a visit by spirit

He came just before dawn
my first companion in chains
the father of four sons
who died
exhaling his last fevered breath
onto my back
now he returns
breathing softly onto my worn flesh
he whispers in my ear
words I cannot understand
but  I know it is him
telling me of the pain
the joy of leaving his body
the apprehension of giving up life.
I listen intently
to know what my life
could be on another journey
a different kind of journey.

He does not touch me
will not touch me
unless I say
take me.

Pushed forward
by the cradle rock of the ship,
I smell him
not as when we were chained brothers
with the pungency of vomit,
bloody sweat sticking to our salt bodies,
but different.

Slight guava scent after first morning rain.

I am tempted to touch him,
let him take me

beyond where my captured body lay
but a great fear grabs me.

Squeezes my heart.
Holds my breath.
I cannot release, free myself.

And so he leaves me with my fear
and the terror of this life.

From, Journey: The Middle Passage, Psychological Perspectives, v. 59, Issue 4

A Day in August

 Four hundred years ago the White Lion arrived in Hampton, Virginia,following it’s ocean voyage from Britain.  This ship’s arrival and its occupants were to contribute to the creation of an American society that combined all that many of us hold dear, and paradoxically that which many of us have the strongest desire to change.  Aboard the White Lion were twenty-plus enslaved Africans stolen from Angola. These men and women, were the ancestors of African Americans who were sold throughout Southern states, building an economically strong plantation system that amassed wealth for white America.

 Many of us who seek change in our American social system wish to increase social justice.  This type of justice points to a history of slavery and racism in the early American colonies and through four hundred years of social injustice.  Injustice that included not only economic suffering, but also immense psychological and mental trauma. 

It is difficult to separate Africanist suffering into strands of economic, gender, educational.  These and more are so evenly braided together—from our American Constitution, to our contemporary education system.  Not one place of our American society and psyche has been untouched by the arrival of the White Lion Africans who came ashore that day in August.

Engaging the psychological work of healing intergenerational trauma, recognizing  cultural complexes,  understanding archetypal DNA and epigenetics involved in attachment theory, related to the African Holocaust, binds us. All of us—as Americans.  There is often a wish, perhaps as an aspect of a racial complex, to forget, create amnesia regarding those first African American ancestors.  However, it rests with all of us who live today to remember them as creating the path for millions who followed.  Their journey was one of suffering, as was that of their descendants.  My writing is to remember and honor those first Angolan Africans stolen and brought to America. It is to remember them with love and compassion because their path has been our path, and we have not yet finished the journey. 

Dr. Fanny Brewster is a Jungian member analyst with PAJA,  Professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the author of The Racial Complex:  A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race. (Routledge 2019). Dr. Brewster is available through her website, www.fannybrewster.allyou.net/

The Delphic Oracle Finds a Voice

The Delphic Oracle Finds a Voice

“And then at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times.”

 This is a quote from a 22-year-old woman who was raped while unconscious. Her attacker, a former Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted her was sentenced to only 6 months plus probation.

One night in January, 2015, two Stanford University graduate students biking across campus spotted a freshman thrusting his body on top of an unconscious, half-naked woman behind a dumpster. In March 2016, a California jury found the attacker, a former student, 20-year-old Brock Allen Turner guilty of three counts of sexual assault. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in prison. He was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation. The judge’s defense of his light sentence was based on the premise that he didn’t want his sentence to have too serious an impact on this young man’s apparently bright and shining life.

However, at his sentencing his victim asked to be allowed to address her attacker directly. Focusing her gaze on him, she began, her statement:

“You don’t know me but you have been inside me and this is why we are here today.”

She continued detailing the severe impact his actions had on her from the time she learned that she had been assaulted by a stranger while unconscious, to the grueling trial during which Turner’s attorneys argued in the usual fashion that she had eagerly consented (while unconscious or before!).

In her passionate confrontation of her attacker, it appears she had hoped to impact his complete indifference to her suffering, and the life changing effect his actions had on her. Because the rule of law, the justice system, and the disrespectful attitude towards rape victims didn’t support and underscore her cry for a human response, it was not heeded. Her attacker remained coldly and arrogantly wedded to his perspective on his actions. He also remained the victim of society’s lack of response to the violence involved in sexual assault. Despite her being unconscious during the act, he maintained that she encouraged it.

The victim’s personal outrage was focused on the issue that even after being convicted, Turner failed to tell the truth, failed to acknowledge that he sexually assaulted her, failed to acknowledge that his act was one of violence, and above all failed to show any remorse, or any feeling for her, the woman he had assaulted. In short, he took no responsibility for his actions, adding a blood-curdling note to his absurd arrogance, an arrogance, which the judge seconded in his opinion expressed through his light sentencing, and seconded again by Turner’s father who felt the sentence was too serious a punishment for “twenty minutes of action.”

