According to Dr Carl Jung, a symbol is a term, a name or a picture possessing specific connotations in addition to its conventional and obvious meaning. It implies something vague or hidden from us. As an example we find the oxen, the lion or eagles, which are animals representing the evangelists in English Christian religion and in the dreams of Ezequiel.
The mind explores the symbol, leading to ideas lying beyond the grasp of reason. As an example, we can say that man might use thinking to grasp the concept of the Sun as divine, but reason is incompetent to grasp that concept. Man is unable to define a divine being. Divine is a meaning, maybe based on a creed, but without factual evidence. One of the reasons for this is that man is handicapped by his senses to comprehend the total reality in front of them, even more limited to understand his unconscious. We cannot know the ultimate nature of matter itself, or how this translates into the mind, where it becomes psychic events (for the psyche cannot know its own psychical substance). Therefore, every experience contains an indefinite number of unknown factors, not to speak of the fact that every concrete object is always unknown in certain respect. There are events happening subliminally, absorbed by our minds, but not consciously, and which might flourish in a moment of intuition or by a profound thought that leads to a later realisation. These subliminal events and their emotional and vital importance, which have originally been ignored by our consciousness, it later wells up from the unconscious as a sort of after thought. Dr Jung believes that our unconscious is part of our psyche and the latter part of nature, therefore, limitless. Some primitives believed that man has a bush soul, accompanying him, and which is incarnated in a wild animal or a tree, with who the individual has some kind of psychic identity (a mystical participation, Lucien Levy-Bruhl.) To be in a mystical participation means that there are unconscious associations to other creatures.
Dreams are the most frequent tools, universally accessible, we can use to investigate man’s symbolising quality. Dr Freud had previously studied dreams as a free association of events that happened in life, but Dr Jung believed this free association to move the researcher away from the form and the content of the dream, which was most important, therefore deciding to focus first and foremost in the form and content of dreams, focussing therefore on the associations between dreams themselves. He believed dreams to express something specific that the unconscious was trying to say. Dreams, he believed, are a specific expression of the unconscious and can be treated as facts. As an example, there are many forms to symbolise a sexual act. What is important is to understand why the dreamer has chosen one symbol or another to represent that act, which at times the symbology utilised has no connection with the sexual act itself.
Part of this unconscious consists in multitude of temporarily obscured thoughts, impressions and images that, in spite of being lost, they influence our conscious mind. Hysterical patients and their mental state, for example, causes an uncertainty of behaviour because their consciousness is liable to unpredictable eclipses by an interference from the unconscious. In fact, neurotic symptoms are triggered by sight, smell or sound, which might recall memories from the past. The repressed contents are, in some cases, lost memories that find their subliminal state and their incapacity of being voluntarily reproduced, to their disagreeable and incompatible nature. This subliminal material that feeds our unconscious consist of all urges, impulses and intentions; all perceptions and intuitions; all rational and irrational thoughts, conclusions, inductions, deductions and premises; and all varieties of feelings.
The unconscious though is not only a depository of the past, but it is also full of germs of future psychic situations and ideas, which led Dr Jung into a new approach to psychology. What this means is that completely new ideas and thoughts arise from the unconscious. They grow up from the dark depths of the mind, like a lotus, and from a most important part of the subliminal psyche.
One important part of the unconscious are dreams, which its images seem contradictory and ridiculous at times, the normal sense of time is lost, and commonplace things can assume a fascinating or threatening aspect.
At the same time, ideas we become aware in our conscious are more and more imprecise as we are getting closed to them, as some part of them enter subliminally into our unconscious. This colours our ideas without us noticing it. These subliminal aspects of everything that happens to us may seem to play very little part in our daily lives. But in dream analysis, where the psychologist is dealing with expressions of the unconscious, they are very relevant, for they are the almost invisible roots of our conscious thoughts.
In our daily experience, we need to state as accurately as possible, as we have learned to discard the trimmings of fantasy both in our language and in our thoughts – thus losing a quality that is still characteristic of the primitive mind. Most of us have consigned to the unconscious all the fantastic psychic associations that every object or idea possesses. The primitive, on the other hand, is still aware of this psychic properties. He endows animals, plants, or stones with powers that we find strange and unacceptable. We have stripped so many ideas of their emotional energy, we do not really respond to them anymore. We use such ideas in our speech, and we show a conventional reaction when others use them, but they don’t make a very deep impression on us. Something more is needed to bring certain things home to make us change our attitude and our behaviour. That is what dream / language does: its symbolism has so much psychic energy that we are forced to pay attention to it. The more our consciousness is influenced by prejudices, errors, fantasies and infantile wishes, the more the already existing gap will widen into a neurotic dissociation and lead to a more or less artificial life far removed from healthy instincts, nature and truth.
The unconscious has a complementary role, a general function of restoring our psychological balance by producing dream material that re-establishes, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium. Dreams of falling or of flying might imply you are living above your possibilities, like for example a climber that risks too much. The unconscious and the conscious must be both integrated and function in parallel lines. If they are split apart or dissociated, psychological disturbance follows. In this respect, dream symbols are the essential message carried from the instinctive to the rational parts of the human mind, and their interpretation enriches the poverty of consciousness, so that it learns to understand again the forgotten language of the instincts.
In dreams, symbols occur spontaneously, for dreams happen and are not invented; they are, therefore, the main source of all our knowledge about symbolism. There are many symbols, however, that are not individual but collective in their nature and origin. There are chiefly religious images as the skeptic believes. It is true that religious symbols and concepts have for centuries been the object of careful and quite conscious elaboration. It is equally true, as the believer implies, that their origin is so far buried in the mystery of the part that they seem to have no human source. They are in fact collective representations, emanating from primeval dreams and creative fantasies. As such, these images are involuntary spontaneous manifestations and by no means intentional inventions.
Dr Jung believes that the individual is the only reality. The further we move away from the individual towards abstract ideas about homo sapiens, the more likely we are to fall into error. In these times of social upheaval and rapid change, it is desirable to know much more than we do about the individual human being, for so much depends upon his mental and moral qualities. But if we are to see things in the right perspective, we need to understand the past of man as well as his present. That is why an understanding of myths and symbols is of essential importance.
Because psychology depends upon balanced opposites, no judgement can be considered to be final in which its reversibility has not yet been taken into account. The reason for this peculiarity lies in the fact that there is no standpoint above or outside psychology that would enable us to form an ultimate judgement of what the psyche is.
Dr Jung states that introspection and self-knowledge can just as well be of the greatest value and importance. Dreams lead to the confrontation of two individuals. This might be of the same types (which are generalisations psychologists do to assimilate and categorise personalities), which would make those two personalities to sail harmoniously together. But if they are different types (introvert – extrovert), they might clash. There might be issues when either personality is aware of the type of the other.
According to Jung there are four types: sensation (tells you that something exists), thinking (tells what it is), feeling (whether it is agreeable or not) and intuition (tells you whence it comes and where it is going). Intuition is a hunch, it is not the product of a voluntary act; it is rather an involuntary event, which depends upon different external or internal circumstances instead of an act of judgement. It is more like a sense-perception, which is also an irrational event in so far as it depends essentially upon objective stimuli, which owe their existence to physical and not to mental causes.
