Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Dream Interview Part II: How Does One Learn to Do Dreamwork? June 1, 2012

Here’s Part II of my interview with Shirley Showalter, a blogger and memoir writer I met on the internet.

Question #2: Are you a trained Jungian analyst? If so, what do those of us who don’t have formal training in dream interpretation do? Do we need an analyst to help us?

My Answer: Most people think I’m a Jungian analyst, but I’m not. I’m just obsessed with Jungian psychology because when I discovered it, it hit my inner environment with the force of a Florida hurricane! Hurricane Jean, I guess. My doctorate is in education—Curriculum and Instruction—and my teaching specialties were Children’s Literature and Language Arts.

These were never my passions, but I didn’t know it until the age of 46 when I discovered Jungian psychology. A dear friend invited me to join a 5-year long Jungian study group called Centerpoint which is based on a series of lessons written by Jungian analysts.

The first activity at our first meeting was to share an important dream. I shared one I had at the age of ten in which my hero, the Lone Ranger, shot me, and to my surprise and discomfort I realized I could barely talk because I was struggling so hard to hold in tears and some strong emotions. That’s when I knew the power of this kind of inner work.

There weren’t any Jungian analysts where I lived so I ordered several books from Inner City Books, a publisher that specializes in Jungian studies written by Jungian analysts, and started reading on my own. And underlining! And taking notes. Soon I was writing down my dreams and trying to understand them. Essentially, I was discovering and following my passion.

Except for the members of my weekly study group, (and we rarely talked about our own dreams after that first time), I had no other inner work companions: no teachers, no therapists, no one else to talk to about the exciting inner journey I was taking. Of course there was my husband, and he tried his best to listen, but as an extremely busy economist, his heart wasn’t in it and I hated to burden him.

After a year of this I knew I had a book or two in me, so I decided to quit teaching and start writing. I can’t adequately express how freeing and empowering it was to make these choices, and from the very beginning my dreams affirmed that I was doing the right thing. My first psychological book was The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth. In it I wrote about the value of working with my dreams, and my readers’ responses were so positive that I decided to write another book about how to do it.

Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine through Jungian Dream Work came out two years later. Copies of both are still available from Amazon, and I’d recommend them to anyone seriously interested in going deeper. My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World, also contains stories about what I’ve learned from my dreams. It can be ordered from or Amazon, both of which are offering pre-publication discounts.

So in answer to your question, I’d say that having the help of a Jungian analyst would be a rare and highly desirable gift. However, it’s not absolutely essential to one who has a passion for self-knowledge if s/he’s willing to do the work.

The picture is of an old root cellar tucked into the mountain on our property.


Birthing a Book May 8, 2012

In response to queries about my new book—where I got the idea, how it’s progressing, when it will come out, if it can be pre-ordered, and so on—I’d like to share some of the process and answer your questions in this and the next post. I know you come here for the psychological content, but I assure you I’ll weave some of that in along the way. It won’t be difficult, since I always look for, and usually find, psychological meaning in everything! Plus, the book’s about psychology!

While certain basics never change, the details of the process—from the conception of a book, to the writing of it, to its publication—are as unique as each book. When I started writing my first psychological book , The Bridge to Wholeness:  A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth, in the fall of 1989, I had just retired from college teaching because of a restless discontent with my work and a deep knowing that I had something to say that was vastly different from anything I had written professionally. With no expectations for what would emerge, I followed my heart and for three or four days a week wrote a series of memoir-type essays via which I searched for meaning in my life’s most interesting and puzzling experiences. Essentially, I was re-mything my life from a Jungian perspective.

I’d been recording and working on my dreams for over a year, so I was delighted to discover that my unconscious self supported my writing by providing material at night that often inspired the next day’s work.  Six months into this project I was sitting in front of my make-up mirror one morning when a fairy tale wove its way into my awareness via a spontaneous session of active imagination. This story provided the focus that pulled all the essays together and a year later I sent a proposal and three sample chapters to ten publishers. With a hint from a dream and a suggestion from a Jungian writer, one was based in California. Three days later Lura Geiger of LuraMedia called and told me she wanted it, and my new creation entered the world in 1992!

My next book, Dream Theaters of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dream Work, underwent a very different gestation. Shortly after Bridge was launched I was again filled with restless discontent, so one day I began to explore ideas for a book to help others understand their dreams. Within a few hours I had an outline. Three months later the completed manuscript was also accepted by LuraMedia and it was published in 1994!

Encouraged by my previous successes and motivated by a powerful longing for answers to some pressing questions, in 1993 I began researching and writing the next book. Fifteen years later I had five manuscripts in my computer! Each had a different title and focus and none felt finished, but they were all related to my passion for understanding how gender and family issues, plus my religion, spiritual experiences, and psychological development had influenced my search for self-discovery and spiritual meaning.  By the summer of 2009 I had a new manuscript with a new focus that combined elements from all five. After another rewrite based on suggestions from three experts in their fields, I signed a contract with Larson Publications in March of 2011. That book will be formally launched this summer with the title, Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World.

Honestly? The others were deeply satisfying, but this baby feels special! More about it next time.


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