Toward an Imaginal Ecology

By Becca Tarnas

“To speak, to ask to have audience today in the world, requires that we speak to the world, for the world is in the audience; it too is listening to what we say.” [1] With these words James Hillman opens his essay “Anima Mundi” in which he speaks of the return of soul to the world. Such is the task we face as a species, as human beings, as we learn to cultivate a different kind of relationship with our planet, the Earth which supports our very existence. But what eyes can we use to see the soul of the world? What languages can we speak to call out to the anima mundi? With what ears shall we listen to hear the Earth’s voices in reply?

During a lecture on Deep Time and the Great Turning, the ecophilosopher Joanna Macy gave voice to an idea that can begin to answer these questions. She said that one cannot perceive relationship with the physical eyes: rather, it can only be seen with the eye of the imagination. Imagination allows us to perceive relationship. Such an understanding of imagination and relationship led me to think of the practice of ecology, one of the ways we approach the Earth. Ecology is usually defined as the branch of biology that studies the relationship between organisms and their environment, which includes other organisms. By these two definitions – of imagination and of ecology – I came to realize that the practice of ecology may only be possible through the organ of the imagination.

The imagination plays many roles in our practice of ecology upon this exquisite, blue and green celestial gem named Earth. Our planet continues to suffer the ravaging destruction of industrialization and the consumptive growth of human greed, but humanity is at least beginning to re-imagine its purpose in relationship to the Earth. The imagination is a multifaceted gift to ecology, one that can connect us to our past and future, that can cultivate spiritual strength and moral empathy within us, that can allow us to see our human role in an enchanted cosmos. The imagination is the eye of the soul, a bridge between the rational mind and the physical world, the opening of a realm in which the true beauty of the soul of the world, what the ancients called the anima mundi, can be revealed. Aspects of what could be called an “imaginal ecology” can be glimpsed throughout the work of many thinkers, including not only Macy and Hillman, but also Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Seed, Theodore Roszak, Christopher Bache, David Abram, and numerous other contemporary thinkers. Imaginal ecology flourishes in the articulations of the realm of Faërie penned by J.R.R. Tolkien, and other artists and storytellers whose work reveals the enchantment of the realm in which we live. Imaginal ecology can be traced back even further to the poetry and philosophy of the Romantics, the Transcendentalists, and the German Idealists, although that is beyond the scope of this essay.

Imaginal ecology approaches the world so as to perceive the relationships and dynamics of the landscapes in which we find ourselves, the relationships of plants and animals, roads and buildings, soil and sky, water and humans. I have chosen the term “ecology” – instead of “environment” – to emphasize the importance of the relational dimension of this approach. The word environment, defined as the surroundings in which a person, plant, or animal lives, puts the Earth in a backgrounded position, making it the external scenery on which the subjective drama of persons unfolds. Ecology, on the other hand, by focusing on the relationships of all beings constituting the landscape or ecosystem, draws forward the many aspects of the Earth so they can be perceived in just measure. The Earth itself is returned to the foreground.

The term “imaginal” – as opposed to “imaginary” or “imaginative” – is chosen to emphasize the imagination as an organ of perception instead of the faculty of making up non-existent realities. The philosopher and theologian Henry Corbin points out that the current predominant usage of “the term ‘imaginary’ is equated with the unreal, with something that is outside the framework of being and existing.” [2] Corbin uses the Latin term mundus imaginalis, “imaginal world,” to differentiate what is just “made up” from “the object of imaginative or imagining perception.” [3] In Hillman’s sense, an imaginal approach to the world allows one to perceive the Earth as mundus imaginalis; it is the seeing with the eye of the soul into the soul of the world, the anima mundi. [4]

The Mediating Power of Imagination

The imagination is a mediator, existing between the physical world and the domain of abstract thought. Imagination is the realm in which images bloom, more tangible and accessible than the mental, more fluid and impermanent than the physical. Yet the imagination does not exist fixed solely in between; it permeates throughout, saturating physical reality and abstractions alike, birthing and being born out of both realms. The philosopher of science Gaston Bachelard provides the following image to characterize the imagination:


