The Reality of the Autonomous Psyche
Perhaps the most decisive moment in the history of Jung's work with Psyche, and dreams occurred during his journey into the unconscious. Chronicling his experiences in this inner world, Jung writes in the Red Book that he was frightened by the power and effects of these inner images on his life. In an effort to diminish their influence, he turned to the prophet Elijah, one of the most powerful figures he encountered, saying that since he had created him from his own imagination, that he was not real. Here Elijah informs Jung, that he and all of the other figures in the unconscious were as real as anything else living in the world.
Jung had come face to face with the reality and autonomy of the psyche. While initially believing that he created these inner figures, he now understood that instead, he had found a way to access the contents of the Psyche. As these inner figures were vital and energetic entities, carrying their own innate and intrinsic meaning, he had to develop an ongoing relationship to them, and to enter the specific domain-field of the image to understand its unique and particular mythology, meaning, and what they were asking of the dreamer.
As presented in the Red Book, it was Jung's encounters with Salome, Siegfried, Elijah, the assassin and the anchorite which shows the necessity of engaging and understanding the messages of these figures. Jung realized that each figure represents an aspect of Psyche, carrying a spiritual and archetypal message for the dreamer. From that moment on, he dedicated his life to finding ways of engaging this world of the creative unconscious, and to learn the nature and ways of each figure encountered in the unconscious. Here, he left us with a richly textured inheritance consisting of this profound approach to psyche and the unconscious, which the Jungian Analyst Elizabeth Osterman realized was Jung’s greatest discovery-the existence of the objective psyche and the presence of autonomous formative tendencies at work within the unconscious. (pg14)
A Transcendent Wisdom in the Dream
For Jung and the first generation of Jungians, the contents of the unconscious contained a wisdom transcending that of our conscious perception, and was approached with awe and respect. In distinction to this pioneering work of Jung, von Franz, Ester Harding, Barbara Hannah, Hillman and Marion Woodman, each of whom recognized the transformative power, beauty, wisdom and autonomy of the dream, much of contemporary dream work overlooks the innate meaning of images. Instead their focus is now on the conscious feelings and attitudes about the dream, rather than engaging the specific, archetypal meaning of the image itself. Here the dream is approached through the lens of the personal unconscious and the dreamer’s emotional reaction to it. In focusing on the emotions and reactions triggered in us by the dream, we are not so much acknowledging the dreams implicit archetypal meaning, but rather the workings of our complexes. Jung (1914) makes this distinction between complex and dream image when writing:
"Free association means that you open yourself to any amount and kind of association and they naturally lead to your complexes. ...That is uninteresting to me. I want to know what the dreams have to say about the complexes, not what the complexes are. I want to know what a mans (and womans) unconscious is doing with the complex. This is what I read in dreams. If I wanted to apply the method of free association I would not need dreams."
While the dream will often activate a personal the dream nevertheless will present a unique, archetypal meaning independent of our conscious attitudes and complexes. Here is the place where we do well to follow in the footsteps of Jung and the early Jungian's in bringing an attitude of reverence to the dream image, and in doing so, begin the process of midwifing Psyche's messages about life, love and spirituality into our life.
This dream seminar honors Jung's approach to psyche and his working with the archetypal domain of dreams. While looking at the archetypal and objective nature of dream symbolism, this seminar will also look at the role of personal complexes in our understanding of dreams.
In many respects this course is an homage to the brilliance of Jung and those Jungians whose work captures the necessity of working with those numinous and transpersonal contents of the unconscious and in finding ways to incorporate these messages from the Self into our life.
The Beginning Dream Patterning seminar is divided into four teaching modules
I The presence of the Objective Psyche and archetypes in dreams
II The presence and workings of Complexes in Dreams
III Discerning the relationship between complexes and archetypes in dreams
IV Working with the dreams archetypal message
Dream Patterning Programs
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