The Soul Stands Ajar: Aesthetic Encounters as Portals to Wonder & Meaning

Posted by Melissa Ruisz Nazario on Nov 26, 2018 3:18:33 PM

A guest blog post by Mary A. Wood, Ph.D., co-Chair of the M.A. Program in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life at Pacifica Graduate Institute

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” —Emily Dickinson

There are moments in life when time seems to stand still—moments when we find ourselves transfixed, and eventually transformed. These moments can be cosmic in scale, as reflected in the awe that we feel when beholding a rare solar eclipse, or an approaching storm. These moments may also be quite intimate, but no less moving, such as when we witness an animal emerging from hiding or when we hear an exquisite song. We recognize, and always remember these moments because they are announced by bodily sensations; we gasp, our hearts beat faster, and tears often flow.  Our bodies tell us that the ordinary has given way to the extraordinary.  These experiences are best described as “aesthetic,” as we find ourselves living, at least for a few moments, as creatures that are gloriously and achingly alive.

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Posted in: Psychology, depth psychology, archetypes, Spiritual, mythological, soul, transformative, The Psyche, symbolism, sacred, humanities, symbol, art, C.G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, James Hillman

Gratitude and the Path to Wholeness

Posted by Melissa Ruisz Nazario on Nov 22, 2018 7:05:50 AM

A blog post by Melissa Ruisz Nazario

At this time of year in the northern hemisphere, the earth’s axis orients away from the sun, temperatures cool, and many of us celebrate with loved ones some form of thankfulness and respite from work–modern iterations of our ancestors’ harvest festivals.

Though the concept of gratitude is also ancient, it has become a bit of a modern buzzword. So, is gratitude really as beneficial as the masses say it is? Actually, yes. Robert A. Emmons and Robin Stern, researchers known for their work in studying gratitude, reviewed studies on the subject and list several of the physical, emotional, and psychological outcomes of cultivating gratitude in “Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention.” [1] 

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Posted in: Psychology, depth psychology, archetypes, Spiritual, mythological, soul, transformative, The Psyche, resources

PTSD and the Military: Depth Psychological Perspectives and Resources

Posted by Melissa Ruisz Nazario on Nov 7, 2018 7:44:33 AM

A blog post by Melissa Ruisz Nazario

Called Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other countries, we originally commemorated November 11th because of the signing of the treaty that halted fighting during World War I. Today, known as Veterans Day in the U.S., the focus has shifted a bit, as we show respect and gratitude to those who previously served in our armed forces. We often associate the words “service” and “sacrifice” with being in the military because a mission’s success requires things that aren’t as common in the civilian world: working twelve-hour shifts for months while deployed thousands of miles away from loved ones, missing important birthdays and holidays, and for many, having to put one’s self in harm’s way in a combat zone, risking life and mental wellness.    

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Posted in: Psychology, clinical psychology, Psychotherapy, Therapist, resources, military, depth psychology, archetypes

Bears, The Wild Woman Archetype, and the Road Toward Individuation

Posted by Melissa Ruisz Nazario on Nov 5, 2018 11:01:00 AM

A blog post by Melissa Ruisz Nazario, based on an interview with Stacey Shelby, RCC, Ph.D., conducted by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Listen to the full audio interview with Stacey Shelby here. (approx. 30 minutes)

At first, Stacey Shelby, RCC, Ph.D., didn't want to explore the Wild Woman Archetype for her research while in the M.A./Ph.D. Program in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Jungian and Archetypal Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Part of it was due to the type of research she would conduct and the effect it would have on her life. When authoring the book Tracking the Wild Woman Archetype: A Guide to Becoming a Whole, In-divisible Woman published earlier this year, she used a research methodology called alchemical hermeneutics, as described by Dr. Robert Romanyshyn, Pacifica Graduate Institute Professor Emeritus, in his book, The Wounded Researcher: Research with Soul in Mind.

In the introduction to Tracking the Wild Woman Archetype, Stacey defines alchemical hermeneutics as “an unconventional methodology not readily found in traditional academic institutions, and it acknowledges that researchers are often called to their work through personal wounding and complexes. This research methodology is an alchemical process that affects the researcher.”

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Posted in: Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute, depth psychology, relationships, Pacifica Students, dreams, clinical psychology, The Psyche, Psychotherapy, Therapist, relationship, jungian, individuation, symbol, archetypes, nature, alchemist

Depth Psychology, Art, and the Archetype of the Walled Woman

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jan 24, 2018 1:26:14 PM

Depth Psychology, Art, and the Archetype of the Walled Woman: An Interview with Conceptual Artist Tracy Ferron, M.A. A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Immurement, the concept of confining people inside walls, is a historical reality. Women, especially, have been victims and sacrifices of this macabre practice.

