I am a scholar, artist, and counseling astrologer, and I am an editor of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology. I received my PhD in Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. My dissertation is titled The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien. I now teach at both Pacifica Graduate Institute and CIIS, as well as several other online education platforms. I have published one book thus far, titled Journey to the Imaginal Realm: A Reader’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
My first home was in Big Sur, California, which has always been the greatest inspiration for my deep love of the natural world. I was educated at the San Francisco Waldorf School for thirteen years before pursuing Environmental Studies and Theater Arts at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. I returned to the Bay Area to get my master’s degree in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness at CIIS. I now live in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California so that I can be closer to the natural world. My research interests include depth psychology, archetypal studies, literature, philosophy, and the ecological imagination.
This website houses a selection of my essays, lectures, paintings, poems, stories, plays, and travels for the enjoyment and hopefully inspiration of others. Thank you for visiting!
35 Replies to “About Becca”
Inspiring, intelligent, imaginative .. thank you
A friend directed me to your site. We share a LOVE of Richard Tarnas’ work participating on an online monthly group. I am in my 10th year teaching middle school in the public school system in a very poor neighborhood. Briefly reading your bio connects me to thoughts about education. Clearly you are applying your creativity, discovering your point of view, and openly yearning to help humanity. We all are here to evolve. Thank you for heading into life with your heart open!!!
You do credit to the Waldorf School. Great job on Tolkien
I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation on Tolkien and Jung…you are a creative inspiration for young women (and men) alike! Thank you for reminding us that there is still such mystery, magic, and beauty in the world, yet to be uncovered…
without words…..your words show that you are a special soul
“I am deeply passionate about caring for the Earth, and finding ways through art and storytelling to help humanity continue to fall in love with our exquisite planet.”
I think you are a most remarkable young lady, driven by the spirit. May it carry you far upon its wings.
Becca… so many wonder-filled words. A world I ‘know’ is fast becoming only images. Esse in Anima. Have you yet ‘touched’ Jung and the anima. THE anima… SHE ?? This is a ‘man’s world’ ruled by ‘the feminine’. Only when Man understands this simple psychic ‘fact’ do we have any chance of Love — Love ‘of the world’, of each ‘other’, but most profoundly, of ourSelf.
Spin your chrysalis carefully…for this is where Psyche ‘grows’ her wings.
You are a remarkable person. Thank you for sharing your insights on Tolkien. And I agree that melding his images with Jung is a keen stratagem. I sincerely hope it proves fruitful for you. I am an old man now so seeing the heights that Tolkien has ascended (‘author of the century’ etc.) always strikes me a bit queer and marvelous. My own labor has to been to demonstrate a valid and useful ‘evolution of the imagination’ or arguing the ontological status of the imaginal realm (i.e., Faerie) that would not smack of overt credulity: Jung and Corbin have their uses certainly. Have you ever delved into Jung’s work with W. Pauli (e.g., on ‘psychoids’)? Another interesting and powerful mythopoeia to explore is William Blake’s prophecies. I found both N. Frye and K. Raine’s scholarship to be quite inspiring perhaps you might as well.
Astrology, huh? Hmmm, I have always had trouble with it–don’t know why really. Can you perhaps recommend a good source for the skeptics?
Godspeed and bona fortuna on your dissertation defense.
Thank you Andrew for your kind and moving words. I am really touched. Your own work around understanding an evolution of the imagination sounds fascinating. While I am familiar with the names of those you recommend I have not looked deeply into the work of any of them, and haven’t yet looked into Jung’s work on psychoids. Thank you for the recommendations.
As for your skepticism around astrology, I can completely understand. Recognizing that it works and is empirically valid is certainly not a matter of faith for me—it is a perspective I have come to over time. For skeptics I would recommend first and foremost the introduction to the book Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. It was written by someone who came to the discipline as a skeptic and was convinced by the evidence. And if that appeals to you I would also recommend getting a reading of your natal chart by a good archetypal astrologer. I would be happy to continue the dialogue as well!
I’ve been aware of the fact that Jung has been in contact with Wolfgang Pauli for some years, yet I never looked into it. I think remembering seeing a book listed with the title “The Jung-Pauli letters”.
What you wrote about these two remarkable (and on first thought so vastly different) minds again sparks my interest. I’m going to look for it; I’m hugely curious.
I remember perusing that book, C&P when it first came out. I’ll check it out again. Prof. R. Tarnas is your father, yes? And I am trying to wrap my mind around the conjunction of archetypes and astrology. I have bought into the atomic nature of consciousness to such a degree that it is difficult to see it as a public domain; and yet of course it is. How could we even think without culture after all? The unconscious is then alloyed within a nested system of ‘morphic biocultural’ fields–easy peasy. The tricky bit comes when you insist upon synchronistic correlations physically manifesting: golden scarabs, detonating bookcases, & U.F.O.s as “catalytic exteriorization phenomena” as exhibiting the archetypes psychoid nature as “transgressive” (i.e., not confined to the psyche). Still it does jibe with Whitehead’s notion of a “dipolar” conceptualization of actual entities.
