Connecting You with Matthew Kelly

Jungian analyst Matthew Kelly ‘dumpster dives’ in the psyche, exploring how unconscious attitudes, defense mechanisms and collective beliefs influence our dissociative tendencies toward outer waste at our October lecture and workshop. 

When there are so many pressing environmental and social issues today, why waste? What made you decide to explore psychological issues around waste?

Exploring and making more conscious waste management is one of the big, pressing issues of our time. Margaret Atwood was recently asked what one institution she would most like to change. She responded that it would be the institution of plastics. Historically, garbage was mostly biodegradable. In our post-industrial, modern times, garbage has become contaminated with many items that need to be recycled or broken down into more component parts for further recycling, i.e. heavy metals. Only 27% of Canadians recycle on average. We put our trash ‘away,’ but it eventually ends up in our oceans, municipal backyard landfills leeching into our water tables, lakes, and rivers or traveling on the four winds from our incinerators. We are living in the time of Peak Garbage!

What are some of the ways in which we dissociate from our waste? 

Waste is the result of a culture of instant gratification, convenience and pervasive over-consumption. We don’t want to see the impact of our consumerism, be it in squalid working conditions in developing countries or the impact to our natural world.  Why do we over-consume and seek the most convenience over the environmentally responsible and sustainable? What inner dynamic are we so dissociated from? We will explore these questions further at the evening lecture. 

What are some of the archetypal roots of our modern ways of waste management?

Garbage has a lot of persona issues in relation to cleanliness, and keeping our trash out of sight. There’s also heaps of shadow issues regarding repression of what disgusts or disturbs us. Connected with shadow are reactions around evil: what disgusts us, what is seen as dirty activates the archetype of the underworld. Garbage is where we send things to die. We are a death-denying culture, so garbage and death go hand in hand. 

How does the way we treat our waste speak to the value we put on life or our approach to life and living?

Our current way of managing garbage seems innocuous with nice municipal landfills and polished and efficient incinerators. But the way we dispose of garbage reveals an unconscious aggression and fear toward the natural world. It also reflects our sense of being lost, in chaos without a guiding myth. Without experiencing being IN nature, WITH nature, and ONE with nature, in what indigenous cultures might call the Great Round, we will continue to over-consume and dissociate from our impact.

You’ve lived on a few islands in your life, and you currently reside on Quadra Island. How does living on an island influence your consciousness around waste? 

Great question! Living on an island amplifies the reality that we are all in this together! We are all living on the great island called earth. From getting my water from a well, to flushing sewage into septic fields, to sorting my waste at the landfill, I have an immediate sense of how immense the problem is, yet how simple it could be. We all need to ‘be the change’ we seek. 

What is the soul of garbage?

We will look at inner and outer garbage in the evening talk. We’ll imagine what garbage longs for. We’ll explore some ideas behind the word ‘soul’ and how to live in a more ensouled way. At the Saturday workshop, we’ll explore ways to develop a more fluid relation to shadow, our inner garbage, and how to create a more porous membrane with the wonder of the outer world.


Please Note: New Location!

Friday Lecture

Friday, October 20, 7:30-9:30 pm
Best Western Plus Village Park Inn, Edgemont Room
Free underground parking available.
Park, then register your vehicle at the hotel’s registration desk.

Saturday Workshop

Saturday, October 21, 10-4 pm
Parkdale United Church

Register Now for Garbage and the Soul







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