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  • Thursday, November 15, 2018 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    We have…succeeded in forgetting that an indissoluble link binds us to the men of antiquity…By penetrating into the blocked subterranean passages of our own psyches we…establish a firm foothold outside our own culture from which alone it is possible to gain an objective understanding of its foundations.
    -C.G. Jung, CW5, para. 1

    Two decades ago, the notable post-Jungian writer, Wolfgang Giegerich, declared that the modern psychological situation is without parallel, that ancient mythology can no longer illumine the psychology of modern people. We have broken, he states, “with the entire level of consciousness on which truly mythic experience was feasible” (1999:175)*.

    Like Giegerich, we may point to our post-modern engagement with information technology, the internet, virtual reality, social media, and cyber communication as proof that the realities we construct have few, if any, links to our ancestors’ mythic sense of reality or their foundational stories.

    Jung would likely not agree. As our quote from Symbols of Transformation suggests, Jung rejected the idea that modernity could sever our ties to the mythic imagination of our ancestors. He spent a lifetime elaborating this position through his work on the archetypal structures that inform and organize human thought, emotion and behavior.

    The unconscious presence of mythic modes thinking, as well as the ongoing influence of foundational mythic themes in the Western psyche can be broadly illustrated. Ancient mythic underpinnings can still be cited in narrative patterns, basic cultural assumptions and behaviors. And because mythologems may express themselves constructively or destructively, we have an ethical duty to bring them out of the shadows.

    As I will demonstrate in my presentation to the Jung Society of Washington in December, critical examination of Biblical creation stories casts light upon the Western psyche’s dissociation from the land, our continuing investment in economies of extraction, and the industrial exploitation of human and non-human others. Despite its depth and beauty, the Biblical creation myth found in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis paints a bleak portrait of humans in relation to the larger creation. Human identity and existence proceed out of a fallen state; the curse of Adam severs our kinship with the land and its non-human inhabitants. The myth prescribes hierarchical family and social structures and attributes mortality to sin.

    Combined with other ancestral and ideological narratives, these creation motifs continue to inform our sense of time, our relationship with the land and with non-human others. They mirror back to us our fear of death and aging. And sometimes, when not interpreted metaphorically, but instead wielded as inerrant, literal truths, they foster communal warfare.

    Of course, it is important to consider the larger context of any motif. The narrative of “The Fall” is prelude to a much longer story about divine-human relations over the course of history. Our job is not to dismiss the mythic currents flowing out of the past and informing the present, but to think critically, dare to acknowledge how foundational stories inform society and culture, and to track how they underpin one’s sense of self and the world.

    To acknowledge and take responsibility for ourselves as mythic animals we must consider, not just what we think but how we think. We meet ourselves as mythic creatures through this work of tracking ancestral influences, but we also access the restorative and enriching experience of mythic imagination through those states of mind where conscious and unconscious psyches intersect: metaphoric communication, day-dreaming, story-making, night-dreaming, and socalled “mystical states.” I would like to suggest that the much-needed healing of the Western body-psyche may be supported by envisioning the path of individuation as an ecological process, one that fosters the healing of our broken kinship with the land through (what I am calling) “polyvalent awareness.” Working intentionally with the mythic dimension of our humanity, we foster multiple ways of perceiving: Western (differentiated), mythic (weaving ancestral with contemporary story-making) and holistic (explicable only by reference to the whole).

    Differentiated consciousness allows us to approach ancestral narratives with a critical eye. Mythic perception connects us with our deeper resources, allowing us to formulate meaning through metaphor and symbol. Differentiated thinking may help us locate ourselves within our ancestral stories while mythic thinking may carry forward the stories in forms that restore our kinship with the land and help us meet the experiences and needs of our time. Holistic awareness graces us with momentary glimpses of our participation in the greater whole. Polyvalent awareness allows us to receive the stories that rise up from the land. It links us to our ancestors and to one another through symbolic ways of perceiving, and it fosters personal authority in the face of powerful, unconscious currents flowing through us as a people.

    I look forward to sharing this exploration with you in December.

    *Giegerich, W. (1999) The Soul's Logical Life: Towards a Rigorous Notion of Psychology, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

    Melanie Starr Costello, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, historian, and senior Jungian analyst in private practice in Washington, D.C. She earned her doctorate in the History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute-Zurich where she currently serves as a Training Analyst. Dr. Costello has taught and published on the topics of psychology and religion, medieval women’s spirituality, individuation and ecology, aging and clinical practice. Her study of the link between illness and insight, entitled Imagination, Illness and Injury: Jungian Psychology and the Somatic Dimensions of Perception, is published by Routledge Press. Her presentation and workshop, “Natural Symbols, Natural Cycles: Individuation as Ecology,” is scheduled for December 7 and 8, 2018 at the Jung Society of Washington.

  • Monday, October 15, 2018 5:16 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    It is the natural desire and tendency of conscious life to solve problems and then move on.   This proclivity does indeed lead to the resolution of many if not most of life’s dilemmas.   But not the ones that matter most.

    Jung himself shared our desire to quick and happy resolution to the conflicts and stuck places.   He describes, “I had always worked with the temperamental conviction that at bottom there are no insoluble problems, and experience justified me in so far as I have often seen patients simply outgrow a problem that had destroyed others.   This ‘outgrowing,’ as I formerly called it, proves on further investigation to be a new level of consciousness.   Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency.  It is not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.”  (CW 13, Alchemical Studies, par. 17)

    How often the old adage, “sleep on it” does bring a measure of relief the next day when we have been able to step back out of the emotional morass and reframe it in some way.   Our unconscious has also worked on it to provide a new perspective.   Notable artistic and scientific discoveries have risen out of this outer/inner world dialectic.

    Still, many of life’s issues are not solvable.  For example, sometimes quanta of trauma remain in our system and send up bubbles to trouble our days, just as a sunken ocean liner releases its flotsam for decades.  (The USS Arizona is still leaking oil at Pearl Harbor after seventy-seven years).   Sometimes betrayals, profound losses, roads not taken continue to haunt a person and cloud the present.    We will never “solve” these experiences for they are always part of our psychoactive history.   But consciously we can attend to the business of living in the present.   Asking the question: “what does this old, persisting problem make me do, or keep me from doing,” obliges us to take responsibility for what spills into the world through us.