It seems consciousness has a blotting-out effect upon the subliminal contents of the psyche. Closer to consciousness means more sharply defined. The subliminal state retains ideas and images at a much lower level of tension than they possess in consciousness. In the subliminal contact, they lose clarity of definition; the relations between them are less consequential and more vaguely analogous, less rational and therefore more incomprehensible. The form that dreams take is natural to the unconscious because the material from which they are produced is retained in the subliminal state in precisely this fashion. A dream cannot produce a definite thought. If it begins to do so, it ceases to be a dream because it closes the threshold of consciousness. Dream symbols are for the most part manifestations of a psyche that is beyond the control of the conscious mind. Mind is an organic entity and symbols are created out of it. At the same time, by means of dreams, instinctive forces influence the activity of consciousness.
Carl suggests that dreams serve the purpose of compensation. This assumption means that the dream is a normal psychic phenomenon that transmits unconscious reactions or spontaneous impulses to consciousness. These mentioned associations are valid for certain dreams, but for those which it is a matter of obsessive dreaming or those of highly emotional dreams, we have to take into account that often elements occur in a dream that are not individual and that cannot derive from the dreamer’s personal experience. These elements seem to be aboriginal, innate and inherited shapes of the human mind. They are a biological, prehistoric and unconscious development of the mind in archaic man, whose psyche was still close to that of the animal.
An experienced investigator of the mind can see the analogies between the dream pictures of modern man and the products of the primitive mind, its collective images, and its mythological motifs. We are talking about archetypes. The archetype is a tendency to form such representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern. They are an instinctive trend, as marked as the impulse of birds to build nests, or ants to form organised colonies. An example is what Dr Jung explains related to Christ. By looking at dreams of a patient girl, he saw a pre-christian theme. The general idea of Christ the redeemer belongs to the world-wide and pre-christ theme of the hero and rescuer who, although he has been devoured by a monster, appears again in a miraculous way, having overcome whatever monster it was that swallowed him. We can safely assume that it originated at a period when man did not yet know that he possessed a hero myth.
The production of archetypes by children is especially significant, because one can sometimes be quite certain that a child has had no direct access to the tradition concerned. There is a series of dreams by a child that draws for her dad, in which the images are undoubtedly collective images, and they are in a way analogous to the doctrines taught to young people in primitive tribes when they are about to be initiated as men. At such times they learn about what god, or the gods, or the founding animals have done, how the world will come and the meaning of death. These kind of stories are explained in adolescence or the move to adult age. Many dream these images when they get old, when they are near death. This girl was in her adolescence and she died one year after. The dreams were more of a near destruction than to a move to adult age. It seems that those dreams had originated in long-forgotten psychic sources that, since pre-historic times, have nourished philosophical and religious speculations about life and death. It was as if future events were casting their shadows back by arousing in the child certain thought forms, that, though normally dormant, describe or accompany the approach of a fatal issue. Although the specific shape in which they express personal, their general pattern is collective. Like the instincts, the collective thought patterns of the human mind are innate and inherited. Why should one assume that man is the only living being deprived of specific instincts, or that his psyche is devoid of all traces of its evolution? Archetypal forms are dynamic factors that manifest themselves in impulses, just as spontaneously as instincts, certain dreams, visions or thoughts can suddenly appear, without knowing what causes them.
Dreams have been used in antiquity to predict the future, they may have an anticipatory or prognostic aspect. The unconscious seems to be able to draw conclusions from facts. But as far as one can make out from dreams, the unconscious makes its deliberations instinctively. Logical analysis is the prerogative of consciousness. The unconscious seems to be guided by instinctive trends, by archetypes. Archetypes create myths, religions and philosophies that influence and characterise whole nations and epochs of history. Myths of a religious nature can be interpreted as a sort of mental therapy for the sufferings and anxieties of mankind in general (hunger, war, disease, old age, death). As an example we find the symbology of the dying god, the mother earth goddess and her symbol the tree. In Antiquity, people lived myths without knowing its meanings and were unconsciously animated by their meaning. Nowadays, we are getting to understand the symbology behind those myths. At the same time, we are witnessing a detachment of consciousness and instincts.
Dr Jung says: a man likes to believe that he is the master of his soul, but as long as he is unable to control his moods and emotions, or to be conscious of the myriad secret ways in which unconscious factors insinuate themselves into his arrangements and decisions, he is certainly not his own master.
The communist myth of one paradise, golden age of abundance, and a master wise-chief rules over human kindergarten. This is a powerful archetype in its infantile form, even supported by our own childishness. We still have same beliefs: a welfare state, universal peace, equality of man, eternal human rights, justice and trust in the kingdom of god on earth. The truth though is that this is a world of opposites, and we don’t know which one will prevail.
It is the role of religious symbols to give a meaning to the life of man. Pueblo indian’s belief that are all sons of the sun endows their life with a perspective and a goal that goes beyond their limited existence. Myths go back to the primitive story teller and his dreams, to men moved by the stirring of their fantasies. These people were not very different from those whom later generations have called poets or philosophers.
Just as ancient greeks repudiated ancient myths as non-historical and with no sense, did early psychology approach was towards dreams. The latter understood the symbology of dreams as repressed contents of the psyche, which Jung rejects. In fact, he believes that dreams have a meaning in themselves. Dream symbology, as such, has more than one meaning. They are not logic, but they are facts, symbols of the unconscious that cannot be studied with scientific intellect and logic. Dr Jung states in relation to the role of symbols and on the study of dreams, that the psychologist must focus on natural symbols, which are the ones derived from the unconscious contents of the psyche, and they therefore represent an enormous number of variations on the essential archetypal images.
Cultural symbols are those that have been used to express eternal truths, and still used in religions. They have gone through transformation and even a long process of conscious development, and have thus become images of collective images accepted by civilised societies. These symbols can bring a lot of emotional responses. They shouldn’t be repressed or neglected, as this have consequences, as it disappears into the unconscious. What has happened in modern times is that rationalism has brought this symbology into the unconscious shadow. Dr Jung states that faith does not exclude thought. As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanised. Man feels himself isolated from the cosmos, as is not part of nature and has lost its emotional unconscious identity with natural phenomena. This loss is compensated with the symbols of our dreams, using though the language of nature.
The archetypes appear in practical experience as emotions and as images. Archetypes are pieces of life, connected to the living individual by emotions. For a devout Christian, the cross can be explained on the cultural context plus on the individual life meaning. We can talk to the anima, animus, the wise man or the great mother, but they are mere images whose luminosity you have never experienced. It will be as if you are talking of a dream, of something you don’t know anything about. These images, ancient symbols, in the original mind was the whole of man’s personality, the conscious mind has never known that original mind; for it was discarded in the process of evolving the very differentiated consciousness that alone could be aware of it. Dreams bring back the unconscious: illusions, fantasies, archaic thoughts, forms, fundamental instincts. Dreams function is to bring a sort of recollection of the prehistoric, as well as the infantile world, right down to the level of the most primitive instincts. In this regard, Jungians believe that the process of individuation, in which the interpretation of symbols of our unconscious, or the recovery of gaps in memory, reconcile and reunite opposites in the psyche.
