An educational seminar–weekend retreat 5–7 April 2019
The Country Place, Kalorama, Dandenong Ranges
Presented by Dr Glen Slater and Dr Safron Rossi
What returns a sense of soul to the world? This seminar–retreat weekend in early April 2019 will engage this question, exploring perspectives and ideas that revitalize the connection between inner life, the patterns of the earth and the rhythms of the universe. The weekend is for anyone drawn to the nexus of personal development and planetary wellbeing. Through a mix of lectures, conversations, experiential exercises and time to reflect and linger, we will engage a range of topics that illuminate the bonds of psyche and nature.
From the Pacifica Graduate Institute (Santa Barbara), Drs Slater and Rossi are internationally renowned for their expertise as teachers and scholars of depth psychology and mythology. Both have worked closely with James Hillman, the founder of archetypal psychology. Through use of film clips, discussion of contemporary events and writing exercises, we will learn to listen to the language of the psyche, and to apply this mode of perception to the events and significances that impact our lives, work and ways of being in the world with nature.
We will consider the implications of living in a co-creative era, wherein the integrity of the Earth now depends on human consciousness. We will cultivate awareness of how our psychological nature is mirrored in landscapes and night skies, the way seasonal and elemental themes shape self-understanding, and where our impulses and insecurities meet technological trends. Throughout our focus will be on how individual purpose takes on universal significance.
If you are concerned with Nature in either its inner or outer expressions, this retreat will provide means to rethink and reimagine the way mind and matter meet. The fields of depth psychology, ecopsychology, mythology and cosmology will provide us with maps of exploration and paths of inspiration.
Books by Dr Glen Slater
James Hillman and Glen Slater (Ed.) (2005). Senex and Puer. Uniform Edition Vol. 3. Putnam, CT: Spring Publications.
Patrick Slattery and Glen Slater (Eds.) (2008). Varieties of Mythic Experience: Essays on Religion, Psyche and Culture. Einsiedeln, CH: Daimon Verlag; Carpinteria, CA: Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Books by Dr Safron Rossi
Safron Rossi and Keiron Le Grice (Eds.) (2017). CG Jung: Jung on Astrology. London, UK: Routledge.
Joseph Campbell and Safron Rossi (Ed.) (2013). Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Selected Overviews and Book Reviews of titles on the weekend retreat Reading List:
Roszak, Theodore, Gomes, Mary E. and Kanner, Allen D., Eds. Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1995.
Summary - Trove: Ecopsychology represents an attempt to find ecology within the context of human psychology and, in turn, to find human psychology in the context of ecology. The feelings of isolation and dysfunction that are so pervasive today have at their root a denial of our essential connection to nature and the non-human world. To heal, we must find our way back home.
Subjects - Trove: Environmental psychology; Environmentalism -- Psychological aspects; Nature -- Psychological aspects; Environmental movement -- Psychological aspects.
Contents - Trove
Ecopsychology and the Environmental Revolution: An Environmental Foreword / Lester R. Brown
A Psyche the Size of the Earth: A Psychological Foreword / James Hillman
Where Psyche Meets Gaia / Theodore Roszak
One: Theoretical Perspectives
- Nature and Madness / Paul Shepard
- Technology, Trauma, and the Wild / Chellis Glendinning
- The Psychopathology of the Human-Nature Relationship / Ralph Metzner
- Are We Happy Yet? / Alan Thein Durning
- The All-Consuming Self / Allen D. Kanner and Mary E. Gomes
- Jungian Psychology and the World Unconscious / Stephen Aizenstat
- The Ecopsychology of Child Development / Anita Barrows
- The Rape of the Well-Maidens: Feminist Psychology and the Environmental Crisis / Mary E. Gomes and Allen D. Kanner
- The Wilderness Effect and Ecopsychology / Robert Greenway
- The Ecology of Grief / Phyllis Windle
Two: Ecopsychology in Practice
- Therapy for a Dying Planet / Terrance O'Connor
- When the Earth Hurts, Who Responds? / Sarah A. Conn
- Shamanic Counseling and Ecopsychology / Leslie Gray.
