The programme organisers wish to thank all the participants for making this conference such a rich and meaningful event in a myriad of different ways.
This short summary of the conference is intended for all those who could not attend the conference and a recapitulation for those who did. We hope it will give you all an idea of the conference themes that were presented.
The three day conference took place at ASU, Mercado campus in Phoenix. ASU offered a very comfortable air conditioned and spacious venue as well as providing the necessary IT equipment and support for Michael Glock so that each presentation could be visually represented if required. The delicious fresh food and beverages were organised by Stephani Stephens and Marybeth Carter.
The conference focussed on the important role indigenous people world-wide play in understanding the evolution of Jung’s psychological theories connected to rebirth and renewal. Through contact with indigenous peoples, Jung discovered a new and enlivened emotional immediacy to nature which he felt had become disassociated under the pressure of being middle European. The venue of the conference in Phoenix, Arizona had its own symbolic significance as a city that evolved through using the older irrigation canals of the Hohokam people. The city rose up like the Phoenix, both as a city and a theriomorphic symbol of the Self, linking the modern psyche in the city to the creative wellspring of its primordial past. The extraordinary visual representations of many of the papers presented served to underline the emotional immediacy of Jung’s message, as well as utilising modern technology in the creation of such breath-taking, complex images of rebirth and renewal.
The conference began with a Native American prayer and blessing by Johnson Dennison, Navaho Medicine Man in his native tongue followed by Jerome Bernstein’s key presentation: Borderland Consciousness: Re-establishing Dialogue between the Western Psyche and the Psyche Left Behind. Jerome argued that Euro-American had long projected spiritual mana onto Native Americans as a compensatory response to the spilt from nature felt since Western Civilisation’s growth of science and technology. His wonderfully visual, soulful and pertinent presentation focussed on Borderland consciousness and how it could bridge the Western psyche’s dissociation from nature leading to more sane and reparative approaches to global climate change.
Jerome’s paper was followed by a choice of panel presentations: the first panel Theme 1 on Native America presented aspects of rebirth and renewal. Satya Keyes explored the mythic Crow-spirit of the Hopi and Lenape as a symbol of rebirth and wholeness; Yvonne Nelson-Reid presentation focussed on the value of the spider, the Sacred Web and the dream catcher; Karen Fogelsong emphasised that science and technology were ready for a new mythology which encompassed indigenous wisdom, science and depth psychology. Robert L. Mitchell discussed the roots on individuation which set the individual apart from the collective, tracing shamanism through history as promoting the sanctity of the individual out of which evolved democratic socio-economic practices.
Theme 2: shadow /death: the ambivalent nature and failure of rebirth presented various aspects put forward by Peter W. Demuth, Lee Weiser and Karen Elizabeth Williams. Peter W. Demuth drew on the failed individuation of Bruno Bettelheim whom he suggested became ‘dark adapted,’ that is controlled by undifferentiated shadow complexes. Lee Weiser expanded upon the lore of Zombies, entities hungry for revenge after trauma. How did a conscious rebirth follow an encounter with such unbearable deadly affect? Karen Elizabeth Williams elucidated her personal journey by recognising the ‘death process as a destructive necessity’ through paintings relating to death and rebirth not as a theory but as a lived experience.
Theme 3: Familial Intergenerational Constellations of rebirth and renewal looked at the child: John Brendan Loghry explored the dynamics of the father–child dyad where the offspring becomes the eternal child victim to the ‘terrible father.’ He argued that this father could be transformed for those suffering from abandonment by becoming a brother or cousin, a child himself, in need of the adequate parenting he did not receive. Through such transformation, the father became a subject of compassion and the father-child dyad healed through overcoming the bonds of a shaming and invalidated childhood. Marni K. Winkel and Howard Hunter Reeve presented a joint mother-son paper looking at contrasting but complementary aspects of nature (the mother) and technology (the son) through Iron Man, a fictional film character, reborn as a modern Phoenix. Jeff Strnad’s presentation linked the traditional biblical OT story of Adam and Eve with Melanie Klein’s view of infant psychological development and various narratives of infancy emanating from both historical and current aspects of religious doctrine. This presentation underlined recognition of an embedded narrative of infancy which could represent a rebirth and renewal of an archetypal view of infancy.