The ancient history of man is being meaningfully rediscovered today in the symbolic images and myths that have survived ancient man. Cultural anthropologists bring to live symbols. They can show that the same symbolic patterns can be found in the rituals or myths of small tribal societies still existing, unchanged for centuries, on the outskirts of civilisation. This means that the symbology of our unconscious, from an inherited symbology, kept in our collective unconscious, and transmitted for generations in our deep unconscious, manifest through dreams. Analysts can support to bring this symbology to an understanding, but first need to cultivate their knowledge of this ancient imagery and symbology. This symbology, which once form part of rituals and festivities, has been preserved on our unconscious. As examples, we find the cyclic symbol of death and rebirth of the god-king, an eternally recurrent myth, found in Homer, Shakespeare or Tolstoi, in characters such as Christ, Osiris, Tammuz, Orpheus or Balder. Christianity though brings the resurrection theme only once and as a final event, hence why easter eggs and the rabbit of Easter have been implemented.
Some symbols relate to childhood and the transition to adolescence, others to maturity, to the experience of old age and the transition to death. One of the main myth themes is heroes and hero makers. These myths are found all over history with universal patterns. A hero miraculous but of humble birth, with early superhuman strength, rapid rise to power, struggles with forces of darkness, his fallibility to the sin of pride (Hybris) and his fall through betrayal or a heroic sacrifice that ends in his death. This pattern has a meaning for the individual shaping his personality and for the community collective identity. In many of these stories, the early weaknesses of the hero comes accompanied with a tutelary figure, which supports the flourishing of the superpowers. This is related to the psyche, to the strength missing by the Ego. The main theme of these stories is the development of the hero’s Ego-consciousness (strengths and weaknesses) into maturity. In the passing from birth to death of the hero, there are represented the different stages of the development of the ego-consciousness.
In the hero cycle of Winnebago, there are four stages: trickster or early development (physical appetite) of primary needs; hare or the transformer, founder of human culture, an archetype of a socialised being, correcting the instinctual and infantile urges found in the trickster cycle; red horn, proving himself in war, the world of man needing super-human powers or tutelary gods to ensure man’s victory over evil forces; twin cycle, of two twin brothers, one representing flesh, acquiescent, mild and without initiative; the other, stump, is dynamic and rebellious; introvert-extrovert. In both the red horn and the twins cycle, we see the theme of sacrifice or death of the hero as a necessary cure for hybris, the pride that has over-reached itself.
Dr Henderson compares these four stages of development with a dream by a mature adult showing four characters representing stages of human development: monkey which equals early development, the sailor equalling the adventurous; the self-sacrifice of the handsome young man, a self-sacrificing of idealism, socialisation and painful submission to discipline; the young black man as the shadow representing the hidden, repressed and unfavourable aspects of the personality, who is indeed and ego-shadow, with good and bad qualities.
Dr Henderson and the Jungians believe there is an internal battle of deliverance between the Ego and the Shadow. A battle between the conscious Ego and the unconscious childish and regressive return / infancy. This is the typical myth we find of the battle between the hero and the dragon (Ego against unconscious of regressive trends). Before the hero can triumph, must master his shadow. The twin cycle tells of the idealism of youth, which drives one so hard, bound to over-confidence: the human Ego can be exalted to experience godlike attributes, but only at the cost of over-reaching itself and falling to disaster.
Dr Henderson also explains a dream representing the archetypal symbol of the hero and the rebirth in the altar (as in Stone age) at the solstice: death leading to a new life. In the last part of the dream, it appears the feminine (anima) and the collective unconscious (fear of regression to infantile), with a ladder as a rational support. The capacity to save women from danger is another way in which myths and dreams refer to the anima. Another example is a dream about a rescue which symbolises the liberation of the anima figure from the devouring aspect of the mother image. Not until this is accomplished can a man achieve his first true capacity for relatedness to women.
As a general rule, it can be said that the need for hero symbols arises when the Ego needs strengthening, when the conscious mind needs assistance in some task that it cannot accomplish unaided or without drawing on the sources of strength that lie in the unconscious mind. This is basically an archetype image of initiation, the hero image as a symbolic means by which the Ego separates itself from the archetypes evoked by the parental images of early childhood. Dr Jung suggested that each human being has originally a feeling of wholeness, a powerful and complete sense of the self and from the self – the totality of the psyche – the individualised Ego – consciousness emerges as the individual grows up. The hero myth is the first stage in the differentiation of the psyche. A fourfold cycle by which the Ego seeks to achieve its relative autonomy from the original condition of wholeness. It is based on the need of a degree of autonomy to achieve relation to adult environment. As example we find the theme of death and resurrection as initiatory rite to a passage from child to adolescence or from the latter to adulthood. Another myth example is man’s knowledge (logos) encounters women’s relatedness (eros) and their union is represented as that symbolic ritual of a sacred marriage which has been at the heart of initiation. Marriage is a symbolic component of a man’s own psyche, just as much as it is the acquisition of a real wife. This is an archetype in a man of any age in response to a suitable stimulus.
Dr Henderson discusses also the tale the “Beauty and the Beast”. He states that for women, when a specific content of the psyche begins to make its appearance, she may repress it because it threatens to cut her off from the emancipated equality of friendship and opportunity to compete with men. The repression may be so successful that for a time she will maintain an identification with the masculine intellectual goals she learned at school or college. Even when she marries, she will preserve some illusion of freedom, despite her ostensible act of submission to the archetype of marriage, with its implicit injunction to become a mother. For a man, life is something that has to be taken by storm, as an act of the heroic will; but for a woman to feel right about herself, life is best realised by a process of awakening. This is found on the story the “Beauty and the beast”.
The symbology of this tale represents beauty as any young girl who has entered into an emotional bond with her father, no less binding because of its spiritual nature. Her goodness is symbolised by her request for a white rose, but in a significant twist of meaning, her unconscious intention puts her father and then herself in the power of a principle that expresses no goodness alone, but cruelty and kindness combined. By learning to love the beast, she awakens to the power of human love concealed in its animal (and therefore imperfect) but genuinely erotic form. Presumably this represents an awakening of her true function of relatedness, enabling her to accept the erotic component of her original wish, which had to be repressed because of a fear of incest. In this way she redeems herself and her image of the masculine from the forces of repression, bringing to consciousness her capacity to trust her love as something that combines spirit and nature in the best sense of the words. Dreams of women which symbolisation reflects either women too intensely carried away by the masculine creative function within themselves, or women that had been obliged to neglect her creative gift, masculine function, and to focus on her feminine side, is found in many stories and myths and reflects this conflict that women has in herself between her feminine function and her masculine ambitions of equality.
Dr Henderson compares also Dyonisius with Orpheus and the mystery religions. We find symbols associated to a God-man of Androgynous character who was supposed to have an intimate understanding of the animal and plant world and to be the master of initiation into their secrets. These initiation rites, by using wine and shifting from spiritual to physical and through marriage to let yourself to nature, turned inwardly with the worship of Orpheus. Orpheus was an artist, a real man, martyred and buried on a shrine, who became a kind of Jesus. The orphic religions though kept the Dionysian, rooted in agriculture, fertility gods and distilled this eternal cycle of birth, growth, fullness and decay. This was unlike Christianity religion, which dispelled mystery religions and its concepts. Orpheus kind of fuses Dionysus and Christianity. The focus on nature’s cycle of birth and death, and the Christian mystery pointing forward to initiate’s ultimate hope of union with a transcendent god. Orpheus is a good shepherd and a mediator, he strikes the balance between the Dionysian religion and the Christian religion.
