Craig Chalquist

November 29, 2019

It is as if one were a microcosm which mirrors the macrocosm…One might conclude that there must be an avenue inside us that leads, not to our particular psychological curiosities, but to the essence of things in general.

–C. G. Jung, The Visions Seminars


The transfiguration of matter occurs through wonder.

–James Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World


I finally reached the realization that the Divinity still needing human recognition is our own planet earth in our solar system. 

–Jane Hollister Wheelwright, Tepitates Journal: In Which an Old Woman Speaks Her Mind


Leaving Home

When I was a young student of psychology, my college texts and classes posited a developmental need to “separate” from one’s parents psychologically in order to become an individual. Even then, this emphasis on division and exclusion felt odd to me. Only later did I reflect that most of these texts were written by men. Most of the instructors were male Americans who valorized hyper-individualism. I learned more about human nature in my world literature classes, where I also first heard about C. G. Jung.

By contrast, family therapy as I was trained in it at the master’s level—a body of theory and practice open to feminine and cross-cultural influences as represented by diverse instructors and texts—aimed for differentiation, not separation: a developmental renegotiation of relationship away from dependency and toward interdependency. I still recall Felipe Santana, my first therapy instructor, insisting on the importance of preserving family ties where possible. I continue to lean on the work of Salvador Minuchin, Monica McGoldrick, Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, Mara Selvini Palazzoli, Virginia Satir, and Carl Whitaker.

As a doctoral student I studied Adler, Freud, Jung, Hillman, and the largely ignored Janet, among other depth psychologists. Individualism again. But I also studied ecofeminism and ecopsychology—Susan Griffin, Mary Gomes, Allen Kanner, Carl Anthony, Andy Fisher, Mary-Jayne Rust—and got my first lessons in ecotherapy from my colleague and friend Linda Buzzell, who describes our focus as a gradual widening from individual to family, culture, ecosystem, and planet. Differentiation that honors our ties in every sphere, a lesson reinforced by my training in permaculture design and sustainable landscaping.

If we looked at the history of depth psychology through a developmental lens, we would see jarring, adversarial breaks (starting with Freud and Jung) alternating with the other extreme of founder-idealizing refusals to differentiate. The former continues to show itself in psychoanalytic work that recycles Jungian ideas but refuses to credit Jung. The latter infests exclusionary Jungian laagers. Come to think of it, I have been denied opportunities to teach because I refused to declare myself a “Jungian” despite studying his work for three decades and teaching it for nearly two. I also know a few folks suffering from Hillmania; for them, worrying about social justice or degrading ecosystems is “literalism,” meaning: unpsychological. When I commented on Jungianism to Hillman, he replied that followers do founders little credit. He was always in favor of expanding on what had been built, including what he built.

As family therapy teaches, neither rebels nor followers ever really leave home. The rebels who turn their backs recreate the trappings and troubles of home elsewhere, and the followers turn home into a members-only temple and get aggressively personal with anyone not inclined to worship there. Seldom do we find in depth psychology or any other kind of psychology a clean transition from dependency to interdependency.

We who teach and practice terrapsychology attempt exactly that. We work in gratitude for depth psychology, our intellectual father whose ideas and practices inspired ours and whose leading figures—on the psychoanalytic side too—continue to educate us about the deep dynamics of the psyche. We remain grateful as we reimagine some of these ideas and practices, just as we do those of ecopsychology, our intellectual mother.

In my case, a gradual differentiation from Jungian psychology has walked in the company of occasional dreams that mark it at key points: for example, dreamtime Jung telling me as I packed for a move that I needn’t take along my boxed-up Collected Works (upon waking I donated it but kept Jung’s letters, seminars, and Red Book). Saying goodbye to dreamtime Hillman while thanking him for his work and guidance. While still in the flesh he had checked in with me now and then on the progress of my dissertation: my call for a “psychoanalysis of place.” I miss our conversations and his eccentric postcards. (And his sense of humor: “As long as you follow the Bible and say, ‘Man is created in the image of God,’ then the question is, ‘What about bugs?’”)

To use languages as an analogy, today I find myself thinking more and more in terrapsychology (TP) than in Jungian psychology (JP). When an insight bursts upon me as thunder cracks outside, for instance, I play with the parallel as a kind of gesture or motion in my surroundings, not so much as evidence of a universal synchronicity law undiscovered by science. Yet I’m glad to speak both tongues. It would be difficult to play terrapsychologically (we’re more into playing than proving) without the symbol-honoring bent of Jungian thought.

