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Tending the Tree: An archetypal image of renewal and transformation

  • Habitat Uniting Church 2 Mont Albert Rd (corner of Burke Rd) Canterbury, VIC, 3126 Australia (map)
All theory, my friend, is grey, But green life’s golden tree.
— Faust I
Tree at Heronswood.JPG

The Tree is one of humankind’s most universal symbols, a preeminent symbol of growth, renewal, and transformation.  In an important essay Jung explained how the process of psychological development which he called individuation was designated ‘The Philosophical Tree’, a poetic comparison that draws an apt analogy between the natural growth of the psyche and that of a plant.  “If a mandala may be described as a symbol of the Self in cross-section, then the tree would represent a profile view of it: the Self depicted as a process of growth,” observed Jung.  The philosopher’s tree or tree of wisdom was to be sought inside: for a transformation of consciousness to take place, one had to seek and know this inner tree. Jung observed that the tree also holds particular resonance for women as a symbol of the Self.

This presentation, including rich visual images, will highlight the tree’s appearance in Jung’s writing and practice, and in religious traditions, myth, ritual, legend, alchemy, shamanic initiation, aboriginal lore, sacred literature, art and poetry, as well as in the dreams and visions of ancient and contemporary seekers and seers.  Following the centenary of the end of World War I, we will explore the Australian tradition of planting memorial Avenues of Honour, where the living symbol of the tree mediated a collective rite of passage for a nation undergoing a transition of identity, or ‘living between myths’. The implications of this simple, eloquent and ecological ritual of arboreal remembrance resound today, demonstrating how this archetypal symbol of resilience and rebirth continues to speak to individuals across faiths and cultures.


Dr Suzanne Cremen is founder of the Life Artistry Centre for Archetype, Imagination and Vocation, where she develops and teaches graduate level courses on depth psychology, calling and career development.  An experienced scholar-practitioner with an extensive occupational background, Suzanne’s degrees include two Masters degrees (in Jungian and Archetypal Studies, and in Engaged Humanities with an emphasis in Mythology) from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, where she serves as the only Australian-based faculty member.  With a background in law, Suzanne is admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia.  A past President of the Queensland Jung Society, she has presented plenary sessions and chaired symposia on the applications of archetypal psychology at major international conferences, including in New York and Québec.  Dr Cremen’s PhD research is published in international peer-reviewed scholarly journals.  Throughout her life, she has always loved and been deeply nurtured by the company of trees.

Hosted by the C G Jung Society of Melbourne Inc.
$20 or $10 concession at door. Jung Society members free.