Friday, October 23, 2009


Welcome to the "Sun Priest," a small fiction about a
Jungian Analyst and Spiritual Counselor who wanders
into the experiential world of paranormal phenomena.

Go to the very last post, which is the Introduction--and
work your way forward.

(3) Sincerely Soul

All in all everything about us, body and soul, about our world,
about our universe remains a Mystery. But we wouldn't be
doing our duty towards Soul if we didn't try to understand better
our situation, our condition. It's just that now we are standing
on the cusp of new ways towards understanding this Mystery.

And surely it must be difficult, standing on this cusp. Old
explanations are fading, and New explanations are not yet
readily discernible, Yet we must start probing into this ever
present Unknown that keeps attracting us.

Me? Well, I have to smile at myself. Thinking back so long
ago, pondering, sitting in the pews of Duke Chapel, talking
to my theologian friend, who told me about Jung, about the
"Priest for the Psyche," I couldn't deny that in a strange
roundabout way that is what I had become!

On the other hand, somehow I felt that we souls were
strangely moving beyond faith systems, containers as Jung
called them, crawling slowly out of the small boxes we had
for so long placed ourselves, out into a much larger horizon,
where our minds, our souls, were under a new and constant

In the end, maybe there will no longer be a need for priests.
Even a "Priest for the Psyche" will probably become passe'.
In time maybe each living soul will come to know who they
are, what they must become, all on their own. And they will
assume Responsibility as an Eternal Soul.

(2) Sincerely Soul

As for the evolutionary development of our soul, our Soul
Center, well I sensed that was the whole purpose of all this.
We have life after life to attain our purpose and meaning--the
completion of our Soul Center. And what might this involve?
I could only guess.

My guess revolved around our given personality, in a given
lifetime, the need to become more conscious about who it
was meant to be. And we are all *different.* Some of us are
soldiers, some athletes, some scholars, some nourishers, etc.
We are indeed "playing in the fields of the Lord." Each life-
time is involved in the Game, and the more we come "to know
ourself," the better we can capitalize on this situation.

I felt that there was a definite Freedom involved in all this soul
pursuit. Just looking around, one could see that there were all
different levels of "soul." Some souls had to face the struggle of
their circumstances, their luck. Other souls were born into a
comfortable environment, wherein they seemingly had better
opportunities. I could not even begin to venture a guess why
the milieux differed for all sorts of soul, but it was obvious.

Just as obvious, these different levels of soul development
displayed everything from soul poverty to soul enrichment.
And there sometimes seems a loss (or near loss) of soul. I
remembered something that Carl Jung once said. When a
young psychiatrist, he had worked in a mental hospital--and
upon occasion he saw patients who had no "light" in their
eyes. He felt that they had lost their soul, somehow. If
one encounters the death of another person, up close, one
can see the light go out in their eyes. The soul had fled the

As to "body and soul," I left that up to my audience(s) to
ponder over. Even armed with all the material I had gathered
about this paranormal phenomena, I couldn't even begin to
figure why our souls reside in matter, in the physical world.
I wouldn't even dare to wonder when souls first decided or
chose to enter the human (or humanoid) body. Than, too,
there's all the evolving intelligence becoming noticeable in
other living forms of the Earth. Indeed, there's the idea of
the Collective Consciousness or the Noosphere--and so forth!
What of "soul" within these different kinds of conditions?

(1) Sincerely Soul

It took some time working through a presentation package
that included material from my studies on OBEs, NDEs,
past-life visions, and Reincarnation. My presentation was
about the "soul." Not only would I talk about various
religio-spiritual aspects of the soul, but also blend or factor
in the paranormal phenomena of the soul, bringing into
focus the evolution of the soul.

Other than the monastery, where I did not bring-up this
paranormal material (out of deference to the monks' faith
system), I found an enthusiastic audience everywhere else
I worked as a presenter--not only in Santa Fe, but up in
Taos and down south in Albuquerque. Indeed, people
really listened-up when I talked about these recent Psi studies!

Labeling my new presentation "Sincerely Soul," I tried to steer
away from the usual punishment-pleasure approaches when
it came to our soul destination--such as Heaven or Hell, or
Karmic Return. I saw the possibilities in a different way that
involved soul development unto Enlightenment.

Jungians are adept when it comes to symbols or imagery,
so I provided such when it came to my idea of a Soul-Center.

Prefacing my speeches, I always forewarned that this
paranormal phenomena--especially Reincarnation--was
not yet writ in concrete. However, reputable researchers
are moving into these various paranormal areas. (And
maybe some day they won't be "para" areas anymore!)

Warned, I noted that all my audiences were intensely alert.
I can only guess that they were soul-starved, in that most
religious focus had been on an avatar or "Imago Dei" in
terms of ritual and worship. Somehow the soul seemed to
get the short end of the stick, so to speak. And this was
sad, because people--at least the ones I encountered--were
definitely concerned about the essence of their being,
wondering the *what and why* of their soul.

I gave what I felt was an honest explanation of my own
*sense*of soul. Even if there was no proof, from my studies
I had put my faith in our soul being really significant in the
universe. And it all boiled down to consciousness

I believed that our personality's soul was part of a greater
entity, which I called our "Soul Center." Like a tree ever
sprouting new branches, our Soul Center constantly was
putting forth new shoots, or new personalities, if you will.
And I honestly could not tell myself, or anyone else, how
our Soul Center came to be--but I felt that it existed.

(4) Imaginal Realm

Following this conference, upon return home, I decided
to reconnoiter into all of the plentiful information available
about the Near Death Experience (NDE) and the Out-of-Body
Experience (OBE). I felt more inclined, now that I knew
that these "paranormal" occurrences boasted of a bit more
solid acceptance by scientists.

OBEs were actually under consideration by governments,
mainly by clandestine units. I remember one of my
analysands making mention that he had such an experience
when he was young. He noted that one night while dozing
off, he suddenly knew that he was floating outside of his
body. Scared silly, he instinctively knew that he was going
to die if he didn't get back into his body. Flailing about,
with seemingly no body, he did manage to return to his body.
Anyway, he told me that all through this experience he was
fully conscious of himself.

The poor fellow was so disturbed by this OBE that he went
to his local physician. The doctor said that he must have
stopped breathing while asleep--and said no more. My
analysand sadly said that no doubt his doctor put a "black
mark" on his medical record. Sadly, too, I did the same,
which at the time reflected my ignorance and perhaps
bigotry at the time.