Friday PM began with Jeanne Lacourt’s key presentation: Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Birthing Symbolic Life. Accompanied by vivid and moving visual representation, Jeanne shared personal and clinical examples of how story of origin and place informed her work and allowed her trust in the theme of birth and renewal. Trees and animals as spirit ancestors of the Self both embodied and honoured the natural, instinctual life of the tribe.
The conference was then split into four panels to explore further aspects of rebirth and renewal. The first panel discussed Theme 1: Native American rites of passage.Laura J. Jones expanded upon Hillman’s (1975) archetypal move of ‘seeing through’ to ‘moving through’ via an embodied process that re-storied lived events and moved the participant into relationship with anima mundi imaginally and communally.
Jane Ann Hendrikson explored the Hohokam related tribe of the Tohono O’odham who still practiced a rite of passage using the snake’s mouth as entry into the centre of life source as an initiation process from boyhood to manhood. Natalie Curtis McCullough expressed Jung’s vital mystery inherent in the spiritual practice of the Pueblo Indians who awakened and greeted the sun every morning as a daily ritual. Natalie as an interfaith Chaplain was invited into the liminal space between physical death and spiritual awakening and interpreted it as a yearning to be fully alive before death. She saw this space as an archetypal longing for spiritual rebirth as vital as the rising sun.
The second panel dealt with Native America as shadow projection. David G. Barton’s presentation outlined Jung’s own confusion in his contact with Taos and Antonio Mirabel, thinking the latter was an Indian chief. Barton argued that Mirabel provided a perfect screen for Jung to project his fantasies about the rejuvenation of western culture through the South Western indigenous peoples. Sukey Fontelieu used cultural complex theory to look at how the Native Americans were demonised by the expansionist doctrine of manifest destiny during 19th century. She took the example of Chiracahua Apache shaman, Geronimo, to demonstrate how European while settlers’ projection of aggression and savagery as exclusively Native American ignored their own shadow duplicity in annihilating and killing Native Americans in their pursuit of a free and courageous nation. Susan Schwartz presented the fantasies of Miss Miller (CW 5) who tried to unite with her Native American hero, Chiwantopel, as a way of accessing disassociated ‘shadow’ aspects in a drive towards individuation and wholeness.
The third panel concentrated on shadow/death and the ambivalent nature and failure of rebirth. Inez Martinez used the creative unconscious as a conduit to articulate the suffering of facing death without a sense of rebirth. Through 20th poetic expression, one sought more fulfilment of a specific human capacity for moral expression without which there was no capacity for regeneration and renewal. Kimberly Arndt explored the nature of suicide when the individuation process did not succeed. Kimberly took the case of a 55 year old man who committed suicide within the context of Grimm’s fairy tale Godfather Death and asked what happened when the functions of compensation and adaptation were broken down. Marie-Madeleine Andree Stey looked at the shamanic retrieval ofsoul when death had occurredbut the soul of the dead man could not rest until the villagers exonerated him from a taboo violation which had unleased warring spirits. Using the Congolese culture which stressed the violence and pain inherentin the soul retrieval process plus the dangers faced by the retriever, the presentation emphasised that harmony with the earth, nature, animals and the community formed the basis of rebirth and renewal which could heal such discord.
The fourth panel continued with Theme three on Familial constellations as intergenerational memories. Kesstan Blandin explored the inner world of Alzheimer’s disease as a symbolic process as a return to prima materia in a classic underworld journey. The relationship to identity, body, self and to memory were explored as an unravelling of an identity tapestry and the weaving of old with new ones. Alexandra Fidyk suggested that family constellations based on Hellinger (2002) gave voice and form to familial complexes as spirits of the dead through unconscious intergenerational family traumas. Constructing a family constellation could diminish unconscious impulses and open up individuals to new healing images that ushered in a renewal of life. John Dore discussed the presence of ancestral energy fields in family constellations that revealed entanglements of guilt, crimes and secrets, carried out by present family members out of love for those in the past who suffered.
Later in the evening, Marybeth Carter and Jeanne Lacourt gave a Native American film presentation: Dakota 38. The film presentation focussed on the historical interconnection between Native Americans and the US, and the impact it had when a community supported the objective psyche and dream life of its people which resulted inforgiveness, healing, reconciliation and healing.