Apparently, Turner’s inability to feel the impact of his actions is supported by his father’s inability to discern the difference between sex and rape. However, Joe Biden “filled with furious anger” provided the necessary sacred counterpoint, in a public letter to this unknown woman, a woman, he calls “all women.” He began, “I do not know your name — but I know that a lot of people failed you that terrible January night and in the months that followed. I am in awe of your courage for speaking out—for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim of human dignity.” “And while the justice system has spoken in your particular case, the nation is not satisfied.”

With his hand in her hand, Biden and the embodied form of the “dignified voice of women,” are attempting to revive respect for women, and correspondingly and perhaps less understood, in this narrative, respect for men. There are four victims here: a man, who is less human than perhaps he could be and at the same time refusing to be further informed; a woman he made, with malicious intent, the receptacle for his inhumanity; an Apollonian consciousness uninformed by its feminine counterpart; and above all, the soul.

The difference between sex and rape was obliterated when the chthonic Python was vanquished by the sun-hero Apollo. This powerful distinction descended back into the earth, subsumed by the things created by man’s “enlightened” consciousness alone. This is a story told by the narration of myth in the way only myth can accomplish.

So the story goes as I remember it and attempt to retell it:

In the center of the world, at a place where roads crossed, the intersection of two fault lines enter into one another, symbolizing the union of opposites, a fissure opened into the black depths of the earth. Water flowed from the Castalian spring revealed by the fissure. These waters carried the sacred understandings of the mother, the beginning of all things. This place was called Delphi (Delphhoi), the womb, and in its cave sanctuary lived a shamanic priestess called the Pythia—serpent woman. Her prophetic power came from a she-dragon in the Castalian spring, the unconscious psyche, the evanescent unconscious which she brought into the light, providing the original moment of suture between what lay in the dark and the unknown and what is illuminated by the sun, by consciousness.

The chthonic Python, Pythia was vanquished by the sun-hero Apollo. He demonized the she-serpent (as told by Homer, in his Hymn to Apollo) and separated her from the waters of the shrine whose guardian she was. He violently seized the sanctuary and created a shrine to himself. His seizure was accompanied by rape and murder and thus power, and dominance was introduced. With this conquest, the unconscious feminine descended deep into the earth and disappeared. Now, there was only one element, the bright sun, and consciousness. It is said, that the Earth, however, struck back, sending up dreams from the deep, “which revealed unto the city of mortals, the past and the future,” preventing the she-serpent’s voice from being permanently silenced. (Dempsey, 21)

With this Apollonian victory, conquest, colonization of the other replaced dialogue; hostile take-over replaced union; rape replaced conjunction—the transformation of consciousness by the unconscious.

We are now left trying to re-create this space of reflection, the space where consciousness is enlarged through its relationship with the unconscious, the space where heart and mind meet and transform one another. Every now and then we are blessed to hear the voice of the chthonic feminine again. Sometimes a man speaks it, a man who is gifted with holding the opposites, a consciousness informed by its unconscious opposite. In this case however, the perfect voice emerges, the voice of the cast aside, devalued feminine, comes back to haunt us with its numinous truth.

I count the grains of sand on the beach and measure the sea

I understand the speech of the mute and hear the voiceless

—Delphic Oracle [Herodotus, I, 47]

Joan Golden-Alexis, Ph.D. is a Jungian psychoanalyst and psychologist in New York City. Her practice consists of individuals as well as couples. (drjgolden@earthlink.net)

Dempsey, T, The Delphic Oracle: its early history, influence and fall

Image Credit:
Apollo killing Python, A 1581 engraving by Virgil Solis for Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book I.


Even though we are six months away from the American presidential election, it feels that we have been engaged in a Collective intense psychological energetic movement for several years. I believe that this energy gathered force at the election of President Barack Obama almost eight years ago, and has gained expression for the most part, in our obstructionist American Congress. The topic that dominates my thoughts in terms of the election, and all the Collective material that accompanies it, is the issue of racial relations and racism. As a part of a much smaller Jungian Collective, I consider these issues partly through a Jungian lens.

Jung addressed the topic of racial relations in America in several places in his writing, specifically in an article titled, “The Complications of American Psychology”. As Jungians, we sometimes forget that Jung spoke at different times about African Americans, and what their presence meant for American society. These words were not usually complimentary. As we continue listening, and wondering about the racism that has emerged from the American political Shadow, during this present election cycle, it does bring to mind Jung’s own difficulty with claims of anti-Semitism.

