How to Analyse a dream with an Archetype in 4 Easy Steps

This dream is part of a series of four blogs. 
How to Use A Dream as a Tool For Self Development; How to Analyse a Dream with an Archetype in 4 Easy Steps; Q & A: 7 Questions and Answers about Dreaming and Mythology;
Four Smart Questions and Answers About Dreams You had not Thought of Yourself

How do you analyse a dream that clearly features an Archetype ? This blog gives you four easy steps. This is part two of a series of HOW TO blogs about dreams on Mindfunda. Each one features a case study in which I carefully, step by step attribute meaning to dream symbols. Number one is How to Use A Dream as a Tool for Self Development. Number one features a small dream. A few days later Bonnie Connelly posted this dream on her Facebook group Painting the Dream.

While I read it and admired the beautiful artwork she made, it became clear to me that this was an archetypical dream. In this blog I explain you how to analyse a dream that features an archetype. Four easy steps, four questions to ask yourself/the dreamer whenever you encounter an archetype in a dream.

Four Bears, the Tree of Life and the Pregnant Water Bearer
archetypical
Drawing by Bonnie Connelly

 

In the first part of this dream which I vague recall, I am in a boat on a large lake – as if I arrived on a boat… I have arrived with Catherine who is in early pregnancy. I am bringing her to a woman who is refusing to see her because Catherine intends to terminate the pregnancy. I look out at the lake, its distant coastline, and the small boat that I will be returning in. The lake is calm and peaceful and smooth like a mirror. I think to myself, “I can do that.”
Now from a position of standing in the water [although I don’t feel the water] observing Catherine on the shore. I see a black bear above her in a tree. I call out to her, “Catherine, there’s a bear!” She doesn’t seem to hear me. Then I see four bears in the tree shaking it wildly. “Catherine! Catherine!” She moves to the other side of the tree I think she sees the bears and is ok. End Of Dream
Feeling: it felt powerful – like something shifted
Reality check: Catherine in the dream was in a dream group with me a few years ago, a fellow Aquarian, Water Bearer – lives in southern California now, like I did. I was 20 years older than her – we had a lot in common – and felt very motherly towards her. She was not able to get pregnant from what I understand so this speak in the dream!  She has been posting a lot of political posts on FB so I am seeing her a lot these days on FB

 

How to analyse a dream with an archetype Step 1:

The beginning of a dream often tells you something about the main theme the dream is addressing. This dream begins at a lake. There is an undeniable relationship between water and life. Without water, human life is not possible. What defines a lake is that a lake is surrounded by land. It does not have any outlet that serves to feed or drain the living principle. It is a depression in the earth that serves to collect water and in that way keeps the dreamer alive emotionally. So you might assume that this dream addresses something about the emotional life of the dreamer.

Early on, the second dream carter is introduced: a lady named Catherine. I usually find out what names mean to see if this gives any symbolic value to the dream. On the site Behind the Name Catherine is attributed to the Goddess of Dreams Hecate, a Goddess associated with witchcraft, magic and dreams.

HOW TO ANALYSE A DREAM WITH AN ARCHETYPE STEP 2:

The first conflict introduced in the dream is the moment when the dreamer begins to dissociate herself from the dream scene. There is a shift in perspective the moment the third lady who disagrees with terminating the pregnancy is introduced.  

I look out at the lake, its distant coastline, and the small boat that I will be returning in. The lake is calm and peaceful and smooth like a mirror. I think to myself, “I can do that”.

The dreamer now has returned to the earth. She looks back at the lake and the lake is like a mirror. In mythology the magic mirror lets you see things that are not apparent to the “normal viewer”. In this part of the dream you see that the lake has much significant value in it to tell the dreamer about the Self. The dreamer looks back and sees her opportunities: “I can do that”.

archetype

The transition is clear: the boat of life will take her to the next phase. Bonnie’s reference to the political messages of Catherine on Facebook suggest that the anti abortion rule President Trump signed a few days after his legislation might play a role in this dream. Copy – pasted from the site buzzfeed.com:

“Here’s how it works: Foreign organizations that take US family planning money can’t use any money, from any other donor, on abortion-related services. It’s a restriction on how they use their other, non-US government money, and it applies to providing abortions or giving any information about abortion, including medical advice or referrals — even in countries where abortion is legal”.

In that sense, the wish for dream Catherine to end her pregnancy is a sign of independency. An archetypical dream as a political statement? I would not be surprised!

