Saturday, January 27, 2018

Review: Carl Jung and Arnold Toynbee: The Social Meaning of Inner Work

J. Gary Sparks
$30.00 ISBN 9781894574478
Inner City Books

A quick visit to any social media venue (the world of quotes attributed to famous people) will verify the continuing celebrity of Carl Jung and his world-changing insights. Historian Arnold Toynbee is quoted less often, but Sparks suggests that he was on a parallel path with Jung, as they both noted and put forward their theories that the human psyche is inextricably tied to external manifestation. The two never met but developed an admiration for each other’s work that brings enlightenment to each of their legacies. It is the basis of much of new consciousness thought. Sparks dissects this foundation intelligently and intelligibly with keen discernment and tremendous knowledge. For customers who subscribe to the idea that we all create our own reality, this is book that will explain to them how that idea came to be today’s common wisdom. It is a powerful discussion of symbolism, creativity, the search for meaning, spiritual values, the breakdown of societies, and transformation. It also pays witness to the role of synchronicity in the life of visionaries like Jung and Toynbee.

Anna Jedrziewski
Retailing Insight

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


A man’s journey to find the Answer of Why and How

Searching for answers is a journey with many dead ends, paths to frustration, bridges requiring time to build, and occasionally finding an accurate map/guide who points you truthfully through the fog of life. That “accurate guide”, for me was James Hollis’ book The Middle Passage, published by Inner City Books. I had recently completed two books on the topic of Meaning and began searching Carl Jung as a result. I stumbled across The Middle Passage in a book search on and ordered Hollis’ book. The first page of his Preface declared what my thoughts had been screaming as a direct result of frustration with life, now in my late 50s:

“…the capacity for growth depends on one’s ability to internalize and to take personal responsibility…In a 1945 letter, speaking of the work of personal growth, Jung wrote: The opus consists of three parts: insight, endurance, and action…”

In this reading of the first pages I gained clarity from the fog of frustration - responsibility to act, a choice which was mine only. This was illumination in a dark room of my last decade of living. Could Hollis’ writings give me tools to build my life on rock-bed instead of beach-sand? Intently I continued reading hoping for continued guidance.

“Our lives are tragic only to the degree that we remain unconscious of both the role of the autonomous complexes and the growing divergence between our nature and our choices”

Incredible words of clarity. I saw what I was blind to today as well as when looking back. The pain of my past was requiring, no forcing me to consciously acknowledge my nature and my choices. There are reasons and now questions about those “reasons” are being answered. Continued reading brought words to my conscious requiring me to act: authenticity, obligation to view, projections, the possible path, etc. And then what I desperately yearned to acquire appeared in Hollis’ pages - Hope.

“One of the most powerful shocks of the Middle Passage is the collapse of our tacit contract with the universe - the assumption that if we act correctly, if we are of good heart and good intentions, things will work out. We assume a reciprocity with the universe. If we do our part, the universe will comply…there is no such contract, and everyone who goes through the Middle Passage is made aware of it”

Now I understand, now I get it. Not only that I am not alone - I am comforted in my pain. My pain of the First Passage has caused me to “see” the Middle Passage so as to live life passionately. As James Hollis concludes his book with the metaphor of a castaway on a ship being tossed by the sea of life - I have chosen to grab the steering thanks to the author’s intelligent promptings based on his study of Carl Jung’s teachings.
Piloting vs. Passenger of my Middle Passage,


aka “Joe Pilot@EagleDriver22” Follow Garry on Twitter @EagleDriver22 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Reading companions for the ‘dark night of the soul’

An archetypal motif in mythology and psychologically associated with depression and the loss of energy, the dark night of the soul is an important stage of the quest for deeper knowledge, as Joseph Campbell said:

“The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.”
Journey through the dark night of the soul with these reading companions:
Swamplands of the Soul : New Lifein Dismal Places by James Hollis - Who does not long to arrive some distant day at that sunlit meadow where we may live in pure contentment? Yet much of the time we are lost in the quick sands of guilt, grief, betrayal, depression and the like. Perhaps the goal of life is not happiness but meaning.

World Weary Woman : Her Wound and Transformation by Cara BarkerA World Weary Woman is one whose characteristic response to stress is to struggle to achieve. However, she feels little joy in the process, suffering a disconnection from her feminine body wisdom and her creativity. Her task is to find a way of living authentically that allows her to express what awakens her heart. The provisional life exhausts her and she knows it. Thus she must detach from who she has been, in order to discover who she is meant to be.

The Middle Passage : From Misery to Meaning in Midlife by James Hollis - Why do so many go through so much disruption in their middle years?  What does it mean and how can we survive it? The Middle Passage shows how we can pass through midlife consciously, rendering the second half of life all the richer and more meaningful.

Archetypes and Strange Attractors : The Chaotic World of Symbols by John R Van Eenwyk - Is chaos in our lives a sign that things have gone terribly wrong? Not necessarily. Just as the material world oscillates between states of order and chaos, so also the individuation process involves stages of psychic balance and disruption.

