Don’t ask ‘How can things possibly get any worse in 2023?’

Used to be the worst thing that routinely happened with each new year was writing last year’s date on checks for several weeks. Now, I probably write one or two checks a year since online banking takes care of most of the bills. So, that’s the least of my worries.

Parade Entertainment Graphic

Since I’m superstitious, I try not to predict doomsday scenarios great and small because, well, fate likes pulling questions and predictions like that out from under us so it (fate) can provide what we fear most. I tend to agree with Carl Jung’s idea that “the more you resist anything in life, the more you bring it to you.”

That doesn’t mean we should do nothing while chaos reigns supreme on our doorstep. It’s the personal worry that draws fate our way, not actions meant to improve everything on our doorsteps, home towns, and possibly the world.

We see on the news that shooter incidents have increased, that police are looking the other way as shoplifting (often brazen) increases day by day, that sending Patriot Missiles to Ukraine risks Russian nuclear attacks, and that the seas are rising. I think most of us would prefer to see these problems go away. And yet, I suspect most of us are making them go away by covering our ears and eyes in an ostrich-head-in-the-sand “solution” to problems.

My hope for 2023 is that more people look at what’s happening and fight against it rather than pretending they’re not involved.


One person can make a difference, a concept I explored in “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”


Aligning oneself with change with the ‘I Ching’

I  no longer remember what led me to the Book of Changes known as the I Ching. Most likely it was something Carl Jung wrote. He was a friend of sinologist Richard Wilhelm (1873-1930) who brought to the western mind the first translation of the I Ching, a work that so impressed Jung that he wrote a forward to it. I believe it was first translated into English in 1951 and, of all the translations, some say it is still the best. 

According to Princeton University Press, “The I Ching, or Book of Changes, a common source for both Confucianist and Taoist philosophy, is one of the first efforts of the human mind to place itself within the universe. It has exerted a living influence in China for 3,000 years, and interest in it has been rapidly spreading in the West.”

The universe, we suspect, is always in a state of flux, sometimes favoring things we may consider doing and sometimes not. The I Ching when used as an oracle shows us whether or not conditions are right for our plans just as a weather report tells us whether today is a good day to put out to sea. Most sailors wouldn’t begin a sea voyage in a hurricane. Likewise, when considering conditions with the I Ching, those with a Taoist perspective wouldn’t begin a project on a day when doing so goes against the universal flow.

In his foreword to the Wilhem edition, Jung said, “For more than thirty years I have interested myself in this oracle technique, or method of exploring the unconscious, for it has seemed to me of uncommon significance. I was already fairly familiar with the I Ching when I first met Wilhelm in the early nineteen twenties; he confirmed for me then what I already knew, and taught me many things more.”

As an oracle, used for divination or for meditation, The I Ching is–so to speak–like a wise and all-knowing companion on one’s life’s journey. I probably started using the I Ching in high school and, basically, found that when I used it often, life just seemed to go more smoothly. I still have my original copy, though I’ve supplemented it with Rudolph Ritsema and Stephen Karcher’s I Ching: The Classic Chinese Oracle of Change [The First Complete Translation with Concordance].

The publisher’s description said, “We need the book when we stand at a crossroad of the soul.” I agree. The book’s answers to a flippant question are often like getting one’s hands slapped So, don’t ask it where you left your car keys or if you’re going to “get lucky” on your date tonight.

In this 1995 edition, the authors write, “The I Ching is a diviner’s manual or active sourcebook for what C. G. Jung called the archetypal forces. It organizes the play of these forces into images so that an individual reading becomes possible. . . These forces represent the flow of life and the experience of its meaning, its way or tao.”

Consistent use of the I Ching slowly changes an individual view of and approach to life. This benefit cannot be overstated.

I believe that most of our problems come from the arrogance of living outside the universe, a belief the I Ching would caution the seeker against.



‘You’re not who you think you are’

The title of this blog is one of the more provacative statements made by Carolyn Elliott in her exhillarating 2020 book Existential Kink.

Existential Kink: Unmask Your Shadow and Embrace Your Power (A method for getting what you want by getting off on what you don't) by [Carolyn Elliott]It’s tempting to respond, “Oh yeah, well then who the hell am I?”

