Dreaming the Myth Onward: Jungian Neo-Paganism

Carl Jung's ideas have been influencing the development of Neo-Paganism from its inception in the 1960s and 1970s. But what if Jung's ideas have been misunderstood by many Pagans: literalized on the one hand and oversimplified on the other? What fresh insights can a Jungian Neo-Paganism contribute to Pagan discourse and practice today? And might Jungianism serve as a bridge between the earth-centered and deity-centered Pagan communities?

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
John Halstead

John Halstead

John discovered Jungianism and Neo-Paganism at the same time through the writings of Vivianne Crowley, Margot Adler, and Starhawk, and the two have remained intertwined for him ever since.  John is the managing editor at HumanisticPaganism.com, a community blog for Naturalistic Pagans. He also writes about his spiritual quest on his blog The Allergic Pagan (www.patheos.com/blogs/allergicpagan/), where he explores his personal religious history, Paganism, UUism, and Jungianism.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Drake_in_Oregon-e1298834954465.jpgWhen I was at the Parliament of the World's Religions in October, I had the pleasure of hearing Drake Spaeth speak briefly.  Drake is a clinical psychologist and professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  His professional interests include existential and humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, Jungian psychology, and shamanism.  Drake is a also an ordained Pagan minister and ritual facilitator of the Sacred Hunt, an ecstatic ritual of consciousness transformation, which has become a fixture at Pagan Spirit Gathering and other festivals.  

At the Parliament, Drake caught my attention when he said that "Carl Jung was not entirely kidding when he called himself a polytheist." Drake was responding to the notion that seeing the gods as expressions of Jungian archetypes diminishes the gods, an idea which he said results from a misunderstanding of what Jung wrote.  When I got home, I listened to some of Drake's earlier interviews.  This one, with T. Thorn Coyle, was interesting, as Drake discusses gods and archetypes -- a frequent topic on this blog.  A portion of the interview is excerpted here.  (You can listen to the entire interview by following this link.)  My own understanding of gods and archetypes parallel's Drake's.

...
Last modified on

mucha_DSC5377

This past summer, Morpheus Ravenna delivered the keynote speech at the Many Gods West polytheist conference. Her speech was entitled, "Deep Polytheism: On the Agency and Sovereignty of the Gods". It was later published at polytheist.com, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. I’ve been meaning for some time to write a response to Morpheus’ speech, for a couple of reasons. First, I am always interested in the intersection of Jungian psychology and polytheism. In fact, it was the pairing of these ideas in Margot Adler's 1979 Drawing Down the Moon that drew me to Paganism in the first place. Second, I think Morpheus is one of the most interesting polytheist writers out there, and I am often surprised at how much of what she writes I agree with. Her keynote speech was no exception.

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Billybareblu
    Billybareblu says #
    Another great article concerning these concepts.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you. Insightful, clear, and helpful!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I recently came across these five questions posed to "Pagans who believe that the Gods are merely psychological archetypes and are created by the mind of [hu]man[s]." I will answer each in turn. (But first, let me say that I object to prefacing the word psychological with the word "merely" -- something I've written about before here.)

1. Do you believe that the Gods can assist you with anything physical in nature? If so how can the Gods assist you with anything physical in Nature given that they are only psychological?

...
Last modified on

Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 3 of Helsen's series.

We'll just skip over the stupid memes and the monkey poo flinging and get the substance of a Helsen's post.  He implies that I am exceptional in in that I need to be "forced to care" about something that I don't feel a connection to.  But I think this is the nature of modern humanity.  Genocide, war, rape, racism, sexism, environmental desecration, etc. etc. -- all of these are evidence that we human beings need to be forced to treat others well, unless we first feel a connection to them.  (In fact, the sheer nastiness of Helsen's post is also evidence of this.)

...
Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    "the stupid memes and the mud slinging" "the sheer nastiness of Helsen's post" ""I am a special little snowflake and how dare you

Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 2 of Helsen's series.

Helsen argues that the gods are “objective, discrete, and separate beings”.  I’ve explained in Part 1 and in my original post about "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism", why the “separate and distinct” language is problematic.  More recently, I’ve written about how we confuse the question of the objective existence of the gods and the question of their subjective meaning — as if something must objectively exist for it to have subjective meaning. If you want to read more on those issues, follow the links above.  

...
Last modified on

Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 1 of Helsen's series.

Helsen begins by describing the two "camps" within Paganism: the archetypalists and the hard polytheists:

...
Last modified on

b2ap3_thumbnail_photo-21.jpg

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"

-- Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882)

...
Last modified on

Additional information