Pagan Paths

The morning sun rising in the east calls to the Bright Youth in me, and the Bright Youth responds. The full moon calls to the Muse, and the waning and dark moon to the Dark Maiden who is a part of me. The earth I touch with my fingers calls to the Mother, in both her guises, Nurturing and Devouring. The bright green shoots rising from the earth and the green leaves on the trees on my street in the spring, these call to the Stag King, while the red leaves fallen to the earth in the autumn call to the Dying God. The spring storm that rises up suddenly in the west calls to the Storm King. The night sky, the dark space between the stars, calls to Mother Night, my death come to make peace. The gods-without call and the gods-within respond.

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Drake Spaeth on Gods and Archetypes

b2ap3_thumbnail_Drake_in_Oregon-e1298834954465.jpgWhen I was at the Parliament of the World's Religions in October, I had the pleasure of hearing Drake Spaeth speak briefly.  Drake is a clinical psychologist and professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  His professional interests include existential and humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, Jungian psychology, and shamanism.  Drake is a also an ordained Pagan minister and ritual facilitator of the Sacred Hunt, an ecstatic ritual of consciousness transformation, which has become a fixture at Pagan Spirit Gathering and other festivals.  

At the Parliament, Drake caught my attention when he said that "Carl Jung was not entirely kidding when he called himself a polytheist." Drake was responding to the notion that seeing the gods as expressions of Jungian archetypes diminishes the gods, an idea which he said results from a misunderstanding of what Jung wrote.  When I got home, I listened to some of Drake's earlier interviews.  This one, with T. Thorn Coyle, was interesting, as Drake discusses gods and archetypes -- a frequent topic on this blog.  A portion of the interview is excerpted here.  (You can listen to the entire interview by following this link.)  My own understanding of gods and archetypes parallel's Drake's.

TC: Here we are talking about the Sacred Hunt. That concept of the hunt is, in and of itself, and archetypal, concept. It’s something in our primal psyche, I think.

DS: Yes.

TC: Hearing you describe it, it’s almost as though everyone enacting this ritual … Do you feel that there is a connection with archetype for everyone involved? And what is the importance of that, if that is true? DS: Yes, I do believe that there’s a connection to and participation in the archetype. I think everyone in that ritual — hunters, villagers, and drummers — will experience that archetype in a way that is unique and sacred to them. But there’s a universality of it that is part of the magic. And of course that’s what Jung said, I think that most people understand about archetypes, is that they are these universal experiences that come from deep, deep within our psyche. Jung’s word “numinous” is meant to convey that it’s an experience of mystery, that it’s a participation in something that takes us beyond the personal, beyond the ego, into the realm of the sacred. And while I think he was, like many psychoanalysts of his time and psychologists later, careful about his language, and would make it sort of easy to dismiss him as saying, “Well, it’s all in your head.” Of course, as Lon Milo Duquette says, “We just don’t know how big our head really is.” And I think the Red Book makes it clear that Jung understood that this was a transpersonal event, when someone engages an archetype in this kind of a way, that you can use terms like “mystical.” He liked the word “numinous” to convey that sense of mystery, but I think he understood that it was sacred, and that it was mysterious, and that there’s something bigger than any reduction to a “mere” psychological phenomenon could ever convey.

TC: I’m wondering if you have felt, thought, or experienced in your life or practice, with yourself or with other people, that archetype-thought and god-thought are similar or are they divergent? Do you think the way that the way we think about archetypes and relate to archetypes through thought is similar or dissimilar to the way we think about and relate to gods and goddesses?

DS: Well, when you say “we”, I tend to want to qualify that a little bit, because I can only speak confidently of my experience with it. I unequivocally experience archetype as “god” or “goddess”, or that level, or you might say that I experience goddess or god as archetype. But for me, that is an extremely powerful, transformative experience, that I would never say is just “mere” psychology. But, if you say “we” in general, meaning other psychologists, or the field, or people who encounter the term “archetypes”, then I would say, yes, there tends to be a dismissal as overly psychologizing, or understanding that to be limited within a psychological realm, or a conventional psychological realm, I should say. And my opinion is that is based on a mistaken understanding of what Jung was really trying to convey. But yes, I have to acknowledge that a lot of people hold that misconception.

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John Halstead also writes at (Patheos),,,,, and The Huffington Post. He was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” (, and the editor of the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans. John is also a Shaper of the fledgling Earthseed community ( To speak with John, contact him on Facebook.


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