Sunday, November 25, 2018

Advent and Psychic Birth - An Introduction

From Advent and Psychic Birth by Mariann Burke

Meister Eckhart in a Christmas sermon paraphrasing St. Augustine says of Christ's birth, "This birth is always happening. And yet, if it does not occur in me, how could it help me? Everything depends on that."(1) The thesis of this book is that our own psychological "birth" is related to the "birth" of God within us, and that this birth is "always hap­pening." The paradox is that we long for this birth and yet we fear it. For centuries our unconscious fears and longing have been mirrored and "contained" in the religious dogma and symbolism of the church, a channel to the riverbed of the unconscious. But in a church and a culture that general­ly devalues the feminine realm--earth, the body, sexuality, instinct--these energies flow back into the psyche. Today the longing for consciousness and the integration of these energies have led many to leave the church which, they feel, no longer speaks to their needs. Others find spiritual ful­fillment in a strong adherence to traditional doctrinal and Biblical interpretation. Still others, in increasing numbers, find that a more personal inner journey leads not only to greater self-awareness, but also to a richer appreciation of their religious heritage.

My approach throughout Advent and Psychic Birth is to try to make connections between the archetypal images and personal experience, in both ancient and modern modalities, through associations, amplifications and clinical material. In one sense this approach has evolved out of my training in ana­lytical psychology. Yet it has become deeply personal and flows out of my own felt sense of the Advent imagery and my own journey toward psychic birth. Far from diminish­ing my faith in Christ, it has broadened and deepened my understanding of the meaning of incarnation. Jung writes: "The efficacy of dogma by no means rests on Christ's unique historical reality but on its own symbolic nature, by virtue of which it expresses a more or less ubiquitous psy­chological assumption quite independent of the existence of any dogma."(2) On first reading these words we may feel that Jung is undermining dogma and Christ's mission on earth, yet our own experience as it relates to the underlying pattern of dogma, can only serve to enrich its meaning. "In religious matters ... we cannot understand a thing until we have experienced it inwardly ... for it is in this experience that the connection between the psyche and the outward image or creed is revealed .... "(3)

For each of us the image that speaks to us differs. For some it is an image from the Bible or from another religious tradition, while for others it is a dream image, or an image that seems to surface directly from the body. Each of these can be received as "messages " from God.

If we look at the biblical poetry of Advent in a more personal way, we find that while it belongs to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, it transcends both. Beginning in darkness and destruction and ending in light and rebirth, Advent imagery represents a mythic or archetypal pattern. The Advent call to awaken from sleep is a call to follow the way of consciousness, to search for the inestimable gift, the treasure of the "hidden" self as well as the Imago Dei which carries the power to revitalize us both as individuals and communities. Symbolically, the four Sundays of Advent remind us of the quarternity and of wholeness, as does the familiar Advent wreath with its four candles, one lighted each week suggesting the gradual dissipation of inner and outer darkness. During the first three weeks of the Advent liturgy, the tone is decidedly one of action and movement, beginning with the Baptist's call to prepare a way. With the desert "transition" the tone changes, and during the fourth week the Virgin appears, strong, questioning, willing to trust in the unknown. As in any religious initiation we are led to participate in a new dimension of life. Here, if we can con­tact our own "virgin energies," we listen as the angel speaks and we, in silence, like Mary, wait as the earth "buds forth a savior."

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Four Volumes of Jungian Ecopsychology

The four volumes of The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe offer a comprehensive presentation of Jungian ecopsychology.

Volume 1, Jung and Ecopsychology, examines the evolution of the Western dysfunctional relationship with the environment, explores the theoretical framework and concepts of Jungian ecopsychology, and describes how it could be applied to psychotherapy, our educational system, and our relationship with indigenous peoples.

Volume 2, The Cry of Merlin: Jung, the Prototypical Ecopsychologist, reveals how an individual’s biography can be treated in an ecopsychological manner and articulates how Jung’s life experiences make him the prototypical ecopsychologist.

Volume 3, Hermes, Ecopsychology, and Complexity Theory, provides an archetypal, mythological and symbolic foundation for Jungian ecopsychology.

Volume 4, Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View describes how a deep, soulful connection can be made with these elements through a Jungian ecopsychological approach. This involves the use of science, myths, symbols, dreams, Native American spirituality, imaginal psychology and the I Ching.

Together, these volumes provide a useful handbook for psychologists and environmentalists seeking to imagine and enact a healthier relationship with their psyches and the world of which they are a part.


Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives and a growing list of Cutting-Edge alternative titles. www.fisherkingpress.com

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Eros Template: Some Common Themes of (Male) Narcissism

The following is an excerpt from
Eros and The Shattering Gaze; 
Transcending Narcissism
by Kenneth Kimmel

The Eros Template

Eros is an unrepentant, narcissistic lover who retreats from all emotional attachments. He takes the first steps toward maturity and love only after suffering and enduring a life-changing wound that opens him. We find him brought to life by countless writers and artists in many guises and circumstances throughout the long, meandering history of the Western world. Eros, son of Venus, husband of Psyche, is the prototype of the many versions of the puer aeternus we will meet in Eros and The Shattering Gaze; Transcending NarcissismWe recognize him through the actions of men who leave behind the scattered wreckage of lost relationships. This type of man harms many women in their search to find the diamond in the dung heap of love and relationship. He’s the one who leaves a goodbye note, is caught with the best friend, or turns cold and distant when the “L” word is spoken. It is ironic that these men who give so little are loved so much. This is due, perhaps, to their aura of specialness, or to their accomplishments, attractiveness, sensitivity, charisma, charm, and creativity, or even to that pitiful little-boy-lost quality that can evoke a mothering response in the most independent of partners.

Apuleius’ “Tale of Amor and Psyche” is the classical story that best charts the course of these men’s romantic, narcissistic, and even predatory love. It is embodied in the character of Eros as well as in that of Lucius, the hero of The Golden Ass. These stories follow Eros and Lucius through their wounding and suffering, and toward the possibility of mature love, humility, and devotion. Regarding this from the standpoint of the male (as opposed to that of women), one can extract from Eros a template that outlines the key qualities of one pattern in narcissism—that of “mother’s perfect little god,” who habitually seeks instant pleasure in paradise but never in mutual relationships.
Here are some of the common themes of narcissism in the Eros Template extracted from “The Tale of Amor and Psyche.” They are generally found embedded in our notions of romance and love, and are met throughout Western history.

Mother’s special boy. He is the divine son of his mother. He is so special, and he knows no bounds. He can’t take no for an answer. His desires and impulses must be gratified instantly. He is incestuously bonded to his mother, but as long as he does her bidding she protects him from the slings and arrows of the cruel world that may try to knock him down a few pegs for being so full of himself.

His beauty is only skin deep. He is a physically beautiful man but he lacks the capacity for internal reflection. His life centers around surface things: fulfillment of physical desires, attainment of beautiful possessions, and expectations of perfection. The great control and power that he must exert over his outer environment and relationships is a form of compensation for an emotionally unstable and chaotic internal identity that he cannot hold in check.

Predator. His desires are fueled by an internal lack, and when he becomes satiated he searches ceaselessly for a new object of desire and pleasure. He is a predatory hunter. He seeks the adrenaline rush of sexual conquest and power over the helpless victim. Like Psyche awaiting her sacrifice atop the mountain, she is merely his thing to be used to meet his needs.

He seeks fusion in relationships. He maintains his control over the love object by keeping her in the dark about who he really is. She has no identity separate from his, and as long as she is fused with him she is not an object to be related to but is compelled instead to be an object of his desire alone. He unconsciously seeks to relive the fantasy of incest with his own mother in his own little Garden of Eden, by finding her substitute, the newer version of Venus—young Psyche.

He is split between his mother and his lover. His loyalty is split between the need for mothering and the desire for the mature love of a woman, a division that interferes with his maturation and prolongs his stay in eternal youth. Alternatively, he is tossed between his longing for the untouched virgin and his desire for pleasures that only the goddess of love may bestow.

Idealization and devaluation of the object of love. He is always in search of the ideal, perfect woman. Because she is only human, the woman merely plays a role in his perfect fantasies and he has no idea who she really is. The moment she begins deviating from his expectations his feelings turn cold or destructive. Her imperfections arouse all sorts of uncertainties and insecurities within him, and to avoid those unstable feelings he must devalue her. Using her to maintain his stability and his illusions of perfection, he can also blame her when she lets him down. He sets things up so that he never has to look within to his own weaknesses. He rids himself of his own bad feelings by dumping them into the devalued woman.

The narcissistic wound leads to negation of the other. Owing to an unstable identity, he is full of exaggerated sensitivity and therefore is easily slighted and wounded, which leads to negation and devaluation of his ideal love object. Because the internal feelings prove too unbearable to look at, he instead chooses to retaliate against any perceived betrayal that causes him pain. He will easily abandon and evacuate the woman from his mind if it will allow him to avoid suffering.

Continual return to mother to avoid the difficulties of life. He will seek the old familiar retreat to his mother’s rooms to heal the narcissistic wounds inflicted by what he sees as a cold, cruel world, a world that demands to meet him as a real person. He is split between the need for security, sympathy, and maternal comfort, and the instinctive hunger for sexual gratification.

Feigned innocence serves to mask his own destructive, hateful impulses. By splitting off his awareness he turns a blind eye to the terrible mother and her group of vengeful handmaidens who fall mercilessly upon Psyche when she surrenders herself to Venus. By involving himself so exclusively in bemoaning his own mistreatment, Eros feigns innocence. His guilt lies in his complicity. A man such as this can bat his eyelashes innocently while he compartmentalizes his hatred and aggression, though it will often seep out indirectly, passively.

