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The degradation of our environment is accelerating beyond the point of our being able to repair it. The problems are many and complex—from the destruction of our forests, to the dying off of our fish. Our impure air and water is causing worldwide increases in chronic diseases including severe challenge to our immune systems. Most threatening of all, climate change may raise temperatures and cause extreme weather conditions for thousands of years. Scientists and experts such as Al Gore can show us charts of what is happening, but the facts and figures don’t reach into the depth of our heart and motivate us to change. Joanna Macy, author and deep ecologist says, “We need to love the world in order to save it.” Using our intellect in this area is not enough; we need to feel an emotional connection to the planet. Advertisers know that the best way to stir us is through images and stories, often culled from myths that deeply affect our psyche...
Consumerism has become the cornerstone of the post-industrial age. Yet how much do we know about it and what it is doing to us? Using theories of evolutionary psychology to underpin a bold narrative of our times, this film takes a whirlwind tour through the "weird mental illness of consumerism", showing how our insatiable appetite has driven us into "the jaws of the beast". Both an apocalyptic and redemptive view of the human condition.
NR: You have said we have to overcome our addictions before we can connect to nature. Does our refusal to confront our addictions lead directly to our destruction of Mother Earth?
We are living at a period of history variously called “the shift” and “the great turning.” A time when the spirit of domination, conquest, heroism, and individualism are on the wane, and a new spirit or zeitgeist is emerging—of cooperation, respect for diversity, and recognition of the interconnectedness of all life.
"Crazy" . . . In the presence of environmental horrors, the word leaps to mind. Depleting the ozone is "crazy," killing off the rhinos is "crazy," destroying rain forests is "crazy." Our gut feeling is immediate, the judgment made with vehemence. "Crazy" is a word freighted with strong emotion.
In 1960 I began my study of chimpanzees on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in what is now Tanzania. At that time chimpanzee habitat stretched for miles, fringing the lake from Burundi to Zambia in the south. Today, the scene is very different: cultivated land crowds up to the boundaries of the park, the trees have gone, peasants are trying to grow crops on the steep rocky hillsides, causing terrible erosion, the soil is losing its fertility, the forest animals have gone, and the human population is struggling to survive.
Performing magic is not simply about entertaining, David points out in this interview. "The task of the magician is to startle our senses and free us from outmoded ways of thinking." The magician also plays an important ecological function, he says, by mediating between the human world and the "more-than-human" world that we inhabit.
Abram: I had learned my craft from American magicians and from books and had thought of magic as a craft that originates as a form of entertainment. But it turned out that it was the oldest craft there is. Sleight-of-hand itself has its origins in the work of the shaman or sorcerer in altering perception and the organization of the senses.
London: Do medicine people ever practice sleight-of-hand magic?
Abram: Well, we've all heard of psychic surgeons, these folks who use a certain style of what we could call magic. In the Philippines, for example, they extract illness from a person's body by passing their hand over it and making a kind of invisible incision. Then they reach into the body and draw out some... (Click title for more)
“There is now a single issue before us: survival. Not merely physical survival, but survival in a world of fulfillment, survival in a living world, where the violets bloom in the springtime, where the stars shine down in all their mystery, survival in a world of meaning.”
Earth is in distress and is calling to us, sending us signs of the extremity of its imbalance through floods and storms, drought and unprecedented heat. There are now indications that its ecosystem as a whole may be approaching a “tipping point” or “state shift” of irreversible change with unforeseeable consequences.
Some of us are responding to these signs, hearing this calling, individually and as groups, with ideas and actions – trying to bring our collective attention to our unsustainable materialistic lifestyle and the ways it is contributing to ecological devastation, increasing pollution, species depletion. But the momentum of our consumer, fossil-fuel driven civilization seems unstoppable, accelerating the destruction of the very ecosystem that supports us.... (Click title for more)
Hózhó. Under a turquoise sky dotted with cotton clouds, Pat, the patchwork mustang I ride feels his tentative way between large boulders and slippery sand. It has rained hard the night before, leaving everything bright and fresh, but the horses are paying for it with the sudden and drastic loss of the topsoil that normally cushions the trail.
As we make our way past a final patch of juniper trees and crest a rise in the rich red earth, Canyon de Chelly, the sacred home of the Navajo for hundreds of years, suddenly reveals itself in all its stunning beauty. For the first time, I think perhaps I catch a glimpse of the meaning of the word the Navajo (Diné) use to describe a state of beauty and order, of being in harmony with the universe (Sandner, 1991).
The Navajo call themselves “Diné” meaning “The People.” They are cultural and linguistic relatives of the Athapascans who inhabit Canada and the American Northwest, having migrated across the Bering Strait in ancient times and.. (click title for more)
There is only one core issue for all of psychology. Where is the "me"? Where does the "me" begin? Where does the "me" stop? Where does the "other" begin? For most of its history, psychology took for granted an intentional subject: the biographical "me" that was the agent and sufferer of all "doings". For most of its history, psychology located this "me" within human persons defined by their physical skin and their immediate behaviour. The subject was simply "me in my body and in my relations with other subjects". The familiar term that covered this entire philosophical system was "ego", and what the ego registered were called "experiences".
