Monday, July 15, 2013

On the Doorstep of the Castle in Copenhagen

Attending the IAAP congress in Copenhagen?

On August 22, 2013 - 22:00
at the IAAP Congress Copenhagen
don't miss the premier of
On the Doorstep of the Castle
A play of Teresa of Avila and Alma de Leon
by Elizabeth Clark-Stern

Book Publication Date coincides with the premier - August 22, 2013 - Advance Orders Welcomed.

Our setting is 16th century Spain. The Inquisition has expelled the Jews or forced them to convert. Teresa of Avila is igniting the imagination of the country as the nun who receives messages directly from God. Alma de Leon, a young Jewishconverso, appears on Teresa’s doorstep, petitioning to become a novice in her care. Their complex relationship explores the feminine archetypes of the Amazon, and the Medial Woman, in a story that unveils the foundations of psyche’s movement toward wholeness: Kabbalah, and Christian rapture, in an oppressive yet luminous time.

This play is a work of creative imagination based on the interaction of a true historical character and a fictional one. Teresa of Avila is admired to this day not only by Catholics and Christians, but by Taoists and Buddhists, psychologists and poets. Carl Jung was fascinated by her master work, The Interior Castle, for its description of the journey of the soul toward intimacy with God. The fictional character, Alma de Leon, is inspired by twentieth century Jewish philosopher, Edith Stein, who chanced to read Teresa's autobiography, and experienced a profound spiritual awakening that led her to become a Carmelite nun. "What if these two were to meet?" the playwright asked herself, crafting the character of Alma as a Jewish woman true to her time and place in history. The teaching of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition, the Kabbalah, was strictly forbidden by the Inquisition, and yet Alma is haunted by it, even as she dons the habit of a nun and struggles to find her identity in the presence of her passionate, spiritually adventurous mentor.


On the Doorstep of the Castle combines a dramatization of the very real historical figure, Teresa of Avila, with a fictional character, Alma de Leon. The idea for this dramatic convention came when I was researching Teresa’s life and works. I saw her as the “rock star” of the Medial Woman, someone who mediates for others between heaven and earth. I wanted to place her in a story with a woman who embodied the Amazon.

I made several attempts, placing Teresa in an imagined realm in the Collective Unconscious with real historical Amazon figures. It was a miserable failure. The characters were hollow, stilted. I woke one morning and realized I was trying to be Samuel Beckett, author of Waiting for Godot. How very silly of me. But the writing process is always a teacher. With respect to Beckett’s genius, I realized that because of who I am, I needed to place my characters in a real world context, with real struggles and challenges.

I was aware of the twentieth century Jewish philosopher, Edith Stein, who chanced to read Teresa’s autobiography and realized it was what she had been searching for all her life. She converted to the Carmelite order, yet could not curb her criticism of the Pope, who turned the other way while the Jews were being led to the death camps from Italy. Her public denunciation eventually resulted in the Gestapo escorting Edith and her sister, Rosa, to Auschwitz, where they were exterminated in 1942.

I was so moved by this story I began to imagine a young Jewish woman, living in 16th century Spain, who, like Edith Stein, was searching for something to feed the longing of her soul. “What if Teresa and Edith met?” I thought, with a sense of great excitement. I did not transpose Edith directly to the 16th century, but began to research the story of the Jews at that time. The character of Alma, Spanish for soul, emerged in vivid dreams and images from the dusty plains of central Spain.

I tossed out my preconceptions and ideas about the story, and just let the characters guide me. Alma had Edith’s courage, but was not a philosopher. She was a woman of the senses, the earth, the arts. I allowed the action of the play to follow Alma’s desires, as I also followed the real life events in the history of Teresa of Jesus.

Many of the raptures come from Teresa’s own writing: the angel piecing her heart, the devil snarling in her ear, the vision of the crystal globe in the shape of the castle, and the metaphor of the white butterfly. In history, she was indeed ordered to take to the road and establish as many Discalced convents as “there are hairs on your head.” She was imprisoned by the church when her Discalced convents threatened the established order, excommunicated, and accused of sexual relations with the Discalced monk, Jerónimo Gracián. She denied any carnal association, but the two had such a passionate friendship, after her death, Gracián cut her left ring finger from her body and wore it around his neck for the rest of his life.

These wonderful details are told brilliantly in Shirley du Boulay’s biography, Teresa of Avila: An Extraordinary Life. In the play, many details were adapted to fit the needs of the dramatic form. In history, Teresa wrote her books on a draughty window sill. We transposed this to a chair. Teresa’s beloved copy of Osuna’s Third Spiritual Alphabet was indeed impounded by the Inquisition, and the nuns in Saint Joseph’s spent their evenings singing and dancing, with Teresa composing many of the songs.

I imagined Alma as a descendent of Moses de Leon, the historical Jewish scholar who wrote The Zohar, the book of the Kabbalah. Of course Alma would be descended from this man, since a large part of her spiritual journey is to learn the tradition of Kabbalah, and how it applies to her path of individuation. Alma’s experience of the execution of her grandfather, the expulsion of her beloved cousin Eli, her own forced conversion to Catholicism, are fictional representations of very real events. Beginning in 1492, Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, expelled most of the Jews from Spain. The Inquisition finished the job by executing the most “rebellious,” and forcing the rest to convert. Many scholarly works chronicle this story, including A History of the Jews by Abraham Leon Sachar, and Jerusalem and A History of God by Karen Armstrong.

