cover image The Fashioning of Angels: Partnership as Spiritual Practice

The Fashioning of Angels: Partnership as Spiritual Practice

Stephen Larsen, Null Null, Robin Larsen. Swedenborg Foundation, $19.95 (373pp) ISBN 978-0-87785-390-9

The title of this fine book comes from the work of the 18th-century mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, who speculated that the spirits of two persons who have loved one another unite to become an angel. Drawing on Swedenborg's philosophy, Carl Jung's archetype theory and the work of Joseph Campbell, the Larsens use myths as vehicles for examining the dynamics of love and relationships. Their combined expertise renders them well qualified for this creative collaboration: they also co-wrote a biography of Joseph Campbell; Robin Larsen has edited a Swedenborg anthology, and Stephen Larsen is the author of The Shaman's Doorway and The Mythic Imagination. Here, they retell stories from the world's myths, discussing legendary figures and explicating their psychological symbolism, in a similar fashion to the volumes of Robert A. Johnson (He, She, and We). The Larsens' treatment is lengthier and broader than Johnson's, however, with the added element of transcribed discussions of their own and other couples' conversations about mythical themes. Such interpretations must by nature be subjective, so the book lacks the authority of laboratory proofs or case studies. But the stories make the book more interesting to read than abstract psychological theories, and readers with a bent toward communicating through story or with an interest in Jungian thought will find this approach fascinating. (June)