Dr. Christine Downing
Dr. Christine Downing has been teaching at Pacifica Graduate Institute since 1987, primarily in its Mythological Studies Program. Before that for almost twenty years she taught at San Diego State University and concurrently at the California School of Professional Psychology. Christine has also taught at the Jung Institute in Zürich and lectures frequently to Jungian groups both in the US and abroad and at American and European universities. Her many books include The Goddess, Journey through Menopause, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, Women’s Mysteries, Gods in Our Midst, Psyche’s Sisters, The Luxury of Afterwards, Preludes, Gleanings, and most recently Mythopoetic Musings. A decade ago she led five study tours to Greece and one to Turkey. In 2018 she took a group to the classical sites in Sicily and in 2019 led a tour she called Exploring Freud’s World that went to the Czech Republic, Austria, and London. Her last study tour to Turkey in 2020 was cancelled due to the Coronavirus.
May this be just one of the ways you are being honored as you retire and celebrate your birthday. It is my great good fortune to have worked with you on our incredible trips the last few years—Sicily, Freud, and (almost) Turkey. You are a force of nature and I am honored and blessed to be your friend.
Much love, Toni
There are so many wonderful moments and memories I could share about Christine . First and foremost, I was thrilled that she agreed to be my Dissertation Chair. In the beginning, she agreed to sign on to my original topic and then stayed with me through the next 42 topics I subsequently explored, moving though Hawaiian Mythology to the Nature of Reality and finally settling on Narcissus and the symbolism of mirrors. When I foolishly insisted to Christine that I could do an entire Jungian-based dissertation on Narcissus and not use Freud, she just knowingly smiled, and said, “Let’s just see how it goes.” Needless to say, with a combination of kind indulgence and wise and firm navigation, Christine eventually guided me right to where I needed to be… facing my fear of Freud. I also hold very dear my time with Christine on one of her study trips to Greece in 2008. Seeing Greece through her eyes, wandering through Eleusis and pondering the Eleusinian mysteries, exploring theatre and healing at the ampitheatre at Epidaurus, admiring the influence of bull mythology on Crete, and so much more, made the mythos come alive alll around me and provided a deeper journey through my own psyche. I am grateful for Christine for so many reasons, but mostly, it\’s for her wisdom and deep immersion into the mythic world of the soul, her kind and supportive tutelage and friendship as I navigated the Pacifica program, and the sheer impressive tour de force she emanates as a human being living her life with passion. Congratulations, Christine! With much respect and love, I toast to you, and wish you all the best!
Nicole K Miller
I am celebrating your long career at Pacifica where your lively talks and lectures, almost dancing as you move around the room, have inspired, challenged and enlightened so many of us. From the moment I met you, I was struck by your love of teaching, writing, reading, and story-telling. When you share a story or event that has touched you, you literally light up. You are like a child holding up a gift that you can’t wait to share. You have the strongest spirit, the strongest stamina, the biggest, most generous heart, the fastest walk, the quickest smile, the kindest nature I have ever known. Your joy in other’s success, your support and encouragement for small and big endeavors, has done so much to move those of us in your circle forward. You are playful, genuine, humble, honest, completely and fully yourself, and because of that, you give us permission to be our authentic selves. I love hearing you talk about mythology, literature, films, “your” Freud, the antics of your cats, your walks on Orcas, your sweet times with River, your early years growing up, your growing brood of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, your love of travel , mystery novels, and quiet times in the sun reading. You, to me, are a teacher of life, one who gives and receives with utter delight and open arms. I adore you, Chris, and am so happy for this moment in your life.
In deepest gratitude for your enthusiasm, scholarship, and your encouraging presence in my life during my time at Pacifica. May the beauty of life continue surround you with many more adventures! Blessings be yours.
When I think of Dr. Downing, two words come to mind….wisdom and love. I will be forever grateful that I was blessed to sit at the feet of Christine Downing and learn! Sending peace and love to her! ❤
Although I’m sad we didn’t make it to Turkey, I will forever be grateful I was able to learn from Dr. Downing, experience the sass of Chrissy, and call Chris a friend. I absolutely love that she agreed to chair my dissertation and am eternally grateful she doesn’t let me get away with any shortcuts. I will always remember the foot stomping and the “do ya?” check-ins during class lectures as well as her spot-on recommendations of everything I need to read. Chris, I hope you find the life you’re looking for after being such an incredible educator. Happiest of birthdays and Xronia Polla!
Very hard to put Chris Downing in a simple paragraph. She has given me so many experiences. I call her “My Professor” as if she only talks to me. She wrote “live your life fully, Shelley,” on one of my papers. And when I wanted to write a dissertation on my siblings, she gave me the go-ahead without either of us knowing where it would lead. In other words, Chris not only validates the learner’s journey, she trust in our individual story. As she has shown, again and again, there always is another story. I love Chris Downing. Thank her for being in my life. It has been one of my most privileged experiences.
I’ll never forget our first session in the Myth Program as we met and listened to our nw professors in fascination, awe, and also trembling and delight. The year was 2004, seeing Chrissie who I thought of as the electrifying, vibrant woman who was Divine Hell Raiser in a Moon Maiden Handbasket. She was a promise of great “Depth” and exposure to thoughts and approaches with her brilliance and deep understanding of the pitfalls as well as the possibilities we would face during our years with her and our other amazing Professors.
She sat with us at meals and her stories held us in thrall. A woman who had five babies and did her dissertation with them gathered around, while she organized her writing with baskets spread throughout the room, and somehow doing it all with grace and inventiveness. We read her books, and entered the landscape of Gods of both Dark and Light. Just when you thought you had a handle on a concept in a paper, when she responded and gave notes, it was turned on its side and one could find a different angle, and see something new by looking through her eyes and following the trail she always left pebbles for us where the moon shone its brightest.
