Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I will be speaking at 10 AM about the Citizen's Climate Lobby and at 2:30 PM on ecopsychology in the board room of the school.

Escuela Verde
3628 W. Pierce St.
Milwaukee, WI 
*Overflow parking behind school on Canal St. 
(Access Canal St. at 25th St. just Westof Potawatomi Casino.  Use “marked” foot bridge to cross the Menomonee river to pierce St.)
Live Music
Activities for Kids
Food Available
Panel Discussions
And FUN!
April 29, 2017

10AM to 4PM

Friday, January 6, 2017

The unabridged talk I gave at this event follows the event description.  Three speakers after me went into details about the Trump cabinet.

Day Against Denial
Monday, January 9, 5:30 pm

hosted by the Water Protectors of Milwaukee and 350 Milwaukee
517 E. Wisconsin, the Federal Building, Ron Johnson's office

Please join us in Milwaukee Monday, January 9, at the Federal building to tell Senator Johnson to reject Trump’s anti-climate Cabinet picks.
Climate activists in cities all across the country will be coming together in our Day Against Denial, urging our senators to oppose Trump’s dangerous Cabinet nominations. These nominees threaten to reverse climate treaties, roll back EPA protections, and promote dirty fuels at the expense of a clean energy future.  Facebook Event

Thank you all for coming today to show your support for the environment. As a budding entomologist in 1962 I was deeply moved by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. I didn’t want to be one of those people who sprayed DDT that was killing the songbirds and leaving us with a silent spring. So I got my PhD from Berkeley in insect pathology, microbial control of insect pests so you don't have to use chemical pesticides. The biggest concern for our species now is not DDT but putting CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.

Many scientists want to call our present age the Anthropocene Era because of the profound ways humans are shaping the planet, reconstructive activities on a par with massive volcanic eruptions of the past, tectonic shifts, and a giant meteorite hitting the planet that destroyed the Age of the Dinosaurs. If we don’t abruptly curtail CO2 emissions we will be well on the way to inflicting the grapes of wrath on our planet as described in the Book of Revelation. Our species could be responsible for taking down 70% of the other species on the planet, two thirds of the existing species being insects.

When Dick Cheney was Vice President he said we should go to war with Iraq if there was a 1% chance that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Now 97% of the real climate scientists say that humans are the main factor in the climate changes we are experiencing that will worsen for centuries to come. Why aren’t people demanding action? One reason is because the lucrative and deeply invested fossil fuel industry is engaged in a deliberate misinformation campaign to deceive the public about the human role in climate change. People like the Koch brothers, with investments in the Canadian tar sands industry, are big sponsors of the conservative ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange. A goal in ALEC is to deny the human factor in climate change by sponsoring groups like the Heartland Institute with their annual conference of deniers. The British Royal Society sent two letters to ExxonMobil in 2006 chastising them for funding organizations attempting to convince the populace there was serious disagreement among scientists about the human factor in climate change. One ad agency hired was the same one used by Phillip Morris in 1993 to create doubt that second hand smoke can cause cancer as the Surgeon General's report in 1992 had indicated.

I am also a Jungian psychoanalyst and have written on Jung as being the prototypical ecopsychologist because in 1940 he proclaimed there had to be a paradigm shift in the West, what he called a “New Age” and an “Age of Aquarius.” This new age will undoubtably have an ecological framework because the pathologies in the environment are making us painfully aware that we are part of the environment and live in a reciprocal relationship with it.

An important aspect of ecopsychology, which studies how human perspectives, attitudes, values, and behaviors affect the environment, is that we are all capable of a much deeper connection with nature than most of us currently experience. Carl Sagan, who in 1992 as co-chair of the Joint Appeal by Science and Religion for the Environment, said that unless we can establish a sense of the sacred about the environment it will be destroyed because the forces aligned against it were too great. Now 25 years later we are all inspired by the courageous protests of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in trying to stop the pipeline going through their sacred sites and possibly polluting the sacred waters of the mighty Missouri River.  That pipeline would carry Bakken oil from fracking in North Dakota, very dirty oil obtained by injecting explosive and carcinogenic chemicals deep into the earth.  The sand used in fracking comes from the beautiful driftless area in Wisconsin where sand mining leaves ugly scars on the landscape and potentially subjects people to silicosis lung diseases.

We can all be inspired by a vision of a Teton Sioux holy man, Black Elk, who as a 9 year-old boy in 1874 had a near death experience for 12 days. One part of his vision was of a mighty flowering tree growing in the center of a sacred circle comprised of the hoops of all the nations on the planet. His people were just one of the hoops as “children of one father and one mother”, the flowering tree. For an indigenous person, the nations would include the plant and animal nations as well, among them being the insect nation.

We have so much to learn from our Native America brothers and sisters. Out of a basic sense of love for each other and the environment as they can teach us, we must oppose the Trump deniers he wants to put in his cabinet. As the Lakota Sioux say, mitaquaye oyasin,  “we are all related”; the two-leggeds, four-leggeds, six-leggeds, standing brothers (the trees), moving brothers (water), etc.