As for NDEs, well they have been well publicized all over
the world. I found the more interesting studies of such
put out by M.D. cardiologists. Of course some of these
"scientific" studies regarding NDEs tried to explain them
away by noting that certain physiological conditions
stressed by the onset of death could cause the symptoms
described in the NDE.

Putting down all these studies, I began to wonder that
maybe we psychologists and physicians are *not* listening
to our patients! We have been denying their experience,
even though they tell us over and over that they are not
imagining such, that the experience is incredibly real to
them. We oft demand proof without ever giving it a
chance to emerge.

Anyway, I started toying with the idea about how I might
somehow connect the OBE and the NDE with past-life
visions, on into the concept of Reincarnation. Essentially
I was trying to fit all this so-called paranormal experience
into a package that might connect with soul development.

(3) Imaginal Realm

And as luck would have it, I wangled an invitation to a
fascinating conference regarding survival after death.
A friend of a friend had heard that a famous institute
out in California had invited a sterling array of presenters
to discuss such a possibility. So off I went, enjoying
immensely the striking scenery of this facility looking
out on the Pacific.

But more seriously my attention was on the speakers.
They represented a number of academic disciplines--from
Psychiatry to Neurobehavioral Sciences, Religious Studies,
History of Science, Physics, and Process Philosophy. And
what really grabbed me was that these presenters came
from prestigious universities and research institutions!

Their talks covered a ballpark of background information
on survival after death, ranging from ancient theories to
modern theories, moving on into issues of mind and
matter covered by Neuroscience, considered in Quantum
Physics. The philosophical or religious implications were
also discussed, especially how such studies might
eventually help people generally not to be so frightened
by Death.

Still there were no definitive answers forthcoming during
this conference. Nonetheless, I was impressed that the
more responsible academic community was getting
involved when it came to this issue of survival after death.
They were bringing in a whole new investigation into this
business, if you will

(2) Imaginal Realm

As a Jungian analyst I was aware of the so-called imaginal
bridge that connects our consciousness with our Unconscious.
The whole gist of Jungian psychology was about this
connection. Our Unconscious contains all those ingredients
of our personality that have not yet been made conscious.

And those "ingredients" aren't necessarily rational, as is
our sense of consciousness--hopefully. Indeed, the whole
business of Jung's Individuation Process is about becoming
more conscious of who we are! And that involves probing our
Unconscious via dreamwork, symbolic understanding, and
active imagination. Our Unconscious messages utilize
symbols and imagery, which are a code or a language that
we need learn in order to bring them into our consciousness!

But gleaning through available information, I realized that
philosophers and theologians long ago were moving into
what is called the "Imaginal Realm." And more recently,
even scientists are playing in its waters--so to speak.

The late philosopher-theologian Henri Corbin pretty much
coined the "Imaginal Realm" as an explanation about how
the Imagination plays a special role in the human and divine
orders. A professor at the Sorbonne, he was a strong believer
in the Holy Spirit as a "single coherent" that spans all religions
and spiritualities. And the Imaginal Realm is the connection
between our human soul and the Holy Spirit. For Corbin
this link, or relationship, provided the means for evolutionary
soul development--and he believed that *prayer* was the
supreme form of creative imagination!

Well! With this, I realized that I was moving into a new
territory beyond just a Jungian explanation. Nevertheless,
I could now move from the perspective of Depth Psychology
on into a more spiritual elucidation when it came to an
understanding of the Imaginal Realm.

Beyond even a spiritual approach, some physicists are
beginning to take the idea of the Imaginal Realm more
seriously! Some wonder if this is the "Super Dimension" that
they consider a virtual realm that can manifest itself--via our
consciousness--into the physical world. Physicists can harken
back to certain interpretations of quantum physics that refer
to a "subreality" that under-girds the physical world. Perhaps
this might be what some call the "5th Dimension"--that
sometimes is popularly used to refer to unexplored or
unknown aspects of the universe? I underline the word
"popular," however. Because this approach has nothing
to do with the mathematical concept of a Fifth Dimension
in addition to our now known Four Dimensions of Reality.

(1) Imaginal Realm

Returning home, reading more books about Reincarnation,
I was steadily building-up my library. In the midst of all this
activity, I began to wonder whether Carl Jung believed in
reincarnation. Maybe, maybe not, upon examination. I think
he fiddled with the idea, but never came down concretely on
the subject.

Jung, himself, made no declaration one way or the other about
reincarnation, but surely he must have inwardly wondered to
himself. In his autobiography he talks of a special connection
he had to an 18th century man, who was possibly a remote
ancestor. That man was Wolfgang von Goethe, a polymath
whose interests spanned the spectrum. He was brilliant as a
philosopher, a scientist, a poet, a humanist, etc. Goethe was
one of *the* luminaries of the 18th century.

As a Jungian analyst, I took note that some analysts as well
as other psychiatrists were employing new techniques that
related to reincarnation. Of course early on there were
accounts of past life experiences by clients under hypnosis,
but now analysts were appealing to a person's imagination
when it came to a past-life. Amazingly, these imaginations
spawned a multitude of past lives amongst the analysand

Utilizing this scenario some psychologists and psychiatrists
detected symptoms emerging easier via the past-life approach,
regardless of proof or no proof. That seemed not to matter,
since these analysts were only employing this approach as
yet another tool to probe into the psyche.

Perhaps this approach was acceptable by some, but I certainly
was not enthused by this kind of past-life employment. It
didn't matter, I suppose, since I no longer was engaged in
analytic practice. Nonetheless, I wondered how I might work
into the "idea" of reincarnation when it came to my practice as
a spiritual counselor. Most of the places in Santa Fe where I
contracted would be amenable to the idea of reincarnation,
though likely my connection with the monastery probably
would disallow such there.

I, myself, having what I believed to be a past-life vision,
considered strongly the possibility of reincarnation. And
thinking about the old gentleman at the Cayce Institute, how
his soul was happy due to his belief, I felt that somehow--if
I were to be a true Priest for the Psyche--that I had to introduce
reincarnation as a possibility, in some sort of context.

Finding the "context" proved a challenge, however. But
Providence provided a way. My year's sabbatical had come
to an end, and I was back working with the monastery in my
usual capacity as a visiting Jungian. At one of the retreats,
a Catholic theologian had flown in from New York. He was
also going to be a presenter.

