Returning to the InnerVerse Podcast

I was kindly invited by Chance Garton to return to his InnerVerse Podcast, to continue our conversation on numerous facets of J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories of Middle-earth and the Land of Faërie, and to explore what it means to recover and integrate mythic consciousness into our awareness.

The first hour of our conversation is available publicly, and can be accessed through the InnerVerse website or listened to directly below. In the first hour, we discussed the esoteric wisdom of Tolkien’s works and how in the Perilous Realm, one will find mystical enchantment and mortal danger in equal measure. We spoke about legends of the huldufólk, Iceland’s hidden people, the mythic consciousness of our ancestors, and how the love of language, the magic spelling of words, and the archetype of the inner child can help one recover the beauty and wonder of life.

In the second hour, which is available to Patreon supporters of InnerVerse, Chance and I explored the misenchantment (a term coined by Matt Segall) of culture through media and materialistic belief systems, Tolkien’s final tale Smith of Wootton Major, the Queen of Faërie at the heart of the imaginal realm, and the Elvish mediators between spirit and matter. The second hour is well worth the listen, and Chance’s podcast is most definitely worth supporting as well through Patreon!

To listen to the first hour: Re-Enchanting the World and Tales from the Perilous Realm

To listen to the second hour: InnerVerse on Patreon

 

Warriors of the Shadow

A year ago I was interviewed by Cintia Detre for her project Warriors of the Shadow: A Bold Request for Worldwide Emotional Intimacy. She describes the conception of this project as follows:

The Warriors of the Shadow project was born out of my desire to embody the alchemical procedure of solve et coagula on multiple octaves—separation and conjunction, the blade of Mars and the chalice of Venus, to confront all our fears that stand in the way of love. It touches many orders of relationships, the one with ourselves, with other humans, humanity’s relationship with nature and with the imaginal realms. As such, the project itself took on a peculiar journey, changing our relationship with space and time as we know it.

Listening back to this interview a year later, I find it prescient to hear the themes we were exploring, and how much more concrete they feel in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. Together we discussed the archetypal qualities of the Saturn-Pluto, conjunction which reached exact alignment this year, exploring the role of shadow-work, birth pain and the multiple meanings of contraction, and the importance of community while taking on our own small but essential tasks amidst the monumental work ahead.

It was an honor to participate in this conversation, and I am grateful to Cintia for the opportunity to speak about these ideas and images.

Re-Enchantment and Its Shadows

My friend and colleague Tom Purton and I will be presenting for the PCC Forum on the subject of “Re-Enchantment and Its Shadows,” next Thursday, April 2 at 7:00 pm Pacific time. The idea for this talk was conceived at Esalen, and it has taken on new significance in the shadow of our current global pandemic. The talk will take place on Zoom, and anyone who is interested is most welcome to join: https://ciis.zoom.us/j/478093649. To join, please message me for the passcode.

Event Description
In the account of human history provided by Robert Bellah, the mythic mind—the place of narrative, sentient nature, and enchantment—progressively yields to the theoretic mind, the place of science, rationality, and skepticism. Myth became fairy-story, fairy-story became fantasy, and the embedded quality of myth in our everyday lives was cut adrift. Can this seemingly inexorable process be stopped, or can it perhaps be alchemized into something new, something reborn? And if the mythic mind is the mind of enchantment, what might be its own shadows?

Becca Tarnas and Tom Purton will explore these questions using excerpts from The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Apocalypse Now, and other films and stories, and will look at the attempts made by Tolkien, Heidegger, Aurobindo, and others to find enchantment’s remaining havens.

About the Speakers
Tom Purton, PhD, holds a MA in Psychoanalysis and a phD in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness from CIIS, writing his dissertation on the connections between Stanislav Grof’s work and Hindu thought. He is presently completing a diploma in Sanskrit and post-graduate study at CIIS. His research interests include Kleinian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, transpersonal psychology, Indology, literature, and philosophy.

