Back home from “Pilgrimage”



—– “Eve”, colored pencil, Cat Charissage, 2013

Dear Friends,

It’s been almost a month since I’ve written, and I’ve missed connecting with you.  In early June, I left “on pilgrimage” to the fourth year of the five year “Mysterium” training put on by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Though the training is only a week long, it is intensive with 7 to 8 hours of instruction given by Dr. E.  Though there is a small amount of student commenting and working in dyads, it is primarily presentation by Dr. E.  I admire her preparation and stamina, and feel very gifted in being able to attend this series of trainings in which she is presenting, over five years, what she learned in her Jungian psychoanalytic training.  There is no certification or degree involved in this training, but there is this wonderful knowledge base that I immerse myself in even more deeply throughout the following year.

As many of you know, it’s quite the ordeal for me to attend the training.  I start out on a Sunday, driving with a friend the three and a bit hours to the airport in Great Falls, Montana.  We stay overnight, then I fly out on the Monday for Denver.  Another overnighter there, then I drive about two hours to the training venue, Sunrise Ranch, in Loveland, Colorado, for the Tuesday afternoon start.  Coming back I take only one extra night in Denver, and fly back to Great Falls, then drive back to Lethbridge on the following Monday.  This year, I developed either food poisoning or a very nasty virus the first night in Denver.  It completely knocked me down.  Travel is hard enough, but with this. . . .

It took several days to recover from the ordeal and its concomitant lack of sleep.  But it was still SO GOOD to be there! There were about 120 participants, mostly women, but including several men.  I connected deeply with a few of the women who have been to the trainings for several years.  Dr. E was in great form.  The training topics were deeply fascinating:  advanced dream interpretation, and “Descansos”:  a timeline of our lives (and in this case, also our parents’ lives) where we noted the places where we encountered a symbolic death in our lives, whether of trauma or options closed to us, etc., and then looked at the totality of our lives in connection with how our parents (to the best of our often limited knowledge) experienced their own “deaths” and stopping points.  The third major topic we studied was using the Enneagram as another way to look at the Wheel of Life and our gifts in facing the realities of the life in front of us.  While Dr. E teaches with the intent that we will be using this material when we work with the people who come to us for help, she wants us to work deeply with each of the ideas and techniques first.  So while it’s certainly not a therapy week for the participants, the teachings bring us deep within ourselves and are a wonderful opportunity for soulful growth.

I think the greatest blessing for me in the trainings has been the consolidation and deepening of the work that I’ve done in my years as an educator and counsellor.  I have learned so much in so many venues throughout the years, including in that “School of Hard Knocks” and the university called “Life”.  In working with Dr. E, I’m pulling it all together in deep, solid, and extremely useful ways.  I often wonder what next to do with all of this, how best to pass on the gifts I’ve been given.  Oh, I’ve got ideas, many more ideas than time or energy to actualize, so I have to discern how best to help “within my reach”, as Dr. E advises.  One thing I feel convicted of is that I will continue to write, and write more deeply, as I organize my daily life to make this possible.

Continue on!  And with love,



5 thoughts on “Back home from “Pilgrimage”

  1. mysteriesunfolding Post author

    An explanation: I meant that Dr. E. taught 7-8 hours per day, not 7-8 hours the whole week. She’s pretty amazing, as she talks completely without notes, then spends the breaks going over her notes to make sure she covered what she wanted to teach. I also learn from her ways how I might teach, too: She doesn’t walk back and forth in front of the group, nor does she do much writing on a flipchart or smartboard. (That’s how I used to do teachings and presentations). Her setup is sitting in a comfortable, living room like chair which is set upon a dais about a foot above the rest of the floor. She has her chair and a table which holds her fresh flower bouquet, her water, and her binder of notes. There is also room to add another chair for a participant when she demonstrates dream interpretation. So she always looks relaxed and comfortable, while saving her physical energy by not dancing around the room (except when we really are dancing). She’s also raised high enough by the dais that she’s still visible from the back of the crowd even though she’s seated. Little details — but we can learn, too, from the details!

    1. mysteriesunfolding Post author

      Thanks so much for your encouragement and vote of confidence, Audrey. I’m very touched; you know me well, and so often it’s your friends that think you’re so “ordinary”, with nothing to say worth saying. Like a prophet never being recognized in his own land. But it’s not that way with you, and I really appreciate it. Cat

  2. Carol Scott

    Cat, your time with Dr. E is so amazing,and I love your brilliance and loving thoughts. Oh of course, as well as your paintings. You continue to inspire me!


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