Hi everyone,

For June you'll be reading through the first-ever anthology in the growing field of terrapsychology, the study of our deep (and mostly unconscious) relations with the places where we live and work, the creatures and things within these places, and even Earth as a whole.

In the field's first book, my Terrapsychology: Reengaging the Soul of Place, I did my best to offer graduate-level readers a basic schema for examing the psychic presences of particular places. What myths are alive there? What parallels can you find between historic events and personal ones? How might the place be showing up at night as a dream figure? After that book I wrote the Animate California Trilogy to develop a psychocartography of California place by place.

For me, the excitement about Rebearths is that we get to read accounts other than mine, written by people who each do terrapsychological work in their own way. Nor do we stick just to places: matter, elements, and even houses show up as writers focus on how all these and other worldly presences show up deep within us as well as outside and around us.

If you were to attempt all of Rebearths in four weeks, you would have to read seven chapters a day, beginning with my Introduction to the book. That is doable, but if I were reading the book, I would start with the Introduction but then skip around to whatever chapters looked interesting. They are arranged by the following realms of human/more-than-human experience: Elements (from dirt to storms to dewdrops), Places (Flint, San Francisco, Hawai'i, others), Bodies (including our imaginal dream bodies), Things (including stones, uranium, and Bonnie's chapter on Colony Collapse Disorder), Methods (the technical / academic stuff), and Ethicks, which challenges us to think differently about our responsibilities to the world.

However you decide to read, here are a few questions to get going with:

  1. Read the Introduction and then think about where you came from: the name of the place (look up the etymology), its dominant imagery and recurring motifs. See any parallels? To know where you were born and "why" thematically is to begin to understand your wider story of how to be in the world.
  2. What objects follow you around? Not just precious ones, but ones that you can't seem to get rid of. If you thought about it from the object's perspective, what might it get out of being near you, not just as symbolic of some part of you, but perhaps you as helpful for whatever individuation objects might enjoy? (See the film The Red Violin for an example of an object's long path homeward to the person who can really hear its soul.)
  3. Why are our cities so often ugly? What does building this way say to Aphrodite--and what can she tell us about why the world is beautiful, inviting us into deeper participation with it?
  4. Whether you've left the place of your birth or are still living there, how might that movement parallel the travels (or rootings) of your ancestors? (Hint: I am descended from Clan Murdoch of Galloway, a place that occupies roughly the same part of Scotland that California does North America. Going further back, ancestral maps revealing the passage of ancestors from Africa fifty thousand years ago northward through past the Caucasus through the Middle East toward Spain trace out a giant question mark. Maybe the question is, "Where do we go from here?")
  5. If you think of your home as a psychic structure--its facade a persona, its most-used room its ego, its attic or roof its superego, its unconscious either in the basement or out back in the yard--how would you analyze it? What shape is your back yard in? What sits above your head in the attic or on the roof?
  6. Big question: What if it were possible to interpret natural events like storms, earthquakes, etc. as dream images? Is it possible that Earth and the unconscious speak the same symbolic language?

Have fun starting! Will be back soon to respond to comments and questions.


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Replies to This Discussion

hello Craig!   i fractured my shoulder so typing will be slow going w/typos,etc. Here is one blanket apology.

I found your website some years back and am a little familiar w/ your work. finding material that addresses how psyche embodies matter is a deeply personal/professional topic to me due to a diagnosis of R.A., an autoimmune disease in 1995.   As destiny would have it, w/in a few years. i came under the care of a jungian physician who taught me the importance of amplification of symptoms for patient's psyche while leaving the stats & numbers to the medical technocrats.  This is now part of my private practice - teaching others how to live creatively w/ autoimmunity.

For example, from a depth psychological view,  chronic inflamatory disease states may indicate repressed rage especially as it appears in autoimmune disease.  There is research that indicates that many people w/ autoimmunity, were reared in dysfuntional homes.  It has been my professional experience that this is true.

I just bought kindle version of your book and read  a lawrence poem quoted in Vogel's 'a personal history of dirt' and wanted to share the following lawrence poem that came by way of synchronicity in 1999 after years of trying to come to terms w/ a body not working properly.:


I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.

And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.

I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self,

and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help and patience,

and a certain difficult repentance long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake,

and the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

May i suggest that lawrence was an early pioneer of terrapsychology which he explored through his work?  he was chronically ill with TB and reacting against  industrialization, if my memory serves me.  Could it be that his lungs were manifesting the coal industry's lack of care of workers and rape of earth?  i know that his work touched me deeply in under grad school and the above poem, along with years of training, changed the way I view illness. 

Now, i'll follow your suggestions above, and thank you for your time and attention. 

P.S  i am a gulf coast ex-navy brat living  in new orleans.  more on that later...:)


Hi Nancy, and thanks so much for your response. I appreciate it.

I think you're right about Lawrence, and I would hazard the guess that one possible ecological meaning of autoimmune disorders is that more and more of us are feeling in the psyche-body the failing capacity of nature to stave off ecological destruction. So I'm wondering if such disorders are a call to respond to this destruction somehow, and what effect that might have not only outwardly, but inwardly.