Monday, February 29, 2016

FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD – Digesting Jung : Food for the Journey by Daryl Sharp

Digesting Jung provides readers new to analytical psychology with the main ingredients of Jung’s work and how they might flavor a life.

In the book, Sharp covers complexes, archetypes, instincts, the four typology functions, the persona, the shadow, anima/animus, the Self, dreams, projection, neurosis, the analytical process and the way of individuation. Each chapter begins with an extract from Jung’s writings which Sharp then fleshes out – explaining, expanding and illuminating each idea. The brilliance of Sharp lies in his capacity to distill the complex concepts and ideas of Jung so that they become truly accessible and this makes this book invaluable for the reader new to analytical psychology.

This book moves the reader beyond the mere realm of thinking into a heuristic journey of self discovery, as Sharp says in the book:

 “True healing does not happen in the head.  It occurs through feeling-toned realizations in response to lived experience …. Thoughts ‘in the form of an experience’ have a transforming effect because they are numinous, overwhelming.  They lead to a more balanced perspective: one is merely human – not entirely good (positive inflation) not entirely bad (negative inflation) but a homogenous amalgam of good and evil.  The realization and acceptance of this is a mark of the integrated personality.” (p.60).  

Digesting Jung, is illuminating, thought provoking and “stimulates the reader to ruminate on what is happening in his or her own life and the unconscious factors that for good or ill influence the lives of each of us.

The book is full of provoking questions, encouraging you to discover and become aware of the way in which you function, to assess your attitudes and behavior in a given situation and adjust them accordingly:

“…in this situation, with that person, how did I function and with what effect? Did my actions truly reflect my judgements (thinking and feeling) and perceptions (sensations and intuition)? And if not, why not? What complexes were activated in me? To what end? What does this say about my psychology? What can I do about it? What do I want to do about it?” (p.20) 

As Sharp says “Jungian analysis is not about improving yourself or making you a better person.  It is about become conscious of who you are, including your strengths and weaknesses” (p.58) so that “the truth of yesterday … be set aside for what is now the truth of one’s psychic life” Marie-Louise van Franz, Redemption Motifs in Fairy tales, p.85).

DIGESTING JUNG : Food for the Journey is available as a free download by the generosity of its author, Jungian Analyst and Publisher of Inner City Books. Download the book by simply clicking on the title above.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

BOOK REVIEW OF THE SURVIVAL PAPERS by Robert G. Longpr√©— Through a Jungian Lens

I first read the Survival Papers: Anatomy of a Midlife Crisis in the 1990s when I was beginning a delayed journey through my own midlife crisis. As I read these words in the introduction to Daryl Sharp’s book, I saw an uncanny image of myself. Daryl Sharp had nailed it:

“This book is written for those in their middle years, male and female in more or less equal numbers, who have always managed quite well, have held down a job, perhaps married and had children, and then one day find that nothing works any more.”

This was me, a male who had held down a job, got married, had children and not quite all that sudden, found out that nothing worked anymore. Like so many others over the years since Sharp’s book appeared, people such as myself have discovered hope in the story of Norman, a fictional character who serves a role of analysand in the story, and a second role of illustrating complexes in action, the various faces of archetypes who lay beneath the surface of the human psyche. Norman becomes all of us and we recognise ourselves in him.

Likely the greatest value one is gifted with is the guidance through the unknowns of what happens, and the value of psychoanalysis. When midlife crisis disturbs one’s life with a conflict between the life one is living, and the sense that something is gravely missing, then and only then is there a need to enter into analysis.

“That is why the process of analysis is unproductive unless there is an active conflict. As long as outer life proceeds relatively smoothly, there is no need to deal with the unconscious. When it doesn't, there's no way to avoid it; we are automatically confronted with the other side.”

When I found Sharp’s book, I was already seeking counselling help but felt frustrated because it just wasn’t much more than a bandage approach to trying to fix whatever it was that felt broken. Reading the book, I gradually realised that Jungian analysis was my only hope for dealing with the shadows that hid in the darkness, shadows that had declared war on my ego.

I continued reading, highlighting so many sections that spoke out to me as though I was hearing echoes of a buried voice. Bit by bit as I turned the pages of his book, I began to believe that analysis might just be what I needed. There was no promise of being fixed. If anything, the only promise seemed to be that I would end up digging deeper and deeper into the layers, peeling one layer away at a time as if I was an onion. As Sharp went on to wander through the process of analysis with Norman, I saw that I had been invited to begin a journey that would be both enlightening and threatening. I immediately thought of the journey that Odysseus had taken across seas and foreign landscapes, a journey that ended with him finding his way home. In the process, Odysseus had changed and home had changed. That was the only promise that was given as I read the book. It was enough. I was hooked

It wasn’t long before I found myself devouring other books by Daryl Sharp and the other Jungian analysts who were featured in Sharp’s publishing venture called Inner City books. Encouraged by all that I read, I was ready to commit to working with a Jungian analyst, especially when I finally fell flat on my face and didn’t think I would ever stand upright again. Sharp’s book, The Survival Papers turned out to be exactly that for me, a route to survival.

Robert G. Longpr√©— Through a Jungian Lens

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Daryl Sharp, I have just finished your book, ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART: The Badger Trilogy, Book 2.  In the busyness of the days, I had to wait for the right time/space to enjoy.  