In service to respectful differentiation, then, consider the list below contrasting key traditional Jungian concepts with their terrapsychological counterparts. The list will undoubtedly lengthen because my colleagues remain innovative and our students tend not to be followers. In using terrapsychological methods for more than a decade of academic studies, festivals, classes, workshops, and other creative expressions, students have taken us down unforeseen pathways that reach fascinating destinations.

To save the trouble of explaining depth psychology and terrapsychology to readers unacquainted with them, I will refer you here (depth psych) and here (terrapsych).


Big-Picture Differences

Jungian psychology came about as a method of psychological healing, from Jung’s use of it on himself during his initial “confrontation with the unconscious” onward. Jung then gave it a dual emphasis: a method of healing through analysis (“Analytical Psychology”), and a theory of personality (“Complex Psychology,” so named by Toni Wolff). Later theorist-practitioners kept to the first name. Training and certification as a Jungian analyst involve years of study, analysis, reflection, and psychological research. All this makes for an exclusive group.

Although terrapsychology often brings healing, it started out as a multimethod approach for exploring the presence of place in the human psyche: how our locales get into us, and how what we consider internal reflects where we find ourselves. Terrapsychology then grew into a study of how not only places, but natural features, objects, the elements, buildings, and other aspects of our surroundings, even Earth, interact with the human interior. TP is as much a metapsychology as a psychology, one that reenchants our relations with ourselves, each other, and the world. Its qualitative research approach is called Terrapsychological Inquiry, a story-based, Earth-honoring methodology.

With occasional notable exceptions like Betsy Perluss and Mary Watkins, depth psychologists preserve a relentless internal and individualistic focus. The religious, financial, political, historical, and ecological come down to psychodynamics or archetypes; the breathing animal receives less attention than the imaginal animal; the animate world exudes presence because the human unconscious projects itself there. For terrapsychology, any adequate theory of personality must include the web of ecological relations, a recognition shared by ecopsychology and ecotherapy. When looking inside ourselves at thoughts, feelings, fantasies, dreams, conflicts, drives, attitudes, and other psychological dynamics, we must also look outside. This impels us to favor storytelling over theorizing, to look for depth in everything, to value relations more than constructs, and to reimagine the Jungian constructs below.


Terrapsychological Takes on Jungian Concepts and Practices

Active Imagination:

JP: A method for tending and conversing with what arises in imagination and leads into labyrinthine psychic depths.

TP: We love this method, which Jung seems to have come across in his early readings in Gnosticism. (See Gnosticism below.) We find that when we sustain it for long enough, some of the images that arise lead us back to the land (see Personification below), relocating imagination from inside the head to above, below, and around us as well: what Lali Mitchell calls the “eco-imaginal.”



JP: What people call “emotion.” A sign that a complex has been triggered.

TP: For us, emotionality is natural. Excessive emotion can indicate the presence of an ecological complex: a wounding we share with nature, place, or Earth, as when inner “floods” of emotion point to flooding coastlines and rising seas. Terrapsychology arose in part to fashion methods for working with this kind of mutual injury. Ecocomplexes are where the world’s ailments touch our own.



JP: Alchemy, the ancient art of trying to change lead into gold, is actually a wisdom tradition in which practitioners projected their psychology into matter as they worked in laboratories over bubbling pots. Alchemy was projected individuation (self-realization).

TP: Alchemy was an attempt to listen in on what matter had to “say” about itself. People who built and moved into cities near farmlands began to separate psychologically from the natural world that evolved us. Alchemy attempted to regain contact with that world while perceiving the spirit in matter. Sir Isaac Newton was one of countless talented alchemists who would have firmly disagreed that the opus was mainly to benefit oneself, psychologically or otherwise.



JP: Interpreting psychic material by bringing in parallels from mythology, alchemy, art, religion, and other fields of the humanities.

TP: As with active imagination, we don’t stop with the psychological. Images of the Egyptian underworld haunting Bakersfield, CA surely tell us something about the psyche, but they also tell us something about Bakersfield.



JP: Jungian analysis makes the unconscious conscious and realigns the ego with the Self, the core archetype of the collective unconscious.