Images and dreams’ sequences of this type confirm that in their religious quest, men and women, especially those who live in modern Christianised societies, are still in the power of those early traditions that strive within them for supremacy. It is a conflict of pagan or Christian beliefs, or one might say, of birth or resurrection. For example, we mention the Persian god Mithras sacrificing the bull. Sacrifice that is part of Dionysian rites symbolising the victory of man’s spiritual nature over his animality. Another old message is that death is a mystery for which we must prepare ourselves, in the same spirit of submission and humility as we once learned to prepare ourselves for life.
The author also discusses about symbols of transcendence and those that influence many vary in their purpose. Some men need to be aroused, and experience their initiation in the violence of a Dyonisal “thunder rite”. Others need to be subdued, and they are brought to submission in the ordered design of temple precinct or sacred cave, suggestive of the Apollonian religion of later Greece. Initiation aims fundamentally to tame the original trickster-like wildness of the juvenile nature. It therefore has a civilising or spiritualising purpose, in spite of the violence of the rites that are required to set this process in motion. Another type of symbolising connects to man’s need for liberation from any state of being that is too immature, too fixed or final. These are the symbols of transcendence. They provide the means by which the contents of the unconscious can enter the conscious mind. At the most archaic level we find the shaman, the medicine man, master of initiation, with the capacity of leaving his body and fly like a bird in the universe. We find in many shamanistic rites, shamans dressed up as birds, animal which is a symbol representing the capacity of obtaining knowledge of distant events, or facts unknown to the conscious. There are other dream symbols symbolising spiritual pilgrimage, where the initiate becomes acquainted with death, as a journey of release, renunciation and atonement.
Any strong movement exemplifying release, is felt at any time when one is attached to the original family or to a social group and this release is experienced as that moment of initiation at which one must learn to take the decisive steps into life alone.
An Ancient tree or plant represents symbolically the growth and development of psychic life (as distinct from instinctual life, commonly symbolised by animals). A journey alone represents the need for release as an initiatory experience. Some animals coming from the depths of the earth, such as rodents, lizards, fish, represent creatures coming from the depths of the Ancient earth mother, symbolic of the corrective unconscious. They bring a different message from the birds. These animals seem to symbolise a kind of mediation between earth and heaven. The entwine serpents are a symbol of fertility, not just biological though, their phallus penetrate from the known to the unknown world, seeking a spiritual message of deliverance and healing.
There is a conflict on us between containment and liberation, adventure and discipline, evil and virtue, freedom and security. There is a meeting point in between, and we can find it in the rites of initiation, which might help uniting the opposing forces within themselves and to achieve an equilibrium in their lives.These initiation rites must be fit to particular phases in the life of individuals or groups, and need to be translated into a new way of life. The phases of initiation are submission, containment, liberation, to reconcile the conflicting elements of our personality. We can then strike a balance that makes us truly human, and truly the masters of ourselves.
M – L Von Franz discusses on the process of individuation. She starts by discussing the pattern of psychic growth, starting with few questions. What is the purpose of the total dream life of the individual? What role do dreams play, not only in the immediate psychic economy of the human being, but in his life as a whole? All dreams are relevant in varying degrees to the life of the dreamer and are all parts of one great web of psychological factors. According to the author, all dreams follow an arrangement or pattern, a process of individuation (certain contents emerge over vast period of observing them). There are patterns in dreams that come and go and return again. These patterns also evolve, and if supported by the interpretation of their dreams, might influence the dreamer’s conscious attitude. This process of evolution or growth is defined as the process of individuation. Since this psychic growth cannot be brought about by conscious effort of will power, but happens involuntarily and naturally, it is in dreams frequently symbolised by the tree, whose slow, powerful, involuntary growth fulfils a definite pattern.
The total psyche is the self. In ancient times, they were aware of this inner centre. Greeks called it the inner Damon, Egyptians called it Ba, the soul, Romans named it the genius. The self is an inner guiding factor that is different from the conscious personality and that can be grasped only through the investigation of one’s own dreams. How much it will realise will depend on how much the Ego is willing to listen messages form the self. The individuation process comes to realise the Self. This process is more than a coming to terms between the inborn germ of wholeness and the outer acts of fate. It is a subjective experience conveying the feeling that some supra-personal force is actively interfering in a creative way. One sometimes feels that it is the unconscious who is leading the way in accordance with a secret design. Dr Franz believes that in order to bring the process of individuation into reality, one must surrender consciously to the power of the unconscious, instead of thinking in terms of what one should do, or of what is generally thought right, or of what usually happens.
According to the writer, the first approach to the unconscious comes in our early ages. Childhood dreams already manifest in symbolic form the basic structure of the psyche. It is during school age, that children build their ego, they start feeling their uniqueness. The imperfections of the world, and the evil within oneself as well as outside, become conscious problems. This is a point in time when your Ego builds up and when detachment from the unconscious might commence. However, this detachment of consciousness and unconsciousness might be overcome and the process of individuation is the process to be followed for this aim. This process might start with a shock, as it could be the death of a direct family member. In this initiation stage the conscious gets to know about the unconscious. However, the hidden purpose of the oncoming darkness is generally something so unusual, so unique and unexpected, that as a rule one can find out what it is only by means of dreams and fantasies welling up from the unconscious.
Through dreams one become acquainted with aspects of one’s own personality that for various reasons one has preferred not to look at too closely. This aspect we are referring to, is the shadow. It represents unknown or little-known attributes and qualities of the Ego, aspects that mostly belong to the personal sphere and that could just as well be conscious. Sometimes those aspects horrify us. It can consist of different elements: ambition, introversion, extroversion, power, sex, etc. It usually contains values needed by consciousness, but that exist in a form that makes it difficult to integrate them into one’s life. The entering in the unconscious often is represented by a passage and a house or similar, with rooms unknown to the dreamer. It also shows that the dreamer’s psychic is not fully known. It is an aspect of ourselves, which might be exposed to collective infections to a much greater extent than is the conscious personality. An example is a man alone, for instance, feeling relatively all right; but as soon as the others do dark, primitive things, he begins to fear that if he doesn’t join in, he will be considered a fool. This happens particularly in contact with people of the same sex.
The problem of the shadow plays a great role in all political conflicts. If the man who had this dream of someone extrovert, had not been sensible about his shadow problem, he could easily have identified the desperate french man with the dangerous communists of outer life, or the official plus the prosperous man with the grasping capitalists. What this means is that you might identify your shadow with communists or capitalists for example, and this results on a part of our personality that remains on the opposing side. If people observe their own unconscious tendencies in other people, this is called projection. Political agitation in all countries is full of such projections, just as much as the backyard gossip of little groups and individuals. Projections of all kinds obscure our view of our fellow men, spoiling its objectivity, and thus spoiling all possibility of genuine human relationships.