- The Way of Wilderness / Steven Harper
- The Skill of Ecological Perception / Laura Sewall
- Ecological Groundedness in Gestalt Therapy / William Cahalan
- Restoring Habitats, Communities, and Souls / Elan Shapiro
- Working Through Environmental Despair / Joanna Macy
Three: Cultural Diversity and Political Engagement
- Ecopsychology and the Deconstruction of Whiteness / Carl Anthony
- The Politics of Species Arrogance / John E. Mack
- The Spirit of the Goddess / Betty Roszak
- The Ecology of Magic / David Abram
- Keepers of the Earth / Jeannette Armstrong
Amazon: This pathfinding collection has become a seminal text for the burgeoning ecopsychology movement, which has brought key new insights to environmentalism and revolutionized modern psychology. Its writers show how the health of the planet is inextricably linked to the psychological health of humanity, individually and collectively. Contributors to this volume include the premier psychotherapists, thinkers, and eco-activists working in this field. James Hillman, the world-renowned Jungian analyst, identifies as the “one core issue for all psychology” the nature and limits of human identity, and relates this to the condition of the planet. Earth Island Institute head Carl Anthony argues for “a genuinely multicultural self and a global civil society without racism” as fundamental to human and earthly well-being. And Buddhist writer and therapist Joanna Macy speaks of the need to open up our feelings for our threatened planet as an antidote to environmental despair.
“Is it possible,” asks co-editor Theodore Roszak, “that the planetary and the personal are pointing the way forward to some new basis for a sustainable economic and emotional life?” Ecopsychology in practice has begun to affirm this, aided by these definitive writings.
Pan Society Oct. 22, 2006: This collection of 26 essays by leaders in the new field of ecopsychology is in three parts: (1) Theoretical Perspectives, (2) Ecopsychology in Practice, and (3) Cultural Diversity and Political Engagement. While the topics covered are numerous and eclectic, and the collection of writers diverse, it seems that the whole book is geared toward reaching the final third. That is to say, the intent of the book is intensely political, in the sense of using ecopsychology to contribute to protection of the Earth. The writers featured include such luminaries as Theodore Roszak, Lester Brown, Paul Shepard, Joanna Macy, David Abram, and our own Universal Pantheist Society board member William Cahalan. Some are environmentalists, but perhaps most of the authors are clinical psychologists.
One essay that stood out as being important to Pantheists was "The Ecology of Grief" by Phyllis Windle. Windle points out here that mourning is a psychological necessity to recover from grief. Just as funerals provide support and guide the needed reorganization of life, so ritual expression of mourning is important to the lovers of the land and life. Windle suggests that ecologists and others perform rituals to cope with the loss of species and natural places.
Also on the subject of grief, Joanna Macy's essay "Working Through Environmental Despair" argues that just as grief work helps bereaved persons unblock their energies by acknowledging and grieving the loss of a loved one, so do we all need to unblock our feelings about our threatened planet. Macy observes that by knowing about the interconnected-ness of life and all other beings, knowing that "our lives extend beyond our skins, in radical interdependence with the rest of the world," not only may bring us pain, but also power: "Through the systemic currents of knowing that interweave our world, each of us can be the catalyst or 'tipping point' by which new forms of behavior can spread."
The closest approximation to any pantheist philosophy in the book may be in Laura Sewall's "The Skill of Ecological Perception" and John Mack's "The Politics of Species Arrogance." Sewall, a perceptual psychologist, argues that only by reawakening our senses can we renew our bond with the Earth. By understanding the ecological self, in which the division between inner and outer worlds becomes an arbitrary and historical distinction, we can manifest empathy and identity with family, friend, lover, community, humanity, and the nonhuman world.
Similarly, John Mack deals with the prevailing attitude of Western and industrialized nations that the Earth is "a thing, a big thing, an object to be owned, mined, fenced, stripped, built upon, dammed, plowed, burned, blasted, bulldozed, and melted to serve the material needs and desire of the human species," an attitude which contrasts sharply with the "pragmatic, live-and-let-live, and reverential relationship with nature" common to indigenous leaders, who "recognize our complete interdependence with the Earth and the need to live in balance and harmony with nature." Mack calls for more than individual efforts to reanimate our connection with the Earth, contending that we need "a psychology of the environment that addresses powerful institutional, structural, and systemic realities."
Plotkin, Bill. Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Summary - Trove: Written for people in search of their true selves--in particular those on the verge of adulthood and those at a major crossroads such as divorce or career change. Soulcraft provides a means of personal growth and self-empowerment. Exercises and insightful stories explain how to discover one's unique gift, or "soul purpose," to be shared with others. Drawing on ancient traditions, this vision quest serves as a modern rite of initiation.
