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

Practical Uses of Mythology

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Aug 21, 2017 10:36:42 AM

A guest post by Craig Chalquist, Ph.D.

What good is the study of myth?

I love this topic so much I could write a book on it. In fact, I have, to be called Myths Among Us: When Timeless Tales Return to Life (World Soul Books, 2017). The book spends 658 pages on the question of what good is mythology, with real-life applications and many stories.

Here I’ll offer some brief examples taken from the life arenas of self-knowledge, work, finance, diversity, and persuasion.

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Posted in: C.G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, Mythology

The Problem with Yoga

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on May 4, 2017 10:39:51 AM

A guest post by Alanna Kaivalya, Ph.D.
Dr. Kaivalya will be presenting at the July Retreat Center Program Yoga Meets Psyche

Yoga is often praised for its far-reaching effects on nearly every aspect of the human being. The physical practices create health in the body. Breathing practices can alleviate stress and anxiety. Devotional practices inspire community and meditative practices can help to calm the mind. It sure seems like a one-stop-shop for all things awesome. But, years ago, I discovered a glitch in the system.

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Posted in: depth psychology, Joseph Campbell, psyche, meditation, Mythology, soul, Pacifica Events

Star Wars: A Missed Opportunity

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Dec 20, 2016 4:14:44 PM

A guest post by Keiron Le Grice

Although Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke box-office records for commercial success, we might lament the filmmakers’ missed opportunity to deliver a narrative of enduring mythic significance and philosophical profundity to its expectant global audience. Had this opportunity been taken, how—in an alternate galaxy far, far away—might the storyline have begun and been developed?

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, film, C.G. Jung, Mythology

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Fact or Fiction?

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Feb 17, 2016 3:44:30 PM

A guest post by Dr. Dennis Patrick Slattery.

Now that the heat of the long-awaited release of the next installment of the Star Wars epic, franchise, industry, and monster money-maker has passed and the fires of enthusiasm have cooled a bit to a delightful glow, one might ask: what is it about this series of science fiction films, the brain-child of George Lucas, which has now been passed on to the brilliant director, JJ Abrams, whose task it was to retrieve some of the excitement of The Return of the Jedi (1983) by offering a plausible sequel to it, but revitalized and, well, made to reflect more inclusively the world we inhabit today?

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, film

The Hero's Journey: Creating My Own Star Wars Adventure

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Dec 23, 2015 2:48:56 PM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a box office hit. The excitement over the film brings us back to the original 1977 Star Wars film and its popularity. Star Wars was iconic. Why was it so popular? Aside from changing the way films were made (see Time's latest article with director J.J. Abrams) the story of the orginial Star Wars film closely follows Joseph Campbell's formula of The Hero's Journey.

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, transformative, film

Joseph Campbell and the Skywalker: Meetings with George Lucas

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Dec 21, 2015 3:47:42 PM

A guest post by Pacifica's Special Collections Librarian Richard Buchen.

"... the first axiom of all creative art -- whether it be in poetry, music, dance, architecture, painting, or sculpture -- which is namely, that art is ... a presentation of forms, images or ideas in such a way that they will communicate, not primarily a thought or even a feeling, but an impact.

"The axiom is worth recalling here, because mythology was historically the mother of arts and yet, like so many mythological mothers, the daughter, equally, of her own birth."

Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Penguin, 1976; first published 1959)

In April of 2002, the Joseph Campbell Library on the campus of Pacifica Graduate Institute was visited by a film crew directed by Tsukuru Matsuki from Kyodo Television of Tokyo. They were filming for an episode in a television documentary series called "Passion for Arts" which was aired nationally in Japan that year via TV Tokyo, and the broadcast included footage of the Joseph Campbell Library, as well as its Special Collections Librarian talking about The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The subject of this episode was not Campbell, but rather a man who had been deeply influenced by him, the filmmaker George Lucas.

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, Mythology, film

The Wandering Heroine: A Quest of a Different Kind

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Aug 26, 2015 3:00:00 PM

A guest post by Jody Gentian Bower, Ph.D. The initial quote is from her book Jane Eyre’s Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine Story.

"The Aletis represents a feminine archetype every bit as important as the masculine archetype of the hero. This is why people keep writing her story, trying to put down in words something felt and understood unconsciously, something important about women."

Ever since Joseph Campbell published The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949, the story of the Hero’s Quest has informed the thinking and writing of countless authors, scriptwriters, folklorists, mythologists, and depth psychologists. Campbell’s work forms one of the pillars of education at Pacifica Graduate Institute and continues to be amplified by and inspire the work of many Pacifica students and faculty.

The Hero is almost always male, however, and so there has been a concurrent effort to either re-vision the Quest story from a female perspective, or to find another story that fits a woman’s journey to individuation better. Works such as The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock and The Bridge to Wholeness by Jean Benedict Raffa fall into the former category, while Christine Downing, Jean Shinoda Bolen, and Clarissa Pinkola Estés are examples of authors who have sought wisdom in myths and folktales featuring goddesses, princesses, and witches.

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, The Psyche, literature

The Rebirth of the Hero: Mythology as a Guide to Spiritual Transformation

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Dec 15, 2014 4:33:00 PM

A guest post by Dr. Keiron Le Grice

Modern-day cinematic portrayals of myths old and new are etched in our collective imagination. Who can forget the 1960s film depiction of the Greek hero Jason and the crew of the Argo boldly sailing their ship between the Clashing Rocks or Luke Skywalker unmasking his father, Darth Vader, in Star Wars? And how many of us were enthralled watching Frodo Baggins accepting his fateful mission to carry the Ring of Power away from the Shire or were enchanted by the other-worldly experiences of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz? Such films comprise a set of shared cultural reference points and have inspired audiences the world over. Yet beyond their capacity to entertain and stir the imagination, mythic films also possess an instructive metaphorical significance. Skilfully interpreted, they can provide invaluable guidance for the process of deep psychospiritual transformation that Carl Jung called individuation. It is this way of reading and using myth that is the focus of my 2013 publication, The Rebirth of the Hero.

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, Mythology

My Travels with Joseph Campbell

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Sep 15, 2014 12:45:00 PM

A guest post by Evans Lansing Smith

In the summer of 1988, after returning home from my first teaching job, at a small college in Switzerland, I saw segments of the PBS series, “The Power of Myth,” in which Joseph Campbell told Bill Moyers about his days as a student in France during the 1920’s. With characteristic zeal, Campbell recalled his daily visits to the Cathedral of Chartres, during which he identified every single figure in its Biblical pantheon, whether stained in radiant glass or carved in immemorial stone. He became such a familiar figure that one day the sexton entrusted him with an extraordinary task.

“Would you like,” said the sexton, “to come up with me into the belfry to ring the noontide bells?”

Who could say no?

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell