Archive for December, 2010

A Transforming Symbol?

“… the unconscious produces contents which are valid not only for the person concerned, but for others as well, in fact for a  great many people and possibly for all.”

Jung (CW 7, par. 275)

Jung opens us to the realization that transformation of collective consciousness can take place at any time. The collective unconscious connects all of us together in an interdependent network. This implies that the archetypal patterns arise not just in an individual, but within all of us. We have seen this happen in the past around moments of profound social transformation, e.g. the civil rights movement. Often it takes a symbol to unify people around such collective transformation. This transforming symbol arises from the tension between opposing forces or ideas. This is the essence of Jung’s concept of the transcendent function, in which, the holding of the tension of opposites produces a symbol that leads to the next step in our conscious awareness. This next step in awareness often brings a new feeling of wholeness.

How do these facets of Jungian psychology relate to our relationship to Nature? Our never ending need (or desire) for energy has led us to consume vast amounts of fossil fuels over the past century. The burning of these fuels has led to a dramatic increase in levels of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. This increase in carbon dioxide has warmed the planet and will continue to warm the planet. If we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, within ninety years carbon dioxide will be at the level it was about 40 million years ago. This was a time when there was no polar ice caps, and the world was extremely warm. What is of great concern is the RATE at which this warming is taking place, which has profound implications for how life can adapt to such rapid change. The ultimate and most reasonable solution to this problem is to move ourselves away from fossil fuels. If we do this, then we will prevent the most catastrophic effects from greenhouse warming. It has been very difficult for societies to commit to changing their behaviors around energy use, yet our way of life depends on making such a transition.

The relation to personal psychology is evident. Often we do things that are not good for us, they may even be self-destructive. Yet, we continue to behave in this way. We know we should change, but find we cannot. In terms of Jungian psychology, a complex (or complexes) interferes with our conscious ability to change. Complexes are affect-laden centers within our unconscious that often arise from past experiences or traumas. They are built on past conditioning and can be a very powerful dynamic within us. They can be the very source of the tension of opposites that arise in our life. Jung said all of know we have complexes, but what we do not realize is that often complexes have us.

A tension of opposing forces exists between continuing to use seemingly cheap fossil fuels and moving to a society based on renewable energy sources. We have been holding this tension for the past decade or more. Will our collective consciousness around energy use awaken to the need to move beyond fossil fuels? It may take a new symbol, a new image to arise to lead to such a transformation. What would be the image that would awaken people to this issue?

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Connecting to Nature

Nature provides us with a sense of wholeness. It also provides a path to living a more soulful life. Here soulful means a deeper way of relating to ourselves and others, a way of creating more meaningful connections in our lives. Soulful engagement allows us to experience interiority in the world. The world is no longer inanimate, but is animate.

Carl Jung discovered that we typically relate to our world in four ways. If we rely on only one of these four ways to relate, then we deny ourselves a deeper relationship with our world. The goal of this workshop is to awaken other ways of experiencing our lived-world. These other ways open doorways into experiencing the world more deeply and meaningfully.

The word sustain comes from a root meaning: “to support from below.” Thus, sustaining Earth & Soul means to live in a way where we are supported from a deeper root or foundation. Jung would call this deeper foundation an archetype. Archetypes are embedded patterns within us that allow us to perceive and experience the world in a meaningful way. They also open us to a numinous feeling experience of the world. Jungian psychology provides a means to discover and explore archetypal images that exist within us. I believe that our experience of Nature is archetypal. This is why we experience a sense of wholeness in the presence of Nature. So, to the extent we connect to inner archetypal images, we connect to Nature. Similarly, our connection to Nature evokes or constellates archetypal images within us.

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Esalen Workhop June 3-5, 2011

I wanted to bring your attention to a workshop that I will be giving at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California the weekend of June 3-5, 2011. You can read more about the workshop at


I will be writing more about the workshop over the next few weeks. The essence of the weekend is to open up more effective ways of connecting to our world. The methods that we will use are rooted in Jungian psychology.

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Welcome to A New Journey

This is my first post on my blog! I am a Jungian Analyst in Boulder, Colorado.  I am interested in looking at what Jungian psychology can tell us about our relationship to others and the world. I will post articles exploring our connection to Nature and how this relates to our changing environment.

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