TP: We regard Jungian analysis as useful for people who can benefit from it, especially those whose sense of individuality has been injured. Terrapsychology does not focus much on primarily inner work; we tend to do ours in the field. One form of this is locianalysis: the study of the placefield, the active presence of locale, as it elicits our deep involvement. We also have techniques for exploring deep ancestry, resonance with natural events like storms and quakes, healing in the presence of plants and animals, deep change through story and education, and how our dreams reflect the state of the world. We always assume ourselves situated.



JP: Anima is the archetype of the feminine side of a man’s mind; animus, of the masculine side of a woman’s. (Recommended reading: Susan Rowland’s Jung: A Feminist Revision.)

TP: What if we stop reifying cultural binaries like “masculine” and “feminine,” free anima and animus of both gender and heteronormativity, and deliteralize them? Perhaps anima is soulfulness and relatedness, and animus criticality and intellectual integrity. Some academic papers I read are soulful but need more animus, more scholarship; sometimes, the reverse. Jung’s complicated theoretical libido hydraulics (see Libido below) feel lacking in anima (soulfulness) and overwhelmed by animus (mindfulness). In other words, we can use these as figurative terms.



JP: Archetypes are universal patterns of experience tied to instincts. Key archetypes along the path of individuation, for example, include Persona, Shadow, Anima/Animus, Wise Old Man/Woman, and Self, the archetype of wholeness (also called the God-image). Other examples of archetypes include Nature, Spirit, Father, Mother, King, Queen, Creation, Destruction, and Resurrection. Archetypes are the structural organs of the psyche.

TP: Archetypes, real ones, are found everywhere. Those not found in the natural world aren’t universal, they are cultural constructs. In nature we find no kings and queens, although we do find leaders (e.g., the lead goose in a v-formation) and even heroes. Consider the humble but heroic weed: muscular, promiscuous, hard to eradicate, and adept at bringing nutrients to the surface to make way for the more mature ecosystem to follow. The spiral of individuation spins water down the drain to its sources and allows spinning galaxies to bulk their shining arms with hydrogen. Archetypes also show up as turning points of existence: Birth, Initiation, Death, Rebirth. In his late work, Jung was increasingly open to finding archetypes outside the skull. However, in his public writing he continued to link them to instincts (he never elaborated which ones) and to reify them as entities, ignoring his own dictum that the unconscious turns toward us the face that we turn toward it (Psychology and Alchemy). If you look for things inside and your unconscious has something to tell you, it will show you inner things until you realize that shadow, anima, and the rest are masks of onflowing psychic process. 



JP: As a system seeking wholeness, the psyche compensates for extremes, as when an anger or sorrow we repress in one part of life appears in another, or when the dreams of the emotionally detached are filled with passion and color.

TP: Psychic compensation is a human case of how ecosystems strive to maintain their integrity and flourish in an ever-changing world. It also operates as the psyche tries to adapt to hostile environments, as when being indoors all day acting out rigid office routines in a sterile workplace engenders the kind of emotional detachment that makes for colorful dreams.



JP: A split-off aspect of the personality that gathers an emotional charge around an archetypal core. For example, around a mother complex, in this case a wound inflicted by a narcissistic mother, gathers feelings, thoughts, memories, and other associated material, all of which can prevent conscious access to the Great Mother archetype within the complex. This makes one neurotic.

TP: “Complex” is a broader, more dynamic, and less pathologizing construct than “personality disorder.” But when human relations and archetypes are held as separate from the rest of the surround, whether natural or built, then complexes cannot be worked with as links to the life outside the mind in the world. Try as we will to resurrect (for example) the Great Mother, her voice remains muted to the extent we forget her presence in what we grow, mow, cultivate, eat, and digest. Also, as mentioned above, ecological complexes arise when we ignore how what happens around us traumatizes us inwardly.



JP: We are conscious of something when it connects to the ego. (See Ego below.)

TP: Consciousness is not an exclusively human capacity that relies on a human ego. A glance at animal intelligence research disproves this humancentric notion. Even bacteria sacrifice themselves to protect a colony from toxins. Cultures not yet contaminated by the positivist-industrialist agenda of deanimating the world tend to see everything, even objects, as possessing their own style or mode of awareness.



