Friday, December 11, 2009

Daughters and Well-meaning Mothers

This past summer, Daryl Sharp of Inner City Books contacted us, explaining that he had edited a manuscript for Kehinde Ayeni. Daryl suggested that the manuscript was a real winner and encouraged us to consider it for publication. We had a closer look and soon contracted to published this body of work. We are now pleased to announce the publication of Kehinde Adeola Ayeni’s Feasts of Phantoms.

Feasts of Phantoms
a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni
ISBN 978-0-9813939-2-6, 346 pp

How is a well meaning mother to protect her daughter from a culture where the birth of a baby girl is met with despair because the only future open to her is that of sexual assault and teenage pregnancy, which would doom her to a life of illiteracy and poverty as it has doomed her lineage before her? Genital mutilation has many causes but at the root of all of them is fear. A fear that pushes a mother to do the unthinkable to a daughter that she loves? What does a scapegoat do with the fate she has been handed? Accept it and roll with it, or reject it? How is she to reject it when the acceptance of her role is needed for her culture's psychic equilibrium? In the theater of the mind where all springs forth, is there such a thing as an innocent victim, and a victimizer? Feasts of Phantoms is a novel that explores these questions, and more.

about the author
Kehinde Adeola Ayeni, MD., a public health physician, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst was born in Nigeria. A mother of two children, she is in private practice in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first novel Our Mother's Sore Expectations explored the plight of women under dictatorship government in Nigeria. Dr. Ayeni founded the Foundation for Indigenous Development and Advocacy (, a nonprofit organization whose goal is that every Nigerian child has at minimum an elementary school education, and she works closely with Educare Trust Fund based in Ibadan, Nigeria (

Feasts of Phantoms can be purchased directly from the Fisher King Press Online Bookstore.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Press Release - Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return

With Great Pleasure Fisher King Press Announced the Publication of
a novella by Erel Shalit

a novella by Erel Shalit
Official Publication Date: January 2010
ISBN 978-1-926715-03-2, 106 pp

Requiem returns us to an eternal theme, a dialogue with Soul, and we know quite well what happens when one dialogues with Soul—we change, consciousness is enlarged, the impossible becomes possible and we no longer are compelled to blindly follow in the deathly path of our forefathers.

Requiem is a fictitious account of a scenario played out in the mind of many Israelis, pertaining to existential reflections and apocalyptic fears, but then, as well, the hope and commitment that arise from the abyss of trepidation. While set in Israel sometime in the present, it is a story that reaches into the timelessness of history, weaving discussions with Heine and Kafka into a tale of universal implications.

Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Ra’anana, Israel. He is a training and supervising analyst, and past president of the Israel Society of Analytical Psychology. He is the author of several publications, including Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path.

Dr. Shalit lectures at professional institutes, universities, and cultural forums in Israel, Europe, and the United States. One of his popular lectures includes Requiem and is the basis for Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Two Popular Jungian Publications

Two popular psychology publications for your consideration:

Living in the Borderland: 
The Evolution of Consciousness and the Challenge of Healing Trauma

by Jerome S. Bernstein

Living in the Borderland addresses the evolution of Western consciousness and describes the emergence of the 'Borderland,' a spectrum of reality that is beyond the rational yet is palpable to an increasing number of individuals. Building on Jungian theory, Jerome Bernstein argues that a greater openness to transrational reality experienced by Borderland personalities allows new possibilities for understanding and healing confounding clinical and developmental enigmas.

In three sections, this book charts the evolution of Western consciousness, examines the psychological and clinical implications and looks at how the new Borderland consciousness bridges the mind-body divide. It challenges the standard clinical model, which views normality as an absence of pathology and equates normality with the rational, and abnormality with the transrational. Jerome Bernstein describes how psychotherapy itself often contributes to the alienation of many Borderland personalities by misdiagnosing the difference between the pathological and the sacred and uses case studies to illustrate the potential such misdiagnoses have for causing serious psychic and emotional damage to the patient.

This challenge to the orthodoxies and complacencies of Western medicine's concept of pathology will interest Jungian Analysts, Psychoanalysts, Psychotherapists and Psychiatrists.

About the Author
Jerome S. Bernstein is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is also the co-editor of Spring Journal's recently published C.G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions.

C.G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions: 
Dreams, Visions, Nature and the Primitive

by Deloria, Vine / Deloria, Philip J. (EDT) / Bernstein, Jerome S. (EDT)

In the winter of 1924-25 while visiting the U.S., C. G. Jung visited the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico where he spent several hours with Ochwiay Biano, Mountain Lake, an elder at the Pueblo. This was a seminal encounter in Jung's life. It impacted him psychologically, emotionally, and intellectually and had a sustained influence on his theories and understanding of psyche, as witnessed by his reference to Mountain Lake in one of his last letters written shortly before his death.

Dakota Sioux intellectual and political leader, Vine Deloria Jr., began a close study of the writings of C.G. Jung over two decades ago, but had long been struck by certain affinities and disjunctures between Jungian and Sioux Indian thought. He also had noticed that many Jungians had perceived this relation as well and were often drawn to Native American traditions. And, while Deloria never hesitated to critique others’ appropriation of Native culture, he also saw in this phenomenon something deeper and more interesting: the possibility that these philosophical systems might, at a deep level, share crucial affinities.

This book, the result of Deloria’s investigation of these affinities, is written as a measured comparison between the psychology of C.G. Jung and the philosophical and cultural traditions of his own Sioux people. Moving between Jung’s writings and Sioux tradition, Deloria constructs a fascinating dialogue between the two systems that touches on cosmology, the family, relations with animals, visions, voices, and individuation. He does not shy away from addressing the differences between the two and the colonial mindset that characterized Jung’s own cultural legacy. In this sense, Deloria offers a direct “speaking back” from the cultural position that Jung so often characterized as “primitive” in his writings.

