Plenary Presentations

Care of Souls

Plenary Presentations

Celebrated Jungian analyst Ann Belford Ulanov and renowned theologian Matthew Fox provide an elegant plenary leadership. Ulanov has detailed her sustained interest in Jungian inquiries into soul through decades of writing, teaching, and clinical inquiry. Fox specializes in one of Jung’s favorite care of souls mystics—Meister Eckhart.

Acclaimed international poet David Whyte will anchor this event in the poetic and contemplative body-psyche with a performance the evening of February 23.

Prior to each major plenary session, practitioners of a variety of ancient spiritual traditions will offer brief Mindfulness Moments. Download the complete schedule (PDF)→

Opening Plenaries

Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox

“Meister Eckhart and Our Search for an Expanded Soul”
Friday, February 22 – 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Jung prophetically talked about “modern man in search of a soul” and the search goes on with post-modern people. Modern consciousness has been reluctant even to talk about “soul,” much less to enlarge it. What to do? 

What better place to look than in the premodern genius of Meister Eckhart, who was so important to Jung (who among other things gives him credit for offering him the “key” to opening up the unconscious). Eckhart was also important to Thomas Merton, Karl Marx, Dr. Suzuki, Martin Buber, Eckhart, Dorothee Soelle, and John of the Cross. A giant among mystics, Eckhart says that “God is delighted to watch the soul enlarge.”

So how do we go about “enlarging” our souls? How does Eckhart assist in that enlargement? We will explore the many profound ways Eckhart invites us to think and rethink our understanding of soul and to grow it as only a deep mystic can.

“Soul Healing, World Healing: Confronting Evil in Soul and Society”
Saturday, February 23 – 9:15-10:45 a.m.

Meister Eckhart says “the soul is the world.” Clearly we cannot talk about “care of souls” without talking about “care of the world.” Jung said that the Age of Aquarius will be characterized by evil no longer being under the table but on top of the table for all to see. The question will be whether we have the will to deal with it.

Is it time to talk anew about evil? In the light of planetary ecocide brought about by climate change and facing the death of democracy in our times, how can we develop a language that goes beyond doomsday self-pity and nihilism as well as beyond denial to wrestle anew with the darkness that can encompass us? A language that goes beyond “sin talk” to wrestling with the reality of human complicity with evil? How can the mystics assist with that naming and with developing the energy of the Spiritual Warrior that we are all called to today?

About Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox holds a doctorate in spirituality from the Institut catholique de Paris, where he met his mentor, Pere Chenu, who introduced him to the Creation Spirituality tradition. He has been committed to bringing that lineage alive by way of writing, teaching, and creating educational programs for adults and inner city youth ever since. He has resurrected Western mystics such as Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, and Thomas Aquinas, among others who speak for that tradition. 

Among his 36 books translated into 70 languages are the following: Original Blessing; The Coming of the Cosmic Christ; A Spirituality Named Compassion; The Reinvention of Work; Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times; Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen; A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey; Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God….Including the Unnameable God.

Ann Ulanov

Ann Ulanov

“Soul Found and Lost”
Friday, February 22 – 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In the West, attention to spiritual and mental life originally was subsumed under the Care of Souls, as if one full river of religious and psychological currents blended indistinguishably. The soul was found and tended under care of wise spiritual mentors within or pushing the edges of traditional religions.

In the early 20th century, the river forked into two and depth psychology emerged as a separate discipline. The soul that had been found began to be lost in the developing disciplines of psychoanalysis in its proliferating schools.

In late 20th and early 21st century, where can the soul be found in the commodifying impulse of current therapies to fix the psyche in limited numbers of sessions with markers of progress to be achieved, all insurance-driven with an intention of limiting costs? Criticism of soul searching as wooly thinking, ignorance of psyche subsumed under brain research and certitudes that feelings of lostness can be remedied without including anything sacred, spiritual or to do with God.

We will explore what soul is in its many guises, its subversive persistence as part of healing, and, contra all announced certainties of having entered a post-religious—even post-spiritual—era, our recent decades show that instead, religious concerns have infiltrated politics, fundamentalisms of all kinds, and work with the psyche. The soul refuses to be refused.

“Soul Lost and Found”
Saturday, February 23 – 2:30-4:00 p.m.

People come to clinicians with an eye to soul as well as psyche because they feel their soul has been lost. Achievement of psychological functioning as the aim of treatment is not health; they seek aliveness from a deep place within that radiates outward into shared existence with others and links with something more, something transcendent, however various the descriptions of that may be.

Mixed in with the presenting conflict is the voiced and unvoiced cry, “I want to be alive, plugged into the heart of life, and to assert that this matters.” Think of rushing to the Lost and Found department hoping against hope that the valuable item we carelessly left on the subway will turn up to be ours once more, so desolate and so hopeful we are of finding the treasure again. That is the soul lost and found.