There are some—Jungian and others, who might wish for us to continue under the darkness of denial in terms of racism, not race—because we are all of one race. However, I think Jungian conversations about the need for diversity in our Jungian communities is very important. This is especially true as we face more directly the negative Collective voices that have arisen in support of Donald Trump’s election. These voices have been present even before the election of President Barack Obama, but have now found an icon, a leader who can push an agenda for the common “white” man. They now have a movement. Many have compared them to the Fascist Brown Shirts. We see that the Ku Klux Klan has endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy.

It could be distasteful for some to read my thoughts about our Jungian Collective in light of the current Collective electoral racial tensions. This has been one of our problems as an American Jungian Collective—the lack of giving voice to the issue of racial complexes and our own historical lineage of prejudice against African Americans as contained within Jungian writings, even if (hopefully), not practiced in the clinical rooms. It appears essential that we begin to open our minds and express our voice towards seeing the light—the fact of our American multicultural society. The roots of Jungian psychology have offered a rich possibility for learning, growing and doing the wonderful work of Depth Psychology. We understand the need for growing in consciousness. Inviting dialogues regarding racial issues and racism is the place in the American Jungian soil that must be deepened. Jung set a standard in this area that does not suit our contemporary multicultural society.

There has been, with very few exceptions, a silence in our American Jungian Collective regarding issues of racial divide, Jungian thought on this matter and the historical language that permeates classical Jungian texts in regards to African Americans. I do not believe that we can remain in this silence, continue our reading of words such as “primitive” and “savage”, claiming theories such as “lower level of consciousness” belonging to those of Africanist ancestry while ignoring the multiculturalism of our broader American Collective.

The Make America Great Again movement brings us back to a time when people of color and African Americans in this country, were politically, socially and educationally disenfranchised. The language of rhetoric of this movement places us squarely in the consciousness of the post-Reconstruction era with its Jim Crow laws, lynching of African Americans and the psychological theories of Eugenics. There are those who would say my reasoning is outdated or inaccurate. Listen to the voice of Donald Trump and many of his followers. Read Even the Rat was White: A Historical View of Psychology by Robert V. Guthrie. Maybe, we can once again read Michael V. Adams in The Multicultural Imagination: Race, Color and the Unconscious.

My words are not written to encourage you to go out and vote for or against any particular candidate. Rather, I hope it helps us consider our own Jungian lineage, and how we can develop our own consciousness in terms of racism, and racial complexes within our American Jungian communities. It seems time that we deepen our roots regarding these issues, spreading them so that we contribute to the blossoming of a tree of life, that is worthy of being in our American Jungian Collective garden.


Adams, Michael V. 1996. The Multicultural Imagination: “Race”, Color and the Unconscious. New York: Routledge
Boa, Fraser. 1994. The way of the dream: Conversations on Jungian dream interpretation with Marie-Louise von Franz. Boston: Shambhala.
Brewster, Fanny. (2013). Wheel of fire: The African American dreamer and cultural consciousness, in Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche 7:1 pp 70-87
Guthrie, R. 2004. Even the rat was white: A historical view of psychology. Boston: Pearson Education.
Maidenbaum, Aryeh, ed. 2002. In Jung and the shadow of anti-Semitism. Newbury, MA: Red Wheel Weiser.

Fanny Brewster, PhD., M.F.A.

Dr. Fanny Brewster is a Jungian analyst in private practice in New York City where she completed her analytical training. She is a lecturer and workshop presenter on Jungian related topics. In December, she gave a workshop through the IAAP in Rome, Italy on the topic of “Black Lives Matter and Jungian Psychology”. Dr. Brewster is a writer of poetry and nonfiction. Her most recent poems have been published in Deep South Magazine and Evening Street Press. Poems are forthcoming in the Psychological Perspectives Journal where she will be the featured poet of that issue. Her nonfiction book African Americans and Jungian Psychology: Leaving the Shadows is forthcoming this year by Routledge Publishing.

Ode to a Black South Carolina Teen

White on Black…White on White

A man knocked over her son in the subway. You feel your own body wince. He’s okay, but the son of a bitch kept walking. She says she grabbed the stranger’s arm and told him to apologize: I told him to look at the boy and apologize. Yes, and you want it to stop, you want the child pushed to the ground to be seen, to be helped to his feet, to be brushed off by the person that did not see him, has never seen him, has perhaps never seen anyone who is not a reflection of himself. (Rankine, p. 17)

I say to my husband, “Let me read to you from Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, she captures the basic destructiveness of racism, how it accumulates. With no way to call out injustice, there is no way of putting injustice after injustice behind. It lodges in the body and is held buried in the flesh. (p.63) You can’t turn the sound of the pain down. You can’t block it out, move on as you would like.” (p.66) I say to my husband, “You insistently punctuate every painful moment with the words, ‘move on,’ and maybe that is not possible.”