I was reading your essay on Teilhard in Archai and it got me thinking: if celestial planar patterns reliably align with human historical events, could they also correlate with non-human historical events? Again, Sheldrake’s ideas make this approach a natural extension. In other words, Becca, can you read the natal chart of a species (e.g., H.sapiens)? Also, the so-called Cambrian Explosion can be confined to a fairly narrow time span: Would that correlate with the archetypal planets in a discernible way?
If it did I think that would be very exciting for it would be an example of a kind of conceptual trilocation: evolutionary-archetypal-astrology. Booya.
Your houseplants know more about archetypal astrology than I do; but, since H.sapiens is the only species in our planet’s history to evolve symbolic communication…Could you not predict seeing something meaningfully significant going on with Mercury alongside the speciation of human beings–between 100 – 50kya with a peak around 75kya?
Would do you think…honestly?
As far as I am aware, because the solar system is in fact a chaotic system, we cannot predict where the planets will be with any accuracy more than a few million years out. So, similarly, we could not extrapolate planetary positions backwards to the Cambrian explosion with any confidence.
Andrew, I can appreciate your difficulty with seeing the correlation between archetypes and astrology: one can think of the movement of the planets as like the hands of a clock, which do not cause it to be a particular time but rather correlate to that time. In a much more complex and nuanced way, it is the same with the movements and relationships between the planets, that they indicate the archetypal energies that are manifesting in events unfolding on Earth, in world events as well as in individuals’ personal experiences, without physically causing them to be so. This is where the concept of synchronicity comes in, when an external event meaningfully correlates to one’s internal experience and state of consciousness. Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re going through a particularly poignant experience or deeply emotional situation and a coincidence occurs outside of your control that exactly mirrors your internal state? Sometimes they are very simple, such as thinking of someone or having a dream about them, and then they call that day, or being given a book by someone when you were just thinking you need to learn more about a certain subject. The correlation of the movement of the planets with their archetypal manifestations can be seen as a continuously ongoing synchronicity between human events and the positions of the planets.
As for your question about looking at the birth chart of the species, part of the difficulty is in the timescales. Not only what Matt said about not being able to predict the exact positions of the planets millions of years out but also that biological evolution takes place on time scales that are far larger than those that align with the positions of the planets. Most outer planets transits last about a decade or so, such as the alignment of Uranus and Pluto that took place in the 1960s and again right now from 2008-2020, that each correlate to widespread revolution, innovation, and titanic cultural shifts, or the Uranus-Neptune alignment of the 1990s that correlated with a seeming golden age of awakening and new consciousness, new hopes for a synthesis of science and spirituality, innovation in pervasive technologies such as the internet, New Age spirituality, re-enchantment in literature and film-making, and so forth. These time scales are significant in human history but are too narrow from what we understand of biological evolution. The longest transit of any two outer planets are when Neptune and Pluto align for a hundred years—the last trine (or 120° angle) between these two planets correlated exactly with the flourishing of the Romantic period in Europe. There are of course very significant moments of human evolution that correlate with longer alignments of the outer planets: the most prominent perhaps being the Axial Age as described by Karl Jaspers where all the world’s major religions find their source. To quote Jaspers:
“Confucius and Lao-Tse were living in China, all the schools of Chinese philosophy came into being, including those of Mo Ti, Chuang Tse, Lieh Tzu and a host of others; India produced the Upanishads and Buddha and like China ran the whole gamut of philosophical possibilities down to materialism, skepticism and nihilism; in Iran Zarathustra taught a challenging view of the world as a struggle between good and evil; in Palestine the prophets made their appearance from Elijah by way of Isaiah and Jeremiah to Deutero-Isaiah; Greece witnessed the appearance of Homer, of the philosophers—Parmenides, Heraclitus and Plato,—of the tragedians, of Thucydides and Archimedes. Everything implied by these names developed during these few centuries almost simultaneously in China, India and the West.”
— Karl Jaspers, Origin and Goal of History, p. 2
It so happens that the Axial Period was also the only time in recorded human history that the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, were aligned in a triple conjunction, meaning they were located next to each other in the sky.
I could go on, but if you’re interested I would suggest you read Cosmos and Psyche. And yes, you guessed correctly that Richard Tarnas is my father. I came to studying archetypal astrology and this work by my own long and winding path, but have found the world view to be absolutely resonant with my experience and direction.