We hit it off, so feeling at ease with this fellow I talked some
about the topic of reincarnation, how I had made inquiries,
had studied it. Much to my surprise, the theologian didn't
seem adverse towards the subject--though he agreed that
it wouldn't be a good idea talking openly about it in the
monastery. We both smiled.

More importantly he talked about something he called the
"Imaginal Realm." Not knowing it at the time, but this small
introduction took me into yet another possibility in terms of
my spiritual presentations.

(4) Wonderfully Wild

The last leg of my journey was to Virginia Beach. Ensconced
in a resort hotel, I decided to take a break and spend some
time on the beach resting my tired bones. It gave me some
time, too, to ruminate over exactly how I was going to approach
the Edgar Cayce Institute.

I knew that it was more mystically oriented--since their founder
was one of America's mystical prophets. Here was presumably
a simple man, sharp though not highly educated, who had a
propensity to enter into trances. In time, he was talking about
reincarnated lives in his "readings" that were undertaken for all
manner of people. I once heard that even the then President
Woodrow Wilson asked for a reading. Anyway, after Cayce
passed away, his children and devotees kept the institute afloat.
And it remained a major facility when it came to reincarnation.

Maybe I was tired, but I decided *not* to make any inquiries.
Rather I would just be a visiting tourist. Wandering into the
place, I browsed through its bookstore while waiting for a
docent-led tour. Our guide proved really interesting. He was
an 82-year-old volunteer who was wonderfully enthused with
Cayce and with his institute. After the tour was over, I managed
to have a nice talk with this fellow.

He was a retired engineer who moved to Virginia Beach a few
years back, in order to be near his family who lived here. A
technical sort of guy, originally he wasn't all that interested in
Cayce. Indeed, when he first moved to Virginia Beach he
hadn't even heard of Edgar Cayce! By some fluke his daughter
took him to the institute for a visit. He went home with a batch
of books about Cayce, about his prophecies, his "readings"
about past lives, and all this material really grabbed him!

So he decided to volunteer at the institute as a docent.

Anyway, I was really struck by this old gentleman. There was
a happiness in his face, no doubt in his soul. For whatever
reason, he chose to believe what Cayce had to say. Pondering
later on this, I realized whether provable or not, the sense of
reincarnation was really important for the health of the soul--no
matter whether proved or not. Reincarnation somehow gave
a person a position in their present lifetime, coming from albeit
a mystical perspective, they had *roots.* Their soul could be
likened to an eternal tree growing many branches, different
lives, personalities, yet always connected to a Soul-Center,
which was the Core of their being!

On my way out, I re-visited the institute's bookstore--and
emerged with several bags crammed packed not only
with Cayce's own writings, but those who claimed that
they were trying to understand Cayces "reincarnation"
pronouncements through a more modern lens.

(3) Wonderfully Wild

Visiting Charlottesville was a pleasure. A really nice place!
And the campus of the University of Virginia was an old
"familiar" for me, in that my father had studied there and later
took me for occasional visits. This was the university that
Thomas Jefferson founded, and it was still very focused on
its history. It took some time, but eventually I found where
the building was that housed the University of Virginia Health

Inside, I made additional inquiries as to where I might find
the Division of Perceptual Studies. Pointed out, I walked into
their office and again introduced myself, asked if any of the
researchers might be willing to spend some time with me.
Again, my reputation as a Jungian analyst held me in good
stead. A couple of these fellows came forth--and we had
a fine session. Again, no scientific proof when it came to
reincarnation. However, they were trying to get theirs arms
around it.

For example, they were famous for interviewing children from
all around the world--at least those children at a young age,
usually from ages two-to-five who claimed that they had been
others persons during another time. In India, for example, kids
who inferred that they had a past life sometimes could be taken
to a nearby village. And having never been there, they could
point out familiar people and features that actually were present.
As for American children, at first they were hard to discover;
but, eventually, more and more "past life" cases were showing-
up in this group. Overall the Division had compiled lots of cases
concerning children and reincarnation, having been engaged
in this research since 1961.

The interviewers mostly noticed that the children's past life
memories seemed ordinary, unless there was some trauma
connected with their death in a given past life. Also, usually
by the time they were seven, children who talked of these past
lives started to forget them. The memories began to fade away.

Again, I left with a large bibliographic handout of scientifically
oriented studies about reincarnation. I knew that I was going to
spend a lot of money securing all these books, but I was glad
to do it. Somehow I had a feeling that all this effort on my part,
about reincarnation, was going to play into my life in some sort
of special way.

(2) Wonderfully Wild

Arriving back in Durham, North Carolina, I hardly recognized
the place after so many years away from my student days at
Duke. Durham had become quite sophisticated, turning more
into a high-tech city rather than an old "tobacco" town. As for
Duke, the West Campus (where I lived and studied) seemed
relatively unchanged, though there was a new slick Student
Union across from the Chapel. Once again I slipped into the
Chapel pews, where it all started for me.

But it was time to find the Rhine Research Center. Still
around, situated in a large house-type of building, I walked in
and introduced myself, hoping one of the researchers might
give me the time-of-day. They did, after I told them that I was a
Jungian analyst, etc. They seemed a serious lot, since several
came forth to talk to me. I told them the circumstance of my
"past life vision," and need I say that they were fascinated.

Continuing, I had hoped that they might swing me in the
right direction towards studying the subject of reincarnation--
from a scientific perspective. They admitted that there was
as of yet no proof, but researchers were thick into the subject.
They did provide me with a mostly academic reading list.
Thanking them, I mentioned that I would soon be heading
up to the University of Virginia. Essentially, they said that
would be a good move.

(1) Wonderfully Wild

The next morning, I trotted over to our local library where I
discovered reams of books about Reincarnation. Many of
these books were astonishingly speculative but lots of fun
to read. Looking at the publication dates on some of these
books, it was obvious that they were wildly popular. Some
of these treatises were re-published over and over, obviously
best sellers for years and years. Just as obvious, the reading
public in the West was intensely interested in reincarnation!
Believers were no long just in the East, in Asia, where the
preponderance of their vast populations actually built
reincarnation into their religious systems!

As I collected these popular books on reincarnation, with only
a few "scientific" items or articles to be found on the subject
in the library, I decided to have more fun and go visit some
of the well known research facilities that delved into the

The places I chose to visit were located in Virginia and North
Carolina. It didn't hurt that I had family back in Virginia. I
thought I might also visit my old alma mater(s), the College of
William and Mary and Duke University, for old times sake--
though they weren't into Paranormal Research.