Theme 4: Australia was introduced by Geoffrey Berry who discussed how aboriginal song lines are being recomposed to fit in with climate change and technological advances. Don Fredericksen’s Australia film presentation, Walkabout, 1971, elucidated Van Gennep’s stages of rites of passage and what happened when life lived wholly in the semiotic register blinded itself to the symbolic register.
Saturday, 28/7 AM focussed on Theme 5: the Trickster beginning with Andrew Samuels’ stimulating Skype presentation which focussed on the battle between trickster Pedro and the Gringos. Andrew argued that such tricksters as Pedro had persuaded Western/Northern scholars into thinking that their culture was richer than their own and their sometimes lack of moral sense had been overlooked.
The theme of the trickster was further elaborated byagain with a lively Skype presentation which focussed on the rebirth of the Trickster goddess in Mysteries. She analysed the goddesses Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite and Hestia as they constellated anew through modern crime stories.
Maryann Barone Chapman discussed the trickster, trauma and transformation using the word association experiment (WAE) to look at the vicissitudes of late motherhood and the role cultural complexes play (conscious/unconscious) in allocating cross-over gender roles in order to create the family that was missing in childhood.
Three panels AM offered further explorations into symbols of rebirth and renewal. The first panel focussed on Theme 6: places as synchronistic symbols. Shara D. Knight explored the rising Phoenix image as carrying archetypal energy which partially embodied the trajectory of this psychic energy unfolding. Shara considered the image of Miriam Carey’s car crashing through the White house barricades as providing a conduit for glimpses of the archetypal feminine, its psychological coherence with current events and its transforming potentials. Kiley Quincy Laughlin presented a comparative study of the Phoenix symbol which was also Jung’s family coat of arms. He suggested the Jung’s search for the mythical Phoenix bird led him to four continents which he viewed as Jung’s four functions. Using the lens of Maier’s allegory and Jung’s alchemical studies, his presentation showed the value alchemical symbolism still had for contemporary culture and provided new perspectives on the phoenix as a symbol of renewal. Rose-Emily Rothenberg related her inner and outer experience of two African safaris which brought her through an initiation and an unanticipated renewal process. Through the multitude of experiences in Africa, Rose-Emily experienced personal evolution with the individuation process living through her, as a scar phase, animal phase and as an independent phase.
Theme 6 was continued with the second panel on synchronistic symbols as liminal place/space. Susan Jeanne Wyatt explored Tom Singer’s work on Psyche and the City by letting each participant in the audience explore a city of their own. The aim was to increase awareness of the relationship between one’s own soul relation to a particular place whether as native, resident, visitor or in the imagination. Narandja Milanovich Eagleson argued that potent sacred sites, such as building the Bolligen Tower for Jung, enabled the on-going engagement and co-evolution of the psyche of the land, the ancestral and archetypal imaginal realm and human beings. Narandja used her own pilgrimage to her ancestral home of Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro in 2012 to illustrate that a place was an ‘a priori’ living being and an essential force in sculpting the process of renewal and rebirth of psyche’s knowledge. Daphne Dobson analysed author Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible set in Africa as challenging the Western monotheistic mind-set and invited a rebirth of the cultural myth of Adam and Eve based on native African embodied indigenous belief systems.
The third panel Theme 7- Eco-Psychological symbols looked at theriomorphic symbols of rebirth and renewal. Animal symbols can access and embody unconscious emotions better than the human form. Suzanne Cremen Davidson contrasted the NZ film Whale Rider (2003) and the US documentary Blackfish (2013). Jung described a symbol as ‘the best possible expression for a concrete fact not yet fully apprehended by consciousness’ (CW8, para. 148). How did these two film and their contrasting approaches to themes of sacrifice and individuation inform a renewed understanding of vocation? Whereas the American trainer adopted a colonising approach to the whale’s being, the Maori girl engaged on a numinous level in unconscious connections with the creature through traditional Maori culture. Darlene M. Rowan interpreted the return of the Pale Male, the famous red tail hawk to New York’s Central Park as a biological renewal. The absence of the hawk from Manhattan for over 100 years could represent aspects of ourselves we had cut off, but were now being incorporated into the psyche on a more conscious level. She asked what were the eco-psychological, synchronistic implications of the red tail hawk’s return in terms of a rebirth and renewal?
