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?

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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.

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I am very pleased to announce that the DRAFT Pagan Community Statement on the Environment is available for a period of public comment.  The public comment period will be open until April 21, 2015.  Share your comments at ecopagan.com.

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In my last post, I introduced the archetype of the Anima and Animus, the contra-gendered aspects of our unconscious selves.

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Neo-Paganism as a Mystery Religion

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  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Rather than ascribe a gender, I typically use the Sephirot, Netzah and Hod as the focal ideas for this ritual, equal on the tree,

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In my last post, I promised to describe a ritual which my family does about the Jungian Shadow.  We've done this ritual in the past at the summer solstice, but it can be done at any time.

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In my last post, I described Neo-Paganism as a modern-day mystery religion.  Historically, initiates into the mystery religions experienced a ritual death and rebirth.  Some Neo-Pagan rituals follow this format.  The idea is that we die to our old selves and awaken to a new, more expansive Self.  In Jungian terms, the Self is the wholeness of our many disparate selves, conscious and unconscious.  But to encounter the Self, we must let our old selves, our egos, die.  This is a psychological death, but no less significant than physical death from the perspective of the ego.  For the ego, the experience can be as painful as dying physically, and some people would prefer physical death.  

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Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii

As indicated in the introduction to this blog above, I 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 me ever since.  In fact, the first Pagan writing I ever read was an essay by Wiccan priestess and Jungian psychologist, Vivianne Crowley entitled, "Wicca as a Modern-Day Mystery Religion", in Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman's Paganism Today (1994).  Wouter Hanegraaf has written that Vivianne Crowley’s Jungian perspective “is so strong that readers might be forgiven for concluding that Wicca is little more than a religious and ritual translation of Jungian psychology.” And, in fact, that is exactly what I believed.  Even after realizing that that Paganism is far more diverse than I had originally thought, Crowley's vision of Wicca has continued to influence me.

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  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    I don't disagree with you, John. Actually, I think that the personal transformation element is the superior of the two reasons to
  • Courtney
    Courtney says #
    In becoming a Pagan, I have experienced the initiation as a form of personal transformation that you spoke of. I liked this post a

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This essay was originally published at Neo-Paganism.com.

edw-hellas-29The Collective Unconscious

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