One who brings harmony
The few exceptions are usually very clear. Example: ‘My mother-in-law died of cancer. I had watched the whole progression of her illness, and was very upset by her death. Shortly after she died the relatives gathered and began to sort through her belongings to share them out. That was the climax of my upset and distress, and I didn’t want any part of this sorting and taking her things. That night I dreamt I was in a room with all the relatives. They were sorting her things, and I felt my waking distress. Then my mother-in-law came into the room. She was very real and seemed happy. She said for me not to be upset as she didn’t at all mind her relatives taking her things. When I woke from the dream all the anxiety and upset had disappeared. It never returned (told to author dunng a talk given to the Housewives Register in Ilfracombe).
Although in any collection of dreams such clearcut problem solving is fairly rare, nevertheless the basic function in dreams appears to be problem solving.
The proof of this lies in research done in dream withdrawal. As explained in the entry science, sleep and dreams, subjects are woken up as they begin to dream, therefore denying them dreams. This quickly leads to disorientation and breakdown of normal functioning, showing that a lot of problem solving occurs in dreams, even though it may not be as obvious as in the example. This feature of dreaming can be enhanced to a marked degree by processing dreams and arriving at insights into the information they contain. This enables old problems to be cleared up and new information and attitudes to be brought into use more quickly. Through such active work one becomes aware of the self, which Carl Jung describes as a centre, but which we might think of as a synthesis of all our experience and being. Gaining insight and allowing the self entrance into our waking affairs, as M L. Von Franz says in Man and His Symbols, gradually produces a wider and more mature personality’ which emerges, and by degrees becomes effective and even visible to others’.
The function of dreams may well be described as an effort on the part of our life process to support, augment and help mature waking consciousness.
A study of dreams suggests that the creative forces which are behind the growth of our body are also inextricably connected with psychological development. In fact, when the process of physical growth stops, the psychological growth continues.
If this is thwarted in any way, it leads to frustration, physical tension and psychosomatic and eventually physical illness.
The integration of experience.
which dreams are always attempting, if successful cannot help but lead to personal growth. But it is often frozen by the individual avoiding the growing pains’, or the discomfon of breaking through old concepts and beliefs.
Where there is any attempt on the pan of our conscious personality to co-operate with this, the creative aspect of dreaming emerges. In fact anything we are deeply involved in, challenged by or attempting, we will dream about in a creative way. Not only have communities like the American Indians used dreams in this manner—to find better hunting, solve community problems, find a sense of personal life direction— but scientists, writers, designers and thousands of lay people have found very real information in dreams After all, through dreams we have personal use of the greatest computer ever produced in the history of the world—the human brain.
1- In Genesis 41, the story of Pharaoh’s dream is told—the seven fat cows and the seven thin cows. This dream was creative in that, with Joseph’s interpretation, it resolved a national problem where famine followed years of plenty. It may very well be an example of gathered information on the history of Egypt being in the mind of Pharaoh, and the dream putting it together in a problem solving way. See dream process as computer.
2- William Blake dreamt his dead brother showed him a new way of engraving copper. Blake used the method successfully.
3- Otto Leowi dreamt of how to prove that nervous impulses were chemical rather than electncal. This led to his Nobel prize.
4- Friedrich Kekule tned for years to define the structure of benzene. He dreamt of a snake with its tail in its mouth, and woke to realise this explained the molecular formation of the benzene ring. He was so impressed he urged colleagues, ‘Gentlemen, leam to dream.’
5- Hilprecht had an amazing dream of the connection between two pieces of agate which enabled him to translate an ancient Babylonian inscription.
6- Elias Howe faced the problem of how to produce an effective sewing machine.
The major difficulty was the needle. He dreamt of natives shaking spears with holes in their points. This led to the invention of the Singer sewing machine.
7- Robert Louis Stevenson claims to have dreamt the plot of many of his stories.
8- Albert Einstein said that during adolescence he dreamt he was riding a sledge. It went faster and faster until it reached the speed of light.
The stars began to change into amazing patterns and colours, dazzling and beautiful. His meditation on that dream throughout the years led to the theory of relativity.
To approach our dreams in order to discover their creativity, first decide what problematic or creative aspect of your life needs ‘dream power’. Define what you have already leamt or know about the problem. Write it down, and from this clarify what it is you want more insight into.
If this breaks down into several issues, choose one at a time. Think about the issue and pursue it as much as you can while awake. Read about it, ask people’s opinions, gather information. This is all data for the dream process.
If the question still needs further insight, before going to sleep imagine you are putting the question to your internal store of wisdom, computer, power centre, or whatever image feels right.
For some people an old being who is neither exclusively man nor woman is a working image.
In the morning note down whatever dream you remember. It does not matter if the dream does not appear to deal with the question; Elias Howe’s native spears were an outlandish image, but nevertheless contained the information he needed. Investigate the dream using the techniques given in the entry dream processing. Some problems take time to define, so use the process until there is a resolution.
If it is a major problem, it may take a year or so; after all, some resolutions need restructuring of the personality, because the problem cannot disappear while we still have the same attitudes and fears. See secret of the universe dreams; dream processing. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
The dragon might be threatening and combative (Blake related it to mental battles). Often, as in depictions of St. Michael or St. George and the Dragon, a symbol of desire that needs to be resisted in favor of intellectual development. Pointing to one’s own “poisonous” and destructive side. Are you hoarding too much? What do you want to own?
According to dream interpreter Artemidorus, wealth and treasure.
The dragon is also a Chinese symbol for luck.... Little Giant Encyclopedia
The eagle can, like the phoenix, rejuvenate himself and thereby become immortal.
The eagle possesses superior viewing power, but there is also a warning connected to the symbol—bold plans and actions can turn dangerous.