Subjects - Trove: Self-actualization (Psychology); Soul - Psychological aspects; Vision quests
Contents - Trove:
Prologue: Weaving a Cocoon
Introduction: A Trail Guide to Soul
Part One: Severance
Chapter 1: Carrying What Is Hidden as a Gift to Others
Chapter 2: Groundwork: A Briefing for the Descent to Soul
- Spirit and Soul: Transpersonal Ascent and Descent
- The Collective Human Soul and the Human Archetypes
- Three Realms of Human Development: Ego Growth, Soul Embodiment, and Spirit Realization
- The Ego
- A Vision with a Task
- Soul: Your Place in the More-Than-Human World of Nature
- The Experience of Soul Loss
Chapter 3: Sinking Back into the Source of Everything: The Call to Adventure
- Prologue to the Descent
- Leaving Your Summer House
- The Knock on the Door
- Going through the Door: Identifying and Responding to the Call
- The Herald
Chapter 4: The Wanderer and the Second Cocoon
- The Wanderer
- The Second Cocoon
- Striding Deeper into the World
- What the Butterfly Knows
Chapter 5: The Darkness Shall Be the Light: Practices for Leaving Home
- Honing the Skills of Self-Reliance
- The Survival Dance and the Sacred Dance
- Relinquishing Attachment to Your Former Identity
- Completing Unfinished Business from Earlier Life Stages
- Giving Up Addictions
- Welcoming Home the Loyal Soldier
- Healing Work with the Sacred Wound
- Learning to Choose Authenticity over Social Acceptance
- Making Peace with the Past: The Death Lodge
- Learning the Art of Disidentification through Meditation
Part Two: Pathways to Soul Encounter
Chapter 6: Recovering the Truth You Were Born With
- The Wanderer's Bag of Tools
- A Sampling of Pathways
- Soul Encounter versus Soul Initiation
- Soulcraft Teachers
Chapter 7: Inner Work
- Soulcentric Dreamwork
- Deep Imagery
Chapter 8: Communing with the Others
- Council Work
- Sacred Speech and Silence
- Trance Drumming and Rhythms
- Ecstatic Trance Dancing
- Ceremonial Sweats and Saunas
- Talking across the Species Boundaries: Dialogues with Nature
- Signs and Omens in Nature
- Animal Tracking and Other Methods of Skillful Nature Observation
Chapter 9: Bridging Inner and Outer
- Self-Designed Ceremony
- Traditional Ceremonies, Rituals, and Nature Festivals
- Symbolic Artwork
- Journal Work
- The Discovery, Creation, and Use of Symbols and Sacred Objects
- The Use of Hallucinogens within Soulcraft Ceremonies
- Stories and Storytelling
- Myths and Other Sacred Stories
- Personal Myth Work
- Telling the Stories of Your Life
- Sensitive Listening and Mirroring
- Soul Poetry, Music, Chanting, and the Bardic Tradition
- Body Practices for Altering Consciousness
Chapter 10: The Vision Quest and Soulcentric Ritual
- Circles of Stone
- The Visionary Encounter: Inner or Outer?
- Visionary Experience and Paradox
- Interplay between the Senses, Emotions, and Imagination
- Ego Destructuring, Lamenting, and Wilderness
- Exposure to Wilderness
- The Power of Soulcentric Ritual
Part Three: The Return
Chapter 11: Cultivating a Soulful Relationship to Life: Part 1
- The Art of Solitude
- Nature as Mirror
- Wandering in Nature
- The Art of Being Lost
- Befriending the Dark
- Living the Questions of Soul
Chapter 12: Cultivating a Soulful Relationship to Life: Part 2
- Confronting Your Own Death
- The Art of Shadow Work
- Withdrawing Projections
- The Art of Soulful Romance
- Mindfulness Practice
- Developing a Personal Relationship with Spirit
Chapter 13: Living As If Your Place in the World Mattered
- Soul Initiation: Embracing Your One Wild and Precious Life
- A Sensuous Connection with Mysterious Images
- Wrapped in Sacred Cloth
- The Mystery and Difficulties of Coming to Know the Soul
- A Storm Is Coming: Unavoidable Trauma on the Way to Soul Encounter
- Demons and Guides
- Your Journey into the Wild
- The Conversation: Living Your Soul Gifts
- Hazardous Journeys: Polar Expeditions, War, and Soul Initiation
- Soul Story, World Story
Amazon: Since 1980, depth psychologist Bill Plotkin has been guiding women and men into the wildernessthe redrock canyons and snow-crested mountains of the American Westbut also into the wilds of the soul. He calls this worksoulcraft.
