On March 8 and 9, I will be bringing my lecture and workshop on The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien to the Comox Valley C.G. Jung Society in British Columbia! This is a special visit for me, in part because I already have a connection to this part of the world: my mother is Canadian and thus I have dual citizenship with this country, and she lived on Vancouver Island for a number of years when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I also had the great adventure of working for two summers at the beautiful retreat center Hollyhock on Cortes Island, and fell in love with the quiet lapping of the waves on these temperate rainforest islands. I am eager to return now to connect with the Jungian community in Comox Valley.
For those who are in the area, I will be offering a lecture on Friday, March 8 at 7:00-9:00 pm on The Synchronicity of the Two Red Books: Jung, Tolkien, and the Imaginal Realm. The following day, on Saturday, March 9, I will be offering the workshop Jung’s Red Book and Active Imagination from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
More information about the workshop can be found here: Comox Valley C.G. Jung Society. To register, please message firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see some of you there!
In anticipation for my upcoming course with Nura Learning, Sub-Creating Middle-Earth: Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, I had a wonderful conversation with Jeremy Johnson on the Mutations podcast about J.R.R. Tolkien and C.G. Jung, and the recovery of imagination in our era. Jeremy is a skillful interviewer, bringing his own ideas and research to the table in a way that deepened our mutual inquiry. The conversation was an absolute delight to participate in, and I am thrilled to share the podcast.
To listen: “Recovering the Imaginal with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.G. Jung“
If you are interested in joining us for the course on The Silmarillion, there is still time to Register!
My dissertation defense took place on February 26, 2018 at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
The Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion Program
Invites You to
A Doctoral Dissertation Defense
Becca Segall Tarnas
The Back of Beyond:
The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien
Monday, February 26, 3:00 – 4:30pm
Room 607 & Online via Zoom (details below)
Beginning in the years leading up to the Great War, both C. G. Jung and J. R. R. Tolkien independently began to undergo profound imaginal experiences. They had each stepped across a threshold and entered into another world, the realm of imagination, the world of fantasy. Jung recorded these initially spontaneous visionary experiences, which he further developed using the practice of active imagination, in a large red manuscript that he named Liber Novus, although usually it is referred to simply as The Red Book. The experiences narrated in The Red Book became the seeds from which nearly all of Jung’s subsequent work flowered. For Tolkien, this imaginal journey revealed to him the world of Middle-earth, whose stories and myths eventually led to the writing of The Lord of the Rings, a book he named within its own imaginal history The Red Book of Westmarch. There are many synchronistic parallels between Jung’s and Tolkien’s Red Books: the style and content of their works of art, the narrative descriptions and scenes in their texts, the nature of their visions and dreams, and an underlying similarity in world view that emerged from their experiences. The two men seem to have been simultaneously treading parallel paths through the imaginal realm.
The revelations of this research hold deep consequences for modernity’s assumptions of a disenchanted world, and bring to the surface implications concerning the nature of imagination and its participatory relationship to the collective unconscious. In this dissertation, I will point to the possibility that Tolkien and Jung are preliminary guides on a journey to the depths of an ensouled cosmos in which imagination saturates the very foundations of reality.
Dissertation Committee Chair: Jacob Sherman, PhD
Dissertation Committee Member: Craig Chalquist, PhD
Dissertation External Member: Daniel Polikoff, PhD
Prologue from The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien, written and narrated by Becca S. Tarnas. Video composition by Ashton Kohl Arnoldy.
All of the presentations at the International Transpersonal Conference in Prague, which took place September 28-October 1, 2017, were video recorded and have been made available online! To view my presentation, as well as the accompanying slides, please follow the link below.
“The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C. G. Jung and J. R. R. Tolkien”
I participated in a wonderful conversation on the podcast Exploring Astrology with Adam Sommer, where we spoke about C.G. Jung’s natal chart, his transits during his Red Book period, and several other astrological topics.
The podcast is available for download or can be listened here: Exploring Jung with Becca Tarnas.