All sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer (1803-82)
Greetings, and welcome to my website of Depth Psychology. As a depth psychologist in Jungian and Archetypal Psychology, which involves getting to the heart of matters, I am interested in the mythologems in myths, to re-enchant our souls, psyche, and spirit, with beauty and charm, through the arts and with nature.
The arts and nature both bring us our outer pleasantries of joy (raise our human spirits) by stirring the inner depths of soul (deepening our experience); it can also make it more vast, spanning the breadth of our vision and feeling of what we want out of being alive, our sense of adventure.
My favorite symbol for this is the lake or sea, or pond, or other bodies of water. I particularly love fountains--fountains that well up from the well-springs of the inner earth. We can see the beauty of the shore and the surface of the water and there before us is mystery and wonders under the surface. We can also gaze across the water and into the sky "out there." I work with processes that look at both the outer and the inner, that are above and below, yet also "out there." This is a way to tend to the individual spirit and soul, and the collective world soul as well.
By diving into the depths of psyche, we explore our soulfulness then resurface to the light of uplifted human spirit to set our sails to reach our goals. This can involve making the unconscious conscious or the unknown known, for the betterment of life.
On pleasantry and unpleasantry, good and bad, light and dark (dealing with darker trials in depth psychology)
Life contains both pleasant and unpleasant, both good and bad, both light and dark. A depth approach is different than most approaches (outside of depth psychology) because, as depth psychologist Carl Jung stated, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” I take this to mean "only by" imagining figures of light, because sometimes this to me is wondrous. However, what Jung meant here (in lieu of his life's work) is that It is only by becoming aware of what resides in our psyches that we can create a positive outside effect on our lives and the lives of those around us. We need to be aware of our unconscious contents carried in each our own Shadow in order to positively effect our moods, thoughts, behaviors, and to reach our goals whether in regards to careers, jobs, or relationships. But in the end, it is all for the goal of reaching the light and the positive, meaning to make the unconscious conscious. While we all have trials, and some dark matter in our Shadows, it is yet helpful to remember that not everything that is unconscious is dark or negative. Sometimes we find hidden treasure there, too, in the darkest of caverns.
Yet, as we are all human, as humans we do sometimes experience our share of trials. Our trials are our (word scramble) trails we forge along our paths throughout life. Some of these trails are more difficult, some of which are what Jung called "the Night Sea Journey," and explained, "The night sea journey is a kind of descensus ad inferos--a descent into Hades and a journey to the land of ghosts somewhere beyond this world, beyond consciousness, hence an immersion in the unconscious (“The Psychology of the Transference,” CW16, par. 455).
Our ghosts are our hurtful memories or traumas. What haunts us can become obstacles that are the embodiments of our negative beliefs, thoughts, and fears that sometimes block our attempts at success or to be simply enjoying the day, overcoming depression, getting through illness or grief, anxiety or other troubles.
On raising human spirit through the arts and humanities
Yet I do recognize that some hauntings are good or friendly ghosts, whether Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons or a beautifully enchanting song someone might describe as "haunting." One such beautifully enchanting song that has meant a lot to me all my life (as I have written about elsewhere before) is Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata". In this piece, he channeled his frustrated love-longing for his piano student Julietta who did not return his love. Without Beethoven's unrequited love for her, we would never have had this amazingly hauntingly enchanting piece of classical music in our historic musical library. After the pain of this night-sea journey has ended, after the midnight, there is always the dawn. The moon-boat sinks below the horizon and the sun-boat chariot comes up. The arts make for a fascinating and useful bridge, a type of what Jung called "transcendence," to overcome our struggles and get on in the light of day. With that bridge, we bridge differences and we bridge our way to destiny, by going from where we stand to someplace else or to meet someone "other." When examining deep psyche, we also learn there is not truly an "other," but that all things are together like dancing atoms in the cosmos of life. We are separate but in unison, just as light and dark make up a "day." But we do want to emphasize (finalize) with the light, a treasure or gift of some sort, or we would call a time span of 24 hours a "night" rather than a "day," and the dawn of consciousness would not come. And then there are some songs such as folk tunes that are simply pleasant and fun that raise spirit, and plenty a children's tune.
