Friday, November 27, 2015

Erich Neumann: Jacob and Esau - On the Collective Symbolism of the Brother Motif

In the Torah reading of ‘Vayishlach’, Jacob returns to the Holy Land after 20 years in Charan. He sends angel-emissaries to Esau in hope of a reconciliation, but his messengers report that his brother is ready for war, with 400 armed men. Jacob prepares for war, prays, and sends Esau a large gift to appease him.

That night, the family of Jacob crosses the Jabbok River, while he remains behind and encounters the angel that embodies the spirit of Esau, with whom he wrestles until daybreak. Jacob suffers but vanquishes the supernal creature, who bestows on him the name Israel, “he who prevails over the divine.”

This is the central point of Erich Neumann’s thoughtful psychological study, which is now published for the first time.

Cover art: From a silhouette
by Meir Gur-Arieh
In 1934, Erich Neumann, considered by many to have been Carl Gustav Jung's foremost disciple, sent Jung a handwritten note: "I will pursue your suggestion of elaborating on the 'Symbolic Contributions' to the Jacob-Esau problem . . . The great difficulty is the rather depressing impossibility of a publication." Now, eighty years later, in Jacob and Esau: On the Collective Symbolism of the Brother Motif, his important work is finally published.

In this newly discovered manuscript, Neumann sowed the seeds of his later works. It provides a window into his original thinking and creative writing regarding the biblical subject of Jacob and Esau and the application of the brother motif to analytical psychology.

Neumann elaborates on the central role of the principle of opposites in the human soul, contrasting Jacob's introversion with Esau's extraversion, the sacred and the profane, the inner and the outer aspects of the God-image, the shadow and its projection, and how the old ethic - expressed, for example, in the expulsion of the scapegoat - perpetuates evil.

Mark Kyburz, co-translator of C. G. Jung's The Red Book, has eloquently rendered Neumann's text into English. Erel Shalit's editing and introduction provide an entrée into Neumann's work on this subject, which will be of interest to a wide range of readers, from lay persons to professionals interested in Jungian psychology and Jewish and religious studies.

Erich Neumann was born in Berlin in 1905. He emigrated to Israel in 1934 and lived in Tel Aviv until his death in 1960. For many years he lectured and played a central role at Eranos, the seminal conference series in analytical psychology. His writings include Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, The Origins and History of Consciousness, and The Great Mother. The correspondence between C.G. Jung and Neumann was published in 2015.

Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Israel and founding director of the Analytical Psychotherapy Program at Bar Ilan University. He is the author of several books, including The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, Enemy, Cripple and Beggar, The Complex, and The Hero and His Shadow.

Mark Kyburz specializes in scholarly translation from German into English and is the co-translator of C. G. Jung's The Red Book (2009). He lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland.

This unique book can now be pre-ordered from Amazon, or directly from Chiron.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Human Soul: Lost in Transition at the Dawn of a New Era - audio recording

with Dr. Erel Shalit

A Public Event on the Pacifica Institute Ladera Lane Campus, Barrett Center
Thursday, November 12th from 7:15 – 9:00 p.m.

An audio recording of the lecture is now available here, beginning with Joe Cambray's introduction.

The post-modern condition is characterized by a multitude of perspectives and narratives, challenging the view and the value of central, universal truths. The changes generated by this existential condition affect the individual as well as society, the experience of interiority as well as the perception of external reality. In cyberspace, the internal and the external sometimes converge, persona and shadow may merge, and the ego's sense of identity may become detached from its roots in the Self.

The lecture will present these developments, including the Transient Personality, who traverses time, space, narratives and a plenitude of faces at great ease, but does not stay in one place either in external reality, or within him- or herself.

Dr. Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Tel Aviv. He is a past President of the Israel Society of Analytical Psychology, founding Director of the Jungian Analytical Psychotherapy Program at Bar Ilan University, and past Director of the Shamai Davidson Community Mental Health Clinic, at the Shalvata Psychiatric Centre in Israel.

He is the author of several books, among them The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey; Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path; The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego; The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, and the novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return; and with Nancy Swift Furlotti, he has edited The Dream and its Amplification. Dr. Erel Shalit is also the editor of Jacob and Esau: On the Collective Symbolism of the Brother Motif, a previously unpublished book by Erich Neumann, and Turbulent Times, Creative Minds - Erich Neumann and C.G. Jung in Relationship, co-edited with Murray Stein, as well as the author of a forthcoming book on The Human Soul in Transition, at the Dawn of a New Era.

Last spring Dr. Shalit chaired the Jung-Neumann Conference, April 24-26, 2015 in kibbutz Shefayim, Israel.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Night of Broken Glass, 75 years ago

77 years ago, on the night between November 9-10, 1938, pogroms took place during the so called Kristallnacht, in which more than 90 Jews were killed, 30,000 incarcerated in concentration camps, 1,000 synagogues were burned, thousands of Jewish business, schools, homes and buildings damaged and destroyed.