The back cover describes the work beautifully - it is a delightful page-turner and I was surprised when it ended - sorry not to have another page to turn.  It is also "deceptively" simple!!   It reminds me of those analytic hours where nothing serious seemed to happen but you know something did - you can't quite describe it.  A great part of the psyche was felt and perhaps the big Self got involved too.  

You have taken your reader into the world of a man who now can describe 'what happened' to him after a life-time of relating to Jung, analysis, reflection, containment and the opening of oneself to Eros.  The 'mixed blessings' of the messenger's life coalesce in a delightful see-saw of human experiences from the mundane to the sublime.  And every so often, we feel the see-saw of life suspended momentarily in that weighted perfect balance - the one we always tried for as kids.  And then it's back to the ups and downs of the ride and all the push-ups that entails.  When you touch-down on the lonely, lower realities of the dark nights, the music comes on and you push off the ground again, as does the reader - but still feeling they have touched the ground – that it will happen again and again but the Eros filling the ride imbues the reader with the belief that what goes down must go up again. 

The elements of whimsicality, chance, fate are everywhere present but over time, the puppet comes to realize that he can relate to the puppeteer and help direct his own show.  The puppet becomes more flexible and cooperative (sore feet aside) - after all, he is a puppet (or badger, why not) and nothing else to do but succumb to being one.

And that is Eros – a veritably swing, see-saw, jungle gym in your own turret – a playground for the psyche.

J.P, AC Review of Books, Toronto

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Preface Extract from THE SECRET WORLD OF DRAWINGS A Jungian approach to healing through Art by Gregg M. Furth

Interpretation can paradoxically help discover a particular kind of beauty in a drawing. Whoever has made a drawing often judges his picture according to external aesthetic criteria, and he therefore tends to underestimate it in view of his limited means of pictorial expression. Here, interpretation can help the patient change that viewpoint and those criteria. Namely, it allows him to experience that, deep insider, his unconscious is allowing for a surprisingly accurate expression of is emotional state of mind; this, in turn, allows the patient to experience the deeper knowledge reigning beyond his conscious intentions. In the end, it is only interpretation that permits the patient to change over from subjective opinions on the actual aesthetic creativity of his drawing to a better understanding of the autonomous psychic reality it expresses. In this sense, interpretation in one way leads to a reductive summary of the picture, but rather to amazement – on the part of the patient as well as the therapist – at the wisdom of its fundamental creativity.

Gregg Furth eminently succeeds in conveying this feeling of respect towards the drawings he discusses, while at the same time inviting their methodical exploration. He lets the reader feel that picture interpretation is both a mysterious game and scientific work. In this sense, his book is a superior introduction to the right spirit and competent practice of picture interpretation.

Dr Paul Brutsche

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Tributes to Jungian analysts, author and Inner City Books Publisher Daryl Sharp on his 80th birthday

 Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,
The only gift is a portion of thyself. … the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a stone; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing.
Daryl has brought a wealth of gifts – his own books, and the works of many other Jungian Analysts. His own writings, written with wit and humor and human warmth, are pearls of insights. If as has been said, the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life to give it away, to share it with others, we can only congratulate dear Daryl, who truly is living the individuated life, sharing the wisdom of the inner city, so that the world becomes a less noisy, and more meaningful place. I congratulate you, Daryl, and wish you many more years of joy, happiness, meaning and sharing!
Jungian Analyst and author, Erel Shalit, Tel Aviv 


I met Daryl Sharp about twenty years ago as I made my way through a book called the Survival Papers which I had found out about earlier that same year while at a conference where someone had told me about Inner City Books and that they were publishing books by Jungian analysts. Since I had a decades long interest in Jungian psychology, I decided to take a chance and order three books from this publisher including Daryl's book. It was a risk that has paid off in many ways over the years as I built a sizeable collection of the books published by Inner City including most of Daryl's books.

About two months after receiving these first three books, I placed an order for ten more books. I was surprised when I received a letter from Daryl before the arrival of the books. He had noticed that the books were being sent to a town in Saskatchewan where he had spent a number of years as a youth. It was the start of regular correspondence between the two of us. You can imagine my immense pleasure upon receiving a Christmas card from Adam Brillig.

Over the years I have taken the liberty of quoting from Daryl's books as I use photography as a medium to bring Jungian psychology to the attention of those otherwise not familiar with Jungian psychology. I know that I owe my success over the years to Daryl who made Jungian psychology come to life. Thank you, Daryl on your eightieth birthday.

affectionately yours, Robert Longpre of Through a Jungian Lens


On behalf of myself and The Centre for Applied Jungian Studies we would like to congratulate and wish you well on the most auspicious occasion of your 80th birthday. May the following decade bring you much joy, good health and the opportunity to continue your work in our field. The gift you have given the Global Jungian Community, both through your publishing house and your own writing, can hardly be overstated. We are very much in your debt.

