Symbolic Images and Energies of Inner Transformation

In a time of cultural fragmentation and danger, many of us yearn for wisdom and practical guidance that can help us live meaningful lives. Such wisdom and direction must speak directly to our inner lives as individuals at least as much as to our outer conduct in the world and our relations with others. Contemporary and traditional depth psychologies aim at facilitating essential processes of inner transformation and renewal.

On Friday evening, we will explore “horizontal” and “vertical”transformations, using two symbolic images: that of an inner psychic “law” and its liberating transgression, and that of the psyche as an “oil lamp” which transforms itself by consuming itself.

Symbolic Images and Energies of Inner Transformation

On Saturday, we will look at an all-encompassing “circumambulatory” transformation, as depicted in an important set of Renaissance alchemical illustrations.

All three of these image systems function much like dream images which can facilitate a dialogue in depth between consciousness and the unconscious. These systems belong to psychological and spiritual lineages, which promote practical ways of working on oneself aimed at fundamental inner transformation. We will discuss them in light of the seminal insights of C. G. Jung.

Aphrodite’s Shadow in Beverly Hills and Hollywood

No mere sculpted image or poetic fragment from ancient time, Aphrodite lives mightily today in the lilt, glance, style, indeed — in the Fate of countless women and the bedazzled admirers who pursue her. Whatever Aphrodite’s claim to Beauty and the ‘erotic moment,’ hers is a shifting image whose nocturnal associations may have as much to do with a night of death as a night of love. Drawing upon a childhood in Beverly Hills and her ten years as a Hollywood actor, Dr. Landau will thus explore the impact of the archetype on women¹s lives with clinical examples, tales of bygone actresses, mythical amplification, and feminine typology generally in this uniquely personal analysis of the Aphrodite archetype.

Dionysus and Aphrodite: Desire and the Search for Beauty

From Socrates or Euripides to the Inquisition to Jim Morrison or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the irresistible power of Dionysus plays essentially the same role. Arousing erotic desires, fomenting revolt, conjuring visionary experience, Dionysus unveils religious dimensions of sexuality and the body that normative institutions invariably condemn. While the cosmos of Dionysus includes an entourage of phallic deities, his beloved Aphrodite (whose identity extends to maenad, Ariadne, Persephone, Great Goddess) remains the prime image of Beauty on which eros focuses. Dr TePaske will explore this archetypal pair in various social and individual contexts, emphasizing the intrapsychic tandem of desire and Beauty so central in the soul’s realization. (slides and video excerpts will be used).

The Father: Who Is He?

The Image and Reality of the Father has been increasingly precarious in this past century. From the American and French Revolution, through the Industrial Revolution in which men were demoted to chain workers, on to the experience of the young father as veteran by way of two World Wars and the Vietnam war, and witness to the downfall of the Terrible Fathers (the dictators of the 20th century), there has been a historical and symbolic demise in the status and power of the Father. As shown in myths that celebrate him in Western Antiquity, the Father has been largely a cultural construction; recent, fragile, and relative. That historical and symbolic change reaches us through the collective unconscious. Is it surprising then that the increasing separation of fathers from their children in every corner of the Western world is occurring? We will discuss this century-old phenomenon in light of the dynamics of our collective experience, rather than as a sum of individual cases.

The Father: Who Is He?

Three classical characters: Hector of the Iliad, Ulysses of the Odyssey, and Aeneas of the Aeneid will illustrate the ambivalence between man as Father and man as Competitive Male. A series of slides will show images of fathers in different places and times. They represent many gradations, from authoritarian to soft, and should offer opportunity for analysis and discussion.

The Jewel in the Wound

The body plays an integral role in the expression of personal myth. Exploring the symbolic dimension of a body symptom helps to unravel the mystery of wounding and healing that lies hidden within the symptom itself. Dreams, visions and artwork will be utilized to bring meaning to such manifestations.

Within this context, Ms. Rothenberg will describe her personal experience with psychic wounds that manifested as physical scars and that led her to Africa to study scarification rites. The scars, instead of simply being the source of embarrassment and pain, became the sacred jewels that illuminated the path of self-understanding, thus creating a link to the spiritual meaning embedded in a body symptom.

Body Symptoms in Individuation

Physical illness presents us with a challenge: to turn something problematic into something meaningful. Early primal experiences are manifest both psychologically and physiologically through one’s life journey. Suffering cannot be avoided when traveling the road of individuation; yet renewal is born out of the darkness of the unconscious and of the body.

This workshop will be a presentation and illustration of the role of body symptoms in reflecting and stimulating the process of individuation. It will include discussion of the archetypal dimension of diseases of the skin and the intestines. Participants are invited to bring examples from their experiences involving the body.

Grace in the Desert: Awakening to the Gifts of Monastic Life


When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
For I had lost the path that does not stray. (Dante, Inferno I of the Commedia)

A desire stirs in each of us at some point in our lives, prompting us to leave the familiar confines of family, neighborhood and routine and take to the road in response to one of the oldest archetypal impulses embedded in our psyche: pilgrimage.

The pilgrim is not a tourist, a road warrior, or one mobile for the sake of movement alone. Pilgrimage is a questing after some appetite in the soul that possessions or success will not satisfy. A poetic journey stirred by the process of individuation, it is also a sacred restlessness for an experience that transcends the normative, everyday reality we live out, at times, almost unconsciously. It is a journey both external and internal which insists on documenting itself in memory and in the act of writing. I call this action “pengrimage.”

Jung reminds us that “the quality of inwardness is missing today:” ie an awareness of an inner correspondence or equivalence with an actual event or situation in the world. Pilgrimage is an attempt to allow for the presence of this correspondence between psyche, spirit and world through silence, solitude and meditation.

Joseph Campbell and One’s Personal Mythos

“Metaphor is the language of myth.” (Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor)

Morning Session
From September 1954 to August 1955, the well-known mythologist Joseph Campbell made a year long pilgrimage to India, then on to southeast Asia and Japan. In that journey he slowly realized what his life’s work was to be. Looking together at passages from the two journals he kept (Baksheesh and Brahman, and Sake and Satori), we will note his method, the content and the rising realization in Campbell of his own personal mythology as recorded in these books.

Afternoon Session
Like Campbell, each of us has within a personal myth that seeks its most appropriate path in the world. We will individually, and then together, explore the contours of our own myth through 3-4 writing exercises designed to uncover the metaphors that comprise our personal mythology. Coming after our morning conversation, these exercises will allow us to remember and choose an event or two in our own lives that we could acknowledge as having a powerful influence on who we have been and are continuing to become.

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