Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths….
William Shakespeare, Richard III
It’s a new year, even as the world still seems dreary. In my world, December here in the DC area was colder than usual, and it looks like we are in for a long, cold winter. And, I know I’m not alone in getting antsy and impatient as the pandemic continues to rage, even with the great news about vaccines telling us that its end is in sight if we all just do what is necessary. At the same time, a new administration will be taking over on January 20th, with the hope of bringing the country together, solving our urgent health, economic, and climate crises, and addressing issues around racial justice. However, these cannot be accomplished in a day.
Just as the above quote celebrates the end of a war and the emergence of eros (with the next few lines of the speech shifting from a Warrior to a Lover spirit ), let that be so for our tiresome culture war—even though the speaker of that passage continues to grumble, as do major figures in our time.
I’m also comforted knowing that from ancient times to today, we can learn from Gaia, our earth, and her processes. For thousands of years, the winter solstice has appeared to mark the moment when dark triumphs over the light. And although light begins slowly then to grow, winter cold increases and vegetation appears to die, at least in northern climates. This movement from the Solstice to the Equinox can foster a parallel psychological archetypal process in us. By reinforcing the light within ourselves, we can prepare to help rebuild our society in a transformed way. Recognizing this can help us stay the course and endure this last phase of rejuvenating what in myth might be described as our wasteland kingdom. It is, indeed, in need of healing.
Winter has always asked people to care for one another to ensure mutual survival. The pandemic is doing the same thing for us, and winter+Covid-19= twice the need to learn this lesson. In both, we all remain in danger until we care for ourselves and, paradoxically, show our love for our fellow human beings. With regard to the pandemic, this means wearing our masks, keeping social distance, and staying home as much as is possible, as well as getting vaccinated as soon as it’s our turn. We can view this time as the “winter of our discontent.” Yet, if we emerge from the pandemic able to balance freedom with mutuality, we will go a long way toward realizing the great promises of religions that promote care for one another and my country’s founding dream of “liberty and justice for all.”
In the meantime, I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe 2021.
Forthcoming Book: What Stories Are You Living?
My new book, What Stories Are Your Living? Discover Your Archetypes–Transform Your Life!, will be released around the time of the Equinox—Passover and Easter, coming shortly thereafter, with spring emerging, as always, in its own time. The deeper purpose of the book is to support authentic individual expression so that we give the gifts to the world that only we can. At the same time, this message is balanced by how archetypal narrative intelligence (NQ) can help us better understand one another and respond more ably to the inevitable challenges we face. Please spread the word.
Between now and then, my Facebook posts (Carol S. Pearson, PhD) and Tweets (@carolspearson) will focus on how the 12 archetypes I write about can help us emerge stronger, more confident, and with greater depth as we do our part to restore health and prosperity in our time.
Beginning Thursday, March 11th, I will be offering a four-part course through the Jung Center of Houston entitled “Living Archetypal Stories Wisely to Gain Their Gifts.” I always enjoy returning to Houston to work with my colleagues at the Jung Center, and I’m grateful that digital teaching platforms continue to make this possible.
So many of us today are seeking to express our true selves, even as we struggle to achieve the best outcomes possible in a world in constant flux. The secret to succeeding in this is hidden in the stories you are already living, right now. Becoming conscious of these stories and their archetypal potential—understood in the context of Jungian thought—can lead us to new and healthier ways of contributing to what it means to be their hero or heroine.
If you are interested in utilizing these ideas in your life, and especially if you wish to work with these ideas with others, this class will provide you with great support that is not available elsewhere this spring.
Each course participant will receive an electronic copy of What Stories are You Living?, a code to complete the newly revised PMAI® Instrument, and 8 CE Units. Sessions will be held each Thursday from March 11th to April 1st, from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm Central Time. I hope you can participate.
A variety of resources, including recordings and tapes from workshops and lectures I’ve offered and one of my earlier books, are now available through my website or those of the organizations that sponsored my appearance.
Understanding Ourselves through Story with the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI®): In November I gave this Zoom presentation to a class offered to IBM to employees engaged in social marketing, or otherwise influencing others, by Georgetown University’s John Trybus. John is the director of a certificate in storytelling in social marketing that has really taken off at Georgetown, and it utilizes the PMAI® throughout. My role was to provide some basics on Jung, archetypes, and the creation of the PMAI®. Next to the Zoom presentation you will see a transcription, clearly done automatically, that can provide some chuckles. At one point I’m Carl Pearson, then the PMAI® is the Pearson martyr archetype Indicator. Nevertheless, it is great that they transcribed it, making it easy for you to scan the content if you don’t want to listen to a professorial-type lecture.
