Feb. 24, Larry Rayburn ~ Nature and Work Against Nature

Larry Rayburn, Ph.D.

Saturday Morning Talk:
Nature and the “Work Against Nature” in the Individual and Collective Life

February 24, 2018

(9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
St. Agnes Room,  The Casa Franciscan Renewal Center

Throughout the world we have recently seen the cataclysmic fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods which exemplify nature in conflict with itself. Likewise, in the political and cultural psyche we are currently experiencing great upheaval, with powerful forces and counter-forces at work.

Although we feel this to be an especially trying time, such extraordinary events have always been operating. Natural phenomena such as rivers, oceans and weather systems by their nature generate counter-forces of different kinds. Similarly, conflict within and between human beings is perpetual. Turning against ourselves and one another is all-too-familiar, if not natural.

In the clinical situation, and in life, we often find ourselves engaged in a pull between what we imagine as the natural course of progress and growth and what is experienced as resistance, conflict, or sabotage. Certainly, in our current political and cultural life we see a parallel process, which seem to be moving us in directions that appear regressive.

While Jung strongly asserted that these dynamics are themselves “natural” to the human psyche, he used the latin phrase opus contra naturam, or “work against nature,” to highlight the phenomena within the psyche that seem not to fit our conventional views of growth and progress–and which also contain the individuating imperative itself. In other words, by broadening our perspective, contra our natural tendency, we might find a new way to make use of our difficulties and pathologies, and, counter our naturally-occurring surface attitudes and habits, move toward some larger and possibly renewing prospect.

We will be looking at several texts that amplify this idea of the work against nature in different ways. In the morning Dr. Rayburn will outline some of C.G. Jung’s and James Hillman’s ideas, those of the Medieval alchemists, and a brief look at Freud’s ideas on perversion.

Eventbrite - Morning Talk: Nature and the Opus Contra Naturam in Alchemy, Individuation, and the Clinical Process


Saturday Afternoon Workshop:

February 24, 2018

(1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
St. Agnes Room,  The Casa Franciscan Renewal Center

We will be looking at several texts that amplify this idea of the work against nature in different ways. In the afternoon we will explore together at how these ideas may (or may not) inform the therapeutic situation, as well as our personal, interpersonal and political lives in the present cultural context.

Eventbrite - Afternoon Workshop: Nature and the Opus Contra Naturam in Alchemy, Individuation, and the Clinical Process


Larry Rayburn, Ph.D. is a Jungian analyst practicing in Santa Fe and a member of the New Mexico Society of Jungian Analysts. He trained through the Texas seminar of the InterRegional Society of Jungian Analysts. Larry is interested in male psychology, particularly that of boys and the father, and in the theories of play and psychic energy. As with this program, his Jungian thesis was an exploration of the Alchemical opus contra naturam, or work against nature, as expressed in the flow and counter-flow of life and clinical practice.  In his other life he is a husband and father who likes to play various folk instruments and spend time on the river and in the outdoors. Previous to becoming a therapist and analyst he worked in the construction industry for many years. He is a graduate of Prescott College as well as Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Publications Include: Fire in the Stone: The Alchemy of Desire (essay); Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality Beyond Religion; The Sacred Cauldron: Psychotherapy as a Spiritual Practice; The Religious Function of the Psyche

Areas of Emphasis: Religious Function of the Psyche; Interface of Analytical Psychology and Psychoanalytical Theories.