The Numinous Anima Mundi: Healing the Climate Crisis Within: An Interview with Jeffrey Kiehl
At no other point in the history of humanity has ecological survival been so imminently threatened by climate crises. On June 3, Pacifica presents a half-day workshop, entitled Climate, Cosmology & Consciousness: From Chaos to Cosmos of three leading scholars and environmental activists for an emerging and inspired vision of a possible path forward as we shift from crisis to consciousness and chaos to cosmos. Of these, Jeffrey Kiehl will speak on “Climate Chaos and the Soul of the World.” I’m delighted to be speaking with him about his upcoming presentation.
“Our psyche is set up in accord with the structure of the universe, and what happens in the macrocosm likewise happens in the infinitesimal and most subjective reaches of the psyche.” ~ C.G. Jung
Angela: Your workshop will field human-caused climate chaos that has placed life on the planet in a precarious situation. I know you will cover this more in-depth in the workshop, but can you give us some introductory ideas about how Depth Psychology provides a more holistic psychological view of psyche and psyche’s relationship to nature? Or in other words, how we should understand the human role in climate chaos.
Jeffrey: We have reached an unparalleled point in Earth’s 4.8 billion year history, in which a single species, the human species, will determine the future habitability of the planet. We have reached this point in history by living through a cosmology rooted in principles of separation, over-consumption and the desacralization of nature. Depth Psychology challenges each of these destructive principles for it recognizes our universal interconnectedness and it also recognizes the reality of the archetypal reality of wholeness, which when experienced eliminates the inner sense of emptiness leading to over-consumption of the outer world. Furthermore, this archetypal dimension of wholeness re-sacralizes our relationship to nature. Our task now is to dive deep into psyche to create a new cosmology that addresses our seeming separation from all.
Angela: What are the unconscious human processes that have caused such chaos with climate change, and how do you hope we can “weave a tapestry for a new cosmology”?
Jeffrey: A few of the unconscious processes that have contributed to our current state of climate chaos include: defense mechanisms of denial and projection that act as barriers to action on climate chaos; our one-sided emphasis on reductive, rational thinking, which dissects the world into pieces creating collective dissociation; honoring other ways of knowing and relating that include imagination and intuition, in which these other ways of knowing allow us to value the world in new ways; and becoming consciously aware of the shadow dimensions of our technological innovations.
Angela: You speak of the “numinous nature of Anima Mundi, or Soul of the World” as something we can experience once we redefine our relationship to the world. Of course, Pacifica’s mission is “Animae Mundi Colendae Gratia,” or “tending the soul of and in the world,” so it’s something that is on our minds here a lot. What is your vision or hope for a healed human psyche meeting the numinous of the Anima Mundi?
Jeffrey: Innately dwelling within psyche is the religious instinct, which seeks to see the sacred in all aspects of life. Our task is to reconnect with this religious instinct and Depth Psychology provides the needed tools to do just this. Listening to our dreams, developing rituals of imagination, recognizing synchronicities, and working with our projections on others are deep ways of rediscovering living symbols of sacredness. These pathways connect us to soul and to experiencing Anima Mundi.
Angela: Your upcoming workshop will also include Joseph Mitchell talking on the climate crisis through the lens of “A Crisis of Cosmology” and Kathleen Noone Deignan speaking about “A Crisis of Consciousness.” What are you most looking forward to in this workshop and who is welcome to attend?
Jeffrey: I am looking forward to listening to both Joseph and Kathleen concerning cosmology, consciousness, and the climate crisis. Joseph will weave in the teachings of Thomas Berry, who spoke so powerfully about creating a new story for the future. Kathleen will bring the wisdom of Teilhard de Chardin to the conversation. What wonderful weaving material for a new tapestry of consciousness: the threads of Carl Jung, Thomas Berry, and Teilhard de Chardin!
I would encourage all those who care deeply about our planet and the future trajectory of humanity to attend the workshop. I believe the conversations will be very rich and will contribute to the creation of our new cosmology of conscious participation in the cosmos.
Angela: Thank you so much for speaking with me and best of luck with your upcoming workshop. For anyone interested, more information can be found here.
Jeffrey Kiehl, PhD, is a Diplomate Jungian Analyst and senior training analyst for the C.G. Jung Institute of Colorado and the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. He is also an adjunct faculty member of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He was a climate scientist for 40 years and the author of Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future, which provides a Jungian perspective on climate change. Jeffrey has presented on various Jungian topics at national and international conferences.
Angela Borda is a writer for Pacifica Graduate Institute, as well as the editor of the Santa Barbara Literary Journal. Her work has been published in Food & Home, Peregrine, Hurricanes & Swan Songs, Delirium Corridor, Still Arts Quarterly, Danse Macabre, and is forthcoming in The Tertiary Lodger and Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Vol. 5.