How analysis of the arts and nature through mythological symbols offer counsel and are therapuetic
Along with the obvious beauty and enchantment of many a work of art or nature, story is invaluable in depth psychology and story is relayed in all forms of the arts, just as seen above with the story of Beethoven and his Moonlight Sonata resulting from his longing for love. In it you hear both the tenderness and integrity of his love for her and the ruminating passions of hopes in their destruction. In it you hear the madness of the moon. All these emotions are expressed in the various movements of the piece. As the moon moves across the sky on its night-sea journey, so do heroes in tales in myths and legends, novels and films, also go through their night-sea journeys. Some examples are Jonah in the belly of the whale swallowed away from the outside world, Beowulf fighting the monster sea-serpent, or Cinderella escaping the infernal hell of the fireplace where she is forced by her wicked stepmother (not womb-mother, but like her life has been swallowed up in the belly of the whale) to sleep upon the hard mantle. That hardness is where she has to rest her head, her mind, her psyche. Cinderella is in the belly of the whale not simply because of having a stepmother, but because the stepmother is so mean and the stepsisters are merely like their mother. Cinderella is also in the belly of the whale or fighting the monstrous sea-serpent when she is kept hidden from the prince for jealous reasons.
The discussion above demonstrates the importance of story to our lives, and the importance of our lives (and how we live them) to others' stories. Whether a myth is a true story or an untrue story, the mythopoetics of any given myth (even our own, as we each have our story as our personal myth), the poetry of it all, the poetics of a situation, are the richness of meaning. Myths that people may regard as untrue are then still true or 'real' insofar as the kernels of truth within them.
We all have a life story, an archive of the heart and soul of our human life and lived experience. Sometimes that envisioning comes through our daydreams (wishes, goals) and sometimes through our night-time sleeping dreams. Dream interpretation and dream-tending are another technique I use, one I specialize in. Our dreams are the story our soul is writing about us--or the music, to achieve harmony, or the visual arts, to show our conscious awareness through non-verbal symbol that the psyche can best understand, or the dance that is our circle of movement upon the sphere of earth.
The arts are a mirror too of nature and ample opportunity for connecting to soul through nature and eco-psychology:
Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. And that’s what it is. The nature is your
nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you.
When your mind is trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself,
you have misread the image.
The inner world is the world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your
possibilities that meets the outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation. That’s
where you are. You’ve got to keep both going. As Novalis said, 'The seat of the soul is there where
the inner and outer worlds meet.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Finding our place on the earth in its nature is part of myth as earth's story. Eco-psychological earth awareness in the natural world tends to anima mundi (world soul), just as psyche and the arts and our own life events do.
Some ending thoughts and statements
For me, the value of Jungian depth psychology and mythopoetics are the acquisition of wellness of psyche and soul through tending towards one's hopes, wishes, and dreams in a spirit of adventure to include self-exploration and learning/discovery in life and our life stories.
We can write new chapters anytime, and create happy new endings and enjoy our re-enchantment of the world through mythopoetics in its many forms, through the archetypal symbols in story, our sleeping dreams, and awake-dreams or daydreams. I also incorporate Jung's Active Imagination techniques, which can be used with dreams or life concerns in general, and various forms of meditation.
I also offer creative consulting for people's creative projects in the arts.
My logo is the water fountain, the wellspring of inspiration, from the muses, and of poetry, music, and dance in motion in life.
I also enjoy the ship motif and the compass as mandala and ritual circle or medicine circle. Jung was fascinated by the 3 and the 4, the circle and the square. The square has four walls or pillars, and the circle has four main directions also as east, south, west, and north, from one rising sun to the next. So if life is partially about directions and contained within that circle and that square, then the directions we also 'give' ourselves are best given by the en-lightened and en-heartened soul. For, we go here and there about our directions, and perhaps our biggest goal in life is to direct our own ship or lead of our own expeditions in our life adventure.
So off we sail to explore the sea of psyche through our mythopoetic heritage throughout our history and even our pre-history, before we ever wrote things down, recorded our music or our dancing under sun and moon. When on shore, we have our wells and springs and fountains, so in we gaze, to be the seers of our own mythic oracles.
May all life's journeys be a grand adventure,
Mary Ann Bencivengo, MA Depth Psychology, MFA Creative Writing/Poetry
Depth Psychologist (Specializing in Mythopoetic Analysis, Esoterics, and Dream Analysis
Creative Writer, Musician/Pianist