Becca Tarnas, PhD, is a scholar, artist, and editor of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology. She received her doctorate in Philosophy and Religion from CIIS, with her dissertation titled The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C. G. Jung and J. R. R. Tolkien. Her research interests include depth psychology, literature, philosophy, and the ecological imagination. She teaches in the Jungian Psychology and Archetypal Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and is author of the book Journey to the Imaginal Realm: A Reader’s Guide to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Nazgûl

InnerVerse Podcast

Chance Garton, the wonderful host of the InnerVerse Podcast, kindly invited me to participate in a truly rich and deep conversation on The Lord of the Rings. We began by discussing my book Journal to the Imaginal Realm, and soon expanded into innumerable Tolkienian subjects, delving into the First Age of Arda, the cosmogonic music of the Ainulindalë, Tolkien’s notion of sub-creation and how it relates to Coleridge’s ideas of the Primary and Secondary Imagination, and many other such enticing subjects.

The first hour of our conversation is available publicly, and can be accessed through the InnerVerse website or listened to directly below. In the first hour, we discussed the source of the human imagination, the Atlantis myth as told in Middle-earth, the parallels between the Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien, and the means by which great stories are able to immerse us in an enchanted otherworld.

The second hour is available to Patreon supporters of InnerVerse, and I must say it is well worth subscribing to hear the places our conversation took us (as well as to have access to all the other wonderful episodes in the InnerVerse archive!) In the second hour, Chance and I explored Tolkien’s use of Venusian symbolism, the archetype of the syzygy of Solar and Lunar, Tolkien’s critique of industrialization, the enigmatic character of Tom Bombadil, as well as wading into the difference between polarity and binary, Solar feminine and Lunar masculine, and of course the essential topic of ecological crisis and our relationship to the Earth.

To listen to the first hour: Journey to the Imaginal Realm: Archetypes in The Lord of the Rings

To listen to the second hour: InnerVerse on Patreon

As Chance said: “Get ready for an unexpected journey!” 

 

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.”

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 

Announcing: Journey to the Imaginal Realm

A Reader’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

On the occasion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 127th birthday (born January 3, 1892), I am delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of my new book Journey to the Imaginal Realm: A Reader’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which will be published by Revelore Press. The book description reads:

“This reader’s guide to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings offers a journey into the world of Middle-earth, exploring 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. The Lord of the Rings 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 is a book 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.

“Journey to the Imaginal Realm guides the reader through each chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnum opus, drawing attention to the subtle details, recalling moments of foreshadowing, and illuminating underlying patterns and narrative threads throughout the story. The close reading of the text is paired with relevant biographical information from Tolkien’s life, including the loss of both his parents at a young age, the central role of friendship in his life, his participation in the First World War, and his exquisite romance with his wife Edith. Tolkien was a lover of language and a philologist by profession, and his invented languages form the heart of his tales. In some of his letters, Tolkien described his process of writing as one of discovery, in which he waited to find out “what really happened,” feeling as though he was “recording what was already ‘there,’ somewhere.” This reader’s guide seeks to understand the imaginal experiences Tolkien may have encountered that led to the writing of his stories. The guide explores Tolkien’s theory of sub-creation, the immersive experience of Faërian Dramas, and most importantly, his notion of the realm of Faërie. Journey to the Imaginal Realm is a celebration of Tolkien’s work, and an inquiry into the profound nature of imagination, which is capable of bringing forth a world as vast as Middle-earth.”

Please stay tuned with Revelore Press for release date announcements in the near future. Thank you!

This volume is part of the Nuralogical series published in collaboration with Nura Learning.

Astrologers in Profile Interview

The astrologer and teacher Adam Elenbaas kindly invited me to do an Astrologers in Profile interview, in which we discussed my journey into becoming an astrologer and scholar. Doing the interview was a deeply meaningful and moving experience for me, and I am so grateful to Adam for the opportunity to share my story in this way. Our conversation ranged through a wide variety of topics and ideas, and we dove into some rich philosophical and spiritual eddies. 

Talking The Lord of the Rings on Rune Soup

Gordon White, the fantastic host of Rune Soup, kindly invited me back on his podcast to discuss the practice of active imagination and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It was such a pleasure to drop back into conversation together two and a half years later, and to see how my research has evolved since my first interview with him back in 2016! The podcast is available for download or can be listened to directly below.