Writing Down the Bones, Writing Down the Soul

Posted by Melissa Ruisz Nazario on Dec 11, 2018 11:00:00 AM

A blog post by Melissa Ruisz Nazario  

In the preface to the thirtieth anniversary edition of her seminal book, Writing Down the Bones [1], first published in 1986, Natalie Goldberg explains why she thinks so many people want to write. 

“I don’t think everyone wants to create the great American novel, but we all have a dream of telling our stories–of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die,” she observes. “Writing is a path to meet ourselves.”

The “bones” Goldberg wants her students to write down is, in her words, “the essential, awake speech of their minds.” She acknowledges this is easier said than done: “But I also know that I can’t just say, okay, write clearly and with great honesty. In class, we try different techniques and methods. Eventually the students hit the mark, come home to what they need to say and how they need to say it.”

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Posted in: Psychology, depth psychology, archetypes, Spiritual, soul, symbolism, sacred, Joseph Campbell

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

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

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