There's a great longing in all people to uncover the secrets and mysteries of our individual lives, to find the unique gift we were born to bring to our communities, and to experience our full membership in the more-than-human world. This journey to soul is a descent into layers of the self much deeper than personality, a journey meant for each one of us, not just for the heroes and heroines of mythology.
A modern handbook for the journey, Soulcraft is not an imitation of indigenous ways, but a contemporary nature-based approach born from wilderness experience, the traditions of Western culture, and the cross-cultural heritage of all humanity. Filled with stories, poems, and guidelines, Soulcraft introduces over 40 practices that facilitate the descent to soul, including dreamwork, wilderness vision fasts, talking across the species boundaries, council, self-designed ceremony, nature-based shadow work, and the arts of romance, being lost, storytelling, and soul-infused poetry.
Goodreads: For millennia, ceremonies and initiation rites have helped societies survive and thrive by marking life transitions. In contemporary America, except for bar mitzvahs, graduations, and weddings, these rituals are conspicuous by their absence. Written for people in search of their true selves -- particularly those on the verge of adulthood and those at a major crossroads such as divorce or carrier change -- "Soulcraft restores the ritual to its rightful place as a crucial part of personal growth and self-employment. Exercises and insightful stories explain how to discover one's unique gift, or "soul purpose," to be shared with others through a ceremonial event. Drawing on ancient traditions, this vision quest serves as a modern rite of initiation.
Neale, Margot, Ed. Songlines – Tracking the Seven Sisters. Canberra, ACT: National Museum of Australia Press, 2017.
Summary - Trove: This stunning companion to the National Museum of Australia's blockbuster Indigenous-led exhibition, Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters, explores the history and meaning of songlines, the Dreaming or creation tracks that crisscross the Australian continent, of which the Seven Sisters songline is one of the most extensive. Through stunning artworks (many created especially for the exhibition), story, and in-depth analysis, the book will provide the definitive resource for those interested in finding out more about these complex pathways of spiritual, ecological, economic, cultural, and ontological knowledge - the stories 'written in the land'.
Subjects - Trove: Mythology, Aboriginal Australian -- Northern Territory.; Mythology, Aboriginal Australian -- South Australia; Mythology, Aboriginal Australian -- Western Australia; Dreamtime (Aboriginal Australian mythology); Mythology, Aboriginal Australian; Mythology, Aboriginal Australian -- Australia -- Northern Territory; Art, Aboriginal Australian -- Exhibitions; Dreamtime (Aboriginal Australian mythology) -- Exhibitions; Mythology, Aboriginal Australian -- Exhibitions.
Published to accompany the exhibition Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters, National Museum of Australia, from 15 September 2017 to 28 February 2018. Songlines took visitors on a journey across the Australian desert in an Aboriginal-led exhibition about the epic Seven Sisters Dreaming . The exhibition included stunning artworks, a state-of-the-art digital dome and a vibrant art centre (NMA, Canberra).
Malouf, David. An Imaginary Life. New York: Vintage Books, 1978. (Novel - historical fiction; Latin poets; exiles; nature)
Summary - Trove: The Roman poet Ovid, exiled to a remote village on the edge of the Black Sea, tells the story of his meeting with a feral boy, brought up among wild animals in the snow. It is a luminous encounter between civilization and nature. "In the first century A.D., Publius Ovidius Naso, the most urbane and irreverent poet of imperial Rome, was banished to a remote village on the edge of the Black Sea. From these sparse facts, one of our most distinguished novelists has fashioned an audacious and supremely moving work of fiction." .. "Marooned on the edge of the known world, exiled from his native tongue, Ovid depends on the kindness of barbarians who impale their dead and converse with the spirit world. But then he becomes the guardian of a still more savage creature, a feral child who has grown up among deer. What ensues is a luminous encounter between civilization and nature, as enacted by a poet who once cataloged the treacheries of love and a boy who slowly learns how to give it." (book jacket)
Jung, Carl G. The Earth has a Soul: Nature Writings of C.G. Jung. Edited by Meredith Sabini. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2002.
Summary - Trove: While never losing sight of the rational, cultured mind, Jung speaks for the natural mind, source of the evolutionary experience and accumulated wisdom of our species. Through his own example, Jung shows how healing our own living connection with Nature contributes to the whole.
Topics - Trove: Jung, C. G. (Carl Gustav), 1875-1961; Jungian psychology.; Nature -- Psychological aspects.
Contents - Trove:
Foreword / Joseph Henderson
Preface / Meredith Sabini
Ch. 1. Jung's Own Relationship with Nature
- Excerpts from Memories, Dreams, Reflections
- On Being at the Tower at Bollingen
- Jung's Travels: Letters to Emma Jung
- Jung's Travels: Taos, New Mexico, 1925
- Jung's Travels: Kenya and Uganda, 1925-26
Ch. 2. Consciousness Slipped from Its Natural Foundation
Ch. 3. Nature Was Once Fully Spirit and Matter
Ch. 4. The Primitive Knows How to Converse with the Soul
- Archaic Man
Ch. 5. We Have Conquered Nature Is a Mere Slogan
- Marginalia on Contemporary Events
Ch. 6. Our Civilizing Potential Has Led Us Down the Wrong Path
- The Transformation of Dragons into Machines
- Americans Must Say No
- The Effect of Technology on the Human Psyche
- Man and His Environment
Ch. 7. We Know Nothing of Man
- The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man.
Ch. 8. Nature Must Not Win but Cannot Lose
- The Rainmaker Story
ABOUT THE EARTH HAS A SOUL
While never losing sight of the rational, cultured mind, Jung speaks for the natural mind, source of the evolutionary experience and accumulated wisdom of our species. Through his own example, Jung shows how healing our own living connection with Nature contributes to the whole.
"In the excellent choices of Jung’s writings presented here, he shows us what we have lost and how we might find it again." — Joseph L. Henderson, M.D.
Goodreads: Richard Reese — 'Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was born in Kesswil, Switzerland, a wee lakeside hamlet that had changed little since the Middle Ages. His rustic upbringing gave him the gift of intimate contact with the natural world, a profound source of meaning for him: “Every stone, every plant, every single thing seemed alive and indescribably marvelous.” Like his mother, Jung had the ability to access his archaic mind. He had an old soul that was intimately connected with all living creatures, and to the world of dreams. This gave him the unusual ability to observe people and events with extreme clarity, as they truly were.
From the sweet pinnacle of a tranquil, wholesome childhood, the rest of his life was a stunning downhill plunge, as the civilized world fell into ever-growing chaos and catastrophe — rapid industrialization, urbanization, population explosion, two world wars, mustard gas, atomic bombs, holocaust, the rise and fall of Hitler and Stalin. It was an excellent time to become a famous psychiatrist, because this new reality was a steaming cauldron of intense insanity.
Jung provided the world with a new model for understanding the mind. For almost the entire human journey, we had obeyed the laws of nature, like all other animals did. But with the emergence of domestication and civilization, we began violating the laws of life, snatching away some of nature’s power — power that did not belong to us. This cosmic offense created a break that shifted us onto a path of suffering. The gods are now punishing us for our immature and disrespectful impulses.
Jung left behind a huge body of writings, most of which are of little interest to general readers. Meredith Sabini heroically combed through the mountain of words, extracted passages about our relationship with nature, and published them as The Earth Has a Soul. It stitched together snippets from many sources, from different phases of his life, so it’s not as flowing and focused as a discourse written from scratch, but it’s an important collection of provocative ideas.
In recent decades, thinkers have tried to explain why the roots of the Earth Crisis emerged several thousand years ago. Most have diagnosed the root of today’s problems as rapid, out-of-control cultural evolution — our skills at learning, communication, and tool making evolved far more quickly than our genes did, and this pushed us dangerously out of balance.
Jung would agree with this theory, but his perception of the problem was far more complex. For almost our entire journey, humankind was guided by instinct, a form of intelligence that was magnificently refined by millions of years of continuous improvement. Like other animals, we lacked self-awareness, or consciousness. Like other animals, we could think and strategize, but we remained unconscious, and perfectly functional.