    Some years ago, in a book called Swamplands of the Soul, I suggested that our periodic visitations to dismal places: depression, loss, betrayal, grief, and so on were part of the human condition from which none of us is exempt.   But to move beyond a posture of outrage at life’s “betrayal,” we are called to ask another question: “to what present task is this swampland calling me”?   Asking this question moves us from a posture of “victimage” to engagement with the unfolding of our destiny.   Without this move, fate triumphs over destiny.

    Elsewhere, Jung writes eloquently about those dilemmas to which there is no obvious resolution, or no cost-free resolution.   Then he suggests we hold the tension of opposites which are pulling us apart, until the “third” appears.   The “third” means, neither this nor that, yes or no, but what is the developmental task this dilemma is bringing me.   Where am I being asked to grow larger than, to reframe, to reposition this contretemps?   In asking this question, once again, we are moved from a paralysis, a stuckness, a loss of agency to a summons to accountability.    Being accountable is what it means to be a grown up.

    Jung’s summarizes, “the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble.  They must be so, for they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system.   They can never be solved, but only outgrown.”  (Ibid. par. 18) Meanwhile, the task of living goes onward, with or without our participation.

    James Hollis, Ph.D. is a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst in practice in Washington, D. C. where he is also Executive Director of the Jung Society of Washington. He is also author of fifteen books translated into nineteen languages. 

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018 9:44 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    “Rather seek for yourself and your fellows the healing vessel, the servitor mundi, which you urgently need. For your state is perilous; you are all in imminent danger of destroying all that centuries have built up.”
    — C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 283. 

    Once upon a time, there was a man who illegally became king. Because he knew his own illegitimacy and the precarious position it left him in, he had a great tower built. Notwithstanding its apparent impregnability, the walls of the tower kept on collapsing. The king summoned a unique expert to diagnose the problem. This mysterious diagnostician revealed that there was a serious problem underground. The tower was built over two dragons, one red, one white, who, feeling oppressed by the edifice, would move around, shake the foundations of the tower whereupon the walls would collapse. The dragons were dug up from underground, engaged in their festering conflict and the white one killed the red.

    So begins the backstory to the Grail quest as told by Robert de Boron. The king is Vertigiers; the country is Briton; the expert diagnostician is Merlin. Merlin explains that the red dragon symbolizes King Vertigiers and the white dragon symbolizes the rightful heirs, Pendragon and Uther. The heirs and the king join in battle and the king is defeated. Merlin, because of his knowledge of the archaic past and his ethical pledge to the good, tells the new and rightful king to build a table, at which will sit a knight who will have found the Grail. Eventually we come to a fisher king, whose illness will not heal, whose country is a waste, who awaits something and someone new that will draw life and renewal from the Grail.

    Carl Jung, as indicated in the above quote, felt that the Grail myth was central to the problems of our time. It was Jung’s own mythic world, containing a great secret which, though still unknown, might confer a redemptive meaning on our own wasteland. Is not the backstory of the two dragons our own situation, where opposites are vying in the underground of the collective unconscious, shaking the foundations of our structures and institutions, state and church? Evidence of collapse is all around us. When opposing forces are unconscious, the people may know nothing but nevertheless feel themselves to be undermined.

    In many ways, the point of the Grail legend is to bring into consciousness the situation of dissociation that exists generally in the culture in order to move towards reconciliation of opposites and conscious relatedness. For, the red and white of the dragons, in the imagery of alchemy, are the colors of the bridegroom and bride called into relationship, a coniunctio. That is the hope implied in the Merlin backstory, but we know that is not how it goes, at least initially. There is inevitable conflict and the ruling principle of the culture and the psyche, symbolized by the king, must be overthrown. The words of Hamlet are enacted:

    Laertes: The King, the King’s to blame.
    Hamlet: The point envenom’d too?
                     Then venom to thy work. 

    In Hamlet, the dying King is in denial—“I am but hurt”—and the overthrowing movement of Hamlet cries out in dragon-like rage, “Here, thou incestuous, murd’rous, damned Dane, Drink off this potion! Is thy union here?” In death and destruction?

    The Grail myth points the way to a different outcome, a life-giving and creative union, where the opposites don’t end up in a nuclear fission, but are reconciled, with the result being that the country, from top to bottom, is restored to health. The Grail quest is the search for this hidden wholeness.

    Mark Napack, M.A., S.T.L., M.S., first studied the Grail legend as a student of comparative literature at Columbia University. From there, he went on to study Jung, psychology and the history of religion at Fordham, Loyola and Catholic Universities, from which he received various graduate degrees. A long-time teacher and presenter, Mark has a special concern for areas of psychology and spirituality and an ongoing involvement with the Collected Works of Jung and Jungian classics. He has presented at international conferences and published in scholarly publications. Mark Napack, LCPC is also a Jungian informed psychotherapist in North Bethesda, MD.

  • Sunday, July 15, 2018 4:32 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    "The way to yourself is the longest way and the hardest way. Everybody would pay anything, his whole fortune, to avoid going to himself.  Most people hate themselves, and for nothing in the world would they go where they are, where their native town is, because it is just hell."
    -       C.G. Jung. The Vision Seminars, vol 1, p. 30.

    Tragedy, both ancient and modern, points to this idea.  One has only to look at Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex or Shakespeare’s King Lear or Macbeth or in modern times to Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman or Tennessee Williams’ Blanche from Streetcar Named Desire.   This blog post is just a short introduction to these ideas.

    Oedipus who has unknowingly lived out the oracle’s prophecy has killed his father and married his mother and thus has become the King of Thebes.  Under his leadership, the city eventually becomes plagued with disasters.   Oedipus is determined to find out why, yet he will not look into what is beyond the ego.  He refuses help from the unconscious, in the form of Tireseias.  Gradually, however, he finds out that the troubles in Thebes are the result of his own unnatural acts.  This knowledge comes upon him with great devastation and in his collapse, he blinds himself.  This is the hell of self-knowledge, fortunately, Oedipus Rex is not the end of the story for in Oedipus at Colonus, after thirty years of wandering, Oedipus has become a holy man with great wisdom.

