Dissertation Title:

Songs from the Geomythical Realm: An Eco-Psychological Interpretation of the Auditory Mind


Kirsten Came

Date, Time & Place:

December 8, 2021 at 1:00 pm


Contained in the earliest human stories and into present day exist multiple references to hearing the “voice” of nature, usually expressed musically and/or through feeling, motion, or presence. Recent research shows that these experiences are quite common and only rarely associated with pathology. This dissertation asks what is at the core of these auditory experiences and what value they might hold for human experience and relationship in the world? This research, drawing from psychology, ecology, neurobiology, mythology, and religion, finds a persistent awareness, interest, wonder, and expression of these experiences throughout history. Coinciding with massive losses of species and environmental degradation globally, interest in experiential non-measurables, such as extraordinary auditory phenomena, is spiraling in artistic, scientific, and social contexts.

This dissertation introduces a geomythic methodology, using tools established in archetypal- and eco-psychology, to trace sound symbols that survive on ancient stone works, are embodied in gods and goddesses, are imagined in the movements and landscapes within epic stories, and are written in the journals of pilgrims and naturalists. It establishes the perception of extraordinary auditory phenomena as a co-creative process that interweaves interiors and exteriors of consciousness and sensation, allowing for an otherwise exaggerated sense of “selfhood” to be sublimated by an interpretive interbeing. Ritual use of sound to bridge outer, inner, and hidden (paranatural) qualities of existence is closely examined in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. Victor Zuckerkandl’s ideas on the tripartite structure of musical perception, the third part being a “dynamic force” associated with an “external psychic,” are compared to Jung’s discussion of the phenomenology of spirit. From ecology, Ian McCullan’s hypotheses on the existence of mindfields, suggest an invisible energetic interspecies web of intelligence. Mind, in each of these formations, is not an abstraction of brain function, but is the entirety of intellect, emotion, and ecology of an organism. The auditory mind, because of its synesthetic qualities, is particularly adept at attentively engaging within these complex sensory environments, culminating in an experience of song; a duet between self and other.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • Reader: Dr. Dana White
  • External Reader: Dr. Lydia L. Reineck
  • Keywords: Ecopsychology, Depth Psychology, Imagination, Auditory Mind, Mindfield, Archetypal Field, Spirals, Labyrinths, Synaesthesia, Sound