Over the past three decades, all this has been scrutinized, dismantled and even junked. Postmodernism has deconstructed continuity, self, intention, identity, centrality, gender, individuality. The integrity of memory for establishing biographical continuity has been challenged. The unity of the self has fallen before the onslaught of multiple personalities.... (click title for more)
My first posts on this blog at the beginning of last year related to my concerns about increasing numbers of calls by various groups and individuals around the world for 'new stories'. Don't misunderstand. those calls for new stories sprang from an important place: the notion that the stories which we tell ourselves about our current ways of living need to be replaced with something more authentic, wild and free.
It is hard for us to imagine the time when human language was primarily just a sound in a wider polyphony of earthy expression – the splashing brook, the patterning of bird song. Hard for us to hear human sound without drawing on the resource of visualizing letters if needed. The inside of our heads has changed dramatically in this regard. This apparent sophistication has crafted a speech that can seem to sit uneasily in the panorama of the wild, with its burbles, chirrups and thunder.
Human language can seem like the voice of a guardian or overlord, rather than the confirming murmurs of a being placed absolutely within this textured web... (click title for more)
Some would argue our contemporary consumer-based, productivity-oriented culture contributes to a collective loss of memory—done of being connected to something larger than our everyday selves. As a society, we have become dislocated in time and disconnected from place, leaving us rootless, transient, and opting for sensationalism instead of spirituality; superficiality instead of soul.
So much of this malady is due to our disconnect from nature, our bodies, and earth itself. We are no longer grounded in something real that gives us context to understand how our lives play out in a fabric of being, a pattern in living nature with a self-organizing intelligence of its own.
As Jung put it,
“Man feels isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of...(click title for more)
Awesome new street art unintentionally shames our leaders into paying attention to climate change.
“Politicians discussing global warming” — that’s what social media users have dubbed this tiny puddle sculpture by Spanish street artist Isaac Cordal.
The image has gone viral in the past few days and it’s obvious why. With sea levels projected to rise up to three feet by the end of the century, it's a stark reminder of our collective failure to act on climate change.
Or maybe not.
As it turns out, Cordal's sculpture is actually called “electoral campaign” and it's part of a larger street art installation called “Follow the leaders.” The tiny cement figures, arranged in bleak scenes of urban disintegration, represent the faceless businessmen who run our capitalist global order.
“These pieces reflect our own decline,” says Cordal. “We live immersed in the collapse of a system that needs change.”... (Click title for more)
Examining the psychological task of change, Mary-Jayne Rust looks at the ways in which we respond to the environmental crisis. How do old stories underlie our present reality?
While few people would now deny the reality of climate change and environmental crisis, many are still turning a blind eye to the situation we face. We are having great difficulty in making even the simplest of changes to our lives. The global scale of our crisis is overwhelming and it is easy to feel apathetic in response. This is made easier when our consumer lifestyles keep us well within our comfort zones.
Via Bonnie Bright
I have fallen in love outward.
“Of course we humans are mightily special....Our opposable thumbs, our ability to balance and ambulate on our hind legs, our capacity for reflection, and our slyness with tools and ever-more-complex technologies entail that we are a pretty unique bunch.
But then again, that hawk soaring overhead is able to fly without any of the contrivances that we depend upon, and the apple tree over there is able to squeeze apples directly out of its limbs, which in itself is pretty damn unique, and a far cry from anything that I can muster with my own body.
Perhaps you could say that the compelling stories we two-leggeds regularly concoct could be called an efflorescence, or even a kind of fruit, like those apples. But still, the way that some whales dive to a depth of six thousand feet, holding their breath for over ninety minutes, seems another kind of astonishment, as is the journey of monarch butterflies. After overwintering in a small cluster of conifers in the Mexican highlands, the monarchs navigate their way north... (Click title for more)
Once people believe that they cannot do anything to change a situation, they tend to react in all sorts of unhelpful ways. They may become dependent on others (i.e., by believing that the government or corporations will fix things, or that technology has all the answers), resigned ("if it happens, it happens"), cynical ("there's no way you can stop people from driving their cars everywhere - convenience is more important to most people than looking after the environment"), or fed up with the topic.
Although environmental threats are real and can be frightening, remaining in a state of heightened distress is not helpful for ourselves or for others. We generally cope better, and are more effective at making changes, when we are calm and rational.
People who are concerned about the environment, and are trying to make a positive difference, need to look after themselves to keep their enthusiasm and motivation up, and to protect themselves from disillusionment or burn out. The following suggestions may help you to ‘stick with it'.
Today there is a resurgence of interest in the sacred feminine. The immense popularity a few years ago of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code spoke not just to our enjoyment of a good thriller but also to the mystery of the divine feminine in Western culture, which is the real thread of the book's chase, from the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa to the search for the grail and the heritage of Mary Magdalene.
