temenos (sacred vessel)

crayon collage of sacred vessels 1

I became interested in Jungian psychology in high school, when we read Robertson Davies' Fifth Business in Grade 13 English class, and our teacher explored some of the Jungian themes in Davies’ work.

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the previous English teachers at my high school had become a well-respected Jungian psychoanalyst. When I discovered her work in university, I was introduced to a wealth of knowledge and tools that have become some of my most treasured ways of making sense of myself and the world we share.

One of the key concepts that I learned from Marion Woodman's work was the idea of “temenos” – a sacred vessel that is strong enough and resilient enough to safely contain our inner transformative processes.

crayon collage of sacred vessels 2

Think of it like an alchemist's vessel. If you want to turn lead into gold, you need a strong container to mix your ingredients in. The container has to be able to withstand a lot of heat. It can’t crack, or the gold will be lost.

For me, the temenos is also like a cooking pot. You add a bunch of ingredients, heat up the pot, and everything is transformed into nourishing and delicious food for you to eat.

crayon collage of sacred vessels 4

Home, for me, is a sacred vessel. It holds me close, keeps me safe, and within its walls I can quietly do my soul work – bringing light to things that are unconscious in me, and being transformed into a creature who can share that light with the world.


What sacred ingredients are carefully protected and transformed in your home?

crayon collage of sacred vessels 3


Details of the art journal spread The Sacred Containers (temenos), wax crayon and collage on paper, February 2006.

The theme for April 2012 is home.

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