HOW TO ANALYSE A DREAM WITH AN ARCHETYPE STEP 3:

Look at the progression the dream makes. The dreams suggest to embrace the Goddess archetype even further. Four bears are introduced, all hugging the Tree of Life. The three Goddesses of the first stage of the dream: Bonnie, Catherine and the lady who refuses to see Catherine, the Triple Goddess has now revealed a fourth manifestation: the bear. From an archetypical perspective the bear is associated with Artemis. Artemis is the bear goddess. In ancient Europe, there used to be a bear cult. In Athens girls were sent to Brauron to serve Artemis for one year at the temple.

archetype

 

The progression the dream makes here is that it takes the dreamer, who has just explored her Self image in the mirror of the lake, into a path of initiation. The bear is the dreaming animal. In the winter it sleeps for months. If you look at the drawing you see that three bears look at the left, female side. One bear looks at the right (male) side. If it was my dream, this would suggest an initiation into the depths of femininity.

HOW TO ANALYSE A DREAM WITH AN ARCHETYPE STEP 4:

See how this integrates in the life of the dreamer right now. Bonnie points out that for her, bears are connected to Chiron, the wounded healer. Quoted from the site ncbi.nlm.gov. from the author Serge Daneault MD. Ph.D:
“The Greek gods Apollo and Artemis taught medicine to Chiron. Chiron was wounded by an arrow from Heracles’ bow. He did not die (because gods are immortal); instead, he suffered excruciating pain for the rest of his eternal days. It was because of his grievous wound that Chiron became known as a legendary healer in ancient Greece”.

This brings Artemis back to her alchemical qualities of ancient Mother Goddess: she unites present and past, she ties archetypical dream – strings together and stews one of the finest tasting dream stories for the thankful receiver.

Bonnie’s final comments on this step by step dream analyses:

“Your seeing the triple goddess [the maiden, the mother and the crone [wise grandmother?]- that was a good catch! And as this was the last dream of the month of January – the first one to start the month was Titled ‘Witch Troubles’ – I just see this book cover flash in front of my eyes. So that Catherine is attributed to the Goddess of Dreams – a goddess associated with witchcraft, magic and dreams – this resonates!  I like your take on Catherine’s wanting to end her pregnancy is a sign of independence – she is extremely independent – not married

Anyway thanks again for this pleasure of seeing how you work with dreams – excellent!”

Bonnie
What are your thoughts?

How would you interpret a dream filled with so many archetypical symbols? I would love to hear from you.

My next blog will be a Q&A: the questions that are usually asked when people want to know what their dreams mean, and the answers to those questions. The last blog is about the questions you should be asking when you want to know what a dream means.

Do You want to Remember more Dreams? Here are 10 easy steps:

 

 


THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Dreamfunda:  
Everything you need to know about dreams. Practical How to’s, the latest scientific research, the most commonly used ways to attach meaning to dreams. This and more is given to you for your everyday use in this part of Mindfunda

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Descent

Every year around Christmas, I enter a stage of depression. I used to think it was caused by all the lights, cards and presents. I thought it was caused by the abundance of food in a deprived world. I thought it was my bad nature that caused me to get so tired around December. My biggest longing in December is to be left undisturbed in my thinking/feeling process to evaluate the year that has passed. My dreams are more intense, and I found out it is a special time for dreaming.

descent
Artwork: Mary Stubberfield

In the last couple of years I began to study mythology. I studied mythology like it was my life saving medicine. I began to understand that it had been my soul that was calling to me. I needed to tune in and listen.

 

descent
Buy this book using this link and you will support the good work of MINDFUNDA

James Hillman and the Descent to the Underworld

James Hillman, born in 1926, the same year as my father, studied in Zürich with Jung and he was director of this Zürich institute for ten years.
He typified modern psychology as soul-less. Psyche means soul but that is the one thing that therapists never touch upon.  In “The Dream and the Underworld” he says: “Soon we shall be making our own descent to the underworld in detail. I am assuming that its general geography is already somewhat familiar from myths, religions, painting and literature, where the horrors of hell and the sufferings of the deep, the waters one crosses to get there, have been to us through centuries of our common lore.”

Freud and Jung and the descent

In the psychological model Hillman paints the underworld as the touchstone of both of their lives. “Freud writes: Traumdeuting was, I found, a portion of my own self analysis, my reaction to mu father’s death- that is to say, to the most important loss, of a man’s life”.

Jung wrote down his revelations with the underworld in his Red Book.
The dread and resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is at bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades. Carl Jung

Could it be that I resented Christmas so much because I fear my journey to Hades? My descent into the underworld? I always tell myself that I do not fear death, only of the pain that will be involved in the process of dying. I remember the pain I felt when my children were born and it is very tempting to see death as  a birth into another realm. Both processes are accompanied by pain.

“The psychic perspective is focused not only on death or about dying. Rather, it is a consciousness that stands on its own two legs only when we have to put our day world notions to sleep. Death is the most profoundly radical way of expressing this shift in consciousness” says Hillman. So it is not the process of dying per se, but a shift of consciousness…

I know that you all like Stephan Aizenstat. He calls himself “A DreamTender.” He sits with a dream. With its images. And in some mystical way, it works for him and a lot of other people. If I sit with a dream, my mind just gets wandering. About all kinds of things but not about the dream. I need structure, to guide my active mind.

