Remembering James Hillman

Well, it was two years ago today, October 27th, 2011, that James passed on. It was only in his passing that I am continually reminded of the gifts I received from him. Not from knowing him personally, although I was fortunate to have met him once, and will never forget that moment, the face-to-face, the silent stare – and being struck by deep love and kinship for his feisty way of seeing through ideas, the fearless invitation to rebel against conventional ways of understanding life and especially for his attention to language.

I have received many gifts from the years spent absorbing his ideas – lifesaving for me. From his deep love and appreciation of language, I have come to know that there are words for at least some of what is hidden in the world, and life brings us time, beauty and other gifts to share our expressions with each other.

I owe so much to this man…thank you James.

Here’s to James and his work, and to all who continue to be touched by his life and work.

James Hillman

An excerpt from an interview with Scott London on calling:

” I think the first step is the realization that each of us has such a thing. And then we must look back over our lives and look at some of the accidents and curiosities and oddities and troubles and sicknesses and begin to see more in those things than we saw before. It raises questions, so that when peculiar little accidents happen, you ask whether there is something else at work in your life. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve an out-of-body experience during surgery, or the sort of high-level magic that the new age hopes to press on us. It’s more a sensitivity, such as a person living in a tribal culture would have: the concept that there are other forces at work. A more reverential way of living.” 

On New Age vs. Science:

“Well, some reviewers have a scientistic ax to grind. To them, my book had to be either science or new age mush. It’s very hard in our adversarial society to find a third view. Take journalism, where everything is always presented as one person against another: “Now we’re going to hear the opposing view.” There is never a third view.

My book is about a third view. It says, yes, there’s genetics. Yes, there are chromosomes. Yes, there’s biology. Yes, there are environment, sociology, parenting, economics, class, and all of that. But there is something else, as well. So if you come at my book from the side of science, you see it as “new age.” If you come at the book from the side of the new age, you say it doesn’t go far enough — it’s too rational.”

And the best for last:

“I think it’s the pursuit that screws up happiness.”

…and if that is still not enough AND especially if you’re old enough to begin to wonder about aging:


18 thoughts on “Remembering James Hillman

  1. “From hearing his voice I came to know that there are words for what is hidden in me,”

    That´s indeed the mystery of healing: to be able to articulate inner realities which seemingly don´t lend themselves to word… – really, that is exorcism at work…

    Exorcism…- oh, we are so modern, so we are not supposed to use such obsolete words.

    In this today-society it´s taboo to express yourself from these subtle levels of the soul…- at least in this country – Sweden – you are considered some kind of loon if you do…You simple end up in exclusion.

    Fact of the matter is that it is better to live in exclusion and HEAL, than living like
    them all in collective neurotic mendacity.

    Thank you for this post!



    1. Hi Julien,
      Love what you say. I too would use the word exorcism, as what happened to me during that period of my life truly was.
      Yes, I would never take it back (if that were possible), and feel blessed to be free of issues that kept me from wanting to be alive.
      Thanks for reading my blog and for leaving a note too!


      1. Hi Debra,

        Just wondering – what is the name of the book Hillman refers to? “My book is about a third view”.

        It would be very meaningful to hear what happened to you during that critical period of your life. I am all ears if you want to have a dialogue about this.

        Fact of the matter is that issues which have controlled and governed my life and destiny hitherto, are being dissolved. This huge transformation had its peak around the 5 of November. That was quite a confrontation – I tell
        you… – something I couldn´t talk with “reasonable” people as they would consider this totally far-fetched…

        In case you feel like sharing your experience, and don´t find it comfortable to talk about that here, my mail is or Julien Matei Stockholm at Facebook.

        I bow,



      2. Hi Julien,
        Not sure which book he was referring to, sorry. He wasn’t clear, and I’m not sure if I could even guess.
        Yes, I’ll send an email. Let’s talk.
        I have described a dream event that precipitated an actual physical change, the link is here: There is more to the story, of course, and honestly I am still finding ways to tell about my childhood, but I’ll admit to having some fear and reticence about being very direct.
        Thank you for the note!


      3. Hello Debra,

        I really cherish your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

        Do write in the manner which feels right for you.

        Just know that I never judge anyone – honor and integrity stand for my name.



  2. Thank you Debra for introducing me to Hillman. I had never heard of him before I began reading your blog. It is fantastic that you were able to meet the person who provides you withthe precious keys to self-understanding and acceptance.


    1. Thanks Linda! Yes, the more time passes, the more I appreciate his insights and his influence on my thinking.
      It was very brave of me to take my copy of the Soul’s Code up to him and ask him to sign it. He asked me my name and was very intense. He could look at you as if he that moment was the only thing happening, very intense moment it was.


  3. Debra,
    Mr. Hillman’s mention of a “third view” certainly leads one to ask what his interpretation of that concept was. I haven’t read any of his writings, so hopefully yourself and others who have can help expose what he was driving at. My guess is that he was conveying the idea that there are no “sides” for humanity. Just a guess.
    Thank you,


    1. Hi Jerry,
      My guess, and it’s only that, would be that coming from a Jungian perspective (Hillman was one of the last of the Jungians to study with C.G. Jung in the 50s), he might be complaining about oppositional stances and looking for a third or middle perspective.
      I think he might have been observing a common problem in our culture of what he called a monotheistic position, not in a religious sense, but having a perspective derived from a Christianized mind set which tends reduce ideas and perspectives by a tendency towards single-mindedness.
      That can lead to having no sides, or no voice for humanity, or not enough voices at the table.
      Am I making any sense? 🙂


      1. My read of what he says is that we see things as black and white, darkness and light, right and wrong. This does not allow there to be any place for anything but the limits that we are living with. Psychologically, Jung looked at the world through the paradigm of the culture of his times,which was dominated by the Christian world view.
        I think he was saying that the world view we are using is not working any longer in that it is limiting our possible solutions to the dis-ease in our culture based on the paradigm of what has been our way of looking at the possible solutions. I think I just said what Ptero said in different words


      2. Yes, shoe 1000, but thanks for commentig. I like how you say “limits that we are living with,” as if we are stretching ourselves apart from one another through oppositional stances? That is what came to mind reading that line.
        yes, agreed, we are losing the ability to naunce our ideas, and losing the connection to images in favor of concepts that describe our subjective states rather than describe the actual state of the environment and world we live in.
        Anyway, I’ve been working a lot lately and am liable to babble on here 🙂


  4. Erik Andrulis

    “It’s very hard in our adversarial society to find a third view. ”

    True. The scientists look at anything they can’t falsify and don’t want to consider and claim it to be New Age. And the mystics look at anything they can’t experience and don’t want to have the gritty details and call it science.

    There is no accepted or acceptable view that cuts between these two – or, more importantly, that brings the two views together.

    But that does not mean I should stop trying to unify Myself.

    Indeed, that is the only thing I should be doing.


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