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The Search for Meaning

Tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris: Quest for the Holy Grail

A six-hour course with Jonathan Young and Anne Bach

Course Description

This is an archived course that is not offered at this time. The description will be updated if presented in the future.

The great quest stories can be guides to developing a sense of purpose, and belonging. This is a course on how the search for meaning shapes adult psychological life. We will demonstrate methods for drawing insights from legend and folklore, such as the tales of the search for the Holy Grail. We will show how to analyze the structure of quest stories for key metaphors and for parallels with dreams - to reveal how the development of a sense of meaning can be crucial in identity formation. Presented at an introductory level for doctoral psychologists, this seminar is useful for counselors, teachers, writers, clergy, and those interested in archetypal perspectives on their own quests for meaning.

The course is not just for psychotherapists. It is open to all those interested in archetypal perspectives. The lectures require no background in mythology, narrative theory, or Jungian psychology.

Learning Objectives

  • Detect Symbolism and Metaphors in Quest Stories for Insights

  • Recognize Journey Themes as Systems of Meaning

  • Apply Quest Stories to Support Adult Identity Formation


Instructor: Jonathan Young, PhD is a psychologist (PSY10231) who consults with organizational leaders and creative artists, especially filmmakers. As a professor, he created and chaired the doctoral level department of mythological studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. His books and articles focus on personal mythology. His background includes assisting mythologist Joseph Campbell at seminars and serving as founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library.

This seminar is taught at the introductory level and requires no advance preparation. However, participants are provided with a recommended reading list as part of their class materials.

CE Credit information

The material is presented at an introductory level, requiring no background in mythic studies, narrative theory, or Jungian psychology.

The following CE credits are available:

  • Psychology, MFT, LCSW, NBCC : 6 CE hours

  • Nursing : 7 hours

Most teachers must get credits approved by their school administration. Center courses meet the requirements in most states. Contact us if you need more information about receiving credit in your state.

How to Register

  1. Select a seminar from the Current Course Dates and Locations

  2. Register online or call the Center at 805-687-7171

The Grail Maiden

Day Schedule

Checking-in begins at 9:30 a.m. - Seminar 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

9:30 Check-in begins.

10:00 Introduction to archetypal symbolism - The quest story as window to the unconscious

11:15 - Break (approximate time)

11:30 The search for the Holy Grail - the nature of the quest story - How adult psychological issues are reflected in legendary tales

12:30 - Lunch Break

- On your own, please return on time

1:30 Story and symbol in the inner journey - The search for meaning in personal mythologies

2:30 - Break (approximate time)

2:40 Carl Jung and Individuation - The personal journey and influence of a key theorist

3:50 - Break (approximate time)

4:00 Deepening the therapeutic relationship - Unconscious dynamics in the search for meaning as well as limits and cautionary considerations.

5:00 Course concludes - Be sure to sign out

Selections from the Reading List

Aron, Elaine N. (1996) The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive when the World Overwhelms You. New York: Broadway Books

Campbell, Joseph (2013) Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine (Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) (Safron Elsabeth Rossi, Editor) Novato, CA: New World Library

Campbell, Joseph (1995) Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion. New York: Harper Collins

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola (1993) The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is EnoughThe Gift of Story, (audiotape), Boulder, CO: Sounds True Recordings

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola (2013) Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild SoulLouisville, CO: Sounds True Books

Feinstein, David and Krippner, Stanley (2009) Personal Mythology: Using Ritual, Dreams, and Imagination to Discover Your Inner Story. (Revised 3rd Edition) Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press

Hillman, James (1998) Healing Fiction. Spring Publications

Hollis, James (1996) Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places. Toronto: Inner City Books

Johnson, Robert A. (1986) Inner Work. New York: HarperCollins

Keen, Sam and Valley-Fox, Anne (1989) YoYour Mythic Journey: Finding Meaning in Your Life Through Writing and Storytelling (Inner Work Book). New York: Inner Work Book

Larsen, Stephen (1990) The Mythic Imagination: The Quest for Meaning through Personal Mythology. Manchester, VT: Inner Traditions International

Le Grice, Keiron. (2013) The Rebirth of the Hero: Mythology as a Guide to Spiritual Transformation (Muswell Hill Press). Muswell Hill Press

Pearson, Carol S. (1991) Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World. New York: Harper San Fransisco

Whyte, David (2001) Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity New York: Doubleday

Whyte, David (2010) The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship. New York: Riverhead

Whyte, David (2002) The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America. New York: Doubleday

Young, Jonathan (1996) Saga - Best New Writings on Mythology Vol. 1. Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press

Young, Jonathan (2000) Saga - Best New Writings on Mythology Vol. 2. Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press