We know now how the feminine mysteries were present in Greek culture and myth, as imaged in the story of Persephone, and enacted for more than 2,000 years in the initiations at Eleusis. In the early Christianity women had spiritual equality, and the significance of Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved more than others, being the first to see the risen Christ, points to the esoteric significance of the feminine. We have also learned how the power of the sacred feminine was repressed by the Church fathers, and Mary Magdalene purposely misidentified as a prostitute.
As we awaken from the repressions of the patriarchy we need to reclaim the sacred feminine both for our individual spirituality and for the well being of the planet. Our ecological devastation...(click title for more)
The wisdom of women consists not only in their individual contributions but also in their association with men in the nurture and well-being of life in all its forms: cosmological, social, economic, familial, and personal. This wisdom flourished throughout the Neolithic period of Western civilization. Now, after surviving in a suppressed condition throughout the patriarchal history of modern Europe and America, the wisdom of women is re-asserting itself in all phases of human activity.
In The Great Work Thomas Berry invites a deep reflection on our current ecological and cultural predicament. The move through this era of enormous cultural transition, from a period of human devastation of the Earth to—potentially—a period of benign presence, is the ‘great work’ that we must undertake if we are to fulfil the historical exigencies of our time.
Thomas Berry, cultural historian, is a remarkable and influential thinker on the complexities of this era and the requirements of a viable future. Berry, a Catholic priest, trained in the classical traditions of theology, immersed himself in a comprehensive investigation of the phenomenon of religion, and in particular Eastern religions. He taught Eastern religions at several U.S. universities prior to founding the PhD program in The Histories of Religions at Fordham, from 1966-1979. Berry has written several books on Eastern Religions, such as Buddhism and The Religions of India,1 and during the past few decades has addressed his work to the magnitude of the crisis facing Western civilization.
To situate the essays within The Great Work as well as the responses to the book, it may be beneficial to know some of the key influences that have shaped Berry’s perspectives. Over the course of a lifetime, Berry has developed a deep appreciation for the intense and specific human experiences that give rise to distinct religious traditions and expressions. He could see that particular and penetrating (Click title to read the full article)
I was intrigued earlier this month when I heard from Renee Lertzman, a research fellow in humanities and sustainability at Portland State University, that she was speaking on “the myth of apathy,” the subject of a book she’s writing, at “Engaging With Climate Change: Psychoanalytic Perspectives,” a meeting of psychoanalysts and behavioral researchers in London.
In regarding the polarized, confused, paralyzed discourse around global warming for more than two decades (including my own focus on the field for so long), I’ve sometimes thought that Freud would have had a field day in this realm. Now his successors may be starting to dive in. (The photograph below is from the Freud Museum in London.) (Click title to read more)
We are living in an age widely regarded as “apocalyptic,” though many of us steadfastly try to keep the lid on our share of apocalyptic awareness. But, in the end, it is better to lift the lid and peer into the cauldron. Every therapist understands this, and every patient should as well. And the most direct way of seeing into the living darkness that surrounds us is through our dreams.
My approach to depth psychology has been conditioned by one particular passage from Jung, the first example of his writing I had ever seen. When I first read this quote, in 1972, the words burned into my imagination like tongues of flame:
Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There, in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and... (click title for more)
What happened to our innocent "wide open" connection with the natural world -- that unedited desire to plunge into the falls? Many people are beginning to ask this question, and the answers, that some are arriving at, point to an exciting new understanding of psychological healing. The psychological pain experienced by many may be due to a perceived, and profoundly felt, alienation from the natural world. If so, healing may come about from a reunion of psyche and nature.
In 1992 two books came out that began to unsettle the community of modern psychotherapy practitioners and their clients: James Hillman and Michael Ventura's We've Had 100 Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse and Theodore Roszak's The Voice of the Earth. Both of these books called into question the modern practice of psychotherapy in the face of the continued decline of the natural world. Both authors assert that the suffering an individual experiences is linked to more than their personal story, it is connected to the suffering of the earth and the nurturing systems that sustain us. This extends the realm of human experience to include the world around us and brings the possibilities for... (click title for more)
Bricolage is a sophisticated form of art that can be found across mediums and genres. Quilting, mosaics, collage, and jazz are all examples of this elegant, organic design, examples of how resurrection is possible through the art of re/membering. In bricolage a whole is created from disparate parts; some form of glue—connective tissue—is required. Then something new emerges. Re/creation presupposes collapse, disintegration, disuse; something old has outworn its usefulness. This destruction produces the rich compost—gardener’s gold—out of which life emerges anew.
Famously discussed by Claude Lévi–Strauss in The Savage Mind in the 1960’s, bricolage has since been applied to many disciplines and conversations. I suggest it offers an inherently sustainable tool for depth psychologists and mythologists exploring healing though individuation, especially how to navigate resurrection and what Joseph Campbell defined as the Return... (click title to continue)