Lifting the Veil: Recovering the Feminine



The veil has emerged in the 21fst century as an international symbol that holds a variety of meanings. The veil can able understood as merely the customary dress of Arab women, a religious expression, or a political statement. For some women donning the veil represents male dominance enforced by the threat of beatings or death, for other, the veil signifies self-determination and independence in reaction to the threat of western ideology impacting Islamic culture. The veil powerfully holds the polarity of attitudes and beliefs and invites the projections of the psychological complexes in both western and Islamic societies. These negative shadow projections fuel external and internal conflict between and within each culture. The veil is not just a female garment to hide, protect or humble Muslim women, but the curtain behind which resides the feminine principle, repressed in both east and west. Beneath the veil resides the unconsciousness of both cultures that become manifested in the politics of today. Lifting the Veil (the book) is a timely exploration of the symbolic attractor that the veil has become within and outside the Muslim world.

The impact of 9/11 awakened the North American culture and brought a new awareness of its vulnerability. This event has challenged America’s perspective of itself, its culture and its country, within the context of world conflict. The western response to the tragic collapse of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was filled with fear and revenge as the American sense of safety and security dissolved. The American culture was deeply traumatized, requiring defenses from deep within the cultural psyche to protect its profound wound. Most Americans knew little of Al Quaeda or why they were assaulted. There was little enquiry about its contribution to the conflict but, instead, with the label of enemy projected evil, primitive and inferior onto the “other”.

The Islamic culture, also, felt defeated and threatened after years of war between tribes and countries, western colonialization and exploitation and the reality of globalization that threatens the stability of traditional Islamic society. Islamist figures have arisen as the archetypal defense of the collective wounded spirit. Imaged by Osama Bin Laden, the Mujahideen, Kohemini, Arafat as well as the multitude of other terrorist organizations, the characteristics of avenger and restorer become incarnated. The cultural memory of the lost Caliphate, world dominance and superior Islamic civilizations keep the longing to recreate the glory of a past time that compensates for the powerlessness felt today. The west becomes engaged as the rival defender of justice, freedom for all and God. Islamists protect the continuity and survival of Islam. The dynamics of cultural complexes are unleashed creating violence and destruction. All this hides behind the veil of righteousness and absolute truth.  In Lifting the Veil Kamerling and Gustafson are bringing to light the repressed feminine, the cultural clash between the Middle East and the West, and the dangers inherent in relegating such powerful forces to the unconscious.

The presentation Lifting the Veil, like the book by the same title  presents a central figure of Islam, Sheherazade in a new light.  The presentation will explore the history which has formulated the Islamic and American complexes and their interaction. Interwoven in this presentation is the figure of Sheherazade the protagonist in One Thousand and One Nights. Known as the Arabian Nights in the west, One Thousand and One Nights keeps Sheherazade alive as well as the women within the kingdom by the telling of stories night after night. By doing so, it also brought redemption to an embittered, violent King. What is suggested here is that when the stories stop, violence and fundamentalism begin. We get stuck where our story can no longer continue. One Thousand and One Nights is a mythical template for better understanding the violence in our own time and one that offers a possible path for its solution. The healing is in the reclaiming of the feminine principle, imaged through Sheherazade, bringing wholeness to the world soul.


Jane Kamerling, L.C.S.W. is a Diplomate Jungian Analyst and member of the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts and Interregional Society of Jungian Analysts.  She is a faculty member of the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and has designed and co-directed the Clinical Training Program.  She is a senior analyst who has lectured both nationally and internationally on the relationship of Jungian psychology to culture, mythology and religion.  She has a full time analytical practice in Chicago.  Co-author with Fred Gustafson Lifting the Veil.

Fred R. Gustafson, D.Min. is a Diplomate Jungian Analyst (Zurich) and member of the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts.  He is a senior training analyst with the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and a clergy member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  He has lectured both nationally and internationally on the subjects related to Analytical Psychology and religion.  he is the autor of The Black Madonna of Einsiedein: An Ancient Image for Our Present Time, Dancing Between Two Worlds: Jung and the Native American Soul, The Moonlit Path: Reflections on the Dark Feminine, and Co-author with Jane Kamerling Lifting the Veil.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss unconscious cultural complexes
  2. Analyze archetypes in the book 1001 Knights
  3. Assess the feminine principle and its impact though out history


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