Myth Salon: In October, I joined the conversation at the Myth Salon for a discussion of the newly revised version of the PMAI® instrument and the upcoming release of the companion book What Stories Are You Living? This discussion was a deeper dive into the archetypes that are moving in our culture at the present moment, including some of the most recent research in the fields of neuroscience and archetypal psychology. A recording of the session is available on my website.
Mepkin Abbey’s St. Francis Retreat Center: Last August, I offered a Zoom lecture and workshop for the Retreat Center on “Who Am I Now? Elders and Archetypes.” The lecture focused on archetypal patterns and theories of narrative intelligence and moved to a description of how the 12 archetypes of the PMAI® instrument can foster authenticity and wholeness as we engage our spiritual gifts. The workshop helped attendees apply the theory to their own lives. The entire event was taped, and videos may be available from the Retreat Center.
Assisi Institute: Also in August, I participated in a webinar sponsored by the Assisi Institute: International Center for the Study of Archetypal Patterns on the research that grew out writing Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within. This was part of the institute’s Fairytales, Folklore, and Myth webinar series. I particularly enjoyed sharing my rather unorthodox view of the Demeter and Persephone story with those with considerable expertise on the subject. Tapes are available for sale through the Assisi Institute store.
EQ-HR: On a Zoom workshop last July for EQ-HR (as in emotional intelligence meets organizational development), I discussed narrative intelligence (NQ) and explored how understanding the archetypal resonance of our personal mythic characters can change our lives with Dr. Jackie Bahn-Henkelman. Attendees were split between longtime users of the PMAI® instrument and those schooled in emotional intelligence. Tapes are available for sale by contacting EQ-HR.
You can now download Mapping the Organizational Psyche: A Jungian Theory of Organizational Dynamics and Change free of charge. John Corlett and I co-authored this book for leaders, organizational development consultants, executive coaches, and anyone trying to better understand their organization. It partners well with the revised PMAI® instrument for those who want to use the book for team-building purposes, leadership development, or employee assistance. It makes reference to the Organizational and Team Culture Indicator®, which is no longer available to the public because it has been acquired by IBM for use with large and global companies. However, for smaller companies and nonprofits, this book gives you what you need to analyze your organization without requiring an organizational culture assessment to do so. These certainly are times when understanding archetypes in a depth way makes great sense, which is why John and I decided to give the book away so that it would be available to anyone who could benefit. You can download it here.
In the Blogosphere
Shortly before the November 3rd presidential election, I posted a blog entitled “A Conspiracy Theory Vaccine? Making Sense of a Chaotic World.” At the time, it seemed that the world was awash in conspiracy theories, a situation that seems only to have intensified due to the outgoing president’s refusal to accept the results of the election. With a vaccine for the coronavirus now being rolled out, it seems more apt than ever that we consider what might immunize us against the spread of falsehoods and misinformation that plague our nation and the world.
In the blog, I argue that it is important to recognize that people always have sought “order in what appears to be a chaotic world”—often through spiritual traditions and religions that teach that there are divine and/or demonic forces acting in the world, but also through unseen scientific laws and psychological principles. As I note, “My interest in conspiracy theories comes from what they tell us about human psychology, so I approach this topic with a sympathetic mindset.”
I use QAnon as a case study in contemporary conspiracy theories, which “do not share the entire picture all at once, and people keep making up new elements. Part of their appeal is the search, with people going from one social media site to another to find pieces of the puzzle and put it together themselves.” I argue that such conspiracy theories fulfill basic human needs by making people “feel safe and secure because they think they are going to be saved, they have a sense of belonging to this secret in-group, and gain self-esteem from being in the know, while others are not.” Such needs are true not only for those who believe conspiracy theories, but all of us, since, as C.G. Jung observed, each of us has a shadow of the parts of ourselves we repress. We often do this rightly, so that we do not kill, steal, and so on. Most of us repress those qualities that we do not approve of or have been told are shameful. However, this also is where weird beliefs can spring from, because it is where we are unconscious and what we then project onto others.
In the end, I offer four steps we can take to vaccinate ourselves against conspiracy thinking. To learn those four steps, you’ll have to read the blog.
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 blogsite 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 blogsite 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