The shadow becomes our friend or enemy, depending largely on ourselves, whether we ignore it or misunderstand it. It would be relatively easy if one could integrate the shadow into the conscious personality just by attempting to be honest and to use one’s insight. But unfortunately, such attempt does not always work. There is such a passionate drive within the shadowy part of oneself that reason may not prevail against it. A bitter experience coming from the outside may occasionally help, a brick, so to speak, has to drop on one’s head to put a stop to shadow drives and impulses. At times a heroic decision may serve to halt them, but such a super-human effort is usually possible only if the great man within (the self) helps the individual to carry it through. In fact, the shadow carries the power of irresistible impulse, however, sometimes is driven by the self. The self might support you on discovering the shadow, it might want your conscious to bring it to live, or not, it is an ethical decision which it is not easy to take and some people might not be willing to face it.
The anima is another inner figure which might bring up ethical problems to the surface. It is a personification of all feminine psychological tendencies in a man’s psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature and his relation to the unconscious. As example we find eskimos and shamans dressing as women in certain rituals. The anima might appear as women appearing in dreams and guiding the dreamer into the powers of the beyond. The character of a man’s anima is as a rule shaped by his mother. Sometimes the anima is depicted as a witch or a priestess, women with links with forces of darkness and the spirit world. We find myths about female animas representing unreal dreams of love, happiness and maternal warmth, dreams that lure men away from reality. The hunter is drowned because he ran after a wishful fantasy that could not be fulfilled. These and other negative anima aspects exist.
If a man’s experience of his mother has been positive, this can also affect his anima in typical but different ways, with the result that he either becomes effeminate or is preyed upon women and thus is unable to cope with the hardships of life. An anima of this sort can turn man into sentimentalists, or they may become as touchy as old maids or as sensitive as the fairy. This is the typical tale princess who could feel a pea under 30 mattresses. Dr Franz explains that most frequent manifestations of the anima take the form of erotic fantasy.
On the other hand, the anima is allowing man to be able to find the right marriage partner. It helps man to dig aspects from the unconscious out of it into the conscious. It also puts man’s mind in tune with the right inner values and thereby opening the way into more profound inner depths.
The nucleus of the psyche (the self) normally expresses itself in some kind of fourfold structure. The number four is also connected with the anima because, as Jung noted, there are four stages in its development. The first stage is best symbolised by the figure of Eve, which represents purely instinctual and biological relations. The second can be seen in Faust’s Helen: she personifies a romantic and aesthetic level, that is, however, still characterised by sexual elements. The third is represented, for instance, by the virgin Mary. A figure who raises love (Eros) to the heights of spiritual devotion. The fourth type is symbolised by Sapientia, wisdom transcending even the most holy and the most pure. In the psychic development of modern man this stage is rarely reached. The Mona Lisa comes nearest to such a wisdom anima.
As man has an anima, or a feminine side within them, women has a masculine part within them, the animus. The animus exhibits good and bad aspects also, but does not appear in the form of erotic fantasy. It is more apt to take the form of a hidden sacred conviction. When such a conviction is preached with a loud, insistent, masculine voice or imposed on others by means of brutal emotional scenes, the underlying masculinity in a woman is easily recognised. One can rarely contradict an animus opinion because it is usually right in a general way; yet it seldom seems to fit the individual situation, It is apt to be an opinion that seems reasonable but beside the point.
The character of a women is shaped by her father, as he endows his daughter’s animus with the special colouring of unarguable, incontestably true convictions, convictions that never include the personal reality of the woman herself as she actually is. Mythologically, a beautiful stranger is provably a pagan father-image or god-image, which represents a particular form of the animus that lures women away from all human relationships and especially from all contacts with real men. He represents desires and thoughts of how things ought to be.
The negative animus appears as death-demon, on the role of robber and murderer. The animus might personify all those semiconscious, cold, destructive reflections that invade a woman in the small hours, especially when she has failed to realise some obligation and feeling. It is then that she begins to think about the family inheritance and matters of that kind, a sort of web of calculating thoughts, filled with malice and intrigue, which get her into a state where she even wishes death to others. Besides, a strange paralysis and passivity of all feeling, or a deep insecurity that can lead almost to a sense of nullity, may sometimes be the result of an unconscious animus opinion.
The animus has positive aspects such as connecting with the self. It might give you hints about your destructive part of your personality and / or about your artistic talents. It might say that by following your dreams, your talent will placate your destructive aspect. It also represents an unconscious which is collective. A vast number of myths and fairy tales tell of a Prince, turned by witchcraft into a wild animal or monster, who is redeemed by the love of a girl, a process symbolising the manner in which the animus becomes conscious. The message behind those stories is that If women realises who and what her animus is and what he does to her, and if she faces these realities, instead of allowing herself to be possessed, her animus can turn into an invaluable inner companion who endows her with the masculine qualities of initiative, courage, objectivity and spiritual wisdom.
The animus exhibits four stages of development: the first one is physical power, the second one is possessing initiative and the capacity for planned action. The third one is the one in which the animus becomes the word (professor / clergyman) and the fourth in which it becomes meaning (a mediator or the religious experience whereby life acquires new meaning), giving spiritual firmness. The last stage connects women’s mind with the spiritual evolution of her age, and can thereby make her even more receptive than a man to new creative ideas.
Women must find the courage and inner broadmindedness to question the sacredness of her own convictions. Only then will she be able to take in the suggestions and the consciousness, especially when they contradict her animus opinions. Only then will the manifestations of the self get through to her, and will she be able consciously to understand their meaning.
The last, but not least important, concept that Dr Von Franz discusses is the concept of the self, which englobes the symbols of totality. The self is not entirely contained in our conscious experience of time (in our space-time dimension), and it is omnipresent, it manifests as a gigantic, symbolic human being who embraces and contains the whole cosmos. According to the writer, the self manifests as the great earth mother, or as a guardian / indian Guru, a wise old man, a spirit of nature, etc. The Self is reflected on Adan, on the Persian Gayomart, on the Hindu Purusha, or in the Chinese P’An Kun, a super being, creator of nature. As example, we find Adan as the first original man, representing the idea of a total oneness of all human existence. The Persian first original man Gayomart, from whose semen it emerges the first human couple, emerging from the earth, shows its parallels with the naturally born P’An Kun, who emerges from leaves. We find on all those these stories, the pattern of a first man, who is depicted as a self-grown living unit, existing as without any animal impulse. In many myths, the cosmic man is not only the beginning but also the final goal of all life, of the whole of creation. Symbolic structures deferring to the process of individuation tend to be based on the motif of number four (four functions of consciousness, four stages of anima / animus), which relate to the cosmic shape of P’An Kun.
The self is usually symbolised with a stone, as a crystal. A crystal seems to imply an ordered structure, symbolising the union of extreme opposites, the union of matter and spirit. Stones are eternal, hence why they represent in some cultures the Self, which is the totality of our psyche.
The symbols of the self represented by the first man Gayomart, the round mandala-shaped building, the centre stone, and the diamond, all are symbols of the Self. The parrot signifies imitation, like followers of Christ or Buddha, which petrifies us. The message behind these symbols is that we should not copy, but live our own lives, we should find the divine which is on us, and this takes place by conquering our Self.
Jungians believe that If man and women devote themselves to the instructions of their own unconscious, it can bestow a renewal of life, so that suddenly life, which has been stale and dull, turns into a rich, unending inner adventure, full of creative possibilities. In ways that are still completely beyond our comprehension, our unconscious is similarly attuned to our surroundings: to our group, to society in general, and, beyond these, to the space-time continuum and the whole of nature. Modern man can be guided by the unconscious through problems of both his inner and his outer life. In our civilised world though, most dreams have to do with the development (by the Ego) of the right inner attitude towards the self, for the relationship is far more disturbed in us by modern ways of thinking and behaving than is the case with primitive people.