Saturday PM: Thomas Singer as key speaker examined the burden of modernity and how initiatory rites of passage, ancient tribes and the cultures of indigenous people can become mixed up in the Jungian tradition. Using the paintings of Jungian analyst, Joe Henderson, and his own initiatory drawings and paintings, Tom experientially tracked the mixing and blending of ancient and modern drawings of the archetypes of death, rebirth and renewal, particularly the therimorphic symbol of the snake, which could help find meaning in our contemporary individual and collective lives.
Three panels followed. The first panel continued Theme 5: Trickster as mediator. Kathleen Davies explored the quest for meaning via the Trickster in art and the interplay of darkness and light between conscious and unconscious. Fictional detective, Easy Rawlins and real life artist, Jim Denevan, both lived in the modern city as the ‘wasteland’ and could be interpreted as Grail heroes in creative acts of ‘meaning making’ and ‘coding decoding’ the symbols within their stories. Lorraine Burnham used Stephanie Myers work on vampires and werewolves to analysis Jacob’s role as trickster in Book 2 of the Twilight trilogy when he was transformed and reborn as a werewolf in line with the North Native American origin story from the Quileute when Qwati, the transformer, turned two wolves into humans. Jacob’s dual role as animal and human acted as a mediator between Bella, the heroine, and her vampire lover, Edward, in their own individuation process andquest for rebirth.
The second panel on Theme 6: Places as Synchronistic Symbols consisted of a group presentation on ‘Dirt City.’ Using psychodynamic theories, the panellists, Mandy Krahn, Silvia Eleftheriou, Hessen Zoeller, Amrita Gill and Alexander Fidyk illustrated how collective renewal had been cultivated in the darkened place of Edmonton, Canada, bringing to light the ways in which creation and self-understanding was borne of suffering in the lives of emigrated women, marginalised preadolescents, the working class, and the feminine. Located in the shadows of national discourse, Edmonton was experiencing a re-imaging as it contended with questions of civic self-understanding. Using Tom Singer’s work on ‘cultural complexes’ (2004) and ‘city as psyche’ (2010) this group presentation discussed the ways in which Edmunton’s gritty, abused and dirt-drenched image provided an innovative, earthen and blackened medium (prima material) for inspiring rebirth and renewal.
Theme 6 on places as synchronistic symbols was further amplified by the third panel. Lynda van Dyck was part of a research team who spent the night for the first time in the King’s chamber of the Great Pyarmid of Giza, Egypt. The ESP experiment within the chamber showed that it was self-contained. The presenter discussed her personal, first hand initiation during her two weeks in Egypt as akin to entering the Eleusinian mysteries. The experiences of quantum physics and the concept of time were also addressed. The next panellist, Phoenix Raine, discussed the power of ‘name’ when identified as a concept, symbol and archetype which could provide a creative approach to the import of identity development. Based on a series of dreams framed around the name ‘Phoenix,’ the presenter offered an interpretation of the mythological motif of a heroine’s journey. After a brief introduction of the history of street photography, Marilyn Bohman DeMario focussed on images of the mythic figure, Persephone, on the street, in the subway and invited ways to consider exactly who she was at the time just prior to her abduction into the underworld by Hades. In such a split second portrait we could imaginatively fill in the details of her story which were by ancient accounts conspicuously slim. Vanya Stier van Essen examined the primordial image of Eve leaning towards the cunning serpent as she reached for the forbidden fruit. Moving from literalization into imagination, Eve’s ‘transgression’ could be understood as a moment of necessity, death and liberation. The image of a disobedient Eve as a transformative symbol deepened the understanding of ‘death’ as renewal and ‘rebellion’ as a rebirth of the feminine.
Later Saturday PM, IAJS held its own membership meeting hosted by Don Fredericksen, IAJS Chair.
In the evening a reception was held at Sheraton hotel near ASU with an array of sumptuous food hosted by Stephani Stephens, the Phoenix conference Chair and host.
