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Reinventing Ourselves: Harnessing Hermes

July 24-29, 2016

During the course of our lives, we often seek light, clarity, and truth—the traits of Apollo. We strive to be responsible, to look for stability, and to feel grounded. We also create boundaries for ourselves and our society that make our lives ordered and feel safe. But our need for security can make us too staid and unwilling to take risks. Too often, we ignore Hermes, the god of travel and roads, whose creative force encourages fluidity, new ways of communication, and receptiveness to change.
Hermes pushes the boundaries; he doesn’t like to be tied down. He moves with the wind and is the bringer of dreams. We may not consciously relate to the trickster or thief that Hermes represents, but we can learn from him to look at different perspectives and take what we need in life. When images of thieves appear in our dreams, it is often Hermes speaking to us. Hermes also gives sacrifices to the gods, and, as patron god of thieves, he is in all of us, as we tend to “rob Peter to pay Paul” in our daily lives.
To be in touch with our inner Hermes means that we are comfortable with the many contradictory sides of our personalities and psyches. It means that we can access our “Shadow” and the masculine and feminine sides of ourselves with ease. It enables us to travel between the conscious and the unconscious with facility. We can mine the magic within and shape-shift when necessary.
What is the wisdom of our personal trickster? What is the secret message of the messenger within us? Hermes, prankster and trickster, reminds us at times to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.
Being resourceful and resilient is to enable and harness our inner Hermes.

All true things must change and only that which changes remains true
—C. G. Jung

The Program

Refining the Inner Bullshit Detector:
Humor, Hermes, and the Human Shadow

Monika Wikman

Monday July 25: Presentation
The heart of Jung’s work entails a growing relationship between consciousness and the presence of the Self—learning to see and to hear in ever new ways. This inner ongoing revelation cannot sustain itself within us without opening our minds and lives to refining our own inner bullshit detectors. We must develop an inner compass capable of speaking to us (and we must become capable of hearing it) when we step backward into the unconscious, into the “prima materia,” to know when we ourselves are “full of it.” Using examples from daily life, Dr. Wikman will illustrate how dreams often bring to life the inner bullshit detector to help us gain insight, wisdom, and humor as the relationship with the Self develops.

Tuesday July 26: Workshop
The god of alchemical work is Hermes, who has many derivations, including the psychopath, the thief, the light bringer, and the one who can cross boundaries from one kind of landscape to another among the many realms of existence. Hermes also brings life-giving humor and insight into the one-sidedness of consciousness through laughter at our own foibles. During this workshop—through active imagination, writing exercises, and small-group dialogue—the need for daily practice with the inner bullshit detector will be emphasized, so that the larger psyche may live.
Monika Wikman, PhD, is a Jungian analyst and astrologer. Author of Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness, she has contributed articles and poems to numerous journals. Dr. Wikman lectures and leads workshops internationally on mythology, dreams, wellness, alchemy, and creativity, including, most recently, a New York Center for Jungian Studies program in Cuba, “Music, Myth, and Spirit.” A graduate of the Jung–von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich, she has taught in the graduate department at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Wikman lives and has a private practice in both Tesuque, New Mexico, and Gaviota, California

Monika Wikman, PhD, is a Jungian analyst and astrologer. Author of Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness, she has contributed articles, and poems to numerous publications. A graduate of the Jung–von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich, Dr. Wikman was a dream researcher at UCSD Medical Center on “Dreams of the Dying.” She has a private practice in Tesuque, New Mexico, and in Gaviota, California. Along with her partner, Tom Elsner, she hosts a nonprofit project under Earthways.com, the Center for Alchemical Studies.

When the Genie Gets Out of the
Bottle: Paradoxical Lessons from
Folklore and Alchemy

Tom Elsner

Monday July 25: Presentation
Self-exploration can take us out of the collective paths in life, providing a danger as well as an opportunity. The confrontation with the dynamic reality of what has been bottled up in our personal and collective lives releases stored energy but at the expense of the death of our old, idealized, safe assumptions and goals. In the myths and stories of Hermes, we will explore how this dangerous figure threatens the status quo but also incorporates the qualities that we need in order to heal the split in ourselves and deal with the paradoxical nature of the unconscious. Applying the wisdom of folklore, myth, and alchemy, Dr. Elsner will illustrate how consciousness can be transformed, resulting in increased understanding and a more expansive view of life.

Tuesday July 26: Workshop
Symbols, “the best possible representation of the unknown,” according to Jung, mediate between the conscious and unconscious selves. Dreams open the windows to these symbolic dynamics in which the healing quality of living images acts on body and mind. Emerging spontaneously out of the speaking darkness, symbols mediate between opposites so that they no longer merely cause us pain but instead give meaningful shape to life. This workshop will be a time for us to work with one another’s dreams, tell the deeper story of our lives, and enrich one another through the sharing of this dream language of symbols.

