Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Working on a Dream About Individuation September 2, 2011

Someone recently asked me how I work on my dreams, so in this and the next two posts I’ll demonstrate my process using my latest dream as an example. I have only a vague idea what it could mean and frankly some of the symbolism worries me, but it feels important so I’ll begin by exploring my associations with the symbols. When I want more information about a symbol I’ll consult The Herder Symbol Dictionary or J.E. Cirlot’s A Dictionary of Symbols. Here goes…

Dream #4337I’m at a social gathering in a large square rooftop deck of an apartment building. I’m holding an empty clear plastic cup and want to fill it with water but there isn’t any here. A protective railing surrounds the platform. I step over the railing on the right side to get to the water.

Now I’m on a runway-like ramp (about 12 feet wide) that rises up and out far beyond the rooftop platform. It’s bordered on either side by silver metal railings. As I walk up I notice X (a waking-life acquaintance) sitting at a table against the right railing. She’s absorbed in some sort of creative work. She asks what I’m doing. I show her my cup and say I’ve come for water.  She says I shouldn’t go up there; it’s dangerous. I think she’s being silly. I feel bold, confident, and determined to continue on to the water fountain.

I look beyond her and see that the runway narrows and curves around a small, all-white bathroom at the end. The door is open and I see a white toilet to the left and a white sink against the back wall.  I wonder why I expected there to be a water fountain up there, then realize there’s a tap in the sink.  I wonder if the water is pure and safe to drink. I tell her I’m not afraid; there are railings on either side I can hang on to.  But as I look more closely I see that the left railing gets lower and lower and is only a foot high where it connects to the bathroom wall. Once inside I’d feel safe but there is little protection near the end. It could get windy and I could lose my balance and fall over the edge of the ramp. Should I continue?

Summary of  Paragraph I: I’m in a high place with four sides. I’m thirsty, but my cup is empty. I leave the group to search for water.  Following are my symbols and associations:

High place: being in my head; intellectual, psychological and spiritual aspirations and ideals.

Clear plastic cup: cups, like chalices, symbolize overflowing abundance when full and, in Christianity, the cup of salvation or fate and the draught of immortality. That I’m thirsty but my cup is empty suggests I’m feeling the need for more nourishment, self-understanding and meaning. That the cup is plastic and not made of a firmer, more natural material like crystal or metal suggests my soul’s container is somewhat fragile and needs strengthening.

Water: emotions; abundance of possibilities; the primal origin of all being; bodily, emotional, and spiritual cleansing and the power of renewal; spiritual fertility and spiritual life when associated with the fountain. “Psychoanalysis regards water primarily as a symbol of the feminine and of the powers of the unconscious.” (Herder)

Square platform: Jung saw the square as a symbol of matter, life, earthly reality, and because it has four sides, wholeness.  A platform is a man-made level rising above the earth.

Stepping over the railing and leaving the group: crossing a boundary from one place to another in search of nourishment; taking an individual psycho-spiritual journey.

To be continued. Meanwhile, feel free to comment with your own associations.


Dreams of Trees February 22, 2011

Dreams are essentially about the soul’s journey from ignorance to enlightenment. Issues related to this process include leaving our dependence on the mother’s world; strengthening our ego; developing our individuality in the father’s world; facing our fear of the unconscious; descent into the soul’s dark night; accepting our shadow; honoring the instinctual life in our bodies; trusting and becoming grounded in the unconscious; acquiring self-knowledge and meaning; following our passion; experiencing regeneration and revitalization; uniting our inner opposites; and growing more centered and psychologically androgynous. All these themes are about establishing our ego’s connection with the Self, our central core, God-image and Beloved.

This journey is fundamental to the soul’s growth and dreams serve this growth, often with the imagery of trees. But it’s easy to misinterpret the meaning of this symbol. For example, in an early dream I passed by a tree so loosely rooted that the trunk shifted when I touched it and I was afraid it would fall over. Another dream around the same time featured a flimsy willow tree whose roots were so soggy from the nearby swamp that it, too, was in danger of falling and dying. Unaware of the psycho-spiritual meaning, I feared I was mentally unbalanced or going to die. But these dreams simply said my conscious ego (trunk) had weak connections (roots) to my unconscious (ground); and the water-swamped roots suggested nothing worse than the powerful unconscious emotions which occasionally overwhelmed me.

Years later I had an extraordinary dream in which the tree meant something very different. I offer a summary of it to you in partial explanation of who I am and what this blog is about. For the full text, consult my book Dream Theatres of the Soul.

Dream #843: “Two Snakes in the Tree of Life.” Someone narrates a story as I watch it unfold. A little green snake begins his life on one side of a tree, unaware of a huge old brown female snake higher up on the other side. After a long journey through the dark tree he pops out directly into the mouth of the big snake who munches down on his head. Another onlooker thinks this is the end of the little green snake, but a giant rainbow streaks across the sky from right to left and beneath it, on a stage in a vast cosmic theater, the little green snake reappears as a virile young cowboy who slaps two coins onto a saloon bar and says, “Set ‘em up, Joe.” He did not die but was transformed into a human. I think this is the best possible ending to the story.

I believe this story represented the spiritual initiation of my masculine ego and its reunion with the archetypal Great Mother. The part of the dream in which she bit down on the head of the male was especially perplexing until I read Barbara Walker’s The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Walker writes that stories from ancient religions often featured a male snake deity who was the consort of the Great Goddess: “[This male snake]…gave himself up to be devoured by the Goddess. The image of the male deity enclosed or devoured by the female gave rise to a superstitious notion…that the male snake fertilizes the female snake by putting his head in her mouth and letting her eat him.”

This strange drama in the Tree of Life was an archetypal symbol of transformation and renewal whose message filled me with joy.  My spiritual practice of dreamwork was paying off and my soul was being regrounded in the Mother as a stronger, more conscious individual.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.


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