Chair & Faculty: M.A./Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with Emphasis in Depth Psychology


The Faculty members of Pacifica's M.A./Ph.D. in Mythological Studies bring a passion for education and a wealth of real-world experience into the classroom.

As leaders in the fields, the members of Pacifica's faculty include authors of international acclaim, renowned lecturers, practicing psychologists, active psychotherapists, registered nurses, theologians, and philosophers.

All Mythological Studies faculty members share a passion for education and are dedicated to working with adult learners. To learn more about the faculty in the M.A./Ph.D. in Mythological Studies, then read the individual descriptions below.

Program Chair

Evans Lansing Smith

Evans Lansing Smith, Ph.D. has degrees from Williams College, Antioch International, and The Claremont Graduate School. He is the author of ten books and numerous articles on comparative literature and mythology, and has taught at colleges in Switzerland, Maryland, Texas, and California, and at the C.G. Jung Institute in Kusnacht. In the late 1970s, he traveled with Joseph Campbell on study tours of Northern France, Egypt, and Kenya, with a focus on the Arthurian Romances of the Middle Ages and the Mythologies of the Ancient World. His books include: Haiku for Aphrodite; Rape and Revelation: The Descent to the Underworld in Modernism; The Descent to the Underworld in Literature, Painting, and Film: 1850-1950: The Modernist Nekyia; The Myth of the Descent to the Underworld in Postmodern Literature; Ricorso and Revelation: An Archetypal Poetics of Modernism; Figuring Poesis: A Mythical Geometry of Postmodernism; The Hero Journey in Literature; Sacred Mysteries: Myths About Couples in Quest; Postmodern Magus: Myth and Poetics in the Works of James Merrill; and Thomas Pynchon and the Postmodern Mythology of the Underworld. His areas of emphasis include: Myth in Literature from Antiquity to Postmodernism; Arthurian Romances, and The Hermetic Tradition.

He currently teaches: Myth and the Underworld; Alchemy and Hermeticism; Arthurian Romances and the Grail; Folklore and Fairytales; Theoretical Approaches to Mythological Studies; Cultural Mythologies; and Native Mythologies of the Americas.

See Evans' research output and influence metrics.

Core Faculty

Patrick Mahaffey

Patrick Mahaffey, Ph.D., helped found the program in 1994 and has served as its chair for 18 years. His Ph.D. in Religious Studies is from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is Editor of Evolving God-Images: Essays on Religion, Individuation, and Postmodern Spirituality. His areas of emphasis include Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Comparative Philosophy of Religion, Contemplative Practices, and Mysticism. He has conducted participant-observation research in India and practices Hindu and Buddhist meditation. He has published essays on Hindu yoga traditions; Jung's Depth Psychology and Yoga; Religious Pluralism; World-Making and Postmodernity; and Religion in America.

He currently teaches: Hindu Traditions; Buddhist Traditions; The God Complex and Dissertation Formulation.

See Patrick's research output and influence metrics.


Christine Downing, Ph.D., is a core member of the faculty at Pacifica. She has made extensive scholarly contributions to the fields of Religious Studies, Mythology, and Gender Studies. She is Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies from San Diego State University where she taught for almost twenty years. She has also taught concurrently at the San Diego campus of the California School of Professional Psychology, and at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. She lectures frequently to Jungian groups both here and abroad. Her undergraduate degree is in literature is from Swarthmore College, while her Ph.D. in Religion and Culture is from Drew University. Dr. Downing is the author of numerous scholarly essays and important books in the field: The GoddessMyths & Mysteries of Same-Sex LovePsyche's SistersLong Journey HomeWomen's Mysteries; and Gods in Our Midst. Collections of her essays have also been published: The Luxury of Afterwards; Preludes; and Gleanings. Her areas of emphasis include: Greek Mythology; Women's Studies; and Psychoanalysis.

She currently teaches: Greek and Roman Mythology I; Greek and Roman Mythology II; Hebrew and Jewish Mythology; and Myths of the Self: Memoir and Autobiography.

See Christine's research output and influence metrics.

Dr. Laura Grillo, Pacifica Graduate Institute

Laura S. Grillo, Ph.D., is core faculty in the Mythological Studies program. She holds a Ph.D. in History of Religions from The University of Chicago, a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from Union Theological Seminary and an A.B. in Religious Studies from Brown University. A leader in her field, she served for six years as Co-chair of the African Religions Group and is on the steering committee of the African Diaspora group of the American Academy of Religion.

Laura’s fieldwork on contemporary urban divination was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Religions and the West Africa Research Association. Her research grounds divination in epistemology and explores its implications for personhood, agency, identity and ethics.

Her current work is on women, gender and postcolonial politics in Africa; she’s published several articles and is preparing a book on the subject, An Intimate Rebuke: Female Genital Power in Ritual and Politics in Côte d’Ivoire. This work was launched under the auspices of Harvard Divinity School. Laura also held postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religions at The University of Chicago and The Coleman Center for African Studies at UCLA.

Laura is also completing a memoir, Ask for the Road, about her negotiation of destiny with African diviners, won her six Writer’s Residency Fellowships for creative non-fiction.

See Laura's research output and influence metrics.

Ginette Paris, Ph.D.