Vine Deloria Jr. passed away in 2005 and this, his last book, resounds with the wit, vigor, and range that marked his writing. It makes a signal contribution to Jungian Studies, while simultaneously illuminating the possibilities and pitfalls in efforts to transcend intellectual and philosophical boundaries.

These and many other Jungian Publications are available from Fisher King Press.

Be kept up to date on many new publications

Phone orders welcomed, Credit Cards accepted. 1-800-228-9316 toll free in the US & Canada, International +1-831-238-7799.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Sacred Prostitute & Awakening Woman

The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts)The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine
By Nancy Qualls-Corbett
ISBN 9780919123311, 20 illustrations. Index. 176 pp. 1988.

When the Goddess of Love was still honored, the sacred prostitute was virgin in the original sense of the word (one-in-herself), a person of deep integrity whose welcome for the stranger was radiant, self-confident and sensuous. Her purpose was to bring the goddess' love into direct contact with mankind. In antiquity, human sexuality and the religious attitude were inseparable. The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect Of The Feminine is solidly based on Jungian psychological principles and powerfully illustrates how our vitality and capacity for joy depend on restoring the soul of the sacred prostitute to its rightful place in our conscious understanding. The Sacred Prostitute is engaging reading that provides a great deal of thoughtful observations on the nature of human sexuality and its relationship to the well-balanced personality and the health and stability of human society. -- Midwest Book Review

Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Ph.D. is a diplomate of the C. G. Jung Institute, Zurich and is a practicing analyst in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a senior training analyst affiliated with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts.

Also by Nancy Qualls-Corbett

Awakening Woman: Dreams and Individuation (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts, 101)Awakening Woman: Dreams and Individuation
ISBN 9781894574020 By Nancy Qualls-Corbett with Leila McMackin. Index. 160 pp. 2002.

When you face the truth that your familiar psychological territory is no longer your moral, spiritual or emotional home, and the road ahead twists through a dark forest—then you know the experience, both terrifying and exhilarating, of the refugee who slowly becomes the explorer. In this unique collaborative work by an analyst and her analysand, a woman in midlife learns to understand her dreams, visions and emotions, and especially the kinship between sexuality and spirituality, thus acquiring an authentic sense of self.

Phone orders welcomed, Credit Cards accepted. 1-800-228-9316 toll free in the US & Canada, International +1-831-238-7799.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Finalist of NAAP Gradiva® Award

Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's PathEnemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path
is 1 of 3 finalists for the Theoretical category of the NAAP Gradiva® Award.

In Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path, Erel Shalit provides new thoughts and views on the concepts of Hero and Shadow. From a Jungian perspective, this Fisher King Press publication elaborates on mythological and psychological images. Myths and fairy tales explored include Perseus and Andersen's The Cripple. You'll also enjoy the psychological deciphering of Biblical stories such as Amalek - The Wicked Warrior, Samson - The Impoverished Sun, and Jacob & the Divine Adversary. With the recent discovery of The Gospel of Judas, Dr. Shalit also delves into the symbolic relationship between Jesus and Judas Iscariot to illustrate the hero-function's inevitable need of a shadow.

About the Author
Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Ra'anana, Israel. He is a training and supervising analyst, and past president of the Israel Society of Analytical Psychology (ISAP). He is the author of several publications, including The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel and The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego. Articles of his have appeared in Quadrant, The Jung Journal, Spring Journal, Political Psychology, Clinical Supervisor, Round Table Review, Jung Page, Midstream, and he has entries in The Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Dr. Shalit lectures at professional institutes, universities, and cultural forums in Israel, Europe, and the United States.

Order your copy Enemy, Cripple, Beggar from Fisher King Press.
Phone orders welcomed, Credit Cards accepted. 1-800-228-9316 toll free in the US & Canada, International +1-831-238-7799.

Be kept up to date on many new publications at

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Honoring the Assumption of Mary

An Introduction to Re-Imagining Mary by Mariann Burke

Re-Imagining Mary
is about meeting Mary in image and imagination. It is about the Mary image mirroring both an outer reality and the inner feminine soul. My first meeting with Mary began with an experience of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation (Cortona). I cannot account for my unusual response to the image except to say that, at the time, over twenty years ago, I was studying Jungian psychology in Zürich, Switzerland and was then probably more disposed to respond to the imaginal world. One day as I sat in my basement apartment reflecting on a picture of his Annunciation, energy seemed to surge through me and lift me above myself. Tears brought me to deep center.

It does not matter whether my experience was religious or psychic. The two are very similar since any religious experience always affects our psyche and changes it. It was as if I was restored to my truest self. This was an awakening for me, not an ecstasy. Far from leaving my body-self, I seemed to recover it. At the time I had no desire to study Art History or Iconography. Instead, wishing to stay in the world of the symbolic, I returned to the Biblical inspiration for the image in St. Luke.

This is what St. Luke tells us about Jesus’ conception:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, so highly favored! The Lord is with you.” She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favor. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” (Luke:1:26-38)
I had read this passage many times but it was soon to take on richer meaning.

Since we know nothing of Jesus’ conception and birth, legend and myth “fill in.” The word ‘myth’ comes from the ancient Greek word ‘mythos’ meaning ‘word.’ Both ‘logos’ and ‘mythos’ mean ‘word.’ While ‘logos’ refers to rational thinking, ‘mythos’ describes poetic or intuitive thinking. “Biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth and resurrection are ‘mythos.’ Biblical historical facts of his life are ‘logos.’ Both are true.”(2) Myths or mythos express truth closer to life’s meaning than facts. Myths resonate in the soul. For example, stories about the quest for the Grail resonate with all “searchers.” We long to experience the Holy, the numinous. The Annunciation, the birth in the stable, the shepherds’ adoration, and the journey to Egypt, all of these give valuable insights into our personal spiritual journey. And the artists who have painted these scenes have provided us with “windows” into depths unknown perhaps even to them . . .