May it be so.

Thank you.

Other essays on ecopsychology on this blog site include "Hunger Games from a Jungian, Political, and Environmental Perspective" and "A Jungian Perspective on the Most Important Issue of Our Time--Climate Change." There is also a Star Wars essay and "Guns and the American Psyche."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars - The Force Awakens

Star Wars  The Force Awakens

The Emergence of the Archetypal Feminine and Discovering a Personal Access to the Force

Dennis Merritt, PhD, Jungian Analyst and Ecopsychologist

The Force Awakens arrives at a propitious moment in the history of planet Earth. Opening days before the 2015 winter solstice and the Christian version of its celebration, its ending can be interpreted as a hope that individuals and cultures will turn towards the light of greater consciousness and have the courage to confront the roots of terrorism, violence, and the harsh realities of our deteriorating environment.

1.     The Dark Side of Life

The Dark Side in The Force Awakens is led by Supreme Leader Snoke, his generals, and a mysterious leader hell bent on finding and eliminating the last of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker. Skywalker went into exile after one of his students went over to the Dark Side. The faces of evil in real life are clearly evident in the leaders of Boko Haran, Isis, and the Muslim couple responsible for the killings in San Bernardino. Where does one draw the line on the question of evil? We see the disturbed young men who murdered children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary and moviegoers at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. We are horrified by the policeman who pumped 16 bullets into a young black man on a Chicago thoroughfare. More subtle but far deadlier in the long run are the multitude of faces that created the systems, particularly in America, that funnel wealth to the top 1% of the population and deny the overwhelming scientific evidence of human induced climate change. Severe wealth inequality leads to a deteriorating quality of life for millions in terms of health, housing, educational opportunities, and increasing violence. Delaying action on the elimination of fossil fuels means greater losses occurring sooner from massive droughts, floods, severe storms, food and water shortages, and the creation of millions of climate refugees. We are all complicit in environmental degradation, for the activities of ours species will be responsible for the elimination of 30 to 50% of the other species on the planet mostly through the adverse effects of climate change. The strange December weather in the US is a timely reminder that all is not well in Bethlehem and beyond.

2.     The Force

What is the Force that can be awakened to counter evil in its many forms? In Star Wars it is defined as an energy that pervades the universe in and around everything, best described as chi energy by the Chinese.  Subtle imbalances in the bodies’ chi can be detected by body workers, sensitive individuals, and in dreams. The energies can be adjusted, but if unaddressed for too long they lead to organic damage. Western medicine is particularly good in this final stage by using an array of drugs and sophisticated operations to attack the problems. This final level in a culture and in politics is what is portrayed in The Force Awakens where it takes dramatic, heroic efforts to defeat the forces of darkness and death.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Myth and The Modern World Symposium

Myths and the Modern World
A Six-Part Symposium at the *Stayer Center, Marian University
Presented by Marian University and the Hanwakan Center

Sunday Afternoons 1:00 – 3.30pm, Feb. 15th – Mar. 22nd 2015

Myths orient people to the metaphysical dimension, explain the origins and nature of the cosmos, validate social issues, and, on the psychological plane, address themselves to the innermost depths of the psyche. - Joseph Campbell

Symposium Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Mythic Realm Within and Without
Dennis Merritt

Humans have always understood themselves and their relationship to nature by stories with the Big Stories being the myths and the mythic base of all religions.  Myths emerge from the mytho-poetic dimension of human experience, what Carl Jung called the realm of the archetypes and the collective unconscious.  Myths set the baseline for the values, ethics and patterns of relationships in a culture and the perceptions and responses to nature.  Individuals and cultures get cut off from this foundation by an overly rational and overly scientific worldview, but the connection to nature and the mythic, symbolic realm survives in our dreams.

Sacred Landscapes and Indigenous Sites in Wisconsin
Herman Bender

The Lakota and Cheyenne traditions perceive the Black Hills as both a spiritual and real world reflection of the powers in the sky. An area in southeastern Wisconsin may be an even more ancient embodiment of these traditions. Herman Bender has made perhaps the most important archeological discoveries in America over the past two or three decades that includes extensive petroforms (sacred arrangements of stones) in the Fond du Lac area going back 4500-5000 years. His first discovery was a medicine wheel aligned to the sun.  Sometimes called ‘calendar sites’, the medicine wheel (a sun circle) is anything but that if one understands the difference between science and religion, the profane and the profound. The stone alignments discovered are even more significant.  There are two,  each configured as a giant human being; one as the constellation we call Taurus, the other Scorpius.  They reflect the night sky and are aligned to stars rising over particular points on the horizon.  They symbolically present the union of heaven and earth, the sacred union of the archetypal masculine and the feminine, as ceremonially experienced and celebrated by indigenous peoples in Wisconsin’s past.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Guns and the American Psyche

The issues of gun violence and gun control will not be resolved unless addressed at the most basic level--the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Even the gore of Sandy Hook barely moved the needle towards significant changes in gun control, implying a need for a more archetypal approach to the problem. (1)