The imagination is a tree. It has the integrative virtues of a tree. It is root and boughs. It lives between earth and sky. It lives in the earth and in the wind. The imagined tree becomes imperceptibly the cosmological tree, the tree which epitomizes the universe, which makes a universe…” [5]


Imagination is the unifying principle permeating psyche, Earth, and cosmos, a means of perceiving the relationships between all things, of joining the reciprocal dance of the soul’s senses.

Throughout the history of Western philosophy, the imagination, unlike the rational mind, was not considered a solely human faculty. Aristotle considered the imagination to be part of the perceptive soul of animals, [6] and the esoteric philosopher Rudolf Steiner writes of the connection of the imagination to the etheric realm, the world of plants. [7] And, as previously mentioned, there was the ancient perception of the anima mundi, the soul of the world, which according to Hillman may only be perceived with the eye of the imagination. Because of the more-than-human, cosmological aspect of imagination, I believe it may be an essential key to addressing the ecological crisis in which we find ourselves as planetary beings: we cannot think our way out of this crisis, we must imagine it.

The Cosmological Imagination

The powers of imagination are remarkable. Although my physical body might be standing in one place, my imagination can stretch throughout the expanses of space and time, to the edges of the solar system, to spiral through the galaxy, to dive into the wider cosmos, or deep into the core of the Earth; my imagination can step back through my evolutionary lineage, or forward into the unfolding future far beyond the time of my personal death. I can look at my body again and realize it carries all that my imagination has touched and brought back to this present moment. I am able to see the soul of the world as the spark of soul within myself, and see myself inside the anima mundi as well.

Imagination can carry us back through time to the flaring forth of our cosmos: as we experience the unfolding of the universe our own role as human beings becomes clearer. As Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker write, “Every time we are drawn to look up into the night sky and reflect on the awesome beauty of the universe, we are actually the universe reflecting upon itself. And this changes everything.” [8] Such a realization can reorient our actions towards a more symbiotic relationship with the Earth. We can thereby recognize that we also are the Earth in relationship to ourselves.

Swimme and Tucker point towards the particular role human consciousness may have to play in the unfolding evolution of our planet, a fulfillment of what Thomas Berry calls “The Dream of the Earth” [9]:


Today we are beginning to imagine that we might have a particular role to play in this dream. With each passing decade, the life process is increasingly affected by the influence of human consciousness. Perhaps human consciousness has a much larger significance within evolution than earlier philosophers could imagine. Could it be that our deeper destiny is to bring forth a new coherence within the planet as a whole, as the human community learns to align itself with the underlying dynamics of Earth’s life? [10]


For the human community to learn how to align with the Earth’s dynamics we first need to acquire a deeper understanding of what those dynamics are. By allowing ourselves to broaden our sense of self, to imaginally inhabit the experience of what we might initially consider to be “other” beings – beings different from ourselves – such alignment with the Earth may be possible.

Compassion and the Moral Imagination

In her work on ecological renewal, Joanna Macy writes of the moral imagination that can allow us to become situated in the experiences of other beings, whether they are ancestors of our past, plants and animals, entire ecosystems of our current Earth, or even beings of the future. Through imaginal practice we can hear the needs of others and recognize them as our own. The ecological activist John Seed writes of how we can broaden our human perspective to an ecological perspective:


When humans investigate and see through their layers of anthropocentric self-cherishing, a most profound change in consciousness begins to take place. Alienation subsides. The human is no longer an outsider apart. Your humanness is then recognized as being merely the most recent stage of your existence… you start to get in touch with your self as vertebrate, as mammal, as species only recently emerged from the rainforest. [11]


