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A Matter of Degree / A Student's Daybook at Pacifica Graduate Institute

a Matter of degree

A Student's Daybook at Pacifica Graduate Institute

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Tomorrow is my first official day of classes. It’s also the first day of Navratri, Hinduism’s nine-night celebration of the goddess Durga. Seeing how I’m entering into a program of archetypal studies, it seems fitting to share a bit of the Durga mythology.

Once upon a legendary time, a demon went on a rampage: mass violence, disaster, despair. Normally, the gods could have made quick work of a monster like this, but — thanks to a divine boon and a fatal underestimation of girlpower — the baddy in question could only be defeated by a woman. The gods combined their powers, and there appeared the goddess Durga. Often depicted with ten arms and riding a lion (though, according to Wikipedia, she can have as many as eighteen upper limbs), Durga slew the demon and saved the worlds.

Durga is one of the fierce forms of Parvati, the consort of Shiva, an aspect of the Great Mother archetype. As mamas go, however, she’s fairly formidable, probably more likely to teach her younglings to wield a talwar than to skip rope. Not the Shakti one would customarily find in an educational setting — that would be Saraswati — I imagine an academic Durga as one who encourages us to take a sword to our own demons of ignorance, and to pursue our vocation with amiable ferocity.

(If you’re interested to know more about Durga and the other forms of Shakti, check out David Frawley’s classic book, Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses.)



ˈsiləbəs (noun)
a happy justification for expanding one’s library.

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Ithought I was a library power user until I met today with Richard Buchen, Pacifica Reference Librarian and Jedi Master of Research Powers. Richard was kind enough to give me a screen-share overview of the library’s resources, ranging from a Padawan-level library catalog introduction to the Jedi Knight-level secrets of the database search string. In short, I have seen the arcane capabilities of Ebsco and Google Scholar, my friends, and they are intriguing.



I’ve correctly answered the sphinx’s riddle. The threshold guardians are waving me through. That’s right — I’ve been accepted to Pacifica! Start counting down. I’ve got 85 days until classes begin.

I’ll be studying Depth Psychology, making the deep dive on Jungian Studies and Analytical Psychology. That means I’ll be taking courses with titles like The Poetic Basis of Mind and Archetypes: Universal Patterns of the Psyche. I'm thrilled to the gills, and can't wait to finally order my very own copy of The Red Book, something I've been itching to do for some time now.

The costs, of course, are daunting. Grad school isn’t cheap and the time investment is substantial. Especially given that I’m returning to school after many moons, I can’t help hearing the clock ticking just behind my shoulder. That said, I'm more excited than anxious, feeling the tug of the daimon. I've already started a list of dissertation topic ideas. And there’s a non-zero chance that, by the end of the day, I’ll have contacted the campus bookstore to get myself a Pacifica t-shirt.

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