The relation to the self is most important. Jungians believe this relation to be key to our psychic health. If the relation conscious-unconscious detaches, creates unbalance. The reasons for these unbalances might be found in day dreams on complexities of consciousness one-sidedness by single instinctive drive or emotional image, over-consolidation of ego-consciousness.
A representation of the self emphasises on the four corners of the world and in many pictures the great man is represented in the centre of a circle divided into four. Another symbol of the self is a mandala, which is a nuclear atom of the human psyche. In fact, a circle is a sign of totality. Roundness equals a natural wholeness. A quadrangular formation represents realisation of this wholeness in consciousness. An example of this symbology is the round table of King Arthur, symbol of wholeness.
Every personification of the unconscious has a light and a dark aspect. We have seen this in the shadow, the anima, the animus, and also in the self. Therefore, there is a dark side self, and as the self is the most powerful part of the psyche, its dark side is the most dangerous side of the psyche. All these personifications of the self are found on our unconscious, on our dreams. We have dreams in which other people we may or not know, represent our own’s aspects of the self. The work by us men and women is to find out what aspect represents and if it is for example dishonesty, in which areas comes this aspect into play. This is to be taken within the process of individuation, which replaces social relationships and familiar bonds with a bond through the self. An unconditional devotion to one’s own process of individuation also brings about the best possible social adaptation. This is how feelings as envy, jealousy or fighting do not break the group.
The mass unconscious and the individual unconscious are autonomous.The Tibetan Abbot states that the most impressive mandalas in Tibet are built up by imagination, or directed fantasy, when the psychological balance of the group is disturbed, or when a particular thought cannot be rendered because it is not yet contained in the sacred doctrine and must therefore be searched for in these remarks. Two equally important basic aspects of mandala symbolism emerge. The mandala serves a conservative purpose, namely, to restore a previously existing order. But it also serves the creative purpose of giving expression and form to something that does not yet exist, something new and unique. The second aspect is perhaps even more important, what restores the old order simultaneously involves some element of new creation. In the new order the older pattern returns on a higher level. This is the symbology of the ascending spiral, which grows upward while simultaneously returning again and again to the same point.
We have the example of a Sioux dream of horses coming from all corners of the world and eskimos tribes dreaming about hunting an eagle and giving as exchange a festival to thank the hunting, which shows that a ritual or a religious custom can spring directly from an unconscious revelation experienced by a single individual. Out of such beginnings, people living in cultural groups develop their various religions activities with their enormous influence on the entire life of society.
Following from the description of the psyche we pass to talk about the symbolism found in the visual arts, discussed by Aniela Jaffe. Dr Jaffe states that the whole cosmos is a potential symbol. Man, with his symbol-making propensity, unconsciously transforms objects or forms into symbols and expresses them in both his religion and his visual art. In the book Man and his symbols, Aniela Jaffe looks at what are the specific motifs universally sacred or mysterious to man and to the phenomenon of XXth century art as a symbol itself.
Motifs for symbology are found on stones since the cradle of civilisation. Caves with animal paintings were believed to be religious places. These painted animals had a double function; by its symbolic slaughter, the hunters attempted to anticipate and to ensure good hunting. There are palaeolithic cave paintings suggesting hunting-magic like that still practised today by hunting tribes in Africa. Others served magic fertility rites. We also find semi animal-human figures, representing the lord of the animals. As more primitive and close to nature the society is, more literally must names be taken, as animal spirits, as primal gods or as demons. In these primitive societies we find masks, as animal disguises, in which individual human expression is submerged. In its place the wearer assumes the dignity of an animal demon. In psychological terms, the mask transforms its wearer into an archetypal image. This has also some relation to totemism. The close relation, or even identification, between the native and his totem animal. These are special ceremonies for the establishment of this relationship, especially initiation ceremonies. A large number of myths are concerned with a primal animal, which must be sacrificed in the cause of fertility or even creation.
The boundless profusion of animal symbolism in the religion and art of all times does not merely emphasise the importance of the symbol; it shows how vital it is for men to integrate into their lives the symbols psychic content. In itself, an animal is neither good nor evil; it is a piece of nature. It cannot desire anything that is not its nature. To put this another way, it obeys its instincts. These instincts often seem mysterious to us, but they have their parallel in human life: the foundation of human nature is instinct. However, human suppressed instincts can gain control of a man. Suppressed and wounded instincts are the dangers threatening civilised man. Uninhibited drives are the dangers threatening primitive man. In both cases the animal is alienated from its true nature; and for both, the acceptance of the animal soul is the condition for wholeness and a fully lived life. Primitive man must tame the animal in himself and make it his helpful companion; civilised man must heal the animal in himself and make it his friend.
Dr Jaffe discusses symbols and especially those that represent the psyche. The symbol of the circle is the symbol of the self, the totality of the psyche in all its aspects, including the relationship between man and the whole of nature. The writer also discusses the characteristics of the psyche and found the four functions of consciousness described by Dr Jung, thought, feeling, intuition and sensation, which equips man to deal with the impressions of the world he receives from within and without. An example of a symbol of the self are Yantras, eastern meditation figures in geometrical form representing the union of the opposites, the union of the soul with god. This symbol appears as two interpenetrating triangles, meaning the wholeness of the psyche, the self. The triangle Yantras is a sculptural representation of Shiva – Shakti, which symbolises the tension between the opposites.
Whether in classical or in primitive foundations, the mandala ground plan was never dictated by considerations of aesthetics or economics. It was a transformation of the city into an ordered cosmos, a sacred place bound by its centre to the other world. This transformation accorded with the vital feelings and needs of religious man. Every building, sacred or secular, that has a mandala ground plan, is the projection of an archetypal image from within the human unconscious onto the outer world. The city, the fortress and the temple become symbols of psychic wholeness, and in this way exercise a specific influence on the human being who enters or lives in the place. Even in architecture, the projection of the psychic content was a purely unconscious process. Such things cannot be thought up, but must grow again from the forgotten depths, if they are to express the deepest insights of consciousness and the loftiest intuitions of the spirit, thus amalgamating the uniqueness of present-day consciousness with the age-old past of humanity.
Another example is the Christian cross, which moved up from what it was the Ancient Greek cross, the moving up of the circle or mandala from this symbol, represents the tendency to remove the centre of man and his faith from the earth and to elevate it into the spiritual sphere. With the time and centuries later, from a moving to the spirit, in the renaissance, turned back to the earth, with the mechanics and the laws of causality, turning its back into the irrational, mystical and religious feeling.
Looking at modern painting as a symbol, it is a psychological fact that the artist has at all times been the instrument and spokesman of the spirit of his age. It is the aim of modern artists to give expression to their inner vision of man, to the spiritual background of life and the world. The modern work of art has abandoned not only the realm of the concrete, natural, sensuous world, but also that of the individual. Kandinsky says that the art of today embodies the spiritual matured to the point of revelation.