All good wishes, Stephen Farah, The Centre for Applied Jungian Studies


Nine years ago as I scoured the internet in search of some understanding of Carl Jung’s work I stumbled upon the work of Jungian analyst, author, publisher and bon vivant, Daryl Sharp. Amongst the pages of his books I explored the work of Jung and saw how Jung’s work might flavour a life. Since then my life, other people, the world has become, for me, far more interesting.  Through these two great men, Jung and Sharp, I have been brought face to face with the many facets that make up who I am, I have learnt to name and claim my shadow and my complexes.  I have learnt that it is okay to live my nonsense. I have learnt to strive for wholeness not perfection and perhaps most importantly I found questions that guide me, that orientate me towards living an authentic life. Thank you Daryl for your amazing books that have inspired, flavored and transformed my life! Happy birthday! 

Tasha Tollman, The Jungian Book Club


Happy 80th Birthday, Daryl! We all extend our sincere gratitude to you for your enormous contributions as a Jungian publisher. The Jungian world owes so much to you for the riches you have brought to us all through the many great Jungian authors and works that Inner City Nooks has made readily available, such as Marion Woodman, James Hollis, Anthony Stevens, Marie-Louise von Franz, Aldo Carotenuto, and so many, many more. I also acknowledge with great gratitude your contribution as a Jungian pioneer in Canada. Without your many contributions, including a founder, and for very many years, helmsman, of the Ontario Association of Jungian Analysts, the Jungian presence in Ontario would only be a very dim shadow of what it is today. In addition to these impressive contributions, I can also speak to Daryl’s great gifts as a analyst from my personal experience. I came to Daryl as an analysand at a time in my life when I was completely depleted and without answers, and over several years, worked with him in analytic work that I can honestly say has been the single most transformative experience in my life. Thank you for all the difference you have made to so many people, Daryl, and to the entire Jungian world. As you would be the first to say, I wish you all the good luck in the world as you journey forward. With every good wish for your 80th, and very many happy returns.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Kallichoron Well by J. Gary Sparks For Daryl

I arrived around midnight.  The flight had been delayed for several hours.  When I got to the hotel I found my reservation was mislaid, and there was no free room.  My suitcase and I had no choice but to set out in the bleak night for a hotel with available room.  After about an hour and a half I finally succeeded—a fleabag room in a rundown hotel.  The room, on the top floor, was immediately next to the large electrical motor that ran the lift.  Who could sleep next to that?

I didn’t want to sleep anyway.  I had imagined the moment of laying my eyes on it ever since I could remember.  I took my street map in hand and went in search.  No matter where I went I couldn’t find it, only a fenced-in park that always ended my route.  Surely the map must be old or badly drawn, I thought.  Finally, about three a.m., in this sleeping city, I looked for a place to sit and recoup.  I saw a light just ahead, the warm glow of what must have been the one taverna open in all of Athens half way to dawn.

I sat at an outdoor table, ordered a birra, and threw my head back.  There it was on the hill in front of me, bathed in the whitish-orange streaks of spotlights, burning its way into my brain.  No wonder I kept missing it.  I had forgotten that the word acropolis derives from two conjoined words meaning, “high place.”   Rightfully so.  In my mind the acropolis reflects one of the high moments of our Western civlization, the birth of free choice.  At least the struggle for free choice, no matter how imperfect that struggle might have been.

The next day, little sleep or no, I headed out to the first locale on my list.  The temple of Demeter at Eleusis, modern Elefsina.  A bus ride took me there in about 45 minutes, and then a pretty raven-haired, olive-skinned girl directed me along the streets to the sanctuary’s remains.

I spent the day wandering the archaeological site.  It’s a massive space, with a view to the water and with the (at least) twenty-five century-old ruts from the wagon wheels carrying initiates to it still visible in the stone slabs forming the ancient road to the ancient entry.  Once inside, I lingered long at the Kallichoron Well.  Was I perhaps unknowingly waiting for the Greek woman who walked past and merely said to me—in English, “that’s where she grieved for her daughter”?  Yeah, grieved.

At the signal for the site’s closing, I walked out the large entrance gates.  In a quiet mood from the enormity of what happened there those thousands of years ago still working in me, I looked up.  The signage of the restaurant just outside the sanctuary said it all.  The restaurant was named “Slow Food.”

Why bother with Jungian psychology and Jungian analysis?  It is a long, slow and often painful process.  There are faster methodologies.  With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy you can retrain your thinking to live a happy and prosperous life.  The reductive approach of Psychoanalysis—by reductive I mean explaining present suffering as mistaken suffering held over from past causes, does work.  Understand the past and “poof” the suffering can be gone.  There is some validity in both approaches I have come to accept after nearly forty years practicing as a Jungian analyst.  Sometimes pain is just too much, and what relief to get rid of it.  The birth of personal freedom in the face of misery is no small matter, and the hell with theoretical niceties.  But those forty years have taught me something else:  the value of the kind of free choice that comes out of the slow food articulated so eloquently by C.G. Jung.