Macy writes, “The imagination needs to be schooled in order to experience our inter-existence with all beings in the web of life.” [12] For Macy, the imagination learns through meditative practice, through exercises that focus “on death, loving kindness, compassion, mutual power, and mutual recognition.” [13] Such practices can expand one’s sense of self through deep compassion towards other beings in their suffering. [14] Macy writes, “Acknowledging the depths and reaches of our own inner experience, we come to the… discovery of what we are. We are experiencers of compassion.” [15] Macy illustrates that through compassion, by literally “suffering with,” we discover our interconnectivity:


That is what we find when we hear the sounds of the Earth crying within us. The tears that come are not ours alone: they are the tears of an Iraqi mother looking for her children in the rubble; they are the tears of a Navajo uranium miner learning that he is dying of cancer. We find we are interwoven threads in the intricate tapestry of life, its deep ecology. [16]


The power of our compassionate imagination can lead us to these experiences of deep grief and despair work. Such experiences bring us to the utmost core of ourselves that we hold in common with all beings of the Earth, and from this most basic place we can begin to re-imagine our future without fear. In Macy’s words, “As your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal.” [17]

Such ideas are also echoed in the psychospiritual work of Christopher Bache. In his writings on releasing collective suffering he says, “Instead of seeing ‘my’ pain as existing separately from the suffering of ‘others,’ it becomes more natural to see it as a distinct nodal point within a collective field of suffering that runs throughout the species.” [18] I would take this idea further and say the collective field of suffering runs not only through the human species but also through the other species of our planet, and maybe even through the Earth as a whole.

By allowing ourselves to sink into the grief that is burdening the Earth, to step into the planet’s stream of tears and let it wash over us, we gain spiritual and psychic courage for the work ahead. The deep ecology of mind Bache cultivates in his work allows us to envision our potentially dire future while learning to cultivate the strong spiritual center needed to stay grounded in such an unstable time. While it is crucial to envision our ability to live symbiotically with the planet’s ecosystems, we must also confront the challenges, defeats, deaths, and even extinctions that not only are already occurring, but will likely increase as the unraveling of ecological and cultural systems accelerates.


One could say we are the cosmos in human form, and because of this the pain of the world is expressing itself through our human pains, through our pathologies and diseases. The work of ecopsychology practiced in different forms by Hillman, Berry, Roszak, and many others, which itself could be seen as a form of imaginal ecology, seeks to engage in the healing of the soul of the world, the anima mundi. The term “ecopsychology” was coined by the cultural historian Theodore Roszak to broaden the context of psychology and marry it to ecology. [19] The root eco is derived from the Greek oikos, meaning “home,” and psyche comes from the Greek for “soul” or “animating spirit”; thus ecopsychology could be seen as a study of the ensouled home, or the study of the soul at home. Ecopsychology seeks to heal the human soul by engaging in the healing of the anima mundi. As Berry writes, “the health of the planet is primary while human health is derivative. We cannot have well people on a sick planet.” [20] The disease, as Hillman observes, is in both the person and the world. [21] Hillman recognizes that “the soul of the individual can never advance beyond the soul of the world, because they are inseparable, the one always implicating the other.” [22]

Shifting the focus of psychology from the isolated psyche of the individual human patient to healing the soul of the world will, as Hillman observes, fundamentally


… affect the ecology movement and such “mundane matters” as energy policy, nourishment, hospital care, the design of interiors. No longer would these be external – that is, political or professional – activities only but a focus of psychotherapy, because no longer would we be able to divorce consciousness-raising of the patient from the creation itself. [23]


When we allow ourselves to recognize the ensouled nature of the world, the world is more likely to reciprocate and express its soul to us. The world becomes enchanted, animated, when we really look at it. “We pay respect to it simply by looking again, re-specting, that second look with the eye of the heart,” as Hillman writes. [24] The eye of the heart of which Hillman speaks is the imagination, the eye that can perceive soul. [25] “Our imaginative recognition, the childlike act of imagining the world, animates the world and returns it to soul.” [26] Thus, in Hillman’s terminology, the act of returning soul to the world, of seeing the presence of the anima mundi, is an ecological act of the imagination.