Jung thought that consciousness became apparent in civilized cultures maybe 4,000 years ago, and it has been increasing ever since. The expansion of consciousness went into warp drive when the era of modern scientific thinking arrived, and we plunged into an industrial way of life.
In remote, isolated locations, there are still a few “primitive” cultures which remain largely unconscious, guided by their normal instinctive intelligence. They do not engage in abstract thinking. They do not destroy their ecosystem. They continue to obey nature’s laws. But they are being driven into extinction by you-know-who.
Our conscious mind was new, infantile, incomplete, unstable, and easily injured. Jung saw it as a tiny boat floating in a vast ocean of unconscious knowledge. Like a fish out of water, we were separated from our ancient oceanic home, an unpleasant traumatic shock. In the good old days, we lived in an enchanted world where everything was sacred. But science and technology have dragged us away into a miserable manmade world where nothing is holy, and everyone is restless, anxious, and neurotic.
Consciousness was an extremely powerful two-edged sword, equal parts blessing and curse: “Unfortunately, there is in this world no good thing that does not have to be paid for by an evil at least equally great. People still do not know that the greatest step forward is balanced by an equally great step back.”
On the shore of Lake Zurich, Jung built a summer retreat out of rugged cut stones, a sacred refuge for solitude and contemplation. He cooked on a wood fire, raised food in his garden, and drew water from a well. There was no phone or electricity, because the technology of modernity was certain to frighten away the souls of his ancestors.
Primitive people were “hellishly afraid of anything new” because they feared “unknown powers and indefinite dangers.” This was just as true for modern folks, even if we pretended otherwise. “Nevertheless, we have plunged down a cataract of progress which sweeps us on into the future with even wilder violence the farther it takes us from our roots.” In 1912 he wrote that America “does not understand that it is facing its most tragic moment: a moment in which it must make a choice to master its machines or to be devoured by them.”
Jung had an intense dislike for modernity. A city dweller was reduced to a tiny, insignificant ant. Humankind was moving toward insectification. Overpopulation was destroying everything. Growing crowds multiplied the stupidity level, whilst sharply decreasing our intelligence and morality. Crowds were incubators for psychic epidemics, which were far more destructive than natural disasters. Excited mobs often created explosions of madness that nothing could stop. “The most dangerous things in the world are immense accumulations of human beings who are manipulated by only a few heads.”
In his psychiatric work, Jung helped patients heal by encouraging them to seek guidance from their dreams. Our unconscious has all the answers we need, but we usually avoid looking there, because we are afraid of it. We overload our lives with distractions to discourage reflection, and to hide from our darkness. We live at a rapid pace, and never leave a moment for looking inward.
Tragically, Jung never came to know a real live hunter-gatherer. He never spent a year or three with the Pygmies or Bushmen, people who lived in the traditional human manner, and lived quite well. If he had, his thinking would certainly have taken quite a different path — and very likely a far more powerful one.
He did take several brief expeditions to New Mexico, Africa, and India, to spend a little time with people who were neither Christian nor European. Contact with these miserable “primitive” people gave him feelings of superiority, because they seemed to be neurotic, “tormented by superstitions, fears, and compulsions.” But they also scared him. He once left Africa because of a powerful dream. He worried that he was in danger of “going black under the skin.” Did he come frighteningly close to breaking free from his civilized cage?
For Jung, returning to simple, primitive, sustainable living was not a possible solution. “The wheel of time cannot be turned back. Things can, however, be destroyed and renewed. This is extremely dangerous, but the signs of our time are dangerous too. If there was ever a truly apocalyptic era, it is ours.” He believed that salvation could be found by training the conscious mind to receive guidance from the unconscious realm, the world of dreams.
His recommendations for healing included: getting closer to nature, living in small communities (not cities), working less, engaging in reflection in quiet solitude, reconnecting with our past, avoiding distractions (newspapers, television, radio, gramophones), paying serious attention to our dreams, and simplifying our lifestyles.
In 1961, the year he died, Jung wrote: “Civilization is a most expensive process and its acquisitions have been paid for by enormous losses, the extent of which we have largely forgotten or have never appreciated.” In his final days in 1961, Jung had visions of massive catastrophes striking in 50 years.' — Richard Reese - Review in Goodreads
Sustainability and Spirituality — Felicia Chavez, August 2012: This book, The Earth Has a Soul, is a beautiful compilation of a wide variety of Jung’s writings that touch on–as the title says–“Nature, Technology and Modern Life.” But it’s more than that: it’s a seer’s insight into the psyche of a species in trouble.
