The Psychosomatic Experience of Communism in România: An Interview with Pacifica’s Mădălina Bortes, A Fulbright Semifinalist

Posted by Angela Borda on Apr 29, 2021 11:00:00 AM

Mădălina Bortes, M.A. is currently at Pacifica in the Ph.D. in Depth Psychology program with a specialization in Somatic Studies. Her work covers “the psychosomatic experience of communism in România.” She has been nominated as a semi-finalist in the Fulbright program, and I’m delighted to be speaking with her.

Angela: Thank you for talking with me. How does your personal life story and background intersect with communism in România, and what inspired you to take that as your research topic?

Mădălina: It is a true pleasure. Thank you for asking me to do this. I was born in Sibiu, România, a very culturally vibrant city in the Transylvania area. It is one of those cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses, and human-sized windows kind of a city. I was born just after the revolution, so I did not experience life in România during communism, and I did not hear about communism while growing up, there or in the U.S., which is where we moved after I'd finished the second grade. Communism was not an avoided topic, as it can be for some people; it was simply never mentioned. The absence of meaning-making, or the absence of “lustration,” as some post-communist scholars note, fascinated me. Whenever I spoke with anyone who'd experienced life in România during communism, such as my family members and their friends, I was awestruck by the great degree of flippancy they expressed about their lived experience. Everyone mentioned electricity limits, perpetually long lines, canned food for breakfast, and a lifestyle that resembled the days after a particularly severe natural disaster. However, no one seemed very affected by what they'd lived through, for ten, twenty, even thirty years; and more than this, everyone offered the same response to my naive question of how it was that they'd genuinely believed such a lifestyle was normal, was the only way of living. Everyone I'd asked said, "It was all we knew," and this greatly intrigued me.

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, somatic bodywork, depth psychology, Somatic Studies

LSD and the Mind of the Universe: An Interview with Christopher M. Bache

Posted by Angela Borda on Apr 19, 2021 5:06:43 PM

Christopher M. Bache, Ph.D. is an accomplished teacher as well as researcher in “the philosophical implications of non-ordinary states of consciousness, particularly psychedelic states.” He will be the keynote speaker of the upcoming Pacifica Conference, “Accessing the ineffable: Depth Psychology, Religious Experience, and the Further Reaches of Consciousness,” on June 19, 2021. Click here for more information. I’m delighted to find out more about his research and the conference.

Angela: The title of the workshop is “Accessing the Ineffable.” And your talk will be on “LSD and the Mind of the Universe: The Challenges and Blessings of an Extreme Psychedelic Journey.” How has LSD helped you to access the ineffable, or as you say in the book, allowed you to journey “into a unified field of consciousness that underlies all physical existence”? How did you first get involved, and are you glad you took the trip?

Chris: Yes, I’m very glad I took this journey, though I also want to say that it was the most demanding undertaking of my life.

I began my psychedelic work in 1979 when I was 30 years old. I was just out of graduate school from Brown University where I had trained as a philosopher of religion, finishing my studies as an atheistically-inclined agnostic. I was looking for where to take my research next when I read Stan Grof’s Realms of the Human Unconscious. I immediately saw the relevance of his work to the core questions I had been trained to pursue as a philosopher–whether life has meaning or purpose, whether human beings survive death, and whether there is a conscious intelligence operating in the universe. I saw that with the advent of psychedelics, the deepest contributions to my discipline would be made by persons writing out of an experiential basis, not just an intellectual basis, and I felt a deep calling to do this work. (My Saturn Return marked a number of seminal transitions in my life: from student to professor, from book learning to experiential learning, from agnosticism to psychedelic initiation.)

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, Pacifica Events, soul, depth psychology, meditation, The Retreat at Pacifica

Accessing the Ineffable with Santo Daime: An Interview of William Barnard, Ph.D.

Posted by Angela Borda on Mar 29, 2021 2:51:16 PM

Professor William Barnard, Ph.D. will be giving a talk on “The Religious Use of Psychedelics: The Santo Daime” in the upcoming Pacifica conference “Accessing the Ineffable: Depth Psychology, Religious Experience, and the Further Reaches of Consciousness” on June 19, 2021. This conference will bring together an eclectic group of scholars to investigate to mysterious elements at the foundation of Jungian depth psychology – “consciousness” and the expansive potentialities of a non-local “unconscious.” For more information on this event, please click here. [https://retreat.pacifica.edu/accessing-the-ineffable/] I was delighted to spend time talking with Bill and learning more about his research and experiences.