The ecophilosopher David Abram takes a similar ensouled, imaginal approach to his engagement with landscape in his creative writings. Abram suggests that the imagination exists not only in the human but in the Earth and the cosmos itself. The imagination of the Earth is diverse and varies from region to region like the landscape, affording various insights and ideas that differ by location. Abram writes,


There are insights we come upon only at the edge of the sea, and others we glimpse only in the craggy heights. Some prickly notions are endemic to deserts, while other thoughts, too slippery to grasp, are met mostly in swamps. Many nomad thoughts migrate between different realms, shifting their habits to fit the terrain, orienting themselves by the wind and the stars. [27]


Our ability to create and sustain our existence, to imagine the future, is wholly dependent on this creativity gifted by the Earth.

In one such imaginal engagement with the Earth, Abram is musing on the invisible thickness of the air, the hundreds of miles of atmosphere extending beyond the surface of the Earth’s lands and waters. He comes to an interesting realization: “We, imbibing and strolling through that same air, do not then live on the Earth but in it. We are enfolded within it, permeated, carnally immersed in the depths of this breathing planet.” [28] We are in the Earth, as the Earth is in the cosmos. Just as the imagination is between the physical world and the realm of abstract thought, the Earth is between us and the cosmos. The Earth is mediator between psyche and cosmos, ecology between psychology and cosmology. Imaginal ecology thus is a middle path, a path between worlds, a bridge joining worlds. My own personal wanderings down this middle path through the great landscapes of the Earth have often led me just there: Middle-Earth, the imaginal realm J.R.R. Tolkien created in literary mythology.

The Faërie Realm of Middle-Earth

The creative works of many authors and artists can serve ecology by offering a “recovery,” as Tolkien calls it, giving us the opportunity of “regaining a clear view” of the enchantment inherent to the world in which we live. [29] Such artists offer a view of a fantasy realm, which Tolkien calls Faërie, crafted out of the materials of our everyday world, just as the painter’s or sculptor’s materials are also drawn from nature. [30] Yet fantasy allows us to see these primary ingredients in a new way, once again marveling at the wonders of our own world. [31] Tolkien’s works have often been dismissed by his critics as escapist, as fantastical stories that let the reader slip away from the hard realities of everyday existence. Yet the boon of allowing ourselves to truly enter into an imaginal realm such as the one Tolkien revealed is that we are given the opportunity to witness the beauty and enchantment of our own world. We return from Faërie to find that we have never left, or rather that we were always there. Tolkien shows the overlap between our own world and Faërie when he writes,


Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons: it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted. [32]


Faërie can be seen as the real cosmos but without the human, or rather, without the disenchanted human. Faërie is an ensouled realm, an anima mundi imaginalis, which allows soul to be perceived by all who cross its borders. Fantasy – expressed through any art form, from literature, to painting, to sculpture – allows us to look again at our own world with soul-seeing eyes, the ‘re-specting’ of which Hillman speaks.

The most well-known of Tolkien’s stories, The Lord of the Rings, is a mythological expression of imaginal ecology. It is a tale in which the good, green Earth itself is at stake, a story truly applicable to the ecological crisis in which we find ourselves today. It is a tale of hope against all odds, in which the road is dark and descends through despair itself. It is a tale in which the diminutive peoples – those who have been forgotten, those who have always been considered merely part of the background, part of the “environment” – are the ones who stand forward to defend Middle-Earth. Even the trees awaken to defend the Earth.

