Apr 14, 2022

The Garden of Gethsemane is the place of life crisis; it permits no escape or compromise. There, we suffer the agony of choosing between personal will or willing submission to something greater. Jesus’ companions could not stay awake, and God did not answer his prayers to be spared. We suffer dark and harrowing Gethsemanes alone. We may have to give up familiarity and safety for the unprecedented and unpredictable. We may ache from anguish and abandonment. Yet, to surrender voluntarily and consciously is to bow to a greater truth and yield to a higher power. In doing so, we transcend despair, resentment, and victimhood–and may find ourselves transformed. Gethsemane is a universal human story. If we can keep vigil and stay awake, we can hear the voice within. And say yes.

Here’s the Dream We Analyzed:

“I am on the youtube show, Good Mythical Morning. The two hosts are dumping buckets of spiders on me. They start with daddy long legs. I hunch over and can feel them tickling my back. Then a bigger black type of spider. Then the last bucket is scorpions. I stay hunched over, covering my head. With each bucket, I can feel the insects tickling me, but that’s it.”


This American Life (podcast): Shoulda Been Dead




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  1. Mamie Allegretti

    Hello Joseph, Lisa and Deb,
    A truly great great episode. It reminded me so much of the many things Eckhart Tolle says. There is a great resonance between Tolle’s teachings and Jung’s ideas. This is a huge subject that I think about and so much of what you said made me think of him. Jung wasn’t the only one to observe or experience that the Self needs the ego and vice versa. It’s something the mystics tell us. “God” or the Self or whatever you want to call it needs US to know itself as much as we need “it.” Both are one. And it seems to me that the individuation process is the process of merging (identifying, allowing, bringing into being…) with the Self in its deepest spiritual sense. The Self is the divine (numinous, God, the One, whatever you like to call it) in us. I thought perhaps that’s why you were so moved, Lisa. It is truly moving when you see a person living this process and in relation to the Self. I think of the people I admire and they all seem to have followed this path of really trying to listen to themselves and submit to that inner life that is coming through them. And the Gethsemane story is really the story of allowing (accepting, bringing forth…) the Self to be realized in the human being. It is a crucifixion and death of the ego and it’s beautiful and horrifying and confusing and sublime and everything you can think of all at once. It is the revealing of the Self through the individual human which allows one to know his or her true nature – both the ego and the Self. It’s a numinous thing, The biggest struggle is how to do this in the real world where we need to do so much in order to survive financially, in relationship to others and in our work, in right relationship to the earth, and with all the distractions which are overwhelming at times. Then we have our fears, traumas, problems, and on and on to deal with. In the midst of all this, how do we connect to the deepest part of ourselves and how will we express that in our daily lives? That’s the question for each individual who is on the path you might say. I thought that we could also see Kelly’s experience in a symbolic way. One might see how being locked out of his hostel was symbolic of being split from himself. It’s also interesting that a hostel is a place where one sleeps and is in contact with the unconscious. So, he is forced to go walking and synchronistically (!) finds an ancient place/ church and sleeps there. It reminds me of the ancient practice of incubation. I thought how the ancient ways were STILL, after all our so called modern “progress,” the way of the soul and spirit. I thought of how beautifully life in the “real” world mirrors or mimics what is happening in the psyche and many times the situations we experience are what we need at the time. It’s as if it is all connected and if we live symbolically, we can see the patterns and the “bigger picture.” It’s really beautiful and Kelly’s story was a wonderful example. I could also see connections with Iain McGilchrist’s work as well. So this episode was really fantastic in that it allowed me to make connections with so many of my areas of interest and see a greater whole. Thank you again for a beautiful episode. I hope your holidays are enjoyable and meaningful.

    • moss

      Have you watched the movie ‘The Green Knight’? The latest version of the archetypal/Arthurian text captivated me for months (it inspired Tolkien). It’s about the Gethsemane encounter. The process plays out as epic journey across foreboding landscapes, and documents the breaking-down and rebuilding of Self in accord with: god, nature, and the cosmos – to become a synchronistic King.– Loved your comment.

  2. Todd Crosby

    For anyone interested in the “psycho-spiritual” implications of Jungian thought… I recently read “The Illness that we Are” by John P. Dourley. It is a truly mind-blowing and concise summation of Jung’s reflections on the symbolism around Christianity’s core symbolism as well as a compelling accounting of how we got here and what is next?

    I put it on par with Jung’s own “Answer to Job” and Edward Edinger’s works as essential in helping me understand the religious function of the psyche and the symbolism with which the psyche speaks through Christian mythology/cosmology/symbology. I mention it here because Dourley (a Roman catholic priest and scholar) explains more clearly than one i have ever read, Jungs mature views about the Christ story as referring to the individual process where the emergence of the ego (Son) from the source/unconscious (Father) and then culminates in the gift of the Holy Spirit (Self) upon ego death– to mediate between Father/Son, Ego/Unconscious.

