The Great Mother in Ecopsychology: Part One

Amplifying the MOTHER in Mother Earth: The Archetypal Great Mother in Ecopsychology

by Tamara T. Thebert, MA, CHT
MFT Intern at Holos Institute

This essay is from a table talk given at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA on
April 21, 2012 at a conference facilitated by Holos Institute called Holos Institute Conference in Applied Ecopsychology: Re-visioning a Psychology that Embraces the Earth

During Earth Day weekend this year, I offered a table talk about amplifying the Great Mother in ecopsychology with my Holos Institute colleague Krista Rhinehart at the Holos Institute Applied Ecopsychology Conference at the David Brower Center. We had some enlivening conversations with conference participants. We explored clinical implications, reflections of potentialities in the collective unconscious, embodying the emerging mother archetype, and vivifying the transcendent function (Jung’s term for a dialogue between the unconscious and the conscious through which a new direction emerges) in the context of environmental changes.

This topic was a natural tributary from last year’s Ecopsychology Conference at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center where I presented “Nature as Self: The Golden Shadow in a Time of Destruction” where I highlighted this time in history as an opportunity to become aware of our distinctly optimal potentialities of our collective relationship with the earth and gave voice to a consciousness beyond the illusion of separation. Amplifying an intimate and loving relationship with the Great Mother is perhaps one of the deepest ways I know to awaken the part of ourselves that experiences Nature as Self.

ARCHETYPE as Inner-Outer, Individual-Collective Experience
Archetypes give us an opportunity to explore deep experiences in relationship as clients and clinicians, highlight a sense of co-participation with universal ecosystems, and illuminate the connection between the inner-outer and individual-collective realms.

Archetypal astrologer and cultural historian Richard Tarnas (2006) offers profound insight about archetypes in his book Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New Worldview that we shared during the table talk:

• universal principle or force that affects – impels, structures, permeates – the human psyche and the world of human experience on many levels

• they represent enduring, structurally decisive forms or essences of complex meaning and are also both fundamentally shaped by many relevant circumstantial factors and co-creatively modulated and enacted through human will and intelligence

• continually shape-shifting principle of principles, with multiple creative inflections and variations through the ages as diffracted through different individual and cultural sensibilities

• possess a transcendent and numinous quality, yet simultaneously manifesting in specific down-to-earth physical, emotional, and cognitive embodiments

• enduring structures and essences yet are also dynamically indeterminate, open to inflection by many contingent factors, cultural and biographical, circumstantial and participatory

• in one sense timeless and above the changing flux of phenomena… yet in another sense deeply malleable, evolving, and open to the widest diversity of creative human action

This will be continued as “Part Two: Moving in more conscious relationship with the Great Mother Archetype”.

Works Cited
Tarnas, R. (2006). Cosmos and psyche: Intimations of a new world view. New York, N.Y: Viking.


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