What is the meaning of Temenos?

Temenos is a greek word meaning a sacred, protected space; psychologically, descriptive of both a personal container and the sense of privacy that surrounds an analytical relationship.

Jung believed that the need to establish or preserve a Temenos is often indicated by drawings or dream images of a quaternary nature, such as mandalas.

The symbol of the mandala has exactly this meaning of a holy place, a Temenos, to protect the centre. And it is a symbol which is one of the most important motifs in the objectivation of unconscious images. It is a means of protecting the centre of the personality from being drawn out and from being influenced from outside.              [“The Tavistock Lectures,”CW18, par. 410.]


Temenos is a sacred boundary for my soul. My Temenos are the edges that keep me whole. Its my moral conscience holding me on the line each and everyday. While life can be full of challenges, Temenos keeps me grounded and focused on the here and now and all that is important.

Temenos is bordered by four important components of my life including:

Individuals I am comfortable sharing my intimate ego.

An important part of my Temenos are those individuals with whom I share my life. These are my relationships that are most important, my significant other, son, family and my closest friends. These relationships wrap me safely through support, understanding and love. These relationships are the first component of my life’s Temenos. It is the simple times spend with family and friends in celebration, a time dedicated to being together filled with simple laughter.

My home.

I pretend that my home is a little cottage in the french country side. It’s modest brick is bordered by tall green pine trees. It is decorated with planted gardens overflowing with colorful flowers, hedges with climbing planters. My favorite part of the context are the dozens of feeders attracting Wisconsin’s finest birds, winter, spring, summer and fall. With each changing season, the color of my home changes with the temperature of Midwestern air. The change of the seasons is the best part of living in Wisconsin. With the end of one season, arrives new experiences to look forward in the upcoming season. Spring brings new growth, summer holds, warm sunshine and our city’s festivals, fall, yields thousands of bright orange-colored leaves leading us to winter with the first Jack Frost snow fall (yes, its true, we only like the first snow fall because after that, it’s a pain in the ass unless it results in a snow day).

My vocation.

Despite my experiences, my passion to serve those in need remains strong. I do not think of it as my work, but rather my life’s vocation.  My inspiration comes from those I have been called to serve. They have been my teachers and have led the development of my understanding. These experiences have challenged my skills, developed my talents and strengthened my ego. It has been through my many relationships in my vocation that I continue experience a rich, life filled with happiness and peace of mind. My vocation is the fourth aspect of my personal Temenos.

My time alone in the presence of God.

As I get older, I value my time alone in meditation. This takes many forms for me. Listening to music, swimming, blogging, reading and praying. During these moments, I focus on the presence of my mind, body and spirit. It may take the form of prayer alone or with God. This time focusses on reflections, healing, peace and remembrance. 

Temenos is the quintessential safe place I go to in order to feel comfortable and at peace. These four elements are essential to complete my Temenos Circle. Temenos grounds me, whether at home or with my family and friends or in beautiful surroundings with color, in balance with song and the earth. Simple enchanting moments.

Everyone has their own Temenos. We need to let ourself find Temenos. Once you have discovered Temenos nurture and protect it. Hold it safely in your mind, with your body and spirit.

Temenos is what gives us peace.

Published by John Chianelli, Writer

I am second. I will share my experiences, as a child of God, husband to Daniel, father, best friend, brother, son, leader, professor, writer and photographer. My intention for this blog is to be random, with no plan, no list, no direction and no expectations. Very different from how I lived my past life. My journey has been blessed by the mercy and grace of God and unwavering love. I hope you enjoy reading and sharing my experiences of hurts, laughter, discovery, friendships, Christ, and my family. Temenos is a safe circle where you can be yourself with peace of mind. Temenos originates from a Greek word which refers to a universal instinct to create a protected, safe space in which to heal, restore and regenerate yourself. My temenos circle is a place to be still and seek Jesus. It becomes my place to pray, reflect in the word of our Lord to shrink, grow in him, and heal my soul. What is your temenos circle? By: John Chianelli ©John Chianelli and Temenos Circle. 2016-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided the full and clear credit is given to John Chianelli and Temenos Circle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 thoughts on “What is the meaning of Temenos?

  1. John Buchan, who was a member of Lord Milner’s ” kindergarten” in post Anglo Boer War South Africa, ended his career in 1940 as Lord Tweedsmuir – Governor General of Canada. In his autobiography, Memory Hold the Door he describes his feelings about the “woodbush of the then NE Transvaal, a “TEMENOS – a place enchanted and consecrate.” A place to which he would like to retire and leave his bones. (The war put a stop to that desire, but a professor at the University of Pretoria arranged for a plaque to be attached to a huge boulder at the headwater of the Ebenezer Dam near Haenertsnburg. (BUCHAN was a Greek and Latin scholar of note.)


    1. Richard thank you for sharing this amazing piece of history. This resonates with deeply with my soul. My belief is grounded in the work of Carl Jung. This history you share adds to the richness of my understanding. As you can see I believe everyone can find ones temenos. My is rooted deeply in Jesus Christ. The Governor inspires me.


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