Monday, July 5, 2010
Carl Jung, Alchemy, and My Dream
Without question, this has been the most literary year of my life. Jungian thinking would point to the unconscious as guiding me towards the right books. It’s uncanny how my reading has been progressing in an order that seems planned (not by me). Sure, you have some idea of what the book is going to be about. But without reading it you don’t know what specifically will be said. My reading has helped my self-reflection immensely.
I am currently in the middle of reading Carl Jung. I don’t know if it’s a result of his words, or if I’ve become more conscious of dreams SINCE reading him. One way or the other, my dreams have been taking on different tones. Jung talks about mythological archetypes in relation to philosophical alchemy that have accumulated in the collective unconscious of humanity. I have no doubt this is true as I think about some of my own dreams. Symbolism of being trapped, circles, mandalas have all been there as I look back over the years. Also, a constant reoccurring dream has incorporated bodies of water, which according to Jung represents the deep recesses of the unconscious. Perhaps you also can relate to some of this.
I had a dream last night that absolutely floored me. I wish I could remember more of it. I woke up around 2 am thinking about it, but I was too tired to get out of bed and put it on paper. The most striking visual image went like this:
I was walking down a hallway, when I noticed a male friend (faceless, nameless, but he portrayed a feeling of warmth/friendship) approaching me from the opposite direction. I realized that we were both holding decks of cards. He smiled at me as we stopped to greet each other and said that we would both turn over the top cards in our deck and see what we had. Well, I had the ace of spades, and he had the ace of clubs. I remembered Jung talking about the ace of clubs as symbolic of a Christian motif as it represents the cross. Jung briefly mentions the importance of the ace card as the lowest and highest value card in the deck. Beyond that, there is not much insight in what I read from Jung in relation to this. Once we had identified our cards, my friendly acquaintance smiled again, and went on walking down the hall in the OPPOSITE direction from where I was going. I felt (in my dream) that our going in those different directions was somehow important.
I just looked up the symbolism for the ace of spades (my card), and it is known as the “death card” according to common mythology. I had never heard this before (that I can remember). I don’t know what it means, but I’m quite intrigued.
Jung talks about these mythological motifs that have accumulated in the collective unconsciousness over the years. These include the themes of the divine mother/son, the anima (in males…representing female symbolism) and animus (in females…representing male symbolism). There are also the higher power or “god” motifs, which can take on various forms. My thoughts drifted to these questions: Was the god motif imbedded in our collective unconscious BY a higher power? Or are humans with these symbolic motifs inclined to create gods (which all have similar attributes) BECAUSE our unconsciousness has evolved in this way? Perhaps a god is no more than what is inside of us.
I do know that over the past year, I have been allowing my conscious and unconsciousness to “transcend” as Jung would describe it. I have opened my mind to simply UNDERSTAND. Recently, I have even discarded all labels and ideological/political affiliations to further facilitate this. I began this process even before reading Jung, but now I can articulate what it was that I was doing. Self-reflection is tough, and you must face some deep dark truths about what may be hidden inside of you. However, Jung warns about the danger of not facing all the elements of your COMPLETE self. By not doing this, you are trapping psychic energy in your unconscious which may manifest itself in unpleasant ways. Part of knowing YOU includes the conscious (ego) AND the unconscious (or as much as possible…we can’t get to it all in the unconscious). THAT is the complete self.