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Mariann Burke is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Newton, MA. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, Andover-Newton Theological School, and the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. She has done graduate work in Scripture at Union Theological Seminary and La Salle University. Her interests include the body-psyche connection, feminine spirituality, and the psychic roots of Christian symbolism. She is a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ)

Re-Imagining Mary

Order a copy of Re-Imagining Mary by phoning Fisher King Press
 1-800-228-9316 Toll Free US & Canada
International +1-831-238-7799

1.The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
2. Seminar notes by Dr. Richard Naegle, Guild for Psychological Studies, San Francisco, 1995. In St. John’s Gospel “Logos” refers to the eternal existence of the Word. See also Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth, p. 31.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Father Spirit: At the Turning Point

an article by Bud Harris, Ph.D.

A Guide for Rediscovering and Renewing
the Foundations of Fatherhood

The Father Spirit at the Turning Point

As I was reflecting on Fathers' Day this year and developing the material I'm going to use in a Fall lecture and workshop, "The Father Quest: A Guide for Rediscovering and Renewing the Foundations of Fatherhood," I was moved to write the following article. I titled it "The Father Spirit at the Turning Point." Good friends who publish Western North Carolina Woman magazine included it in their June issue; every year their June issue is "Honoring the Y Chromosome." Because of the enthusiastic response to the article, I've decided to share it with you. I hope that you will find it inspiring and enriching.

A few mornings after Christmas my wife and I were sitting at the breakfast table with my daughter. While I slowly sipped my tea, she was explaining how the slump in the economy had impacted their holidays. As a family of five with three children, finding their income reduced substantially had ushered in a holiday stress that was new to them. When she finished talking she sighed and added, "I've given up any hope that we can leave our children any better off than we were."
The Father Quest: Rediscovering An Elemental Force
I was shocked by the discouragement in her voice. Leaving our children better off than we were when we started adult life has been a major part of the American Dream for as long as I can remember. I don't know how old that part of our dream is but I'm sure my father, who lived through the Great Depression, devoted much of his life to it. For his age-group, being sure your children went to college was considered a guarantee for the chance at a better life. My father's generation came out of the depression, World War II and the atomic age with a colossal yearning to create a healthy, sound world. They wanted their children to have lives that were smooth and prosperous. As we lived into the nineteen fifties our society and our families tried to make problems taboo. We wanted to have certainties. Or, rather, our parents wanted to have them for us even as the world was spiraling into the chaos of the nineteen sixties. I don't blame them for their longings because I know they were born out of the fear and traumas they endured and their desire to create a safer world for themselves and their children. Yet, this longing eventually became the root of their problems as it narrowed their perspective on life and now it has become the root of our problems as we have concretized the symbols of well-being onto financial success and material abundance.

I can easily remember that in the nineteen seventies our societal goal was to have more leisure time for our families and recreation. But, as we moved into the recession and energy shortage of the early nineteen eighties our old economic terrors began to re-emerge and we refocused on becoming workaholics; the trend-setting movie of that decade was Wall Street, famous for the speech in it that "greed is good." Instead of being a warning, this movie forecast the future.

The fear, anxiety and profound challenges that had caused a generation of men to become our "greatest generation" left them so wounded that they were unable to train and mentor their sons to be capable of meeting new challenges. My father and my coaches and teachers were more concerned that we be able to get "good" jobs than they were with teaching courage and the importance of character. They had lost track of the fact that the world is always spinning into a future of new challenges that we can rarely predict. This kind of a world can only be met effectively when we have learned something about the importance of having character, which includes love, openness, courage, integrity, and the respect for creativity. The dream of our Founding Fathers was to create a country where individuals could experience freedom, dignity, respect, equal protection under the law, the right to a representative government, the right to worship according to our own conscience and the pursuit of happiness. While this vision was imperfectly implemented it was the most profound social vision in history.

Let us remember now that the reason we call these men the Founding Fathers is no accident. In archetypal terms it is the positive, inspiring Father Spirit that calls for transformation, a renaissance of the spirit of the times in the culture or in each of us. From the perspective of Jungian psychology it is the positive Father Spirit that has called me to transform myself and grow through and beyond the crises in my life, and it is the positive Father Principle (both coming from the same archetype) that demands I must give a personal response to new life and a protective field for it to grow in. This is an important part of the definition of father love whether it is to mother and child or to the concerns of culture. It is the responsibility of father love to build a place for new life to thrive in.

Let us remember also that every archetypal image has a negative, destructive side as well as a positive, nurturing one. There is a negative destructive Father Spirit that we must watch out for. We have seen this image pictured in stories and movies. Darth Vader may be the one that is best known, or the father whose son committed suicide in Dead Poets' Society. Of course, some of us have experienced personifications of the destructive father spirit personally if our father was abusive or supported the Great Santini approach to sports, confrontation or aggression. The negative father spirit is also one that is fearful, afraid of being overwhelmed by life, and is therefore afraid of change, new life, and creative potentials. When we are possessed by this spirit we live in the illusionary hope that the way we did it in the past will be the best way to do it in the future.

These descriptions of the negative father spirit remind me of the experiences of an old college friend. We went to Georgia Tech and he majored in industrial engineering. His father owned a plant that produced concrete blocks. My friend looked forward to the day he could join his father and uncles in the family business. After his graduation his father said he wanted to teach him the business from the ground up and he started him at a low-paying, nasty, back-breaking job in the plant. In reality, my friend learned to hate the business and the true nature of his father that he discovered in the process. He realized his father had no respect for his intelligence or achievements in a tough university, and little respect for his desire to be close to him. And he was unable to nurture his son's ability to bring a new spirit of creativity into the business. His father's interest in maintaining his power and superiority was more important to him than his love for his son.