JP: Dreams present symbolic statements about the psyche’s current state. Aspects of the psyche appear as dream characters.

TP: Because the psyche’s current state is bound up with place and time, dream characters also reflect where and when the dreamer resides. A locale might show up, for example, as an angry character calling attention to its ecological wounds in need of healing. Indigenous lore is full of mountains, rivers, and other natural entities speaking to the dreamer; terrapsychological studies also showcase vocal objects, buildings, vehicles, neighborhoods, and cities. See Personification below.



JP: The conscious self, symbolized mythologically as the Hero or Heroine.

TP: The ego shares fluid boundaries with the people, places, animals, elements, etc. around it. The Hero/Heroine is a model useful mainly for people who identify as heroes or heroines; for everyone else, revitalizing a capacity for enchantment with the things of the world seems more urgent than climbing up rungs of development. The Hero seems to be the center of a cultural complex (Singer and Kimbles) in countries like the U.S., where nearly everything is seen through its lens, often resulting in reckless displays of aggression, hyper-individualism, devaluation of subjectivity, and underappreciation of mature reflection. In many myths the Hero is an impulsive, nature-destroying tyrant. In a few, the Hero evolves into a figure of ethical responsibility.



JP: Gnosticism, an ancient Christian heresy, is a forerunner of depth psychology.

TP: Gnosticism is part of a Silver Chain of reflective wisdom traditions that honor the Soul of the World and Cosmos. This lineage is not a literal one, but recurrent across time and culture, from shamanism to the Upanishads, Gnosticism, and some Hermeticists, Kabbalists, Sufi mystics, druids, alchemists, and, today, depth psychologists and ecospiritualists. It seems important to point out that the following “Jungian” concepts come from Gnostic terms and ideas: archetype, syzygy, shadow, projection, image, wholeness, unconsciousness, Anthropos, imagination as an active power, the unconscious god, the archetypal Wise Old Man (actually the Mage or Wizard archetype, as Philemon implies in Jung’s Red Book by calling himself Simon Magus, legendary founder of Gnosticism), the four goddess-stages of anima development, three of the four orienting functions of consciousness, psyche as positioned between matter and spirit, depth as sacred (the chief Valentinian God is called Depth), self-regulating opposites, numbers as qualities, the importance of quaternities, individuation (= the quest for gnosis as informed by dreams), and mandalic image maps. See “Gnostic Antecedents of Jung’s Key Concepts”.



JP: Becoming a conscious individual with open access to the unconscious and integration of sensation, feeling, thinking, and intuition.

TP: Becoming an individual may require the pursuit of values or goals outside of oneself, as Maslow admitted when revising his theory of self-actualization to include self-transcendence. The Blackfoot tipi model that inspired the Hierarchy of Needs places personal self-actualization as a precondition for community self-actualization in alignment with the natural world. “Individuation” as full and consistent actualization of the conscious-unconscious axis must recognize that what is unconscious includes presences, forces, communities, and places “outside” the personality. We think of this kind of lifelong differentiating of “inner” and “outer” relations as maturation, or becoming fully human.



JP: Unconscious identification with an archetype, as when gurus mistake themselves for Redeemers or, in folklore, when Psyche hubristically compares her beauty to that of the goddess Venus.

TP: Inflation is usually symptomatic of broken relations with the natural world. The research team that created the world’s first nuclear bomb—based on the rending of nature at the atomic level—ans tested it at religiously named Trinity unconsciously reenacted the drama of Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Pandora as the desert winds howled outside their camp and tainted water roughened their skin in an eerie foreshadowing of radiation poisoning. The nearby trail had been named by conquistadors Jornada del Muerto: “The Working Day of the Dead.” Entire over-mechanized nations can suffer from inflation. The cure is recovery of grounded relations with self, others, and Earth. Part of Psyche’s reeducation had to do with learning to befriend insects, animals, and objects.



JP: A biologically based drive linked to an archetypal image of that drive’s fulfillment.

TP: Instinct was a trope in the Germanic world of Jung’s time. In ours, it might be more useful to replace it with “somatic.” A constellated myth or archetype at a turning point in life brings a felt bodily sense along with it—and the body is nature speaking intimately to us.