In his most recent book Pocket Jung (I write on the eve of his eightieth birthday—ample proof that the good don’t always die young) Inner City Books’ General Editor and Paragon of Mischief, Daryl Sharp, starts off quoting one of my favorite from C.G.:

[T]he individual will never find the real justification for his existence and his own spiritual and moral autonomy anywhere except in an extramundane principle capable of relativizing the overpowering influence of external factors.  The individual who is not anchored in God can offer no resistance on his own resources to the physical and moral blandishments of the world.  For this he needs the evidence of inner, transcendental experience which alone can protect him from the otherwise inevitable submersion in the mass. (Sharp, p. 7; Jung, “The Undiscovered Self,” Collected Works, vol. 10, par. 511.)

Choice—freedom, is, finally to life at depth, a necessary but not sufficient condition.  Psychology typically understands choice as freedom from, freedom from distorted thinking, freedom from repeating the pain of the past.  For Jung, however, choice and freedom are not finally described until freedom from becomes freedom to.  Freedom to become anchored in and the servant of, as Jung says, an extramundane principle, a transcendental experience.  True, we must be free enough to entertain the reality of the extramundane and the transcendental.  But, in the last account, meaningful freedom only emerges when our freedom serves something bigger.  This something bigger and the way to it is the subject of Jung’s entire scientific research and heartfelt authorship.  That way is indeed slow food.

I know of no other person, outside of the first generation of Jungians (Marie-Louise von Franz, Barbara Hannah, E.A. Bennett, Liliane Frey-Rohn, Gerhard Adler, C.A. Meier, Rivkah Kluger, to name a few … I’d also include Edward Edinger and Marion Woodman in this list), who has done as much to make Jungian psychology available to the wider public as has Daryl Sharp.  His Inner City Books has navigated the treacherous waters of economic survival and respect for the individual so rare in today’s corporate universe.  We Jungians are all small potatoes in the megalith of a profession increasingly dominated by insurance companies and the half-baked practitioners who kiss butt with quick pseudo-fixes, appealing on paper to the quantitative mind.  Daryl’s ear to the individual voice of the small author has given the Jungian soul a chance to express itself, to place its words within the grasp of the intelligent layperson, words which otherwise would have withered without a hearing.  Thanks to the books Inner City has published, it is clear that the spirit of Jung’s work and all it entails lives on and with a living platform. 

As Athens was working its way to sunrise that night when I was moved by the sight representing to me the birth of the struggle for choice, and as the sanctuary of Demeter the next day reminded me of the slow and difficult road in birthing that choice to a meaningful service for life’s greater dimension, so Jung’s work has stared existence in the face at its deepest roots.  As Jung tirelessly demonstrated, choice is given its dignity through the something bigger of transcendence, meaning, and service.  Thank you Daryl for your role in preserving that legacy.

And, Happy Eightieth Birthday most esteemed friend.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Seven Dangers of Becoming Interested in Jung’s Ideas by Daryl Sharp

From a talk by Daryl Sharp, publisher of Inner City Books

Jung’s ideas are apparently alive and kicking, so let me describe some of the dangers of becoming interested in them:

Danger # 1: First and foremost, there is the danger of intellectual appreciation that does nothing to enhance consciousness. The pursuit of information becomes more important than understanding your own experience. No one’s life can be explained by a theory, and no one has ever become conscious simply by believing in one.

Danger # 2: Second, there is the danger of applying Jung’s ideas to others and ignoring their relevance to oneself. For instance, it is relatively easy to see complexes at work in other people; it’s a life’s work to understand how and when they become active in oneself.

Danger # 3: Third, there is the constant danger of inflation. Reading Jung can be a heady experience. At last we see the light! Now we have the answers! Alas, the next time we fall in love or have a fight with our boss, we see that we are still prisoners of our own psychology.

Danger # 4: A fourth danger in getting hooked on Jung is to assume that what is true or right for oneself must also be healing and life-enhancing for everyone else. This is simple a particular manifestation of projection and the messiah complex. Jungian psychology saved my life but I do realize that others may find their truth in other ways. I like the poet Rilke’s comment:  “Basically, it’s none of our business how somebody else manages to grow, if only we’re on the trail of the law of our own growth.”

Danger # 5: A fifth danger is not discriminating between Jung’s work and how it used or interpreted by others. For instance, Jung’s model of typology is the basis for several popular type tests that are widely used in ways Jung specifically warned against.

Danger # 6: A sixth danger is to imagine that Jungian psychology is only about neurosis, personal conflicts and relationship problems. There is also a spiritual dimension, the aspect that has been called soul-making. Soul happens when you ponder alone in the still of the night. Soul is what you are, as opposed to what you seem to be. Analytical psychology is not a religion, but the human longing for consciousness, together with the search for meaning, is essentially a religious activity.

