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One of the most interesting and vital aspects of the Jungian community today is the project of Tom Singer in his turning of depth psychology toward the world and its psyche. The webinar on Gaia marks a movement in this project from the book on culture and its complexes edited by Tom to the next stratum in the hierarchal chain of psychic systems - the soul of the world, the alchemical anima mundi, in the form of the mythical divine force of Gaia. Additionally, the webinar reflects Tom’s central involvement in ARAS, the agency which makes the most valuable contribution to the collective from the Jungian world today – accessibility to thousands of symbolic images in conjunction with an elucidating psychological narrative.
Jules Cashford’s program is wonderfully rich in information (history, archeology, philosophy, literature, etc.) and insight (the transformation of the Western mind from an all inclusive orientation of the matriarchal earth mother to the oppositional stance of the patriarchal sky god, ultimately resulting in the splitting of thought and feeling, reason and imagination, giving rise to the internalization of soul into the mind of the individual, and the consequential objectification of the world into dead “matter.” (I would only add to this the split in the approaches of Plato toward knowledge in the Symposium and Phaedrus via Image, and in the Republic and Laws via reason, the movement of soul toward individual interiority in Augustine, and in the invention of linear perspective in the Renaissance before we get to Melanchthon, Locke and Descartes and the hijacking of soul by Reason in the Enlightenment leading to modern science and technology.)
Two interesting questions emerged from participants that I think are related: What about the snake? Is the tradition of misogyny related to the denigration of image in Western culture? James Hillman has written an essay tracing the parallel historical tracks of the depreciation of women and the disparagement of image. I would suggest that John Milton exemplifies the traditional view of Eve, representative of image, as inferior to Adam, representative of reason. The serpent then would be evil from the patriarchal standpoint in that it represents the devilish complexity of image as seducing Eve, a far cry from Plato who posits Aphrodite as representative of image as Beauty itself.
Cashford resonates for me in her insistence that all of this is important in that it is how we think that ultimately holds the day and contributes to the possibility change., and in this regard she invokes Blake’s sense of imagination as the ground of being. I would suggest that it is not just a matter of giving equal time to what are considered oppositional modes, but rather the capacity to see opposites within each other. Cashford does this beautifully in her consistent recourse to etymology which indicates that the word (logos) holds within it, not just one, but several images which are often contradictory. Word itself is a cosmic egg reflecting Gaia. By incorporating the inclusionary vision of Gaia, the vision of imagination, we would resist the temptation to demonize and “triumph over” or “manage” the other as monster – climate change, pollution, deforestation, technology, corporate America, Trumpism, mass incarceration, nationalistic and tribal rage, video games, social media, pandemic, etc., etc. Rather, in the spirit of Gaia, we would regard these agencies as having a life or intelligence or consciousness of their own to be related to, having emerged from a multi-layered history involving several inter-related systems . This is the mode of Cashford’s presentation itself, she, a personification of Gaia as the “memory of the whole.”

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