JP: Libido is psychic energy. Disliking Freud’s use of “libido” to mean the erotic energy powering the psyche, Jung changed the term to mean a neutral psychic energy dispersed through various unconscious operations like canalization (channeling, as with a canal), progression, and regression. Ultimately, libido emanated from instincts and was “psychized” or “psychified” from a biological drive into psychological images and affects.

TP: Instead of creating a theory of libido hydraulics and instinct conversions, we prefer to think more simply of passions—always partly biological and partly psychologically felt and imaged—that attach us to ourselves, one another, and our surroundings. Jung observes that the notion of psychic energy derives historically from mana, the spiritual energy or presence of nature.



JP: Myth is a story with archetypes embedded in it. Just as dream compensates the one-sidedness of the ego, myth compensates the one-sidedness of a culture’s consciousness while offering narratives for understanding our place in the great scheme of things.

TP: Myth arises as a narrative co-created between humans and the world, including the places where the tales originate. As such, myth holds symbolic wisdom about our relations with the more-than-human: soils and plants, insects and animals, seas and skies, animate powers of Earth. In most myths (sacred stories), humans are one of many beings that make up the animate world of being. This perspective runs through other kinds of folklore too.



JP: The psyche is energized and constituted by interactions of opposites: matter and spirit, feminine and masculine, conscious and unconscious. When one side of a polarity grows too extreme, it flips over into its opposite (“enantiodromia”).

TP: Following Adler and Hillman: opposites indicate psychic splitting. Why not see “opposites” as complements or pairs? Perhaps we would then be less likely to repress one side in favor of the other. (When the Red Book was published, I wrote Hillman to ask if he had seen a copy beforehand. I was struck by how consistently Jung’s inner figures, like Hillman, criticized Jung for oppositional thinking. Hillman replied that he hadn’t seen the book before publication but was pleased by the confirmation from Jung’s unconscious.)


Participation Mystique:

JP: Mass-mindedness; group unconsciousness. The term comes from Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, who wrote that participation mystique is how pre-logical primitives think.

TP: Lucien Lévy-Bruhl withdrew the term. Jung did not, although he did add that PM can appear in anyone. Two contemporary examples would be ecstatic Solstice rituals and those evangelicals who refer to Donald Trump as “the Chosen One.” Because the former involves a heightened or deepened state of consciousness rather than a lower one, “participation mystique” can refer to the former and “group narcissism” (Erich Fromm) to mass-mindedness.



JP: The psyche’s ability to fashion its material into characters, as when one’s consistently repressed anger shows up in a dream as a shadowy invader trying to break in.

TP: Presences of place, land, water, weather, climate, even Earth personify as well. Over the years we have recorded and checked on numerous dreams, for example, in which characters representing all of these point to verifiable occurrences outside the dreamer.



JP: The psychology of indigenous, black, and Asian people, who for Jung were childlike and lived closer to the unconscious. 

TP: We reject this term as racist and do not use it, nor do we equate “indigenous” with “archaic.”



JP: Disowning emotional psychic material such that we see it in others but not ourselves. In analysis, this looks like the patient’s “transference” onto the analyst and the analyst’s “countertransference” onto the patient.

TP: On the purely human level, we value Jung’s insights about projection, although we favor the later model, brought by intersubjectivity and relational psychoanalysis, of a transferential field (implicit in Jung’s examination of the alchemical Rosarium images). We also study ecological transference, or “ecotransference”: the emotional states induced in us by injured places, animals, buildings, cities, etc. We carry more of our surroundings than we realize. Also, while projection does occur, it signals a dualism or splitting of emotional experience that should not be normalized. Projection is really failed relationality, a disconnection between inner and outer. For that reason, perceiving the aliveness, presence, or trauma of a place or the subjective life of animals (for example), referred to in terrapsychology as “interanimism,” should not be reduced to projection, which kills sensitivity to the incoming presence rather than explains it.



JP: Conscious and unconscious considered together as a self-regulating arena of interacting forces.

TP: Psyche is not limited to humans. Psyche is reimagined as a dimension or quality of existence inherent in varying states and degrees in everything. (Jung sounds like this in letters when discussing the collective unconscious, which he compares to a fluid permeating time and space.)


Psychological Types:

JP: Sensate, thinking, feeling, and intuition are functions of ego consciousness, each oriented toward introversion or extraversion. We tend to rely on one function and orientation, which results in eight psychological types of consciousness for navigating through the world.

