Poetic Epic & Personal Myth

A Writing Retreat with

Dennis Patrick Slattery

October 17-20, 2019
Truchas Peaks Place, Truchas, New Mexico

The Staircase Leading to Freud’s Consulting Room in Vienna, Up Which So Many Walked, Carrying Their Deepest Fears and Hopes

I was driven to ask myself in all seriousness: 'What is the myth you are living?'
I found no answer to this question, and had to admit that
I was not living with a myth, or even in a myth,
but rather in an uncertain cloud of theoretical possibilities... 

                          —C.G. Jung, Symbols of Tranformation, CW 5

The publication of The Red Book in 2009 was a major moment in Jungian Studies. The book, written over a period of 16 years, wears many faces: a record of Jung’s own individuation process, a memoir, a spiritual odyssey, a treatise on the birth of the heroic—and as I believe, an epic poem in the tradition of Gilgamesh, Inanna, Homer’s Odyssey, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Melville’s Moby-Dick, to name a few.

Join us as we explore all three sections of Jung's epic: Liber Primus, Liber Secundus, and Scrutinies. This often enigmatic and perplexing epic can be understood as a poetic expression of one soul’s journey towards wholeness, gathering in its pilgrimage a host of characters, contradictions, paradoxes, psychological and spiritual discoveries, as well as a series of exquisite paintings by the author.

In addition, Jung’s epic journey is as well, and by the power of analogy, our own journey as we seek a greater and deeper understanding of ourselves and others from wherever we are currently in life’s mysterious flow. Jung himself wrote that from his perspective, “analogy formation is a law which to a large extent governs the psyche” (CW 9,2, par. 414). So to read Jung’s epic is simultaneously to engage our own journey’s complexities and discoveries, insights and revelations of who we are in our own personal myth. We will, in fact, find in our explorations many correspondences to our own challenges and gifts in life. We will explore both Jung’s epic as well as our own mythic dimensions through discussion and cursive writing meditations.

Please bring a journal and pens rather than a laptop to engage the material. Please also bring a copy of The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition if you have one, though passages used will be photocopied for the group. We will also find occasions to use crayons to allow for creating images of our exploration in the spirit of Jung’s own paintings that further extend his prose. 

One need not have attended the Red Book Part 1 in March 2019 to attend this second retreat. And for those who attended Part 1, the material will not be repeated. Note: priority will be given to participants from Red Book Part 1.

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Dennis Patrick Slattery, PhD., is an Emeritus Core Faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where he has taught for the past 25 of his 45 years in the classroom. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 27 books. He has also published 200 articles in newspapers, magazines, journals, book collections and on-line journals. His books include The Idiot: Dostoevsky’s Fantastic Prince, The Wounded Body: Remembering the Markings of Flesh, with Glen Slater he co-edited Varieties of Mythic Experience: Essays on Religion, Psyche and Culture, and with Jennifer Selig he co-edited Reimagining Education: Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning. He has authored Harvesting Darkness: Essays on Film, Literature and Culture; The Beauty Between Words: Selected Poetry of Dennis Patrick Slattery and Chris Paris; Simon’s Crossing, a novel co-authored with Charles Asher; Feathered Ladder: Selected Poems of Dennis Patrick Slattery and Brian Landis; Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Plotting Your Personal Story; and Creases in Culture: Essays Toward a Poetics of Depth. More recently he has published Our Daily Breach: Exploring Your Personal Myth Through Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; A Pilgrimage Beyond Belief: Spiritual Journeys through Christian and Buddhist Monasteries of the American West; with Evans Lansing Smith he has co-edited The Letters of Joseph Campbell; with Craig Deininger he has coauthored Leaves from the World Tree: Selected Poems of Craig Deininger and Dennis Patrick Slattery; and with Jennifer Leigh Selig and Deborah Ann Quibell he has co-authored Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit. For the past 9 years he has been taking painting lessons in both acrylic and water color mediums. He offers Riting Retreats exploring one’s personal myth in the United States, Canada, Ireland and Europe. For more information, visit www.dennispslattery.com


The retreat will be held at Truchas Peaks Place, a retreat center midway between Santa Fe and Taos. Deep in the heart of New Mexico, Truchas Peaks Place is nestled high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, with panoramic views of the Truchas Peaks, the Jemez Mountains, and the Pedernal, made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings.

Please plan to arrive on Thursday at least by 4:00 pm. We will begin with a welcome reception at 5:00 pm, followed by dinner. Friday and Saturday will begin at 9:00 am and end at 5:00 pm and will include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Saturday evening will bring closure with casual conversation and a glass of wine. Sunday morning will include breakfast before you depart. The retreat will include lecture, discussion, writing, drawing, and time for sharing.