The Rhine Research Center, as an institute, was once affiliated
with Duke--but no longer. But it is in the neighborhood. From
there I would head west towards the mountains, to Charlottesville,
to visit the University of Virginia--which did have a scientific unit
devoted to paranormal studies. Then, off to the coast, there
was the Edgar Cayce Institute and Association of Research
and Enlightenment at Virginia Beach.

As I bounded into a plane headed for the Washington-Dulles
Airport in Virginia, I had to laugh at myself. This little excursion
(I felt) was really like a mini-adventure, wherein I might enjoy
myself and perhaps make some small discoveries.

(4) Anasazi Interlude

Arriving home exhausted, I decided to put my feet up and simply
vegetate. That condition lasted maybe about an hour. My mind
was too frizzled to relax. Where do I go with this experience, this
information? I felt pressed to make a decision, but about what?

I really didn't want to face it, the possiblity of Reincarnation.
Still that's where my mind constantly returned, as I tried and
tried to ignore the thought. I felt silly. Maybe my fatigue was
the source of this troubling thought, but I couldn't sleep.

I had to admit to some strange things. First, when I visited the
Bandelier Longhouse I had absolutely no serious knowledge
about the Anasazi other than there was interesting "ruin" in
this park. Secondly, I knew *zero* about anyone called a
Sun Priest. In other words I had nothing to build upon, no
residue of unconscious knowledge, that would have led to
this strange experience I had.

However, being a Jungian analyst, I was well aware of the
growing field of Parapsychology and the somewhat scientifically
oriented studies about the subject of reincarnation and near
death experiences. Some of these studies had passed my desk,
studies--for example--by reputable psychologists and medical
doctors. The best studies mainly focused on children. There
also were some psychiatrists and even Jungian analysts
claiming that they had patients under hypnosis. who exhibited
past life histories.

Frankly, I had ignored Parapsychology--much less the topic
of Reincarnation--throughout the years. No more, I decided
that I would spend the rest of my sabbatical time looking into
this business. But where to begin?

Later. My mind had settled and I fell into a contented sleep.

(3) Anasazi Interlude

Upon returning to Santa Fe duly impressed with the Anasazi,
who now were being addressed as the "Ancestral Pueblans,"
I decided along the way to make a stop in Taos and visit the
Pueblo's shop there. I made mention that I was a novice when
it came to their ancestors, but I was really interested in their
religion. Well...after some silence, one of the shopkeepers
said that some modern Pueblans are reticent to discuss the
details of their ceremonials, their rituals, to outsiders.

With that, I quietly apologized and started to leave the shop.
But, the shopkeeper took pity and steered me to a person in
Taos who might be willing to talk with me. He made a phone
call, talked for awhile, hung-up--and gave me the person's
name and address. He would be willing to talk with me the
next morning. So I found lodging in Taos and slept soundly
overnight. I was tired.

The next morning I met a most charming person, truly
helpful. I stated that I didn't really require ceremonial secrets,
rather just some insight about the structure of their religion.
(I felt it best not to relate my Anasazi interest, however.
Rather I wanted to put together myself what little I had
learned about the ancient Indians with what I might learn
about the modern Pueblans.)

First, this gentle man explained that there are different groups
of modern Pueblans. There's the Taos, Tiwa, the Tewa, the
Keresan, the Zuni, and the Hopi. There may have been more,
but I started to lose track. What I was trying to zoom upon was
*common* religious features that all these groups might have
held. But I had to be careful not to push, still it was hard being

I did take notes, and here are some of those common features I
believe that connect the ancient Anasazi with the modern Pueblans.

• They are mostly farmers, some still follow the sun, the seasons,
to help them make their agricultural decisions.

• Some, such as the Zuni, hold religious beliefs centered around
the Earth Mother, the Moonlight-Giving Mother, and the Sun. The
Sun is especially worshipped--as the Sun is seen as the Giver of
Life, the Creator Sun Father.

Additionally, I learned that modern Pueblans, who followed their
traditional religion, were animists. As was put, they hold to a
spiritual essence in all creation. They believe the trees, the rocks,
the corn plants--all are companions in their life. In other words,
the Pueblans honor Mother Earth out of which they emerge and
return. The kiva is a structural symbol of this emergence.

I accrued lots more information; but my next step was about
what I was going to do with such, where might I head with this?

(2) Anasazi Interlude

I packed my bag and drove up to Mesa Verde, in nearby
Colorado. I saw major Anasazi ruins up close, some called
a "palace." At the park's tourist center I talked with some of
the park rangers who were cultural interpreters. They believed
that the Anasazi were originally desert people who went back
thousands of years. They traced Anasazi pottery and was able
to surmise time frames. They believed that the Anasazi were
in the Mesa Verde area, indeed in the whole Four Corners
region, from 1 c.e. to 1,000 c.e. Originally they lived in lodges
on canyon floors, but midway or so they took to chiseling out
apartment-like quarters in the higher ranges of the canyon walls.

As I already knew, they were farmers--squash and corn, mainly.
However, their farming practices and irrigation projects became
more sophisticated over time. As for their pottery, well from this
archaeologists knew a little more about their trading routes that
went as far as to the Pacific and south into Mexico.

The Mexican connection have piqued the interests of some
historians, who think that their contact with MesoAmerica's
Toltec civilization may have influenced the religion of the
Anasazi. Some anthropologists have wondered out loud
that perhaps there might have been a religio-cultural trans-
mission of the Red Macaw "sun" religion between the Toltecs
and the Anasazi.

Regardless, upon the advice of the park rangers, I made my
way to Chaco Canyon where the Anasazi built an enormous
religious complex run by their elite. A difficult place to make
one's way, all I could say was "WOW!" It was worth the effort.
Some of the complexes were absolutely huge, especially the
Pueblo Bonito--which had the reputation for being the largest
apartment complex in the world, for some six-hundred years!

There were also wide roads leading towards the religious
complex. Built before the discovery of the wheel, the roads
were like avenues for religious pilgrimages. At the religious
complex, there were a battery of kivas; but they were small
in comparison to the one great kiva, wherein its circle there
was seating around the walls. People came there to take
part in the rituals, to have religious talks, all presumably
under the aegis of the Sun Priest.