The philologist and Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey writes of the central role Middle-Earth itself plays in the unfolding of Tolkien’s narrative. Shippey writes,


It has been rightly said that the true hero of The Lord of the Rings is not Aragorn, or Sam Gamgee, or even Frodo but Middle-Earth itself: Middle-Earth with its astonishing range of habitats, from the tilth of the Shire to the Rider’s prairie, from the managed woodlands of Lorién to the deep dales of Fangorn, where the Huorns lurk in the hundreds. And the Great River; Tom Bombadil’s willow-choked Withywindle; the Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Ithilien with its “disheveled dryad of loveliness;” Hollin in Wilderland, which still remembers the Elves, are all described with careful and loving attention. [33]


Middle-Earth is ensouled, a true mundus imaginalis into which the reader can step and imaginally inhabit, in the same way one can inhabit others’ experiences as described by Macy, Bache, Swimme, or Berry. The imagination can as easily take one to the flaring forth of the cosmos as it can to the fires of Mount Doom or the golden woods of Lothlorién, and return with as many gifts.

Deep Enchantment: Landscapes, Animals, and Plants

Tolkien presents an enchanted cosmology in which magic is not a display of flashy spells, but rather is an inherent property of the Earth itself. The magic of Middle-Earth is deep in the land, as varied as the landscapes that shape their inhabitants into who and what they are. While in the Elven realm of Lothlorién, Samwise Gamgee describes what he can perceive of this deep magic, and the relationship the Elvenfolk have with their homeland. The Hobbit says:


Now these folks aren’t wanderers or homeless, and seem a bit nearer to the likes of us: they seem to belong here, more even than Hobbits do in the Shire. Whether they’ve made the land, or the land’s made them, it’s hard to say, if you take my meaning. If there’s any magic about, it’s right down deep, where I can’t lay my hands on it, in a manner of speaking. [34]


The magic of the land itself seems to give its inhabitants their sense of belonging, of being at home. An ecopsychological wholeness and health exists in the relationships that constitute each ecosystem of Middle-Earth.

Sentience is not reserved only for the peoples of Middle-Earth – the Hobbits, Elves, Men, and Dwarves. The land itself has agency, as when the Old Forest continually redirects the wayfaring of the Hobbits, or when the formidable mountain pass of Caradhras willfully bars the passage of the Fellowship. The animals of Middle-Earth also have a deep intelligence and purposeful agency, from the great eagles and bears, to the crebain crows and other winged messengers, the evil wargs, the gentle ponies, and even the curious little fox who notices Frodo, Sam, and Pippin departing the Shire and wonders what their business might be. The horse Shadowfax, “chief of the Mearas, lords of horses,” is one of the mightiest and noblest of Middle-Earth’s inhabitants, able to face the most terrifying of evils. [35]

The plants of Middle-Earth also have a deep magic, an ensouled nature that is revealed in varying shades of animation. The seemingly humble leaf athelas, known in the common tongue as “kingsfoil,” is the healing herb that can draw victims back from the cold brink of undeath, the hopeless realm of shades ruled by the Dark Lord’s wraiths. The scent of the athelas leaves is that of “a living freshness… as if the air itself awoke and tingled, sparkling with joy.” [36] The hearts of all those who inhale its scent are lightened. “For the fragrance that came to each was like a memory of dewy mornings of unshadowed sun in some land of which the fair world in Spring is itself but a fleeting memory.” [37]

The great mallorn trees of Lothlorién have their own sentience that Frodo encounters as he climbs an Elvish ladder into the branches of one in Cerin Amroth, in the heart of the Golden Wood.

He laid his hand on the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree’s skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself. [38]

Furthermore, the trees of the Old Forest and the woods of Fangorn have a wakefulness beyond even the trees of Lorién. These trees harbor deep thoughts in their hearts, some evil, some only defensive, and they have a powerful will and influence. Some, like the Huorns of Fangorn, even have the ability to move if they so wish. And of course there are the Ents, those slow, rhythmic tree shepherds whose eyes are pools of memory, whose names are poems extending beyond the memory of any but Elves and Gods. The Ents are a species neither plant, animal, nor human, yet they also resemble all three. They are mediators, they are the voices of the trees, they defend what has been forgotten. The Ent Treebeard, whom Merry and Pippin encounter in Fangorn, answers their question of which side he is on by saying, “I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me: nobody cares for the woods as I care for them, not even Elves nowadays.” [39]