The forms of this embodiment may be arranged between two poles: great abstraction and great realism. From the psychological standpoint, the two gestures toward the naked non-object (spirit) and the naked object (matter) point to a collective psychic rift that created its symbolic expression in the years before the catastrophe of the first world war. This first rift first appeared in the renaissance, when it became manifest as a conflict between knowledge and faith. Meanwhile, civilisation was removing man further and further from his instinctual foundation, so that a gulf opened between nature and mind, between the unconscious and the conscious. These opposites characterise the psychic situation that is seeking expression in modern art.
Many artists, Dr Jaffe believes, are searching for the secret soul of things. Jean Bazaine says that objects awaken our love, just because it seems to be the bearer of powers that are greater than itself. Sayings of this kind recall the old alchemical concept of a spirit in and behind inanimate objects like metal and stone. Psychologically interpreted, this spirit is the unconscious. Giorgio Chirico says that every object has two aspects: the common aspect, which is the one we generally see and which is seen by everyone, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals see at moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical meditation.
The statement made by Nietzsche, “god is dead” is only a human assertion, based on contents of the unconscious psyche that have entered consciousness intangible forms as images, dreams, ideas and intuitions. The unconscious is pure nature, and, like nature, pours our gifts in profusion. But left to itself and without the human response from consciousness, it can (again like nature) destroy its own gifts and sooner or later sweep them into annihilation.
The writer believes that nowadays we have retreated from reality. Nuclear physics has robbed the basic units of matter of their absolute concreteness. It has made matter mysterious. Paradoxically, mass and energy, wave and particle, have probed to be interchangeable. The laws of cause and effect have become valid only up to a certain point. It does not matter at all that these relativities, discontinuities and paradoxes hold good only on the margins of our world, only for the infinitely small (the atom) and the infinitely great (the cosmos) they have caused a revolutionary change in the concept of reality, for a new, totally different and irrational reality has dawned behind the reality of our natural world, which is ruled by the laws of classical physics.
These same or similar laws to nuclear physics are found on the psyche, in the psychology of the collective unconscious. The space-time continuum of physics and the collective unconscious can be seen, so to speak, as the outer and inner aspects of one and the same reality behind appearances. There are few common characteristics of the world of physics and the psyche: its laws, processes and contents are unimaginable.
Art gives life to a world behind consciousness. Artists point to the one reality, the one life, which seems to be the common background of the two domains of physical and psychic appearances. Franz Marc asked: have we not learned from a thousand years of experience that things cease to speak the more we hold up to them the visual mirror of their appearances? Appearance is eternally flat. Kandinsky says that the artist’s eye should always be turned in upon his inner life, and his ear should be always alert for the voice of inward necessity. This is the only way of giving expression to what the mystic vision commands. Examples of these described concepts are found on Paul Jackson Pollock’s pictures about chaos, represented on Alchemical concepts such as massa confusa or prima materia. These paintings represent all ways of defining the precious prime matter of the alchemical process, the starting point of the quest for the essence of being, the unconscious itself.
The deeper layers of the psyche, Jung has said, lose their individual uniqueness as they retreat farther and farther into darkness. Lower down, that is to say, as they approach the autonomous functional systems, they become increasingly collective until they are universalised and extinguished in the body’s materiality. An example of this is found in chemical substances, the body’s carbon is simply carbon. Hence at bottom the psyche is simply world.
A comparison of abstract paintings and microphotographs show that utter abstraction of imaginative art has in a secret and surprising way become naturalistic, its subject being elements of matter. The great abstraction and the great realism, which parted at the beginning of our century, have come together again. What this means is that the artist is, as it where, not so free in his creative work as he may think he is. If his work is performed in a more or less unconscious way, it is controlled by laws of nature that, on the deepest level, correspond to the laws of the psyche, and vice versa.
Modern art, which we have recognised as symbolic of the chthonic spirit, also has a dual aspect. In the positive sense it is the expression of a mysteriously profound nature / mysticism; in the negative, it can only be interpreted as the expression of an evil or destructive spirit. The two sides belong together, for the paradox is one of the basic qualities of the unconscious and its contents.
In another chapter in the book “Man and his symbols”, Dr Jolande Jacobi analyses a series of dreams to understand the psyche and the unconscious. The author mentions that Dr Jung assigned great importance to the first dream in an analysis for, according to him, it often has anticipatory value. A decision to go into analysis is usually accompanied by an emotional upheaval that disturbs the deep psychic levels from which archetypal symbols arise. The first dream therefore often presents collective images that provide a perspective for the analysis as a whole and can give the therapist insight into the dreamer’s psychic conflicts.
According to Dr Jacobi, in the history of symbolism, the right side generally represents the realm of consciousness; the left, the unconscious. Another symbol is the appearance of a voice in dreams, which it is usually identified with the self. When the dreamer appears on the dream him / herself, usually represents the ego, the conscious ego, and the other figures stand for his more or less unknown, unconscious qualities. An old woman showing you the way, is a symbol in myths and fairy tales for the wisdom of the eternal female nature. In mythology, rain often represents a love union between heaven and earth. Rain is the solution to connect heaven and earth.
In another dream Dr Jacobi analyses, the writer states that if such a technically minded young man as Henry is consciously choosing the way of psychic development, he must be prepared for a reversal of his old attitudes. Therefore, on the advice of the woman, he must start his climbing from a different spot. Only then will it be possible for him to judge at what level he must deviate to reach the group, meaning the other qualities of his psyche, that he had left behind.
Dreams compensate more or less explicitly for the dreamer’s conscious attitude of mind. The romantic, maidenly figure of Henry’s conscious ideal is balanced by the appearance of the strange, female-like animals. Henry’s world of instincts is symbolised by something feminine. The wood is a symbol of an unconscious area, a dark place where animals live. At first a doe, a symbol of shy, fugitive, innocent womanliness, emerges, but only for a moment. Then Henry sees three mixed-up animals of a strange and repulsive appearance. They seem to represent undifferentiated instinctually, a sort of confused mass of his instincts, containing the raw material for a later development. Their most striking characteristic is that they are all virtually faceless, and thus without the slightest glimmerings of consciousness.
In dreams pigs symbolise dirty sexuality, dogs, loyalty of promiscuity and the kangaroo motherliness and tender caring capacity. All these animals present only rudimentary traits, and even these are senselessly contaminated. In alchemy, the prime material was often represented by such monstrous and fabulous creatures, mixed forms of animals. In psychological terms, they would provably symbolise the original total unconsciousness, out of which the individual ego can rise and begin to develop to maturity. A man’s discovering such inhuman monsters in his inner self, as symbols of certain traits of his unconscious, he has every reason to be afraid. The author also mentions of a dream about a brothel in which the dreamer, if he divests himself of his masculinity, he might gain an insight into this forbidden world-forbidden by his conscious mind. Henry’s dreams symbolise the longing withdrawal into passivity and introversion, the fear of an unsuccessful marriage, the dreams’ separation of the sexes, all symptoms hidden beneath Henry’s consciousness.