When my daughter spoke to me a few days after Christmas, I was too surprised to answer her very well. But after thinking about what she said I realized that we are at a turning point in history. I believe that we can leave our children and our grandchildren better off than when we entered adult life. But I also believe that our quest today is to leave them better off spiritually than we were. We can teach them more about reality than we were taught. We can help them learn while they are still in the safety of our love that life is full of uncertainty and anxiety, faith and nagging doubts, profound emotions, health and sickness, love, despair and grandeur. Our goal should not be to help them search for security but for competence in adult endeavors and for meaning along with the kind of passion that is soul deep rather than settling for the good life based on materialism. We must also teach by example or our efforts will be without substance.

If we are going to leave them better off spiritually than we were, we must be living a life supported by a spiritual purpose that is more profound than appearances, the security of fundamentalism, practices that help us avoid looking into our own souls, or the naïve answers of groups immersed in positive thinking. We should be able to show by how we live that we are aware of our ability to confront our deepest fears and hopes, our joys and sorrows, our wounds of love and how we've failed our own ideals at times. And, as our children mature we must be able to share some of what we've learned from these experiences.

The new president we've elected symbolizes a turning point. So far, he is facing our many problems with foresight and intelligence. I'm impressed that he doesn't see war as the solution to every problem ranging from cancer to terrorism. It is about time we learned, or relearned the lesson from our Founding Fathers, that masculine strength, wisdom and courage, when used in support of life's greatest principles, can overcome the efforts of mighty empires whose major focus is on power and commerce.

Our new president is a symbol of the new potential that has been aroused in our country. But, he is not a savior and he knows it. We must answer our own call to transform our model of living into one that isn't based on the fear of losing our never-ending material growth. The Father Spirit at its best calls us to look for balance and depth, for spiritual growth to balance our material growth and spiritual depth to provide the meaning that can give purpose and support to our lives-because neither the material alone nor the spiritual alone can give us the needed fullness of life.

We are also in a dangerous time. When great new potentials are born, the forces of the old order are threatened and fight back. Just as King Herod slaughtered the innocents, all of the new creative potentials he could get his hands on, the voices of conventional wisdom, of fear and the status quo, will fight viciously to retain their power and control. But, this is an era for men to live with new courage, creativity and love-in the support of life. I am looking forward to seeing my grandsons live into this world, and I want to do everything I can to help prepare them for it and it for them.

The Father Quest: Rediscovering An Elemental ForceThe Father Quest: Rediscovering An Elemental Force
by Bud Harris
ISBN 978-0-9810344-9-2
Available from your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers, and directly from Fisher King Press by phoning 1-800-228-9316.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Press Release: Two New Inner City Titles

INNER CITY BOOKS is proud to add TWO NEW TITLES to its substantial, acclaimed canon of Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts:

125. AN AMERICAN JUNGIAN: In Honor of Edward F. Edinger
(Ed. George R. Elder and Dianne D. Cordic). Illustrated.
ISBN 978-1-894574-26-6. 288 pages. Sewn. Index. $35/£20

This extraordinary compilation brings together essays and reviews by Dr. Edinger together with appreciations by others of his work and interviews with him. None of it has previously been published in book form.

Edward F. Edinger was such a significant presence in the worldwide Jungian community that this volume can only begin to assess his greatness as an interpreter of Jung’s work and his dedication to the significance of Analytical psychology—but it well illustrates his worth.

Contents include:
  • Bibliography of Edinger books and electronic media
  • An American Jungian: Transcript of the acclaimed video,"A Conversation with Edinger," by Lawrence W. Jaffe
  • A Guide to the Writings of Edward F. Edinger, by Robin Robertson
  • Edinger Essays and Reviews:
  • An Outline of Analytical Psychology
  • Paracelsus and the Age of Aquarius
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson: Naturalist of the Soul
  • Individuation: A Myth for Modern Man
  • The Question of a Jungian Community
  • Archetypal Patterns in Schizophrenia
  • Tributes to M. Esther Harding, Eleanor Bertine, Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz
  • The Psyche and Global Unrest

* * * * *

126. JUNG UNCORKED: Rare Vintages from the Cellar of Analytical Psychology—Book Four
Decanted with Commentaries by Daryl Sharp (Toronto)
ISBN 978-1-894574-27-3. 160 pages. Sewn. Index. $25/£15

This volume concludes the author’s adventurous Uncorked series (see titles 120, 121, 123) explicating various essays in C. G. Jung’s Collected Works. Each chapter presents spirited passages from an essay in one volume of Jung’s CW, with experiential commentaries on their psychological and contemporary relevance.

  • 9ii The Shadow
  • 10 The Undiscovered Self
  • 11 Yoga and the West 39
  • 12 Religious Ideas in Alchemy 48
  • 13 The Philosophical Tree 55
  • 14 The Components of the Coniunctio 62
  • 15 In Memory of Sigmund Freud 75
  • 16 Principles of Practical Psychotherapy 87
  • 17 The Development of Personality 108
  • 18 Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams 115

To Order call 1-800-228-9316 to order in Canada and the US or +1-831-238-7799 from abroad.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Enemy, Cripple, Beggar - A Treasure for Our Times

an in-depth review by Joe Madia

Written by Erel Shalit, a noted and extensively published Jungian psychoanalyst practicing in Ra’anana, Israel, Enemy, Cripple, Beggar is a treasure for our times. Vital and applicable to both lay people and experts, the book flows seamlessly and spirally from scholarship, to textual interpretation, to case studies, and the analysis of dreams. Shalit draws on an impressive breadth of scholarship and myths/fairy tales, looking at both history (e.g., the Crusades or Masada) and story.

