Sunday, April 4, 2010
Societies across all cultures have created religious art based on a circle: in the West we see halos and rose windows in cathedrals; in the East are the mandalas of Hindu and Buddhist temples. Jung considered this an archetypal symbol of what he calls the self.
The Dream: A young royal with many connections is arranging a Christmas party for some even younger relatives. He has set a table with a linen cloth and much fine, if rather arbitrarily chosen, china and silver. It’s as if the prince has furnished the event with items he found discarded in the palace basement. The seat of honor, a throne-like chair, is old and very delicate. Nevertheless, it’s very pretty. Two children are in attendance, one on either side of the rectangular table. I am helping the attractive young prince, although I’m not sure why. Am I toadying to his rank, trying to gain favor or status? I’m not sure.
I offer to serve the cream to the children and go to retrieve the pitcher. When I return I ask each child in turn if he or she would like some. They are very polite little British children and say, “Yes, please!” with their adorable accents. I pour a large quantity of a thick yellow goop onto the little boy’s plate, then feel I’ve overdone it and scoop some back into the pitcher hoping my action has gone unnoticed. The other child also gets an over-large quantity. I look at their plates, everything obscured by a thick layer of cream, and I feel embarrassed; but the children don’t seem to mind.
I hear a distant voice approaching. Pavarotti, one of the famous 3 tenors, is singing. The young royal who organized the party pressed him into service for the event.
All at once I’m at the table with the children, in a seat with a rounded hood like a bassinet. There’s a dome over my head, and I see a beautiful kaleidoscope of color. To my left I see Santa Claus. He is very beautiful, perfect. Everything is perfect and theatrical. For a brief moment I think I can again believe in this child’s land of wonder—then the alarm went off.
Interpretation: According to Jung one of the functions of dreaming is the attainment of the self. Briefly put, the self is realized potential. This almost never occurs completely; it is as rare as sainthood. But when we make some progress in the right direction our unconscious gives us thumbs up. By joining the children at the table I’ve integrated my child--one of the fragmentary, shadowy, unconscious aspects of myself--so my dream shows me symbolically that I’ve made some progress, in this case by producing a mandala.