Monday, June 7, 2010


is pleased to present

Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Invoking the Embodied Energy of Presence with Dennis Patrick Slattery

Since analogy formation is a law which to a large extent governs the life of the psyche... - C.G. Jung

Each of our lives is, in part, a patterned reality whose shape and repetitions are not always easily discernible without deep reflection. Writing, which is also a riting of one’s self, is one effective means by which the imagination and memory conspire to help us see the way meaning clusters around our experiences. The word "riting" is used here to capture the felt sense of ritual in writing as an embodied way of recollecting, then bringing to presence, what normally moves below the threshold of daily consciousness. Words can shape worlds. The spiral is one archetypal pattern that we will use to show the oscillating move of soul to double back, return again, recapitulate, recollect the past in and through the present to reveal future possibilities. In this four-day retreat we will focus our attention on a number of themes designed to evoke the spiral and to provoke our mythic patterns into presence. During this time we will engage in many writing meditations, as well as in reading and writing poetry and in embodied movements to explore the presence of our personal myth through as many corridors as possible in order to discern its larger form and patterns. The retreat is limited to 40 participants.

About Dennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D.

Dennis has been teaching for 40 years. He is currently the author, co-author, editor, and co-editor of 16 volumes, including four volumes of poetry. His works include The Wounded Body: Remembering the Marking of Flesh, Depth Psychology: Meditations in the Field and Psychology at the Threshold co-edited with Lionel Corbett, Varieties of Mythic Experience: Essays on Religion, Psyche and Culture co-edited with Glen Slater, and a collection of essays on teaching, Reimaging Education: Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning co-edited with Jennifer Selig. Additionally Dr. Slattery has just completed Day-to-Day Dante: Meditations on the Divine Comedy for Each Day of the Year and he is currently working on a volume entitled Riting One’s Myth: Meditations on the Writing Life, from which some of the writing meditations are taken.

Two Separate Retreats Offered in Santa Barara, CA

August 12-15 or August 19-22

Thursday 6:30-8:30 pm
Friday 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Sunday, 9:00 am-1:00 pm

$550 General Admission
$500 Special Admission
(Full-Time Students, Pacifica Alumni, and Seniors)
$475 Active Pacifica Students
(Fees include Thursday dinner; Friday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and Sunday breakfast and lunch)


(19 Continuing Education Credits for MFTs, LCSWs, RNs, and Counselors)

For more general information, scholarships, etc. click here.

See you in August!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kent State Four Decades Later

May 4, 1970 four Kent State University Students were shot in The Commons on campus by The Ohio National Guard sent by then Governor James A Rhodes to keep the peace.

An Essay of Remembrance

As I approached Satterfield Hall, the English Department building at the main campus of Kent State University on a late morning, Monday, 4 May 1970 to continue a graduate course in Comparative Literature, I was surprised not to see the usual number of students entering and exiting the building. It was just about time for the classes to change, but concerned more about finding a parking space, I did not dwell on the campus’s empty feeling. Still, something was not right.

I parked, grabbed my satchel and headed into the building, grateful once again that my principal at Palmyra elementary school where I taught a special education class 15 miles east of Kent in the Ravenna school system, had granted me permission to take the course so I could finish a Master’s Degree in English that summer.

But when I entered the building, my gratitude was replaced by a rush of anxiety because the building was empty of faculty, staff and students. I stopped and checked my watch, then a calendar on the wall, all the while feeling that I had entered the twilight zone; this could not be Monday, not with this absence of people. I checked to see if it was Sunday, but no sooner did I recalibrate that I was there on the right day than a former professor of mine, Dr. Marovitz came running down the hall from the opposite direction. He was about to pass me, but I grabbed him as he was about to run past and demanded: “Where is everyone!?” His response: “They have murdered our students!” I let him go and he continued running.

I ran out of the building and up to the Commons area. I knew that for the last few nights, destructive behavior was rampant in downtown Kent: buildings vandalized, stores looted, fights breaking out, all in response to our continued involvement and now escalation of force in Vietnam and Cambodia. The National Guard units from Akron had been ordered in to Kent to keep the peace. But shoot students? I could not grasp what that meant.

When I reached the lip of the Commons, I was met first by groups of very frightened and angry National Guardsmen, in small circles of four men each, facing out with bayonets on their rifles. Their eyes showed both fatigue and fear. Beyond them were some 3000 people all lining the rim of the Commons Field. Their silence was absolute. Below were lines of riot police in full gear. There were no dead or wounded by then; they had all been just recently transported to the Ravenna Hospital. What was present and palpable, however, was fear clashing with anger, force confronting disbelief.

Before I could adjust to the fearful scene before me, an order was shouted from within the ranks of police to charge the rim of the hill where we all stood in silence. At once the riot police paired up and began a slow run towards us; as if on command, 3000 people scattered, running for their lives. I did not know at this moment who or how many had been killed or injured, but I knew enough to run. People ran through parking lots, into classrooms, into dorms, in the opposite direction. Within minutes of this panicked stampede, a police cruiser drove across the grass and someone within announced, through a set of bull horns, that the campus had been taken from the control of the school’s president, Robert White, and by an act from then Governor James A. Rhodes, was declared closed. All students, faculty and staff were to vacate the campus within the next 12 hours. With that, the school began an accelerated shut down, the spring quarter classes all cancelled, and the future existence of the university in doubt and jeopardy.