(1) Anasazi Interlude

Climbing down that ladder at Bandelier's Longhouse seemed
very shaky. But it was me who was shaking, not the ladder.
Did I faint, have a spell? Did I actually have a vision? At that
point I wasn't sure about anything. Still shaking, I managed to
walk to my car and drive home.

For a so-called "reasonable person," it seemed as if I had
landed on the other side of myself--whatever that might mean!
All I knew was that I had a profound experience, an experience
completely outside my personal parameters. And for awhile
I didn't know what to make of it.

Eventually I gathered my wits and decided that I would study
the history of the Anasazi, and try to learn what the *Sun Priest"
was--and what he might have meant to these ancient Indians.

Consequently, I made arrangements to take a break with all the
places where I was teaching or counseling. As for my contract
with the monastery, the year I had signed on was due to end
soon. While waiting, I hit the books about the Anasazi.

From what I could tell, the Sun Priest actually existed. He had
two functions--as an astronomer and as some sort of religious
figure. The ancient Anasazi were mainly farmers, and under-
standing more correctly the change of seasons was of prime
importance. They needed to know when to plant their crops,
for example. So someone special was designated to watch the
sun, day in, day out. And that was the duty of the Sun Priest.

Also the kiva, a partly underground chamber, was used for
religious rites. Some archaeologists speculate that again
the positioning of the sun, rising or setting, matched certain
parts of the kiva. They thought. too, that there may have been
an altar where the Sun Priest carried out rituals--and that
during this time the sun was positioned to hit directly behind
the altar, thus illuminating the Sun Priest.

After I sifted through a number of books, that pretty much said
the same thing, I realized that I needed to visit some of these
Anasazi sites, talk to the people in the National Parks Service
who now ran these places and see up close more of these
Anasazi kivas.

Finally my contract with the monastery came up for renewal. I
explained that I needed to take an unpaid sabbatical for awhile.
I hadn't had a break in my work for ages, and I wanted to do
some traveling. I was careful *not* to cut off all ties with the
monastery, because I liked the place, the work I was allowed to
do. So I hinted strongly that I would like to come back in a year.
The monks were amenable, so I happily drove away for awhile.

(4) A New Milieu

I enjoyed these occasional trips up to Taos, snaking through
the impressive Sangre de Cristo Mountains. On one such
occasion, I had yet another life-changing experience. It was
early December; and though there were a few snow fields
around, I decided to take a chance and visit Bandelier
National Monument--both a forested park and a cultural
park that featured some ruins of the ancient, mysterious
Anasazi who lived in this area centuries back. What made
them mysterious was because they just disappeared, poof
out-of-sight, gone without a trace. Archaeologists speculated
that they were vanquished by a prolonged drought.

Upon arrival at Bandelier, I actually found myself alone in
the park. I felt privileged in a sort of odd way, that I had the
place all to myself. As I walked down the path, towards the
Longhouse--which was the site of the Anasazi ruins--I was
encountered by a small herd of deer. I was breathless as
they ran toward me. Standing stock still, this small herd ran
circles around me. It seemed almost like a ritual. But after
what seemed five minutes, I decided to move on. Even
then, as I walked towards the Longhouse, the deer followed,
continuing to circle me. At the ruins I finally shooed them off.

But as it turned out, the deer incident was just a prelude of
an even stranger incident. The Anasazi "apartments" were
chiseled out of the soft stone, raised high off the ground. The
Park Service had positioned ladders so visitors could climb
up into these ancient abodes. So I very carefully climbed up
and settled into one of these living quarters. Suddenly I felt
a warmth, like summer heat, and the over-cast December
day had turned into a glaring sun-strong afternoon. I turned
and realized that I was surrounded by an Indian family.

I looked at myself. I no longer was wearing my clothes. I was
near naked, sporting a loin-cloth. I looked at my arms, my hands,
and saw that they were a dark brown. My hair was long, rather
than short--and it was black, instead of gray. I looked towards
the other Indians in this "apartment" and realized that they were
my family! And somehow I was made to understand that "I"
was this Indian, a holy man, a Sun Priest!

(3) A New Milieu

At this point I have to backtrack a little. When I first settled in
Santa Fe I began to notice that I had a number of strange dreams.
I kept seeing dancing Indians, first afar, then up close. These
dreams popped-up periodically over the course of a few months.
I couldn't quite figure what these dreams might be about. They
didn't seem to focus on any of my own familiar archetypes that
I had discovered during my earlier dreamwork sessions when
I was studying at the Jung Institute in Los Angeles. So I did
the untenable and ignored them; and, eventually they went

Working in Santa Fe, driving around, I did see Pueblo Indians.
Driving over to the monastery I saw small enclaves, small
communities. They seemed very poor. Eventually, too, I
started giving invited presentations up in Los Alamos (the
nuclear town) and Taos.

It was in Taos where I saw the famous Pueblo, which had
been declared an American landmark. It's actually still a
living community, even with signs to "keep off the grass." It
was a very large, ancient apartment-like facility, but it seemed
so alien to me that I was put off visiting it for a long time.

(2) A New Milieu

It was obvious that the former nun had telephoned beforehand,
because the school's director knew who I was. He evidently had
the time to check me out before meeting me. After "eye-balling"
me, I guess he liked what he saw.

However, I insisted that before I would sign any contract with
the school that I would need to audit some of the classes, see
how topics were presented, and meet both teachers and
students. So for nearly a month I was allowed to do so. I
had no problems with the place or the people, so I signed on
the dotted line.

"Retirement" is just a word, a mind-set, so I discovered. I had
just left one job for another, as it turned out. Now my fairly full
plate was really full.

But when you are happy doing what you are doing, it doesn't
seem like a job. It's a vocation! I had found my niche as a
spiritual director, helping all sorts of folk move along when it
came to their own spiritual development. Finally, I felt that I
was truly becoming a "Priest for the Psyche." But not quite
yet, as I was to discover.

(1) A New Milieu

Being "retired" is a whole new situation. Naturally, I didn't feel
as pressured. Being financially secure helped me over the
hump as well. I did join the analyst's group at the Santa Fe
Jung Institute. This meant that I could get my hand-in once in
awhile, when it came to presenting a lecture for the students.
I didn't want to slide into a full-time teaching position, however.

I circulated around the various Santa Fe counseling facilities,
some pastoral, some ecumenical, some even New Age. These
places kind of reflected Santa Fe at-large. It was a fascinating
city, in that lots of fabulously well-off actors, artists, writers, etc.,
were slipping into the city and its immediate environs. Just as
I was putting-down stakes, so it seemed that Santa Fe was
becoming the place to be! Need I say that I enjoyed the

No longer responsible for analysands, I felt free to pitch into
these various activities. Little over a year, I found that my
plate was fairly full. Mainly I lectured, but also I was beginning
to offer Jungian seminars at all the facilities around town.
After awhile I had become well-known when it came to my
spiritually-directed offerings. And I was reaching many, many
people! Finally, I was getting into what I had longed to do.
Fortune was with me as I integrated my knowledge-base
into my presentations.

There was still one loose end. I had put off contacting the
Benedictine monastery near Pecos. It was a charismatic
Catholic community, and I really didn't know what to expect.
Was it fundamentalist, evangelical? Not really knowing, I
decided to stay clear. But, again, Fate plays tricks. At one
of my seminars I was approached by a very knowledgeable
woman. She introduced herself, having once been a nun
at this double-monastery. I didn't even know they had women
there. Only a few now, and only a few monks as well.

She provided more detail about this monastery. For years
they have mixed Jungian psychology into their retreat
offerings. And they really focused on Jung in their Spiritual
Direction School. I mentioned that I had gone through such
a program at the Shalem Institute. She was well aware of
the institute. In turn she invited me to come and visit the
monastery and talk to some of the people who ran their
school at Pecos.

So we both drove over to the monastery. At first I was kind
of shocked with the place. The small monastery was housed
in a dusty looking building, once an old dude ranch. But it
was really a busy place--full of spiritual retreat visitors. Indeed,
these retreats went on nearly non-stop. It was how the monks
made a living. But few of the monastics were qualified to
present Jungian teachings in any depth at their school, so the
monastery really depended on acquiring Jungian professionals.
After a short talk with the school's director, I was "hired" then
and there!

(4) Filling the Gap

As one grows older, time moves faster and faster. My two-year
residency at Shalem came and went. I was provided a Certificate
of Completion, ready to strike out as a spiritual director. But herein
was my quandary. Most spiritual directors are connected with a
religious group either at a church or denominational college/
university. Still "unchurched," these environments seemed

As for spiritual direction itself, it was more open to many more
people than the more concentrated clinical or analytic
environments. So once again I felt a sense of being lost, not
being able to follow through. I suppose I could join a church,
but I really didn't want to be a hypocrite. I had enough issues
without adding yet another. But Providence came through for
me, setting me upon a totally new course.

To explain: there are Jungian Societies all over the country. As
analysts we were part of these groups, supported by all sorts of
people who were devoted students of Jung's psychological
philosophy. These societies provided not only a social context
for their members, but also a place for learning. And that's where
we analysts came into the picture--giving lectures, leading seminars.

Sometimes, too, we had visiting analysts (from out-of-town) who
would be invited to present a weekend seminar. Our local group,
the Washington Society of Jungian Psychology, had invited a
famous Jungian psychologist from San Diego to give such a
seminar. Like Morton Kelsey, he was also an Episcopal priest.
His topic was about the archetypal imagery projected upon
Jesus. I was interested and decided to attend his seminar.

That particular weekend I learned a lot of unique perspectives
about Jesus, but I also gained some life-changing information!

After the seminar was over, I got into a conversation with this
gentleman from San Diego. One topic led to another, and finally
we got into the challenges of spiritual direction. I told him about
Shalem, about my inability to find an environment where I might
offer my services. With this, he gave me an answer.

This visiting analyst told me that occasionally he worked with a
Benedictine monastic group in New Mexico. Their charism
focused on Jungian Psychology as it relates to spiritual growth.
They were located near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, close
to Santa Fe. Also there were colleges, pastoral counseling
centers, ecumenical retreat facilities in this area, all offering
programs within a Jungian context. And, beyond this, Santa Fe
housed a Jungian training facility, replete with a Board of Analysts
as well as supporting a Jungian Society for the greater citizenry.
In other words, the Land of Enchantment offered all sorts of
possibilities for moving more specifically into spiritual direction.

So I decided to take a vacation and visit this fertile territory.
I stopped and plugged-in with a number of these places, mainly
all in Santa Fe. That made it convenient, having so many
outlets nearby one another. And besides the monastery, near
Santa Fe, a number of these facilities practiced "outreach"
when it came to spiritual guidance or direction. There was
Albuquerque, Taos, and Los Alamos--all within driving distance.

Having surveyed the territory, I drove home ruminating upon a
big decision. By the time I reached Washington I had decided
that I would "retire" to Santa Fe. And after another 18 months,
when I completed work with my last analysand, I flew out to the
Land of Enchantment and secured a residence. The moving
vans soon followed, and I set up shop.

(3) Filling the Gap

Starting out at Shalem I was assigned a spiritual director, who
happened to be a fairly famous psychiatrist. No doubt this
assignment was intentional. He wasn't a Jungian; but as I
began to realize, this fellow had special insights that I found
very credible and valuable. And strangely I felt good being on
the receiving end in this relationship.

We also engaged in peer groups, wherein we provided
spiritual guidance to one another.

Of course, too, there was the academic part of this program
that consisted of home study--replete with reading lists
that covered lots of territories. The books ranged from the
practice of Spiritual Direction, to Faith-oriented studies, to
Morality and Ethics, to Spirituality, to Mysticism, to Prayer.
There were also religious works, mainly Christian with some
representing other faith traditions. But what I especially
liked was the emphasis on God's Holy Spirit.

Working through these two years at Shalem, I found myself
most prone towards the Holy Spirit as the true guide of my
inner eye. I was not adverse to Christianity, as some Jungians
are; but I came to understand it as the pinnacle of a large
pyramid of beliefs, traditions, and faith systems building
through the centuries. Looked upon this way, one can trace
how the different elements of Christianity had evolved from
a steady continuum of god-imagery and ensuing religions.
I felt that Some One stood behind all this evolution of thought,
and that had to be what many call the Holy Spirit.

So if I was really going to invest into any of this, my pick would
be the Holy Spirit or Great Spirit that hovers over the All of us.
As for *experiencing* the Spirit, I would have to wait for its
wind to blow upon me.

