Tribute to James Hillman

Yesterday one of the great thinkers of our time passed away at age 85, originator of what is known as archetypal psychology, James Hillman. I was fortunate to have had Hillman as a professor during my doctoral work at Pacifica Graduate Institute and to have heard him speak on numerous occasions. His books and essays have shaped my experience of self and world more than I probably could ever realize. I owe much to him personally. I can only hope that the effects of his thought and life will continue to stir us up, challenge assumptions, revision, revise and re-enchant our thinking and perceptions of the world.

If you don’t know of him, I recommend making an adventure into exploring what Hillman has put out there. His critiques of culture, his efforts to re-enstate the mythic imagination, his searing analysis of the ways modern psychology got it so wrong and so much more can be found on YouTube, googled essays and interviews as well as in his many published books. The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World and Revisioning Psychology are two books that deeply influenced me.

Here is a link to a fine article from today’s New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/health/james-hillman-therapist-in-mens-movement-dies-at-85.html

I will mention just two of Hillman’s many articulations that have formed part of the lens through which I view the world. One: “You have to stop taking yourself so personally.” I increasingly understand that I am part of a play of patterns, archetypes, projections and alignments that I have nothing to do with creating or controlling, I can only be in the dance. My life isn’t personal in that sense, and I err if I take it personally. There are thousands of ways that those few words inform me. Two: Hillman’s notion that the repressed gods present themselves as symptoms. If I attempt to eliminate symptoms rather than embrace and get to the deep root of them, I miss out on messages and relationships with the gods themselves.

Thank you to this great man for his life of rigorous thinking and teaching. He will continue to shine as a sage and trickster from wherever he dwells, I know it.

2 Responses to “Tribute to James Hillman”

  1. informationforager Says:

    Thanks. Your post and experience take me to new ideas and insight. Usually it the same object/direction but with a new view and outlook. I have to totally examine the work of Hillman as I am also doing with David Bohm. Peace be wtih you.

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Hillman will refresh you, I feel lit. Also, have you read Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections? Hillman started out studying with Jung and was the director of his programs in Zurich for 10 years, so if you want to get to the root of Hillman, Jung would be there in the root.

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