Henry’s dreams show his fear of primitive sensuality and his desire to escape into a kind of asceticism. This is shown in a dream where a brothel appears. The dreamer has the idea of restricting a relationship with a woman to a purely animal-like sensuality, excluding all feelings. In such a union, he can keep his feelings split off, and thus can remain true to his mother in an ultimate sense. Thus, in spite of everything, the taboo set by the mother against every other woman remains inflexibly effective in the psyche of the son. In this same dream, repression (as well as sexual uncertainty) may have caused the confusion about the sex of the prostitute. The female figure that has both attracted and repelled the dreamer is transformed: first of all into a man and then into a saint. The second transformation eliminates everything sexual from the image, and implies that the only means of escaping from the reality of sex lies in the adoption of an ascetic and holy life, denying the flesh. Such dramatic reversals are common in dreams: something turns into its opposite (as the prostitute becomes a saint) as if to demonstrate that by transmutation even extreme opposites can change into each other.
A coat usually symbolises the persona that the individual presents to the world, which aims at making a specific impression on other people and to conceal the individual’s inner self from their prying eyes.
The analysis of Henry’s dreams continue developing. The figure of a deformed little girl appears in numerous fairy tales. In such tales the ugliness of the hump usually conceals great beauty, which is revealed when the right man comes to free the girl from a magic spell, often by a kiss. The girl in Henry’s dream may be a symbol of Henry’s soul, which also has to be released from the spell that has made it ugly. When the humpbacked girl tries to awaken Henry’s feeling by song, or pulls him out of his dark hiding place, forcing him to confront the light of day, she shows herself as a helpful guide. Henry can and must in a sense belong simultaneously to both his fiancee and the little humpbacked girl: to the first one as a representative of the real outer woman, and to the second one as the embodiment of the inner psyche anima.
Dr Jacobi believes that people who rely on their rational thinking and dismiss or repress every manifestation of their psychic life have an almost inexplicable inclination to superstition. Because dreams compensate one’s outer life, the emphasis such people put in their intellect is offset by dreams in which they meet the irrational and cannot escape it.
Symbology appears in dreams about the book I Ching, book of changes, an ancient Chinese book of wisdom from 3000 BC. Taoism and Confucianism have their origin in this book: the oneness of man and the complementary pairs of opposites Yang and Yin. The content of the I Ching is based on the principle of synchronicity (meaningful coincidence), which it is based on the assumption of an inner unconscious knowledge that links a physical event with a psychic condition, so that an event that appears accidental or coincidental can in fact be physically meaningful; and its meaning is often symbolically indicated through dreams that coincide with the event. In this line, Henry appears to have a dream about an oracle, a weird kind of dream, which does not happen often. In this dream, its elements had to be interpreted as contents of Henry’s inner personality, and the six dream figures, as personification of his psychic qualities. These kind of dreams are called dreams of transformation. Henry got rejected a job in South America, a place that symbolised for him a primitive uninhibited and sensual place, a picture of the realm of the unconscious. This place symbolised the opposite to his realm of cultivated intellect and swiss puritanism that ruled Henry’s conscious mind. The South American realm was in fact his shadow land. This was the Chthonic, dark, maternal power. From here he is drawn back in the dream to the light, personal mother and to his fiancee. He realises how far he has gone. The increase in consciousness is symbolised in the dream as a higher level, high in the mountains. In myths a mountain symbolises a place of revelation, where transformation and change may take place.
In dreams we find the Self represented as a city, as a mandala, as the region of the soul, which is the psyche’s inner most centre and totality. In Henry’s dream this centre is represented as a traffic centre of the human collective, a railway station. This is because Henry has still an immature personality and with a low level of spiritual development, therefore the train is an object of banal meaning. In the dream he encounter four Chinese people. They represent Henry’s four parts of the psyche, as Jung has described it, the way to the self, is barred by the Chinese.
Henry’s shadow appears on the dream as an earthy, rough trapper, which provably meant that the introverted Ego has been joined by his extraverted (compensatory) side, which represents his repressed emotional and irrational traits. Henry needs to accept this inner Chthonic earthy quality of his inner conscious, represented by the four Chinese.
There are many interpretations from Henry’s dreams that could be discussed, but I would like to mention that to allow the feminine side to come to life into the conscious, first in the psyche of the engineer, everything irrational may be repressed, and therefore often reveals itself in the dramatic paradoxes of the dreamworld. Thus the irrational appeared in Henry’s dream as an oracle game of foreign origin, with a fearful and inexplicable power to decide human destinies. Henry’s rational Ego had no alternative but to surrender unconditionally in a real sacrificium intellectus.
Henry faces the irrational in successive dreams. In another dream of him there appear black beetles, sign of darkness depression. In Ancient Egypt scarabs (gold ones) symbolised the sun. This dream warns Henry of what awaited him if he failed to live his life. In this dream we find different symbols. The old man represents the dying ruling principle ruling Henry’s consciousness, but whose nature is unknown to him.The forty people represents the totality of Henry’s psychic traits. The daughter symbolises the anima, who queries about the cause of death. The old men’s morality has prevented him from living out his natural feelings and drives.
In the dream the answer will be given to Henry, after driven by the anima, by using a game of cards, in an isolated room: far from the conscious. First he encounters Kings and Queens on the cards, which represent youthful veneration for power and wealth. Then the cards are exhausted, which represent that the inner world signs are exhausted. Then it appears the number nine, which is a magic number symbolising the perfected trinity in its threefold elevation. The black spades represents the opposite of green leaf.
The moral bonds, rather than the cultural bonds, did not allow Henry to live, meaning his fear of surrendering fully to life, of accepting responsibilities to a woman and thereby becoming unfaithful to his mother. It is though on a final dream, where we come to the conclusion of his process of individuation. That Henry and his friends intent consciously to confront a Negro signifies a decisive step forward on the way to manhood. Henry’s masculine totality is rounded out when in the dream the six of them; the four friends, the negro and his servant are now together in a gay spirit at a communal meal. This parallels with Henry’s waking life, where Henry finally becomes seriously engaged, and exactly 9 months after this start of his analysis, he marries.
Henry’s case reveals an accelerated maturation to an independent and responsible manliness. An initiation into the reality of outer life, a strengthening of the Ego and of his masculinity, and with this a completion of this first half of the individuation process. The second part, which is the establishment of the right relationship between the Ego and the Self, still lies ahead, in the second part of his life. What the author is trying to say to us with these series of dreams? The self-regulating action of the psyche, when not disturbed by too much rational explanation of dissection, can support the developmental process of the soul.
On the same line, Dr Von Franz states that archetypes have an enormous impact on the individual, forming his emotions and his ethical and mental outlook, influencing his relationships with others, and thus affecting his whole destiny. We can also see that the arrangement of archetypal symbols follows a pattern of wholeness in the individual and that an appropriate understanding of the symbols can have a healing effect. Archetypes can act as creative or destructive forces in our mind: creative when they inspire new ideas, destructive when these same ideas stiffen into conscious prejudices that inhibit further discoveries.
To Jung, the concepts of anima and animus, the shadow, introvert and extrovert, etc, were mere tools or Heuristic hypotheses that might help us to explore the vast new area of reality opened up by the discovery of the unconscious, a discovery that has not merely widened our whole view of the world but has in fact doubled it. We must always ask now whether a mental phenomenon is conscious or unconscious and, also, whether a real outer phenomenon is perceived by conscious or unconscious means. If all men have common inherited patterns of emotional and mental behaviour (which Jung called the archetypes), it is only to be expected that we shall find their products (symbolic fantasies, thoughts and actions) in practically every field of human activity.
Based on the book “Man and his symbols” by Dr Carl Gustav Jung and some of his Jungian school collaborators.
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