The book first discusses the key aspects of the Hero, considering Byron, the work of Robert Graves and Robert Bosnak, the Bible, and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, among many other sources.

I take as my starting point the condition of mythlessness in the modern world, as expressed by Jung and reinforced by Campbell and how it is limiting our vision and ability to cure an ailing world rife with war and economic/environmental woes.

If ever we needed to consider the role of the Hero, it is now.

Consider the mistaken mythologizing of the death and wounding, respectively, of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch. While both are certainly heroes, the government’s and media’s manipulation of their circumstances (used to try and justify an unjustifiable war) bring to mind David Mamet’s Wag the Dog, the 1997 film adaptation of Larry Beinhart's novel, American Hero.

The people love their heroes and their construction for societal consumption by the government and the media has become no less than a High Art.

Shalit says, on p. 24: “In society, the hero may be the messenger of hope who lights the torch of democracy. Sometimes it is amazing how, at the right moment in history, the heroism of a nation, spurting forth through layers of oppression, creates dramatic changes and overthrows worn-out regimes.”

Might this apply to U.S. president-elect Barak Obama? Many people think so, and many more find themselves hoping so. Then again, there are many who see him as the shadow, using the term antichrist, and finding similarities between he and Nicolae Carpathia in the Left Behind series.

If ever we needed to consider the role of the Hero, it is now.

Consider the current fascination with Superheroes in the age of CGI and comic book cinema. Just last night I watched Christopher Nolan’s record-shattering The Dark Knight, which takes as its thesis the complicated interrelationship of the hero and the shadow. Given the death of Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, the notions of the Hero are expanded to the realm of the Artist and his or her relationship with Pain.

When Shalit writes, on p. 95, “…life thrives in the shadow; in our detested weaknesses, complex inferiorities and repressed instincts there is more life and inspiration than in the well-adjusted compliance of the persona,” I think that his words bring Ledger’s death into sharp relief. As an acting teacher who works almost exclusively with teens, many of which see Ledger’s “dying for his art” as a form of heroism (an interpretation with which I disagree; it discounts the necessity of craft in preventing such tragedies), I think it is more important than ever to examine carefully the Hero’s role and relationship to the shadow.

The shadow is Jung’s term for the unconscious, the “thing a person has no wish to be” (p. ix). His early experience of his own shadow is, to me, some of the most compelling and useful text in his Memories, Dreams, and Reflections.

The hero must go into the shadow (the forest, the depth of the sea, the desert, the cave­—Plato’s or the Celtic Bard’s) to retrieve his soul. The shadow is a place of misery, calling to mind Schopenhauer’s ideas about life being mostly pain and sorrow and Campbell’s advice to “follow your bliss” [sat chit ananda].

Much of what Shalit centers on as aspects of the Hero are present in the shaman, who also has “one foot in divinity, one in the world of mortals” (p. 33). The journey into the netherworld (often to retrieve or heal the soul), the returning with precious gifts of knowledge, the responsibility of re-integration into the community (see Mircea Eliade’s comprehensive works on shamanism), all parallel the hero’s journey. The modes of the vision quest and the alchemical transformation are, further, symbolically manifested in the landscape of the fairy tale.

Pursuing this idea, Shalit, in the tradition of Robert Bly’s Iron John or Bruno Bettelheim’s Uses of Enchantment, ably presents and dissects a number of fairy tales, myths, and Biblical stories in the course of the book.

“Nixie of the Millpond” is presented without commentary. The myth of Perseus, however, is told with commentary from a wide variety of sources mixed in. It would be valuable to watch Clash of the Titans (1981) after reading this section, as it brings Shalit’s analysis visually to life. Page 47 lists eight traits of the hero myth to guide the interpretation. I would add a ninth—the use of magical items (such as Athena’s shield, Hermes’ sword, and the three gifts of the Stygian nymphs, all of which are given to Perseus to defeat the Medusa).

I have used these same basic elements of the hero myth for the past decade in my theatre workshops with youth and in my books on using drama in the classroom.

If our youth are to break the limiting conventions of societal and governmental structures that have put the planet and its inhabitants in a place of crisis, they—and those who guide and educate them—must understand the Hero and Shadow both.

On p. 65 Shalit writes, “Collective consciousness constitutes a threat by its demand on compliance with rules, roles and regulations.” The mythological fighting of dragons and monsters by the Hero is most clearly articulated to me by Joseph Campbell, when, in various books and interviews, he talked about Nietzsche describing the cycle of life as beginning as a camel loaded down with the requirements of parents and society. The camel then goes into the desert (one of the hero landscapes I mentioned earlier) to become the lion, who must slay the dragon whose scales all say "Thou Shalt." This dragonslaying, certainly a noble and necessary undertaking, situates the Hero as the classic warrior, akin to Michael the Archangel and St. George, but when the fighting is done, the warrior must put down the sword. Whether we speak of the Vulcans comprising the Bush administration (as author James Mann terms them) or an abused child who grows up to wage ongoing battles even on a landscape of peace in a more stable family situation, this is a notion well worth focusing on. I think of the Roman general Cincinnatus, who moved back and forth between sword and plow and the dwarves of the novels of Dan Parkinson, who switch the hammer from one hand to the other as necessary in times of peace and war.

The hero struggling with the shadow often projects onto a demonized Other because, as Shalit reminds us, “Since shadows easily lend themselves to projection [see pgs. 97–101 for the three types identified by Jung], they are discovered so much more easily in the other than oneself” (p. 84). This is, of course, the source of most of the ugliness in the history of Humankind.