The following are excerpts from the novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return:
Eliezer Shimeoni recalled the words of Chaim Potok, who so poignantly gave voice to that collective concern, “To be a Jew in this century is to understand fully the possibility of the end of mankind, while at the same time believing with certain faith that we will survive.” Living in Israel was certainly living at life’s edge, at the edge of survival.

Bitter irony turned into sour cynicism, as Professor Shimeoni reflected on the word “certain.” He was convinced that an eloquent writer such as Potok had purposefully used the ambiguous word certain. “Is there a word more uncertain than certain?” he asked himself rhetorically. “Did Potok mean that we could be sure, could be certain in our faith that we will survive, or did he mean that we may have some, a bit, perhaps a certain bit of faith that we will survive?” 
Eliezer Shimeoni did indeed have a certain, a very certain faith that the Jews would survive.
Had not the ordinary German, covering the gamut from willing collaborator to frightened compliant, been infected by years of indoctrination and selective information? “When I myself look into the mirror,” he said to himself, “it is somewhat embarrassing to admit that, perhaps, I may have wished Chamberlain success in his mission of appeasement. I have always had a soft spot for Neville Chamberlain. He pronounced himself to be ‘a man of peace to the depths of my soul,’ and I believed him, and I like to see myself as a man of peace to the depth of my soul.” ...

"Peace in our time"
And Professor Shimeoni, for one, would have made his way to Heston Airport and applauded him upon his return, because he is a man of hope and peace.
Thus, he told himself, “I cannot blame the passively collaborating German, and can only admire and feel a deep love for those who dared to see and those that dared to act.” Particularly he thought of Wickard von Bredow, as the example of exceptional heroism: As County Officer (Landrat), he received the order, November 9, 1938, to burn down the synagogue in the East Prussian town of Shirwindt, just like all the synagogues in Germany that were to be destroyed during the next few hours. Von Bredow put on his German Army uniform, said goodbye to his wife, and, ...
Eli Shimeoni wondered, “Would I have dared to trespass the prohibitions, would I have dared to buy from a Jewish store? I hope so, but the honesty that fears evoke, makes me wonder. If I would have been a 1938 German, may I not have looked the other way, avoiding the shame and the guilt gazing back at me in the store owner’s eyes of shattered glass.”

And he knew very well that pathology is always stronger and more powerful than sanity, just like hatred settles into scorched ground, while love forever remains aloft, like letters written in the clouds. Does not Father Death eventually swallow every one of Life’s Children? ...
@Howard Fox.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Cycle of Life Book Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a first edition paperback copy of THE CYCLE OF LIFE: THEMES AND TALES OF THE JOURNEY by Erel Shalit.

In the first half of life, the task of the young traveler is to depart from home, to step out into the world in search for his or her adventure, to find his or her own individual path. However, in the second half, we find ourselves on what often amounts to a very long journey in search of Home. In many a tale, the hero, for instance Gilgamesh, sets off on his road to find life's elixir, while other stories, such as the Odyssey, revolve around the hero's long and arduous journey home.

This archetypal journey of life is constantly repeated along the never-ending process of individuation. We find ourselves returning to this venture repeatedly, every night, as we set out on our nightly voyage into the landscape of our unconscious.

From the Bible to Shakespeare, to Carl Jung and to Erik Erikson, Erel Shalit's book, THE CYCLE OF LIFE poetically and informatively presents "the themes and tales of the journey". THE CYCLE OF LIFE received the Eric Hoffer Book Award Honors (in Culture), 2012.

Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Ra’anana, Israel. He is the author of several publications, including Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego, and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return. With Nancy Furlotti, he co-edited The Dream and It’s Amplification, also a Fisher King Press publication. Dr. Shalit lectures at professional institutes, universities, and cultural forums in Israel, Europe, and the United States.

Click here to enter the book giveaway.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Netanyahu – a leader with no vision, and without a message

As so many times in the past, Israel is again burning. Terror, clashes and violence, mostly instigated and carried out by Palestinians, sweep over the country, not only in the West Bank and Gaza, but in Israel proper.

And now we have instances of terror carried out by Jews as well, and we can not claim moral immunity.

Yes, true, terror by Jews is condemned by the absolute majority of Israelis, while much of Palestinian teror is received by praise by both Palestinian leadership and society. Still, far from what is necessary has been done to reign in those extremist elements in Israeli society, particularly in the more fanatical of the settlements and among certain national-religious groups.

While Netanyahu occasionally has been pressured to freeze settlements and other concessions, it has never been his initiative. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has also never responded favorably to those concessions – for equally bad reasons: a lack of will and capability.

