Myth, Culture, Gender, & Spirituality

These current interests of mine are likely to be discussed in blogs, podcasts, or upcoming events on this website. Although all these interests often are woven together in a given piece, where a blog focuses on a particular topic, that topic will be included as a category option for you to choose from so you can quickly determine if it interests you.

Myth, Gender, and Culture

Myths: Then and Now: The sacred stories of indigenous or ancient peoples are called “myths,” but later conquerors saw them as untrue and shifted the meaning of  “myth” to signify falsehood.  Today it is widely understood that modern cultures have their own mythologies, as did ancient ones. Every culture does. Myths are the stories that reveal and pass on a culture’s aesthetic, values, and worldview. Underlying these are universal archetypes, which encompass a larger field that includes more complete expressions of all the ways each archetype can be embodied and lived. Some cultural myths remain relevant in later times, as do both the ancient Greek story of Demeter and Persephone and the British King Arthur legends in our own.

Consciousness and Culture: While much of my work is intended for use by individuals, almost all of it credits the interaction between individual consciousness and culture. Since individuals are microcosms of the entire culture, we all have the capacity to influence it. In this way, my work is part of an emerging paradigm in which all of us matter, not just those who seem to be on top.

Returning to Wholeness: Inevitably, embedded within all mythic stories are the limitations of the attitudes and customs of the period when they originated. Most that are known to us reveal a patriarchal bias that views male attributes as superior to female ones. In practice, this also means that qualities developed in private and social life, which for millennia have been the province of women, are devalued relative to those fostered by experience in the public realm (business, government, the military, and so on). For example, many of the issues dividing the United States today concern whether caring for one another enacted through government programs and policies is a good thing or a very bad thing, and this in a culture where caring still is presumed to be a female responsibility, and “manly” men are expected to be stoic and to view empathy as weakness. In this regard, the worth of nurturing dads, friends, and colleagues is undervalued, along with the expected and taken-for-granted contributions of nurturing women.

Wholeness and the Heroic Journey

A major theme in The Hero Within addressed gender partnership and equality, and the 12-Archetype System developed in Awakening the Heroes Within was designed to remedy the gender bias of theories about the hero’s journey present at the time in which those books were written, some of which persist today. The archetypes chosen honor qualities that are perceived as either masculine or feminine, whether they occur in men or women.


Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within explicitly links this wisdom tradition to mythic patterns emerging in our time and in the stories of two goddesses—Demeter and Persephone—and two gods—Zeus and Dionysus. Our society today remains overly focused on Zeus values of power, money, and competition, which have their places, but they have crowded out Demeter’s focus on caring, Persephone’s depth and creativity, and Dionysus’s capacity for joy. Taken together, these four archetypal gods open us to a fuller range of positive human capacities, thus better equipping us to thrive as we address the great challenges of the 21st century.

Archetypes in Spirituality

Psycho-Spiritual Jungian Thought: Fundamental to C.G. Jung’s thought is a belief that each one of us has within a deeper self in addition to an ego. That deeper self is connected to the larger whole and to soul and spirit. Jungians thus have identified psychological patterns of psycho-spiritual growth available in all people that can guide them to deepen, mature, and attain happiness in midlife and beyond. Jung also viewed androgyny as a potential gift of maturity. Jungians Robert Moore, Robert Gillette, and Matthew Fox have traced the emerging masculine, and Marion Woodman, Jean Bolen, and Maureen Murdock the new or only now understood feminine.

Emergent Spiritual Scholarship: Each of the 12 archetypes can provide a spiritual gift. I am now exploring the spiritual wisdom of our major religions and indigenous faiths to expand my understanding of archetypal spirituality, which I believe to be that which is natural to our species at this time in our evolution.  As a product of my upbringing and also my marriage, I am particularly captivated by emergent scholarship in the Judeo-Christian tradition (with the Old and New Testaments in the Christian Bible and from contemporary Jewish renewal teachings). From my interfaith studies, I’m also interested in how the cross-fertilization of ideas can expand and deepen spiritual practices within any of our major religions, as can healing the historical split between science and religion in those faiths in which it persists. Healing this split opens the door for us to experience awe at the vastness of the cosmos, the mysterious quantum world, and our own inner psycho-spiritual reality.

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April 2021 Newsletter

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April 2021 Newsletter

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A Conspiracy Theory Vaccine? Making Sense of a Chaotic World

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Understanding Ourselves Through Story with Carol S. Pearson and John Trybus

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Understanding Ourselves Through Story with Carol S. Pearson and John Trybus

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What Stories Are You Living?

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What Stories Are You Living?

What Stories Are YouLiving? guides you through the journey of discovering and understanding the archetypes active in your life. These universal themes may be invisible to you now but through this book you will learn how they inspire the behaviors and relationships that drive your life story. As you become conscious of your archetypal potential, you can cultivate the hero or heroine within you by living your stories consciously, in your own unique way. This book provides a roadmap for achieving deeper self-understanding, and includes clear steps for reshaping your life stories, awakening your authenticity, and finding meaning, direction, and purpose.

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The Hero Within

This initial work was a grassroots HarperSanFrancisco best seller about the heroic journey that any of us may be taking in today’s world. I began writing it because its archetypes were talking to me, demanding that I capture what they were communicating in an accessible book. Now in its 3rd edition, The Hero Within remains timely and makes a great gift to anyone seeking purpose and meaning, whether they are starting out or in transition.

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Awakening the Hero's Within

The 12-Archetype System began with this book and is the basis for the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®) assessment and many follow-up applied works. It links archetypes to the hero’s journey to offer an accessible, gender-balanced human development theory, updating the work of C.G. Jung, James Hillman, Joseph Campbell, and Erik Erikson to reflect changing attitudes and roles.

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Take the PMAI

This assessment does for Jung’s work on archetypes what the Myers-Briggs does for type. The featured book, What Stories Are You Living?, supports the PMAI instrument by helping you to fully understand your results and use these insights in your life journey. For additional information beyond this site, see the instrumentation website, www.storywell.com.

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Persephone Rising

The heroine in the subtitle refers to women and to the feminine within both men and women. The plot shows how psychological balance is restored through greater gender equity and partnership. Each of the four mythological characters matures with the aid of three of the 12 archetypes, thus providing models for how you might live the three reported in your PMAI results as most active in you.

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