Thomas Elsner, JD, MA, is a certified Jungian analyst with the C. G. Jung Study Center of Southern California and faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He left the practice of law to train as an analyst at the Jung–von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich. Steeped in folklore, alchemy, and the work with dreams from a depth-psychological point of view, Dr. Elsner has brought this material to classes at Pacifica as well as presentations in England, Ireland, and throughout the United States. His forthcoming book deals with Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in relationship to the new myth of our time.

Honoring Hermes

Sylvia Perera

Wednesday July 27: Presentation & Workshop
Hermes harks back to early and rural Greek culture, when he was connected to the Herm stones, which marked borders and embodied fertility. Similar to an ancient Irish Druidic/shamanic god and creator of boundaries, Hermes represents the threshold where energies and forms interweave, where consciousness rises from and opens back into the fluid matrix of the psyche to bring gifts of perception, creativity, and healing. To appreciate the role that this messenger between worlds plays in our lives and therapy, we will also explore later stories of Hermes as child, trickster, lover, and healer. Through presentation, sharing, and work with dream imagery and active imagination, we will honor Hermes as a numinous bridging function between the realms that we have come to call conscious and unconscious.

Sylvia Brinton Perera, MA, an internationally known Jungian analyst, lives, practices, writes, and teaches in New York and Vermont. Faculty and board member of the Jung Institute of New York, she lectures and leads workshops internationally. Her publications include Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women; The Scapegoat Complex: Toward a Mythology of Shadow and Guilt; Dreams, A Portal to the Source; Celtic Queen Maeve and Addiction: An Archetypal Perspective; and The Irish Bull God: Image of Multiform and Integral Masculinity.

The Magician: Mysterious and Powerful Figure

Erik Goodwyn

Thursday July 28: Morning Presentation
The magician is the master of transformation—whether it be transformation from lead into gold, or whether from the ego into something greater than it was. Dr. Goodwyn’s presentation will explore the many faces of Hermes (and the many counterparts) as magician and shape-shifter. Seen in the mythology of all peoples and playing out in our everyday lives, the magician is a figure of mystery who transcends boundaries without destroying them, master of language, keeper of secrets, and ruler of death and change. Most important, for those willing to follow this magical figure into the maelstrom, he can lead us to a higher plane of integration and insight.

Thursday July 28: Afternoon Workshop
We will explore an intimate portrait of transformation at the hands of the magician. We will look further at one of the magician characters from mythology—the enigmatic god Odin—and learn of his relationship with language, runes, mystery, and transformation. Dr. Goodwyn will illustrate how the therapist, in many ways, takes on the mantle of magician as a transforming force in psychotherapy. 

Erik Goodwyn, MD, holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics, a master’s in anatomy and neurobiology, and a medical degree from the University of Cincinnati. Currently on the faculty of the University of Louisville in the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Goodwyn is the author of The Neurobiology of the Gods. An officer in the US Air Force for seven years, he has researched and written on the dreams of soldiers in combat zones as well as authored articles combining archetype theory with cognitive anthropology.

Encountering Hermes in the Everyday

Stephen A. Martin

Friday July 29: Presentation
The presence of the archetypal in our lives does not always come with high drama and mythic dimension. In fact, as individuation proceeds, we often find that life’s meaningfulness is reflected more in the small, in the subtle, and in the nuance that is the work of Hermes. In this presentation, we will learn about this “friendliest of gods” and how to track hermetic energy as it helps us cross thresholds, be open to change and transformation, experience the enchantment of the everyday, and sense the lived presence of the unexpected in our daily round.

Stephen A. Martin, PsyD, a graduate of the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, has been in private practice in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, for over 35 years. Cofounder and president emeritus of the Philemon Foundation and the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts, Dr. Martin is a leading expert on twentieth-century decorative arts, focusing on British decorative arts of Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts period. Editor of definitive monographs on British artist Archibald Knox, Dr. Martin has been guided by Hermes in many guises over the years, for which he is most grateful.

Optional Evening Program

On the Silk Road with Hermes

Jeanne Bresciani

Wednesday, July 27:
In this workshop, led by Jeanne Bresciani, Ph.D., founder and artistic director of the Isadora Duncan International Institute, participants will be invited to join Jeanne’s caravan calling upon the “messenger god” for tricks, treats, signs and the wonders of alchemy.

Jeanne Bresciani, Ph.D., is Artistic Director of the Isadora Duncan International Institute and director of its Certificate Program in Myth, Movement and Travel. Former faculty member at New York University, she has lectured, performed, and led workshops internationally, including at the British Museum, the Delphi Museum in Greece, and New York’s Lincoln Center. A former Fulbright Scholar, she performs internationally and is a choreographer and creator of festivals, specializing in dance, myth and movement studies.