Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Animal and soul: Animals in Native American mythologies and the individuation process
by Griffin, Jill Catherine, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012, 250; 3531917
Abstract (Summary)

The study of animal roles in Native American mythologies, viewed through a depth psychological lens, oriented in C. G. Jung's model of the individuation process, reveals the crucial nature of the relationship between animals and the human soul. This dissertation demonstrates the distinctions of this relationship through the exploration of the kinship, reciprocity, and interiority with animals in traditional Native American mythologies, worldviews, and shamanic practices; it finds a fluid and permeable relationship between human and animal lives, bodies, and psyches. The animal is engaged in its entirety, from matter to spirit, as it informs human maturation. Building upon the work of Vine Deloria, Jr., C. G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions. Dreams, Visions, Nature, and the Primitive, Jungian worldviews are compared and woven with traditional Native American perspectives to examine contemporary Western viewpoints.

The Navajo creation story, the Diné bahane', recounted by Paul Zolbrod, begins with the bugs, thus paralleling the structure of the human psyche from its archaic, ancient, animal beginnings. The Mountain Chant, recounted by Washington Matthews, is studied in its portrayal of the role of animals as helpers, guides, spiritual beings, and bearers of transformation as a young Navajo undertakes the Hero's Journey. Stories from the Northwest regions of Alaska and the Yukon reveal the reciprocity and kinship of people, place, and animal as the foundation for social relationships that include all Beings and land formations. Finally, the interiorized animal is researched through animal dreams and shamanic journeys that reveal the roles animals play as guides, familiars, and shamans in engaging the fragile human ego and stimulating psychic movement towards wholeness.

This research uncovers an animal munificence towards human well-being in regards to psychological maturation. The concurrent disruption of animal well-being through human activity creates a profound dissonance within the interior domain of humanity and thus sheds light on the displays of psychological distress amongst a human family that lives unrelated, not only to its own instinctual foundation, but also to the enormous web of connectedness with all that lives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slater, Glen
Commitee: McCloskey, Joanne, Pye, Lori
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Psychology, Native American studies
Keywords: Animals, Dreams, Evolution of Western mindset, Human-animal relationships, Individuation, Jung, Carl G., Mythologies, Native American, Shamans
Publication Number: 3531917
ISBN: 978-1-267-74290-2
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