The mythology of Middle-Earth stretches back far before the Third Age in which The Lord of the Rings takes place. Tolkien spent decades of his life bringing forth a mythological legendarium of Arda, the world in which Middle-Earth is but one land. Like many myths and legends of our own world, Tolkien drew on the archetype of the World Tree as part of his cosmogony. But there is something unusual about this archetypal image at the core of his world: the numbering of days begins not with a single World Tree but with two – the Two Trees of Valinor, named Telperion and Laurelin.


In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed to full and waned again to naught; and each awoke once more to life an hour before the other ceased to shine. Thus in Valinor twice every day there came a gentle hour of softer light when both trees were faint and their gold and silver beams were mingled. Telperion was the elder of the trees and came first to full stature and to bloom; and that first hour in which he shone, the white glimmer of a silver dawn, the Valar reckoned not into the tale of hours, but named it the Opening Hour, and counted from it the ages of their reign in Valinor…. But the light that was spilled from the trees endured long, ere it was taken up into the airs or sank down into the earth…. Thus began the Days of the Bliss of Valinor; and thus began also the Count of Time. [40]


The Two Trees of Valinor and the image of their intermingling lights conveys a world in which relationality is at the core. Their great power and beauty lie not in their independent glory but in their connectivity. I see the Two Trees as the archetypal image of both ecology and imagination. Thinking back to Bachelard’s quote, “The imagination is a tree,” I would perhaps suggest that a symbol of imaginal ecology is two world trees, or rather, what arises in the relationship between the Two Trees.


The relational symbol of the Two Trees echoes throughout the rest of Tolkien’s legendarium. Ultimately, The Lord of the Rings is a story of community. The tale is not a hero’s journey in Joseph Campbell’s sense, [41] rather it is a heroes’ journey, for no one acts alone or can accomplish the tasks before them without the aid of others. It is a tale of fellowship, friendship, relationship, an example of the “heroic communities” of which Richard Tarnas speaks. [42] The destruction of the One Ring in the fires of Orodruin is not what ultimately saves Middle-Earth – it is an essential part, but a part nonetheless. The true work that allows Middle-Earth to flourish is the rebuilding that takes place, the slow task of restoring the lands by all the peoples of Middle-Earth.

The penultimate chapter of The Lord of the Rings, called “The Scouring of the Shire,” interestingly was excluded from the film adaptation of the book. In this chapter the four journeying Hobbits return to the Shire to find it destroyed by industrialization. The fields are laid waste, beautiful hobbit-holes destroyed and replaced with hideously efficient brick buildings, large mills erected to pour black smoke in the air and foul sewage in the rivers, and beloved trees cut for firewood or left to rot. To heal the hurts of this techno-industrial ravaging, the community of the Shire draws on their hidden strength and courage that is awakened only by dire need. They undertake the task of healing the land, re-sowing the fields and nourishing the soils, replanting trees and tending them with loving care. The omission of this chapter from the film seems possibly to reflect our current cultural position in which we would rather seek a quick technological fix than undertake the slow work of rebuilding what has been damaged or destroyed. The work of restoring and healing the Shire, I find important to emphasize, is not done by a solo hero acting alone; it is accomplished by a community working together.

