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Woman's Mysteries: Ancient & Modern (C. G. Jung Foundation Books Series) Paperback – 1 May 2001
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"This investigation is valuable and important, not only for the specialist, but also for the educated layman, who is interested in a psychology founded on experience of life and the understanding of people."—C. G. Jung
About the Author
M. Esther Harding, M.D., was a leading Jungian analyst for many years and a founder of the Analytical Psychology Club of New York. She is also the author of Women's Mysteries: Ancient and Modern; Psychic Energy: Its Sources and Its Transformation; and I & the "Not-I": A Study of the Development of Consciousness.
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But Dr. Harding was born, raised, and educated in England. As a young physician, she "went to Zurich for analysis with Dr. Jung" (page 61). While she was there, she met two young American physicians who were also there for analysis with Dr. Jung: Dr. Eleanor Bertine and Dr. Kristine Mann, who had trained as physicians at Cornell Medical School with Dr. Beatrice Hinkle, "a physician who made the first English translation of [Dr. Jung's book] WANDLUNGEN UND SYMBOLE DER LIBIDO as PSYCHOLOGY OF THE UNCONSCIOUS in 1916" (page 60). In 1924 Dr. Harding relocated to New York City. She was not married and had no children. The same was true of Dr. Bertine and Dr. Mann. These thee women physicians worked to promote and advance Jungian thought in the eastern part of the United States and in Canada.
Dr. Harding first published the books THE WAY OF ALL WOMEN in 1933 (rev. ed. 1971) and WOMAN'S MYSTERIES in 1935 (rev. ed. 1955). That's right - in the midst of the Great Depression, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president of the United States.
On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Harvard College in 1636, Dr. Jung received an honorary degree. Subsequently, he lectured at a gathering on Bailey Island, Maine, that Dr. Harding had organized. (She and Drs. Bertine and Mann had a summer home on Bailey Island.)
In the present customer review, my thesis is that men in the second half of their lives should study Dr. Harding's book WOMAN'S MYSTERIES carefully if they want to experience psycho-spiritual rebirth. (In the customer review, I am not writing about women.)
In WOMAN'S MYSTERIES, Dr. Harding dutifully refers to works by C. G. Dr. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961). But she uses his work primarily as the framework in which she exercises her own creative spirit by drawing on scholarly works that Dr. Jung had not drawn on -- most notably by drawing on Robert Briffault's monumental three-volume study titled THE MOTHERS (1927). But make no mistake about it, there is a keen and original mind at work in WOMAN'S MYSTERIES.
Like Dr. Jung himself, and later his wife Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz, Ph.D., in their scholarly book THE GRAIL LEGEND, translated by Andrea Dykes (1970; German orig. ed., 1960), Dr. Harding discusses the medieval Grail legends. "[I]n the Grail legends," she points out, "the sickness of the Fisher King is reflected in his country which has become the Wasteland" (page 214).
Of course T. S. Eliot made this medieval imagery famous in his lengthy poem "The Waste Land" (1922). After World War I, Western culture seemed to Eliot and many other people to be a cultural waste land. In the Great Depression in the United States, when Dr. Harding published WOMAN'S MYSTERIES, American culture seemed like a waste land.
In my estimate, Dr. Harding herself draws the all-important lesson to be learned from the Grail legends: "One must ask with the Knight of the Grail legends, `What does it mean?'" (page 236). This is the all-important question one must always ask about one's archetypal dreams and/or archetypal visions in the trance-like technique that Dr. Jung refers to as active imagination. But Parsifal and Gawain each failed to ask this key question when the opportunity to ask it presented itself (page 211). So far as we know, Parsifal and Gawain were not under the influence of the intoxicating soma drink that Dr. Harding discusses at length (pages 230-241). But Parsifal and Gawain are portrayed as dumb-struck men. I can relate to being dumb-struck at times - I understand what's that's like.
PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL REBIRTH AND DEIFICATION
Even though Dr. Harding perceptively discusses Dante's DIVINE COMEDY in her book PSYCHIC ENERGY: ITS SOURCE AND GOAL (1947, esp. page 455), she does not discuss it in WOMAN'S MYSTERIES. But I would suggest that "the three worlds of the moon mother" that she discusses on page 212 can be likened to the three parts of Dante's DIVINE COMEDY: (1) the "Inferno"; (2) the "Purgatorio"; and (3) the "Paradisio."
