Publication of Issue 7, “Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology”

It is with deep joy that I announce the publication of Issue 7 of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, titled Historical Roots and Current Flowerings. The issue is now available in paperback, and will soon be released as a Kindle ebook as well!

To read two preview articles written by Laura Michetti and Daniel Joseph Polikoff, please visit our page Current Issue page.

The seventh issue of the Archai journal has been long in the gestation process, and seemed to be awaiting the exact conjunction of Saturn and Pluto before coming to birth. The issue was completed during the New Moon in Aquarius, on January 24, 2020, just twelve days after Saturn and Pluto made their exact alignment in Capricorn. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with each author for this issue, and I am immensely proud of the result and so grateful for all that the authors have contributed.

The issue is dedicated to the late Gerry Goddard, in honor of his significant contributions to the intersections of archetypal cosmology and transpersonal psychology. We had the privilege of including in the volume one of his pieces of writing, titled “Toward an Astrological Model of Consciousness.”

Archai 7 Front CoverAbout the Issue:

The historical roots of archetypal cosmology extend across the globe and deep into the reaches of time. This issue draws together several such lineages, while also turning toward further flowerings of archetypal cosmology in the contemporary world, such as the theoretical connections between astrological archetypes and psychological types. The contributing authors—including Laura Michetti, Petr Lisý, Daniel Polikoff, and Gerry Goddard—offer articles on such historical subjects as the Persian origins of the Saturn return, the importance of Prague in the development of transpersonal psychology and archetypal cosmology, and the Romantic and poetic lineages of those same disciplines. Richard Tarnas explores the role astrology can play in our current time of crisis. The issue closes with three book reviews on the subject of C. G. Jung’s relationship to astrology, and the significant collaborative role Toni Wolff held in the development of analytical psychology.

Table of Contents:

• Laura Michetti – “Persian Conjunctions and the Origins of the Saturn Return
• Petr Lisý – “The Archetypal Tradition of Prague”
• Daniel Joseph Polikoff – “Rowing Back: The Romantic Origins of Transpersonal Psychology
• Michael Kiyoshi Salvatore – “Astrology and Psychological Types”
• Richard Tarnas – “The Role of Astrology in a Civilization in Crisis”
• Gerry Goddard – “Toward an Astrological Model of Consciousness”
• Gustavo Beck – “C. G. Jung’s Textual Firmament: A Review of Safron Rossi’s and Keiron Le Grice’s Jung on Astrology”
• Safron Rossi – “A Review of Jung’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic, and the Qualities of Time and The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus: Daimons, Gods, and the Planetary Journey by Liz Greene”
• Becca Tarnas – “An Astrological Review of Toni Wolff & C. G. Jung: A Collaboration by Nan Savage Healy”

To order a copy of the issue, please visit: Historical Roots and Current Flowerings

Two Nightlight Astrology School Presentations

Over the last couple years I have kindly been invited by Acyuta-bhava Dasa to present for the Nightlight Astrology School on topics dear to my heart: “The Astrology of J.R.R. Tolkien” and “The Astrology of Jung’s Red Book.” I am now sharing the videos of each of these presentations, which were recorded about a year apart. Thank you to all those who expressed interest in seeing these presentations and who have waited patiently for the recording!

While my dissertation research focused on the parallels between the Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien, these two presentations treat their works separately, viewing them each through an astrological lens. If the presentations are viewed in conjunction, you will certainly see the overlaps and parallels, in the timing of events and the correlated astrological transits, and in the symbolic content of each.

The Astrology of J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien is best known as the author of the fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, first published in the mid-1950s and now translated into almost 40 languages. Tolkien first began writing about the world of Middle-earth during World War I, and continued doing so almost until the end of his life in 1973. Although he is best known as a writer, Tolkien was also a visual artist and an extraordinary linguist, holding a position as a professor of philology at Oxford University in England. As his close friend and colleague C.S. Lewis once said: “He had been inside language.” Drawing on an archetypal astrological perspective, this presentation will explore the natal chart of J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as his transits during the creation of some of his major works of art and writing.

The Astrology of Jung’s Red Book

Recently, new scholarship has been emerging demonstrating the essential role astrology played in the development of C.G. Jung’s analytical psychology. Although Jung kept his practice of astrology relatively concealed, he was using it regularly with his patients. With particular focus on Jung’s remarkable manuscript Liber Novus, better known as The Red Book, this presentation looks at the role astrology played in shaping Jung’s psychology and world view, drawing significantly on Liz Greene’s work to explore the astrological symbolism throughout The Red Book, as well as the transits Jung was experiencing at the time of his self-described “confrontation with the unconscious.”

Songs of the Spheres: Exploring Music Through Astrology

Songs of the Spheres.jpg

During the final month of winter, I will be collaborating with Lydia Violet Harutoonian’s Music as Medicine Project to offer the online course Songs of the Spheres: Exploring Music Through Astrology. This course will offer a basic foundation in archetypal astrology, using music as a means to illustrate the planetary archetypes and using astrology to illuminate some of the deeper symbolic dimensions of music and musicians. Each week of the course is oriented around a particular archetypal theme, focusing on the natal charts of specific musicians to see how their astrological signatures have manifested through their music.

Learn More and Register

Course Description

Music calls to the soul. Music speaks a language more accessible to the emotions and the imagination than the intellect. Music can awaken, heal, and bring catharsis. Why is that? Music is more than simply a human artifact—it is a channel for the sacred powers of this world, the archetypes that stand behind the cosmos. The ancients could hear the music of the spheres. Today, one way we can rediscover those songs is through astrological practice.

Using the discipline of astrology, this course will explore a variety of musicians and genres through an archetypal lens. The course will open with an introduction to archetypal astrology, unpacking the meanings of the planets and the aspects, before turning this knowledge toward analyzing the natal charts of different musicians to see how the configurations of the planets have manifested in their musical creations. Music and astrology naturally illuminate one another, and not only will this course offer a basic foundation in archetypal astrology, it will deepen one’s awareness of the archetypes at play in the music created by the human family.

To learn more and register, please visit: Music As Medicine: Songs of the Spheres

Talking Creation, Faërie, and Facing 2020 on Rune Soup

It’s a potent week for podcasts! Gordon White and I had our third and perhaps most compelling and exploratory conversation yet on his podcast Rune Soup. We discussed J.R.R. Tolkien’s notion of Faërie, fantasy, and imagination, connecting the principles outlined in his groundbreaking essay “On Fairy-Stories” with his creation myth the Ainulindalë: theory and practice of the sub-creative imagination. In our discussion of my new book, Journey to the Imaginal Realm, we also spoke of how The Lord of the Rings provides a powerful mythos for facing the great challenges in our current era, which are reaching a new peak in 2020. The podcast is available for download or can be listened to directly below.

Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio: Jung, Tolkien & the Imaginal

When I first started researching the parallels between Jung’s Red Book and Tolkien’s Red Book of Westmarch, I came across a wonderful 2011 interview with the Gnostic scholar Lance S. Owens, conducted by Miguel Conner of Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio and titled “Gnostic Themes in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.” The ideas set forth both affirmed and furthered my thinking on the two Red Books, and Owens became an essential source in my research.

Now, seven years after I first heard that interview, I had the great honor of being invited myself onto that same podcast to discuss my new book, Journey to the Imaginal Realm, with Miguel Conner. To listen, here is the interview: “Jung, Tolkien, and the Imaginal.”

Jung Tolkien and the Imaginal with Becca Tarnas

We intimately understand the events and processes that allowed C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien to enter the Imaginal. Can we access those creative energies and charged symbols from the realm of archetypes to alchemically transform ourselves and the surrounding culture for the better? Our quest into the minds of these magicians of the imagination leads us as well to discover the deeper meanings in such hallowed works as The Lord of the Rings and The Red Book.

Cosmogonies of Imagination: Hildegard of Bingen and J.R.R. Tolkien

A dream came true for me recently, when I had the opportunity to co-present with my dissertation chair, Jacob Sherman, at the PCC retreat at Esalen Institute in late October. We spoke about the creation myths articulated by the 12th century Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen and the 20th century fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien, demonstrating some of the extraordinary parallels between their cosmogonies. Jake presents on Hildegard in the first half of the talk, while in the second half I retell Tolkien’s Ainulindalë, the creation myth he called The Music of the Ainur, before we open into a brief dialogue together.

