Field Theory, Intercorporeality, and the Sámi Underworld


  • Elizabeth Éowyn Nelson



scientific field theory, Hermeticism, astrology, archetype, Jung, Lewin, intersubjectivity, intercorporeality, somatics, nekyia, Sámi, transpersonal


Field theory as a concept entered scientific discourse in the mid-nineteenth century. Yet the essential features of a field long predate discoveries about the physical properties and behavior of matter. The paper briefly describes ancient esoteric precursors to scientific field theory, including the Hermetic tradition and archetypal astrology, before turning to twentieth-century sociological field theories and their elemental idea of subjectivity and intersubjectivity. Jungian psychology is a field theory, expanding the limits of sociology in important ways. The paper adopts a somatic archetypal perspective to argue that intersubjectivity, the basis of sociological and psychological field theories, is inadequate. Instead, depth psychologists should embrace intercorporeality, the more embodied, holistic field theory originating in the work of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. The paper concludes with a discussion of nekyia to illustrate how an intercorporeal field theory can include the underworld in world mythologies. The inverted cosmic geography of one tradition, the Sámi, gives new meaning to numinous encounters with one’s ancestors and spirit guides. Such encounters intertwine the subtle energy bodies of the personal and transpersonal worlds, a meeting one can imagine as soul to sole, not just soul to soul.