(2) Filling the Gap

As I told my analyst friend in later discussions, still not sure
about my faith, I was definitely positive that I would not be
*mindless* examining over how I felt. God or the Spirit
would somehow have to make sense to me. I had tried to
be a reasonable man, and I expected at least a semblance
of Reason when it came to accepting any given faith system.

My friend tried not to laugh, but he did. He couldn't vouch
that any given faith system would be reasonable; but if we
seriously broached God and the Spirit, we surely would find
the element of Reason. If we have the potential for Reason,
than our Creator--who made us--possesses the same. And
what might seem Mystery now, when we approach God or
the Spirit, will surely come to light as we attain ever greater

I had to admit that my friend was right--at least I hoped so--
because I had decided to turn a corner and move into this
Mystery we call God or Spirit. Hence my education continued,
far beyond spiritual development theories, cognitive studies,
and even the archetypal world of Jungian Analytical Psychology.

But where to begin? Again my friend came to the rescue.
He knew of a special program, then connected with the
cathedral, called the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.
It was a two-year program that focused on producing spiritual
guides. It was Christian-oriented, yet it also made allowance
for religious pluralism and spiritual direction in other traditions.

Anyway, I felt it was worth a trip over to the institute, talking with
folk there, and grabbing an information brochure and application
form on my way out. The next "residency," as Shalem called it,
began in the coming Fall--which gave me about four months to
think about whether I wanted to get into this program.

I decided that it would be worth my while. The program would
be demanding, but time-wise it wouldn't eat into my analytic
practice too much. On the other hand I was trepidatious about
applying--in that I was "unchurched." Regardless, I mailed
my application and soon was called in for an interview.

As it turned out, my professional background was my saving
grace. And probably my focus on spiritual development helped
as well. Maybe a minor miracle, but in the end I was accepted
into the Shalem Institute's program.

(1) Filling the Gap

Following the Kelsey lecture at the cathedral, on the way
home, I had a good talk with my analyst friend. I told him
about the point Kelsey made, the one that grabbed my
attention. I also mentioned my personal concern, in that
experientially I began to realize that something was *missing*
when it came to the sense of the spiritual during my sessions
with my analysands.

Academically I felt that I had received a broad scope of
training when it came to spiritual development, but it simply
was not enough. Dare I say "bland." It was like there was
no spice when it came to my approach--and, to be honest,
I felt a certain disappointment. I had not capitalized on the
enthusiasm I had felt when I was finishing-up at Duke, even
when I rushed into my Jungian professional training.

My friend and I had a fine talk, and it felt good discussing
my concern. At last I was airing-out my sense of failure.
What was it that was missing from my well-planned formula
over these years since Los Angeles? My friend asked if it
might be "God" who was missing?

Well, I had to admit that my conception of the spiritual was
more of a humanist approach. I had been appealing to the
human spirit, in that we need positively cope with our world--
especially our inner world--come to understand such, accept
it, work towards figuring how we, individually, fitted into this
world, and work towards grasping who we are in it. I felt
that by understanding the archetypal elements that circulated
in our mind, how this archetypal construct--put together--makes
us who we are!

Now I suspected that there was far more to this than just a
humanist spiritual approach. As for "God," or the "Holy Spirit,"
I was forced to confess that they played very little in my life.
I not only ignored the possibility of such a Higher Reality, I
rarely even thought much about it. At an obvious level, I
guess that I equated all this with the institution of church or
any given faith system. In the end, I had to ask myself whether
I was a "man of faith." I wasn't sure!

(4) Jungian Prelude

What with all the work and additional academic training, I
began to feel restless in Los Angeles. Most of my analysands
were Hollywood types. Not unexpected, since these folk oft
had the money to indulge in "analysis." But most of my clients
weren't terribly interested in spiritual development, though in
a clandestine manner I injected help in this area when I could.

Anyway, after a long time wrestling with this, I decided it was
time to leave Los Angeles. As much as I loved the warm
climate of Southern California, I felt a strong urge to return
to the East Coast. Maybe illogical, but I chose to practice in
Washington, D.C., where the politicos were even less "spiritual"
than the Hollywood folk. Still, I made do--what with all the angst
prevalent in that city.

As I languished away working with my new clients, to whom I
felt I was placating more than spiritually administering, I made
a discovery. In Washington's National Cathedral, of all places!

An analyst friend persuaded me to tag along to a lecture at
the cathedral, given by Morton Kelsey--an Episcopal priest
and emeritus theologian at the University of Notre Dame. As
he began his speech he made mention that he had also long
served as a counselor, especially in what he termed as a
"healing ministry."

Listening, I felt like dozing off--until Kelsey made mention
something about "touching the face of God through...religious
experience." I suddenly became very alert, because I started
to realize what was missing both in my analysands and in
myself. And to be fair to my analysands, I realized that some
of them occasionally wandered off in their conversations,
trying somehow to relate a sense of the Numinous. In turn,
my response was mainly that it is an archetypal expression.
But I never carried through that it might be a "God" experience
or a religious experience.

Up to this point, all through my years, as I earlier put, I had
remained "unchurched." Frankly, I didn't have much respect
for institutional religion or its enclaves. All this said and done
with my rarely ever setting foot in a church. I began to realize
that this long deep-set opinion of mine was based on very little
direct encounter.

Perhaps this lack of God contact, or Numinous experience,
on my part was hindering my desire to help my analysands
spiritually. After the Kelsey lecture, I decided that I needed to
look down other corridors in this regard.

(3) Jungian Prelude

About a third of the way into my training, I decided to focus
upon a particular research program. After spending nearly a
year sifting through the immense book and film library of the
institute, I easily decided upon the archetypal approach in
terms of spiritual development. The library was a mother lode
when it came to myths, legends, and religio-spiritual symbolism.
And all *this* centered around the Archetype--a special mental
energy that serves as a construct for our personality.

My biggest problem was my lack of knowledge when it came
to Religion. But, fortunately, my mentor slowly got me on track.
He was a world-class professional in this territory. At first I felt
inadequate for the job, so to speak. But my mentor, who was
an authority, said "if I can do it, so can you." What he meant was
that initially his own background seemed limiting, in that he had
a degree in Chemistry as well as being a M.D. After all, at least
I had an advanced degree in Psychology!