Because my wife and I lived in Kent but taught out side the city, we were allowed back in each afternoon by showing our valid Ohio driver’s license. If one could not show that one lived in Kent, none were allowed to reenter under any circumstances. Marshall Law was all but declared for the city for an indefinite period of time. Small tanks and unmarked government cars passed our rent house every hour looking for anyone walking the streets. Memory tells me this lock-down lasted for two weeks.

I sensed but could not put words to the fact that a major cultural moment had just occurred, that history on an international scale had been shaped at my school. Shooting unarmed students on campus when the bylaws of the National Guard called for rubber bullets only, informed us all that law as we knew it was up for grabs. The war in Vietnam had spilled beyond the television set; it had entered the campus of one American university and might just appear in others nationally. The nation was numbed by Kent State: songs followed, manifestoes and of course, law suits. After 20 years in the Cleveland courts, all involved were exonerated. It also took 20 years and many successful court battles to allow the creation of a small black marble memorial to be set in place by where two students had been killed.

I took both my sons to that site when it opened twenty years ago. I also visited the campus and the Commons area last summer with my younger brother. I was astonished and unnerved and pleased by how much it looked as it did 40 years ago. I walked to the site where years ago I had sat cross-legged and chanted OUM with Allen Ginsberg, listened to Gary Snyder read his nature poetry. The Commons area is still there despite many efforts to build an ROTC building on the site. Citizens fought hard to keep the space open--a gap, a pocket of memory, so that what occurred that long ago still has a place to move, a place for the memories of that day to come back up, each spring, with the grass and the baseball and the soccer games and the football passes and the blankets that allowed students to lie in the sun—all these event that allow each new Spring to be welcomed and marked.

About The Author

Dennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D. lives in New Braunfels and commutes each month to Santa Barbara where he teaches Mythology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Classroom As Sacred Space

In the classroom, a work of fiction—or nonfiction, for that matter—if brought in as a guest, has the capacity to unleash its energy into the collective psyche of the members in the room, to be amplified. Or like a beam through a magnifying glass, to gather the power to start a fire, to kindle something deep in the woody pulp of the soul, to fire it up, to create a reservoir of enthusiasmos. Enthusiasmos: a word used to convey the presence of the god within, often in the figure of Dionysos, such that learning occurs on a more advanced and vertical level and thereby gains a capacity to alter a human being. Sometime all one need do is notice innuendo, which can by itself be sufficient spark to ignite a forest fire.

The essay that follows is therefore more experiential than scholarly, in the sense that it is not preoccupied with mustering and mastering evidence from primary and secondary sources for either support or persuasive mucilage. Rather, I wish to muse in memory for a bit on what my experience of a good classroom experience consists of, what I have watched occur, and what conditions often coagulate to attend such a pole of pedagogy. The consequence of such a class are nothing short of miraculous; time and space themselves alter to accommodate and actually participate in the conversion through conversation. Converse is the Appian Way to such a change of heart.

-Dennis Patrick Slattery

An excerpt taken from the essay, “What White Whale Breaches? Classroom As Sacred Space” published in Reimagining Education: Essays On Reviving the Soul of Learning New Orleans: Spring, 2009, p. 92.

To peek inside the book or to buy Reimagining Education: Essays On Reviving the Soul of Learning go here.

To read a book review of Reimagining Education go here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The True Terror of Terrorism

From 9/11/01 to the present seems like an eternal gap; then again it was just yesterday. How to say anything about it has been part of my dilemma; yet to fix it in a ceremony of speech, is a necessity. Something at the heart of our national psyche seeks recognition and remembrance. Forgetting is not part of the equation.

excerpt from the essay "The True Terror of Terrorism" taken from A Limbo of Shards: Essays On Memory, Myth and Metaphor © 2007 Dennis Patrick Slattery, iUniverse (see Ch 26)

The essay is published on line through Click the link to read more of this essay.

To peek inside A Limbo of Shards or to purchase the book click here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hammered Fire

Early each morning I grasp my pen,
steel-pointed, as a blacksmith
clenches the handle of his hammer.

I long to strike the anvil of the world
soul to make it ring, to sing out
a high pitch
that penetrates the core of
steely silence.

Mallet, hammer, sledge, pen—something
needs breaking, a smithy of words and
wielding iron hide to resist. I smell joy
in things resisting, in my own raucous
happy clenching.

My forehead rests against the hardness of things, the iron
sense of metallic musings.
Breaking bellows keeps the fire roaring,
the breath of creation's musings.

Oh, to pound out my name in iron, to
dent the surface of real steel!
To leave for my sons even one initial,
would initiate me into
Vulcan's maimed club of iron
fists. How dare I resist?

Words weld themselves to one
another. Some new black and still
hot thing is pinched from the
fire by tongs, themselves
fashioned in the forge.
Life's breath from the bellows
inspires their work, breathes
life into coarse iron.

Between the raised hammer and the
expectant anvil lies a great
Bow, then; turn the black metal of
solitude towards the heat of a melting rod.

Life quickens in the forge. Tempers
cool in the screech of steel pummeled by

Some deep core of iron in me tempers
in elements clashing. It seeks some taming
as old as elemental strife.

How is it we are simple self-forgers
seeking the heat of a dark salvation?

With my steel pen happy I hammer into
harmonious rhythm heavy words on to
pages of vibrant sheet metal and fix
their destiny:
Hoc est unum corpus meum.
Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus.

-from Just Below The Water Line: Selected Poems
p36 © 2004 Winchester Canyon Press