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

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

Phoenix Force and Feminine Jouissance: Reading Myth in Comic Books and Pop Culture

Posted by Krystyna Knight on Apr 13, 2018 3:12:29 PM

Phoenix Force and Feminine Jouissance: Reading Myth in Comic Books and Pop Culture. Interview with David M. Odorisio, Ph.D. A Guest Blog Post by Devon Deimler, Ph.D.c.

You began forming your Joseph Campbell Round Table presentation last Fall (2017). We had to postpone the event due to the Thomas Fire and subsequent mudslides. Of course, the mythical phoenix cyclically burns and rises from ashes. What first drew you to the phoenix myth/X-Men character and how has your relationship with it/her transformed after experiencing a wildfire?

 

My plan was to spend the month of December preparing for the January presentation. This was after spending the past year immersed in the Phoenix material and almost obsessively researching every X-Men storyline that involved, referenced, or developed her or her daughter’s character (another Phoenix). I live in a small house in the Toro Canyon area of Santa Barbara County, which became one of the heaviest and prolonged fire-fighting areas during the Thomas Fire. The fire was progressing closer and closer to the County line, and spreading to my surrounding area as I was literally putting together the presentation. At one point it was raining ash on my neighborhood. My yard was a blanket of snowy white ash. The visibility was maybe 10-15 ft. and the air quality outdoors was terrible – pure smoke. Here I am, spending hours indoors each day at work on this research, immersed in images of a fiery female figure and here She is right at my front door.  I reached a point where I had to pause and ask, “Am I invoking this?” Of course it wasn’t personal, but it was personal at the same time, because I’m internalizing and making my own meaning from the experience as we all have for those of us who have lived through it. 

 

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Posted in: symbolism, collective trauma, narrative, mythological, symbol, complex, storytelling

Deep Vocation: Living Your 'One Wild and Precious Life'

Posted by Krystyna Knight on Mar 26, 2018 1:53:18 PM

A guest blog post by Jennifer Leigh Selig, Ph.D.

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

--Mary Oliver

I think a lot about how to live a meaningful life.

In childhood and young adulthood, I had some early encounters with accidents and untimely deaths that sensitized me to how easily and how quickly life could be stripped from us. When I was twenty-one, an accident of my own laid me up in bed for three months, and during that time, I contemplated the poet Mary Oliver’s question: what should I do with my one wild and precious life?

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Posted in: symbol, Pacifica Graduate Institute, soul, Pacifica Events, vocation

Depth Psychology and the Recovery of Enchantment

Posted by Krystyna Knight on Mar 6, 2018 3:41:17 PM

A guest post by Craig Chalquist, Ph.D.

Why do we study and practice depth psychology?

For many reasons. The urge to know ourselves better. Persistent dreams we cannot yet decipher. The failure of quick fixes and mechanical solutions to make us feel alive again. The desire to understand and reshape the cultural chaos around and within us. Lack of career fulfillment. Fright from having fallen down a rabbit hole in our lives: where is the map to guide us? The yearning for social justice. The urge to reinhabit our bodies. The aspiration to stand in the service of genuine and lasting change.

The motives are many, but for me, one stands out: depth psychology as a path of reenchantment.

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Posted in: alchemist, ancient egypt, symbolism, mythological, symbol, alchemy

Mythology, Cosmology, and Symbolism of Ancient Egypt, Part 2

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jan 30, 2018 1:57:21 PM

Mythology, Cosmology, and Symbolism of Ancient Egypt, Part 2 of 2: An Interview with Egyptologist, Dr. Edmund Meltzer A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D. Access Part 1 here:

In his decades-long career as an Egyptologist, Dr. Edmund Meltzer has participated in archeological excavations in Egypt, translated hieroglyphic texts, published dozens of articles and books and taught worldwide. His major research areas include ancient Egyptian religion, language and texts, the history of Egyptology and the reception of ancient Egypt in the Classical and post-ancient world.

In Part 1 of this 2-part dialogue, Meltzer, who is currently teaching in the Mythological Studies Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, shared some of his vast knowledge about Egyptian mythology and the role of certain deities, as well as offering scholarly perspectives on the concepts of ritual and magic. Here, in Part 2 of 2, he makes some compelling observations about the cultural traditions of ancient Egypt and how that cosmology impacts modern individuals today.

