Davis, M: Towards a New Hermeneutic: Re-Viewing Analytical Psychology through the Mythic Lens of Marija Gimbutas


Maude Davis


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According to Joseph Campbell, Lithuanian archeologist Marija Gimbutas unlocked the “meaning of the mythology of a previously undocumented era”-- the prehistoric goddess-religion and earth-centered culture at the root of Western civilization. Her research into Neolithic artifacts from sites across Europe offers interpretive keys to a mythology that corresponds to the deepest archetypal layers of the collective unconscious. Working in the decades prior to her publications, Jung and many of his followers relied on subsequent periods in history as a lens through which to see the psyche. Indeed, Gimbutas articulated this issue, claiming that Neumann’s description of the Archetypal Feminine “is based on a post-Indo-European religious ideology after the image of the Goddess had suffered a profound and largely debasing transformation.” Expanding accepted critical foundations and horizons of meaning, Gimbutas’ work implies a new hermeneutic to reimagine Jung’s seminal concepts such as archetypes, consciousness and the dynamics of symbols.

This paper begins with a review of Gimbutas’ classification of prehistoric Goddess symbols into four distinct themes: Life Giving, Renewing and Eternal Earth, Death and Regeneration, Energy and Unfolding. Her categories will be compared to Toni Wolff’s ancient Greek-based description of four feminine archetypes: Maternal, Amazon, Hetaira and Mediumistic. Then, using Gimbutas’ thesis, contributors to the Jungian canon will be reconsidered including: Neumann’s description of the mythological stages in the evolution of consciousness; Edinger’s model of the ego-Self axis; and Bernstein’s more recent observation of an evolutionary “spectrum of reality, a borderland” bridging the Cartesian mind-body divide. Extending Bernstein’s ideas, I argue that an understanding of a Gimbutas-informed psychic life cycle connecting us with our indigenous human roots has value for the healing process. The conclusion will provide examples of case studies which demonstrate how this new theoretical model can be applied to the clinical practice of analytical psychology.

Presenter Bio:

Maude Davis, MA, is a Ph.D. candidate in Expressive Art Therapy, Education and Social Change at European Graduate School, Saas Fee Switzerland; and a Diploma Candidate at the CG Jung Institiute in Zurich. A clinician at the Living Arts Counseling Center, Maude is a therapist-director of Self-Revelatory Theater pieces. Maude developed a Jungian-based drama and expressive arts therapy technique: Psyche’s Cabaret.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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