Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

Exploring what the author calls the “shaman-poets”

Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson—this book demonstrates how far ahead of their times these writers were in forecasting developments of our current time. It was Whitman who first wrote of “Spiritual Democracy” as a vision of transformation and global equality.

Steven Herrmann delves deep into the visionary expressions of this idea of Spiritual Democracy—”the realization of the oneness of humanity with the universe and all its forces”—in these early American writers, showing the influence the groundbreaking work of the geologist and thinker Alexander Von Humboldt had on Whitman and others. Writing that every member of the global community regardless of color, gender, or sexual orientation can realize these freedoms, the author explores how one can tap into the vitalizing source of equalizing, vocational energy to bring a sense of purpose and peace. Although the book shines as a work of literary criticism, the author’s insights as a Jungian psychotherapist take the reader ever deeper into the creative impulses of Whitman, Melville, Dickinson, and other poets in their crafting of the seminal notion of Spiritual Democracy. In addition, Herrmann offers practical methodologies for personal and global transformation in the section, “Ten Ways to Practice Spiritual Democracy.”

Table of Contents

Visions of Spiritual Democracy – Introduction
1. Cosmos
2. Spiritual Democracy as a Science of God
3. From Humboldt to Jung
4. Jung on Spiritual Democracy
5. Healing the National Complex
6. Whitman’s “New Bible”: The Foundation of a Religious Vision
7. Walt Whitman’s Global Vision
8. The Bi-Erotic as Transcendent Sexuality
9. Shamanism and Spiritual Democracy: A Post-Humboldtian Notion of the Cosmos
10. Whitman as a Preserver of the Psychic Integrity of the Community
11. Moby Dick: The Evolution of a New Myth for our Times
12. Herman Melville: The Quest for Yillah
13. Towards a Hypothesis of the Bi-erotic
14. Moby Dick and the Trickster
15. The Marriage of Sames: “A Bosom Friend”
16. Moby Dick: The Characters Behind the Names
17. The Fall of the Dictatorships as Portrayed in Moby Dick
18. Metamorphosis of the Gods
19. The Re-emergence of the Feminine
20. Afterward: A Bi-Erotic Model for The Way Forward
a) Ten Ways to Practice Spiritual Democracy

Editorial Reviews

“Steven Herrmann carries the visionary message of Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and William James forward into our time with the added inspiration of C. G. Jung. Spiritual Democracy puts the idea of democracy back to where it belongs, as a shining example of the human spirit at work in the evolution of human culture and social architecture.”
—Murray Stein, PhD, author of Minding the Self: Jungian Meditations on Contemporary Spirituality

“This is a grand, brilliant, and breathtaking book that explores in depth the central wisdom at the core of Whitman’s prophetic poetry—that of Spiritual Democracy. This vision is at the heart of Sacred Activism, and anyone who wants to truly be inspired to act from a universal consciousness in this terrible and divisive time will find in this book rich food for their soul.”
—Andrew Harvey, author of Radical Passion

“This book exposes the deeper spiritual and historical meanings to the world-wide struggle for gender equality, marriage equality, the Divine Feminine, and economic and political justice—that is, for Spiritual Democracy.”
—Dr. Matthew Fox, coauthor of Occupy Spirituality and author of Original Blessing, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, and A Spirituality Named Compassion

“Spiritual Democracy is not only about vocation, it is a demonstration of vocation in action. For Steven Herrmann, Whitman, Dickinson, Melville, Jung, and Humboldt are alive, and because of the passion of the writer, they come alive for the reader, too. There is a sense of pleasure in these pages, indeed a sense of joy in the riches that Herrmann came upon.”
—Clark McKowen, author of Image: Reflections on Language

“An epic study integrating a variety of disciplines including literary theory, psychology, ecology, and international politics. Imagine a world where there is a deep sense of acceptance toward the varieties of spiritual experience―this is the message of Spiritual Democracy.”
—Neil Richardson, founder of the online virtual commons, Walt Whitman Integral

About the Author
STEVEN HERRMANN’S writing is recognized nationally and internationally. He has published over thirty papers and two books, William Everson: The Shaman’s Call (2009) and Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul (2010). He has taught on the subjects of Whitman and Melville at the C. G. Jung Institutes of San Francisco, Chicago, and Zurich, as well as at the Washington Friends of Walt Whitman, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. Herrmann’s expertise in Jungian Literary Criticism makes him one of the seminal thinkers in the international field, and a foremost authority on Whitman and Melville in post-Jungian studies. Herrmann, a poet and Jungian psychotherapist, has a clinical practice in Oakland, California.

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