us in how we might thrive.
Grieving a Friend
While my mind continues to contemplate the consciousness needed for our time, I am enjoying life with my husband and times with my children and grandchildren, while also grieving the passing of a dear friend. For about 35 years, JoAn Knight Herren and I got together regularly, sharing our vision or intentions for each year we were in and then supporting each other in acting on that intention (or deciding not to). We laughed about how magical this process seemed, as what we intended so often fell into place. I miss her terribly, but am so grateful for getting to have such a long friendship with her. I also find comfort in being able to officiate the Celebration of Life of someone, like JoAn, whose example embodied a life well-lived. Her major goals were always to “create heaven on earth” everywhere she went. I’ll end with the latter part of an obituary that her daughters wrote as an invitation to that event. You are welcome to attend.
“From 1995 until retirement in 2008, JoAn flourished as Chief of HS Training and Technical Assistance, at the Office of Head Start, HHS in Washington, DC. As Chief, she led hundreds of conferences and training sessions, and collaborated in the development of the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center. Her proudest achievement was mentoring more than a hundred future leaders through the HS Fellows Program.
“Following her retirement, JoAn explored theology and was ordained as an Interfaith Minister by the One Spirit Interfaith Ministry in 2014.
“Although she never became the truck driver she wanted to be as a child, her dreams of travel came true through family camping trips and multiple trips to Ireland, Europe, and the Galapagos Islands.
“She cherished family and extended family connections from a young age with her Irish family reunions, tracing family genealogy, and telling our family stories in photo memory books. Recently, JoAn filled her life with storytelling and leading groups who shared their personal stories in the Maryland area. She could talk to anybody, anywhere, any time!”
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, October 5, 2019, at the Amani Hall Event Center, 4216 Howard Road, in Beltsville, MD, from 1 – 4 pm, but all are welcome to come early. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in her name to the National Head Start Association leadership and scholarship programs (www.nhsa.org).
I will be giving a Friday night lecture and Saturday workshop for one of my favorite organizations, the Houston Jung Center, on December 13th and 14th that grows out of my interest in Mary Magdalene. The Friday night lecture, which is also being live-streamed, explores: Why Magdalene? Why now? What is the archetypal meaning of this history and the explosion of interest in this Biblical character? But most of all, what archetypes does Magdalene embody, and what do they mean for us?
In Saturday’s experiential workshop, we will consider the synchronistic meaning and timeliness of current interest in Magdalene. We will look at practices attributed to her and examine their function today from a Jungian perspective. And we will explore what her story— as interpreted by major contemporary Biblical scholars—reveals about the lover archetype and about the potential for gender partnership in our time. Exercises will help participants discover the meaning of these in their own lives.
More information on both the lecture and the workshop is available on the Events page of my website and on the website of the Houston Jung Center. I hope you can join me there.
South Carolina Appearance
Notices are not yet up about this, but I’ll be presenting at the Mepkin Abbey Retreat Center in Moncks Corner, SC, April 24th to 26th next year. I’ll offer a lecture on the 12 archetypes in personal fulfillment and spiritual maturity and a workshop for elders who want to update their sense of themselves through recognizing what archetypes are calling them. If this interests you, just mark the date. Further information will be available on the Events page of my website as arrangements are firmed up.
I’ve been protecting my time while in major writing mode, but as soon as the revised PMAI® is launched, I plan to do more events that familiarize people with the power of this instrument for personal growth, leadership development, and team/community-building. I’m also interested in linking this individual work with branding and organizational development for good cause organizations and for branding and message development in progressive politics or in journalism. Feel free to contact me if your enterprise would be interested in this work.
Basecamp for Men
In July, I was interviewed by Tony Rezak on the Basecamp for Men Podcast, part of the America Daily Network. Tony has been inspired by my book The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By, and the interview focused on the hero’s journey and role of archetypes in our lives (particularly for men). You can listen to the podcast here.
In the Blogosphere
Last month, I posted a blog on my blogsite entitled “Depth Leadership: How to Live Your Calling and Succeed in Leading Others.” In it, I posit a fundamentally democratic notion of leadership: it can be exercised in any area of one’s life when something needs to be done and no one else is doing it. I argue that “(l)eadership becomes a calling when we care about making a difference to individuals, groups, and the greater good and when we connect the desire to matter with the archetypal stories, alive in us, that fuel our interests, motivations, and behaviors and that provide plotlines to guide our action.”
Some archetypes – such as the Warrior, Sage, Caregiver, Magician, and Ruler—are directly important to the Hero’s journey and contribute to leadership success, but recognizing any of the archetypal stories that inspire, motivate, or are emerging in you can expand your leadership potential and contribute to your success.
If you haven’t read them yet, you can catch up on several insightful guest blogs that appeared on my blogsite this spring and summer.
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.
As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might be interested.
Carol S. Pearson