He replies, “I know what it is to be Black, how to live as a Black man. There is nothing I can learn anymore. It is very difficult to be Black. No matter where you go, (he has emigrated from France) what country you settle in, no matter what you do, it is always the same. You are stopped in doing what you want to do. It is something you carry all your life, you can’t hide it, and you may find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It appears as if they flush you out, and there is always that hidden panic suddenly emerging, and it all comes back to you, surging through your veins.” I ask, “Why didn’t you ever tell me this before, we have been together for many years?”

My husband doesn’t hear me, he can no longer hear words, he is in the middle of saying them. He continues for an hour punctuating his twenty five-year silence with the refrain, “I could have been killed. It it clear that it would have been worse in every instance, if I had spoken up for myself.” He now speaks the words that have been lodged in his throat for 50 years. He sits close to me for longer than he has ever done before.

His words open something that hadn’t opened when my first boss, Archie, a Black man, tries to help me work with Black teens, tries to help me know as much as a White American can know about what these teens’ lives are like and will continue to be like no matter what we do. I respond, “I know how it feels, I am Jewish in the White Anglo Saxon world of Greenwich Connecticut.” He quietly but insistently says, “No, you don’t. If you are scared, sense danger, you can always hide that part of you, the part of you that you sense is despised.

I am silent, suddenly discovered, I do not admit to him the many times I have done just as he suggests. I hide who I am to resist being scorned. I cave regularly in the face of hatred directed at me, personally and not personally. Having hidden in this fashion, the hatred is now in me and mine for all time. And so I try to form a mantra, to punctuate the pain. But it must contain words that respect that pain.

“you’re not sick, not crazy not angry not sad—it’s just this, you’re injured.” (Rankine, p. 145)

I acknowledge for the first time that,

“The worst injury is feeling you don’t belong so much to you” (p. 146)

I wish that I could say that the image of a 300-pound policeman slamming a Columbia, South Carolina 16-year-old Black teenager to the ground, as a method of resolving an infraction against the school rules, trumps all the horrendous images that I am holding in my mind’s eye. Instead, it melts, melds into many others, glued together by the blood of those moments, their blood, and now mine, as I can’t separate myself from these experiences any longer.

Pounded by the sounds, the emotions, the images, my blood fuses with their blood. These people are killed in the line of living their lives. They do not have the opportunity to protest. Jorden Russell Davis, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray are dead. Their last moments are thankfully witnessed and recorded by friends, bystanders who now form the Greek chorus sounding through image and word the crimes against the self, and the crimes against the sacredness of life. Knowing, seeing what happened, happens, doesn’t stop our lives, but we have to weave around them to continue. We cannot simply move forward in a straight line.

But this young girl wasn’t killed in the line of finding, living her life, she lives, and she does protest. Perhaps she is lucky that it all happens in a school situation, which in itself limits the expression of murderous rage directed against her as she attempts to fight for a space for her own humanity.  She tries to hold on to her phone; she tries to hold on to her right to stay in the classroom. She fights very hard to hold on to her right to be somebody. She does it in the wrong way, at the wrong time, but she does it for the right reasons. Her actions are not pathological, but generative of a self that has not given up wanting something from the society of which she is a member. Her actions considered in this context, are dignified and courageous, demanding a place of respect in a society that has offered her little respect, little place, and little legitimacy—a society which has rules in place that allow her to be brutally assaulted if she asserts herself in this fashion. In the most profound sense her actions express a deep connection to—not dissociation from—all that she knows about the society in which she lives, and all that she understands of her role in it.

I am learning a lot about courage from this young girl, a girl that has nobody, but is somebody; I am learning how to face some of the horrible truths embedded in the society in which I live; I am learning how to heal myself, help heal my love ones, and how to heal the people who seek me out as a professional and hope that I might somehow understand.

Joan Golden-Alexis, Ph.D. is a Jungian psychoanalyst and psychologist in New York City. Her practice consists of individuals as well as couples. (drjgolden@earthlink.net)


Rankine, Claudia. Citizen, An American Lyric. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2014.

Image Credit:

Toyin Odutola

Title: Uncertain, yet Reserved. (Adeola. Abuja Airport, Nigeria.), 2012

Pen ink and acrylic ink on board

20 x 30 inches

  1. 86-87, Citizen by Claudia Rankine