Jim Shere's signature with wave logo

More Thoroughly About Me

I've traveled neither frequently nor very far from my home here in the San Francisco Bay Area, in northern California— and have divided my life fairly evenly between the tumultuous streets of Berkeley and the placid countryside an hour or so to the north, near the coast.

Throughout World War II my early childhood was spent close to my grandparents, at first with my mother’s family in Berkeley, and then with my father’s family in Oklahoma. When the war was finally over we settled on a farm in Sonoma County a mile or so from the paved county road, without electricity, and at the very end of the then-known world.

There a serious childhood illness isolated me even more, and for two years my only companions were the books from my parents’ library and— as I began to recover— the animals of the countryside, both domestic and wild. It was a primitive and pastoral life, and one that nourished a romantic, mystical appreciation of the natural and numinous world in which I lived. There, I began to write poetry.

In time the woods and fields of the country, and the roads I walked and later bicycled toward the sea and toward the town, all gave way to the populated streets of the city: first the county seat— Santa Rosa— and then Berkeley, and San Francisco. The Berkeley of the Sixties was not the town my grandparents had known, but I grew to know it well throughout the drawn-out watershed of that amazing decade.

I entered the university and left it often, like a young and inconstant lover. My commitment to the academic life seemed always in competition with an equal fascination with the more gratifying life of the artist and activist, throwing myself into the political activities, the all night poetry readings, the drug-laced music festivals, and finally the inevitable epiphanies and initiations into a spiritual awareness that promised transcendence and peace at last.

My work at the university focused upon the writings of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and Blake, and in time upon their use of astrology as a poetic language. To understand their work better I studied astrology itself— before it had become popular— and learned to draw up horoscopes and to explain them as though the personality were a poem that could be analyzed and explicated.

Echoing my childhood belief, I began to view descriptions of the human condition as fundamentally a literary enterprise based upon archetypal elements. The person is best comprehended, I came to believe, as the subject of an epic poem— making mental health as much an esthetic imperative as it is a moral dilemma.

After graduation I continued to draw up horoscopes, taught astrology at the university, and established Astrologos, a center for the study of archetypal languages as a poetic description of the human condition. A few Jungian psychiatrists who became interested in my work encouraged my return to graduate school and eventual licensure as a psychotherapist. I established a private practice in Berkeley while continuing to write for the stage. When I met Maria— at mid-life more than thirty years ago now— we returned to Sonoma County, where we raised our children where I had grown up long before.