Sunday, April 29, 2012

Which Hat to Wear?

Dreams are a good place to discover all the different hats you are able to wear.

The Dream: I’m in a fancy hotel with my cousin and others. I notice a square rising above our heads but not as far as the ceiling. On the top of this structure are all sorts of hats on old-fashioned hat stands. I realize that I myself had placed two or three hats on this structure.

A woman who works for the hotel, the person responsible for keeping us customers satisfied, has come into our suite. She asks if there is anything we need. I ask for some sparkling water, or, if that’s not available, still water. She scurries off to get it, and I wonder if I’ve done the wrong thing; we will probably be charged a lot for this water. I feel uncomfortable, but I decide even if we’re seriously over-charged it will be okay.

Interpretation: My life is rich with possibilities (the fancy place where I’m staying). The square shape represents my potential (in Jung’s terms, the Self) and the hats my possible personas (the different roles I might play). That both are over my head implies I’ve not yet attained either; both are beyond me.

The woman who asks what we need is what we call a guide in dream work: someone to assist or point the way. I ask her for water (a symbol of the unconscious), indicating I would like some of the things locked in my unconscious to become conscious. That I specifically ask for sparkling water shows that I expect access to this unconscious material to be enlightening. As soon as I make my request I regret it: I fear the price will be too high. Is life more easily lived in a state of unconsciousness? Do I really want to take that bite of the apple? In the end I decide the price might be high, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay (it will be okay).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Running Uphill

The Dream: I’m going up a steep sidewalk, competing to be the first up the hill. I expect to be winded and out-competed, but to my surprise I finish first. Then I work on a large piece of art. It has a gold background that I fill in with a viscous gold. The foreground is not yet developed.

Interpretation: After having this dream I experienced one of Jung’s synchronicities: I had been reading The Red Book, and on the morning after the dream I came across the passage (page 242, fn 115) in which Jung ascends a steep hill, dragging his slower wife. In his case he had just killed the hero. In my case I prevailed in ways I didn’t expect and so attained some measure of metaphorical gold (insight).  While the gold remains in the background (unconscious), I can take heart from the fact that I’m working on it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Old-Time Religion

The Dream: I’m in a city, wandering the streets. I start from a school. There are many churches: each street seems to have one, old, beautiful and out of date. It is nighttime, and I go into one.

Interpretation: Nighttime; the time of dreams and spirit. I leave the learning of the day (school) and enter the spirit realm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paint Like a Child

The Dream: I am on a bridge talking with someone about an artist friend’s painting. We are holding one of her paintings, and the other person says, “A child could do this.”

I say, “You think that. Do you have any idea how hard it is to paint like a child?”  I also point out that in any case my friend brings a lot of design sense and sophistication to her “childlike” paintings.

Interpretation: This is a dream grounded, as most are, in what I’d been doing the day before. I had been playing with Photoshop’s Mixer Brush, getting painterly effects in my mindless digital “paintings” that I liked too much to delete. One part of me judged these rather harshly; another didn’t want her playtime denigrated. That we’re having this discussion on a bridge implies that I am straddling two states of being: the proper adult and the playful child.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I’m Margaret Thatcher

The Dream: I dreamed I was Margaret Thatcher. I was trying to decide what to do next.

Interpretation: Mrs. Thatcher represents a woman who was once important and successful. Having retired from professional life, how does she continue to contribute to society, and, perhaps more to the point, retain a feeling of self-worth? In this dream she represents the aging woman in me, faced with losing status and importance, wondering how to cope.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Pots Runneth Over

This image tells the story: an out of control mess.
The Dream: There are several pots of different sizes on the stove. All are boiling over, making a big mess. It looks as if they all contain the same thing, unappetizing ground meat in liquid. A man offers to help clean up, but I want him to go away and leave me to do it in my own way, which I feel will be more efficient.

Interpretation: I dislike cleaning up after others, and in general dislike disorganization, mess, and clutter. Controlling the mess in my environment is a way of controlling myself. Yet the mess is out of control in this dream, with more than one pot boiling over. This “mess” is a metaphor for a difficult family situation. The dream tells me not to expect to solve the problem in any sort of practical way (with the help of the man, who represents my masculine, logical side), but to leave its working out to my intuitive (feminine) side. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Symbolic Meaning of the Resurrection

On Easter, the day the Christian religion celebrates the resurrection of god, I find myself pondering the meaning of this archetypal event. For believing Christians it most fundamentally represents the conquest of mortality, but I think it has other meanings as well.  Its concurrence with the springtime rebirth of nature aligns the event with ancient celebrations of fertility, and we have remnants of these celebrations in the ubiquitous eggs and bunny rabbits of Easter Sunday. Even the word Easter has fertility associations; the encyclopedia Britannica quotes the 8th c. Venerable Bede as saying that the day was named for “Eostre, or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.” 

Yet for me the concept of resurrection has a meaning that is not tied to a particular wish (to defeat death) or time of year (spring). For me its most profound meaning is found in the ups and downs of life. There are times when I feel defeated, burned out, used up, finished. And then, a sort of miracle happens: in some mysterious way my spirit resurrects; I can go on; I have new life. So, I offer to you the idea of your perpetual resurrection, here, in this life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Having Second Thoughts

The Dream: I’m in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where old things are displayed for sale on top of glass jewelers’ display cases. I see many intricate old things. One section has several ivory-carved bracelets, very elaborate. I remember the one I have that was my mother’s. I think it is probably more valuable than I had realized.

In another section of the museum I see a large scientific-looking magnifying glass. It was once part of some sort of technical equipment: it’s rectangular and has a few peripheral gadgets, but overall it’s simple. It occurs to me that it would be a perfect gift for Clark, who has been looking for a high-quality magnifying glass. I plan to purchase it for him, but am concerned it might be too large to be useful.

Interpretation: With the dream work I’ve been doing I’ve been looking at old things (past events, people, relationships, and so on). These things, long gone but very alive in my psyche, are more intricate and valuable than I have consciously realized. Is it a good idea to examine these things so closely? Perhaps magnifying them too much is not useful, especially for the part of me that Clark represents—the practical man of action.