Students of metaphysics, medicine, psychology, philsophy, and new age ideals–among others–have pondered the who am I really question for years. I don’t really feel competent to write a review of Elliott’s book here. She draws on a lot of areas, many of which we have stumbled across but never put together into a coherent system, about why we aren’t who we think we are and why our positive affirmations don’t seem to work.

One key is that we are more than our ego (in terms of ego, superego, and Id) and that the ego tends to ignore the unconscious part of the Self as though it’s either unimportant or doesn’t exist. So, from Elliott’s perspective–which agrees with Carl Jung–who we really are includes the part of ourselves we tend to deny. When we do this, the unconscious part of ourselves is actually running the show, that is to say, (in Jung’s terms) the shadow.

The answer, which appears counterinitutive, is integrating the Self rather than denying/disliking most of it. I leave that idea here as something to ponder. Jung says that the part your Self that you don’t include in your conscious approach to life will come upon you a fate. Elliott mentions that the whole Self always gets what it wants and that much of what we do in our daily lives amounts to magic we don’t realize we’re practicing.

Personally, I think I need to keep studying her book (or else).


My novel “The Sun Singer” is a hero’s journey book, one means of integrating the Self.


“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Springtime and Easter bring thoughts of renewal as nature–and, perhaps, men–leave the often misunderstood darkness of Winter. That this brings many of us a reaffirmation of our spirituality, regardless of the name of our religion, cannot be doubted. Or, perhaps if can be doubted, but for many of us renewal is as natural as the seasons.

Symbols of renewal. Wikipedia Photo

Carl Jung, in his Red Book, referred to the spirit of the times as a force or set of forces that drew men into the temporal clutches of popular thinking. We often lose confidence in ourselves because the spirit of the times often seems so chaotic, fragile, focused on expedient ends, and sometimes predicts that one kind of doom or another is all the future holds.

It’s hard to ignore the spirit of the times because it’s our common currency. Yet, it sows doubt and can lead us to believe that renewal is something for another time eons into the future or am experience many steps or miles away from wherever we appear to be stuck at the moment.

The spirit of the depths, as Jung called it, appears as madness and insanity to those trying to live “properly” within the consensus spirit of the times. Yet that spirit contains all the great truths, everything that can be known about the cosmos and the Creator behind it and within it. We’re afraid of it and believe its truths are beyond us. So, we often speak of our spiritual journey as a lifetime or multi-lifetime trip. We look for destinations that “matter” and “steps that seem important” and experiences that seem to hold the keys to transformation. It’s vain to think otherwise, we believe, because the spirit of the times continues to lead us to believe that important goals take years to accomplish, and who are we to find the creator in a moment?

And yet, I cannot help but think that spiritual renewal–unlike the clock-like cycle of the seasons–has no timetable. Perhaps we rush hither and yon without grasping how we are changing and why we are going one place or another. While Springtime and Easter remind us of renewal, I rather think it’s always an eye blink away–whenever we’re ready. There’s no hurry: we’re ready when we’re ready, though it seems that we deny how close it may be by brainwashing ourselves to think it’s far away.

Like the “force” in Star Wars, it’s with us always. We’ll hear it better if we can tune out the loud and clamoring voices around us that tempt us to follow one fad or political party or spiritual journey of the moment.  That’s when we finally grasp that we’re already at the place where we’ve been going.


Briefly noted: ‘Red Sulfur’ by Robert Bosnak

Man is a thinker.redsulfur
 He is that what he thinks.
When he thinks fire
he is fire.
When he thinks war,
he will create war.
Everything depends
if his entire imagination
will be an entire sun,
that is, that he will imagine himself completely
that what he wants.
— Paracelsus

Red Sulphur: The Greatest Mystery in Alchemy [Kindle Edition], by Robert Bosnak, Red Sulphur Publications (December 8, 2014), 508pp

As I read this book, I cannot help but think of author Katherine Neville (The Eight, The Fire) who popularized the magical saga long before Dan Brown took the form to even larger audiences. I also cannot help but note that Robert Bosnak is a long-time Jungian analyst with widely-read nonfiction books to his credit who has studied alchemy for years. Jung was also a student of alchemy, seeing it as widely applicable to the understanding and development of the self. The heritage behind Red Sulphur brings great promise to this novel.

From the Publisher: It is 1666, the Year of the Beast, seen by many as the moment the Devil will appear on earth.