So I plunged into the institute's library, virtually immersing
myself in this mother lode, especially tracing the development
of Religion and Spirituality, then connecting it in so many ways
with the world's myths and legends that, in turn, led to archetypal
symbolism found not only in our dreams but also in our cultural
projections! And by the time I had completed the program, by
the time I received certification as a Jungian analyst, I at least
had the tools to start out when it came to my special focus.
Over the years I would concentrate on spiritual development
as a result.

However, at first, the practicalities of life set in fast. I still had
to work as a clinician, hoping in time to set up practice as a
Jungian analyst. It took quite a long time for me to slip more
fully into this special practice, but eventually I found my way
and started gleaning a respectable living out of such. Along
the way, too, I started plugging into special seminars that
concentrated on spiritual development theory.

Not surprising, I suppose, but one thing led to another. And
eventually I decided to enroll as a part-time Master's candidate
in the Anthropology Department of the University of California
(Los Angeles) . My major focus would be psychological anthro-
pology, an interdisciplinary field that studies the interaction
of cultural and mental processes.

Via this new academic work, I filled-in missing aspects when
it came to my understanding of human development and
Religion as such related to different social and cultural
milieux. And as I delved deeper into this program--that
employed not only new psychological techniques, but new
cognitive explorations--I felt fairly well-prepared to move into
my own interdisciplinary studies that linked Jungian Analytical
Psychology with Religion and Spirituality.

(2) Jungian Prelude

I have to admit that this idea of a priest for the psyche--or the
soul--really sparked a gut reaction in me. The idea excited me;
and I had to admit that after nearly four years working into
Clinical Psychology, I needed some excitement. Plain and
simple I did *not* like the whole underlying method or
meaning, when it came to this academic psychology. But at
the time that was what universities were offering, when it came
to the study of psychology. Anyway, I'm not going to waste any
more time in this journal about my dissatisfaction with Clinical
Psychology. I would go ahead and secure my Phd, and then
I was going to look into becoming a Jungian Analyst.

Need I say, this business of "looking into" was an education
all by itself. First, I decided to plow into the extensive work of
Carl Jung, himself. Following that, I gleaned more insight via
the Jungian scholars who were devotees of Jung's psychology.
This took some time, but I kept nodding my head in agreement
as I read through the passages of all these books by both
Jung and his successors. I easily could see the spiritual link
to this special Analytical Psychology, as Jung coined it.

My next step was to find the "right" Jungian Institute for me,
where I could train to become a Jungian analyst. This took
some time, since in my early days there was no such thing as
e-mail. Going the snail-mail route took an inordinate amount
of time, but I was persistent. I decided against those Jung
training facilities in New York, Boston, and Chicago. In the
end I submitted an application to train at the Jung Institute in
Los Angeles. Maybe not commendable, but I chose California
because of the climate. Being a Southerner, I really had no
desire facing snow and ice up North or in the Midwest.

Los Angeles came through. Though I was a Phd graduate in
Psychology, I would have to secure a license to practice in
California. That was okay, since I had to set-up shop some-
where in order to make a living. Luckily, I was able to find a job
at a clinic affiliated with the University of Southern California.
As it turned out--working more flexible university hours--I was
able to fit in the time required for my analytical training at the
Jung Institute.

Though it took a few years, I was very glad to undergo the
training to become a Jungian analyst. Besides analytic
sessions, where I underwent dream work, I attended courses
and seminars, did practice sessions (as a Jungian analyst)
under the watchful eye of a seasoned analyst, and carried
out research with a mentor

Thursday, October 22, 2009

(1) Jungian Prelude

Chapter One. Jungian Prelude

My name is Matthew Stuart, and I am both a priest and a
psychologist. But right off I must say that I am not a priest
of any religious denomination, so how did I become a priest?
Well that's a curious story that will unfold within my journal.
As for my being a psychologist, well that also is a curious story
that takes me down an equally curious road. So let's move
into this story that spans over most of my years. Overall, I like
to think about it as an experiential adventure. But I need to
begin at the beginning.

After I graduated from the College of William and Mary, in
Williamsburg, not too far from my birthplace in Tidewater
Virginia, I moved south to Durham, North Carolina. A
"psych" major, I was lucky in that I had won a scholarship
from Duke University wherein I would work towards a Phd
in Clinical Psychology.

I enjoyed my years at Duke and nearby Chapel Hill, where
we thirsty students would enjoy the "Rathskeller." Reasonably
priced, once in awhile we could enjoy some steak and ale.
Duke was more on the serious side, and I had to work my
back-end off to keep up my grades in order to retain my

However, a slight diversion entered into the picture. During
my last year at Duke I quietly started taking long, pondering
walks in the university's beautiful gardens. And this was
followed by my sitting in the pews of Duke Chapel, letting
my soul speak to me. I felt drawn spiritually to this magnificent
place, especially on the weekdays when it was fairly empty
and quiet.

I mentioned this strange condition I was experiencing to a
friend, who was studying for the ministry at the Duke Divinity
School. Same age as me, he wasn't set in his ways and
seemed open-minded when it came to my discussions with
him. I wasn't "churched," and I really didn't want to be. He
understood this. Nonetheless, he respected my need to be
involved *spiritually.* But how?

Through our talks, we came up with the wildest answer--an
answer that became my life all through. My friend said that
during the course of his own studies at the Divinity School
that he had encountered the depth psychology of Carl Jung.
Oh no! We clinical psychologists weren't going to get into
that--no, no!

"Okay", my friend said--but Jung blends the Psyche with the
Spirit, so to speak. Jung, himself, was the son of a minister
and was gravely disappointed by institutional religion. He
was seeking spiritual answers that might be meaningful to
him, and none were forthcoming from either his father or the

Hence Jung extended himself, moving far beyond just being
a Freudian psychiatrist. Treating his patients, noticing the
similarities in their dreams, he began to relate their motifs to
mythological material and ultimately began to realize that he
was dealing with a "Collective Unconscious" that connected
people in a mysterious spiritual way. Consequently Jung
started traveling all over the world--interviewing all manner
of people, from different backgrounds and cultures, and
discovered these very same dream motifs circulating in their
minds. For Jung, God was working through our human psyche--
and he felt that there was a need for "Priests for the Psyche."


"Sun Priest" is a short fictional account, a journal by a
Jungian analyst and Spiritual Counselor who has a
past-life vision. This experience leads him to examine
such paranormal phenomena as Out-of-Body Experiences,
Near Death Experiences, and Reincarnation--mainly from
a scientific perspective. In the end, the whole story is
about soul development.