From this observation and from Dr. Harding's own observation in PSYCHIC ENERGY about the celestial rose imagery in Dante's DIVINE COMEDY, I would say that Dr. Harding in WOMAN'S MYSTERIES is discussing the feminine journey toward transformation that men in Western culture today have to experience in the second half of their lives, as Dante did.
Even though I admire Dr. Harding's scholarship in WOMAN'S MYSTERIES, I wish that she had discussed the idea of deification in patristic and medieval Christian thought. See Norman Russell's book THE DOCTRINE OF DEIFICATION IN THE GREEK PATRISTIC TRADITION (2004) and A. N. Williams' book THE GROUND OF UNION: DEIFICATION IN AQUINAS AND PALAMAS (1999).
But Dr. Harding brilliantly discusses the birth of the Holy Child, which represents the rebirth of a man in the feminine part of his psyche. She says, correctly, "The child born of the initiation to the Moon Goddess is naturally not to be confused with the human child of the flesh" (page 238). Of course not.
Of course numerous Christian artists over the centuries have created works of art portraying the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Child Jesus. In 1950, Pope Pius XII formally declared the dogma about the bodily assumption of the mythic Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven - to the consternation of many Protestants. But Dr. Jung thought that this was a very positive development of the feminine symbolically. For a recent book about Mary, see Charlene Spretnak's MISSING MARY: THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND HER RE-EMERGENCE IN THE MODERN CHURCH (2004).
Now, I was in the Jesuit religious order in the Roman Catholic Church for about eight years. The Jesuit order was founded by St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556). Pope Francis is the first Jesuit ever to be elected pope.
Before his famous conversion experience, St. Ignatius Loyola was a womanizer and soldier. At Pamplona, he gave a stupid order for a charge. In the charge he was seriously wounded. The wounded Ignatius was then transported a considerable distance to the Loyola family manor, his brother's home. His brother's wife cared for the wounded Ignatius. He was as helpless as a baby. Interesting enough, a portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Child Jesus figured significantly in his famous conversion experience. Dr. Harding's WOMAN'S MYSTERIES enables us to understand the archetypal dynamics at work in his famous conversion.
When Ignatius was physically fit to move around, he began his famous quest for spiritual renewal. Dr. Harding repeatedly refers to ordeals involved in initiations (e.g., pages 210-211). So far as I know, Jesuits who write about Ignatius's experiences during his spiritual quest do not refer to initiations. However, it is abundantly clear that he underwent inner ordeals. But he survived. Subsequently, he composed the book known as the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES and founded the Jesuit order.
Perhaps I should mention here that the Victorian Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) wrote certain sonnets about his own inner ordeals. Literary critics refer to these as his "terrible sonnets" - not because they are terrible poetry, but because they are about terrible inner experiences - ordeals, in Dr. Harding's terminology. For an accessible book about Jesuit spirituality, see James Martin's book THE JESUIT GUIDE TO (ALMOST) EVERYTHING: A SPIRITUALITY FOR REAL LIFE (2010).
When the positive Great Mother archetype in a man's psyche gives birth to the Holy Child, this momentous psycho-spiritual event in his psyche symbolically represents his psycho-spiritual rebirth.
Now, the symbolic Holy Child born of the positive Great Mother archetype in a man's psyche represents the birth of a god-man - in short, the deification referred to in patristic and medieval Christian tradition.
Dr. Harding quotes St. Paul's famous statement, "`Not I live, but Christ liveth in me'" (quoted on page 214).
In the patristic and medieval Christian tradition of thought about deification, the mythic Christ brings about psycho-spiritual rebirth through the Holy Spirit - in this way, the mythic Christ is said to deify human persons.
Naturally, if we want to, we can dispense with the Christian conceptual scaffolding about the mythic Christ and the mythic Holy Spirit - just as we can dispense with the Christian conceptual scaffolding about the mythic Blessed Virgin Mary.
Naturally practicing Roman Catholics and other orthodox Christians today may want to cling to the traditional mythic conceptual scaffolding. Should they somehow manage to experience the profound psycho-spiritual rebirth that St. Paul and St. Ignatius Loyola experienced, then they could say with St. Paul that the mythic Christ lives in them.