What became two rivers that forked into seemingly separate directions, now flow toward each other into one again. We will explore this co-existing of psyche and soul currents. We need both the facing of our own unconscious realm of psyche that needs our frank recognition and struggle to integrate, and the facing of soul that dwells in our body, our psyche-soma; the soul that links to what transcends us into the collective and, further, into the meaningful, the mysterious aliveness at the heart of life.

About Ann Ulanov

Ann Belford Ulanov, M.Div, PhD, LHD, is Jungian analyst in private practice New York City, Professor Emerita of Psychology and Religion Union Theological Seminary New York City, member of Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, of Editorial Advisory Board Journal of Analytical Psychology.

She is the author of many books, including: Spiritual Aspects of Clinical Work; Knots and Their Untying, Essays on Psychological Dilemmas; The Unshuttered Heart, Opening to Aliveness and Deadness in the Self; Winnicott, God, and Psychic Reality; The Psychoid, Soul and Psyche, Piercing Space-Time Barriers; with Barry Ulanov, The Psychology of Prayer.

Closing Plenary Panel

Ann Ulanov

Matthew Fox

“The Care of Souls and the Care of Mother Earth: Healing an Ailing Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World”
Sunday, February 24 – 10:40 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

How does the Care of Souls tradition help us understand and intervene in the planetary eco-crisis all around us? How do we tend to this grieving, ailing Mother Earth in our profession, in our person? A closing panel, anchored by Ann Ulanov and Matthew Fox, will constellate a community conversation about this aching dilemma facing us and our beloved planetary Home.

Special Presentation

David Whyte

“The Art and Practice of Creating a More Beautiful Mind”
Saturday, February 23 – 8:00-10:00 p.m.

With a compelling blend of poetry, humor and insight, poet, author and philosopher David Whyte will examine the role of the imagination as a faculty of perception, a central integrative intelligence able to discern the complex patterns that surround human beings. To pay attention to this unique intelligence requires courage, as it often reveals the internal and external changes that are needed to meet newly understood circumstances.

Join David Whyte for a look at the way the imagination allows us to create a central leverage point from which to act; one that relies less on engaging the will and more on a way of being in the world that awakens a rested, alert intelligence with the courage to simplify, to act, and to have a life worth living at the center of our endeavors.

David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his father’s Yorkshire. An internationally-acclaimed poet, author and speaker, he holds a degree in Marine Zoology, is an Associate Fellow at Said Business School at the University of Oxford and the recipient of honorary degrees from Neumann College and Royal Roads University. He is the author of nine books of poetry and four books of prose. His most recent work is The Bell and The Blackbird.

Mindfulness Moments

Before each plenary session in this Care of Souls conference there will be what we call a Mindfulness Moment. Undergirding our understanding of soul and profession and soul in our personal lives are the ancient psycho spiritual traditions that have elegantly survived and informed deep culture across the globe. We are selected several of these great traditions to be represented by current practitioners of these Wisdoms. Before each plenary one of these people will present a brief Mindfulness Moment which will help us settle down into our deep body and psyche selves in preparation for the feast of interactive learning and development that awaits us in this conference.

Before Matthew Fox plenary: Stella Rabaut and Donald Williamson

Stella Rabaut, former nun, retired attorney, past instructor in law school curriculum on Healing and the Law, recent Docent Administrator at Point Lobos California State Preserve and lifelong seeker of beauty and the sacred.

Donald Williamson, now retired, worked as Associate Professor of Pastoral Psychology, Duke Divinity School; Dean, Institute of Religion Texas Medical Center, Houston; Co-founder, Houston Family Institute Professor Family Medicine Baylor College of Medicine; and Senior Faculty. Leadership Institute of Seattle.

Before Ann Ulanov plenary: Judith Gordan

Judith R Gordon PhD is a psychologist in private practice in Seattle and a clinical professor in the University of Washington Department of Psychology. She has been passionately interested in integrating Western psychology and Buddhist philosophy and practice since 1977 and taught mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for depression and anxiety for several years. Her root tradition is Vipassana and she has also practiced with Thich Nhat Hanh and various Tibetan teachers.

Before closing plenary panel: David Basior

Rabbi David Basior is the Rabbi and Director of Education for the Kadima Reconstructionist Community in Seattle, WA. This progressive Jewish community has sought for almost 40 years to be “a progressive voice in the Jewish community and a Jewish voice in the progressive community.” Rabbi David began his work with Kadima in 2015 and has helped grow the community’s numbers, power, and voice. Currently, the work of Kadima focuses on issues protecting undocumented residents, issues of incarceration, inclusion of Jews of Color and gender non-conforming Jews, Palestine solidarity, and Jewish prayer and education.