Hillman does not give a dream method. He tells us that dreams belong to the underworld. We should not try to interpret them. But meanwhile, reading his chapter “Praxis” about dreams gives you a lot of information about possible mythological interpretations of dreams. To understand dreams we must enter Hades’ realm. And the only way Persephone got entry there was because of the rape of Hades… So the aggression of the underworld, that plucks away the maiden admiring a flower, initiates the descent into the soul.

My own descent

Just like the sun, who enables our lives, we shine bright. The birth of Jesus, as celebrated at Christmas, symbolizes the return of the light. In Jungian terms: in our dark unconscious matter we will find treasures that can serve as cornerstones for our individualization. We need to bring those treasures up, into the light of consciousness.

 

descent
Diagram: Jungdarwinbook.com

 

The story of Eve, stealing and eating the apple of knowledge against the will of God, symbolizes the quest for knowledge. If Eve had not eaten the apple of knowledge together with Adam, there would have been no original sin. But there would also have been no need for the son of God to be born among man as Jesus Christ. It is a sin, but a Felix Culpa.

In the Grail legend, it is the other way around. Parsifal does not ask the question! Adam and Eve were driven out of Paradise for their hunger for consciousness, Parsifal is denied the Grail for not asking the question. So historically, there has been a turn around.

Consciousness has become the Grail of our times. It has become the Grail of Jungians and others who look to depth psychology (and/or mythology to better understand themselves and their personal relationships and to their  (outer) world. I confess, I am one of those people. I do think gaining self-knowledge will make me a more balanced person. And that inner balance will increase my happiness. How has that worked out in my life so far?

Looking back I can say that the most depressing period in my life was when my husband was diagnosed with burn out. While he was sleeping and dreaming his way back into health, I was running round, taking care of everything and everybody, except for myself.

 

descent
Artwork: sacred connections.wordpress.com

One night I had a dream: A big spider comes walking toward me. It bites me in my hand, I feel a deep sharp pain and wake up.

The Spider Goddess bit me in the hand, as if to say: “Take care of yourself first”. Hillman says about the spider: “Although most natural spiders live in the earth, dream spiders usually appear in the air, a nightworld air like the chthonic, pneumatic underworld. There is an underworld intellect, a chthonic mind of nature that must spin out its patterns, constructing networks that can catch and hold any winged fantasy flying by.” The spider, in many ancient cultures the symbol of the Great Mother Goddess weaves the threads of the web of life, connecting realms and energies.

Like everyone who takes good care of him/herself, I started to plan lonely activities. Walking, every day. Me with my train of thoughts. My way of clearing my head. Embracing my solitude has helped me to survive. Loving the time I spent alone with myself has brought back balance. Like the spider weaves its connective web, my loneliness has taught me to see connections. How things of my past re-play in my current life. How I can be a better mother. Not only to my children, but also to myself. Is it the descent in the darkness that brings out the light?

Descent and Berserkers

Christmas time is family time. A time for old arguments and irritations that pop out just when you are ready to have a Christmas snack. Things can boil up into a heated argument. In a rage, your unconscious just throws out words that, even though they are true in your eyes, can hurt the one they are screamed at, to the core. The bear inside all of us can turn into a berserker: someone in a state of destructive rage. But things that are said can not be easily taken back. Going berserk is one of the expressions that still reminds us of the heritage of the Bear Goddess. The Bear used to be honored as a special deity. A representation of Loosing all grip of reality, in a rage of “telling someone like it is” you can turn the brightness of a Christmas Eve into the darkness of a nightmare.

descent

Almost all of us have been there, at such a family event, biting our tongues, or smiling politely when feeling offended by a family member.
Hillman has got this practical advice when you encounter such a situation:
“Our human person is shadowed by an archetypical image in the likeness of a God, and the God appears as the shade of a person”.
So just be gentle at the Christmas table. Don’t rage out, if a family member insults you, just acknowledge the fact that he/she represents the shadow. And without light, we would not be able to recognize a shadow as part of our own persona.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Remember: Christmas is a very special time for dreaming, so join Mindfunda for the Holy Night Dream Incubations.

Mindfunda invites you for a Christmas celebration you will remember. For just 10 dollars you get exclusive access to a restricted private area on Mindfunda during the Holy Nights. Each night between December 24 and January 6 I will share a dream incubation. We will talk about and reflect on our dreams. Ancient belief says that during these nights the veil between the worlds is thin. Register now as Mindfunda More Member, to experience the depth of your dreams.

Literature

Marie Louise von Fransz, The Feminine in Fairy Tales, Spring Publications 1974
James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld, Harper & Row Publishers 1979