Thanks for the interest. I appreciate it considering the oddball nature of the idea. You guys are awesome. Full transparency, Whitehead is a tough read for me as his prose makes my head hurt but I much enjoyed the works of David Ray Griffin. I am wondering which of your several books I could actually read and understand. Is ‘World-Soul’ available on Kindle?Akin to seeing the ascent of Tolkien in the literary world, witnessing the increasing credibility of panenpsychism in consciousness studies as a viable alternative to eliminativism is kind of freaky for me. Back in the mid 90s I seriously considered applying to CIIS (under the sway of Wilber’s SES) but I chickened out. In a real sense Matthew, you and Becca and all the students engaged with the PCC program of study are truly heroic(no lie, no irony) in my eyes. When you witness people actually doing what you desire to do but are unable, for lack of heart or mind or spirit…it is an interesting feeling my friend. I just wish there was some way I could pitch in and help, seriously.
I looked up ‘stability of the solar system’ in Wikipedia right after I sent in my comment yesterday, doh. I concede defeat. Damn you Chaos! Or at least I concede on the Cambrian Era. But truth be told I am more interested in the origin of anatomical / cognitive modern humans. The available evidence thus far gives every indication of a ‘punk eek’ emergence after basically a million years of the same old. Graphic artistic expression is dated at less than 75kya as essentially no one disputes something like Lascaux is indicative of the truly human i.e. logico-symbolic imagination.
Therefore I am throwing down the gauntlet my brother…Surely the chaotic perturbations of the celestial spheres can hold steady long enough to allow H.sapiens ‘natal’ charts of a mere 100k to 50k bce, right? Wikipedia says the window of stability is on the order of a few tens of millions of years; so you know, it should be all good to crunch the vectors. My falsifiable hypothesis then is: Since the only organism to EVER develop Whitehead’s highest grade of feeling as symbolic reference (do I have that right?), would you not expect to see something pretty funky going on with Mercury 75k bce, seriously? A derivative corollary hypothesis would be a significant interaction between Mercury and Venus as I for one believe symbolic reference evolved by means of orthodox-Darwinian sexual selection; with the slight possibility of a Mars influence as their has been a significant re-emergence of group selection theory (due to presumed long species history of intergroup, internecine warfare).
Honestly, I was just trying to think of an interesting and relatively easy paper you guys could do. Imagine. Just for a minute, imagine you actually got something…if not Mercury then something meaningful. On the holy crap scale how awesome would that be? And this is just a software program right…punch in the values and voila, get your correlations, right. Think what a sublime victory that would be for the predictive power of archetypal astrological theory. Evidence that the morphic field for our species is entangled with the material bodies of our cosmos. There’s a huge upside here for relatively little work; on par with SETI getting a nonrandom signal from a neighboring galaxy.
I am trying to get you guys pumped….are you buying into this on any level at all? What’s the worst that can happen…wasting some time…isn’t that what research assistants are for?
Shabbat Shalom from Texas y’all.
“The Two Million-Year-Old Self” by Anthony Stevens.I like perspectives that don’t throw out the body with the bathwater. I was lured in by Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Hofstadter enchants logical philosophical speculation … Is there a ghost in the machine? 🙂
Hey Becca, wishing you a happy birthday in advance. Warm regards, JY
My goodness Becca! You are looking more and more like a goddess with every passing moon… =)
Love & light,
PS: Here’s a little something to keep the fire of passion going:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Hey, Becca. I have just started your book. In a sense, we are traveling together into the mysterious Land of Fairy now. You are the right spiritual guide for that journey. It is a joy and honor to be in your company. 😉
“The Land of Fairy Story is wide and deep and high … its seas are shoreless and its stars uncounted, its beauty an enchantment and its peril ever-present; both joy and sorrow are poignant as a sword. In that land a man may (perhaps) count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very mystery and wealth make dumb the traveller who would report. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates be shut and the keys be lost. The fairy gold (too often) turns to withered leaves when it is brought away. All that I can ask its that you, knowing all these things, will receive my withered leaves, as a token at least that my hand once held a little of the gold.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien on Fairy-stories
A Bereth thar Ennui Aeair!
Calad ammen i reniar
Mi ‘aladhremmin ennorath.
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
I chin a thûl lín míriel…
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O light to us that wander
Amid the tree-woven lands of Middle-earth.
O Elbereth Star-kindler
Your eyes and breath [are] like shining jewels…
I’m so touched by your sense that I am the right guide for this journey into Middle-earth for you. I’m honored that you are reading my book (and seemingly exploring the depths of my website)!
A sudden gnosis during contemplation: maybe the elves are the humanity of the future, who we will become, the realization of our potential? A new kind of human being: the Divine Human, fully human and fully divine? Maybe that’s why they’re so fascinating. They show us who we can be. The birth of the Divine Human is our destination: „’This is not the end… it is the beginning …“ – Ú i vethed… nâ i onnad.