Another surprise came to me as I allowed the characters to write the play: both are Amazons, both are Medial Women, both are entirely human, filled with fear, dread, shame, passion, doubt, a longing to belong, and to connect with a world larger than themselves. I developed an even greater respect for Toni Wolff’s essay, Structural Forms of the Feminine Psyche. Her four archetypal feminine energies: Mother, Hetaira, Amazon, and Medial Woman flow through all of us, including men who are aware of these aspects of their inner anima. These energies are not mythological goddesses on a cloud. They live and breathe through our flawed, yearning humanity.

The title of the play is On the Doorstep of the Castle, because in my experience, this is where we find ourselves, again and again. We may enter the innermost castle, lose our inflated ego, and join with the Higher Self, but, sooner or later, a new life event, or arriving at a new developmental stage, brings us back to the doorstep. There, by fighting away Teresa’s “toads, vipers, snakes,” we find our courage, our will, our tireless Amazon of the soul, and She makes us whole, again and again.

About the Author
Elizabeth Clark-Stern's produced plays and screenplays include All I Could See From Where I Stood,Help Wanted, and Out of the Shadows: A Story of Toni Wolff and Emma JungOut of the Shadowswas performed at the International Jungian Congress in South Africa in 2007, in Seattle, and for the Archetypal Theater Company in New Orleans in 2011 featuring Rikki Ricard as Emma, and the author as Toni Wolff. Subsequent productions have been mounted in Atlanta, Birmingham, and other cities featuring Lucie Magnus and Nancy Qualls-Corbett in the title roles. On the Doorstep of the Castlepremieres at the International Jungian Congress in Copenhagen in 2013.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Publication: The Dream and Its Amplification

Just Published by Fisher King Press:

The Dream and Its Amplification
Erel Shalit & Nancy Swift Furlotti (eds.)

The Dream and Its Amplification is now available for shipping. 

Fourteen Jungian Analysts from around the world have contributed chapters to this book on areas of special interest to them in their work with dreams. This offers the seasoned dream worker as well as the novice great insight into the meaning of the dream and its amplification.

The Dream and Its Amplification unveils the language of the psyche that speaks to us in our dreams. We all dream at least 4-6 times each night yet remember very few. Those that rise to the surface of our conscious awareness beckon to be understood, like a letter addressed to us that arrives by post. Why would we not open it? The difficulty is in understanding what the dream symbols and images mean.

Through amplification, C. G. Jung formulated a method of unveiling the deeper meaning of symbolic images. This becomes particularly important when the image does not carry a personal meaning or significance and is not part of a person's everyday life.

Contents and Contributors
  • The Amplified World of Dreams - Erel Shalit and Nancy Swift Furlotti
  • Pane e’ Vino: Learning to Discern the Objective, Archetypal Nature of Dreams - Michael Conforti
  • Amplification: A Personal Narrative - Thomas Singer
  • Redeeming the Feminine: Eros and the World Soul - Nancy Qualls-Corbett
  • Wild Cats and Crowned Snakes: Archetypal Agents of Feminine Initiation - Nancy Swift Furlotti
  • A Dream in Arcadia - Christian Gaillard
  • Muse of the Moon: Poetry from the Dreamtime - Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
  • Dreaming the Face of the Earth: Myth, Culture, and Dreams of the Mayan Shaman -Kenneth Kimmel
  • Coal or Gold? The Symbolic Understanding of Alpine Legends - Gotthilf Isler
  • Sophia’s Dreaming Body: The Night Sky as Alchemical Mirror - Monika Wikmam
  • The Dream Always Follows the Mouth: Jewish Approaches to Dreaming - Henry Abramovitch
  • Bi-Polarity, Compensation, and the Transcendent Function in Dreams and Visionary Experience: A Jungian Examination of Boehme’s Mandala - Kathryn Madden
  • The Dream As Gnostic Myth - Ronald Schenk
  • Four Hands in the Crossroads: Amplification in Times of Crisis - Erel Shalit
  • Dreams and Sudden Death - Gilda Frantz
Attending the IAAP Congress in Copenhagen? - Don't miss the The Dream and Its Amplification book launch on August  21st at 19:00 !

Paperback: 230 pages (Large Page Format 9.25" x 7.5")
Publisher: Fisher King Press; 1st edition (June 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-926715-89-6

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Faust Woman Poems

The Faust Woman Poems
by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

Available April 10, 2013 - Advance Orders Welcomed!

What became of our fierce flowering?

In the 1960s and '70s the long forgotten and forbidden Great Goddess roused herself from millennia of slumber and took possession of young women’s imaginations. That cast out She offered a Faustian bargain—She would rip you out of your narrow domesticated self image, thrust you into the wilds of sex, power and creativity, initiate you into the mysteries of Earth and Starry Heaven, but you would owe Her your soul. A generation of women followed Her. Some knew her as Feminism, some knew her as the Deep Feminine, many as both.

The Faust Woman Poems trace one woman’s Faustian adventures through that time. Most of a lifetime later the Great Goddess returns to the poet.  As oceans rise and species die She demands Her due.

About the Author:
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky lives at the confluence of the River Psyche and the Deep River of poetry. The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way tells stories of her pushy muse. She is the co-editor, with Patricia Damery, of the new collection Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way. In addition to the Faust Woman Poems, Naomi is also the author of three books of poetry, including the recently published Adagio & Lamentation. Her poetry has been widely published and she is the winner of the Obama Millennium Award. She is a member of the San Francisco Institute and has for years led a writing circle there, called Deep River.

Cover image Papilla Estelar is a painting by Remedios Varo, used with permission from the Varo Estate, © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Product Details
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: il piccolo editions; 1st edition (April 10, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1926715971
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles.