MidSummer Festival – Ancient Mysteries, Modern Psyche : 7/27 & 07/28 2013

July 11, 2012 admin Community Seasonal FestivalsEventEvents

Midsummer at the Center for Symbolic Studies, 2013

 Why Study Ancient Mysteries?

            While traditional Western Religion seems to have lost some of its attraction for modern seekers, science and much of modern culture seem to offer very little help for the guidance of the soul.  Because of misuse and overuse, the term “God” many of us prefer the term “The Great Mystery.”  Religious Historian Rudolf Otto used the intriguing term Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans, the Great and (endlessly) fascinating Mystery, which was a concept far less likely than the “God,” of the religions to be personified and anthropomorphized—and much less likely to be used by people pretending to have a monopoly on what “He” intends for humankind.

            The objective of the ancient mystery traditions was precisely to help seekers to feel at home in the universe, and in themselves—as if the two mysteries were in fact one.  The classical mysteries were conducted in darkness and in solitude or in solemn groups, utilizing ritual.  The words “mystery,” and “initiation,” really refer to the same process: one so secret and holy, that the mystes, the initiate, is often shown in symbolic form with his finger over his lips—these things are too sacred to be spoken of, or shared in the secular world.  Plato, one of the most intellectually sophisticated of the ancient Greeks, said he would not trade is experience of the Eleusinian Mysteries for anything else in his life.

            Modern people seem endlessly drawn back to ancient wisdom, to find the soul’s roots.  They study holy writ, go on pilgrimages to sacred sites, look for a way, any way, to reassure themselves that the soul is real, and in some time-honored way, at home in this universe.  It is not merely a universe of statistical accidents and hurrying particles, but a journey of becoming, in which the universe seems somehow to recognize us as “its children.”  In symbolic form, the concept of the soul is found everywhere in the classical cultures from Egypt to Greece.  The soul is first a chrysalis, then a butterfly, has wings, like the Ka of Ancient Egypt and flies through stone walls after death, is subject to being weighed by Osiris, the Lord of the mysteries of Death and Rebirth, and found to be heavier or lighter than a feather.

            In the 1950’s Joseph Campbell was asked to edit one of the Eranos Yearbooks on “The Mysteries,” based on a collection of papers given at the Eranos conference for myth and psychology during the 1930’s and 40’s.  Included were C.G .Jung, Rudolf Otto, D.T. Suzuki, Mircea Eliade, and many other distingushed scholars (later including Campbell himself).  Participation in the mysteries bestowed membership in an ancient lineage.  “The journey, and its stages, have been known for millennia,” said Campbell.  By participating in the ancient mysteries, we become immortal, and join a timeless throng on the labyrinthine path of life.  “Where we had thought to journey outward, we come to the center of ourselves…where had thought to be alone” (in this life) said Campbell, “we shall be with all the world.”

 Ancient Mysteries, Modern Psyche

A Scholarly program to accompany the Midsummer Festival at Stone Mountain Center  July 27, 28, 2013

The Schedule:


1 PM  Welcoming Remarks: Stephen Larsen

1:20   Introducing John Anthony West: Jason Stern

1:30  The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt: John Anthony West

3:00  BREAK

3:50 Introducing Robert Schoch: John Anthony West

4:00 Göbekli Tepe, the Great Sphinx, and the Origins of Civilization Robert Schoch

5:30-6:30  DINNER BREAK (Construction of Wicker Man)

6:30  Music Begins: Songs from The Trojan Women, and the Cretan Crotokritos, by Bill Vanaver and accompanists

8:00  Evening Lugnasadh Ritual, Burning of the Wicker Man, dancing and drumming around the fire till…

11:00 Closing


11 AM  The Mystery of Time: AT Mann

12  PM Bringing Ancient Mystery into the Present with Gurdjieff Jason Stern

12: 45  BREAK

1:00  The Mysteries of Ancient Greece:  From Eleusis to Epidauros

Stephen and Robin Larsen

2:00-3:30  Panel Discussion with all Presenters and Audience Participation

4 PM  Conference Ends

 Our Faculty for this Weekend:

John Anthony West delivered a seismic shock to archaeology in the early 1990’s when he and Boston University geologist Robert Schoch revealed that the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt, showed evidence of rainfall erosion. Such erosion could only mean that the Sphinx was carved during or before the rains that marked the transition of northern Africa from the last Ice Age to the present interglacial epoch, a transition that occurred in the millennia from 10,000 to 5000 BC. Indeed, the Sphinx is so old, West maintains, that it obliges us totally to reconsider ancient history and the evolution of human civilization to account for it. This afternoon West will present new, compelling geological, scientific and scholarly evidence to support his revolutionary theory.