    King Lear and Macbeth both come to self knowledge by way of a dark and difficult journey.  King Lear has a shallow belief in his generosity and the meaning of love, so he divides his kingdom between the two daughters who flatter his narcissism and exiles his daughter who loves him.  After the two flattering daughters deny him of his authority, Lear undergoes the torment of a ferocious storm, symbolizing the difficult journey to the shadow and self knowledge.  Before his death, Lear recognizes the meaning of love and is reunited with his true daughter.  Macbeth, who is a great warrior with a capacity for imagination, comes to know the murderous monster inside himself as he murders and murders, first for kingship, and then to cement his kingship and avoid his guilt.  Macbeth becomes more and more nihilistic, finally averring that “Life is a walking shadow, signifying nothing.”   Self knowledge led Macbeth to despair for he found the inner monster.

    Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman keeps himself alive with the illusion that he is a good man and that he is well-liked.   As the play progresses, Willy learns that his days of being beloved are over and when his son discovers his infidelity, his persona is destroyed, and his shadow cannot be ignored.  His one-sided knowledge of himself can no longer survive, and Willy is unable to bear the pain of this knowledge.  The play ends with his suicide.

    Like Willy Loman, Blanche Dubois survives on fantasy.  She presents herself as an upper class damsel who has fallen upon hard times and so she moves in with her sister, Stella, and her working-class husband, Stanley.  Blanch and Stanley are almost immediately antagonists.  In the meantime, Blanche falls in love with one of Stanley’s more refined comrades, Mitch.  By the by, Stanley discovers the truth about Blanche’s past-viz., that she squandered the family estate, that she had lived in a hotel known for housing prostitutes and that she had been fired from her teaching job for having sex with a high school student.  He tells all this to Mitch, who breaks off with Blanche and as an added insult, Stanley rapes her.  As a result of the broken fantasy, Blanche collapses into mental confusion and as she is taken away to the mental institution, she says the famous line, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”  She has regressed, in her illness, to the fantasy that had kept her alive.  Self knowledge could not be borne.

    For most of us, the gradual understanding and assimilation of shadow behaviors and affects mitigates the effect and although the knowledge will be painful, it will not be catastrophic.   This is also true for the work on difficult complexes. 

    So good news for analysis. 

    Julie Bondanza, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and a diplomate Jungian analyst who trained at the C.G. Jung Institute of New York, where she was Director of Training, a job she also held with the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts. She has taught extensively in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, as well as for various Jung societies across the country. Presently she serves the board of the C.G. Jung Foundation of New York and continues to serve as its program chair, a post she has held for many years. Dr. Bondanza practices in Takoma Park and lives in Washington, D.C.

  • Friday, June 15, 2018 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    Who can be trusted to mark the path in these troubled times where there seem to be no answers and no way forward.  I’m casting my lot with Hermes, that psychopomp who leaves stones to mark crossroads for travelers and who leads journeyers into the underworld and back again.

    Jung, in Secret of the Golden Flower, speaks to the relevance of symbol.  “The collective unconscious does not understand the language of the conscious.  Therefore, it is necessary to have the magic of the symbol  which contains those primitive analogies that speak to the unconscious.  The unconscious can be reached and expressed only by symbols, which is the reason why the process of individuation can never do without the symbol.  The symbol is the primitive expression of the unconscious, but at the same time it is also an idea corresponding to the highest intuition proceeded by consciousness.”

    I have chosen, for now, the ordinary stone as a symbol of the still point, time slowed down, ancient and enduring, a place of rest and solace in times of personal and collective crisis.  It is through the image that we begin to allow an expanding vision that emerges deep within the human soul.  Within that still place the image quietly mediates heaven and earth allowing something new to emerge. 

    There is a story of a woman who is following the Sufi path.  She dreams of bringing her psychological disturbances to her teacher.  Frustrated at the teacher’s seeming disinterest she is taken aback when the teacher takes a dark stone from her pocket which glows bright and pulses with light.  She is told to take the stone out from time to time and look at it.  The Lover and the Serpent, Vaughn-Lee

    The dark stone, which “glows bright” and “pulses with light,” is undoubtedly the philosopher’s stone, the goal of the inner work.  It is always in our possession even though we may forget it from time to time.  In alchemy, the Philosophers shed tears over the stone and von Franz states that the stone sent by God was the starting-point and the goal of the alchemical opus, that place of suffering where the inner work   often begins.

    “I tilled the sorrows of the stone, until love found a way to breathe life into this feeble heart and lift this mortal veil of tears” are the words from the song called “Dante’s Prayer.”  The stone is all around us, the ancient cooling of the earth itself.  It carries mountains and rivers; it is the foundation of the buildings that house us; it is the ancient altars on which sacrifices of petition and atonement were performed.  It was present before any human sorrow and long after humans have ceased to exist.  The stone is in many ways a mystery, interweaving both physically with the earth and symbolically with the human psyche.  In the preface to his beautiful book, Talk to a Stone, Tetsuzan Shinagawa writes:  “Even a stone will respond to you if you approach with love, call out, and talk to it.”  Imagine, for a moment, you are holding a stone in your hands.  Hold it, feel it, love it, flow into and through it.  And, as the 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho suggests, “We begin our journey of transformation in quietness and stillness, letting the stone absorb the noise of our everyday life.”

    Von Franz quotes in Myth in Our Time, “When the Tao, the meaning of the world and eternal life are attained, the Chinese say: “Long life flowers with the essence of the stone and the brightness of gold.”  Jung   comments….”This essence of the stone has grown out of the initial fiery magma.  This fiery magma is a metaphor for the cauldron of the self out of which the inner stone forms which then must be worked and shaped in the journey of individuation.  Indeed, this is not just a necessary goal for each one of us individually; it is a critical goal in present history for the entire human collective.”

    The power of the stone to transform human nature and, hopefully, the collective, is depicted with a beautiful simplicity within a children’s story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  One’s first experience of the Self is generally in projection.  This story is of a boy who sees the divine image in stone, one in which he spends his entire life searching for.