Craig, i've often referred to myself as 'a canary in a coal mind.'  whether or not this is a call to respond to the ecological upheaval, i can not say.  I tend to look at it as a call from Self, (self/Self) and given that my inferior function is sensing, it makes since to me that i would find it challenging to have a body experience that is not fully planted in terra firma.

Be that as it may, it has been my observation that if one can 'step back' from identification w/ matter, it is possible to gain insight about one's self and to more fully engage in the individuation process.   What i mean by identification w/ matter is when the ego can't accept its place in the scheme of things re: the confluence of psyche and matter.  To my mind this would include being over identified w/ place.  I could bore you silly w/ pre and post Katrina stories that speak to that..  In fact we have a word for it - Katrina Brain.

To get back to your suggestion to contemplate our birth place.  I was delivered by a naval commander in the county hospital in Orange, Texas w/ is at the border b/t Texas and Louisiana.  my father was an officer stationed there after WWII to protect the water ways associated w/ the petro industry and the port at houston. 

Orange is part of the "golden triangle' w/ includes beaumont and port arthur.  Those facts - orange, texas, louisiana, navy, petro, and triangle, have all been present in the patterns of my life playing out long b/f i was individuated enough to take notice much less understand.

There are many parallels b/t my life and the recurring themes and motifs of the gulf south.   In your essay 'A Brief Methlogy of Petroleum' you wrote 'The vocabulary of petroleum draws us down into a mythology of the Underworld, the place of Pluto, or Hades to the Greeks, the dark death god whose Roman name means “wealth.”'  In my younger years, my dreams were full of  : criminal puers;  islands. water ways, underground garages; drunkenness; triangular relationships, negative mother, hurricanes, etc.

My question to you is how does  individuation and terrapsychology interface?  pardon me if i haven't read enough yet.  nance 



























Hi Nancy,

As a culture, we tend to be in a chronic state of unconscious identification with place exactly because it falls into the cultural anti-ecological shadow. We're different that way from indigenous dwellers with exquisitely worked-out land perceptions and mythologies. So becoming aware of these repeating place patterns does what you mention: helps us break an unhelpful identification with place and move into a position of conscious relationship. That in fact is one of the goals of terrapsychology.

Craig, my people are racially mixed w/ cherokee & choctaw indian, mexican and african american ancestry.  we can only go back to great-grandparents b/c there are no written records documenting birth/death b/f 1875.  They are gulf coast people who migrated from oklahoma & mississippi into east texas to work in the oil industry. 

How  or would race figure into terrapsychology?

thanks, nance

Sometimes ancestry can be a metaphor with how those who came before us related to the land. I did DNA research on my ancestry, and the path of my ancestors through the world looks on a map like a gigantic question mark. Where do we go from here?

Sorry for the typos: I meant "Nance."

my name is nancy.  i re-branded using nickname 'nance' b/c there were too many nancy hardings when i googled that name.  I went from selfcompass.com to nanceharding.com about 6 yrs ago.

thank you & i answer to nancy.

Hi Craig, Nancy, and all. Seems it's been quiet this month. Perhaps people are out working the earth in their gardens as I've been so drawn to do now that the warmer weather is finally settling in. It's hard to be torn between reading about earth and actually being out in it, isn't it?

Meanwhile, I wanted to comment on your last question in the series you presented, Craig. I've been working with a group of climate scientists recently and so have been steeped in that particular aspect of what's going on on our planet. Since so many fo the recent so-called "super storms"--mass outbreaks of tornadoes, huge hurricanes, blizzards, hail--which sometimes lead to side effects like flooding, mudslides, etc, I'm wondering about addressing climate change as a dream image.

One thing that occurs to me is that they don't call it climate "change" for no reason. When you start digging into the facts, there is a huge HUGE transition going on for Gaia that is resulting in some serious suffering--both for her and for living beings that inhabit the earth. It becomes further complex when we consider that climate change, by most scientific accounts, is largely due to human activity. I am just starting to formulate some ideas about the dream images--but was curious if others here had thoughts....

In terrapsychology we "lorecast the weather," meaning: interpret it as a dream image, just as you say. A hurricane that wipes out oil rigs in one Gulf as U.S. troops invade another Gulf to secure it for oil is, for us, not just a random natural act, but a kind of response. After all, a hurricane has an "eye"--has a perspective, a way of studying what's below it on the ground--and the power to rearrange and cleanse whatever it encounters. It's like a spiral individuation symbol gone stormy. As terrapsych puts it: Nature turns toward us the face that we turn toward it.

Hi Craig and everyone. Just wanted to close out the month with a huge note of thanks to Craig for your presence and tending in the book club this month. It's been a bit quiet in the group as Spring has dissolved into Summer and the sun and green grass emerge here in North America, at least.

I know much of the work often happens outside the margins in the in-between interstices of online posts and palpable conversation, and I just wanted to say again how greatly I appreciate your profound work and especially the feat you have accomplished by bringing Rebearths to fruition. I am certain many, many people will discover it in months and years to come and that it will bring great fertility and solace during times when our relationship with earth seems stretched to a breaking point. I personally am truly fed by what is contained therein and so appreciate all the essays from the many contributors and your willingness and effort to bring it together.

Thank you! Keep up the good work.

Thanks so much, Bonnie--and a big hooray for your wonderful work and your Depth Psychology Alliance!


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