He will also discuss the astonishingly sophisticated sacred science of ancient Egypt — its mastery of geometry, harmony and proportion; its cosmological mythology, its complex symbolism and the great spiritual doctrine underlying these disciplines.











John Anthony West

Bio: John Anthony West is an Emmy Award-winning rogue Egyptologist who has been  writing about ancient Egypt for four decades   He is the author of Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient and The Traveler’s Key to Ancient Egypt…as well as satiric fiction, plays and screenplays

 Göbekli Tepe, the Great Sphinx, and the Origins of Civilization

Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D.

 The groundbreaking work of John Anthony West and Robert Schoch recasting the age of the Great Sphinx of Egypt to thousands of years earlier than the conventional dating of circa 2500 BCE is supported by recent studies of the 12,000-year-old site of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, confirming that true civilization dates back to the end of the last ice age. This contradicts the standard paradigm, which asserts that civilization arose approximately 6,000 years ago. Is the concept of Atlantis, which Plato’s chronology dates to circa 9600 BCE, a remembrance of high civilization in extreme antiquity? Why did these early civilizations disappear? Did the ancients know things that we do not fully understand today? Did they have insights into the long-term rhythms and cycles of Earth and the cosmos? Is there truth to the ancient saying, “As above, so below”?








Robert Schoch, Ph.D

A.T. Mann — The Mystery of Time

We live our lives in time and are governed by the inexorable processes of time. As the Buddha recognized: our life in time, begun at conception, and entered at birth, inevitably leads to illness, old age and death. Yet we occasionally escape its grasp in dreams, sexuality, meditation or transcendent experiences in brief moments of timelessness. Few of us understand what time is and how it functions, particularly in its distortions and relativity. Our fundamental ideas about time are often incorrect and perpetuate the deepest wounds we carry within. In attempting to heal these wounds inflicted by time (or our attitude toward time), we discover the path which leads beyond time. Life Time astrology is a way of understanding how time affects us and a path toward learning how to work with it.

A.T. Mann is an author, architect, designer/artist and astrologer and has written 17 books about time and astrology, calendars, the sacred,  reincarnation, and his tarot deck. Recent books include Sacred Landscapes with photos by Lynn Davis, and The Sacred Language of Trees. He is currently making documentaries with H.H. the Dalai Lama on neuroscience and meditation ,and also the Quest for Vivekananda, as well as a series based on the sacred trees. He lives in Hudson, NY. www.atmann.net











AT Mann

 The Mysteries of Ancient Greece: From Eleusis to Epidauros:

Stephen Larsen, Ph.D. and Robin Larsen, Ph.D.

 Drawing from over twenty years of study with Joseph Campbell, the Larsens will start with the Eleusinian Mysteries, move to Delphi and Korinthos, and end up at the great stadium at Epidauros, the major shrine of the Asclepian tradition.  The Larsens will attempt to communicate the profoundly human wisdom articulated in the Ancient Greek Mysteries and the Asclepian Healing tradition, as seen by Jung and Campbell.  What emerges is an ancient road of soul development that stretches from the archetypal roots of Western Civilization to the present time, and our own psychic dilemmas.  Their treatment includes respect for the tradition of Dream Incubation as an ever-renewable source of wisdom.

 Stephen Larsen is Psychology Professor Emeritus, SUNY, director of Stone Mountain Counseling Center, and Robin Larsen is an exhibiting artist and art historian.  Together they authored A Fire in the Mind: The Life of Joseph Campbell, and The Fashioning of Angels, Partnership as Spiritual Practice.  The Larsens co-founded The Center for Symbolic Studies.

 Moving the Mystery Forward:  The Gurdjieff Work: Jason Stern

G.I. Gurdjieff is one of the most influential and enigmatic teachers of the twentieth century. His early history and the source of his teaching are shrouded in mystery. The form of the teaching itself changed continuously during his life, though in essence Gurdjieff’s message remained consistent: Human beings are asleep, but through work on ourselves, in the company of co-operative others, we can awaken. The inner work Gurdjieff taught takes place in life, in the very circumstances that exert their hypnotic effect, and where a striving to awaken can have the greatest result for the common good. As the life and death of the master recede into the now distant past, many groups and practitioners work to “exhume the buried dog”, and carry Gurdjieff’s teaching forward for the future.









Jason Stern met the Gurdjieff Work in 1988, when he was 17. In 1990 he joined his first teacher in starting a Fourth Way community where he lived for 15 years. Since then Jason has studied the Gurdjieff teaching, its practices, and Movements with teachers from several lineages around the world. Jason currently leads a Gurdjieff group in Woodstock, NY. He is cofounder and publisher of the Hudson Valley regional magazines Chronogram, and Upstate House, and is the author of Learning to Be Human. Jason lives with his wife and two children in New Paltz, NY. 


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