The Biblical explorations/interpretations presented are a high point of the book (see, for example, p. 63 on the Virgin Mary) and begin in earnest with the section on the shadow. The etymology of both biblical and mythological names given throughout add much to the discussion.

Shalit uses Oscar Wilde’s “doppelganger novel,” Picture of Dorian Gray, to explore the notion of shadow in terms of our duality, as Dorian is projecting his shadow onto the canvas. Duality—war/peace, animus/anima, masculine/feminine, dark/light—is prevalent throughout the book.

The second half of the book deals with the Enemy, Cripple, and Beggar of the title. The Enemy (the projection onto the Other that is really the shadow in oneself) is explored through such Biblical figures as Amalek, Samson, Jacob, and the key figures in the trial of Jesus. The section on the Fathers and the Collective Consciousness, dealing with Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Barabbas, and Judas, is fascinating reading. The connection of the father and the son resounds on many levels, including the relationship of Jesus/Judas as being nearly inseparable.

The Cripple (one’s weaknesses and inner wounds) is explored through mythological/fictional figures such as Hephaestus, Ptah, Oedipus, Quasimodo, and the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Cripple.” There are case studies here that serve many of the same functions as the analyses of the myths and fairy tales, and will appeal to those interested in the dynamics of Jungian analysis. Certain aspects of the second case study reminded me of Don Juan DeMarco (1995), the film starring Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp, especially considering that love (Eros) is the means to heal the Cripple, as articulated so well in this book.

The final section deals with the Beggar (the “door that leads to the passageway of the Self,” p. 225), which is the Inner Voice or Daemon. Shalit deals here with the notions of alchemy that so fascinated Jung. I was intrigued by the story of King Solomon as the wandering beggar and Shalit’s exploration of the life of the prophet Elijah.

In closing, I want to mention the cover art, a painting titled “Emerging” by Susan Bostrom-Wong, an artist and Jungian analyst. Shalit asks the reader to examine the images embedded in the human figure. It is well worth the time to do so. Like the book itself, the longer you look, the more you will see.

I urge educators, artists, and those in search of new paths toward a life well-lived to buy this book. I know that one of my own heroes, Joseph Campbell, certainly would.

Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and Erel Shalit's many other publications can be purchased by phoning Fisher King Press Toll Free at 1-800-228-9316 in Canada and the US, and for international orders phone +1-831-238-7799 or skype: fisher_king_press. 

Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path

This review of Erel Shalit’s Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path was written by Joey Madia of New Mystics. New Mystics is an online Arts community founded in 2002 by Joey Madia, playwright, poet, novelist, actor, director, artist, musician, and teacher who promotes the work of a group of cutting edge writers and artists. To learn more about New Mystics, Joey Madia, and his most recent publication Jester-Knight visit

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Give me that old time religion. It’s good enough for me . . . Or is it?

Perhaps that 'Old Time' religion has failed us, or at least the deeper meaning of symbols and metaphors have been lost to misinterpreted literalism and that 'old king,' religious fundamentalism. Blindly following old time beliefs and attitudes in their many forms and guises is following our forefathers right over the cliff and into a vast sea of disillusionment and meaninglessness. Will we repeat this by following along with a host of fundamentalist ideals, the endless pursuit of materialism at the expense of our ecology, and other forms of meaningless neurotic suffering, or we will be moved to willingly and consciously suffer the unknown, until these old time religious symbols become alive within and take on authentic meaning as opposed to being a useless, lifeless, hand-me-down relic?

Instead of completely running away from, or blindly following, perhaps we could begin to question these old religions and fundamentalisms, begin to confront and dialogue with these calcified God-Images, and find that lost nugget of gold - the transcendent. After all, like a reoccurring nightmare, these haunting literalized religious concepts and other 'old king' values will not go away until their embedded images are exposed and truly given their due.

Edward F. Edinger’s Transformation of the God-Image and Lawrence W. Jaffe’s Celebrating Soul are two fine Inner City Book publications that address such concerns.

Transformation of the God-Image
by Edward F. Edinger
with a foreword by Lawrence W. Jaffe

"Whoever knows God has an effect on him." C.G. Jung, Answer to Job.

From Lawrence W. Jaffe’s Foreword of Transformation of the God-Image:

Despite the Biblical imagery, this book is not concerned with traditional religion. Its subject, rather, is psychology, the scientific study of the soul. References are to Job, God and Christ because our deepest feelings still resonate to that imagery. Put another way, the reason for the Biblical references is because "Jungian psychology has the task of introducing to the world a new world view" (Edinger, Aion). The roots of this new world view lie in the Judeo-Christian myth.

If, as Edinger predicts, Jung's works are one day read as Scripture once was--for sustenance of our souls, for moving words that touch us to the heart, for reassurance, guidance and orientation--Answer to Job will surely occupy a unique place in the Jungian canon. The special status of Answer to Job as the most complete statement of Jung's essential message has long been acknowledged by Jungians, who have discussed it in countless seminars and conferences since its publication in 1952.

What has sparked all this interest is that the central theme of Answer to Job--the transformation of God through human consciousness--is the central theme, too, of Jungian psychology. Not long before his death Jung himself affirmed its importance, remarking that he would like to rewrite all of his books except Answer to Job, which he would leave just as it stands.

Answer to Job contains the kernel, the essence, of the Jungian myth, and Edinger's study of it, at once erudite and down-to-earth, thoughtful and heartfelt, evokes that essence with unequaled clarity and power.

Celebrating Soul: Preparing for the New Religion

by Lawrence Jaffe

‘Man has a soul and there is a treasure buried in the field.’ --C.G. Jung.

People are beginning to bump up against the limits of materialism and rationalism, realizing that these fail to offer something essential, a purpose in life. Although a few turn back to institutional religion for orientation, many find that road barred to them by their reason and their skepticism. Whatever form the new religion takes it must leave a large place for reason. The new religion will therefore be the product of a marriage between reason and faith, science and religion.