The need for community is echoed by Hillman when he makes the point that no single movement can restore the Earth, or can return the soul to the world:


Ecology movements, futurism, feminism, urbanism, protest and disarmament, personal individuation, cannot alone save the world from the catastrophe inherent in our very idea of the world. They require a cosmological vision that saves the phenomenon “world” itself, a move in soul that goes beyond measures of expediency to the archetypal source of our world’s continuing peril: the fateful neglect, the repression of the anima mundi. [43]


We need a communal shift in vision, a community of imaginers, of imaginal ecologists. When a caterpillar enters its chrysalis to birth itself as a butterfly, the outcome is always uncertain. After the caterpillar forms its cocoon and begins metamorphosis its body dissolves entirely; everything that the caterpillar once was is gone. The transformation is guided by several sets of embryonic cells that provide the only continuity between the caterpillar and what it will become once it emerges from its cocoon. These powerful cells have an apt name: Imaginal cells. Within the rich culture dissolved in the chrysalis the Imaginal cells grow to form wings, legs, antennae – a new body entirely.

Those of us who hold a vision of what the future of the Earth may be are like these Imaginal cells, akin to midwives who aid in the birthing, or re-birthing, of the Earth. As the Earth’s Imaginal cells we can use the power of the moral, empathic, creative, compassionate imagination to be present for the return of the soul into the world. The task of rebirthing the Earth is beyond any of us alone, but we can witness and aid the process, holding the vision of what may be to come.



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[1] James Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World (Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, Inc, 2007), 91.

[2] Henry Corbin, “Mundus Imaginalis, or The Imaginary and the Imaginal,” trans. Ruth Horine, En Islam Iranien: Aspects Spirituels et Philosophiques, tome IV, livre 7 (Paris, France: Gallimard, 1971), 1.

[3] Corbin, “Mundus Imaginalis,” 10.

[4] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 101.

[5] Gaston Bachelard, On Poetic Imagination and Reverie (Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, Inc, 2005), 85.

[6] Aristotle, De Anima, trans. Hugh Lawson-Tangred (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1986), 162-3, 414b.

[7] Rudolf Steiner, An Outline of Esoteric Science, trans. Catherine E. Creeger (Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press, 1997), 36.

[8] Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Journey of the Universe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011), 2.

[9] Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth (San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1988).

[10] Swimme and Tucker, Journey of the Universe, 65-6.

[11] John Seed, Joanna Macy, Pat Flemming and Arne Naess, Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings (Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 1988), 108.

[12] Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self: Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal (Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2007), 112.

[13] Macy, World As Lover, World As Self, 123.

[14] Macy, World As Lover, World As Self, 148-9.

[15] Macy, World As Lover, World As Self, 106.

[16] Macy, World As Lover, World As Self, 107.

[17] Macy, World As Lover, World As Self, 152.

[18] Christopher M. Bache, Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps to a Deep Ecology of Mind (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000), 169.

[19] Theodore Roszak, “Where Psyche Meets Gaia,” in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind ed. Theodore Roszak et al. (San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1995).

[20] Thomas Berry, Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community (San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 2006), 35.

[21] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 93.

[22] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 105.

[23] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 118-9.

[24] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 129.

[25] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 107.

[26] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 102.

[27] David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2010), 118.

[28] Abram, Becoming Animal, 101.

[29] J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” in The Tolkien Reader (New York, NY: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1966), 77.

[30] Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” 78.

[31] Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” 77.

[32] Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” 38, (Italics added).

[33] Tom Shippey, “Afterword,” in Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans, Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2011), 269.

[34] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994), 351.

[35] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994), 493.

[36] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994), 847.

[37] Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 847.

[38] Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 342.

[39] Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 461.

[40] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001), 38-39.

[41] Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2008), 23.

[42] Richard Tarnas, “The Role of ‘Heroic’ Communities in the Postmodern Era” (lecture at the Consciousness Forum, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA, October 18, 2012).

[43] Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, 126-7.

About The Author

Becca Tarnas, PhD
Becca Tarnas, PhD, is a scholar, artist, and editor of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology. She received her doctorate in Philosophy and Religion from the California Institute of Integral Studies, with her dissertation titled The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C. G. Jung and J. R. R. Tolkien. Her research interests include depth psychology, literature, philosophy, and the ecological imagination. She teaches in the Jungian Psychology and Archetypal Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and is author of the book Journey to the Imaginal Realm: A Reader’s Guide to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.


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