In Memoriam: Louise Carus Mahdi

Mary Louise Carus Mahdi (July 28, 1922-November 3, 2019) was truly a child of Hermes–god of exchanges, liminal spaces, communications, transitional activities, and travel. She was born into a family in Peru-LaSalle, Illinois, made wealthy from producing chemicals like potassium permanganate, widely used in water treatment and for medicinal purposes. Her grandfather, Paul Carus, was instrumental in introducing Buddhism into America in the late 1800’s.

She married Muhsin Madhi, a famous Islamic scholar.

Louise graduated from the Zurich Jung Institute and was distinctly in the archetypal camp of the Jungian world. She was a promoter of sandplay therapy and had a wonderful and unique collection of sandplay objects in her beautiful home office in Peru. She spent about equal amounts of time living in Switzerland and America and was deeply rooted in the Midwest, Starved Rock and Chicago. She was a founder of Temagami, a wilderness experience camp in Ontario, Canada for children and adults. The week-long adult camp included a vision quest, sweat lodge ceremonies, and dream interpretation by Jungian analysts, most famously Robert Johnson.

Her family owns Open Court Press, publisher of Cricket Magazine for children and many Jungian books including the classic Betwixt and Between: Patterns of Masculine and Feminine Initiation with chapters from many analysts including Fred Gustafson, Murray Stein and Tom Lavin. A visit to her home above the Illinois River almost always meant walking away with gifts of books that came up in discussions.

The puella aspect of her Hermetic nature was experienced in her almost girlish warmth, openness, enthusiasm, and giggly excitement. She loved deep discussions of all types and was a pre-Internet Internet person with seemly endless connections with writers and thinkers, Marion Woodman being but one of many dear friends. She was a very kind and generous person, relating as well to children as she did to adults. She will be sorely missed by those who knew her well.

– Dennis Merritt

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