    The hero is named, appropriately, “Ernest.”  The valley in which he lives is a well-populated cross-section of the human adventure, neither better nor worse than human collectives everywhere.  The valley is hedged-in with rocky mountains, and, from down in the valley, a person looking up at a certain out-cropping of rock, will see the outlines of a majestic human countenance.  The face like countenance projects something noble, intelligent, tender, and enormously kind.  Ernest, even as a child, finds this combination lacking in his fellow valley citizens, and he longs to see the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy that someday a paragon will appear in the village who both resembles the stone face on the mountain and who possesses its projected qualities.  As a somewhat solitary and pensive child, Ernest spent hours gazing upon the face of stone.  He reached out with his heart and asked it to become his teacher, a role it retained throughout his long life.  The years went by and various luminaries took center stage, but none came close to capturing the qualities of the face.  In Hawthorne’s words, “The sublimity and stateliness, the grand expression of a divine sympathy, that illuminated the mountain visage and etherealized its ponderous granite substance into spirit, might here be sought in vain.”  An old man now, Ernest is still looking for the prophesized paragon, (face in the stone.)  He alone in the valley is unaware what the other residents now know, that the stone face with its sublime qualities has sculpted the face of Ernest and taken up residence within him.

    In Dimensions of the Psyche, von Franz says of the process of individuation, “Experientially, it is as though something divine and creative intervenes in the life of the individual and indeed in a personal and individual fashion.  We have the feeling that something is watching us, something that we do not see – perhaps that ‘great man’ in one’s heart, who communicates his intensions to us in dreams.”

    It seems to me that unconsciously we all are drawn to the power and meaning of the stone or still point, long before we might become cognizant of a journey of transformation within.  This, of course, is the thrust of Hawthorne’s story. 

    Jungian analyst Edward Edinger imagined the troubled times that we are now living when he wrote of earth-shaking collective phenomenon. “It is manifesting itself in international relations; in the breakdown of the social structure of Western civilization; in political, ethnic, and religious groupings; as well as within the psyches of individuals.”  Towards the end of his life, Jung, himself, was not particularly optimistic about our future, “Too much pointed toward war, mass psychosis, and impending disaster.”  Yet all is not hopeless.  If an adequate number of individuals become conscious…our civilization can renew itself and survive…”A person can only be creative in connection with the “ordinary man” within himself, the inner stone face of which Hawthorne wrote so perceptively.  So, says Jung, “Instead of waiting like a herd of sheep huddling together from fear until some unauthorized figure presses the atomic button, we can actually do something.  We can begin to cut and polish the inner stone of the Self, what the alchemists called the lapis, a symbol of the free, mature, and responsible individual.”

    And returning to lines from the song, Dante’s Prayer:

    “When the dark wood fell before me – and all the paths were overgrown –

    When the priests of pride say there is no other way – I tilled the sorrows of stone.

    …Breathe life into this feeble heart – lift this veil of fear

    Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears – we’ll rise above these earthly cares.”

    And, finally, Jung’s beautiful dream just before he died, as von Franz writes in, Jung, His Myth in Our Time.  “He saw a great round stone in a high place, a barren square, and on it were engraved the words:  And this shall be a sign unto you of Wholeness and Oneness.  Then he saw many vessels to the right in an open square and a quadrangle of trees whose roots reached around the earth and enveloped him, and among the roots golden threads were glittering.”

    With stillness and imagination we can traverse the unknown path as Zen-Buddhist D.T. Suzuki writes:  “The awakening is really the discovery or excavation of a long-lost treasure…this is homecoming.  This is the seeing of ones own ‘primal face,’ which one has seen even before birth.  The unconscious which has been lying quietly…now raises its head and announces its presence through consciousness.”

    Anne Pickup is a licensed psychotherapist in D.C. and Maryland with a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She received her Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles.  She is a founding member of the C.G. Jung Study Center of California, past president of the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts, and current president of the Jungian Analysts of the Washington Area.  She is a member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and is secretary of the Kairos film project; preserving Jung.

    Anne has lectured and taught in N.Y. Calif., and D.C. on themes of separation and loss.   She lives in V.A. and has a private practice in D.C.

  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    Jung wrote about inviting his patients to make art, “The aim of this method of expression was to make unconscious contents accessible and so bring them closer to the patient’s understanding”. (Jung, CW 18 p.182).

    In his work with a young artist, Jung said, “You get all the material in a creative form and this has great advantages over dream material. It quickens the process of maturation, for analysis is a process of quickened maturation. (1989 CW 18 par 399.)

    Jung’s method for analysis rested heavily upon reclaiming unconscious material from the realm of psyche, from the inner life. We have all read even in our beginning studies of Jung’s work, how much he encouraged the retrieval of images from the unconscious.  Dreams he taught are direct paths to the unconscious.  He encouraged his patients to record their dreams and bring them to their analytic sessions.  Then together, analyst and patient would work at decoding the message of the dream. 

    Jung pointed out that just participating in the dialectic with the patient was not enough because there were so many ways of straying from the depths of psyche wherein Jung believed lay one’s true self.  One might retreat to intellectualizations devoid of emotional content to protect one’s fear of self exposure. Often there was a sense of foreboding, secrecy and shame that Jung called shadow. The patient might have moments of dissociation or experience feeling “backed up against the wall’, with no words at the ready.  There are many ways to stay hidden in analysis.  A great deal depends upon the chemistry between analyst and patient. The analyst’s capacity to create a sense of safety, of unconditional acceptance and trust aids in encouraging the patient to grow more comfortable with self disclosure. Then dreams may arise and spontaneous drawings. 

    Jung learned this from his own self analysis. His dreams began to reveal material that often came as a complete surprise to him bringing parts of self that had remained shut away since early childhood. Thus tracking his dreams, he realized was like discovering passageways to the unconscious. He called these entries into the depths of psyche, “rites d’entres”. But dreams he felt were not enough. There were still ways for unconscious content to remain encoded.  There were times when he would feel blocked in his work, stuck  without access to his creativity.  He tells us that when those experiences occurred he reached for his drawing materials, his paints and canvases, or he would carve stone or sit by the lake and use small stones to build little houses and structures of all sorts.  He was driven in his search for the lost parts of self. He called this process the journey of individuation. It was a life long process of personal psychological development. All of the creative, artistic methods Jung turned to for himself served as entries to the unconscious.