The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to be the mythic foundation of America as a nation of laws. Archetypically the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are in the realm of the Bible: they are like the Ten Commandments for Americans. They strike the collective American psyche as the Word of God in a nation without a religious foundation, an important aspect of our uniqueness during the Age of the Enlightenment when they were written. (2)

The Second Amendment right “to keep and bear arms” is loaded with archetypal imagery in the guns themselves. There is a fierce and frightening beauty in these technological marvels of relative simplicity in design. With soul-frightening noise the bearer can project great and deadly force with these phallicy objects. The Lakota Sioux say such objects have great wakan, great power; archetypal power in a sacred sense. A gun in one's hand engages an ultimate archetype—death. Guns can impart a deadly sense of power to those feeling fearful and disempowered, but a power that moves one towards black-and white, good-and-evil distinctions because of the life-and-death potential guns wield. The power to kill and maim can quickly sweep the bearer into the domain of the god of war, Ares/Mars, the god behind the intoxication of gang warfare. An individual or a group can take justice into their own hands, subverting a society of laws.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Living Simply, An Important Aspect of Living Sustainably

(The following presentation was given at 10th Annual Sustainability Summit and Exposition held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on March 6-7, 2013 <www.sustainabilitysummit.us>)

Americans are not living in a very happy place right now. There are looming threats to an already problematic health care system. Wages have been stagnant for decades and two-income families struggle to keep their heads above water. Meanwhile, the 1% are making off like bandits. A spate of bad weather phenomena is making us uneasy about the developing apocalyptic dimensions of climate change. The American Dream seems to be slipping through our fingers.

There are many and complex reasons for these problems, but today I will focus on an issue that goes to the core of our unhappiness—consumerism. Seventy percent of our economy is driven by consumerism and the American consumer and the American economy supports a substantial proportion of the world's economy through our exports and imports.

There are two main problems with consumerism. First, our poor planet can't sustain the high levels of consumption in America and the rest of the developed economies. We are destroying the very fabric of our existence as we contaminate our air and water. We engage in ever riskier means of obtaining oil and gas; runoff of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides pollute our streams and rivers; and we are contemplating an open pit mine in northern Wisconsin that will destroy an entire watershed feeding into Lake Superior and sustaining an Indian tribe. The second major problem with consumerism is its very premise---you can buy your way to happiness This runs contrary to every form of perennial wisdom. “Can't buy me love!” the Beatles sang.

Why is consumerism so powerful? Again, there are many and complex reasons but, as I see it, there are two outstanding factors. The first major problem is the corporation as the dominant economic form. Corporations are given the rights of a person but international corporations are often more powerful than people's governments as they suppress worker's rights and environmental standards in the name of greater profits. Corporations are amoral at best; they have no concern for any children or grandchildren let alone the seventh generation. Their only concern is with making a profit for the shareholders in their quarterly reports, and most of the shareholders are very wealthy people.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View

News Release - April 17, 2012 - Just Published:
Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View  — The Dairy Farmer's Guide to the Universe Volume IV
by Dennis L. Merritt

Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects explores the environment, with the Midwest as an example, using traditional Jungian and Hillmanian approaches to deepen our connection with the land, the seasons, and insects.

The Dalai Lama said how we relate to insects is very important for what it reveals much about a culture’s relationship with the psyche and nature.

"I had several Big Dreams in my last year of training at the Jung Institute in Zurich, including a single image dream of a typical Wisconsin pasture or meadow scene. This was the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen because it shown with an inner light, what Jung called a numinous or sacred dream. Since returning to Wisconsin I have let the mystery and power of that dream inspire me to learn and experience as much as possible about the land and the seasons of the upper Midwest, a process of turning a landscape into a soulscape."

"The means of doing this are presented in Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View, volume IV of The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe—Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology. This involves the use of science, myths, symbols, dreams, Native American spirituality, imaginal psychology and the I Ching. It is an approach that can be used to develop a deep connection with any landscape, meeting one of the goals of ecopsychology. Carl Sagan believed that unless we can re-establish a sense of the sacred about the earth, the forces leading to its destruction will be too powerful to avert."
—Dennis L. Merritt

Front Cover: A Monarch butterfly on Buddleia in Olbrich Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin. This “King of the Butterflies” is probably the best known of the North American butterflies and is the chosen image for the Entomological Society of America. The caterpillar feeds on the lowly milkweed, genius Asclepias, named after the Greek god of healing. The plant and the insect are toxic to most organisms. The insect is known for its uniquely long and complicated migrations. Photo by Chuck Heikkinen.

DENNIS L. MERRITT, Ph.D., is a Jungian psychoanalyst and ecopsychologist in private practice in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A Diplomate of the C.G. Jung Institute of Analytical Psychology, Zurich, Switzerland, he also holds the following degrees: M.A. Humanistic Psychology-Clinical, Sonoma State University, California, Ph.D. Insect Pathology, University of California-Berkeley, M.S. and B.S. in Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has participated in Lakota Sioux ceremonies for over twenty-five years which have strongly influenced his worldview.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles.