Accessing the Ineffable: Depth Psychology, Religious Experience, and the Further Reaches of Consciousness
June 19, 2021 (Saturday)
9:00 am – 7:00 pm PT
$225.00 Pacifica Student Rate
$275.00 Pacifica Alumni, Full Time Students & Senior Rate
$325.00 General Rate
$25.00 Continuing Education Credits (5 CEC hours)
Offered online via Zoom Webinar. Conference recording will be available for paid attendees up to 30 days after the event for those who cannot attend live or the full day. All links will be sent at least 3 days prior to and after the Conference (for the recording).
At the foundation of Jungian depth psychology lies an imaginative inter-play between two mysterious agents – “consciousness” and the expansive potentialities of a non-local “unconscious.” C.G. Jung spent his life investigating the relationship between them, with increasing interest in the territories that compose expanded consciousness and “non-conscious” states. While Jung, William James, and other early pioneers of modern psychology embraced a trans-disciplinary approach to such phenomenon, the study of consciousness has effectively split off from mainstream psychological discourse.
After more than a century of separation and development, what might emerge in bringing together these once integrated areas of inquiry – the further reaches of human consciousness and Jung’s “spirit of the depths”? What role have certain religious or spiritual traditions played in developing various “technologies” for accessing the “ineffable” realms of unconscious or non-conscious states? What does contemporary dream research reveal about the potentialities of precognition and “non-ordinary” states of consciousness? How might the possible survival of consciousness beyond death affect one’s understanding of a dynamic unconscious? What novel understandings of mind, self, and cosmos might arise when studies in psychedelic research and religious or spiritual experience encounter the depth psychological tradition of C.G. Jung – and beyond?
Conference Learning Objectives:
Describe various theoretical approaches to consciousness including implications for diverse therapeutic outcomes.
Differentiate multiple perspectives regarding dream interpretation, including cultural, comparative, and Jungian perspectives.
Assess multi-cultural and diverse spiritualities as related to therapeutic practice.
Presentations for this conference draw on a diverse range of backgrounds from depth psychology and religious studies to consciousness research, psychedelic studies, and the creative and artistic dimensions of the psyche. By uniting depth psychological inquiry with trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives on human consciousness, this conference aims to re-integrate these fundamental aspects of the human experience.
Christopher Bache, Ph.D.
William Barnard, Ph.D.
Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D.
Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D.
Yvonne Chireau Ph.D.
Lionel Corbett, M.D.
Erik Davis, Ph.D.
Margarita Simon Guillory, Ph.D.
Sarah Iles Johnston, Ph.D.
Roderick Main, Ph.D.
LSD and the Mind of the Universe: The Challenges and Blessings of an Extreme Psychedelic Journey
Christopher M. Bache
LSD and the Mind of the Universe tells the story of my 20-year journey with LSD – 73 high dose sessions conducted between 1979-1999 following Stanislav Grof’s protocols. I spent years digesting these experiences, pondering their implications, and trying to integrate the truths I was shown. Now that psychedelics are returning to legitimate scientific and academic discourse, I am sharing my experiment in doing psychedelic philosophy – clarifying the methodology of exploration, describing the dimensions of consciousness that opened and the challenge of achieving sustained communion with these dimensions, and reporting my visionary experience of an impending shift in the archetypal architecture of humanity – the birth of the Future Human.
The Religious Use of Psychedelics: The Santo Daime as a Spiritual Path
G. William Barnard
A lot has been written recently about the often wondrously effective therapeutic potential of psychedelics. But very little has been written about what it’s like when an entire religion forms around a psychedelic substance. In this presentation I will address this lacuna by offering a look into the complex and fascinating world of the Santo Daime – a relatively new religion that emerged out of the Amazon rainforest region of Brazil in the middle of the twentieth century and which now has churches throughout the world; a religion in which a psychedelic brew – ayahuasca – is taken as a sacrament.
