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Salman, S. (2008). Kirsch, Thomas, Rutter, Virginia Beane & Singer, Thomas (Eds.). Initiation: the Living Reality of an Arche 2007. Pp. xiv + 200. Pbk. £20.99/$33.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(4):565-566.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(4):565-566

Book Reviews

Kirsch, Thomas, Rutter, Virginia Beane & Singer, Thomas (Eds.). Initiation: the Living Reality of an Arche 2007. Pp. xiv + 200. Pbk. £20.99/$33.95.

Review by:
Sherry Salman

Edited by:
Linda Carter and Marcus West

A good argument can be made that initiation is the primary informing archetypal image behind Jungian clinical process. Both the amplification of mythological motifs and the process-oriented imagery of alchemy come together in the particulars of clinical practice when viewed and informed by the reality of initiatory patterns. We consciously, and unconsciously, ‘consult the archetype”, making considered diagnostic differentiations as to the ‘once, twice and thrice born’ aspects of psychological development and delay. More relevant to our analytic practice than the mother-infant dyad, the holding environment, the Oedipal romance, or even therapeutic regression, many Jungian analysts put much more stock in the crossing and vicissitudes of ‘thresholds of initiation’ in regard to both developmental and diagnostic issues and trajectories of therapy, with priority given to the psyche's movement toward ‘the center’, the ultimate ‘goal’ of initiation.

The collection of essays in this volume arose from a 2005 conference, which paid tribute to the seminal Jungian scholar of initiation symbolism, Joe Henderson. This current book, Initiation: the Living Reality of an Archetype, follows upon Henderson's initial 1967 work, Thresholds of Initiation. The diversity of voices in the new volume explores the archetype of initiation as experienced today in aspects of clinical practice and modern culture, spirituality, ageing, and death. The editors contend that initiation symbolism still underlies contemporary phenomena as it did in earlier historical periods, but is rarely recognized as such.

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