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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    I am, I suppose a "literal polytheist,. I do have a problem with the idea that somehow we are taking over Paganism, because we ha
  • Scott
    Scott says #
    When I look at Jung's Red Book I am in awe of how individualistic his encounter with the gods seemed to me. And yet, he described
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Yes, Jung's is a very individualistic approach. I think we have shared archetypes (although we may call them by different names);
  • Scott
    Scott says #
    Oh BTW...I do believe that those of us who think the gods are part of psyche but also transcend us are an offshoot of the contempo
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I agree that Jungian psychology lends itself to a kind of post-theism. It is a new religion, but one which is familiar to many Ne

From the back cover:

“Those godless pagans!” Even in pagan antiquity, there were individuals and groups who, while participating in the community’s religious life, did not believe in literal gods. In the centuries that followed the Christian domination of the West, the epithet “godless pagan” was leveled at a wide variety of people, from polytheists and indigenous peoples to heretics and atheists.
In the 1960s, though, there emerged a community of people who sought to reclaim the name “pagan” from its history of opprobrium. These Neo-Pagans were interested in nature spirituality and polytheism, and identified with the misunderstood and persecuted pagans of antiquity. Over the following decades, a stunning variety of spiritualities blossomed under the umbrella of contemporary Paganism.
While many Pagans today believe in literal gods, there are a growing number of Pagans who are “godless.” Today, the diverse assemblage of spiritual paths known as Paganism includes atheist Pagans or Atheopagans, Humanistic and Naturalistic Pagans, Buddho-Pagans, animists, pantheists, Gaians, and other non-theistic Pagans. Here for the first time, their voices are gathered together to share what it means to be Pagan and godless.

I am very pleased to announce that Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans is now available for purchase at lulu.com. (It will be available at Amazon and other sites soon, as well.)  The anthology gathers together the voices of 40 atheistic, humanistic, and naturalistic Pagans, pantheists, Gaians, animists, and other non-theistic Pagans.

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Captain Flint from Black Sails

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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.

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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.

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  • 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?

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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.)

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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

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