The editor, Meredith Sabini, sums up a major point: “In order to develop consciousness, we had to separate from the instinctive base of human nature; however, Jung believed the separation had gone too far…” (p 67). Unfortunately, while the separation from nature has “gone too far,” the level of consciousness remains severely limited.
Jung himself lived in a time when European society was making a dramatic shift from rural to urban life (1875 – 1961), and he lived through both world wars. In addition, his personal experiences mining the depth of his own being, along with his life-long studies of human consciousness as a doctor, lent him a perspective on human nature unparalleled in the history of psychology.
Jung’s perspective on the human interaction with nature – or rather, the nature in humanity – was often poetic as well as empirical. His comment here speaks here of what we today call “biomimicry”:
“For instance, the glowworm represents the secret of making light without warmth; man doesn’t know how to produce 98 percent of light with no loss of warmth, but the glowworm has the secret. If the glowworm could be transformed into a being who knew that he possessed the secret of making light without warmth, that would be a man with an insight and knowledge much greater than we have reached…” (p 84)
His statements often tread the ground between commonly accepted, materialistic language, and referring to supernatural experiences and phenomena as real. However, his genius comes through most clearly when he illuminates points beyond a dualistic perspective entirely.
“It remained for modern science to despiritualize nature through its so-called objective knowledge of matter. All anthropomorphic projections were withdrawn from the object one after another, with a twofold result: firstly man’s mystical identity with nature was curtailed as never before, and secondly the projections falling back into the human soul caused such a terrific activation of the unconscious that in modern times man was compelled to postulate the existence of an unconscious psyche.” (p 86)
The sad result is, “Modern man does not understand how much his ‘rationalism’ (which has destroyed his capacity to respond to numinous symbols and ideas) has put him at the mercy of the psychic ‘underworld'” (p 97). Moreover, we re-encounter the ‘underworld’ in other people: “Projection is one of the commonest psychic phenomena…Everything that is unconscious in ourselves we discover in our neighbor, and we treat him accordingly” (p 111).
The results are plain and frequently family and friends–as well as one’s self–lament about battles with forces that simply don’t conform to our “conscious” expectations.
“He is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by powers beyond his control. The gods and demons have not disappeared at all, they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, an invincible need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, dietary and other hygienic systems–and above all, with an impressive array of neurosis.” (p 127)
This is all quite depressing, but in light of recent (not to mention, historic) occurrences, I truly believe it is of utmost importance to look directly at the reality of human neurosis; one’s own, and mass neurosis. That does not mean wallowing and cynicism, but rather, opening our eyes and choosing to behold the truth, or as close as we can get. The crux of non-sustainability is sighing and looking away, doing our best to block out the haunting memory. In that spirit, let’s go one step further down.
First, Jung highlights the mechanism at work, saying, “Even when we have corrected an illusion, it by no means follows that the psychic agency which produces illusions, and actually needs them, has been abolished” (p 130). He speaks of “psychic agency,” which at times can manifest as a demon in the woods behind your house, or something far worse.
“The fantastic, mythological world of the Middle Ages has, thanks to our so-called enlightenment, simply changed its place. It is no longer incubi, succubi, wood-nymphs, melusines and the rest that terrify and tease mankind; man himself has taken over their role without knowing it and does the devilish work of destruction with far more effective tools than the spirits did.” (p 131)
This is the part in the article when we should expect that “ray of hope”; those uplifting words that shed light on possible solutions to the psychological maze. As perhaps expected, the ray of hope is what we often refer to as “return to nature.” That does not mean a backward slide in consciousness, but rather an embrace necessary to sustain life.
“We all need nourishment for our psyche. It is impossible to find such nourishment in urban tenements without a patch of green or a blossoming tree. We need a relationship with nature. I am just a culture-coolie myself, but I derive a great deal of pleasure from growing my own potatoes.” (p 155)
I can say from personal experience that here Jung is at least partially referring to a quite tangible experience of one’s own life force being nourished by the life force of plants, animals and the planet. It’s something that we all intuit, as evidenced by the growing numbers of people populating favorite hiking spots, for example. But it can also be clearly and immediately felt at a conscious level, and with a minimum of stillness and silence. The challenge is that nature’s ability to recharge and sustain us is reliant on our willingness to make way for her: less pavement and pollution, more trees in cities and clean energy sources.
