Registration 2017 will open soon on the WFCRP Registration page
Decline and Ascent: The Paradoxical Passage to Elderhood
Melanie Starr Costello, Ph.D
About the Plenary Topic:
Through images, stories, poetry, and dream analysis we will explore the archetypal forces–both fierce and generative—that shape our development from mid-life onward. We will confront the cultural attitudes toward aging that wound the spirit; we will celebrate spiritual maturation as an archetypally-promoted goal of mid, late-mid, and later-life development.
To begin, Dr. Costello demonstrates how disparaging views of aging and our environmental crisis stem from the same ideological root. We look deeply into our fear of change and our fear of loss—fears that stymie the spirit and inhibit growth. We then consider change as a motive-force in reconnecting us to our roots in nature, in opening us to mystery, and in honing our intentions in relation to self, others, and our work in the world.
To promote awareness of the link between spiritual maturation and the experience of loss and renewal as we pass through time, Dr. Costello will lead a life-review meditation during Saturday’s plenary. We will then carry these reflections back into our plenary meeting on Sunday and consider the varied archetypal energies that have informed our identities and socio-spiritual roles to date. We will further consider: what is the purpose of longevity? What is wisdom? This, combined with case examples, fosters our re-construction of the portrait of the elder and the social, spiritual, and nature-based tasks of later life.
Dr. Costello will demonstrate how dream and image-work may be used as resources that help us access inner guidance. Special attention will be given to the recurrence of cosmological and elemental themes in dreams of individuals undergoing mid and later-life transformations.
Aligning psycho-spiritual maturation with the natural process, we will take up conscious aging as a spiritual path that traverses our souls’ dark nights, embraces the inextricable relationship between life and death principles, and assents to Creation as mystery.
About our Plenary Speaker:
Melanie Starr Costello, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, historian, and graduate of the C.G. Jung Institut-Zurich, and holds a private practice off Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. She earned her doctorate in the History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University. A former Assistant Professor of History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Dr. Costello has taught and published on the topics of psychology and religion, medieval spirituality, and clinical practice. Her study of the link between illness and insight entitled, Imagination, Illness and Injury: Jungian Psychology and the Somatic Dimensions of Perception, is published by Routledge press. Currently her work explores archetypal currents running through the collective psyche in our times—a topic she takes up in her workshops on the Stranger, Aging and Spirituality, and on Dream Cosmologies.