Ginette Paris, Ph.D., is a core member of the faculty at Pacifica. She was originally trained as a Social Psychologist at the University of Montréal, Canada, and was concurrently trained and licensed as a Clinical Psychologist. She taught for 20 years in the Department of Communications at the State University of Québec before joining Pacifica in 1995. Her books include: Pagan Grace and Pagan Meditations which explore the archetypal way of understanding Greek and Roman gods. Her book, Wisdom of the Psyche: Depth Psychology after Neuroscience (Routledge, 2007) has been translated into several languages and brought her invitations to lecture internationally. Her most recent She teaches and lectures in Jungian and post Jungian approaches, especially the theory and practice of Archetypal Psychology.

She currently teaches: Archetypal Psychology and Neuroscience; Mythic Motifs in Cinema; Research Strategies for Dissertation Writing; and Dissertation Writing.

See Ginette's research output and influence metrics.

Dennis Patrick Slattery Ph.D.

Dennis Patrick Slattery Ph.D., is a core faculty member who helped shape the development of the Mythological Studies program. He has been teaching for 44 years from elementary to secondary, undergraduate, and graduate programs. He has received the prominent rank of Distinguished Core Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. His areas of emphasis include the poetic imagination, writing and reading as mythic activities, the relation of psyche, spirit and matter, and the place of contemplation within the academic setting. He is the author of several books including: The Idiot: Dostoevsky's Fantastic Prince; The Wounded Body: Remembering the Markings of Flesh; Grace in the Desert: Awakening to the Gifts of Monastic Life; Harvesting Darkness: Essays on Literature, Myth, Film and CultureA Limbo of Shards: Essays on Memory, Myth and Metaphor; Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Plotting Your Personal Story; and Creases in Culture: Essays Towards a Poetics of Depth. With Lionel Corbett he has co-edited Depth Psychology: Meditations in the Field as well as Psychology at the Threshold. With Glen Slater, he has co-edited Varieties of Mythic Experience: Essays on Religion, Psyche and Culture. With Jennifer Selig, he has co-edited Reimagining Education: Essays On Reviving the Soul Of Learning. He is the author of three volumes of poetry: Casting Shadows; Just Below the Water Line; and Twisted Sky. He serves as the Faculty Advisor to Between, the student literary journal as well as The Mythological Studies Journal, the student on-line journal, both published by the Mythological Studies Program.

He currently teaches: Mythopoetic Images: Dante's Divine Comedy; Joseph Campbell: Metaphor, Myth, and Culture; Epic Imagination; Dissertation Development.

See Dennis' research output and influence metrics.

Glen Slater Ph.D.

Glen Slater Ph.D., has taught in the Mythological Studies Program since its inception. His academic background includes degrees in Religious Studies and Clinical Psychology. He edited and introduced volume three of James Hillman's Uniform Edition of writings, Senex and Puer, and he co-edited Varieties of Mythic Experience: Essays on Religion, Psyche and Culture (with Dennis Patrick Slattery). Glen has also written a number of articles for Jungian journals and essay collections. His areas of emphasis include: Jungian Psychology; Archetypal Psychology; Psychology of Religion; Technology and Psyche; and Cinema and Psyche.

He currently teaches: Jung's Depth Psychology; Psyche and Nature.

See Glen's research output and influence metrics.

Adjunct Faculty

Stanizai Cut 14

Zaman Stanizai, Ph.D. has a doctorate in Political Science and completed his postgraduate studies in Islamic Mysticism (Sufism) and Islamic Gnosticism (Erfan). He has taught at Kabul University, the University of Southern California, the University of California, Los Angeles, and several community colleges in Southern California. His of areas of specialization are: Islamic Studies; Sufism; Theosophy; Political Philosophy;and Poetic Expression in Mystical Thought.

He currently teaches: Islamic Traditions.

See Zaman's research output and influence metrics.

Elizabeth Terzian, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Terzian, Ph.D. completed her PhD in the Mythological Studies Program and wrote a dissertation entitled, "The Aesthetics and Poetics of Light in Eastern Christian Iconography – A Mythopoetic Perspective." She has an M.A. in Dance History from the University of California at Riverside. Her studies, at several universities and institutes in France and Lebanon, included Philosophy and Letters, training in classical ballet, and piano. She has presented and performed in a series of lecture-concert-demonstrations throughout California and taught at Loyola Marymount University, the University of California at Irvine, and at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has contributed essays, papers, book and film reviews to the Encyclopedia of Mythology on CD Rom, St James International Dictionary of Ballet, Dance Research, The Society of Dance History Scholars, Headline Muse, and She is also an iconographer in the Byzantine style. Dr. Terzian serves on dissertation committees for students ad as the Research Coordinator for the Mythological Studies Program.

She currently teaches: Myth and Philosophy; Christian Traditions.


Paul Zolbrod, Ph.D. is a literary scholar who has also done on-site field research and participant-observation in tribal communities, particularly in the Southwest, and especially among the Navajos. He has taught at many colleges and universities and is the author of numerous books and essays including Diné bahane': The Navajo Creation Story. His areas of specialization are: Native American Oral Traditions; Medieval and Renaissance Literature; Early American Literature; and Epic Traditions.

He currently teaches: Native Mythologies of the Americas.

See Paul's research output and influence metrics.

249 Lambert Road, Carpinteria, California, 93013 | Telephone: 805.969.3626