As Jung summaries, “Real improvement can be hoped for only if there is a radical change of consciousness,” (p 160) and in other writings he explains his perspective that humanity is in a rather early stage in the evolution of consciousness. He emphasizes the utmost importance of individuality, “individuation,” as opposed to the “standardized milieu” (p 155). This in part means the direct look at one’s own neurosis, as mentioned above, so as to avoid–or at least learn from–the demons rising from the depths, or projecting the monsters onto “them.”
Truly, I would be happy to post dozens more quotes from this exquisite compilation, but I am happy to leave some discoveries–perhaps the major ones–to future readers. — Felicia Chavez, August 2012 - Review in Sustainability and Spirituality
Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.
Summary - Trove: An accomplished sleight-of-hand magician as well as a gifted philosopher, David Abram has lived and traded magic with indigenous sorcerers on several continents. Starting from the intimate relation between these traditional magicians and the animals, plants, and natural elements that surround them, The Spell of the Sensuous draws us into a remarkable series of investigations regarding the fluid, participatory nature of perception, and the reciprocity between our senses and the sensuous earth. The book unfolds into an exploration of language, and of the power our words have to enhance or to stifle the spontaneous life of the senses. Contrasting the spoken stories of diverse indigenous oral cultures with ways of speaking common to literate civilization, The Spell of the Sensuous reveals the profound impact that writing (and the alphabet) has had upon the human experiences of time, of space, of earthly place.
Animal tracks, word magic, the speech of stones, the power of letters, and the taste of the wind all figure prominently in this intellectual tour de force that returns us to our senses and to the sensuous terrain that sustains us. This is a major work of ecological philosophy that startles the senses out of habitual ways of perception.
In this book, the author draws on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Balinese shamanism, Apache storytelling, and his own experience as an accomplished sleight-of-hand magician to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the natural environment. He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which — even at its most abstract — echoes the calls and cries of the earth.
Subjects - Trove: Environmental philosophy; Nature -- Effect of human beings on; Human beings -- Effect of environment on; Human body (Philosophy); Human ecology; Perception (Philosophy); Philosophy of nature; Sense (Philosophy); PHILOSOPHY -- Movements -- Humanism; Body, Human (Philosophy); Human ecology; Philosophy of nature
Contents - Trove:
Ch 1. The Ecology of Magic: A Personal Introduction to the Inquiry
Ch 2. Philosophy on the Way to Ecology: A Technical Introduction to the Inquiry
Ch 3. The Flesh of Language
Ch 4. Animism and the Alphabet
Ch 5. In the Landscape of Language
Ch 6. Time, Space, and the Eclipse of the Earth
Ch 7. The Forgetting and Remembering of the Air
Coda: Turning Inside Out.
"Long awaited, revolutionary...This book ponders the violent disconnection of the body from the natural world and what this means about how we live and die in it." -- Los Angeles Times
Penguin Random House: Winner of the International Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction
Animal tracks, word magic, the speech of stones, the power of letters, and the taste of the wind all figure prominently in this intellectual tour de force that returns us to our senses and to the sensuous terrain that sustains us. This major work of ecological philosophy startles the senses out of habitual ways of perception.
For a thousand generations, human beings viewed themselves as part of the wider community of nature, and they carried on active relationships not only with other people with other animals, plants, and natural objects (including mountains, rivers, winds, and weather patters) that we have only lately come to think of as “inanimate.” How, then, did humans come to sever their ancient reciprocity with the natural world? What will it take for us to recover a sustaining relation with the breathing earth?
In The Spell of the Sensuous David Abram draws on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Balinese shamanism, Apache storytelling, and his own experience as an accomplished sleight-of-hand of magician to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the natural environment. He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which – even at its most abstract – echoes the calls and cries of the earth. On every page of this lyrical work, Abram weaves his arguments with a passion, a precision, and an intellectual daring that recall such writers as Loren Eisleley, Annie Dillard, and Barry Lopez.
Goodreads: David Abram (born June 24, 1957) is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. He is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, published in 2010 and of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, for which he received, among other awards, the international Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. Abram is founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE); his essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared often in such journals as Orion, Environmental Ethics, Parabola, Tikkun, and The Ecologist, as well as in numerous anthologies.