    He realized then that there was something unique about using art in the analytic work.  The drawings and paintings that he and later his patients produced were most often spontaneous.  They were unplanned and able to bypass the defenses so dominant in the dialectic process. The messages from psyche just slipped under the door. Then discoveries were revealed and both Jung and many of his patients realized that the art could access even deeper levels than the dreams. And they could be seen by both analyst and patient—they could be kept.  They weren’t ephemeral like the spoken word. Furthermore, Jung discovered that these drawings often conveyed an experience of the numinous.  He called them magical and spoke of enchantment. The drawings became the third in the consulting room. There was the patient, the analyst and the artwork.  Each had a voice. In this way, the patient could be brought directly into the work of interpretation, because, and this was the same in the dream work, the images came from the psyche of the patient.  It would be for him or her to determine the final interpretation of the symbolic content.  This enhanced the process of maturation because the patient was given space to develop their personal sense of agency and not rely entirely upon the wisdom of the analyst.

    Jung was so convinced about the effectiveness of making art in analysis that in addition to drawing and clay work, he invited his patients to use other expressive media as well--- dance/movement to express emotional content or singing, or writing.  There were many times when words seemed not to be enough or when like Jung himself, the patient seemed stuck, perhaps trying to express memories and feelings from a preverbal time. Unable to speak it seemed.   Then the magic of art would be called upon.

    I have been an art therapist and a Jungian analyst for many years.  I have worked with individuals and groups, including many art therapists and students of Jung.   The moments of healing, even transformation, that I have witnessed are countless, as well as my own experiences as a client in art therapy and later in dance movement therapy and my years in Jungian Analysis. I don’t tire of the work often feeling like the guide or sometimes even the mid-wife. I am the witness, I hold the space and I invite my students and clients to make art.  Then we look at the drawings or sculptures together. I ask, “What do you see? Or, What is this about?  What are you feeling, how are you affected by the drawing?”  I point out that often  the art affects us.  Perhaps a quickening, the heart skips a beat or we feel breathless, or constricted or fearful.  We might both feel that way.  Then we have an experience of Jung. Thus art making in analysis lays the ground work for these mutual experiences  and as Jung wrote then both analyst and patient  are  affected and the journey of individuation quickens.

    Sandy Geller, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, is a Jungian analyst and a Board Certified Licensed Art Therapist.  She is in private practice in Washington, DC where she sees analytic clients and does ongoing Jungian Art Therapy groups.  Sandy lectures and gives workshops about Jungian Art Therapy and Creativity. The workshops always provide an experience of Jung and a deep connection with the symbolic.  She has taught at the CG Jung Institute in Kusnacht, Switzerland, The Philadelphia Jung Institute, The Jung Society of Washington, The George Washington University Art Therapy Program and elsewhere.  She gives workshops in her new office just off of Connecticut Ave on the Red Line.  Some recent classes have focused on Dream Drawing, Personal Myth and Fairytale, Personal Creation Myths and Stories.  Many of her clients are artists, poets and writers stuck in their creative process. Working intensely with dreams, art expressions and the symbolic is helpful in the process of awakening the creative spirit.
    For more information go to

  • Sunday, April 15, 2018 9:00 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    We are living in times of great disruption: political passions are aflame, internal upheavals have brought nations to the brink of chaos, and the very foundations of our worldview are shattered. One cannot avoid coming to grips with contemporary history, even if one’s very soul shrinks from the political uproar, the lying propaganda, and the jarring speeches of demagogues. One has duties as a citizen and an obligation to humanity. (C.G. Jung CW10, pp. 177-178.)

    Written 72 years ago, Jung’s words are surprisingly current and relevant, as if he were writing a column for a newspaper’s op-ed page. For me, the question of what constitutes a citizen’s duty to humanity has been reverberating for more than a year. Perhaps you too have been stirred to act, to protest, to resist, to join, mobilize, and march, to write your elected representatives, perhaps even to run for office.

    We are usually spurred into action by the workings of our conscious mind. However, Jung often reminds us that the conscious mind is a bad judge of its own situation.

    He insists that we learn more about our unconscious mind, saying:

    When, as the result of a long technical and moral procedure a person obtains knowledge of the structure of her psyche, based on experience, and accepts the responsibility entailed by this knowledge, there follows an integration or completeness of the individual, who in this way approaches wholeness but not perfection. Instead of striving after the ideal of perfection, we content ourselves with the more accessible goal of approximate completeness. Progress does not lead to an exalted state of spiritualization but to a wise self-limitation and modesty. (CW14:616.)

    Thus, from Jung we have a pair of opposites concerning duty: The first is an external duty, an action to encounter contemporary history. The second is an internal duty, to pursue knowledge of one’s psyche.

    As with any pair of opposites, it is crucial to choose and value both sides. We do not have the luxury of choosing between an external and an internal duty, because we will be incapable of correct external action if we don’t become acquainted with our internal situation. We will locate an enemy “out there” if we fail to befriend our internal adversary.

    One way to pursue the goal of self-knowledge is by cultivating an authentic relationship with our shadow. Only by owning our unwanted psychic contents can we become empowered to discern and deal with any external evil. It is naive to assume that our conscious attitude toward any person, group, or element of society is totally accurate until we acknowledge our unacknowledged unconscious attitude. As Jung points out:

    An unconscious process always sets in when the attitude and orientation of the conscious mind have proved inadequate. Dreams and psychological symptoms must be examined, for they contradict the attitude of consciousness. There will be a stirring up of those archetypes that were most suppressed by the conscious attitude. Then the ego is confronted with its adversary and the melting and re-casting process begins. (CW14:505.)

    Erich Neumann’s Depth Psychology and a New Ethic has been a good place for me to start, re-start, and start again the difficult process of recognizing and owning my shadow. Neumann urges us to stop suppressing, repressing, and projecting our unwanted and unacknowledged unconscious psychic elements.

    In his Foreword to Neumann’s book, Jung writes:

    We might define the “New Ethic” as a development and differentiation within the old ethic, confined at present to those uncommon individuals who, driven by unavoidable conflicts of duty, endeavor to bring the conscious and the unconscious into responsible relationship.

    Here’s to all “uncommon individuals” who wisely and modestly pursue both external and internal solutions to our shared problems, whatever they may be. May we find value in the melting and recasting process.

    Phyllis LaPlante is a certified Jungian Analyst and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She received her Diploma from the C.G. Jung Institute of New York in 1998. She teaches courses in Jungian theory and practice. Semi-retired, she offers short-term consultation.

  • Thursday, March 15, 2018 3:07 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    At the end of Jung’s life, during the height of the Cold War and amidst fear of nuclear proliferation, Jung said in his famous BBC interview: “The state of the world hangs by a thin thread. That is the psyche. What happens to the world if something happens to the psyche?”

    President Trump, as promised, is wittingly and sometimes unwittingly uncovering in our perhaps overly-politically-correct American society all of the darker corners of our American culture. He is dredging up that which Jung defines as the Shadow—all that which is unconscious in an individual as well as collectively as a nation. We may be living now with a new dividing line delineated by the Parkland, Florida shooting. What has emerged with the deaths of 17 beautiful, vibrant students and many others injured in body and mind on Valentine’s Day is a new Youth movement. Survivors of the massacre have found their voice and they are speaking truth to power.

    As observed in our past during the Vietnam War, the politicians from President Lyndon B. Johnson knew deep in their souls that we were fighting an unwinnable war, but face-saving was the tenor of the day. No one wanted to be the President who lost the war. Thousands of young, virile men and not a few courageous women would have to die before these men of power politics were brought to their knees by the movements of the 60’s when higher consciousness was the order of the day—civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights—all culminated in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. The average age of soldiers in Vietnam was 19 years old. The age of those in protest which originated mostly on college campuses and in the poorest areas of America were 18-21 years old.

    Reputable news sources with direct access to the White House describes our current national leader as ‘unhinged’, as revealed in his daily Tweet reactions to perceived personal slights. The media reports his administrative staff in disarray as seemingly evident by numerous firings and resignations—a record number of any presidential administration in our history. President Trump says he likes chaos and pitting staff with opposing views with each other in order to help him then make the final policy decisions. His Cabinet are attempting to carry out his mandate to reduce enforcement of regulatory actions on the business community. And he has successfully coopted the Republican majority in Congress, who have refused to step out in front of the President.

    All of this occurred in the first year of the Trump Administration and the media has been reporting the rapid developments of these vast political changes. Amidst this backdrop of Trump’s challenges and Congress’s inaction, on Valentine’s Day, a former 19-year-old student took an AR-15 to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school and went up and down the halls shooting students, killing 17 and injuring others. Out of grief and anger, a group of outspoken students who witnessed and survived the bloodbath rose up to hold a mirror to our American leaders crying for gun reform. The politicians expressed their sympathy but remained silent on any referenda of gun reform. One 18-year-old student, Adam, said directly to the NRA: “We are not afraid of you.” Another student, Emma Gonzalez, surrounded by fellow students, teachers and parents called out the politicians: “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA are telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We Call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS. If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congress people. Give them a piece of your mind.” And the crowd chanted, “Throw them out!” In other words, the students are saying, “You adults—wake up! Look! You are killing us with your negligence and blind eye of political expediency.

    These students are even raising a larger issue, forcing Americans to ask ourselves: Who as a Nation do we want to be? Even those in Trump’s base are questioning themselves as if to say, “Did we really mean to carry it this far?” When the shadow emerges, despite our best intentions to suppress and repress it, it has its way with us. This wakeup call is what Jung meant by the Psyche. He was focusing on how we confront our shadow material and integrate it. The first step is becoming aware of our actions. But as many of you know, just becoming aware does not mean we change our actions. Our limbic systems, the sphere of our oldest instinctual urges still have the strongest hold on us. Sometimes, many times, even when we are aware that we are doing destructive, silly things to ourselves or others, we do them anyway. It takes conscious choice and discipline to hold to newer, at first often uncomfortable ways of being. This is what Jung calls holding the opposites—the old and the new together, as long as it takes to transcend the dualism with a new creative synthesis. This is what he meant by integration of our shadow; this is what we avoid as long as we can because it is hard and often painful. To slightly paraphrase a well-known quote from John F. Kennedy, “We must do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

    This movement is not liberal or conservative. These are the opposites represented in our struggle. It is about being aware, knowledgeable and empathic with our opposing brothers and sisters as a result of facing the hard inner truths. Only then will we find a new way, what Jung called the Transcendent function or the Third thing, way of being. In our digital age, no one can hide for long. Everything can be revealed. Russian invasions into election processes—not only ours but other nations; Chinese and Russian trade and military support of “bad actors” as Iran and North Korea; sexual abuse in all power centers where one sex has power over the other; immigration issues that reveal ongoing, pervasive racial inequalities and tensions; even in religious areas where secrecy cloaks abuse of power. No one or no place is safe from exposure to the media glare and internet appetite for shining a light on our dark behaviors.

    We cannot hide for long. So Trump’s intentions, the students of Stoneman Douglas and the media are challenging us to ferret out our so-called evil or sinful or destructive ways—those aspects lurking in our shadow. Then what do we do? We have a choice. We can turn the mirror inward and ask, “How is this like me? What do I have to do with any of this?” To extend Kennedy’s famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country, Jung might say: “Ask not what your ego can do for you. Ask what you can do for your psyche and the soul of your Nation.” What we might discover by looking at our own fallibilities may be, through newly-found humility, greater understanding and deeper compassion new capabilities which can bring greater relatability to others’ circumstances and beliefs within our fractured Nation and throughout the World. Our actions then may become easier, not so hard as our vision becomes clearer for resolution to human problems that may bring us closer to more sustained peace and security not only to ourselves, but to our country, and ultimately to the world.

    Janice Quinn, PhD, LCSW, received her diplomate and PhD equivalency in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. Her thesis topic was: “Feminine Self-Worth”. She has several masters degrees – an M.S.W. in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, an M.P.A. in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and an M.A. in musicology from the Eastman School of Music at Rochester University. Dr. Quinn’s worked for 8 years in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as well as the U.S. State Department. She also worked in Washington, D.C. for Community Connections serving extremely mentally ill and dual-diagnosis clients for 4 years.

    Dr. Janice Quinn served two successive terms as President of the Jungian Analysts of Washington Association (JAWA) of which she has been a member since 1999. Her areas of specialty include self-esteem issues, depressive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, mid-life crises and creativity blocks. Dr. Quinn has conducted research on the nexus between spirituality, creativity and depression. She is a member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP), and serves as a senior faculty member for the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysis (IRSJA). She works with individuals, couples and families. She has a private practice in Arlington, Virginia serving the Washington metropolitan area.

    Dr. Quinn is a well-known lecturer in the Washington area, holding lectures, seminars and workshops for the Jungian Society of Washington, the Smithsonian Institution, Johns Hopkins University, and American University. Lectures include: C.G. Jung’s Red Book and the Individuation Process, Music and Jung, Feminine Self-Worth, Baghdad Café and the Individuation Process. She also enjoys interpreting films from a Jungian perspective such as “American Beauty” and film noir. Dr. Quinn has made guest appearances on local TV news shows and provided consultative services for the Library of Congress.

  • Thursday, February 15, 2018 9:00 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    I am a long-term board member of the Washington Jung Society, a student of Jung with Irene Gad, and a working artist in DC for fifty years. I have seen some big changes in this time and ready for more and better changes to come. The recent developments in the world of imbalanced relations between women and men make it hard for me to remain silent.

    At this time of heightened sensitivity to the silencing and abuses of women in our culture, we at the Jung society have a pressing need to explore this subject matter. My work-history goes back fifty years and I feel gives me a unique perspective.

    At age twenty I had lived for a year in Athens, Greece, working at a Greek advertizing agency. I walked to work, half an hour, back and forth each day. I often said to Athenian friends at the time, “If I ever want to know how an outfit looks on me, I just walk down the street in Athens.” And by the amount of “yia sou Koukla” (hey baby) from guys working construction I knew from these complimentary soundings how well turned out I was. Then I moved back to the US and worked as a graphic designer in D.C. Again I walked to work from Georgetown to around 19th and M streets. I was young, in a fashionable short skirt and heels and I had the same number of comments from construction guys as in Athens. The puzzlement I had was this: in Athens all the comments felt complimentary to me, they felt admiring. In D.C. all the comments felt predatory to me. The US comments were not so much friendly as threatening. I was made to feel uneasy. And I had no way of addressing this issue, no way of articulating my feelings. I thought I was alone in this. Recently, I have asked friends who spend time in Europe about this difference in street comments and they too can relate to the same experience.

    By 1962 -1964 I was a graphic designer in the largest Ad agency in DC yet I was paid one third less for the same work than the three men I worked with. I was told that this was because I was a single girl and the guys had families. I was 23 and accepted this though it bothered me in a way I could not articulate at the time. When I left the agency to work for the Federal government in 1964 I tripled my salary. At that time the only work-place a woman was not discriminated against and received equal pay for equal work was the Federal Government.

    The women’s movement came to life for me around 1971. I was astounded, awakened, enthralled. I felt validated and my life took on new meaning. By then I had my own graphic design business, a two-year-old daughter, and a husband who as a trial attorney worked “all the time”. I couldn’t dive into being a political activist…there was no time. I did work for the McGovern/Shriver presidential campaign. They had great day-care. Shortly after that election I began to have serious anxiety attacks. I entered the world of therapy, psychology and Jung. For over twenty years off and on I worked with a series of therapists, culminating with Irene Gad and Jung.

    The concerns I had 50 years ago are still relevant today to women here and abroad. They relate to the questions we have regarding the French women and their criticism of the US “me too” campaign. Those experiences of mine illustrate how long-lasting and complicated this subject matter is for all of us…both men and women. How in the Jung Society can we explore this?

    How can Jung, who was a product of his very patriarchal culture, help us now?

    In the Jungian work with Irene Gad and in the study and writing I did for a BA in Women’s Psychology and an MFA in writing, I was enormously helped by two Jungian writers: Marion Woodman and Robert Johnson among others. Johnson’s small book, The Fisher King and The Handless Maiden, two archetypal stories from the Middle Ages, began to give me language for my feelings, old and new. I learned to articulate what I had silently felt for many years. I wrote a thesis on the origin of the Grail Stories of which The Fisher King is one. In that story the tired and battle-weary Parsifal returns to the castle and at the sight of the ailing King he feels compassion and spontaneously asks the King “Sire, what ails thee?” And by asking that question the king is healed and so is the land. Johnson quotes Jung, “The meaning of life is to relocate the center of gravity of the personality from the ego to the Self.” Johnson explains how Parsifal illustrates “The revelation of the Grail Castle (story) is that life serves something greater than one’s self.”

    Marion Woodman in the Pregnant Virgin taught me to ask, “What was my feeling in that situation, not my emotions, my feeling?” She explains the difference between The Negative Mother complex and Mother Archetype who urges a women to go into the forest alone to listen to her inner self and find healing in nature. This echoes the Handless Maiden’s story when she flees alone into the forest and finds healing. Later in the story she heals her helplessness due to her silver hands with the spontaneous act of plunging her helpless hands into the water and saving her son who had fallen and would have drowned. Holding her son her hands come out of the water totally healed, teaching us how the spontaneous act of compassion can heal, “life serving something greater than one’s self.”

    I think Jung created and opened a door for us to walk through by his work that includes psychology, fairy tales, myth, art and religion. Jung weaves these subjects together to explore human consciousness. I believe this provides a bridge or a series of avenues for us to explore that we did not have before him. 

    One of these avenues has to be a way to rethink, retool, rewrite, and to explore how women have been silenced and disempowered though the ages. By exploring this we can then take off the blindfolds we have all been wearing for some 3000 years and begin to see how we might create a world where women and men, not threatened by each other, can work together, complementing each other. There is too much work for all of us to do at this time to preserve peace, the ecology of earth (Gaia: earth as a living organism), and to begin to seriously help the impoverished people of the earth. 

    We only waste time upholding the patriarchal mind-set we have inherited. On the contrary, we must read people like Mary Beard, Cambridge classics scholar and author whose latest book, Women and Power writes, “we need to look a lot more carefully at our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship to power.” And “If there is a cultural template, which works to disempower women, what exactly is it and where do we get it from?” And we must listen to Marion Woodman, “In an age addicted to power and the acquisition of material possessions, the creative purpose must have something to do with the one thing that can save us – love for the earth, love for each other.”