Angela: You are a professor of religious studies, and will be presenting a talk on the use of psychedelics in religion, in particular, the Santo Daime, which you describe as “a relatively new religion that emerged out of the Amazon rainforest region of Brazil in the middle of the twentieth century and which now has churches throughout the world; a religion in which a psychedelic brew – ayahuasca – is taken as a sacrament.” For those who are not familiar with ayahuasca, can you tell us the basics of where it comes from, what it is, and how the experience of ingesting would lead people to consider it a sacrament?

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, Pacifica Events, soul, depth psychology, meditation, The Retreat at Pacifica

Healing Intergenerational Trauma through Collective Mourning: An Interview with Pacifica’s own Heesun Kim, a Fulbright semi-finalist

Posted by Angela Borda on Mar 24, 2021 3:25:38 PM

Heesun Kim is a bright presence in our Ph.D. program for Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices, where her studies focus “on exploring the critical connections between psychology, spirituality, and holistic healing practices.” She has recently been honored as a semi-finalist in the Fulbright program. Many alumni of the program have gone on to become winners of the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize, as well as serving as heads of state. Heesun’s proposal is titled “Jeju Shamanism: Healing Intergenerational Trauma through Collective Mourning” and I’m delighted to discuss it with her.

Angela: Heesun, thank you so much for talking with me. You’ve said that your Fulbright project, if accepted, would “focus on how Jeju shamanism addresses intergenerational trauma and collective mourning as a community healing practice.” Please tell us a little bit about Jeju shamanism and how it intersects with your own family history in Korea. Is it a topic you found during your studies at Pacifica or is it something you’ve been aware of for a long while?

Heesun: Thank you for inviting me, Angela. Jeju is a beautiful island located in the southern part of South Korea. Unlike most of the mainland Korean regions, which have nearly lost their shamanic tradition due to rapid industrialization and western influences, Jeju Island still preserves the shamanic tradition through myths, folksongs, and oral traditions in rituals. The island has a tragic history of a massacre between 1948 and 1954; approximately 30,000 civilians were killed when Korean authorities and right-wing vigilantes, with the US military's compliance and oversight, brutally suppressed a popular uprising.  

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, Pacifica Events, creativity, soul, depth psychology

Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit with Deborah Anne Quibell, Ph.D.

Posted by Angela Borda on Mar 1, 2021 3:42:00 PM

Deep Creativity: A Video Interview with Deborah Anne Quibell, Ph.D.

By Angela Borda

“Along the creative’s path, the smallest of things demand our gasp, our loving attention, our fixed gaze, and our compassionate noticing. To gasp is to take in or breathe in the world around us. In depth psychological language this is known as the primary, aesthetic response of the heart.” 

— Deborah, Deep Creativity

In the process of writing the book, we realized we were fleshing out new ways of looking at creativity, new lenses informed by our mutual backgrounds in depth psychology. We compiled these lenses into “The Fifteen Principles of Deep Creativity.”

We chose the word principles to suggest our fundamental thoughts, the underpinnings of the union of depth psychology and creativity.

These are themes rather than definitions; these are convictions rather than truths; these are perspectives rather than facts. They are the way we see the creative world and our place within it, and we offer that vision to you. Take a look at what Deborah has to say about Deep Creativity in her videos below.

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Posted in: Pacifica Events, creativity, art, soul, depth psychology

Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit with Jennifer Leigh Selig, Ph.D.

Posted by Angela Borda on Feb 4, 2021 4:39:24 PM

Deep Creativity: An Interview with Jennifer Leigh Selig

By Angela Borda

Jennifer is a prolific writer with three screenplays and twenty-two books she has been involved with. Passionate about travel and photography, she is the co-author of Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit and will be co-presenting the Pacifica workshop of the same name with Pacifica scholars Deborah Anne Quibell and Dennis Slattery on March 5–7, 2021. She and Deborah Anne Quibell will also teach a three-month intensive March 8–May 31, 2021. Visit us for more information here. I was delighted to speak with Jennifer, as she is exemplary of Pacifica’s deep-thinking and inquiring spirit.

Angela: What teaching dynamic do you share with Dennis and Deborah and what kind of atmosphere and interaction can participants look forward to between the three of you and with them?