Sunday, 29/6 introduced Theme 8: India. Key speaker, Evangeline Mary Lotus Rand gave a wonderfully evocative exploration of Jung’s Orissa wakening to India’s art, some of her great temples, music and dance. Evangeline combined Jung’s awakening with her own recent journeys in India (early 2013) and showed us much loved and powerful images of that culture seen through her own eyes, memories and senses. The next key speaker, Sulagna Sengupta gave a powerful and pictorial analysis of Params Pada Sopanam which Jung discovered himself in Nadu in 1938. Elaborating on the mythological symbolism of the thirteen serpent and ten ladders in the game, the presentation compared the concept of karma and rebirth in Hindu religious philosophy with Jung’s notion of rebirth symbolism and transformation processes. It also looked at contemporary Indian rebirth experiences and explored its significance through this ancient complex Indian matrix.
Two panels followed the key speakers’ presentations. The first panel Theme 9: Mythopoetic dimensions of rebirth and renewal as anima mundi featured Lisa A. Pounders who compared aspects of Jung’s Red Book with Charlotte Salomon’s Life? or Theatre? She argued that both works emerged from acts of deep inner reflection and creative engagement with tumultuous unconscious content. The presentation explored the Jungian proposition that such creative engagement also engenders cultural rebirth and renewal and acts as a potent lens for feminism and visionary impulses towards rebirth and renewal as shown in Life? or Theatre? Matthew Allen Fike followed with his analysis of H. Rider Haggard’sShe which Jung read onboard the ship which took him to Africa. The central character, L. Horace Holly’s encounter with an indigenous people, the Amahagger, and with Ayesha as ‘she’ in the novel did not foster individuation and suggested that Haggard diminished Ayesha by associating her with cyclical (‘feminine’) rather than with linear (‘masculine’) time. Crystal S. Fierro interpreted Maya Angelou’s poem ‘A Brave and Startling Truth’ as a strong message of renewal. She suggested that both Jung’s Modern Man in Search of Soul and Angelou’s poem promoted a renewal of soul and love as a solution to the modern person’s struggle for meaning.
The second panel Theme 7: Eco-psychological symbols of rebirth and renewal focussed on aspects as anime. Konoyu Nakamura analysed the popularity of anime in Japan since 1970’s and took the popular Japanese TV series ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ to illustrate aspects of Japan’s own rebirth and renewal since the Second World War. Yamato had been a wrecked naval battleship and was reborn as a space battleship to save the earth from nuclear pollution. Nakamura investigated the archetypal images in the TV series in this rebirth which included aspects of the feminine. The second presenter, John Demenkoff tracked the Promethean myth woven into the story of how the earth became oxygenated. In a recapitulation of the Greek myth of Prometheus who stole fire from the sun, this action had resulted in an oxygenated planet which fostered evolutionary complexity but at a price. Demenkoff suggested that we were still paying the price for our historical dependence on oxygen. Sarah Dungan Norton looked as the cracking of a glacier into small forms as synonymous to acalving,birthing process within the psyche. Norton offered a scholarly and imaginal study of icy landscapes, exploring the the molecular make-up of ice itself deep in the unconscious of the individual. A new understanding was thus calved through exploring the painful moaning and cracking of ice as a symbol of deeper knowledge connecting the individual, the unconscious and the natural world. Carla Paton using references to Jung’s work and indigenous cultures, related stories of the tree to show how it connects us with its roots, trunk, branches and leaves and vascular system of photosynthesis, as a symbol of the self, that acts as a balm to heal the mind-body split between humans and nature.
Saturday evening a reception was held at the Sheraton Hotel nearby to the ASU campus with a delightful array of good food.
Sunday PM: John Eliott Beebe as key speaker gave an evocative workshop on the Indian film Monson Wedding 2001to underline the serious threat imposed on an extended Punjabi family of a ‘false father figure’ constellation. Dealing with themes such as intergenerational sexual abuse, missing fathers, family secrets and the role of integrity in affect regulation, goddess energy, as fecund earthy joy, was reborn through dancing in the film to celebrate the healing properties of love and sexuality.
A workshop and two panels followed. Kathryn LaFevers Evans gave a soulful Native America shamanic workshop as a lived, experiential model in meditation, embodied vocalised mantra, invocation, ritual and social sharing. She used animal spirit guides as theriomorphic imagery and shamanic art forms to connect the modern psyche to its natural primordial, ancestral experiences.