TP: Jung did a lot of research on typologies before arriving at his own, which clarifies much about how of how we see ourselves and communicate (or fail to) with each other. The addition of the Judging / Perceiving preference (orderly vs. spontaneous) added by the Myers-Briggs is also valuable. In fact, the language of preference helps overcome the oppositional emphasis Jung gave to typology. Some of what Jung thought of as sensate activities—prizing facts and bottom lines—probably belong in Judging instead. In any case, terrapsychology studies how the various types evolved in the natural world. They seem not to be confined to human beings. 



JP: Psychology is an empirical science.

TP: Psychology as an empirical science should probably be referred to instead as neurology, physiology, or neuropsychiatry. Empirical research offers much, but turning presences into objects considered unreal unless measured conforms to a Mersenne/Galileo brand of science we do not subscribe to when studying the living relations between humanity and the nonhuman, psyche and nature, self and world. Science of the type wrongly called “natural” carries a built-in agenda of eradicating subjectivity: the very opposite of what terrapsychology, with its roots in humanities and nature lore, wishes to encourage. Facts and figures are welcome so long as the stories built to support them remain transparent rather than succumbing to an unfulfillable materialistic fantasy of objectivity.



JP: The shadow is that aspect of personality repressed because its impulses bother or frighten the ego. Someone allergic to sorrow, for example, will have a difficult time integrating bouts of sadness into conscious life. Hostility repressed and disowned operates behind our backs. Collective consciousness also casts a shadow.

TP: Shadow is often described as deeply buried, but it shows up frequently in our dealings with each other. Shadow isn’t down there chained up in the psychic dungeon: it’s how we act every day, as when Richard Dawkins belittles his religious opponents and then dreams of a fighter jet strafing crowds on the ground. The “jet” isn’t repressed: he is the jet. Also, given that ego consciousness must filter perception to keep sensory impressions from overwhelming us, some degree of shadow is natural and inevitable. The task is not to clean it up so much as to stop placing in shadow what we don’t wish to face, thereby turning the personal unconscious into a psychic landfill. Earth casts a shadow we call “night,” but we don’t integrate night. We learn to see in it, rest during it, value the stars it reveals.



JP: Spirit is an archetype at the end of the psychic spectrum opposite to matter. Where matter is heavy and clunky, spirit is lively and ethereal. As such it reflects higher rather than lower consciousness. When it invests itself in an image, it can charge it with numinosity (awe, wonder, even terror). Religions are collective psychotherapeutic systems that employ symbols to make spirit accessible to the masses.

TP: Experientially, “spirit” is the sense of presence that animates a stone, a tree, the world, the self, the cosmos. It moves within and through matter rather than being separate from it. Spirit as actually felt is immanent, pervasive, everywhere. Plotinus said: We are not related to spirit, we are in it; we add: because we live in an enspirited world. Religions offer community while capturing and packaging a few fragments of this unthinkable spiritual abundance available on every side as well as flowing from the depths of within.



JP: A symbol is an image always partly unconscious and therefore mysterious, whereas a sign represents something known: the Cross versus a stop sign. True symbols carry multiple meanings. Their linguistic counterpart is the metaphor.

TP: Symbolism shows up outside as well as inside us. We all know this intuitively, which is why we ascend peaks for higher views and go swimming to get back into the flow of things. Our defenses wearing down is a kind of weathering (Matt Cochran).



JP: “Meaningful coincidence”; a parallel of inner and outer events not causally explainable. Jung and Wolfgang Pauli speculated that synchronicity exhibits an “acausal orderedness” by which psyche and matter, inside and outside, reveals their underlying connection. Their language for this held synchronicity as a principle or law not revealed by causality-favoring science.

TP: We play with the fantasy that acausal parallels reveal the “speech” or gesturing of place, nature, or even Earth and cosmos, depending on the event’s scale and meaning. I suffer a series of heavy losses, and while pondering them, a tear-shaped leaf detaches itself from a tree overhead and settles into my palm. Action of an invisible law triggered by an emotionally constellated archetype? Perhaps, but why not enjoy the feeling of being witnessed by my surroundings?


Transcendent Function:

JP: A psychic operation whereby opposites achieve bridging, mediation, or union through a spontaneously arising symbol. The alchemical hermaphrodite, for instance, reconciles masculine and feminine opposites. The task is not to mash the opposites together, but to value both until a reconciling third reveals itself.

