Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Seeing With A Different Perspective January 24, 2012

Joseph Campbell said, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”  How many of us realize that the plots of the books and movies we love—even the most fantastic, dreamlike ones about imaginary times, places, people, and creatures (for example, The Wizard of Oz)—are commentaries on the inner life of every human being who ever existed? How often do we remember that a weird dream is not just a meaningless phenomenon but a personal message about the realities of our unconscious selves?

Looking for the psychological meanings of public myths and private dreams is a powerful way to train your intuition, heal yourself, and increase your wisdom. Sometimes you won’t like what you see: Who likes the Wicked Witch of the West?  Yet, if you can imagine this story from a different perspective—as did the writers of the Broadway play Wicked who told it from her perspective—you’ll see how even the most terrifying villains can have benevolent intentions and teach valuable lessons. I’ll illustrate with a recent dream.

Dream #4346:  A Dragon Wants to Enter The House

I’m in a house. My mother’s in the kitchen. A dragon is outside flapping its wings against the roof and banging against the walls of a room in the far left corner. I walk down the hall and stand in the doorway. The opposite wall looks like a garage door with windows in the top half. The dragon is hanging down from the roof, its gigantic head framed in the windows. One huge eye stares at me. Its open mouth is lined with pointy teeth.

As I turn away in fear it bangs on the window. I hear a crash. He must have broken through. I call out to my mother, “Run! We’ve got to get out of here!” This feels like Fred’s old house so I know the door to the garage is ahead and hope we can escape in my car. Then I realize I don’t have the keys.  I ask my mother where they are and hear her voice saying they’re in the family room.  Oh no! I’ll have to go back toward the dragon to find my keys.

I awoke with my heart pounding. Do you see how archetypal the symbols are?  House? Kitchen? Mother? Dragon? Windows? Doors? Eye? Teeth? Keys? About the only things missing are a hero, some woods, a sword and a horse! This is a drama about the unfolding of my private myth. So far I understand that a powerful unconscious emotion (the dragon) is desperate for my ego’s attention. Although I’m gaining perspective on it (I glimpse it through windows separating me from the unconscious) I still fear it. It has something to do with the nurturing (kitchen) I received or didn’t receive from my mother, and also with my husband (I’m in the house where he grew up).  Finally, the keys to this mystery relate to family (the keys are in the family room). For the next several days I’ll carry this dream with me, feeling its feelings, talking to its images, looking to developments in my waking life for new insights.

Why am I telling you this dream? You can’t possibly understand the complexities of my inner life, and even if I did, I wouldn’t share them all here. But I want you to see my trust in the benevolence of dreams, and I’d like to help you work with yours. So with the understanding that your responses say more about your inner life than mine, I welcome your projections. Perhaps I’ll share some of mine next time if I think they could be helpful.


Dreams of the Divine Child July 8, 2011

There is a sign on the journey that alerts us to the presence of our dragons and lets us know it is time to confront them. That sign is the awareness of mental and/or emotional conflict, or cognitive dissonance, and the desire to be free from it. Cognitive dissonance means there is a separation or lack of harmony between two different ways of knowing. The separation might be between our conscious thoughts and unconscious emotions, public persona and private realities, mind and body, beliefs and behavior, or all of these and more.

Many of us are taught that feeling pain, admitting to doubt and fear, or asking for help are signs of weakness and so we grow up acting like everything is okay. Pretending often works until midlife, but, unfortunately, after that our inner conflicts begin to express themselves in symptoms we can no longer ignore such as difficulty in relationships, addictions, depression, stress, accidents, recurring nightmares, or physical ailments.

I’m not suggesting we should whine, complain, attach blame, call attention to our discomfort with dramatic behavior, or wallow in our misery. These are just ploys immature egos use to gain attention, remain in the familiar role of victim, or avoid self-confrontation. The healing way is to admit our conflicts to ourselves and use some form of creative introversion like dreamwork, art, writing, or active imagination to clarify and come to terms with them.

After my last post, one reader, Joseph Anthony, shared his struggles with his dragons and described how he dealt with them in a form of active imagination. He says, “…when I faced my dragons…I went as a child. That might sound cute, but it’s true, and it wasn’t a conscious choice. And I don’t mean necessarily, my inner child…I mean, perhaps, an archetypal image of both creative power and wonder, and innocence—Divine Innocence.” Inspired by my post he wrote a delightful original story about this healing image and has posted it on his blog. I hope you’ll take the time to read it at

Jung had a name for Joseph’s symbol of innocent childish wonder: the Divine Child. He saw it as an archetypal symbol for the Self — the whole, integrated, fully conscious psyche — and for the process of individuation which forms it. In every era and culture, this archetype shows up spontaneously in myths, fantasies and the dreams of individuals as a wise, knowing, unusual, precocious, or otherwise fascinating infant or child.

The Divine Child is an image of yourself in your purest form, with all your weaknesses and vulnerabilities, hopes and ambitions. Its appearance in your inner life means that forces are at work in your unconscious to return you to your original state of innocence, before the world wounded your trust and hardened your heart; before your ego dominated your psyche and the walls went up and the cynicism set in. But where your childhood innocence was a function of inexperience and lack of self-awareness, your newly regained transparency is a function of intentional psychological integration.

The way your dream ego relates to the Divine Child depicts your waking ego’s attitude toward the Self and your commitment to the path of consciousness. What will you do if it comes to you in a dream? Walk away from it or befriend it? Forget it or feed it? Fear it or follow it?


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