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.