“In the end the only events in my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world irrupted into this transitory one. That is why I speak chiefly of inner experiences, among which I include my dreams and visions.” – C.G. Jung
Ppsychotherapy, soul work, imaginal processes, archetypal psychology, depth psychology, soul counselling, analysis… I struggle to find the right labels for the processes of investigation I offer clients.
I’ve had many years of my own Jungian and Hillmanian analysis to call upon… which has led me on a path from engineer to psychotherapist/analyst and artist – an experience that remains the best training I’ve had for helping others with their own inner processes and with their own essential question, their own summons to service, as articulated so clearly by Thomas Moore:
“What wants to enter the world through me?”
What wants to enter can sometimes be so grand as to be totally unexpected. It can blindside us. And yet the world does not necessarily have to be able to see it; it can also be the arrival of the “still small voice” that changes everything for us.
I call on the work of C.G. Jung, James Hillman, Henry Corbin, Thomas Moore and many other brilliant followers of these people in my work as a psychotherapist. I studied Gestalt psychotherapy in Sydney in 2003-2006 and hold a Graduate Diploma in this approach. (I’m a Clinical Member of PACFA in Australia, Reg. 21768.) You can read more on my background on the about page.
There’s a necessity for us to have a continual, rich dialogue between our conscious selves (our so-called ego) and the unconscious – that limitless unknown realm often imaged as a bottomless, dark ocean. If we are not in a comfortable relationship with the unconscious then it can wreak havoc with our conscious lives, forcing its way upon us as neurosis and depression (a vengeful work of nature).
As Jung feared (now almost 100 years ago) we are modern peoples in danger of losing our souls and becoming subject to what replaces them: megalomanias, fundamentalisms, rages of violence and repudiations of difference.
“Man’s task in the world is to remember with his conscious mind what was knowledge before the advent of consciousness.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness.
The image, for me, has been a powerful means of both discovery and depiction of the riches available in the unconscious. Jung, Hillman and Corbin saw imagination and the imaginal as paramount (and increasingly, marginalised in our predominantly materialist culture).
The imaginal is far greater than just the concrete image. Henry Corbin spoke of the imaginal as being of a subtle world, real and objective, which exists in a field between matter and mind. It’s the experience of a “third world”, the mundus imaginalis; an experience often missing in our culture, and one which we can learn to re-inhabit.
And James Hillman spoke of a “poetic basis of mind”. To take everything as poetry, as product of the imagination, is to find the depth in things: “to turn events into experience”.
This way, for Hillman, is a life lived with soul. Psychology for him is in fact that, the poetic vision of life, the imaginative activity of the soul.
The pearl of great price
Hillman spoke eloquently about how imaginal inquiry can be the way to the pearl of great price (i.e. that which is most intimate and valuable to us, and for which we’ll give up all substitutes!).
He’s speaking here against the unfortunately increasing alternative in psychological work of merely “getting rid of the symptom”:
“The alchemists had an excellent image for the transformation of suffering and symptom into a value of the soul. A goal of the alchemical process was the pearl of great price. The pearl starts off as a bit of grit, a neurotic symptom or complaint, a bothersome irritant in one’s secret inside flesh, which no defensive shell can protect oneself from. This is coated over, worked at day in day out, until the grit one day is a pearl; yet it still must be fished up from the depths and pried loose. Then when the grit is redeemed, it is worn. It must be worn on the warm skin to keep its luster: the redeemed complex which once caused suffering is exposed to public view as a virtue. The esoteric treasure gained through occult work becomes an exoteric splendor. To get rid of the symptom means to get rid of the chance to gain what may one day be of greatest value, even if at first an unbearable irritant, lowly, and disguised.” – James Hillman, Insearch, p55–56.
If you would like to consider undertaking imaginal therapeutic work with me, or just want to chat, please see my contact page.