For Tracy Ferron, a conceptual artist and student of depth psychology, the archetypal theme of “walled women” first surfaced in a powerful dream. At the time, she was deeply engrossed in research on Big Pharma and societal complexes of power in a class at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she completed her master’s degree in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life in June 2017. During this process, powerful feelings of hopelessness and frustration arose, dovetailing with her personal life where she felt quite “stuck” in shifting her life’s direction after nearly 20 years spent raising five children.

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Posted in: depth psychology, art, Psychology, archetypes

Tending Soul with Military, Veterans, and First Responders: A Depth Psychological Approach

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Apr 12, 2017 3:56:30 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

There is a certain kind of transformational process that demands the most and the best of us so that we can respond to traumatic situations, just as military, veterans, and first responders do on a daily basis. From a depth psychological perspective, this kind of transformation can be initiated through a psycho-mythic journey to warriorhood, believe Ed Tick and John Becknell, who offer archetypal and depth psychological frameworks for military, veterans, and first responders, including police officers, sheriff departments, border patrol, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians), and dispatchers and other individuals who take emergency calls.

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Posted in: depth psychology, archetypes, Counseling Psychology, clinical psychology, military, Psychology, Pacifica Events, Mythology

The Trickster, the Drag Queen, and the Goddess: Exploring Gender and Sexuality through an Archetypal Lens

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Dec 14, 2016 2:31:11 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Aaron Mason, M.A., is a freelance medical writer with an infectious laugh, whose love of depth psychology led him to make sweeping changes in his life since deciding to earn his Master’s degree in the Engaged Humanities Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. On his desk in his West Hollywood apartment sits a Pez dispenser gifted to him by a close friend. The figure is a coyote, and Aaron has constructed a wig for it using multi-colored ribbons, and grounded its feet in magenta clay. He attached the coyote to his dashboard when he drove across the country from Jersey City in a dramatic move to the west coast. Aaron has dubbed this icon “Coyote Drag Queen,” a name that takes on layers of meaning when one has a chance to hear Aaron’s personal story.

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Posted in: archetypes, goddesses, gender

Narcissistic Tendencies: Donald Trump and Shakespeare's Macbeth

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Sep 14, 2016 3:53:51 PM

A new book A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump has just been released by Chrion Publications. The book features twenty articles on the subject of narcissism, written by esteemed professors and professionals of psychology and depth psychology. I recently caught up with Dr. Susan Rowland, chair of Pacifica's M.A. Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life Program who wrote "The Demonic and Narcissistic Power of the Media in Shakespeare's Macbeth" for the section of the book titled Archetypal Narcissism. Here is our dialogue about the book:

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Pacifica News, archetypes, literature

Archetypal Reflections: Dr. Keiron Le Grice on Jungian and Depth Psychologies

Posted by Erik Davis on Jul 22, 2016 9:12:17 AM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

C.G. Jung contended that our personalities are made up of a multitude of archetypes, Dr. Keiron Le Grice, Chair of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, reminded me when he recently sat down with me to share his insights into the field of depth psychology. Each archetype asserts its own aims, moods, and ideas on our personalities, influencing our lives on a day-to-day basis. Jungian and depth psychologies, by aiming to make what is unconscious conscious, offer an entrance point into recognizing and understanding the various deep forces that move through us from one day to the next, engendering a deep comprehension of the psyche and the motivations, instincts, and impulses that are at work in our lives.

Individuation, a term coined by Jung, is a way that we can come to terms with this multiplicity of forces, and to attune to a greater organizing force, perhaps looked at as “the god within.” An archetypal view can enable us to find deep meaning in life, Keiron notes. We live in a time when we no longer have a religious, spiritual, or mythological framework to provide orientation in our lives. To be able to turn within, through the study of dreams and synchronicities that occur to us, through direct engagement with the unconscious and through spiritual experiences, we can begin to find our own personal sense of meaning. When we encounter the numinous, (a term coined by Rudolf Otto and adopted by Jung), that tremendous and fascinating mystery that underlies our experience can ground us in our own spiritual and moral autonomies. We need to each find our own individual myth at a time when the collective myths are rendered invalid by the dominant scientific rational perspective in the western worldview.

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Posted in: C.G. Jung, archetypes

The Return of the Goddesses-in Mysteries!

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 13, 2015 11:14:57 AM

Notes on a Depth Discussion between Susan Rowland and Bonnie Bright

If you are an avid reader, the mystery genre is likely a familiar presence in the pleasures of your pastime. Those who love detective fiction really love it, as author and scholar Susan Rowland insists to me in a recent interview, and there is a strong ritual element in the reading and writing of mysteries. There are certain consistencies in every story that one may begin to expect; and yet they continue to enthrall us even as they unfold. Mystery novels hold a place for ritual in our culture, and a sense of wanting to repeat something we already know about, things we expect each time we pick one up.

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Posted in: archetypes, C.G. Jung, goddesses, literature