In his recent talk to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu spoke well and truthfully. Yet, without any vision. He did not bring any message. Declaring his desire to renew negotiations without preconditions is not enough. His counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, does not trust him, and is equally reluctant, since he cannot provide what is required – accepting a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel without any further claims on the Jewish state.

Yet, stalemate inevitably leads to the eruption of violence (even movement does not guarantee peaceful relations – the terror instigated by the Palestinians during the Oslo negotiations should not be forgotten or denied).

However, Mahmoud Abbas, while perhaps tired and often threatening to resign, does move his separate agenda, to gain international recognition. While his moves are mainly on the international arena, they ignite the fire on the ground, not the least by incitement (such as “The Jews have no right to defile Al-Aqsa with their filthy feet”).

Netanyahu, however, has to be dragged, sometimes into the right acts. His present reluctance to expand construction of settlements, and in fact enforcing a construction freeze, is helpful.

Even more helpful would be a comprehensive initiative. Considering the locked situation, the first issue on the agenda would be unilateral withdrawal from civilian occupation.

First, Israel would need to define a temporary border. In fact, the notorious security fence does this quite well; 9-13% of the West Bank remains west of the fence. That is, 87-90% of the West Bank remains outside the security fence, to establish a demilitarized Palestinian state with temporary, but near-complete borders.

© Shaul Arieli,

Secondly, separate between civilian and military occupation:
a. Withdrawal from civilian occupation beyond the self-defined temporary border, and beyond the big settlement blocs; i.e., from close to 90% of the West Bank. Relocate the many small and scattered settlements - in which a minority of settlers reside, to inside the security fence, i.e., the self-defined, temporary but distinct border, preferably by offering compensation for voluntary relocation.

b. Retain military occupation for security needs, but step by step, increase the territory handed over to Palestinian civilian authority – and eventually, as well, security control. Practical and creative solutions to ensure security cooperation can be provided – some are already implemented. Each limited territorial step, as part of a long range plan, should be accompanied by steps of mutuality, agreed upon by both sides. If no agreement, no military withdrawal, until security control can be transferred. 
c. That is, unilateral civilian disengagement and withdrawal from occupied territories beyond thesecurity fence, but negotiated step-by-step military withdrawal, with increased Palestinian security responsibility in those areas added to its sovereign territory.
Thirdly, in the long run, in order to ensure viability, low-level confederative frameworks of cooperation, can be conducive, encompassing Gaza-Israel-West Bank/Palestinian Authority-Jordan.

The critical issue at this time is withdrawal from civilian occupation beyond the big settlement blocs (located along the cease-fire lines), while incremental withdrawal from military occupation can only take place when agreements are reached.


By Elizabeth Clark-Stern

Psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote in The Red Book of the distinction between “The Spirit of the Times” and “The Spirit of the Depths.” We see this vividly demonstrated when we put Ari Shavit’s acclaimed new book My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel alongside Erel Shalit’s classic work, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel. The former takes us through the history of the heroic creation of Israel, including the darkest “shadow” behaviors of the Jewish state in the 1948 massacre of the Arabs of Lydda.
In the latter work, Erel Shalit tells us why.

This is no simplistic psychological analysis. The brilliance of this Israeli Jungian analyst is that he offers no easy solutions, plumbing the paradox of the necessary heroic identity of the Jewish state, and yet, around every corner is the shadow of every hero: the beggar, the frightened one, the part of all of us that is dependent on forces outside of our control.

It is also very important to note that Erel Shalit’s book is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the inner workings of the soul. On one level Israel is the backdrop for the author to explore how shadow, myth, and projection work in all of us, regardless of our life circumstance, nationality, environment, or history. It even includes a comprehensive glossary of Jungian terms that has some of the best definitions I have ever encountered, and hence a find for readers new to Jung.

And, of course, for people who are fascinated by the scope and depth of the story of Israel, this is a simply great read. It stands alone, but read as a companion to Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, Erel Shalit’s Hero and His Shadow gives us The Spirit of the Depths in all its dimension. We may not be able to resolve the Arab/Israeli conflict, but we can learn many things from this brave, complex Israeli author, that we can apply to healing the inner and outer wars in our own lives.

The Jung Neumann Conference - A Contribution

The Jung-Neumann Conference
A Celebration of a Creative Relationship

Kibbutz Shefayim, April 24-26, 2015, Trailer FaceBook

When we started planning the Jung Neumann Conference, which took place now half a year ago, we could not know how well it would turn out.

The challenge began in 2012, when as representative of the Erich Neumann Heirs, I signed the agreement to publish the correspondence between Jung and Neumann, together with the Stiftung der Werke von C.G. Jung, and the Philemon Foundation.