Pandemic Dreams: Our Unconscious Reflects on these Strange Times
Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world, people have reported unusually vivid and bizarre dream lives. The virus itself is the star of many–literally, or in one of its metaphoric guises. Dreaming has reflected each aspect of the pandemic: fear of catching the virus, reactions to sheltering at home, work changes, homeschooling, an individual’s increased isolation or crowding, and the hope as the pandemic draws to an end. This talk will discuss ways in which COVID dreams resemble those of other crises and ways in which they are unique to this one. The metaphors in these dreams can augment our waking understanding of the crisis and give us inspiration for how we want a better society to emerge from it.
Dream Journals and the Exploration of Consciousness
This presentation focuses on the religious and psychological insights that can emerge from the practice of recording one’s dreams over time. Two historical figures who kept dream journals will be discussed: Myoe Shonin (1173-1232), a visionary Japanese Buddhist monk, and Anna Kingsford (1846-1888), an English doctor, theosophist, and women’s rights advocate. In recent years, new technologies of digital data analysis have greatly facilitated the process of exploring recurrent themes in large collections of dreams. Although not without their limits and moral hazards, these technologies are opening new vistas in the study of dreams as a source of depth psychological insight and revelatory religious experience.
Africana Spirit Possession as Art and Science
A reconsideration of spirit possession in relation to healing. Christianity, Vodou, Santeria, and Hoodoo (African American magic) are presented as sites of ritual practice in which healing occurs. We consider the role and meaning of spirit possession in Africana religions as beneficial sources of psychotherapeutic interaction. Is spirit possession an art form that valorizes aesthetics in the performance of healing? Or is it best understood as a scientific modality or process by which modes of consciousness are assessed for healing purposes? We conclude that these traditions are not psychopathological, as modern psychology has claimed; rather, spirit possession may be seen as a viable cultural resource for therapeutic efficacy.
The Numinous in Clinical Practice
This presentation will describe a range of numinous or anomalous experiences that confirm the presence of a non-local, transpersonal level of consciousness and the existence of the Self, or what Jung referred to as the God within. This is the level of the psyche to which Jung was referring in The red Book, when he spoke of the Spirit of the Depths, in contrast to the Spirit of the Times, or the collective, utilitarian attitude that ignores the reality of the psyche. Contact with this transpersonal level of consciousness by means of attention to dreams, visionary experiences, and important synchronicities widens and deepens our vision of the world and radically deconstructs our usual perspective on reality. Attention to these phenomena also undermines approaches to the brain and the psyche based on physicalism.
Set, Setting, and Psychedelic Experience
Discussions of psychedelics understandably emphasize the centrality of psychedelic experience: the direct, in-your-face unfolding of immediate awareness at the far fringes of ordinary consciousness. At the same time, one of the most stable notions in psychedelic theory is set and setting, which states that the content, dynamics, and affective flavor of such experiences is dependent, in some significant but not exclusive way, on individual attitude (set) interacting with the external environment (setting). From an anthropological perspective, set and setting could also be said to include unconscious psychological predispositions as well as the invisible habitus of cultural, symbolic, and ontological norms. So here is the problem: how do we understand psychedelia’s transformative experiences if those experiences themselves are reflexively dependent on non-phenomenological factors that themselves can be “re-programmed”? This problem, which I call the Mobius strip, argues that we accept some important but productive limits on the claims of psychedelic ontology, as well as developing a more productive and constructivist understanding of personal and cultural “meta-programming” (John Lilly).
Therapeutic ‘Mind Power’: Healing and Altered States of Consciousness in African American Spiritual Churches
Margarita Simon Guillory
African American Spiritual Churches are characterized by a complex belief system, which combines elements of Catholicism, Protestantism, Spiritualism, Voodoo, and Hoodoo. Additionally, these churches conduct dynamic healing rituals. The efficacy of these rituals are directly related to the sensitivity of the Spiritual practitioner’s consciousness or “mind power”. This presentation explores this relationship between healing and consciousness. Specifically, it examines transitional shifts in consciousness that occur during the performance of Black Hawk healing rituals in African American Spiritual Churches of New Orleans.
