Kairos

Kairos: (καιρός)  Opportunity; seizing the opportune time and place for transformative change.    

"Kairos reigns where creative purposes are to be achieved.” (Aldridge, 2001: p.3)

Path to Circle
Path to Circle (c) (CS)
Doorway
Doorway (c) CS
Sanctuary (c) CS

Kairos:  an opportune time and space  

- a window of opportunity  -

 “the right or opportune moment".

The concept of Kairos encompasses both time and space, and relates to:

Newgrange
Newgrange
To the garden (c) CS
The god Kairos, relief

"In summary, therapy is the opportunity for transformation because of the specific nature of the therapeutic experience. In therapy, there is a significant dynamical interplay between the intrapsychic and interpersonal, past and present, which is reenacted and reactivated in a therapeutic relationship. It is a special time of vulnerability and a time of grace, when the change can occur. It also is a time of fulfillment when the person is ready to learn different ways of being and relating. Therapy, therefore, can be conceptualized as a time filled with grace, or Kairos, a time which brings into focus the whole human experience in a very specific way and gives rise to transformation."  (Gostecnik, 1997, p.58).

This could be applied in pluralistic practice: tailoring practice in terms of  "fitness for the occasion" or kairos, as Isocrates advocated in rhetoric. 


Jung (1957/2011, para.595, pp.59-60; 1957/1970, para.585, pp.303-304) wrote: 

   "The development of modern art with its seemingly nihilistic trend towards disintegration must be understood as the symptom and symbol of universal destruction and renewal which has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the καιρός - the right moment - for a "metamorphosis of the gods," of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science."

In Greek, several gods / words relating to time were:

Chronos is associated with Saturn , Kairos with Uranus , and Aion with Neptune (Segall, 2015).

In Greek mythology, Kairos (Καιρός) was also a god, the youngest of the divine sons of Zeus and was the personification of opportunity and opportune moments. Caerus /ˈsɪərəs, ˈsiːrəs/ (Greek: Καιρός, Kairos, the same as kairos) was the personification of opportunity, luck and favourable moments. Kairos is sometimes depicted as having a long forelock of hair at the front (by means of which one could grasp the opportunity as it presented itself), shorter hair at the back and sides, having wings on his shoulders and heels, holding a butterfly, holding scales balanced on a razor's edge, with his foot on a globe (Cook, 2010)


Kairos / Caerus: At Olympia, “by the entrance into the stadium there are two altars: one of them is called the altar of Hermes of the Games, the other the altar of Kairos (Caerus, Opportunity)”  "I know that a hymn to Kairos is one of the poems of Ion of Khios [poet C5th B.C.]; in the hymn Kairos is made out to be the youngest child of Zeus." (Pausanias, 1918, Vol.1, XIV, 9, p.258). Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 14. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.). "Kairos as a mythological person is first found in a hymn by Ion of Chios (5th century B. C.), in which he is called the very youngest of all children of Zeus; by this genealogy, Kairos becomes the younger brother of Apollo, Dionysos, and Hermes" (Boschung, 2013, p.14). Hermes, also a son of Zeus, was a god of transitions and liminality. Hermes was a son of Zeus and Maia, the Pleiad. Hermes is a psychopomp (soul guide), the messenger of the gods, and is regarded as "the divine trickster" (Burkert, 1985). The main symbol of Hermes is the Caduceus, a winged staff intertwined with two snakes.


Kairos: "The earliest Greek uses of the term, in both archery and weaving, referred to ‘a penetrable opening, an aperture,’ through which an arrow or a shuttle must pass." (Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001).


'Aesop, Fables 536 (from Phaedrus 5. 8) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) :

"Running swiftly, balancing on the razor's edge, bald but with a lock of hair on his forehead, he wears no clothes; if you grasp him from the front, you might be able to hold him, but once he has moved on not even Jupiter [Zeus] himself can pull him back: this is a symbol of Tempus (Opportunity) [Kairos], the brief moment in which things are possible." [N.B. This fable is associated with famous statue of Kairos at Olympia by the Greek sculptor Lysippos of the C4th B.C. The Greek name Kairos is translated as Tempus in this Latin version of Aesop's fable.]' (Theoi Project)


References


Aldridge, D. (2001) Music therapy: Performances and narratives. Musictherapy world. Research News, Vol.2, Iss.1, Spring. https://issuu.com/presidentwfmt/docs/mtt_2_1_-2_2__2001

Baumlin, J. S. and Sipiora, P. (2002) Rhetoric and Kairos: essays in History, Theory, and Praxis. Albany: State University of New York Press. 

Boschung, Dietrich (2013) Kairos as a Figuration of Time: A Case Study. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, München.  https://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/7841/1/MLC06_digi-USB.pdf  

Burkert, W. (1985) Greek Religion. Harvard University Press.

Cook, A.B. (2010) Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Vol.2, Part 2. Cambridge University Press.

Eskin, C. R. (2002) Hippocrates, Kairos, and Writing in the sciences. In Baumlin, J. S. and Sipiora, P. (Eds) Rhetoric and kairos: essays in history, theory, and praxis, pp.97–113. Albany: State of New York Press.

Gostecnik, C. (1997) Chronos versus Kairos in Psychotherapy. American Journal of Pastoral Counseling, 1:1, 49-60.

Hedaa, L. and Törnroos, J-A. (2001) Kairology in Business Networks. Proceedings of Annual IMP Conference. Oslo.

Hofmann, B. and Wiesing, U. (2024) Kairos in diagnostics. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 45:99–108.

Jung, C.G. (1957/2011) The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Jung, C.G. (1957/1970, 2nd ed.) Civilization in Transition. CW10. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kelman, H. (1969) Kairos, the Auspicious Moment. Am. J. Psychother. 29: 59-83.

Myers, K.A. (2011) Metanoia and the Transformation of Opportunity. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Vol.41, Iss.1: 1-18.

Neki, J.S. (1981) Ausar ("Kairos"): and its place in creative psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Review, Sept.1981, 68(3):425-449.

Onians, R. B. (1951) The Origins of European Thought about the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate. New York, Arno. 1973. Cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001.

Pausanias (1918) Pausanias Description of Greece. London: William Heinemann.

Segall, M.D. (2015) Minding Time: Chronos, Kairos, and Aion in an Archetypal Cosmos. https://footnotes2plato.com/2015/05/15/minding-time-chronos-kairos-and-aion-in-an-archetypal-cosmos/ 

Stern, D. (2004) The present moment in psychotherapy and everyday life. New York, NY and London: Norton.

Sullivan, Dale L. (1992) Kairos and the rhetoric of belief. Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol.78, Iss.3: 317-332. Cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001.

Theoi Project  https://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Kairos.html     https://www.theoi.com/Olympios/ZeusFamily.html

Turner, V. (1967) The Forest of Symbols : Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Turner, V. (1969) The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti Structure. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Turner, V. (1979) Frame, Flow and Reflection: Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 6(4): 465-499.

Turner, V. (1982) Images of Anti-Temporality: An Essay in the Anthropology of Experience. The Harvard Theological Review, 75(2), 243-265.

Van Gennep, A. (1960) The Rites of Passage. London: Routledge.

Water, earth, sky - Italy (c) CS