We cannot do without meaning in our lives. Meaning cannot be established objectively; it arises only through a relationship with the inner, subjective world. But it is precisely that realm that has been discredited in our day by the misapplication of the scientific spirit. In compensation, this book describes and gives examples of the inner life in order to help the reader sense the reality of the soul. It explores the spiritual significance of Jungian psychology--its message of personal and cultural renewal for a civilization that has lost its sense of purpose.

In Celebrating Soul, Lawrence Jaffe helps to expose what has been lost in literal translations and brings us into deeper relationship with the symbolic and metaphoric value of concerns such as:
* The New Religion
* The Jungian Myth
* Jungian Spirituality
* What Is Our Purpose in Life?
* The Hymn of the Pearl
* Breaking the Chain of Suffering
* The Golden Rule and the Iron Rule
* The Wounded Inner Child in the Bible
* The Lesson of Job
* The Meaning of Suffering
* Holding the Opposites As Service to God
* Wrestling with the Angel
* The Redemptive Value of Consciousness
* A New Form of Worship
* The Healing of Childhood Wounds
* Success Versus Consciousness
* Jung on the Life of Christ
* Studying Torah and Studying Jung
* Redemption Through Shadow Work
* A Psychological View of the First Commandment
* Testimony to the Holocaust
* Death and Resurrection
* Being "Born Again"
* Individuation and the Bible
* Jung and the Bible on Love
* New Life in Late Life
* A Psychological Gloss on a Benediction
* The Problem of Prayer
* Christ As a Model for Individuation
* Reason and Statistics
* Self-Knowledge Gives Meaning to Life
* The Answer Lies Within
* Psychotherapy As Sabbath
Along with many other publications
Transformation of the God Imag
e and Celebrating Soul can be ordered by calling
Fisher King Press at 1-800-228-9316 in the US, or +1-831-238-7799 from abroad.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Looking for a few Good Men . . . Authentic, 21st Century Men, that is!

Resurrecting the Unicorn: Masculinity in the 21st Centurya review by Mel Mathews
Resurrecting the Unicorn:
Masculinity in the 21st Century

Not long ago while listening to a NPR broadcast concerning Masculinity in the 21st Century, I was caught up by an interview of a woman journalist who had written about 'what it means to be a man in the 21st century.' The concept of a woman reporting on and defining, or attempting to define, masculinity was a bit off-putting. We tread on thin ice when a woman, or women define manhood and/or masculinity, just as we do when a man, or men attempt to define women and femininity. Sure, we all carry these contra-sexual aspects within, but that doesn’t make Man an authority on femininity, nor Woman an authority on masculinity, anymore than it makes a lefty an authority on a righty. The interview soon shifted away from a woman’s definition of masculinity and to pop-cultural definitions of manhood. Perhaps I was still ruffled by this lefty-righty thing, but I also considered it quite shallow to have masculinity or femininity defined by fleeting fashions of pop-culture, for as naturally as DNA defines genetics, archetypal patterns define the psychological and spiritual makeup of masculinity and femininity—not passing trends.

Now, speaking as a man about masculinity, I can say that many 21st century men have been raised by women—without a masculine role model—and what they've learned about being a man has been defined by the media, the women’s movement, and many other distorted social norms. Often, such men discover that they are no longer able or willing to carry these externally imposed values and instead seek alternative definitions of masculinity and lifestyles. Some would call these periods of change a crisis; others would consider this a step in the direction of mental health. Regardless of how we label this time of soul-searching, it ultimately calls for a willingness to suffer the unknown. The rewards for such courage often prove quite beneficial. For those willing to take on the task of becoming an 'authentic' man, one can expect to gain a more defined sense of self who is moved by his own internal values, and in turn experience a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

However, all the compensatory posturing, chest-pounding or drum-beating in the world won't revive this great masculine spirit. This can only be accomplished by developing a deeper relationship to soul, to the archetypal patterns or energies that comprise the core aspects of our beings. The mental landscape of metaphors—dreams, stories, myths, fairy tales—deal with the eternal truths of human nature and are the language of soul. In the recently published book Resurrecting the Unicorn: Masculinity in the 21st Century, Bud Harris masterfully guides readers deep into the realm of metaphors where we can examine the evolution and development of human consciousness and reclaim discarded, yet much needed, integral aspects of our masculine natures.

"True masculinity—not the macho type—is needed for men to be strong enough to meet the feminine in themselves. For this they must find their own masculine face—not a face defined by women," suggests Bud Harris in Resurrecting the Unicorn. Harris then delves into the fairy tale, "Fyrtoiet," better known as "The Tinder Box" by Hans Christian Andersen, where an "Elemental Blueprint for Developing Masculinity" is extracted from the symbolic metaphors of this wise old tale.

Perhaps it’s time to pick up where Robert Bly's Iron John and Sam Keen's Fire in the Belly left off in the last part of the 20th century. If you're ready to explore and claim an 'authentic' masculinity from a place that calls for a great deal of courage, where truth, values, and integrity are defined from within, not by antiquated beliefs or pop-culture, then Bud Harris' Resurrecting the Unicorn is certainly worthy of your time and attention.

Resurrecting the Unicorn: Masculinity in the 21st Century, ISBN 978-0-9810344-0-9 is available from the publisher, Fisher King Press by calling 1-831-238-7799. This timely publication is also available from your local bookstore and from a host of online booksellers.

Mel Mathews' book reviews have appeared in many syndicated publications. He is the author of the Malcolm Clay Trilogy, a series of novels that portray a man’s struggles as he goes against the grains of his upbringings and emerges as a renewed man who is guided by his own inner truth and hard-won wisdom. Learn more about this reviewer and his publications at:

Permission to reprint this article is granted.