TP: Systems Theory and nonlinear dynamics highlight emergence: a novel synthesis that suddenly appears in chaotic conditions. Fluctuating ecologies rebalance themselves, often by replacing fragmentation with moves toward self-regulating wholeness. When this happens inwardly, the unconscious may produce a symbol to emphasize it. In human cultural life, a new vision of how we can live together here arises in spite of oppositional thinking and captures collective imagination.



JP: The unconscious is the unknown, what the conscious mind does not see, whether personal or collective.

TP: The unconscious includes our unconsciousness of our place in the natural world whose presences continually resurface in our lives as sharply felt emotional dynamics. A meadow is flattened into a golf course; down the block, a man suddenly feels depressed but does not know why. Theodore Roszak wrote about the “ecological unconscious,” a root of nature deep within the mind. Potentialities for human and nonhuman health and growth also live in unconsciousness, nourished in the depths until ready to spring forth.



JP: Alignment of conscious and unconscious via integration of the functions and orientations of consciousness. Access to what has been repressed or left undeveloped inside.

TP: Ecopsychology finds it impossible for us to be fully whole and healthy in the midst of ailing ecosystems. Terrapsychology adds that wholeness includes familial, cultural, ancestral, and spiritual as well as ecological dimensions. Also, sometimes stepping up as a responsive fragment in an age of Earth crisis matters more than focusing solely on one’s self-development. Imagine what it would be like for everyone, human and nonhuman alike, to share the privilege of being whole together here.


Terrapsychological Departures

The following glossary of terrapsychological terms gives a glance at how the field has evolved beyond its roots in depth psychology and ecopsychology. The list also reveals other influences, including Family Systems and humanistic-existential psychology:

Applied Folklore: exploring how plots, images, or themes from myth, folktale, fairytale, or legend recur in a contemporary event and thereby illuminate some aspect of our relations with nature or matter. Formerly known as “archetypal mythology” and formerly confined to myths.

Archetypal Geology: tracing the features of geology in the human psyche (Matt Cochran).

Archetype: for terrapsychology, a basic, universal theme or pattern found in both the natural world and in human affairs. Such a pattern shows up as an existential quality: Life, Death, Resurrection, Great Mother, Earthrise, etc.

Dialogical Alchemy: interaction with objects or natural elements as aspects of our own psychology—and ours of theirs. 

Ecological Complex: thematic knots or junctures where human and ecological wounding combine. Example: inner splitting in several areas of one’s life while living near an international border built to sever families and keep immigrants out. Trauma to nature tends to show up psychologically in our own nature.

Ecological Transference (Ecotransference): the process by which an activated aspect of the world triggers us emotionally and even physically. Example: a sudden leveling of emotion corresponding unconsciously with a fertile meadow paved over into a parking lot. Another example: a surge of creative writing while sitting next to a healthily flowing stream. The connection need not be conscious. Ecotransference is an experiential aspect of intersubjective animism (defined below).

Ecoreactivity: the strength with which an aspect of the world triggers us. Example: some places are more ecoreactive than others and therefore more apt to foster a stronger ecological transference.

Ecotherapy: an application of ecopsychology in which various practices consciously reconnect us with the natural world for the healing of both. “Ecotherapy” performed without giving something back to the natural source of healing is nature exploitation. Terrapsychology uses ecotherapy techniques and values the Ecological Circle of giving back when we receive something from the natural world.

Enchantivism: the many ways we make lasting change by telling reenchanting stories about our relations with ourselves, each other, or our ailing but still-beautiful planet; sharing our reflections and inviting others’ on the relevance of these stories; and then letting the stories impel creative and thoughtful responses to how things are. The stories can be narratives, displays of imagery, humor, even dance and ritual.

Eradigm: a large-scale and perhaps planet-wide worldview that holds an archetypal theme at its core and shapes human experience. The Big Machine Eradigm, for example, which coincides with the rise of industrialism and science, sees reality as a vast mechanism stocked with parts that can be isolated for study. By contrast, Eradigm Earthrise emphasizes global concerns and participatory and ecological networks.

