Towards An Imaginal Ecology: Presentation for PCC Integrative Seminar

As the final part of the Integrative Seminar, the capstone course of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness master’s program, I gave this presentation as part of a day-long seminar with twelve of my fellow graduates in May 2013. The accompanying paper can be found here, and a shorter introduction is available here.

Integrative Seminar Symposium Flyer

6 Replies to “Towards An Imaginal Ecology: Presentation for PCC Integrative Seminar”

  1. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo, Becca! You have integrated and taken further the work of many of my own teachers! Hurray! May your professional influence reach far into our dysfunctional culture and help to transform it into a healthy habitat for all beings. (I have my doubts that this is possible, but still we must try.)

    I recently rediscovered a writer that you don’t mention, and I wonder whether you are aware of her: Mary Watkins. Mary Watkins, Ph.D., is a core faculty member and the coordinator of community and ecological fieldwork and research in the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is the author of Waking Dreams, Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues, co-editor of Psychology and the Promotion of Peace, coauthor of Talking With Young Children About Adoption, and co-author (with Helene Lorenz) of the forthcoming Toward Psychologies of Liberation (Palgrave Macmillan). She is a co-founder of Santa Barbara for Immigrant Justice.

    Waking Dreams: Mary Watkins, an imaginal psychologist, recovers the immeasurable riches of fantasy life, waking dreams, active imagination, and imaginal others, showing with lucid clarity and remarkable care the relevance of fantasy to the practice of psychotherapy, education, and the drama of individual lives. At once historical, critical, and clinical, this book describes American and European approaches to the image, finally delivering readers to their own relation to the imaginal world.

    Invisible Guests: An eloquent critique of developmental and clinical psychologies and their insistence on listening to only one voice per person. Dr. Mary Watkins is the only person now writing on imagination who knows the field completely, thinks beautifully, and can teach just how to proceed with interior dialogues with imaginal personages.
    The author is one of the original group who founded archetypal psychology in the 1970’s, and this book is one of her most creative expressions.

    I discovered Mary Watkins when I stumbled upon the very profound study she did with Helene Lorenz in “Silenced Knowings, Forgotten Springs: Paths to Healing in the Wake of Colonialism”

    It doesn’t seem that Mary Watkins is as ecologically focused as you and I are, BUT I think her work in archetypal psychology regarding the damage Western imperialism has inflicted on psyches, communities and cultures is completely relevant to the violence this civilization is doing to Nature.

    Lastly, Becca, did you cut your hair?!? or did you just tie it up for your presentation? Now I can see how beautiful you are, but your tresses were also beautiful. 😉

    Congratulations on earning your Master’s degree. Your dad has good reason to be very proud.

    With love, Suzanne

    1. Thank you so much Suzanne for your very kind words. Giving this presentation was really exciting for me as it allowed me to bring together so many of the different topics I have been working with. I am glad to hear they came through.

      I was not familiar with Mary Watkins’ work but upon inquiring found out that my Dad is acquainted with her, so my chances of following up on your recommendation both professionally and personally are pretty good. I’ve got the article you recommended open in front of me now, and I’ll look for copies of the two books you mentioned as well. I am always interested in studying the work of those who engage with the Imaginal, in whatever form it happens to take.

      And yes, I did cut my hair–it was time to let the long tresses go (I donated them to Locks of Love) and go with a new look for a while!

      Thank you again Suzanne! I always appreciate remaining in contact with you.


  2. Very beautiful, wise, and imaginative thesis. Your synthesis of ideas makes me think of a revolution of collective psyche, or maybe a restoration or remembering akin to the work of the Hobbits you referenced, centered in imaginal empathic connection. with gratitude, Gray

    1. Thank you, Gray! I love that term you used, “imaginal empathic connection.” It perfectly captures what I see we need to be cultivating in our relationship to the Earth Community.

  3. Hello Becca, Your presentation gives one hope for a regenerative, restorative future for our beloved Gaia. May your gentle and inspiring words reach many.

    Although I did not know your Dad when we were being shaped by our experience at Harvard, we were both surrounded by brilliant minds and tumultuous times.

    Our senses were assaulted by the grit and grime of Cambridge and the stench of the Charles River, too far removed from the beauty and magic of wilderness. The tyranny and tragedy of the misdeeds of the fledgling military, industrial complex of the U.S. in Southeast Asia exacerbated the sensibilities of any kind and caring human being. These were the days of Agent Orange. The cultural chaos of the late 60’s and early 70’s combined with the early signs of ecological degradation, as rivers were literally catching on fire, led me away from academia. It has taken me many years to heal from the emphasis on the mind to the exclusion of our imaginative body and intuitive heart.

    As Suzanne drew your attention to Mary Watkins, I would offer a recommendation to spend some time deeply immersed in the wilds of Nature and I know of no better guide than John P. Milton and his Sacred Passage program. I have studied and apprenticed with him for more than 20 years and found his synthesis of spiritual, ecological, and shamanic Earth centered practices to be profound.

    Of course, I’m curious where your journey leads you next?

    1. Hi Bud,

      Thank you for your kind words, and the recommendation to look into the work of John P. Milton. I’ll definitely follow your suggestion. As for my upcoming plans, I will be starting in a PhD program this fall, also at the California Institute of Integral Studies, in a new program that is just opening called Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion. I will continue doing work with Imaginal Ecology and J.R.R. Tolkien, and will also be bringing in an archetypal and mythical perspective as well. Thank you so much for asking and for visiting my blog!


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