Celebrating George Wagner

Celebrating George Wagner

On Saturday I attended a celebration for the life of George W. Wagner (1932-2015). I first got to know George in 2010 when his wife Suzanne Wagner and I participated in an Extended Education Earth Day event at our Institute, Listening to the Psyche/ Listening to the Earth. The day, planned in part by Suzanne, included talks by several analysts and by Navajo medicine man Johnson Dennison. The presenters had dinner together the night before and the evening after, which afforded the luxury of getting to know each other. This is when I first met George.

George was an outgoing, creative man who had done a variety of things in his life. Like me, he had grown up on a farm, in his case, a dairy farm in Southern California. He was in the Navy during the Korean War and, for the rest of his life, processed the tragedy of wars’ sufferings. He was an attorney, environmental activist (a pioneer in California’s Coastal Protection Act), past Executive Director of the LA Jung Institute, and executive producer of the film A Matter of Heart and the Remembering Jung series on DVD.

A big venture of his was establishing a financial backing for Wind Harvest International. George told me that the design of this unique wind turbine came from a numinous dream of Bob Thomas, who was an engineer working for the Navy, specializing in aerodynamics. I asked Suzanne more about this design process and she told me that Thomas “… worked with the image in the dream and came up eventually with a vertical axis wind turbine that spins in a circle around a central axis.” She added that George met Bob Thomas and also artist Sam Francis, an early financial backer of the project, in a seminar on Mysterium Coniunctionis given every Monday evening by James Kirsch in Kirsch’s home.  “The three of them got together to start research and development of this new design.  This led eventually to the present company Wind Harvest International.  George was the major financial investment seeker for all these years.  Without his ability to find investors, the company would not have made it thus far.”

When Naomi Lowinsky and I co-edited Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way, George and Suzanne both wrote reviews for the Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche (Vol.7, #2). George particularly addressed the way each author of the thirteen essays approached his or her authentic personality. “Readers will be moved, saddened, and challenged by the notion that to strive for individuation is truly difficult, heavy hard work. But it appears to be worth it— not only for yourself, your colleagues, and your family, but also for the planet,” he wrote. “These stories give us courage and guidance in our own attempts to live our lives authentically.”

At Saturday’s celebration for George, family members told stories and remembrances which brought home the truth about him of these, his reflections on others. George’s life is one to study: he lived close to the language of the unconscious and the guidance offered, driven by the full sway of his creativity. His was a living example of a life lived fully, serving not only his own individuation process, but also his family, colleagues, and our planet.

Thank you, George. May your liveliness continue forever harnessing in the spirit wind and breath of our planet.