Jennifer: My relationship with Deborah and Dennis is one of the most important and rewarding relationships of my life, and I think that shows up in our teaching dynamics. From the beginning of our collaboration, it was really clear that we respect one another. We each so value what the other two bring—as teachers, as writers, and as human beings. And, there’s a genuine mutual affection for one another, a real love and care for one another that we don’t attempt to hide or to cloak under a veil of professionalism. I think that goes a long way to putting participants at ease, knowing they are in the company of good friends. We learn a lot from our interactions, and we see ourselves as co-learners along with our participants. I look forward to Dennis’ and Deborah’s sessions during the weekend, in the same way I always looked forward to reading their chapters when we were drafting the book. Also, they are both fantastic listeners, so I know that after presenting my sessions, when I open it up to them for discussion, they are going to ask great questions and offer astute comments.

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Posted in: Pacifica Events, creativity, art, soul, depth psychology

Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit

Posted by Angela Borda on Jan 25, 2021 3:01:59 PM

An Interview with Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.

by Angela Borda

Dennis Slattery is a beloved professor emeritus of mythology at Pacifica, with over fifty years of teaching experience and 30+ books published, along with seven books of poetry. He is the co-author of Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit and will be co-presenting the Pacifica workshop of the same name with Pacifica scholars Deborah Anne Quibell, Ph.D., and Jennifer Leigh Selig, Ph.D., on March 5–7, 2021. Visit us for more information here. I felt very privileged to discuss Dennis’s work with him, as he is deeply thoughtful about the liminal realm of imagination and creativity within the context of mythology and depth psychology.

Angela: How does mythology intersect with creativity?

Dennis: Intersect is the right verb to use. The last volume of J. Campbell’s four-part Masks of God is entitled “Creative Mythology.” Myths themselves are creative expressions of the individual/communal soul. The call to create is a call to uncover the myth that is our own, and which communes with other souls. Both require a belief in the invisible forces at work in the world. I think that the unconscious is a creative terrain from which many of our inspirations spring.

Creating is a form of mythologizing ourselves further and becoming more conscious of what that feels like. Creative inspiration comes, in part, from the myth within that we are each living out. Creative expressions fuel that growing awareness.

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Posted in: Pacifica Events, creativity, art, soul, depth psychology

Why Depth Psychology: Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices Now

Posted by Krystyna Knight on Sep 2, 2020 2:25:56 PM

Curandera and storyteller, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, speaks of depth psychology as a way to “the river beneath the river,” to a place that delves deeper than the surface of things into implicit and nonlinear knowing and broadens the subtle field of intersubjectivity, integrating systems of being. Integratio may be fostered by a restoration of “beginner’s mind” to renew a sense of wonder, openness, feeling, and curiosity.

Perhaps you are aware of something that drives you, breathes you, that has brought you here to inquire about our integrative program and to do so now in this intense time of global uncertainty, paradox, and possibility?

What is speaking to you and through you? Why DPT now?

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Posted in: C.G. Jung, depth psychology, admissions, Integrative Therapy & Healing Practices

The Call to Pacifica: Spotlight on Heesun Kim and the Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices Specialization

Posted by Melissa Ruisz Nazario on Jun 15, 2019 4:46:19 PM

A blog post by Melissa Ruisz Nazario based on an interview with Heesun Kim, LMSW. 

Many times, when prospective students visit Pacifica, they describe their experience as feeling “called” to the school, perhaps because of the campus, the community of people they meet, and oftentimes, Pacifica’s mission “to tend to the soul in and of the world.”

Similarly, when Heesun Kim, LMSW, a first year student in Pacifica’s Ph.D. Program in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices, first arrived at the Lambert Road campus in Santa Barbara, she felt it was a homecoming.

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Posted in: Psychology, depth psychology, Pacifica Students, Pacifica Graduate Institute, narrative, interview, Integrative Therapy & Healing Practices

The Grieving Tree: Offering a Public Space to Express Grief

Posted by Melissa Ruisz Nazario on Jun 7, 2019 12:11:08 PM

A blog post by Melissa Ruisz Nazario based on an interview with Heesun Kim, LMSW. 

About five or six years ago, Heesun Kim, LMSW, a student in Pacifica’s Ph.D. Program in Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices, was on the subway in New York City, and she noticed a woman sitting in front of her with tears streaming down her face. She was trying so hard to hold in those tears. It was a face that felt very familiar to Heesun, and she thought about the many times she had been in a similar situation.

“So I remember I was, a couple times, I ended up in the public bathroom, so I had to cry there,” she says. “And then I thought, you know, my grief, my sadness or all this sorrow needs to be respected, not in the corner of a public bathroom.”

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Posted in: The Psyche, transformative, Psychology, depth psychology, images, Pacifica Graduate Institute, narrative, somatic, relationship, relationships, interview, Integrative Therapy & Healing Practices