But other men today who experience this kind of profound psycho-spiritual rebirth through the birth of the Holy Child to the positive Great Mother archetype in their psyches can paraphrase St. Paul: "Not I live, but the Holy Child born of the positive Great Mother archetype in my psyche lives in me."
THE CHILD WITHIN (OR INNER CHILD)
Alice Miller, John Bradshaw, Susan Anderson, and others have discussed the Child Within (also known as the Inner Child). As they describe the Child Within, he or she does not resemble the Holy Child born of the positive Great Mother archetype. Nevertheless, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water, as they say. After all, why not just use the more familiar term to refer to the Holy Child as the optimal form of the Child Within, just as the positive Great Mother archetype is the optimal form of the Great Mother archetype?
Now, the optimal form of the Great Mother archetype represents in globo the four optimal forms of the feminine archetypes of maturity that Robert L. Moore, Ph.D. (from the University of Chicago), the Jungian theorist at the Chicago Theological Seminary, claims that all men and all women come equipped with at birth.
Thus the global Great Mother archetype represents the four feminine archetypes of maturity that Moore refers to as the Queen archetype, the feminine Warrior archetype, the feminine Magician archetype, and the feminine Lover archetype.
Unfortunately Moore has not written any books about the four feminine archetypes of maturity and how men in the second half of life can integrate the optimal forms of these feminine archetypes into their ego-consciousness.
But Moore and his co-author Douglas Gillette have published a series of five books about the four masculine archetypes of maturity. Moore and Gillette claim that each of the four masculine archetypes of maturity involves three forms: two bipolar "shadow" forms and one optimal form.
Similarly, each of the four feminine archetypes of maturity involves three forms: two bipolar "shadow" forms and one optimal form. Thus men in the second half of their lives will have to work through one, two, three, four, five, six, seven or eight "shadow" forms of the feminine archetypes of maturity in their psyches.
Similarly, men in the second half of their lives will have to work through one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, or eight of the "shadow" forms of the masculine archetypes of maturity in their psyches.
In conclusion, where do we stand now? If we consider the entire world today, are their more Jesuit priests worldwide than there are Jungian psychotherapists worldwide? Or are there more Jungian psychotherapists than there are Jesuits? The Jesuits are supposed to serve practicing Catholics. This leaves all the rest of the people in the world who are not practicing Catholics for the Jungian psychotherapists to serve.
Certainly no Jungian psychotherapist in the world today has received as much media attention as Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, has. In the estimate of many people today, he is a charismatic figure, as St. Ignatius Loyola had been in his day, but on a smaller scale -- and as C. G. Jung was in his day, but on a smaller scale.
No doubt there is room for additional charismatic men in the world today. No doubt every Jesuit worldwide hopes to undergo the inner ordeals and initiations to emerge as charismatic men. No doubt every Jungian psychotherapist worldwide has a similar hope and inspiration. However, it has famously been said that many are called but few chosen.
In WOMAN'S MYSTERIES, Dr. M. Esther Harding has mapped out for men today the quest and inner ordeals of initiation that men must undergo if they would like to emerge as charismatic men.
Harding examines worldwide lunar myths and uses Jungian methods to reveal their concealed meaning. In her hands, these moon legends are linked to ancient goddess worship, the concept of the triple goddess, and prehistoric matriarchies. She examines links between lunar cycles and menstruation, the association between bull-horns and the crescent moon, and the symbolism of the unicorn. She cites most of the earlier authors who also inspired the pagan movement: Jung, Briffault, Frazer, Harrison, and Murray. She also consults Hermetic texts such as those translated by G.R.S. Mead which inspired groups such as the Golden Dawn and the Fraternity of the Inner Light. Lastly, she cites Jessie Weston, author of From Ritual to Romance, a book which inspired T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land.
Harding's book went on to influence such feminist pagans as Starhawk and has been required reading in some circle for thirty years; becoming a staple of the more educated pagan groups. Its popularity probably began within five years of its publication, when Charles Seymour, a member of the Fraternity of the Inner Light, used it as the central source for his inspirational essay The Old Religion. (Seymour's essay is also essential reading for modern paganism and can be found in Alan Richardson's 20th Century Magic (Llewellyn's High Magick Series) or Dancers To The Gods.)