Accessing the Ineffable in Ancient Greece
Sarah Iles Johnston
‘Non-ordinary’ states of consciousness have the potential to put experiencers into contact with their unconscious or with entities that are understood to exist on a different ontological level. Each society has practices for reaching either of these things (or both—they are not necessarily exclusive) and for identifying and describing the results. In my presentation I will talk about ancient Greek practices that explicitly strive towards such experiences (such as oracular possession and meeting the gods in mystery cult initiation) but also some that do not do so explicitly (such as the poetic narration of myths). I will ask how recent research on Theory of Mind might help us understand these better.
“This Cannot be Described; It is far too Wonderful”: Jung’s 1944 Near-death Experience and Mystical Visions
In 1944, following a heart attack, C. G. Jung had a near-death experience and series of mystical visions. He described what he underwent as “extremely strange,” “the most tremendous things I have ever experienced,” and “utterly real.” With reference to classic and contemporary scholarship on NDEs and mysticism, we shall examine what it was that Jung did experience and whether and how what he experienced can be accounted for in terms of the depth psychological model he developed. We shall look in particular at his culminating account of individuation in the final chapter of Mysterium Coniunctionis and the role in this of the concepts of the self, synchronicity, and the unus mundus.
SÉANCE: Contemporary Spiritualism and the Iconography of Ectoplasm
Spiritualist mediums seek evidence of life after death by blurring the boundaries between art, technology, religion, and the body. This illustrated talk, excerpted from the author’s 2019 monograph, SÉANCE, will explore how Spiritualist mediums blend themselves with deceased celebrities, electronic media, and automatic art-making processes. How ‘physical’ mediums define and produce ‘ectoplasm’— the paradoxical substance said to be both spiritual and material— will be explained. Historical images from Spiritualism’s bizarre photographic past will be discussed, illustrating how Spiritualism was the first religion to create an iconography through the medium of photography.
Christopher M. Bache, Ph.D., is professor emeritus in the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University where he taught for 33 years. He is also adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Emeritus Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and on the Advisory Council of Grof Legacy Training. Chris’ passion has been the study of the philosophical implications of nonordinary states of consciousness, particularly psychedelic states. An award-winning teacher and international speaker, Chris has written four books: Lifecycles – a study of reincarnation in light of contemporary consciousness research; Dark Night, Early Dawn – a pioneering work in psychedelic philosophy and collective consciousness; The Living Classroom, an exploration of collective fields of consciousness in teaching; and LSD and the Mind of the Universe, the story of his 20-year journey with LSD. http://www.chrisbache.com
William Barnard, Ph.D., is a Professor of Religious Studies, as well as a University Distinguished Teaching Professor. His primary areas of research interests are the comparative philosophy of mysticism, contemporary spirituality, religion and healing, and consciousness studies. Professor Barnard is currently researching the Santo Daime tradition, a syncretistic, entheogenically-based new religious movement that emerged in Brazil in the mid-twentieth century. Professor Barnard is the author of Living Consciousness: The Metaphysical Vision of Henri Bergson as well as Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism, both published by State University of New York Press. In addition, Professor Barnard is the co-editor of Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism. Professor Barnard has also written many journal articles and book chapters on a variety of topics, such as pedagogy in religious studies, the nature of religious experience, issues in the psychology of religion, and most recently, entheogenic religions and spirituality.
Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., is an author and psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School. She is known for her research on dreams, hypnosis and imagery and has written on evolutionary psychology. Barrett is a Past President of The International Association for the Study of Dreams and of the American Psychological Association’s Div. 30, The Society for Psychological Hypnosis. She has written five books for the general public: Pandemic Dreams (2020), The Pregnant Man and Other Cases From a Hypnotherapist’s Couch (1998), The Committee of Sleep (2001), Waistland (2007), and Supernormal Stimuli (2010). She is the editor of four academic books: Trauma and Dreams (1996), The New Science of Dreaming (2007), Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy (2010), and The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreams (2012). www.deirdrebarrett.com
Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D., is a psychologist of religion focusing on dreams. He is Director of the Sleep and Dream Database (SDDb), Senior Editor of the journal Dreaming, and former IASD president. His books include Lucrecia the Dreamer (2018), Big Dreams (2016), and Dreaming in the World’s Religions (2008).
Yvonne Chireau, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion at Swarthmore College, where she teaches courses on Africana religions and American religious history. She is the author of Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition (2003) and the co-editor of Black Zion: African American Religions and Judaism (1999). Her writings on the historical intersections of magic, religion, and cultural discourses on Voodoo can be found online at the research blog The Academic Hoodoo (academichoodoo.com).
Lionel Corbett, M.D.,trained in medicine and psychiatry in England and as a Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. Dr. Corbett is a core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute, teaching depth psychology. He is the author of Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality Beyond Religion,The Religious Function of the Psyche, and The Sacred Cauldron: Psychotherapy as a Spiritual Practice, as well as numerous other books. He is co-editor, with Dennis Patrick Slattery, of Depth Psychology: Meditations in the Field and Psychology at the Threshold: Selected Papers.
Erik Davis, Ph.D., is an author, scholar, award-winning journalist, and podcaster based in San Francisco. His wide-ranging work focuses on the intersection of alternative religion, media, psychedelics, and the popular imagination. He is the author, most recently, of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies, co-published by MIT Press and Strange Attractor. He also wrote Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (2006), a critical volume on Led Zeppelin (2005), and the celebrated cult classic TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998). He earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University (1988) and his PhD in Religion from Rice University (2015). www.techgnosis.com
Margarita Simon Guillory, Ph.D.,is an Associate Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Boston University. She is the author of Social and Spiritual Transformation in African American Spiritual Churches (Routledge 2018) and co-editor of Esotericism in African American Religious Experience (Brill 2014). In addition to these works, she has published articles in the Journal of Gnostic Studies, Culture and Religion, and Pastoral Psychology.
Sarah Iles Johnston, Ph.D., is the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Religion at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on myths and rituals of ancient Greece, and particularly on practices in which the divine becomes more ‘real’ to participants, such as certain forms of divination, magic, mystery cults, and the vivid narration of myths. Her books include The Story of Myth (2018), Ancient Greek Divination (2007), Ritual Texts for the Afterlife (with Fritz Graf: 2007 2nd ed. 2013), Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece (1999) and Hekate Soteira (1990). She is also the author of many articles and the editor of a number of books. She received her doctorate in Classics from Cornell University.
Roderick Main, Ph.D., works at the University of Essex, UK, where he is Professor in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies and Director of the Centre for Myth Studies. His most recent books (co-edited with Christian McMillan and David Henderson) are Holism: Possibilities and Problems (2020) and Jung, Deleuze, and the Problematic Whole (2021).
Shannon Taggart is an artist based in St. Paul, MN, who explores the intersection between photography, anthropology, and the immaterial. Her work has been exhibited and featured internationally, including within the publications TIME, New York Times Magazine, Discover, and Newsweek. Her work has been recognized by Nikon, Magnum Photos and the Inge Morath Foundation, American Photography and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace. Taggart’s monograph, SÉANCE, was listed as one of TIME magazine’s ‘Best Photobooks of 2019.’
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Continuing Education Credit
This program meets qualifications for 5 hours of continuing education credit for Psychologists through the California Psychological Association (PAC014) Pacifica Graduate Institute is approved by the California Psychological Association to provide continuing education for psychologists. Pacifica Graduate Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Full attendance is required to receive a certificate.
This course meets the qualifications for 5 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Pacifica Graduate Institute is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (#60721) to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs. Pacifica Graduate Institute maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content. Full attendance is required to obtain a certificate.
For Registered Nurses through the California Board of Registered Nurses this conference meets qualifications of 5 hours of continuing education credit are available for RNs through the California Board of Registered Nurses (provider #CEP 7177). Full attendance is required to obtain a certificate.