Sunday, April 24, 2016

What Can we Learn from the Dream Ego?

The dream ego is the character that you play in your dreams. It's like you, but then it isn't. You might have heard, or even said, “I don't know why, but I was following this frog around (or sewing capes for giants, or going to Mars, or visiting a gangster . . . .) In other words, your dream ego often does things that are very far from anything you would do in waking life.

Aha—that's food for thought. To puzzle out the dream ego and its bizarre behavior, ask yourself some questions: What are the characteristics of the thing the dream ego is interacting with? What is it doing, what am I doing? What is the outcome of our interaction? Here's an example:

Characteristics: Take a look at the thing you're interacting with from the point of view that it symbolizes something that has meaning for you. For example, if I dream about following a frog around I'd think about frogs. Do they represent the natural world to me, or do I see them as aimless hoppers? Are they foot-loose and fancy free or merely without an anchor? As creatures that go through readily identifiable stages—egg, tadpole, etc. —do they represent changes I'm going through? Do I expect frogs to turn into princes?

Its Action: Is this creature or thing that I'm interacting with purposeful? If so, what is its purpose? In the case of the frog example, is it leading me somewhere or trying to get away from me? Does it have a reason for its action? If it doesn't, could I imagine one for it?

My action: What does my response to the thing say about my state of mind? Okay—I'm following this frog around. Am I being led by something irrational, perhaps? Or is it rather that I'm following a natural force?

Outcome: Do I get somewhere, following this frog? Did my dream ego react in the same way that waking life me would have reacted? How are we the same, how are we different? Am I happy or frustrated? Does anything surprise me?

Above all, dream work is a quest. If you're willing to take the time to look at your dreams you'll discover your own inner treasure, the philosopher's gold.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kiss of Death

This dream struck me as macabre, and I hesitated to foist it upon you, dear reader. But, as so often is the case, I discovered as I worked on the dream that it had a helpful message.
The Dream: I am kissing my husband. He looks old, like an aged Clint Eastwood. As I awakened I was thinking of a cafe, with all the patrons' faces showing their mortality, like a roomful of living skulls.

Interpretation: As what Jung called my animus, my husband stands for the part of me that goes forth with energy and purpose into the world. As time goes on, this part of me diminishes; will it die? And what about my absolute mortality, the one we all share? In a sense we are all living skulls. These ideas felt very negative and off-putting, to say the least.

But as I worked on the illustration, one part of me was thinking of the idiotic things we humans waste our time on, and I began to have the realization that a sense of mortality might encourage me to look at my life's purpose and to focus on what's important. A little prayer popped into my head,
 Thank you for my time on Earth. Help me to use it wisely.
 This prayer felt like a gift.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Walk Through the Past

Sometimes it seems as if a dream evokes our distant past, when our potential lay buried deep within our ancestors. The Dream: I am walking through a European city and see sections of town that have facades from prehistoric times. I'm intrigued by this and sorry we don't have this sort of antiquity in America. Then I think, “Perhaps we do.”

Interpretation: This dream was triggered by a talk with a friend about ancient goddesses. The dream got me to thinking about our links to the past. For women, mitochondrial DNA from our mothers stretches back unchanged into distant antiquity and provides a link with our ancestors who, through us, live in modernity.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It's All in My Head

Sometimes it seems as if the unconscious is our private cheering squad, trying to tell us the things we need to know. It helps a lot if we learn to pay attention.
The Dream: A man tells me that his shrink thinks his sexual difficulties are all psychological. He resists the idea, but I say, “Maybe they are.”

Interpretation: I thought this little dream was meaningless until I applied it to my life situation. In this case, sex (libido, the life force) stands in for life. My life at the moment feels very tense due to my anxiety over some medical tests and the 10 people that are coming to dinner later. But actually—nothing is wrong at the moment except my own anxiety. All my worries are in my head, and they are making my enjoyment of life impossible.