The mother-bound man destroys all links to human relationships. Mother-Venus and her handmaidens threaten Psyche with death if she fails to fulfill any of the impossible tasks set before her. They hope to destroy any links to love, dependency, and vulnerability. As in the previous paragraph, Eros feigns innocence as the dirty work is done for him, thus insulating himself from real life and real relationships and the pain that might ensue. These destructive handmaidens exist within the mother-bound man as protecting and persecuting objects, encapsulating him in a shell and protecting him from the risk of an intimacy that might cause him pain. He stays safe within mother’s orbit, unwilling to break free of her power. On a conscious level he is only cognizant of his role as the “offended party” and will not own responsibility for the violence he inflicts on others when defending himself against perceived threats to his self preservation.

The wounding that pierces the narcissistic shell. In the end, Eros has suffered through his wounding and his separation from his wife Psyche. The bearing of shame plays a vital role in deflating one’s omnipotence (although this step is not as clearly elucidated with Eros as it is with Apuleius’ main character, Lucius). Eros develops within himself the courage and resilience to defy his mother’s wrath and to return to Psyche. The wound that Eros ultimately bears exposes the false self that he has perpetuated in order to maintain his illusion of control over life. He chooses the life-giver, as Neville Symington calls it, with all its uncertainties (Narcissism: A New Theory (London: Karnac Books, 1993), 80.

Repairing the capacity to love. A psyche must develop a resilience and cohesiveness in order to bear the vicissitudes of life, and from this, love in its transcendence may emerge. In the story, Eros comes to see this in Psyche, as he realizes the depth of her sacrifice and devotion, all for the sake of love. Her courage has touched something within him that inspires him to break out of his prison and seek connection and love in a human way. He discovers the capacity for care and the meaning of sacrifice. He repairs his marriage, but only after the couple suffer through separation, pain, and loss. Through a process of great suffering in which the capacities for transcendence emerge, Psyche, recognized as a man’s inner psyche-soul-anima, transcends the maternal complex in which she has been mired. Love frees the soul.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives and a growing list of Cutting-Edge alternative titles. www.fisherkingpress.com

Friday, July 13, 2018

Remembering Erel Shalit, 1950 – 2018

Remembering Erel Shalit, 1950 – 2018

Erel Shalit was a Jungian psychoanalyst in Tel Aviv and worked as a training and supervising analyst. He was a past president of the Israel Society of Analytical Psychology and founder and past director of the Jungian Analytical Psychotherapy Program at Bar Ilan University. Earlier in his career he was the director of the Shamai Davidson Community Mental Health Clinic.

Erel Shalit was instrumental in firmly establishing Fisher King Press as a publisher of Jungian Psychology Books: Publishing Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path in July of 2007 was the stamp of approval that brought Fisher King Press credibility in the Jungian circles and in turn so many other fine Jungian authors.

Dr. Shalit authored several Fisher King Press publications, including: The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return, Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel. With Nancy Swift Furlotti, Erel co-edited, The Dream and its Amplification.

I am grateful to have been a friend of Erel Shalit, grateful to be the publisher of so many of Erel’s books, grateful for all of the love, compassion, and consciousness he has brought to the world.

Mel Mathews
Publisher, Fisher King Press
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives and a growing list of Cutting-Edge alternative titles. www.fisherkingpress.com

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Remembering Thomas B. Kirsch

Remembering Thomas B. Kirsch
June 10, 1936 – October 22, 2017

From conception on, C.G. Jung, his ideas, and analytical psychology itself was a central thread of Thomas B. Kirsch’s life. His parents, James and Hilde Kirsch, were in analysis with C.G. Jung when Tom was born, and he was imaged to be the product of a successful analysis. At an early age, Dr. Kirsch was introduced to many of the first-generation analysts who surrounded C.G. Jung, and over time became acquainted with them. Later, in his roles with the IAAP, Dr. Kirsch gained a broad knowledge of the developments in analytical psychology, and through both his early family history and in his later professional life, he worked closely with many analysts who were integral in forming the foundations of analytical psychology.

Dr. Kirsch graduated from Yale Medical School in 1961, did his residency in psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University, and then spent two years with the National Institute of Mental Health in San Francisco. He completed his Jungian training at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco in 1968. In 1976 Dr. Kirsch became president of the Jung institute in San Francisco, and in 1977 he was elected second vice president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology, or IAAP, the professional organization of Jungian analysts around the world. As vice president and then president of the IAAP for eighteen years, he traveled the world and was able to meet Jungian analysts from many different countries. This position allowed him to serve a missionary function of sorts in new areas like China, South Africa, Mexico, Russia, and other former Soviet Eastern Bloc countries. In A Jungian Life, Thomas B. Kirsch reflects upon his entire existence which has been intimately involved with C.G. Jung and analytical psychology.

We are grateful for the generous contributions Thomas B. Kirsch has made to humanity, and we are proud to be the publisher of his memoir: A Jungian Life.

Mel Mathews
Publisher, Fisher King Press
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives and a growing list of Cutting-Edge alternative titles. www.fisherkingpress.com