Danger # 7: The seventh and final point on my list is the danger of lumping Jungian psychology in with the so-called New Age Movement. New Age is a convenient label invented by the media. It encompasses a potpourri of individual disciplines involved in the development of mind, spirit, and body. For the most part, New Age pursuits are about self-improvement – by which is meant becoming a better person – or esoteric techniques that promise deliverance from the woes of this world. To this end the New Age journals tout the use of pendulums, crystals, flower therapy and special kinds of food. Such concerns have nothing to do with psychology. The New Age Movement has also spawned a huge market for group experience. In the sixties and seventies there were Encounter Groups and not much else. Now there are groups for just about everything. I don’t doubt that the value in people sharing their traumatic experiences with others who have suffered in similar ways. That’s catharsis, and it has a place. But it’s not depth psychology. If there is any common denominator among those involved in New Age activities, it seems to be the search for a transformative experience. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, people tend to mistake temporarily heightened awareness for rebirth, when they are merely inflated with an overdose of previously unconscious material. I don’t think I’m against the development of mind, spirit or body – I just take issue with some of the means to that end. I do acknowledge that what is written in New Age journals may lead some people to depth psychology in general, and to Jung in particular. However, in my experience this is more likely to happen in reaction to what they read, not because of it, especially if they are looking for more than facile answers to their problems.

THE ANTIDOTE to most of these dangers lies in the experience of personal analysis. You can appreciate the scope of Jung’s work, you can read everything he ever wrote, but the real opportunity offered by analytical psychology today only becomes manifest when you’re in analysis. That’s when Jung’s potentially healing message stops being merely an interesting idea and becomes an experiential reality.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Alchemy Recommended Reading List

Who were the alchemists and why is alchemy relevant to our lives today?

Carl G. Jung discovered that the images and processes he encountered in the old alchemy texts mirrored in symbolic form his theories of psychoanalysis and the unconscious. He saw in alchemy a metaphor for the process of individuation – the transformation of the personality and the search for wholeness. Most of Jung’s alchemical analysis of the psyche is described in three major volumes of his Collected WorksAlchemical Studies, Psychology and Alchemy and his final volume Mysterium Coniunctionis.

Explore the symbolism and process of individuation through:

Alchemy : An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz – This book explores the secret goal of alchemy, the transformation of the personality and the search for wholeness and is an invaluable resource for interpreting images in modern dreams and for understanding relationships.

Aurora Consurgens : On the Problem of Opposites in Alchemy by Marie-Louise von Franz - This rare medieval alchemical treatise is scattered throughout with insights relevant to the process of individuation in modern men and women. The penetrating commentary shows how a classical Jungian approach can unlock the meaning of this psychologically significant text. Originally published in 1966 as a companion volume to Jung’s major work, Mysterium Coniunctionis.

The Mysterium Lectures : A Journey through Jung’s Mysterium Coiunctionis by Edward F. Edinger A comprehensive study illuminating the depth and scope of Jung’s magnum opus and its relevance to everyday life. Here is a treasury of material for understanding and amplifying modern dreams and other unconscious contents.

The Mystery of the Coniunctio : Alchemical Image of Individuation by Edward F. Edinger - Two concise essays on the union of opposites: “Introduction to Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis” and “A Psychological Interpretation of the Rosarium Pictures”—the alchemical drawings on which Jung based one of his major works, The Psychology of the Transference.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

FREE EBOOK - JUNG LEXICON : A primer of Terms and Concepts by Daryl Sharp

Carl Gustav Jung (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961)

Swiss psychologist and founder of Analytical Psychology, Jung brought us a rich framework through which we can explore our psyches, showing us how to look within at the most mysterious thing in the universe, ourselves. This is a journey to wholeness, to realizing our own individuality and to living a life rich in meaning and symbolism.

The Jung Lexicon was designed for those seeking an understanding of the relevant terms and concepts as they were used by Jung himself and includes choice extracts from Jung’s Collected Works. It is a comprehensive overview of the basic principles of Jungian psychology with each term informed by a close reading of Jung’s major writings. It is a valuable guide on the journey into Jungian language and ideas.

The Jung Lexicon is now available as a free eBook, through the graciousness and generosity of its author, Jungian analyst, Daryl Sharp, publisher and general editor of Inner City Books.

Download your free copy today and begin an exciting new adventure!

Monday, December 7, 2015

BOOK REVIEW - DESCENT TO THE GODDESS: A Way of Initiation for Women

Initiation by the Dark Goddess
Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women, Sylvia Perera, Inner City Books, 1981.

Unlike the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, I did not descend willingly. In 2006, my husband Vic Mansfield was diagnosed with incurable lymphoma. He died in 2008. I watched his struggle, eased his suffering when I could, witnessed and held when I couldn’t, and walked with him to the threshold of death. By the end, he and I were naked and stripped, like Inanna when she enters the Great Below.

A few years earlier, I had studied the myth of Inanna and read Sylvia Perera’s Descent to the Goddess with my women’s mythology class. I also met Perera in a workshop around that time. I did not know my life would soon be headed for an initiation into the Dark Feminine.

In 2015, I return to Descent to the Goddess as I prepare to co-lead a lecture/workshop weekend at C.G. Jung Society of Sarasota, FL with Jungian teacher and author Jean Raffa in March 2016. None of us want to descend, but all of us must. We are mortal. We lose what we love and counted on. Harsh experience taught me the importance of this myth as a guide. Descent to the Goddess and Perera’s unique revelations helped me understand, endure, and emerge.

If you don’t know the story of Inanna’s descent, you’ll find it in Perera’s book or at this link.