I wish you, your family and friends, the very best of health, Becca. Take care!
Thank you Mark, and I wish good health and well-being to you and your family and community as well.
Dear Dr. Tarnas,
A great book Becca! I’ve been enthusiastically enjoying Journey to the Imaginal Realm.
I was struck by your observation of Tom Bombadil’s almost god like characteristics and that Alfred and Godwin could translate as Elf Friend and God Friend .
I was wondering if there could be an illusion to Biblical Melchizadek: He is both a friend of Abraham and king-priest of Salem (Jerusalem) and (in Christian thought) “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:3).
Abraham who is called “God’s friend” (James 2:23; Isaiah 41:8; 2 Chronicles 20:7). I know I’m stretching it a little to link God’s friend with Elf Friend but given Tolkien’s Catholicism as well as the Biblical illusions throughout the LOTR. Who knows what Tolkien was thinking?
You probably have better access to material that could shed light on Tolkien’s thinking.
Jewish tradition claims Melchizadek was Shem, son of Noah (Genesis Rabbah 46:7, Babylonian Talmud Nedarim 32b; Targum Jonathan Genesis 14 etc) and his king-priestly functions were said to prefigure the High Priest Aaron; king David and the Messiah. There are also mystical illusions in the Zoahr, but I imagine Tolkien was more shaped by his Christian heritage.
Anyway, Just a thought.
Thank you Brian for your message, and I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying reading “Journey to the Imaginal Realm”! Your observation of the similar translations of names, particularly those both meaning “God’s friend” I think actually speak less to an intentional link Tolkien himself was making, but rather to an underlying cross-cultural impulse to name individuals after their special relationship with the divine. Tolkien observed the translation of such names as Alfred and Godwin in his stories “The Notion Club Papers” and “The Lost Road” (neither of which were finished). While such a connection to the biblical names would not have been lost on him, I think he actually was simply curious about why such names exist in a variety of languages, and then used storytelling to explore this further. So in this case, I think that we can look through Tollkien’s intentional use of names to the deeper understanding provided by the fact that there are multiple cultures which name particular individuals after their friendly relationship to God (or to the Elves, in some cases). These names point to direct experiences of the divine for individuals in these cultures, experiences that transcend the boundaries of cultural expressions of divinity.
While Tolkien was consciously influenced by multiple mythological, religious, and cultural streams—namely, the Judeo-Christian, the Norse, and the Celtic—I believe all of these streams have deeper roots in the collective unconscious that gives rise to the universal archetypal themes that we see present in diverse yet coherent form in the mythopoetic traditions from every part of the globe.
Thank you for bringing forward these important connections! There is deep insight here on the meanings that stand behind names in numerous cultures.
Could you comment on Tolkien’s lore vis-à-vis the “Red Book of Hergest” vis-à-vis Jung’s “The Red Book: Liber Novus”?
P.S.: I love your works.
I have a whole section on this in my dissertation. Once it’s published (which I hope perhaps to do next year) that longer answer will be available!
Hi there Tarnas, I cannot wait to view and read your Dissertation ‘The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien’
I came across your work some time last year in 2019, when I was in the final year of my undergrad degree. The idea for your PhD thesis partially inspired me to do my final year dissertation on exploring Religious & Spiritual themes in a book of fantasy, more specifically an analytical interpretation to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. My dissertation was titled
‘How Religious dogma is portrayed in Medieval fantasy: a psycho-social approach to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire’
Nevertheless, I find both C.G. Jung and J.R.R Tolkien really fascinating figures for their time and for there time. Personally I think they went sort of unnoticed within the literature corpus of scholarship. Anyway, your work seems really promising, again, I cannot wait to read it!
Benjamin, your dissertation topic sounds fascinating! I would be so curious to check it out—I’ve read all of Martin’s books in that series and have a complex but intrigued relationship to the material. I haven’t delved much into scholarship on his works, but I am sure it would be fascinating.
My dissertation is currently available through university libraries (or by personal request) but I intend to take some time off early next year in order to revise it and find a publisher for it. Hopefully it won’t take too long!
Miss Tarnas, thank you for your kind comments. I would have no problem sending over a copy of my work. If we could correspond & exchange via email that would be fine, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Some day music will be the means of expressing universal religion. Time is wanted for this, but there will come a day when music and its philosophy will become the religion of humanity.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Mysticism of Sound and Music: The Sufi Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan
An astrologer who also loves Lord of the Rings and Tolkien? You are my spirit animal😍
But in all seriousness, I admire you and you inspire me to chase my dreams while being truly authentic.