After signing, Jung's grandson, Mr. Ulrich Hoerni suggested we launch the book, and hold a conference in Israel.

To fulfill this in the spirit of Jung's and Neumann's writings on the psyche in the world, on evil, ethics, and the shadow, we decided that if there were to be any profit from the conference, we would donate this.

As it turned out, we did make a small profit, and decided to contribute to two organizations:

The Way to Recovery, which brings Palestinian children and adults to treatment in Israeli hospitals. You can read about the organization and its founder, Yuval Roth, here, and on their website.

Amalia, of Road to Recovery

The other organization, Hosen (Resilience), is located in the small town of Sderot, which has suffered thousands of missile attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The organization works with post-trauma, from which many, perhaps most, in the town suffer. It is impressive how this town manages to keep life going, care for the appearance and infra-structure, as well as the psyche of its citizens.

Hilla Barzilai, director of Hosen/Resilience

While Erich Neumann did not work directly with children, after the Holocaust he was acutely aware of the need to treat children. He thus supervised child analysts in the treatment of children coming to Israel from the devastation in Europe.

While sadly there is a need for these organizations, we are pleased to have devoted a small sum of money, and much of our soul and heart, to the important causes that they serve.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Cycle of Life - David van Nuys interviews Erel Shalit

Painting by Benjamin Schiff 
You can now listen to David van Nuys from Shrink Rap Radio interviewing Erel Shalit about

You find the audio interview on the Shrink Rap Radio website.

Painting by Hagit Shahal

In The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, Shalit places Jung’s conceptualization of the transformations of consciousness over the life span alongside life cycle theories, notably those of Eric Erikson and Daniel Levinson. He also places his ideas about the arc of life in relation to Greek myth (the three Morai who spin one’s fate – but not one’s destiny - at birth) as well as biblical, Talmudic and Hasidic tradition, the Hindu Ashramas or four stages of life, pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, Dante’s Divine Comedy and fairy tales.

Shalit’s amplifications of Jung’s work on understanding the life cycle are substantial. He outlines the developmental progression through the child, the puer/puella, the adult, and the senex. His talent for integration and creative thinking is evident in bringing to bear on Jung’s thinking various psychoanalytic theorists - notably Freud, Klein, and Winnicott – as well as myth, fairy tale, comparative religion, etymology and dream material.

Where this book shines is not in a dry recitation of the psychology of transition through life’s stages but in the sense of wonder and mystery Shalit is able to articulate in relation to the problems of life all along the journey.

Erel Shalit’s books reflect his skill and experience as a clinician and thinker in the Jungian tradition who is making a major contribution to the body of psychological thinking in general and Jungian theory in particular.

From Steve Zemmelman, Containing the light, in Spring Journal, vol 92 (2015).

Painting by Benjamin Shiff

Erel Shalit's guidance through the journey of life

Writing a review of the writings of Erel Shalit is daunting. How can anyone quickly distill the expansive and loving knowledge of this brilliant thinker and writer? The pleasure of reading Shalit's books is the absorbing of his manner of drawing us into his thoughts and speculations of Jungian individuation. He is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Israel but lectures throughout the world and the increasing acknowledgement of his many books indicates his level of importance in the community of psychology.

In The Cycle of Life Shalit encourages the reader to reflect on all aspects of their time here on the earth, absorbing each of the stages of development of growing, but not dismissing the fountain of growth at the end of life. He early on gently shakes his finger at our contemporary thoughts of wanting to hide age: 'When cosmetics and plastic surgery mold a stiff and unyielding mask of youth, or rather of fictitious youthful appearance, old age cannot wear its true face of wisdom. By flattening our the valleys of our wrinkles, we erase the imprints of our character. Fixation in a narcissistic condition of an outworn mask silences the inner voice of meaning in our life.'

'Life' by Benjamin Schiff
He divides his book into the stages of life and, of course, emphasizes the Jungian exploration of the second half of life. One of the selfless manners in which Shalit writes is his sharing of quotations by other writers - including Shakespeare's excerpt from 'As You Like It' - the 'All the world's a stage/ And all the men and women merely players etc'. He honors the words of colleagues alive and passed on, making sure that we the reader receive an expansive exposure to the interpretations of others.

But where Shalit blooms is in his compassion and this comes forward in the most needed spaces. He closes his book with the following: 'As much as we in old age reflect back upon what has been satisfactory in our lives, we need, as well, to bear our failures and foregone opportunities. Even if we have managed to walk our own individual path, having been fortunate to follow the road less traveled and found our way home to a sense of meaning in our personal quest, we need to carry the unanswered questions and unknown possibilities of the road not taken.' This is the soothing message he offers at the end of his insistence that we examine our lives as a whole. He is brilliant, he is warm, and we are the better for reading him.
—Grady Harp