We are entering the time of year for going inward and gestating what next calls us. It is also the time when the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, all remind us that the light is returning even when the weather gets colder and harsher—until new plants crack through the ice, hibernating animals emerge from caves, and we then celebrate the miracle of spring. Until this happens, it is a time for generosity of spirit, giving to others, and showing love to help us all through what looks to be a harsh winter. Of course, to be honest, now that David and I live where it gets cold, we are likely to escape to Santa Barbara for what we imagine will be the worst of it.
The fall has been a wonderful time for me. I finished turning the workbook for the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®),What Story Are You Living?, into a book enhanced in very many ways, but I’m most excited about integrating neuroscience and social neuroscience into the theory section and in chapters on understanding high, midrange, and low scores. I’m totally psyched. Eventually, there will be a companion workbook. The president of the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) is now reading What Story, and then it goes into production.
I also have plunged into a serious study of Mary Magdalene. I have come to believe that there are spiritual archetypes that can contribute to realizing the dream of achieving gender partnership that is truly equal, not only in personal relationships, but also in opportunities afforded both sexes. Pope Francis has acknowledged the truth, based on current scholarship, that she was not only Jesus’s companion but the chief of the apostles. Jung believed that this was true, and that integrating the masculine and the feminine was essential to connecting with the deeper Self, which in turn is connected to the unconscious and to spirit. In his later life, he linked the alchemical hieros gamos with the Gnostic Bridal Chamber, both of which work to integrate spiritual gender archetypes into modern psychological life.
My talk and workshop at the Houston Jung Society (see below) will focus on what qualities of Magdalene and what about her retrieved life story can help us, whether we see ourselves as spiritual or solidly secular. In Houston, I’ll also reconnect with a whole host of relatives and three childhood friends. How good is that!?!
On the personal front, some time ago I found myself wishing that I’d had more time to develop friendships in a multitasking life that has been, and still is, so busy with family and work. Suddenly, I have friends reappearing all over the place, so that I have to admit that my cup is running over in this area of my life as well as how fortunate I am to have my wonderful husband, David, great children and grandchildren, and work that is still engaging. I had an editor a few years ago who declared that “no one wants to hear from an aging feminist,” which got planted in my brain as a curse, until this was exorcized when I noticed it was not true.
Of course, I’ve been riveted to the impeachment hearings, without time to watch everything I would like. I’m hoping the needed redemption of the Republican Party will happen, so that party loyalty stops undermining truth. I do believe it will. Both parties do better when the Republican Warrior/Seeker and the Democratic Sage/Caregiver/Lover complement one another. I have faith that we will get through this and come together as a nation, although the means for this is not yet clear. And, as we are falling behind on what is necessary to avert climate catastrophe, the recovery may need the support and hard work of all of us. I trust we are up for it.
Next Friday and Saturday, December 13th and 14th, I’ll be offering a lecture and workshop for the Houston Jung Centeron the topic of “May the Real Mary Magdalene Please Stand Up.” I’ve had a growing interest in the Mary Magdalene story, from both a spiritual and intellectual standpoint. Over the past couple of years, I’ve done extensive reading and research on her life, her place in the Bible and other documents, and the changing perceptions of her over time.
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 or watch the Friday evening lecture online.
South Carolina Appearance
All the details have not yet been worked out, 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 research and 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 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 exploring these possibilities.
In the Blogosphere
Last month, I posted a blog on my blogsite entitled “What’s Good and What’s Bad About Narcissism? Opportunity or Dysfunction? In it, I argue that narcissism exists on a continuum, from its healthy forms to its destructive expressions. While a degree of narcissism is natural in adolescence, when the Seeker archetype emerges, its healthy development in adulthood requires an integration of the Seeker with the Lover archetype. I explore some of the ways in which narcissism can take an unhealthy turn:
- Wounded narcissism, which can originate from negative family influences, ill-treatment by adolescent peers, teachers, or coaches, any of whom can undermine your sense of self-worth, and can continue into adulthood with demeaning treatment by bosses or coworkers or messages from the larger culture.
- Egotistical narcissism, expressed by those who “tend to have an investment in maintaining a positive self-image, while avidly seeking the kind of success that looks good to others.”
- Acquired narcissism, in those who “have developed an unearned sense of superiority over others acquired through the life they were born into or that they later experience.
In each case, I suggest ways that you can protect yourself from such narcissists or what you can do if you recognize their signs in your own psyche or behavior.
In October, my colleague Dori Koehler contributed a guest blog on one of her favorite series of novels and cable shows, Outlander. Dori’s blog, “Roger’s Labors: The Resonance of Psyche and Eros in Outlander,” is an examination of one of the mythic resonances in recent episodes of the series, others of which she has explored in earlier blogs. She maintains that the series is culturally relevant “because stories are portals through which we actualize our lives. The more I study this particular one, the more I’m convinced it’s relevant because it occupies the mythic space of epic, a tradition central to human history with psychological heft that is currently (let’s just say) not appreciated as it should be, even though it’s everywhere in contemporary popular culture. Film franchises, book series, video games, television series—all of these currently fulfil our need for epic.”
Dori relates the story of Roger and Brianna, two of the major characters in the series, whose relationship represents an inversion of the classic myth of Psyche and Eros. It is Roger who must undertake the equivalent of the labors of Psyche to become whole. I won’t say more about the myth or the series, but Dori’s blog is amply illustrated with excerpts from the Starz version.
And just last week, I posted a guest blog by Andrea Slominski entitled “The Rise of Regency.” Andrea posits that longer life expectancy and changing social conditions have created a new phase in women’s lives. “As our longevity has increased, women’s lives also have expanded from three mythological, psychological, and spiritual life stages to four. As a consequence, the mythological descriptors of a woman’s life, ‘Maiden, Mother, and Crone,’ frequently invoked in archetypal psychology and spiritual feminism, no longer adequately encompass women’s lives, as old age no longer begins at 50. Women’s longer lives are now being lived metaphorically in a four-stage model, which I argue is more accurately expressed as Maiden, Householder, Regent, and Wise Woman.”
Regency is the time in which a woman takes control of her life rather than having power given to her by others. The Wise Woman stage of life, starting around 70 or thereafter, involves “gathering to one’s self all of one’s knowledge, wisdom, and life experience.” Andrea traces this notion of “quaternity” to C.G. Jung and discusses how the ancient notion of the Goddess applies in the contemporary world.
If you haven’t read them yet, you can catch up on several insightful guest blogs that appeared on my blogsite earlier this year.
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