Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The shadow in Latvian mythological legends: A Jungian perspective
by Vestergaard, Evija Volfa, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2015, 357; 3714707
Abstract (Summary)

This hermeneutic study with a depth psychological perspective explores Latvian traditional mythological legends using a close reading/active imagination methodology. It interprets the supernatural beings of the legends as images of the Shadow archetype that concern the legend tellers’ challenging experiences with material wealth and their sense of worthiness.

The study is an important contribution to research in Latvian culture, as it both explores traditional cultural texts and places the explorations in today’s context. By deepening insights about the psychology of a previously less researched cultural source—the legend—and the psychology of the tellers, the research participates in advancing Jungian cultural studies.

Responding to the question “what is the psychology of the legends?” the study proposes that they function as the trickster stories and as reports of synchronistic events communicating about transformative occurrences of human lives. Due to these characteristics, the legends may also affect today’s readers. They may disturb their one-sided conscious attitudes and promote their development of consciousness through breaks of earlier symmetries within the human system and by promoting more complex and mature structures of the psyche.

Answering the question “what is the psychology of the legend tellers?” the study shows a multiplicity of attitudes and ways in which the tellers relate to the supernatural—the Shadow aspects of their psyche. The psychology of the tellers is depicted to span a broad spectrum of emotions, not limited to the pessimism typically associated with the legend genre.

The study argues that the relevance of the legends is not constrained by a particular historical time and place. Rather, it asserts that the legends may be relevant for today’s Latvians in defining their identity, thus making this depth psychological perspective a political project. In addition, the study shows how the archetypal nature of the legend communications makes them valuable for today’s readers independent of their culture and geography. It suggests that the readers approach the legends as invitations to pause, ponder, and to see the maturational value in the nonheroic Shadow aspects of the psyche that these stories communicate.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rowland, Susan
Commitee: Hockley, Luke, Mozol, Ana
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychology with Emphasis in Jungian and Archetypal Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Folklore, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Archetypal shadow, Jung, C.G., Latvian folklore, Mythological legend, Psychological aspects, Self-worth
Publication Number: 3714707
ISBN: 978-1-321-92339-1
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