The Colonial Shadow: A Jungian Investigation of Settler Psychology

Author(s) : Kira Celeste

The Colonial Shadow: A Jungian Investigation of Settler Psychology

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The Colonial Shadow examines the colonial psychology that has shaped what is now known as Canada. This psychology has perpetrated devastating harm over the last half a millennium and continues to oppress Indigenous people and degrade the environment. This book is inspired by the tenet of depth psychology that stories and myths from one’s own ancestry can bring about transformation and deep changes in perspective. As such, it investigates how an alchemical way of imagining into white settler colonial consciousness might contribute to its accountability and psychological healing today.

The Colonial Shadow will be an invaluable resource for professionals, academics and students of Jungian and post-Jungian ideas, settler-colonial and First Nations studies, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies as well as for anyone interested in addressing the colonial complex.

Reviews and Endorsements

"Kira Celeste's study of European colonial consciousness and alchemy brings to light the hidden mythos that has been at work for hundreds of years in the settlers of North America. Through a series of compelling insights, she shows how alchemy also provides a way forward as a model for healing the generations deep settler colonial consciousness so desperately needed in our world today. In so doing, Celeste underscores the valuable contribution that depth psychological perspectives bring to issues of colonialism and race. What she offers is a way for people of colonial European descent to reflect and engage with collective shadow material through mythopoetic material so to engender healing and ultimately greater understanding of our shared human condition." - Dr. Safron Rossi, Author of The Kore Goddess: A Mythology & Psychology 

"The Colonial Shadow: A Jungian Investigation of Settler Psychology, offers the reader a deeply explored perspective and heart opening narrative on Canadian white settler racialized culture and the intergenerational trauma it has inflicted on Indigenous people. The brilliance of this book by Dr. Kira Celeste lies mainly in its powerful determination to keep the lens of her words moving in a revealing fashion that continuously engages the reader with knowledge of the psychology of white settler racism. The author successfully investigates mythology and alchemy using both, especially the latter, to take us on a journey of better understanding unconscious psychological states of attention. This investigation by Dr. Celeste offers us not only views of the alchemical poison of racism but also the potential remedy. There is no other book, from a Jungian depth psychological perspective, that so clearly articulates the historical psychological origins and traumas of colonization where the author contemplates her own ethnic lineage. In addition, the author recognizes the need to give voice responsibly, owning through the claiming of this voice, and the use of a culturally white alchemical lens, that for settlers, moving towards integrity and accountability is not only possible, but a responsibility. The Colonial Shadow is a brilliant book that brings us to the edge of the racialized abyss, inviting us to look down and see what is below. Dr. Celeste’s powerful and meditative narrative can also give us the opportunity to gaze upwards to the stars and find the light there that is held by the darkness. This is a book of hope and courage, opening us to seeing new ways of healing centuries-long suffering of unconsciousness racism." - Fanny Brewster, Ph.D., M.F.A., LP, Author of The Racial Complex: A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race

"A thought-provoking analysis of how the myths and stories of ‘new lands’ and ‘white superiority’ that explorers and white settlers carried from Europe forged a deeply ingrained colonial consciousness that perpetuates oppression and injustice today. Celeste encourages readers to dig more deeply into the roots of their own colonial consciousness in ways that are potentially healing, decolonizing, and transformative." - Paulette Regan, author of Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada

"In this very timely and valuable book, Colonial Shadow, Dr. Celeste uses concepts drawn from the works of C.G. Jung to explore how reconciliation and reparation can occur. She believes that settlers must face and be accountable for their own personal and cultural shadow. Celeste argues for the importance of settlers engaging in this work with humility, a willingness to sit with discomfort, and with an openness to letting ideas about themselves they have held dear, fall away. "Colonial Shadow" poignantly addresses the needs of our times." - John Allan, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Counselling Psychology, University of B.C., Vancouver, Canada.

"Over the past 4 decades, the People of the White earth (Esk'etemc) have been working on healing from past trauma. The work continues today on Intergenerational Trauma, mental wellness, and the impacts from Indian Residential Schools (IRS) in BC. Today, Esk'etemc continues to improve the understanding of the impacts of 'IRS' loss of ideals, culture, spirituality and identity that have long been on the minds of leadership. Esk'et continues to be a leader in finding and seeking ways to recover, for the past 7 generations, and the Next 7 generations. While we focus as a community on healing from the impacts of colonization, it is important that white settlers focus on their process of healing and accountability as well and on understanding their personal responsibility for the historic and ongoing harms of colonization. Meaningful transformation of white settlers and white settler society is necessary for true accountability and repair. Kira Celeste’s book The Colonial Shadow, will hopefully be an important contribution to this imperative work." - Fred Robbins, Kukpi7 (Chief) of Esk’etemc First Nation.

"To find our way to world peace and a truly creative society, we have to deal with our negative past, especially our colonialism. Kira Celeste offers an all-important depth psychological perspective on it, with many precious insights. I found her words inspiring, deepening my conscience about the terrible history that underlies my comfortable world." - Thomas Moore, author of New York Times #1 Best Seller Care of the Soul and Soul Therapy

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2: Foundational Literature

Chapter 3: The Colonial Complex

Chapter 4: Historical Manifestations of the Colonial Complex in So-Called Canada

Chapter 5: Alchemy and the Transformation of the Settler-Colonial Psyche

Chapter 6: Air

Chapter 7: Water

Chapter 8: Earth

Chapter 9: Fire

Chapter 10 - Conclusion

Part I. Albedo (and a little citrinitas)

Part II. Rubedo


About the Author(s)

Kira Celeste, PhD is passionate about supporting individuals in their journeys towards integrity with self and others. As a white settler, she gratefully acknowledges that the land on which she lives and works as a depth psychotherapist and writer is the Unceded Traditional Territories of the K'ómoks and Qualicum First Nations. Her Doctorate is in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Fifty percent of the author's proceeds from this book will be contributed to First Nations organizations.

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