Mystic Descent: James Hillman and the Religious Imagination

  • Glen Slater
Chapter
Part of the Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Mysticism book series (INTERMYST)

Abstract

No single piece of writing expresses the tension between the spiritual and the psychological as well as James Hillman’s 1975 essay, “Peaks and Vales,” where he describes the difference between the spirit’s heights and the soul’s depths. For Hillman, spirit and soul describe contrasting modes of imagination, with the former associated with the movement up and out and the latter down and in. In even approaching these themes through their accompanying metaphors and images, Hillman was “showing how soul looks at spirit, how peaks look from the vale.” For, he says, “from the soul’s point of view we can never get out of the vale of our psychic reality.” This chapter will explore the significance of this soul perspective when considering the spiritual nature of mysticism. I will argue it is not only the character of our time, but something intrinsic to the mystical vision itself that invites keeping the soul perspective close at hand. I finally suggest the mystic may be more soul-bound than we may assume, and mystical experiences may illustrate an ultimately necessary bond between spirit and soul.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glen Slater
    • 1
  1. 1.Pacifica Graduate InstituteSanta BarbaraUSA

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