     So, this is a small start. A new beginning for me to address this subject matter and I think the Jung Society is one place for us to begin.

    Pat Silbert, M.F.A. has lived and worked in the Washington area for more than forty years. As a graphic designer, she was assistant Art Director at the Office of Economic Opportunity, then turned to painting full time. She still is painting, currently a partner at Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, her paintings evoking the natural world, the river, trees, and Buddhist iconography. Along the way Silbert earned a degree in women’s psychology and an M.F.A. in writing. She facilitated a healing-clay workshop for five years at a women’s shelter in Washington, D.C., and also gave this workshop in numerous healing centers in the U.S. and in Findhorn, Scotland. Silbert also has taught basic nutrition at the Washington School for Girls in S.E., D.C. She has been married for over forty years and is close to her two daughters and three grandchildren.

  • Sunday, January 14, 2018 8:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    “My soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call to you—are you there?” (C. G. Jung, The Red Book)

    “There is no country on earth where the ‘power-word,’ the magic formula, the slogan or advertisement is more effective than in America.” (C. G. Jung, “Mind and Earth,” Civilization in Transition, para. 102)

    Soul is hard to find in America.  Indeed, America is hard to find. 
                   Hard to find;
                      wild strawberries   swans   herons   deer
                                those things we long to be
                      metamorphosed in and out of our sweet sour skins —
                      Hard to find; free form men and women
                                harps   hope   food   mandalas   meditation
                  Hard to find; lost not found   rare as radium   rent free
                      uncontrollable   uncanny   a chorus
                      Jesus   Buddha   Moses   founding fathers   horizons
                      hope  (in hiding)
    Hard to find; America   

    —Daniel Berrigan, S.J., “America is Hard to Find."

    And yet, “America” is everywhere.  A veritable spiritus mundi, a 25/8 whirlwind of projection and “power-words,” as Jung would say, a sense that the advertisement of self is the same as self and the slogan confects the soul.  In such a situation, the soul goes into hiding.

    Jung’s own words to his lost soul are also ours, in this time and this place.  Are we not called, through our individual and socio-economic symptoms, to a journey of recovery of soul from the exile to which it has been banished?  Standing in our way is spiritus mundi, that collective apotheosis of ego-enflaming inflations.  Perhaps the first thing we need to be clear about is that anima mundi can be distinguished from spiritus mundi.  Although W. B. Yeats understood spiritus mundi in a manner similar to the collective unconscious, when “a vast image of Spiritus Mundi” troubled his sight in his celebrated poem, "The Second Coming," this “shape with lion body and the head of a man, / a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,” embodied counter-values of chaos and nightmare.  One could say that as “Things fall apart” and structures dismantle, we are washed up on a new shore where we may find our souls in the darkness of the ruins.

    We have come a long way from the anima mundi as described in Plato’s Timaeus, where our anima is “the consubstantial scintilla, or spark of the Anima Mundi, the world soul (Jung, CW 11, para. 759).  Still, the question of soul persists and Jung’s work is a singular effort in soul recovery in a soulless time.  Where do we go?  What do we do in the face of the Cronos-like images of spiritus mundi?  Turn away and turn toward.  There are two types of images. The first are those whose splinter psychic logic is to fixate and possess, seduce and misuse.  In traditional thought, these have been referred to as idols—e.g., the golden calf or golden whatever.  The second type of image is the symbol which relates things which are opposed and apart, does not collapse otherness and even opens to transcendence.  In traditional thought, these have been referred to as icons or even sacramental realities—e.g., the imago dei which human beings are in their diversity and unity.  This transcendence-immanence of symbols is the way of the soul and soul-finding.  As always relating to something/someone other, the soul and its symbol language is radically capax alterius and is never reduced to the agenda of the power complex of the ego and its “power-thoughts” and “power-words.”

    America is hard to find, though it is everywhere, and soul is hard to find, perhaps in a Babylonian exile.  There are strong and gentle traditions of prophetic, artistic, and religious soul in America.  Are they now in a reliquary, having been drowned out by a crass and vulgar  materialism and a lack of conversation?  Conversation itself assumes a discourse of self and other and hence a sense of the symbolic.  It is a back and forth where one is not collapsed into the other and the other is not collapsed into one.  Can these soul in America traditions be recovered by the re-beginning of a conversation and a venturing forth of the symbolic sense?  And are we on a threshold that we but need to cross in order to come back home, “And know the place for the first time” (T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets)?

    As I ventured forth in these brief musings with a poem, I conclude with one.  In the spirit of the symbolic conversation where the way of the other is the path of soul-finding, I look outside of America, since it is hard to find, in order to find soul, “On the Threshold.”

    Be happy if the wind inside the orchard
    carries back the tidal surge of life:
    here, where a dead web
    of memories sinks under,
    was no garden, but a reliquary.

    The whir you’re hearing isn’t flight,
    but the stirring of the eternal womb;
    watch this solitary strip of land
    transform into a crucible.

    There’s fury over the sheer wall.
    If you move forward you may come upon
    the phantom who will save you:
    histories are shaped here, deeds
    the endgame of the future will dismantle.

    Look for a flaw in the net that binds us
    tight, burst through, break free!
    Go, I’ve prayed for this for you—now my thirst
    will be easy, my rancor less bitter …

    —Eugene Montale, “On the Threshold,” trans. by Jonathan Galassi.

    Mark Napack, LCPC  is a Jungian informed psychotherapist in private practice in North Bethesda, MD.  With an academic foundation in Comparative Literature from Columbia University, he has earned Masters degrees from Loyola University in Maryland and Fordham University, and a post-graduate degree from Catholic University of America.  A long time lecturer and instructor in areas of philosophy, religion, and spirituality with a concern for psychological integration, Mark has presented at national and international conferences.  His work has appeared in various scholarly publications.  His current interests have to do with threshold experiences of self and soul in literature and Jungian psychology.


"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." – C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Welcome to the Jung Society of Washington's blog. Here you'll find posts by our speakers on topics ranging from interpretations of Jung's works to comments on events from a Jungian perspective, and so much more.

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