The approach of the holiday season, the winter solstice, and the new year ordinarily augurs a time of celebration, as we give thanks for friends and family, share gifts, and, in the northern hemisphere, anticipate the “return of the light.” This also can be a time when we can look forward to spring in the hope that, along with warmer weather, other things will get better as well.
Every day, it seems, our cultural shadow is more and more visible to us and to the greater world. As we light candles over these holidays to reaffirm that darkness does not have to triumph for very long, our challenge is to be as enlightened as possible in the coming year, and promote hope in others as much as we can.
The outcome of our current travails is yet to be determined, but the emergence of the shadow has a bright side. When the underside of a culture is revealed, it is time to do something about it, and people are paying attention, speaking out, protesting, and organizing. I suspect that readers of this newsletter also are concerned, and that many of you are doing what you can to reclaim what is best about our country and to make the necessary shift out of damaging patriarchal patterns into gender partnership and equality.
While pundits and other observers have been proclaiming incessantly about the political and cultural divides that plague the United States, I’ve been thinking hard and writing a book about the stories that created our identity as a nation and those that might give us a greater sense of unity and cohesion now. I’ll also be sharing some of my ruminations in the blogs I post on my blogsite and those of Psychology Today and the Depth Psychology Alliance. The first of those will appear shortly.
In the meantime, I want you to know about two upcoming events where I will be presenting: a workshop for La Casa de Maria in Santa Barbara, CA, and a lecture and workshop for the C.G. Jung Society of Sarasota. In addition, if you haven’t read them already, I’m sure you will be interested in two guest blogs I’ve hosted in the past few months. I’ve also included a sneak preview of the theme of my forthcoming book. Read on to get the details on all of these.
La Casa de Maria
I’ve conducted several workshops in the past for La Casa de Maria, the beautiful and tranquil retreat center in Santa Barbara, and have enjoyed each one tremendously. Thus, I’m delighted to return for another three-day offering, from Friday, February 9th, to Sunday, February 11th, 2018, entitled “Been There, Done That: Reflecting on Stories Lived and Living You Now.” In the workshop, we will explore how we have lived different stories at various stages of our lives. You may have experienced a Love story in romance or parenting, a Sage story in school, or a Warrior story if you have needed to fight for yourself. Living such stories has given you gifts. We will employ dialogue, movement, and introspection to help participants gain clarity regarding what a current story is asking of them, or how to respond to a new story that is beckoning them. I’m thrilled that once again I’ll be joined by my good friend Gabi Baryshe-Crosbie, who will lead the movement exercises that will be key to experiencing these stories in your body. To me, this physical way of exploring archetypes is a wonderful new frontier, building on the pioneering work of Jungian analyst Marion Woodman and Nia creator Debbie Rosas. Gabi will provide opportunities for fun movement that can be done at all levels, and that can be modified to adjust to your body’s way and ability. You can read about the workshop on the Events page of my website, and registration information is on La Casa de Maria’s website.
C.G. Jung Society of Sarasota
Two weeks after my Santa Barbara workshop, I’ll be back on the East Coast to offer a lecture and workshop for the C.G. Jung Society of Sarasota, FL, on Friday, February 23rd, and Saturday, February 24th. The title of the Friday lecture is “Archetypal Narrative Intelligence Case Study: The USA in Analysis,” and relates to the book project I’ve been working on recently. Much unhappiness occurs in our individual and organizational lives when the stories we are living are not authentic and do not work in the situations we are facing. The individuation process can include shifting the narratives through which we make meaning of our lives and our situation. The same is true for countries. Principles of archetypal psychology can show how Americans might come together again, so that we can better thrive as individuals and groups in today’s challenging global context. Examples will explore ideas from my book in progress.
The Saturday workshop, “My Story, Your Story, Our Story: Narrative Intelligence in Individuation,” will bring the topic closer to home for participants. People individuate in part by differentiating from others to find their uniqueness, and also by what and whom we are willing to commit to. The workshop is designed to help participants increase their ability to observe and name archetypal narratives in themselves, others, and the systems of which they are a part, including the United States, as well as from messages from the unconscious in dreams, Active Imagination exercises, synchronistic experiences, and bodily sensations. The goal of this process is to reinforce both individuality and the ability to connect well with others within our social systems.
America on the Couch
The book on which I’ve been working concerns how Americans can use archetypal awareness and narrative intelligence to understand our current political situation and come together to achieve better outcomes. What follows is a brief description of the major message of the book. The book’s basic organization is now clear to me, and I have done some work on most of the major chapters. I hope you will hold this project in your thoughts and send some energy for finding the right publisher to get this book out to the public. I believe it could do some good.
Because of the way the human brain works, perceived truth comes from what people notice, plus the story our brains use to reveal the meaning of those events. Such stories are usually archetypal and influenced by the myths dominant in our culture. Most of us then live these stories, but are mainly unconscious of them. If we gain ways to name them, we can predict whether their plotlines lead to unfortunate or even tragic endings, and whether there is a way to shift that same storyline to achieve a better outcome or to reframe from the vantage point of another plotline.
The stories that have held a central place in our culture since before our nation’s founding have tended to unite us as a country and promoted the progress we have made over the past 240 years. In contrast, many of the stories now being told (and lived) in American political and economic life will likely end very badly. For this reason, my book, tentatively titled “America on the Couch,” identifies the major archetypal stories that predominate today and describes their dangers and opportunities. The book’s goal is to help readers make more informed choices and gain an improved ability to dialogue civilly with others with whom they disagree, with the ultimate purpose of healing our political divide so that our country can exert wise and mature leadership in the world.
In the Blogosphere
In October, my colleague Dori Koehler contributed her latest guest blog to my blogsite, entitled “Mythologizing Mickey Mouse, or How I Came to Interpret Disneyland as a Temple.” In the blog, Dori, who has to rank as one of the foremost experts on all things Disney, recounts the process by which she came to write her doctoral dissertation at Pacifica Graduate Institute, which focused on the mythic sources and qualities of Walt Disney’s work, and of Disneyland in particular. She observes that, “Regardless of how one feels about the monopolization of media and American consumerism, it’s worth taking note of the mythic footprint of the corporations that create our media, and by extension, our corporate myths.” Among the themes that she finds suffused throughout the Disney oeuvre are “the role of freedom of imagination in human dignity, the vitality of hopes and dreams, the balance of good and evil, the importance of familial and community bonds, and love’s ability to heal and transform.” In addition to the blog, if you have any interest in Disney, or in the mythic qualities of popular culture in general, you will enjoy the book Dori recently published, based on her dissertation, “The Mouse and the Myth: Sacred Art and Secular Ritual of Disneyland.”
For a provocative discussion of one of the seminal figures in the history of psychology, turn to the guest blog by Angela Sells, “Sabina Spielrein: The Woman and the Myth,” which was posted in November. Sells, who teaches women’s studies and literature and is a publisher as well as an author, details how the contributions of Spielrein, who was C.G. Jung’s first patient, have been neglected or suppressed over the past century. Spielrein, she notes, was, among other things, “a pioneer of child psychology, an early advocate of female sexual health, and she originated the concept of the so-called ‘death wish’ a full decade before Sigmund Freud expanded on her idea. Her theory of mythic archetypes was published in an article one year before Jung’s work on the same subject in 1912.” Spielrein’s treatment by the male psychology establishment is especially poignant in light of the reckoning with sexual predation, sexual harassment, and misogyny currently taking place.
I welcome and encourage your comments on these and other blogs. 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