Self-Portrait

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Carol Frenier
Chelsea, Vermont, USA

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What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

What do we need to know to bring the next level of conscious collective organization into the world? At a level at which we will be able to resolve the seemingly insoluble conflicts within the human species?

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

I have always found it easier to experience a sense of deep presence while sitting with a group. Through my involvement with Beyond War and the World Business Academy I have done various community building workshops. At one of these I experienced what Scott Peck refers to as the inrush of spirit when a group reaches a state of emptiness. This experience for me was intensely physical and almost more powerful that my body could handle at the time. I felt complete love for everyone present. Since then I have participated in many conferences and gatherings where similar experiences have occurred but never so vividly or over such a sustained period.

That one experience, however, left a seed of faith in me about what is possible. It has made me capable of staying calm when a group is in chaos. I have seen so many times a profound coming together on the last morning of a gathering after participants have had the chance to dream. Having worked with Jungian dream analysis, I am utterly convinced of the divine origin of dream images and their value to both individual and group life.

I have also worked somewhat with Native American and Celtic circles which I find have a powerful impact on the depth of sharing and visioning among people. I am part of an on-going twelve member group that has met together for two decades using a Native American medicine wheel and talking staff as our primary practice. Through women's work, I have experimented with the Celtic circle which has many of the same qualities but some interestingly subtle variations. In both cases, I have seen the presence of sacred matter in groups and the acknowledgment of spirit realms within group space evoke capacities not usually available to people in conventional group process.

What is it about the work in this field that excites you and connects you to your own deepest self?

The work that most excites me now is my work with the Fetzer Collective Wisdom Initiative team. My role as synthesizer involves 1) writing about patterns that emerge from Self-Portraits and documents and 2) organizing the Self-Portraits so that people who share passions and interests can find each other.

Recently I have learned the principles of indexing. Indexing does not involve making a list of topics, as most people assume, but is really about mapping a piece of written work. I realized that the technology of indexing could be used to "capture" what people have learned about Collective Wisdom. The indexing process, to me, is extremely congenial with "diffuse awareness", a Jungian concept that describes a feminine way of perceiving reality (in contrast with the more masculine "focused consciousness".) In essence, I am exploring how to maximize the use of diffuse awareness to see into the heart of Collective Wisdom.

My experience as a business owner for 23 years has been grist for the mill as I have tried to understand how the archetypal energy and the collective unconscious (of my Jungian study) manifest themselves in the daily affairs of the world. Of great interest to me is the feminine archetype, of which diffuse awareness is a key characteristic. In 1997 I wrote Business and the Feminine Principle: The Untapped Resource (Butterworth-Heinemann) which explores the potential partnership between diffuse awareness and focused consciousness in everyday business life.

Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of what brought you to this work. Feel free to mention important work experience, transformational experiences, theoretical frameworks, mentors, or schools of thought, etc.

As a woman and introvert in business, I struggled most of my life with the sense that I did not fit into the public sphere. To cope with this situation I engaged in personal growth activities including women's circles and personal and couple therapy. This work led me to Carl Jung, whose work became a focal point of my exploration. I have read extensively in this field. Marie Louise von Franz and Marion Woodman are my heroines.

I am involved in a marriage of 33 years and have been continuously engaged in a lively conversation with my husband, Bob, about personal growth, especially about the best development of the masculine and the feminine. We have also always been committed to living in beautiful natural places which nourish our souls.

In the 1980s I discovered Beyond War and realized that there existed in the world a growing number of people who are committed to and believe in the possibility that people can radically change the way they think and behave. I felt as if I had "come home."

My second foray into global transformation was through the World Business Academy, the Boston chapter of which I initiated and coordinated for five years. I was deeply influence by the work of and inspired by the personal life of the late Willis Harman.

How would you like to be available to others in this field? What would be a meaningful connection? Are you available to talk with others? What contribution might you be able to make?

I would be happy to hear from anyone interested in Jungian/archetypal/feminine content. I can offer two decades of contemplating these topics to anyone who is looking for input on a particular line of inquiry. Email is the best format for me, but I am also open to telephone conversations and will look forward to postings of gatherings, where I can talk to people directly. For me face-to-face contact greatly enhances email conversations.

At the moment what I am most interested in hearing from others is stories about real life experiences in groups where people feel touched by spirit and experience the manifestation of collective wisdom. I will be reading all your Self-Portraits; question #1 is the question in which I will be most personally interested!

Links to this site or others:

Engaging the Imaginal Realm: Doorway to Collective Wisdom

Synthesis of 90 Self-Portraits of people involved in the field of Collective Wisdom

Carol's book, Business and the Feminine Principle can be found through Butterworth-Heinemann.


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