Guild for Psychological Studies


For over fifty years, the Guild for Psychological Studies has conducted seminars that bring together the depth psychology of Carl Jung, the Records of the Life of Jesus (Synoptic Gospels), the Hebrew Scriptures, and material drawn from myth, poetry, world religions, and the evolving images of modern culture and science. Using a process based on Socratic inquiry and dialog, seminar participants carefully attend to images and feelings, discover connections between the personal and collective psyche, and often find a new commitment to the deep and unfolding truth that has been called the Self or Soul.

You are invited to use the menus on the left to explore the seminars we offer, read about upcoming events, learn more about the people of the Guild, view a growing collection of resources, and find out how you can participate in or contribute to the Guild's work. You can use the Guild Information and Contacts link or links throughout many other pages to ask questions about the Guild in general or any particular seminar. Don't forget to browse the boxes on the right side of the home page to see the latest forum and blog posts as well as recent Guild news.

In Bleak Midwinter: A Solstice Meditation at Four Springs

Creeping darkness, thinning light, another approaching winter solstice. No matter how dark it gets, we know the season will turn toward spring.
The creeping darkness of the human heart and mind is another matter. It comes upon us at a moment’s notice, triggered by who knows what. States of despair and meaninglessness can swallow us whole.  And what of the world’s despair, the world’s bleak midwinter? Now that the heavens are empty of the gods, and history seems meaningless, what are we to do? When struck with insignificance, are we powerless to help ourselves?
What attitude is called for by the bleak midwinter, whether personal and/or existential? Within these dark states, is soul longing, is soul calling, for our attention? Is it possible to stand and face meaninglessness, within or without, and discover some truth?  Can we meet our midwinter with courage, love and openness?
Come and help us deepen our exploration of this dark season as a mirror of soul.
What question is addressed to you by this year’s dark midwinter, your inner solstice?
Silence, group discussion, expressive arts, body awareness, nature, good food and good company will help us work together as we open to the dark's own voice.
Note: a copy of the seminar brochure (PDF) is attached. 

Fri, 12/05/2014 - 6:00pm - Sun, 12/07/2014 - 2:00pm
Four Springs, Middletown, California.
Faith Mason and Hal Childs with the Casting Seeds group.
$350 plus $50 nonrefundable registration fee. (Scholarships are available; contact the Guild office for scholarship information.)

In the October 2014 Threshing Floor

Quite a bit of news in this issue. There are several thoughtful and challenging responses to my article in the last issue about the changing idea of the individual and the psychology of the future. There is also news about the evolving mission of Casting Seeds, which is now functioning as a laboratory for psychological thought and a development group for seminars and other events. There are notices about future events (more details to come) and about my having been acknowledged as a Guild leader--something for which I feel both profound gratitude to my mentors and colleagues, and a renewed commitment. The issue finishes with a story about an art work by Lisa Yount commisioned by the Guild to commemorate the fire and celebrate the rebirth of the lodge at Four Springs.



In the September 2014 Threshing Floor

 The main feature this month is an essay by Harry Henderson reflecting on the historical context of depth psychology, the ongoing shift in consciousness, and a way in which "human qualities" may continue to be relevant. Responses are welcome!

An Invitation to Soul's Discourse

How might soul be speaking about itself in the phenomena of our world today? How can psychology become adequate to the challenge of a rapidly changing world? What does this mean for us as human beings? What is happening to the very idea of the "human being"?

Some of us in the Guild have been gripped by the soul's discourse, and the urgent need for reflection. We are seeking to organize a series of discussions / workshops in San Francisco or the East Bay. We need to know whether readers of The Threshing Floor are interested in participating in such events. In particular, we would like to know:

What topics most grip you?
How often should we meet? Monthly? Twice a month? Weekly? Weekday evening or a weekend day?
Should we begin in the Fall (around October?) or Winter (January?) Are there times you would not be able to come?
What sort of format should we adopt? Presentations followed by discussion? Open-ended discussion on a chosen topic? Or a more seminar-style format with leaders bringing questions to explore through discussion, art, body movement? Perhaps a mixture of formats—an initial presentation / discussion at the first meeting, then a meeting with some experiential work, then some open discussion?
Based on your feedback and our further thinking, we will propose and design the program. Stay tuned for news … Please send your feedback to me at or phone (510) 234-8244. Thank you for your interest!
Harry Henderson



"The Psychological Difference": Berlin 2014 and Beyond

This July, Hal Childs, Faith Mason, and I returned to Berlin for the second international conference of the International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority (ISPDI). The theme this year was "the psychological difference." While this term may be unfamiliar to many readers, everyone who has participated in a Guild seminar--or indeed, undergone analysis--has encountered its reality. We have encountered an Other, something that does not belong to our ego. Something that challenges our assumptions about who we are as a person, and even our role as human beings in a vast and indifferent universe. This difference between our awareness as ego and the reality as which we live demands reflection. In his paper "Am I the Psychological Difference?: An Inquiry," Hal Childs explored how we as individuals live out the psychological difference.

In this process of reflection we allow what first appears as an Other to our ego to assume its full subjectivity. Each phenomenon of soul, whether dream, myth, or a historical phenomenon such as the industrial or the information age, has everything it needs within itself, an infinite interiority that we can experience as a series of unfolding "moments" captured in word, image, or event.

In three days of presentations we explored a variety of ways to interpret and work with "soul phenomena." For me, one of the most interesting involves "speculative sentences." In such a sentence, the predicate doesn't merely describe or elaborate on the subject. Rather than being a fixed entity, the subject undergoes a shift and changes as it works out its self-understanding. This causes the subject to appear a second time—reflected, refined, more complex. For example, the "I" (subject) that begins by saying "I am wounded" can, after working on itself, become the "I" (subjectivity) of wound-healing.

We came to the conference with an idea—that the regional meeting next year could be in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the Guild assisting in hosting it. Additionally, we would present a workshop introducing our method of working with material, as well as some individual papers. We would also organize a full Guild seminar (possibly at Four Springs) that would allow interested participants to experience the "discipline of interiority" through questions, art and movement, and individual work. This offers the possibility of taking the next step from academic reflection about psychology to practicing it in community and as individuals.
While many details would need to be worked out, our proposal was met with considerable enthusiasm by the ISPDI Executive committee and others. We will of course keep everyone posted through The Threshing Floor and the Guild website. This project will take considerable effort, but I believe it can offer great benefits both for the Guild and for the psychological community at large.
                                                  Harry Henderson

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