Thank you for those years of inspiration, support, and tremendous love. Cheers to a bright and ever-joy-filled future with your beloveds. We hold you in our hearts forever.
I have wonderful, sweet, deep and joyful memories from you, from your teachings and from the journey we were together in Greece. As memories have the flavour of present, we have been walking together since 1999 even been so far! What a treasure, a gift forever and Gratitude, gratitude for everything, my darling Chris! Please receive my love and best wishes to 2021, also to River and all yours.
Luciana Aires Mesquita
Joy, Love, Wisdom, Sassiness, Deep Knowledge— Dr. Chris Downing is the ultimate Goddess for those of us who have been blessed to have been in her presence either as students, co-workers, or friends, we are all honored and changed for the better by experiencing the phenomenon that is Chris Downing. Happy Birthday and Happy Retirement! No one deserves a celebration more. We love you, Chris.
Chris Downing’s books lured me to Pacifica. First day at school I was having lunch with her! It took all of my courage to ask her to autograph “The Goddess”.
She co-chaired my dissertation on Reincarnation and kept asking “you don’t actually think you can prove that, do you?” Over the years we had many disagreements, but she would smile with that trademark twinkle in her eyes: “Just because we never agree on anything doesn’t mean we can’t love each other.”
If everyone thought like her, the world would be a better place. Indeed the world is a better place with her in it.
The year was 1974 when I began my graduate education at CSPP in San Diego. Having just arrived back from India and via Vermont crossed the country to attend this new school. I was anxious about attending an experimental program that was newly opened, an unproven free standing school of professional psychology. My nerves were quickly calmed by some wonderful teachers, most especially Dr. Downing. I was awed not only by the depth of her knowledge of Freud and Jung, but her lively presentation. I fondly recall her sitting in a chair that had been placed on a table so that all of us could see and hear her. She watered the flowers that bore the fruits of my career as a Jungian psychology. Most of all I am deeply indebted to you Chris for believing in a long-haired, orange clad ”hippie” who wrote a wild dissertation on the trickster using alchemy as an investigative tool. I remember so well dropping off drafts of the dissertation in your home mailbox and excitedly waiting to read your comments. I think it was chapter three when you wrote something like, ”you turned a corner.” Well, that corner profoundly shaped my life and have since dedicated myself to further study, teaching and writing on alchemical psychology. Other memories: your class in shamanism held in your living room; inviting me to party right after graduating where I met (and was overwhelmed) my meeting James Hillman who asked, ”What does soul want?” (I was totally caught flat-footed!); then your invitation for me to contribute a journal article… Even years later, after sending you a copy of my first book, you recalled me from so many years ago. I last saw you at a seminar you gave, and you hadn’t lost a bit of your scholarship and wonderful way of connecting with people. I am deeply grateful and wish you a wonderful birthday as we usher in a bright New Year! May you continue to flower in your retirement!
Thom F Cavalli, Ph.D.
How blessed I am to have had you as my professor! I am deeply grateful for all you have graced our world with and I am honored to have been your student. You have inspired me, encouraged me, and I will continue to continue, responding to Calling and all the unseen Guests that guide me on my path.
With great respect and care,
Heather McCloskey Beck
Dear Chrissie – I remember thinking, during the very first class I had with you, that I wished I’d encountered you far earlier in my life because I felt like I could sit at your feet for decades and still not learn all you had to teach. At least I got three years of classes and then another year working on my dissertation with you! I consider you one of my life’s mentors and am so grateful for the wisdom you shared . . . always with that sly twinkle in your eye! My best wishes for a happy retirement!
I was so mesmerized by Chris from day one that I moved to Downing Drive. I wrote a dissertation
only because she agreed to be my advisor. I was not ready to let her go
—-I still am not. I reread her syllabi and ponder Mann, Freud, and Jung because of the power of her exploration and weaving.
A teacher’s teacher.
Mary Locke Crofts
It’s been said of our dear Chrissy that she has made a career of the word ”and”–and I, for one, believe that. And what this points to is the extraordinary intellectual and emotional flexibility to hold one’s own opinion (at least for a moment) while actually *cherishing* oppositional perceptions. … The tricky beauty of this is that when a person can love one’s own view of things and yet also love–and protect–all of the information and wisdom and artistic expression cradled in the positions taken by those who disagree with us, one then possesses all the contents of both. Stealing Hawking’s famous example, one’s got both the peas AND the carrots now, so one has all the contents of the cauldron, not just the squishy green ones or the squishy orange ones. And the rascal, rapscallion starshine of this is that one now ”possesses” (though there’s no possession in this) the cauldron itself. And I guess that makes our dear Chrissy the Mother of the Cauldron. I don’t about you, but I think that fits.
Morgaan Sinclair, Ph.D.
She introduced me to whole new ways of thinking and for that last 18 years I have tried to do the same for my students. Per Christine, I always introduce Jung as the soft pillow you snuggle up with and Freud as the guy you have a good fight with. Although I did not do my PhD at Pacifica, her voice can be heard echoing through my dissertation. Thank You!!! I will continue to try to live up to the example you set as an educator and a scholar.
You have blessed us with your brilliance in your teaching, writing , and story telling. I will be forever grateful. Thank you.
I read your early books before I heard of Pacifica, and was in awe 20-yrs later when I was a Myth student at PGI and you were on faculty providing wisdom, personal stories, and depth perspective of the ancients. Thank you!