Monday, June 22, 2009

On Creativity and Healing

The Creative Soul: Art and the Quest for Wholeness
by Lawrence H. Staples, Ph.D.

In his book, The Restoration of the Self, Heinz Kohut wrote at length about psychically wounded people and the therapeutic methods he used to help them. He found none more effective, or so essential, as creative work. He found, importantly, that it made no difference whether the creative work was deemed good or artistic by any standards. The simple process of doing creative work helped restore the self. It is as if nature plants within us a built-in remedy for our worst affliction, the affliction of being separated from large parts of ourselves. We experience this separation as a kind of inner civil war that divides us internally. It produces the pain and suffering inherent in any civil war, whether in our internal world or outside. It seems that the human urge to do creative work is a compensatory impulse and blessing that arises from the psychic civil war that wounded us. In my own work as a psychoanalyst, I have witnessed the truth of Kohut’s findings. I have watched patients grow in wholeness as they began to work creatively in a variety of media that helped them recover and restore lost aspects of themselves.

Creative work mirrors us in a way we were often not mirrored by our parents. It mirrors us for the simple reason that we can see projected in it, if we look and interpret carefully, our own psychological and spiritual selves. Mirrors in all their manifold forms and guises help restore the wounded self.

Humans simply cannot see themselves without a mirror. Some mirrors, however, are better than others. Some are flawed or distorted so that we see ourselves, but only partially or inaccurately. From early on in life, we depend upon other humans to reflect us back to ourselves. But later in life, if we are lucky, we find that creative work and dreams mirror us more faithfully. We discover that human judgment taints and/or limits what is reflected back. Once we discover that we can mirror ourselves through creative work, we gain a modicum of self-sufficiency. We are no longer entirely dependent upon others to see us.

We may wonder why it is that humans cannot see themselves directly, why it is we can only see ourselves indirectly, as an image reflected by mirrors of various types. As we know any reflective surface, other humans, dreams, and our creative production can serve as mirrors to help us see ourselves as an indirect experience. The secret behind our need for reflective mirrors to see ourselves may be found in ancient wisdom, which informs us that to look into the face of God is to die. This wisdom says that to see the totality, to observe the Tremendum directly, is dangerous. We could infer from this wisdom that to see our own totality, our self, would be equally dangerous. It may explain why Perseus, powerful as he was, could not look at Medusa directly. He could only safely see her in the mirror provided by his shield. At the bottom of the unconscious, represented by the Labyrinth, he would find his own dark side, and could not look at it head on. It doesn’t take too much imagination to suspect that seeing the darkest side of God, or our self, could be a shattering experience. That may be why we hide our darkest side as assiduously as we can in the shadow, necessarily protected from our seeing it until a reflective mirror appears to reveal it to us safely.

As Kohut has observed, we do not have to be professional, creative artists to do creative work that helps us integrate and restore lost parts of ourselves. The integration of opposites takes place through the mirroring effect of the work and its symbols and images, regardless of whether or not our output is deemed by others to be artistic or good. It is the creative process that integrates opposites. It helps make us whole. It helps make us whole because it brings back to us the missing opposites that we early in life cut off from our psychic bodies.

An example of the attempt to integrate the opposites, and to make one’s self whole through art and its mirroring power, is provided by the life of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist, whom I am sure most of you know.

Frida was raised by parents who could not have been more opposite. Her mother was Mexican, rigidly Catholic, cool and puritanical. Her mother had grown up in an age when Mexican women were not allowed to say the word buttocks; rather they would say “that which I sit on.” Nor could they say the word legs; rather “that which I stand on.” And, as in the movie Like Water for Chocolate, they were not allowed to look at their bodies. They were taught to feel guilt and shame about their bodies and themselves. Much of what we would call normal life today was cut off from them. Frida’s mother was severe and frowned on much of what Frida did and who she was.

Frida’s father was a Jew who had immigrated from Germany. He had a completely different cultural and religious experience from her mother. Many accounts report him to have been overly solicitous of and close with Frida, especially after she hurt her foot when she was nine years old. All the children in her family were girls and she became her father’s favorite, and tried to be the boy for him that he never had, but yearned for. She was torn by the wholly different views and values of her parents but behaved in ways that were more acceptable to her father. She was every bit the tomboy, but she was also a lively and mischievous young girl. In her life, she was very unconventional when compared to traditional Mexican women at the time. She drank, she smoked, she was bisexual, had several abortions, was assertive, and was successful in a chosen career in which she distinguished herself.

At the age of 16, Frida nearly died in a terrible accident, breaking her leg and foot, her vertebra in three places, and her shoulder and ribs. She was left partly crippled.

After she recovered, she began to paint. It was as if her paintings were a collage on which she was pasting herself back together. Her paintings were mostly self-portraits. She could literally see herself in her paintings, her mirrors. She was fascinated with her body, which her mother had disallowed. While she was recuperating, she had had a mirror installed over her bed. Some instinct led her to sense the deep need for mirroring that she had not received as a child. Raised in such rigidity, conflicting worldviews, and values, she was cut off from parts of herself, and her painting was an attempt to create her own mirror so that she could restore herself. Her accident when she was sixteen profoundly affected her life and her ability to live it fully. Her painting was essentially her autobiography and a healing endeavor.

Lawrence Staples has a Ph.D. in psychology; his special areas of interest are the problems of midlife, guilt, and creativity. Dr. Staples is a diplomate of the C.G. Jung Institute, Zürich, Switzerland, holds AB and MBA degrees from Harvard, and is the author of the popular Guilt with a Twist and the recently published The Creative Soul: Art and the Quest for Wholeness.

Both books are on sale now!

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