Heartsteading: setting up a small research group designed for mutual support, collaborative problem-solving, and reflective listening and dialog. Heartsteads can be set up anywhere. They might also be used for reclaiming community strengths, decolonization, storytelling, preservation of crafts and skills (“reskilling”), and self-education. Heartsteads can serve as ecoresilient hubs of healing, resource-gathering, mourning, remembrance, cultural creation, and problem-solving for communities devastated by political, financial, or ecological disaster.

Intersubjective Animism (Interanimism): the palpable if ultimately mysterious resonance linking “external” objects, elements, and events with “internal” states. Interanimism is a name for how the world gets into us intimately, and how what we normally take to be personal feelings or moods or dreams etc. reflect our environment. “Intersubjective” because we imagine this conversation as unfolding between subjectivities rather than a human subjectivity encountering inanimate things.

Lorecasting: fanciful interpretation of the meaning of natural events like epidemics, floods, and earthquakes as though they were gestures or messages. Examples: jellyfish clogging ocean-warming power plant intakes and tornados on World Environment Day as terrestrial protests of human destructiveness.

Locianalysis: studying the stories and ecological complexes gathering upon a specific site. Terrapsychology started out as locianalysis, the study of place presence alive within human personal and cultural life.

Placefield: the psychological terrain of a locianalytic study. The terrapsychological counterpart to the interactive field between analyst and analysand (or therapist and client) or between group members.

Placefield Motifs: the recurring themes shared by people and places alike. These motifs are to a place what character patterns and long-standing structures are to a human personality. In Escondido, California, for example, a place once called the Devil’s Corner and sold in the 1800s as a rancho for $666.66, the motifs of Hiddenness and Visibility alternate across the decades and throughout the city in many different manifestations. A motif like Visibility takes on fresh meaning through ongoing incidents of conjunctivitis, missing glasses, and broken mirrors as experienced by the researcher.

Placehosting: concluding the inquiry by giving something meaningful back to the research site and its presences and inhabitants. The inquiry initiates a careful, multileveled, and transdisciplinary tending of the ignored or silenced “voice” of place to foster an ecological empathy between us and our surroundings. Placehosting deepens the encounter by shifting from analysis into an imaginative, open-hearted, and creative-communal mode of personal response brought back to the locale and the community.

Psychocartography: charting myths and archetypes inhabiting particular places: dramatic Dionysus ruling San Francisco, for example. 

Sensitized Innocence: a state of heightened consciousness that moves back and forth between what one knows of the topic and a freshness of mind and body able to receive whatever plays across one’s senses, moods, thoughts, associations, and dreams.

Terragnosis: taken together, reverent practices that appreciate the spiritual of aspects of the natural world. A kind of Silver Chain ecospirituality that emphasizes nature’s intelligence and presence as they show up in our “interior” life.

Terrapsychology: a growing field of studies, ideas, and practices for reimagining and restorying how deeply and intimately our psychological life is involved with our surroundings, whether human or other than human. More informally, tending how the world gets into the heart and how the heart reflects the world. Terrapsychological Inquiry is the field’s research approach. Earthdreaming is terrapsychology’s experiential side and includes somatic and artistic exercises.

Terrestry: ancestry studies that take the presence of place into account while searching for the metaphors alive in one’s lineage. Example: detecting a pattern of fire-setting across generations of a family now living in Hawaii, home of the fire goddess Pele.

Transmutative Exposition (“expo”): the response narrative that caps a terrapsychological inquiry. The exposition includes the study’s background, methodology, methods, delimitations, researcher positionality, and findings and may take the form of a master’s thesis, dissertation, or other creation.


The Inquiry Continues

In 2020, Routledge will publish Terrapsychological Inquiry: Restorying Our Relationship with Nature, Place, and Planet. The book describes and offers examples of T. I. as used both inside and outside the academy. The anthology Rebearths: Conversations with a World Ensouled (2010) featured non-academic examples of terrapsychological encounter.

Jung’s work as well as depth psychology as a whole has been curious from the outset about how world and psyche talk to each other. But the direction of inquiry has always been from the outside in, toward individualized human consciousness. Meanwhile, the outer world declines.

Terrapsychology raises one of many voices now calling for turning psychology inside out. My hope is that down the road, we will see a fully planetary psychology, a true psychology not only of departure but of homecoming, one capable of honoring our relations with our location in the universe, our breathing Earth, each other in all our diverse humanity, and our own lively interiority as we find ways to creatively adapt to our changing homeworld.