Grand Lodge of Australia


On May 1st, 2024, the Grand Lodge of Australia is celebrating the release of Descent from the Cross: The Transformation of a Masochist Woman by Elaine Simard LaForêt. Seeing the book edited, designed, produced, and released in the two months since Elaine passed in February has been an initiation for me. The most difficult thing was pulling together the many revised versions, scraps of notes, images, and verbal instructions from Elaine while allowing myself to grieve for the loss of my close friend.



Elaine was one-of-a-kind. A true spiritual maverick. A deep thinker. A spontaneously fun and loving person. Child-like, but also deadly serious. She had trawled the depths of her psyche and managed to see the light in even the harshest realities of life. Some of the stories she told me were frankly incredible. I got into the habit a few years ago of recording our conversations to preserve her thoughts and the legacy of her work. I’ve put one of these together as a podcast. I want readers to have the chance to hear her and get a sense of the unique person she was. In the podcast, she discusses many of the recurring themes and images of the book.



Born in the USA, Elaine lived in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. At 52 with three children grown, she resettled herself in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and began spending three months each year in Australia, particularly Tasmania, to write poetry and to hike. She eventually moved there permanently in December 2002. I got to know her in about 2019 and visited her more or less weekly. During this time she began to learn about Thelema and my work in OTO and A∴A∴. She immediately grasped Thelema. She once told me that it explained and validated her life’s work. It was the missing piece of the ineffable puzzle for her.

Elaine was a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard University, in the 1980s she turned from her background in literature to pursue psychology and teaching. Her thesis Descent from the Cross: Transformation of a Masochistic Woman marked the completion of her psychoanalytic degree at the C.G. Jung Institute of New York.

On the panel for her thesis defense was none other than Edward F. Edinger, the formidable Jungian scholar and analyst. She completely disarmed him with one of her dream recollections and analysis – Elaine passed with flying colours. She recounts this in the podcast, and readers should keep an eye out for the ‘standing fish’ dream in the book.

After graduation she practised psychoanalysis for many years and taught at the C. G. Jung Institute of New Mexico, presenting many public lectures including “The Symbol of the Cross: Revitalizing the Balanced Cross of Nature”. Despite encouragement from her supervisors and fellow students at the Jung Institute, Elaine never sought publication for her work in her lifetime. Over many years, my enthusiasm for her ideas and work led her to consider publishing it. It wasn’t until her health rapidly declined in late 2023 that the idea became a serious focus for her. She was comforted by the fact that her work would be published. She knew I would see it through, and towards the end of her life, I feel that knowledge helped her finally let go.

She took a brutal upbringing in the Catholic Church and managed to reclaim many of its outward symbols and turn on to the Solar-Christ-Dionysus within. It is my great hope that this book will inspire others to do likewise.

You can find it here:

by Brendan Walls (Editor).