We spoke in the darkness of Esalen’s dance dome, illuminated by medieval illustrations of Hildegard’s visions and contemporary paintings of Tolkien’s Ainulindalë created by the artist Anna Kulisz, as well as one painting done by Tolkien himself. Between our presentations we played one of Hildegard’s remarkable musical compositions, “Quia ergo femina,” performed by the Bay Area women’s choral group Vajra Voices (with whom I had the privilege to play the harp several years ago, when I was part of Cheryl Ann Fulton‘s medieval harp choir, Angelorum). This presentation was such a delight to give, not only because I was able to present with one of my teachers who has been such an inspiration to me, but also because I felt I was able to sink into a mode of storytelling which I greatly value and enjoy.

Cosmogonies of Imagination: Hildegard of Bingen and J.R.R. Tolkien

From the time we arrive on the scene, human beings have sought to understand our existence and the existence of all things through myth, symbol, ritual, and story. But where do our creation stories come from and how do they change? Are they the product of inspired individuals, the creation of entire communities, or something else? In order to try to get some traction on these questions, Jake and Becca will consider two extraordinary creation myths, one given by the 12th century visionary, prophetess, and mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, the other by the 20th century philologist and fantasy author, J.R.R. Tolkien. Despite being separated by roughly eight centuries, both Hildegard and Tolkien produced creative cosmogonies that resonate remarkably with one another and remain peculiarly powerful today.

Many thanks to Chad Harris for filming, editing, and posting this recording.

The Two Red Books in Orange County

For those who are in the area, I will be bringing my lecture The Synchronicity of the Two Red Books: Jung, Tolkien, and the Imaginal Realm to the C.G. Jung Club of Orange County! I will be presenting on Sunday, November 10 at 4:00–6:00 pm at St. Wilfrid of York Episcopal Church in Huntington Beach.

For more information, please visit the website of the Orange County Jung Club.

Jung & Tolkien

The Synchronicity of the Two Red Books

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. This presentation 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.

Course objectives:
• Explore the nature of imagination and its participatory relationship to the collective unconscious.
• Understand the relevance of Jung’s and Tolkien’s Red Books to modernity’s assumptions of a disenchanted world.

The Astrology of Jung’s Red Book

On Thursday, November 7 I will be offering a presentation for Adam Elenbaas’s Nightlight Astrology School on “The Astrology of Jung’s Red Book“! The talk will bring an astrological lens to bear on The Red Book of C.G. Jung, exploring Jung’s natal chart and transits, as well as drawing on Liz Greene’s astrological analysis of Liber Novus. The presentation will be hosted online, at 4:00 pm Pacific time, 7:00 pm Eastern. Please visit the Events page of the Nightlight Astrology School for details on how to log in to the meeting.

Astrology of Jung's Red Book

The Astrology of Jung’s Red Book 

Recently, new scholarship has been emerging demonstrating the essential role astrology played in the development of C.G. Jung’s analytical psychology. Although Jung kept his practice of astrology relatively concealed, he was using it regularly with his patients. With particular focus on Jung’s remarkable manuscript Liber Novus, better known as The Red Book, this presentation looks at the role astrology played in shaping Jung’s psychology and world view, drawing significantly on Liz Greene’s work to explore the astrological symbolism throughout The Red Book, as well as the transits Jung was experiencing at the time of his self-described “confrontation with the unconscious.” 

To view my schedule of upcoming events, please visit my Events page!

Book Release: Journey to the Imaginal Realm

My first book, Journey to the Imaginal Realm: A Reader’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, is now available! The book was published by Revelore Press on September 22, a significant day in the history of Middle-earth: Frodo’s and Bilbo’s birthdays, a day that is now affectionately known as “Hobbit Day.”

JourneyToTheImaginalRealm_CoverFULLThis book is the culmination of my love and devotion to Tolkien’s work, shaped by many years of study into the nature of imagination and a deep exploration of the imaginal realm. The book was born out of lectures created for the course I taught through Nura Learning last autumn, and I am so grateful to Jeremy Johnson for suggesting that this material was worthy of being published as a book. He and Jenn Zahrt, of Revelore Press, have been extraordinary to work with, and I am so honored to have this book published in their Nuralogical Series.

It is truly my joy and honor to share this book with all of you, and I am deeply grateful to every person who has supported me on the journey of bringing my first book into the world.

Order a copy of Journey to the Imaginal Realm

Book Description

Journey into the world of Middle-earth, explore the grand themes and hidden nuances of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic story, see The Lord of the Rings in the context of the larger mythology of Middle-earth, and delve into Tolkien’s writing process and his powerful experiences of the imaginal realm.

Beloved to several generations since its mid-1950s debut, The Lord of the Rings is a timeless story, engaging with a complex struggle between good and evil, death and immortality, power and freedom. Many treat The Lord of the Rings as a sacred text, returning to it year after year, or reading it aloud with loved ones. The Lord of the Rings has become a myth for our time.

In Journey to the Imaginal Realm, Becca Tarnas guides you through each chapter of Tolkien’s magnum opus, drawing attention to subtle details, recalling moments of foreshadowing, and illuminating underlying patterns and narrative threads. Her close reading of the text is paired with relevant biographical information from Tolkien’s life. Journey to the Imaginal Realm is a celebration of Tolkien’s work, and an inquiry into the profound nature of an imagination capable of bringing forth a world as vast as Middle-earth.

Comprised of six main chapters with several interludes and an in-depth biographical introduction, Tarnas’s book canvases the landscape of Tolkien’s legendarium, accompanied by six newly commissioned illustrations by Arik Roper.

To read an excerpt from the book: “Sub-Creation: Tolkien’s Philosophy of Imagination

Returning to the Imaginal Realm: Nura Learning’s Tolkien Course

Journey to the Imaginal Realm_2019

As summer reaches its crescendo, we are starting to think about autumn and what the colder months will bring. For me, the falling of leaves and the chill mists on the evening air always draw me back to Middle-earth, with the desire to journey again through the imaginal realm.

Thus, it is my delight to announce that with Nura Learning I will again be teaching the course Journey to the Imaginal Realm: Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. For those who were unable to attend last year, we gladly invite you to join us. We have also heard that some class participants from last year wish to repeat the annual journey, and we welcome you back with open arms. It will be such a pleasure to go on this adventure together with new and old travelers alike. We are also offering the course on a weekend this time, and at an earlier hour of the day, to be able to accommodate more people’s schedules both in terms of work commitments and time zones!

Learn More and Register

Course Description

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien has been a beloved story to several generations since its publication in the mid-1950s. The story has a timeless quality to it, and engages with a complex struggle between good and evil, death and immortality, power and freedom. The Lord of the Rings blends otherworldly romance with the high rhetoric of epic mythology, at times interwoven with the internal depths of the nineteenth century novel and the political climate of the twentieth century. As Tolkien’s close friend and colleague C. S. Lewis once said: “Nothing quite like it has been done before. This book is like lightning from a clear sky . . . here are beauties which pierce like swords and burn like cold iron.”

The Lord of the Rings is a text treated by many as a sacred text, one to be returned to year after year, or read aloud with loved ones. The Lord of the Rings has become a myth for our time. This course, now in its second year running, offers a journey through Tolkien’s magnum opus in a community of learning, guided by a scholar who has spent more than two decades engaging Tolkien’s writings and artwork. This course is designed both for newcomers to Tolkien’s narrative, and for veteran travelers through Middle-earth’s many realms. Together we will explore the grand themes and hidden nuances of Tolkien’s epic story, connecting The Lord of the Rings to the larger mythology of Middle-earth, and situating Tolkien’s process of writing within his own powerful experiences of the imaginal realm.

We are welcoming back students who took the course in Fall 2018, who might like to journey once more through the imaginal realm in a company of fellows, continuing the tradition of reading The Lord of the Rings as an annual ritual.

To learn more and register, please visit: Nura Learning: Journey to the Imaginal Realm