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Posted in: Mythology, cosmology, symbolism, symbol, ancient egypt

Mythology, Cosmology, and Symbolism of Ancient Egypt, Part 1

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jan 30, 2018 1:45:23 PM

Mythology, Cosmology, and Symbolism of Ancient Egypt, Part 1 of 2: An Interview with Egyptologist, Dr. Edmund Meltzer A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Ancient Egypt taps into the power of the mind’s eye. With its soaring pyramids, sacred tombs, complex hieroglyphs, ancient temple walls, legends of exotic pharaohs, and colorful pantheon of gods, it is easy to be captivated by the landscape of a culture that richly and deeply stirs the imagination.

Egyptologist Dr. Edmund Meltzer had a ”predilection for ancient things and the distant past” from a very early age. His supportive parents nurtured his interests with books about ancient civilizations and mythology. Growing up in New York City, he had easy access to the Brooklyn and Metropolitan Museums, and to excellent second-hand bookstores where he browsed relics and acquired a wide assortment of contemporary and antique Egyptological books. He began to study hieroglyphs, and decided he was going to be an Egyptologist by the time he entered high school.

Through his undergraduate and graduate studies in Near Eastern Languages and Studies, as well as American archaeology, Edmund met librarians, professors, scholars, and other Egyptologists who strongly influenced his passion. His long and illustrious career includes work in Egypt as a site supervisor on the Akhenaten Temple Project–East Karnak Excavation, as well as being a researcher, teacher, fellow, journal editor, professor, and tour lecturer. Among his many achievements, he has authored a large body of scholarly publications, many of which can be found online.

Pacifica Graduate Institute recently invited Edmund to teach in the Mythological Studies program. He graciously shared his prolific knowledge and discussed the fascinating ancient past of Egypt and the Near East with me in a written exchange.

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Posted in: Mythology, cosmology, symbolism, symbol, ancient egypt

Tonight in Dreamland: a New Play co-written by Award-Winning TV Writer Cheri SteinKellner & Visionary Jean Houston

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Feb 28, 2017 3:21:36 PM

Tonight in Dreamland: Archetypal Perspectives a New Play co-written by Award-Winning TV Writer Cheri SteinKellner & Visionary Jean Houston
A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

The hit television series, Cheers, was a staple for many of us in the 1980s and early 90s. Sitting down in the front of the TV to catch a good laugh was sometimes the highlight of a busy week. Little did I know that decades later, I’d be having a conversation—about depth psychology—with on one of the award-winning writers of the series who is pursuing a degree in the Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Cheri Steinkellner has an impressive number of awards, including Emmys, Golden Globes, and Tony among them as a writer/producer on a number of shows, including the Broadway hit, “Sister Act, the Musical.”

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Posted in: soul, dreams, symbol, theatre, Santa Barbara, creativity, Pacifica Events

How Memory Tending Can Transform You: An Interview with Dr. Daphne Dodson

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Sep 19, 2016 12:35:29 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

You may have donated that Times of Your Life Paul Anka 8-track to charity when it didn’t sell at the last neighborhood rummage sale, but the words to “Good Morning Yesterday” live on. Sometimes it is hard to find the “memories you left behind” as Anka sang in 1976. Sometimes, as Freud argued, those memories sink below the level of our consciousness, but continue to work on us in various ways even decades later. Sigmund Freud even formulated a term “return of the repressed” to explain where neurotic symptoms originate, writing that

illness is characterized by the return of the repressed memories -- that is, therefore, by the failure of the defence.... The re-activated memories, however, and the self-reproaches formed from them never re-emerge into consciousness unchanged: what become conscious as obsessional ideas and affects¹

Jung, too, expressed the opinion that our memories can torment us to a dangerous extent when he wrote,

It may be that the majority of hysterical persons are ill because they possess a mass of memories, highly charged with affect and therefore deeply rooted in the unconscious, which cannot be controlled and which tyrannize the conscious mind and will of the patient.²

You don’t have to be a depth psychologist to notice when, at times, memories of your own rise up unexpectedly out of nowhere, often instigating powerful emotions. It happens for me with a handful of certain memories show up, surprising me with their content and their intensity, making me wonder why a certain memory would arise for me when millions of others are lost.

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Posted in: images, symbol, Trauma, Alumni, transformative

The Image Making Capacity of Soul: A Conversation on Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life with Dr. Mary Harrell

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Sep 9, 2016 12:59:49 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Every once in a while, a term emerges on the horizon of my awareness which I find strikingly beautiful. In this case, it is the “image-making capacity of soul.” The language of soul is symbol, and symbol shows itself in image—including dream images, fairy tales and myth, or even art, Mary Harrell, Ph.D., explains in her recent book, Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life: Stories from the World Between Matter and Mind. Ultimately, this language of images is soul manifesting in a way people can understand, and without that image-making capacity, people can’t come to terms with the unconscious, Harrell insists.

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Posted in: soul, imaginal, symbol, dreams