Panel Theme 9: Mythopoetic Dimensions opened with a presentation by Luke Hockley who focussed on the correspondence from 1993 to 1996 between James Hillman and Joseph Menosky, a script writer and producer for the television series Star Trek: the Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. Hillman wanted to televise his psychological theories and the exchanges between the two men were full of speculation and opinions about what would work on television in a Star Trek episode. ‘Would Hillman boldly go where no archetypal psychologist has gone before?’ Ronald L. Boyer followed with his presentation on the archetypal themes of death-rebirth. Using the works of three scholars, Joseph Campbell; Mircea Eliade and Joseph Henderson plus Jung’s method of amplification, the presentation discussed The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter stories, The Princess Bride and the popular TV series, such as True Blood, in order to illustrate how symbolic death-rebirth themes were embedded in the mythic structure of popular narrative. Jean Hinson Lall examined what could be learned through astrological practice about the capacity of symbols and images to assist psychic transformation and spiritual renewal. Jean considered the capacity of atraditional image assymbol going back over thousands of years to be conceived virginally and bring forth redemptive possibilities. Such a repeated emptying of itself as image and symbol brought forth a creative, on-going rebirth and renewal in the individual psyche and community.
The second panel continued Theme 9: mytho-poetic dimensions as orientation. Eileen Nemeth analysed creation myths as a way of giving human response and form to the unanswerable. Using the work of von Franz on Creation Myths, the presentation explored the phenomena of being-in-the world with texts of creation myths from diverse cultures. These oldest texts connected us to our ancestors and our existence in bodily form. Eileen also presented dreams from her clinical practice. Peter T. Dunlap argued that Jung’s critique of groups was antiquated and advocated a new collective consciousness which would bind us together again in a shard feeling function. Peter stressed that emphasis on individual differences rather than similarities could hinder us from learning from each other. He saw the need to ‘forage a shared vision of an increasingly principled human community.’ Vicky Jo Varner argued that the time was now ripe for a rebirth in Jung’s work on psychological types as a typology of consciousness rather than as a labelling of types of people. With a fresh re-emphasis on its depth psychological value, Jung’s work on typology would take its rightful place along-side the archetype and the complex as an important cornerstone in Jungian psychology.
The last panel of the conference Theme 10: Traditional Christian symbols of rebirth and renewal featured Barbara Helen Miller and Veronica Marchese. Barbara Helen Miller discussed rebirth and renewal within the context and influence of Pietism. She argued that the most prolific form of Christian observance among indigenous people today was Pentecostalism which had its roots in 17th century Protestant Pietistic movement and stressed its experiential, inward and personal relationship with god, even a one-ness with god. The emphasis on the creative work of the Spirit within the individual brought authoritative ‘truths’ and knowledge of god that presupposed the rebirth of man as ‘whole,’ ‘perfect’ or ‘entire.’ Veronica Marchese argued that the connection between becoming ‘holy’ through the marital relationship in the Catholic Church and Jung’s concept of becoming ‘whole’ through individuation was one which has received little attention in research. Veronica advocated a new approach to Jungian studies which would include the sacrament of marriage in the Roman Catholic Church as a container for psychological rebirth and renewal.
Don Fredericksen closed the conference by showing a visually centring meditation film. Afterwards, Jeanne Lacourt sang a farewell ritual in her Native American tongue. It was a most beautiful and appropriate ‘full circle’ ending to the conference which had begun on Friday with Johnson Dennison’s Native American prayer and blessing.
This short summary does not do justice to the content of such rich and varied presentations of the conference nor does it give an idea of the often spectacular visual effects which accompanied many of these presentations. More information about the abstracts, their bibliographies and biographies of the presenters can be accessed and downloaded from the Phoenix conference web-site.
Thank you to all those who presented and attended this conference and helped make it such a rewarding and memorable experience.
With warm wishes from the IAJS Phoenix conference committee:
Stephani Stephens, Liz Brodersen, Michael Glock, Don Fredericksen, Marybeth Carter and Paivi Alho.
Photographs and images from Evangaline Rand, Michael Glock and Liz Brodersen. Found in the PDF.
Download the full conference breakdown in PDF format here: The Phoenix Conference summary 13.7-July 13 2014