Science is in ascendance, crowding out other systems of thought. The ancient art of alchemy is in retreat. No one has been able to make the Philosophers’ Stone for over a hundred years, but many of the best minds of the age are still in a desperate search for it. Stories vividly abound how alchemists of yore had created a powerful stone of sorcery, rejuvenating all it touches — turning decrepit old lead into precious fresh gold. A universal medicine known to the alchemists by its true name: Red Sulphur.

From the Novel’s Epigraph: “This saga is based on the last verified historical reports by credible withesses about a mysterious transmutation. It follows the lives of a great alchemist and the two extraordinary women he loves. The last in the world in possession of the miraculous Red Sulphur, the source of all creative powers, they are pursued by dark forces and powerful world leaders. This is a visionary tale spanning two generations in the last days when magic was strong. It is the story of the final embers of the long gone days when the Magi could still do what we, children of science, hold to be impossible.”

Editorial Reviewer Comment: “A book both compelling and haunting. Robert Bosnak’s saga Red Sulphur traces the history of the split between alchemy and science in a tale of lust, greed and abiding passion.” – Penny Busetto:


From the author’s Amazon Page: “ROBERT BOSNAK grew up in Holland, trained in Switzerland, and has studied alchemy for over 40 years. He is a noted Jungian psychoanalyst specialized in dreaming with a practice in Los Angeles, and is the author and editor of 7 books of non-fiction in the fields of dreams, health, and creative imagination. His bestselling A Little Course in Dreams was translated into a dozen languages. He developed a method called ’embodied imagination’ used widely in psychotherapy and applied worldwide to a variety of creative endeavors. The Red Sulphur saga is his first published work of fiction. He lives in the mountains of Santa Barbara.”

You have to be an alchemist, a Jungian or a mystic to love this book. That’s the beauty of it as a saga. You don’t need footnotes; instead, you need simply to love a story. The story might change you in ways you don’t expect, but then reading always has that kind of power over those who resonate with the characters, plots and themes.


Seeker for promo 1Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism and contemporary fantasy novels including “The Seeker.”

Briefly Noted: ‘Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way’

“Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way,” edited by Patricia Damery and Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, Fisher King Press; First edition (April 15, 2012), 196 pages

From the Publisher:

When Soul appeared to C.G. Jung and demanded he change his life, he opened himself to the powerful forces of the unconscious. He recorded his inner journey, his conversations with figures that appeared to him in vision and in dream in The Red Book. Although it would be years before The Red Book was published, much of what we now know as Jungian psychology began in those pages, when Jung allowed the irrational to assault him. That was a century ago.

How do those of us who dedicate ourselves to Jung s psychology as analysts, teachers, writers respond to Soul’s demands in our own lives?  If we believe, with Jung, in “the reality of the psyche,” how does that shape us? The articles in Marked By Fire portray direct experiences of the unconscious; they tell life stories about the fiery process of becoming ourselves.

Contributors to this edition of the Fisher King Review include: Jerome S. Bernstein, Claire Douglas, Gilda Frantz, Jacqueline Gerson, Jean Kirsch, Chie Lee, Karlyn Ward, Henry Abramovitch, Sharon Heath, Dennis Patrick Slattery, Robert Romanyshyn, Patricia Damery, and Naomi Ruth Lowinsky.

From Co-editor Patricia Damery

In a recent blog post, Patricia Damery (“Snakes,” “Goatsong”) mentioned that a guest at an event for this book asked why and how the chapters in this anthology came to be so interesting, to be more than simply personal stories.

Damery said, in part, that, “The personal stories in Marked by Fire are not journal entries but ones much further down the line, ones that have been “worked.” That is what analysis does: it takes the raw material of everyday life, the prima materia, and composts it, until it fertile ground, food for soul development. Although complexes may still be there, they do not obliterate contact with the Self or the Divine.”

These stories have a much wider application than analytical psychology, impacting everyone who appreciates the depth and scope of Carl Jung, comparative mythology, and the trials and joys of every seeker/self on the path.

You May Also Like: New York and Romance the Way We Were, my review of Mark Helprin’s “In Sunlight and In Shadow”


Kindle Edition

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels and the recent paranormal Kindle/Nook short story “Moonlight and Ghosts.” The story draws on Campbell’s experience as a unit manager at a developmental center.