Inanna (~3500 BC) is Queen of Heaven and Earth in Ancient Sumeria or Mesopotamia. She is a fully realized goddess, wise like Athena, courageous and wild like Artemis, and erotic like Aphrodite. Her many powers includes warfare and seduction, agriculture and the arts of civilization. Like Aphrodite, she is associated with the planet Venus.

Inanna risks everything to descend to the Great Below or kur, the realm of her sister Ereshkigal, the Goddess of Death. In Perera’s words, Inanna “abandoned heaven, abandoned earth—to the Netherwords she descended” (pg. 9) to attend the funeral of her sister’s husband. Inanna approaches the entry to the Underworld in full queenly regalia, but in case she does not return, she leaves instructions with her trusted female advisor Ninshubar. We all need such a friend.

Ereshkigal is enraged by Inanna’s arrival at her door. The Dark Goddess gives permission—with conditions. The Goddess of Heaven and Earth is stripped of every garment and power as she descends through seven gates. She enters the Great Below “naked and bowed low.” “She descends, submits, and dies,” Perera writes. “This openness to being acted upon is the essence of the experience of the human soul faced with the transpersonal.” (P. 13)

Ereshkigal greets Inanna with the Eye of Wrath and the Eye of Death. Inanna is helpless, passive, and stuck. For three days, she is a hanging corpse. Many of us know these places where all is lost.

According to Perera, an initiation into Ereshkigal’s Eye of Wrath breaks our identification with destructive animus ideals and helps women defend their feminine core. This ruthless power is cold and inhuman, not the related feminine that reassures and comforts. This Dark Feminine forces us to surrender to the reality of life and death as it is, not as we wish it to be.

Perera helps me understand how transformation happens to both Goddesses in this myth. Ereshkigal dwells in unconscious realms, stuck in the agony of grief but also giving birth. When Inanna enters, Ereshkigal’s nakedness is revealed and witnessed. At first, there is deathly statis, the one we experience in deep depression or grief. Only a power stronger than ruthlessness and death can move the situation.

Ninshubur remembers her promise. Responding to Ninshubur’s plea, Enki, the God of Wisdom and Culture and, according to Perera, patron of therapists, fashions two tiny mourners from dirt. These “insignificant” creatures slip unnoticed through the gates. They have one skill: empathy. As Ereshkigal cries out in pain, they mirror her agony. They weep for her and repeat her anguished words in a call and response. They relate to her and witness her suffering. Ereshkigal, the Unloved and Despised, responds by giving the mourners what they want: the body of Inanna. The mourners sprinkle the corpse with the food and water of life. Compassion has opened the way to generosity, rebirth, and a path for a return to Life and Light.

Inanna returns from her initiations demonic, possessed by the shadow side. There is more work to be done and a price to be paid for her release before the initiation is complete, but Inanna now possesses the Eye of Death and the Eye of Wrath. She is empowered by the Dark Feminine and can make the necessary sacrifice.

 It is our human lot to descend many times in a life. We are tested by illness, depression, sorrow, madness, suffering, and loss. Perera shows us how Inanna’s descent brings consciousness and new wisdom and teaches us to honor the wisdom of the Dark.

Inanna’s story brings light to “…the lonely grief-rage of powerlessness and unassuaged loss and longing, a hellish place where all we know to do is useless…. We can only endure, barely conscious, barely surviving the pain and powerlessness, suspended out of life, stuck, until and if, some act of grace with some new wisdom arrives.” (Descent to the Goddess, p. 36)

The feminine opposites touch as Light enters the Great Below and Consciousness of Death enters the Great Above. Inanna is not whole until she knows both Life and Death. Neither are we.

“Holy Ereshkigal! Sweet is your praise.” (P. 10)


Elaine Mansfield’s memoir Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief (2014) won the 2015 Gold Medal IPPY Award (Independent Publisher’s Book Awards) in the category Aging, Death, and Dying. Elaine has been a student of Carl Jung since 1970 and has studied mythology for thirty years. She writes for hospice, facilitates bereavement support groups, and gives workshops and presentations. She also writes a weekly blog about the adventures and lessons of life and loss. To learn more about Elaine’s work, please visit her website. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Vic Mansfield (1941-2008) was the author of Synchronicity, Science, and Soul-Making, as well as two other books.

Friday, December 4, 2015


 Addiction to Perfection : The Still Unravished Bride: Through case studies, dreams, and myths, Woodman explores the hidden causes of compulsion in the lives of men and women, the search for an illusory ideal of perfection.  At the root of these addictive and compulsive behaviours, Woodman sees a hunger for spiritual fulfilment, the need to experience a sacred connection to a higher energy. Through discussions of parenthood, creativity, and body image, Woodman shows that freedom from addiction can be found by discovering the wisdom and power of the feminine principle and shows us how to embrace the feminine in us, how to let go of perfection and live with authenticity, passion and wholeness.  This is the limited edition deluxe leather bound edition.

Conscious Femininity : Marion Woodman’s books have sold over  a million copies, with 20 editions in 10 languages. Those already familiar with her will value the deep passion that animates these candid discussions. For those who haven’t yet discovered her, this is an excellent place to start. Contents:
·         Anorexia, Bulimia and Addiction - The Tarrytown Letter (1985/86)
·         Worshiping Illusions - Parabola (1987)
·         The Object in Analysis - Provincial Essays (1987)
·         On Addiction and Spirituality - Family Secrets (1987)
·         Healing Through Metaphor - Common Ground (1988)
·         A Conversation with Marion Woodman - Heartwood (1988)
·         Addiction to Perfection - Yoga Journal (1988)
·         The Conscious Feminine - Common Boundary (1989)
·         Marion Woodman in Perspective - Hans Werner (1990)
·         The Goddess Energy Is Trying To Save Us - Venture Inward (1990)
·         Journey to Conscious Femininity - East West (1990)
·         A Meeting with Marion Woodman - San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal (1992)
·         In Her Own Voice - Common Boundary (1992)

The Pregnant Virgin : A Process of Psychological Transformation :  The Pregnant Virgin gives birth to herself and this book is about transformation and how to retrieve lost consciousness and the deep feminine in both men and woman. Blending art, literature, religion and extensive case material Woodman takes us back and forth between the child losing consciousness and the adult becoming conscious in order to discover how to awaken the archetype of the Self because as Jung said, “only what is truly oneself has the power to heal.”

$95.00 if purchased separately. Spoil yourself or someone you love this Christmas and get all three for only $60.00 – The Woodman Bundle
Offer available until the 31st December 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


I read ‘the’ most incredible book over the holidays. I say incredible with a caveat… it was very challenging and difficult for me to read – as in it actually affected me emotionally. It picked at my scabs. It pricked me where my skin is the thinnest. It led to a full scale breakdown on the beach.
This book is Addiction to Perfection : The Still Unravished Bride, by Marion Woodman.
In her book, Woodman examines our addiction to routine, and why this is not necessarily the answer to happiness that so many ‘self-help’ books and podcasts adamantly declare it is without any doubts. She also offers a different way of looking at sex, redefines ‘virginity’ (I LOVED this), and discusses at length the woman’s relationship to her body and to herself.
Before I continue, I wanted to share her definition of virginity. I love this because it puts the power back in the woman, and takes the emphasis away from sex and towards enlightenment.
“The woman who is a virgin, one-in-herself, does what she does – not because of any desire to please, not to be liked, or to be approved, even by herself; not because of any desire to gain power over another, to catch his interest or love, but because what she does is true.”
Masculine vs Feminine Energy
Finally (the most important part of the book for me), she challenges our preoccupation with masculine energy – the energy that drives our Western culture today. She suggests that we need a balance of masculine (goal-oriented) and feminine (living in the ‘now’) energies in order to live the balanced lives we crave.
As I read her descriptions, I realized that I was dominant in masculine energy – always on the go, I rarely take a moment to care for my body and to embrace the feminine side of who I am. Since reading this book, I’ve started challenging myself in this area. I’ve incorporated gentle caresses of the body I once despised – mine – in the morning through the deliberate and relatively sensual application of lotion. This is fairly vulnerable for me to share, but this ritual has been fairly transformative for me. The ritual has helped me to love my body, and to accept it as an important part of who I am – this female body that I’ve spent so much of my life fighting against.
Of course, the other topic she talks about is Perfection.
“Driven to do our best at school, on the job, in our relationships – in every corner of our lives – we try to make ourselves into works of art. Working so hard to create our own perfection we forget that we are human beings.”

Works of art. That one really hit me hard. That’s precisely what I’ve been trying to do in my life, and it doesn’t work because – as she said – I’m human. We’re all human. We cannot be perfect.
In the book, Marion included several case studies of women that she’d personally worked with. She shared their journal entries. She shared their dreams. It was an unsettling experience. I realized how alike in our insecurities and fears we all are.
i didn’t know who I was
i was too terrified to know
for i somehow felt
that what i was, at my core
was intrinsically evil
i could not find fault with anyone
i saw them… i told them they were perfect
because i had to be perfect
when i looked into the mirror
the terror was that no one would be looking back
the soul was not there
i was an empty shell
Finally, Marion talked about transformation: How to embrace the feminine in us, how to let go of perfection, and how to learn more about ourselves by living with authenticity, passion and daring presence. How? With a desire for change – a desire that will manifest as a slap in the face that will leave you careening, tripping, and probably crying as you find your way towards a new way of being.
“When the possibility of radical transformation presents itself, it brings with it considerable fear. Once the door is opened, the bird who has lived in a cage all its life shrinks back from freedom and the terrors of the unknown.”

Basically, if you want to embrace the challenge… it’s probably going to suck for awhile. That’s where I was coming from when I wrote my breakdown blog post a few weeks ago, That’s what I’ve experienced in my own breakdowns to breakthroughs at least.
Yes, this book was absolutely incredible. I would highly recommend it to those who are ready! I’ll conclude this review with the following quote:
“To be true to the soul is to value the soul, to express it as uniquely as possible. It is loving from inside, rather than accepting a foreign standard that does not take our essence into consideration.”

Christine Bissonnette
Christine is a writer, actor and spoken word poet. Follow her reviews and personal stories at and her conversations with creatives at www.creativelifestyleblog.