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THE GODS AT PLAY: Archetypal Powers and Patterns in the Arts

  • Saturday, November 07, 2015
  • 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Wesley Seminary, Elderdice Room, 4500 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016


  • Seniors over 65 and full-time students with ID

Registration is closed

Saturday, November 7


Richard Tarnas

There is no place without Gods and no activity that does not enact them. -James Hillman

As ancient poets and modern depth psychologists have long recognized, the arts represent an especially vivid expression of the archetypal principles that inform and inspire the human psyche.

The aim of this workshop is to provide a rich interplay of entertainment and instruction, each enhancing and illuminating the other. The capacity to discern archetypes - the cultivation of what James Hillman called an "archetypal eye," - requires not only thinking but feeling in all ways, through the emotions, the imagination, the aesthetic intuition, the moral sensibility, the relational capacity, the body: one's whole being. Because the arts engage all these dimensions of the human sensibility, we will use representative works of art as windows into the archetypal character of different eras and individuals and into the archetypes themselves.

We'll focus especially on major examples from music and comedy. Music provides perhaps the most profound and direct expression of the archetypal psyche, reaching back to the earliest origins of human culture, capable of touching the depths of our souls. Comedy is ancient as well: the Trickster, whether in the individual psyche, in a tribe or a royal court, or commenting on a presidential campaign, is crucial to the self-regulating and regenerative play of the whole. It is the agent of the unconscious, the marginalized, rebelling against the conventional rulers, speaking the truth from below.

Our approach will be facilitated by the combined lenses of depth psychology and archetypal astrology, which permit an extraordinarily precise focus on the specific archetypal complexes most prominently at work in a given individual, work of art, or cultural era. Video and audio clips of brilliant performances will be played as illustrations for our analyses throughout the day.

Richard Tarnas, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy and cultural history at the Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where he founded the graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. He is the author of The Passion of the Western Mind, a history of the Western world view from the ancient Greek to the postmodern; and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, which received the Book of the Year Prize from the Scientific and Medical Network in the UK. Rick frequently lectures abroad as well as at various Jungian institutes and societies throughout the U.S., and has served for six years on the Board of Governors of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco.

Preview Richard Tarnas' writing and his lectures.


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The Jung Society of Washington is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, a nonprofit educational institution. Our IRS form 990 is available upon request. Although many of the Jung Society's programs involve analytical psychology and allied subjects, these offerings are intended, and should be viewed, as a source of information and education, and not as therapy. The Jung Society does not offer psychoanalytical or other mental health services.
Images of mandalas throughout this site were created by Carl Jung's patients between the years 1926 and 1945.
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