    Why i mention it here: Dourley states that it is the central moment of Gethsemane (the very heart of the heart of the myth) that we are able to identify with the perspective of the Son the true difficulty and unspeakable pain associated with the individuation process. (Abraham’s call to sacrifice Issac is the view of the unspeakable pain of the “Father” btw) . Gethsemane is moment where we can come into mystical relationship with the understanding that inevitably “I” must be sacrificed, and in so doing “We” will suffer greatly, and will not die, but will be changed and merge into more meaningful relationship with the ultimate ground of being.

    This death symbolism is also concisely demonstrated in Christian rite of baptism. Of course all of these also have pre-Christian and extra-Christian equivalents. (I’ve seen it in African religions that i’ve been able to study for instance.)

    I highly recommend reading this short book…its only 100 pages…but what a mind blowing read for anyone so inclined as it really makes clear how psychic dynamics manifest in religious imagery.

    • Judy

      I loved this miraculous podcast……thar probably all miraculous! However the Gethsemane podcast resonated so deeply & I too cried Lisa.
      It’s beyond reassuring to feel such a deep connection with you all🙏❤️

  3. Moss Bioletti


    Walk to the garden of Gethsemane
    Others sleep, but in deep in sleep; I pray to thee
    The greyest day has come for me
    Pray this poison cup will pass from me
    My will is strong; my body weak
    On my knees, falling like an olive, among the olive trees
    Pray so deep, my body bleeds
    The cowards road is calling me
    A mistake, a mistake;
    are you sure it’s
    Pray my Lord…. don’t abandon me
    God, think twice, before you sacrifice
    Keep my soul; let my body breathe
    Let me live this life, give me time to breed
    Lord, I’m young, take someone older, Please
    My health, my life; I need it more than thee
    But if it must be, then, God, Let it..
    No longer groveling, lost, in olive trees
    Despair has come; but Hope is holding me
    My Faith is shaken, but I’m intact; and unshattering
    In the deepest cave, I found, bravery
    Let me Be Uncommon
    Let me lay down this life without a problem
    Let me lay it before the Lord
    as an offering
    Pray, thanks for doom, bless the celestial sovereign
    I may die, but I won’t die groveling
    Let my death sow seeds of peace
    As my lifeforce leaks,
    For my God’s

  4. Felicity

    What a beautiful episode! I have no idea if that was in any way a response to my requests for an episode on “necessary suffering” but if so, you once again knocked it out of the ballpark. I listened to it twice, and I think I might transcribe it just to help myself metabolize it further. I also appreciated the feeling Lisa brought to it; it was very moving each time I listened.

    This idea of being “reborn into the ordinary,” made me think of one of my favourite Virginia Woolf quotes:

    As for the soul… the truth is, one can’t write directly about the soul. Looked at, it vanishes; but look at the ceiling, at Grizzle [the dog], at the cheaper beasts in the Zoo which are exposed to walkers in Regent’s Park, and the soul slips in. It slipped in this afternoon.

    Something to do with the soul expressing itself in the tangible, in the ordinary, that that is where it is found, hidden just under the surface.

    Which makes me think of another episode request :). Something along the lines of Keats’ “vale of soul-making” and of course how Hillman and Kalsched and others developed that…?

  5. Lauren Wein Mank

    This episode was so moving and powerful, and there were so many points during your conversation that I thought of the poem Poetics by A.R. Ammons:

    I look for the way
    things will turn
    out spiralling from a center,
    the shape
    things will take to come forth in

    so that the birch tree white
    touched black at branches
    will stand out
    totally its apparent self:

    I look for the forms
    things want to come as

    from what black wells of possibility,
    how a thing will

    not the shape on paper — though
    that, too — but the
    uninterfering means on paper:

    not so much looking for the shape
    as being available
    to any shape that may be
    summoning itself
    through me
    from the self not mine but ours.

    This individual in dialogue with the collective….as Jung knew, and Ammons too I presume, sometimes this sounds like painful discordant noise; other times it is perfect harmony. As someone well-versed in Jewish texts and rituals, I knew little of the Gethsemane story, and it has so much to offer in terms this dialogue. Thank you for bringing it into my field of vision and for helping break something open.

  6. Shirley Lancaster

    I endorse all the enthusiatic and appreciative comments above. John Dourley also wrote: C.G. Jung and Paul Tilllich: The Psyche as Sacrament, in the smae series as The Illness That we Are, which I, too, would also recommend. This is quote from the book: Religion is for Jung the experience arising from a sustained and energy-giving contact with the unconscious. Institutional religions exist for the purpose of mediating this experience. Where they do so successfully, Jung appears willing to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak. It is only when they largely or wholly fail to provide satisfactory mediation that a direct and conscious relationship with the unconscious is demanded; and this demand is made by the psyche itself in the interest of spiritual heath.

    I listened to the Kevin Kelly recoding and also found it very moving. I noticed that he refers to the Church of the Holy Sceptre. I believe it’s The Church of the Holy Sepulchre that he’s referring to – just an oversight. It doesn’t detract from the impact and significance of his whole experience – but perhaps worth mentioning.


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