“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Tag: soul-making

  • Solstice Prayer from Dec. 21st, 2014

    The photo is from last summer’s Burning Man festival, taken by Zipporah on Sunday morning while I sat in the Temple of Grace contemplating my life’s loves and losses. Later that night, the Temple collapsed in upon itself like a curtsying ballerina after burning for fifteen short minutes. ……. I read the following prayer at the opening of a small medicine ceremony I […]


  • Soul-Making with Iain McGilchrist

    Iain McGilchrist is the author of several books, most recently The Master and His Emissary. What if we are not born with fully formed eternal souls, but must each grow our own in time? What if psyche, like physis, is a relational process, and not an independent substance? McGilchrist quotes James Hillman: “The soul is […]


  • Soul-Making vs the Blind Brain Theory

    Steven Craig Hickman recently posted a fascinating commentary on the fantasy writer R. Scott Bakker’s “Blind Brain Theory.”  I’ve offered several of my own commentaries in the past (see HERE). My general sense of unease seems to be shared by Hickman, who ponders towards the end of his post whether Bakker’s BBT might be more […]


  • “Spark” – A Documentary about Burning Man

    Spark, a new documentary on Burning Man, premires in Austin, Texas on March 10. Some psychonautical friends and I from CIIS will be traveling to Black Rock City this August to (re)create our archetypal-astrological theme camp called Cosmicopia (maybe you visited us in 2011?).   Related articles Spark: A Burning Man Story, Documentary Feature Film […]


  • The Gossip Gospel – An Informal Talk on the Role of Gossip in Community

    I gave this talk on New Year’s Eve to a group of my friends.  


  • Experiments in Political Theology and Dialogical Blogging

    The first clause in the title of this post is the subtitle of Simon Critchley‘s newest book, The Faith of the Faithless (2012). Critchley is a deep ethical thinker who had until a week ago managed to fly under my radar. This isn’t all that surprising, since the admittedly still diffuse research methodology of my […]


  • Responses to Archive Fire and Immanent Transcendence: Egos, Ideas, and Eternal Events

    Jason/Immanent Transcendence and Michael/Archive Fire have been continuing the discussion that began almost two weeks ago HERE and HERE. In his latest response to me, Michael writes: Matt wants to think the Absolute (unity), with an eye towards cultivating the existential implications which flow from an acquaintance therein, while I want to think the Possible (multiplicity), with a wonky fish […]


  • More Reflections on James Hillman’s Archetypal Psychology

    Building on what was said here last week:   James Hillman’s psychology, above all else, aims to remind the modern Western psyche of its roots in the Renaissance. To illustrate his methods, he dwells upon the lives of Renaissance figures like Petrarch, “the first modern man…perhaps…the first psychological man.”1 Most cultural historians focus on Petrarch’s […]


  • James Hillman on Metaphysics and Cosmology

    Back in 1983, Claremont Graduate School invited Whiteheadian philosophers and Jungian psychoanalysts to a dialogue concerning possible cross-fertilizations between process metaphysics and archetypal psychology (published as Archetypal Process: Self and Divine in Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman in 1989). James Hillman gave the keynote, wherein he admitted that “something further [was] needed” than his typical psychologizing […]


  • Imagining the Future with Owen Barfield: Towards a Participatory Turn

    I’ve been reading Owen Barfield‘s recently republished philosophical novella Unancestral Voice (1967, 2010). Like many of his books, its aim is to make the esotericism of Rudolf Steiner more digestible to a 20th century audience. Barfield begins by setting the late industrial scene ~1967, situating us within the toxic detritus of a decaying civilization we […]


  • Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Activity: Socrates, Jesus, and the Wisdom of Love

    I’ve been asked to think about thinking, and to write about it. I’ve gotten myself tangled up in the middle of this kind of mess before, and so I’ll admit right off the bat that I cannot be sure which comes first, the thinking or the writing. Maybe my writing is just the trace of […]


  • The Spirit of Integral Poetry: “Waring” the Symbolism of Organism

    The Spirit of Integral Poetry: “Waring” the Symbolism of Organism Introduction In the preface of his magisterial account of the evolution of consciousness, The Ever-Present Origin (1985), Jean Gebser warns of a crisis “of decisive finality for life on earth and for humanity,” a spiritual crisis heralding the end of the deficient mentality of the […]


  • Notes on imagination, Poetry as Soul-making

    Poetry as soul-making Strictly speaking, what I want to talk about today does not exist, or at least if it does, remains for the most part unconscious to the rational, waking ego’s daylight gaze. Nonetheless, I’m forced to call this unknown phantasm something, and the name ‘imagination’ seems to suit it fine. Imagination is that […]


  • The Copernican Odyssey: From Kantian Skepticism to Tarnasian Participation, or from the Dawn of Modern Science to the Wisdom of the Midnight Sun

    The following is a rough draft of a presentation I will be giving next week as part of a panel discussion on the philosopher Richard Tarnas’   Archetypal Cosmology. Tarnas’ essay entitled Two Suitors: A Parable may aid the reader’s comprehension of what I articulate below. ——————————————————————————————- The Copernican Odyssey: From Copernican Illumination through Kantian Skepticism […]


  • Follow me to the desert, my soul.

    Follow me to the desert, My soul.   Sing with me Until I lose my mind; Dance with me, Until my body unwinds, And my feet no longer touch the ground, And all that’s left of time Is the sound of wind shaping sand.   Build with me a temple, My soul.   Share with […]


  • De Anima Mundi

    Some questions have emerged about what the hell (or heaven) I might be talking about in my last essay about death and the soul. These questions provide me with an opportunity to reflect on my own writing in an attempt to more fully articulate the vision behind it. I don’t already have answers to these […]


  • Death as Trickster

    A reflection after participating in Steven Goodman‘s “Tibetan Trickster” workshop at CIIS several weekends ago. See my follow up comments to this essay here. ——————————————————————— I should begin. I don’t know how much time I have… I’d like to tell you a secret, even though I’m not sure if I can repeat it exactly as […]


  • Religious Dialogue as Soul-Making: A Prayer to Buddha and Christ

    Why Religious Dialogue? Interreligious dialogue is not a distant possibility but a present necessity. This essay is a response to this need, but it is written also as an intrareligious dialogue. This is because the conditioned nature of my own personality, having been historically shaped into what it is by my unique imaginal participation in […]


  • I am Time

    I am Time Time is unwinding through its eternal hour and life is heading always toward the grave. The sun is being born and dying every day as the earth rolls across the sky. Toward the Origin all creation flows, though once upon a time, the destiny of this world was written with words. History: […]


  • Buddhist and Christian Soul-Making

    So far as I know, John Keats coined the phrase “soul-making” in a letter to his brother and sister in May of 1819. He writes: “…suppose a rose to have sensation. It blooms on a beautiful morning. It enjoys itself–but there comes a cold wind, a hot sun–it cannot escape it, it cannot destroy its […]


  • Meister Eckhart, Philosophy, and Soul-Making

    The following is an essay written for a weekend course taught by philosopher Jacob Needleman on Meister Eckhart the 26th and 27th of February 2011. ————————– Meister Eckhart, Philosophy, and the Soul By Matthew Segall And there shall be for thee all soft delight That shadowy thought can win, A bright torch, and a casement […]