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Ventral Depths: Alchemical Themes and Mythic Motifs of the Great Central Valley of California

By Craig Chalquist

In The Tears of Llorona: A Californian Odyssey of Myth, Place, and Homecoming (World Soul Books, 2009), California native Craig Chalquist collected stories, facts, and reflections gathered during his deep exploration of the spirit, soul, and voice of place from San Diego to Sonoma along the old Mission Trail running up and down coastal California.

Ventral Depths, the second volume of the Animate California Series, examines recurring mythic and alchemical images brewing in the Golden State’s Great Central Valley. From the standpoint of terrapsychology, the transdisciplinary study of the lively and interactive presence of the outer world in the depths of the human psyche, landscapes harbor rich recurrences of story and folklore, image and dream that connect us to the places we call home.

At over four hundred miles in length and seventy five at its maximum width, the Central Valley provides the world with fruit, vegetables, beef, clothing, petroleum, machinery, and hydroelectric energy. Its cultural and religious diversity is unmatched. When witnessed with a terrapsychological eye, it also reveals itself as a vast, sealed-in repository of tales and events, histories and psychologies, geographies and mythologies that weave together inner and outer soulscapes in patterns discernible to a sensitized ecological imagination.

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