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.
During this upcoming week I will be participating in three dialogues and presentations on archetypes, discussing topics from the Solar and Lunar principles, to the astrological dynamics of outer planetary alignments. The first is an online dialogue with Richard Tarnas, titled “A Room of One’s Own: Re-Visioning ‘Feminine’ and ‘Masculine’.” The presentation is for Seeing Red, and will be taking place Monday, November 6 from 5:00-6:30 pm, Pacific time.
A Room of One’s Own: Re-Visioning ‘Feminine’ and ‘Masculine’
When we speak of “the feminine,” are we referring to an essential principle that informs all human beings, female and male, or are we referring to the particular character of women’s psychology? Such a question is not simply academic, as many who have written about the feminine, including Jungians, can move back and forth—sometimes, it seems, quite unconsciously—between these two very different meanings in the same work, even within a single sentence. Similarly, to what extent does “the feminine” reflect a genuine biological or psychological universal, as compared with a specific cultural set of assumptions about what a woman is or should be? For these and other reasons, many feminists have been sharply critical of the widespread use of gendered terms like “the feminine” and “the masculine” to describe essential traits, virtues, and susceptibilities.
In this first of our two-part presentation, we will illustrate our discussion with references to Eileen Atkins’s extraordinary one-woman performance of Virginia Woolf’s classic work, A Room of One’s Own, based on Woolf’s 1928 talk to undergraduate women at Cambridge. We will also allude to two classic films from past decades that had major impact on the cultural psyche, The Wizard of Oz and Titanic, both of which vividly embodied relevant archetypal and mythic themes.
The second presentation is titled “Calling the Generations: Participating in Outer Planetary Alignments.” The online presentation is for the Nightlight Astrology School, and will take place on Tuesday, November 7 from 7:00-10:00 pm, Eastern time.
Calling the Generations: Participating in Outer Planetary Alignments
During major outer-planetary cycles, entire generations are born carrying the archetypal signature of that time. When these same outer planets realign in new configurations there is an archetypal resonance between the generations born with those alignments and the needs of that time. Each planetary combination offers unique gifts, and in our current era of social, ecological, and spiritual crisis each may have its significant role to play in creating a life-enhancing future.
The final presentation this upcoming week will be another dialogue with Richard Tarnas, titled “Solar and Lunar Principles in The Return of the King.” This presentation will continue to explore the themes from the previous dialogue for Seeing Red, and will be taking place Monday, November 13 from 5:00-6:30 pm, Pacific time.
Solar and Lunar Principles in The Return of the King
Can we speak of the feminine or the masculine in ways that don’t fall into the trap of a cultural stereotype? How can we liberate these categories in a way that would do justice to the diverse ways we have of being male and female, and of being human? Perhaps the ancient archetypal symbols of the Sun and Moon can help open up our understanding of the deep mysteries of the feminine and masculine so we can better articulate the great social and psychological transformation of gender roles and identities in our time.
Building upon the themes presented in our session last week, Becca and Rick will explore the Solar and Lunar archetypal principles in relation to their expression through female and male figures in The Return of the King, the final installment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. We will also deepen our analysis of feminine and masculine principles, and suggest ways of expanding the range of ways we can speak about, and live, our different modes of being human, each in our unique and ever-evolving forms. We will also examine some of the principal challenges and new possibilities faced by contemporary women and girls in our age, poised at the threshold of a post-patriarchal world.
All three presentations can be watched live online, and recordings will also be available for those who wish to tune in later. To see what other upcoming events I have scheduled, please visit my Calendar of Events. Thank you all for your ongoing support and interest in this work!
In anticipation of the International Transpersonal Conference, which will take place from September 28 to October 1 in Prague, I had the honor of joining Joe Moore in dialogue on his podcast Psychedelics Today. We spoke about C.G. Jung’s Red Book and J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories of Middle-earth and his Red Book of Westmarch, as well as exploring facets of transpersonal psychology, archetypal cosmology and astrology, and the participatory relationship of the imagination to the collective unconscious.
The podcast is available here: Jung, Tolkien, and Human Imagination
Along with millions of others across the United States, I had the great privilege of viewing the total Solar eclipse on August 21. I had traveled up to the Oregon Eclipse Symbiosis Gathering with family and friends, to witness the exact conjunction of the Moon with the Sun, a perfect alignment of two spheres in the morning sky. It would not be too much to say that the total eclipse was the most beautiful phenomenon I have ever seen, and one of the most numinous experiences I have had this lifetime.
Our viewing conditions were excellent, with only wisps of subtle cloud across the sky. As the Moon slowly but inevitably covered the face of the Sun, the surrounding light became an iridescent silver-gold—I have called the kind of eclipse luminescence “elf-light” in the past. The colors of the natural world appeared to be separating out from one another as the sunlight continued to dim. At the moment of totality, the whole sky became a deep violet twilight. White sparkling stars emerged suddenly across the darkened sky. Venus, in all its glory, burst forth like a beacon from the sky, shining near the midheaven. The coniunctio of the eclipse itself was like a black and silver rainbow flower, the Sun’s corona flaring forth in arcs of energy around the dark face of the Moon.
I felt as though I was witnessing a cosmic, tantric marriage, that something so much greater than any of us human beings could conceive of was taking place before us. It felt as though the symbolic, archetypal, spiritual realm had merged fully with the physical realm, and we were living in both conjoined worlds for the two minutes of totality. I pray that I may see a total eclipse again, and will likely become an eclipse chaser to continue bearing witness to such a profound sight. Nothing I have encountered is comparable to it.
The day before the eclipse my father, Rick Tarnas, and I gave a dialogue on the Solar and Lunar archetypes, and their complex relationship to each other and to the feminine and masculine polarity and spectrum. In conversation together, we explored the ways in which we each embody these archetypes, individually and collectively, in communion with each other and in relation to the world and Earth community. Chad Harris made an audio recording of the talk, and Matt Segall kindly edited it together with photographs from the dialogue and of the eclipse itself. Many thanks to both of them for their help with this, as well as to the many PCC students and alumni who were at Symbiosis who attended the presentation!
Solar and Lunar, Feminine and Masculine
A total Solar eclipse, the exact alignment of the Sun and Moon, has often been described as a cosmic enactment of the sacred marriage, king and queen, ruler of the day and ruler of the night. Many cultures have considered the Solar as symbolizing the masculine, and the Lunar as the feminine. But can we speak of “the feminine” in ways that don’t fall into the trap of a cultural stereotype, and same with “the masculine”? How can we liberate these categories in a way that would do justice to the diverse ways we have of being male and female, and of being human? Perhaps the ancient archetypal symbols of the Sun and Moon can help open up our understanding of the deep mysteries of the feminine and masculine so we can better articulate the great social and psychological transformation of gender roles and identities in our time.
This past April, while attending the Psychedelic Science 2017 conference—hosted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)—I joined Michael Garfield in conversation on his podcast Future Fossils. Amidst the bustling crowds at the Oakland conference, which had a record-breaking 2,800 attendees, we discussed our current moment from an archetypal perspective. We looked at the connections between the current alignment of Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto and the configuration of those same planets in the late 1960s, and how they relate to the psychedelic renaissance we are currently witnessing unfold in the larger culture. We also looked forward to the upcoming Saturn-Pluto conjunction that will be in the sky from 2018 through 2021, as well as touching on a range of other related topics.
The podcast is available here: Future Fossils: Living Through a Revolutionary Age
In the North Atlantic there is an island, and it is said that upon this island live two nations: the human nation of Iceland, and a second nation, one that is mysterious and veiled. This is the realm of the Huldufólk, Iceland’s “hidden people.”
This presentation, given at Esalen Institute in the autumn of 2016, offers a glimpse into the world of the Huldufólk and the dynamic landscape in which they live.