Shadows of Sylvaheim

“Mental health problems among youth are rising INTERNATIONALLY. Clearly, our present methods of delivering mental health information to young people are ineffective or insufficient. I propose we do something different” –              Dr Toula Gordillo.


As part of her doctoral studies, Toula wrote a Young Adult (YA) mythic heroic fantasy novel now entitled Shadows of Sylvaheim. It is a coming-of-age story that describes two siblings’ heroic journey to confront and integrate their personal “shadows” – their greatest fears and temptations – in a mythical universe called Sylvaheim. The novel is available for purchase from the stores below:

Feather Knight Books Amazon Amazon Australia
Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Books
Google Play eBooks2go Amazon Kindle
Booktopia Abe Books

Story synopsis

Following a family trauma and the discovery of a huge family secret, sixteen-year-old Jack and his sister Emily (14) are catapulted into a world of pain, and fantasy. In a symbolic exploration of the character’s unconscious mind, Jack battles an ogre, converses with a riddle-talking tree, falls in love with a sea nymph and visits Faerieland. His ultimate battle is to defeat Lord Batu Glass… a character in the novel symbolising an unconscious, potential drug addiction ‘chasing’ Jack through the mythical land of his unconscious mind: a place called Sylvaheim.

While the reader is absorbed in the story, they are exposed to Jungian psychology, Stoic philosophy, literary prose and historical characters such as King Henry VIII and Marcus Aurelius. Upon reflection, they can also learn effective ways of coping with grief and loss, poverty, trauma and overcoming drug and alcohol addictions. The novel is a window and mirror, with a Jungian lens, for the adolescent, young or even older adult reader.
Separated from her brother by a huge hedge of silver, Jack’s sister, Emily, is simultaneously stuck in an Estonian bog whilst pursued by the new trickster goddess, Morgana. Emily’s character also gets her shadow ‘cut’ in a symbolic acknowledgement of confronting and integrating our own shadow, and she escapes from a cave of magic with a Valkyrie from Norse mythology.



Shadows of Sylvaheim has been endorsed by International best-selling YA fantasy author of The Guardians of Time series, Marianne Curley. She states: “I really believe you have a winning book there, and with your expertise, one that will help young people. You can’t get better than that!  Best wishes, Marianne”.

Ms Marianne Curley – International bestselling YA fantasy author
The best selling Guardians of Time series aimed at highlighting the importance of preserving history.

The Magic of Jung

The Magic of Jung describes how an individual’s soul can be liberated through the the practical application of Universal Psychology: Story Image Therapy (SIT).

The Magic of Jung

This soon-to-be published book describes the author’s  Jungian Action Research  journey for more than a decade. It explains the product of Dr Toula’s mythic heroic journey: Story Image Therapy. In this book, Dr Toula describes how she has conducted action research in consultation with youth, and how she now uses Story Image Therapy and SIT education to help improve youth resilience, as well as her own personal resilience.

In The Magic of Jung, Dr Gordillo explains how she uses Jung’s archetypes, such as The Wounded Healer and The Rising Phoenix to help her to heal adolescent wounds that were still affecting her in adulthood. The result of conducting her own shadow work was a liberation of her own soul, and the souls of the young people she now teaches and counsels.
The Magic of Jung is part narrative memoir, part scientific research, and part case study. It offers the author’s personal history, as well as several case examples, and it employs Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey format. In the book, Dr Gordillo explains why she has a focus on ‘fantastic’ storytelling and mystic experiences that led to her affinity with Jung, her early experiments with finding creative ways to enhance youth resilience and how this helps her clients.
All SIT stories in The Magic of Jung use ancient images to capture a young readers’ imagination, to nurture their souls and help them to connect with their heart, mind, body and spirit to improve their holistic health.
The Magic of Jung contains Dr Gordillo’s personal journey, to “Navigate the Midway Forest” of her own adolescence, to help others

The Universal Child: A Hero's Journey to Self

Book 1 of the Sylvaheim Series of books and Story Image Therapy resources is a collection of twelve ‘Universal’ myth-based short stories that depict the hero’s journey. Broken into bite-size sections, The Universal Child can be read together and discussed with a child or preteen at short intervals. Alternatively, they can be read by the young person themselves.

The Universal Child is one that is well-balanced and connected to Self, Spirit and Nature

Designed for children and preteens aged 5 -12 (approx.) the mythic, heroic social stories describe a character’s quest toward improved mental or behavioural health. Aligned with Jung’s theory of opposites, characters’ display ‘Frog’ or ‘Scorpion’ behaviour (expanded in the accompanying autobiographical book in the Sylvaheim Series: The Magic of Jung).

Each story in The Universal Child is designed to engage young people. Packed with creative ideas and symbolic images, the book employs imaginative ways to deliver important information through the hero’s journey metaphor.

What is the hero’s journey?

The Universal Child is based on the teachings of Dr Carl Jung and American mythologist, Joseph Campbell.

The Hero’s Journey reflects our own ‘hero’s’ journey

Only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the “treasure hard to attain.” – Carl Jung, CW 14, par. 756

“Fighting the dragon” implies a young person becoming more self-aware of their own unconscious emotional responses and complexes. This includes our unhealthy levels of caring, and resultant behaviour.

Psychological Motifs

A young person’s dreams and outer life can sometimes resemble a myth, legend, fable or fairy tale. With human behaviour presented as alternate psychological motifs in The Universal Child, there are helpful animals and fantasy characters (representing human instincts) to guide the young reader.

Other psychological motifs in traditional myth, legend, fable and fairytale include thorns and needles that can ‘prick’ us (our psychological projections); and fearsome giants (a young person’s complexes) that can knock us off our feet (our personal standpoint).

“The image that comes to mind is a boxing ring. There are times when… you just want that bell to ring, but you’re the one who’s losing. The one who’s winning doesn’t have that feeling. Do you have the energy and strength to face life? Life can ask more of you than you are willing to give.’

Joseph Campbell

Sylvaheim Illuminated

Sylvaheim Illuminated comprises all aspects of a person, including their spiritual and philosophical qualities

Sylvaheim Illuminated: An Introduction to Story Image Therapy and Tools (SIT)® is a theoretical and practical guide in how to use Jung-based mythic heroic social stories and images in teaching and counselling young people. It also outlines the theoretical foundations of Universal Psychology and its practical application method: Story Image Therapy.

Unlike The Magic of Jung which contains Dr Gordillo’s personal narrative to Jungian psychology and Stoic philosophy for youth health and healing, Sylvaheim Illuminated uses the latest research to explain how and why to use ancient psycho-spiritual principles for modern youth. That is, the importance of combining their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual/philosophical aspects in what Dr Gordillo calls their Bed of Life. 

Sylvaheim Explained is a window, mirror and sliding glass door to another way to potentially enhance youth resilience.

Windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors 

Dr Rudine Sims Bishop is an expert in multicultural literacy. Her perceptive metaphor that children’s (and by extension, adult’s) literature is a ‘window, mirror and sliding glass door’ has gained momentum among educators worldwide.

The basic premise of Sylvaheim Illuminated is that through the mythic/heroic fiction genre, a young reader is given a ‘window’ to the characters’ struggles with behavioural and mental health. Consequently, they are also given a mirror to their own health status as they ‘step into’ another world.

Ancient mythic heroic stories and images assist in reflection. As if moving through a sliding glass door to the world of fantasy, they offer a literary ‘mirror’ to confront our own spirit or psyche. That is, a place of inner knowing Toula affectionally calls “Sylvaheim”.