The eagle is an ancient symbol of freedom. As an endangered species, it symbolizes a rare but also most powerful animal. Like all Birds, it points to the connection between heaven (spirit) and earth.
A white eagle is a symbol of happiness and spirituality. With a lame wing, the eagle points to constriction and restrictions, similar to the symbols of Amputation and Cage.
Freud saw in the eagle a distinctive and powerful sexual symbol.
For C. G. Jung, it was a symbol of transformation.
For William Blake, it was the marriage between Heaven and Hell.
The eagle is also viewed as the symbol of the (high-flying) genius.... Little Giant Encyclopedia
The area of our being we refer to when we say T, ‘me’ or ‘myself’ is our conscious self awareness, our sense of self, which Jung calls the ego.
The autobiography of Helen Keller has helped in understanding what may be the difference between an animal and a human being with self awareness. Helen, made blind and deaf through illness before learning to speak, lived in a dark unconscious world lacking any self awareness until the age of seven, when she was taught the deaf and dumb language. At first her teacher’s fingers touching hers were simply a tactile but meaningless experience. Then, perhaps because she had leamt one word prior to her illness, meaning flooded her darkness. She tells us that ‘nothingness was blotted out’. Through language she became a person and developed a sense of self, whereas before there had been nothing.
The journey of individuation is not only that of becoming a person, but also expanding the boundaries of what we can allow ourselves to experience as an ego. As we can see from an observation of our dreams, but mostly from an extensive exploration of their feeling content, our ego is conscious of only a small area of experience.
The fundamental life processes in one’s being may be barely felt. In many contemporary women the reproductive drive is talked about as something which has few connections with their personality. Few people have a living, feeling contact with their early childhood, in fact many people doubt that such can exist. Because of these factors the ego can be said to exist as an encapsulated small area of consciousness, surrounded by huge areas of experience it is unaware of.
In a different degree, there exists in each of us a drive towards the growth of our personal awareness, towards greater power, greater inclusion of the areas of our being which remain unconscious.
A paradox exists here, because the urge is towards integration, yet individuation is also the process of a greater self differentiation. This is a spontaneous process, just as is the growth of a tree from a seed (the tree in dreams often represents this process of self becoming), but our personal responsibility for our process of growth is necessary at a certain point, to make conscious what is unconscious.
Because dreams are constantly expressing aspects of individuation it is wonh knowing the main areas of the process. Without sticking rigidly to Jungian concepts—which see individuation as occurring from mid-life onwards in a few individuals—aspects of some of the main stages are as follows. Early babyhood—the emergence of self consciousness through the deeply biological, sensual and gestural levels of experience, all deeply felt; the felt responses to emerging from a non-changing world in the womb to the need to reach out for food and make other needs known. Learning how to deal with a changing environment, and otherness in terms of relationship.
Childhood—learning the basics of motor, verbal and social skills, the very basics of physical and emotional independence. One faces here the finding of strength to escape the domination of mother—difficult, because one is dependent upon the parent in a very real way—and develop in the psyche a satisfying sexual connection. In dream imagery this means, for the male, an easy sexual relationship with female dream figures, and a means of dealing with male figures in competition (father); see sex in dreams.
The dream of the mystic beautiful woman precedes this, a female figure one blends with in an idealistic sense, but who is never sexual.
The conflict with father—really the internal struggle with one’s image of father as more potent than self—when resolved becomes an acceptance of the power of one’s own manhood. Women face a slightly different situation.
The woman’s first deeply sensual and sexual love object—in a bonded parent-child relationship—was her mother. So beneath any love she may develop for a man lies the love for a woman. Whereas a man, in sexual love which takes him deeply into his psyche, may realise he is making love to his mother, a woman in the same situation may find her father or her mother as the love object. In the unconscious motivations which lead one to choose a mate, a man is influenced by the relationship he developed with his mother, a woman is influenced by both mother and father in her choice. Example: ‘I went across the road to where my mother’s sister lived. I wanted to cuddle her and touch her bare breasts, but we never seemed to manage this. There were always interruptions or blocks.’ (Sid L).
At these deep levels of fantasy and desire, one has to recognise that the first sexual experience is—hopefully—at the mother’s breast. This can be transformed into later fantasies/ dreams/desires of penis in the mouth, or penis in the vagina, or penis as breast, mouth as vagina.
For most of us, however, growth towards maturity does not present itself in such primitively sexual ways, simply because we are largely unconscious of such factors. In general we face the task of building a self image out of the influences, rich or traumatic, of our experience. We leam to stand, as well as we may, amidst the welter of impressions, ideas, influences and urges, which constitute our life and body. What we inherit, what we experience, and what we do with these creates who we are.
One of the major themes of individuation is the journey from attachment and dependence towards independence and involved detachment. This is an overall theme we mature in all our life. In its widest sense, it pertains to the fact that the origins of our consciousness lie in a non-differentiated state of being in which no sense of T exists. Out of this womb condition we gradually develop an ego and personal choice. In fact we may swing to an extreme of egotism and materialistic feelings of independence from others and nature.
The observable beginnings of this move to independence are seen as our attempt to become independent of mother and father. But dependence has many faces: we may have a dependent relationship with husband or wife; we may depend upon our work or social status for our self confidence; our youth and good looks may be the things we depend upon for our sense of who we are, our self image. With the approach of middle and old age we will then face a crisis in which an independence from these factors is necessary for our psychological equilibnum.
The Hindu practice of becoming a sanyassin, leaving behind family, name, social standing, possessions, is one way of meeting the need for inner independence from these in order to meet old age and death in a positive manner. Most people face it in a quieter, less demonstrative way. Indeed, death might be thought of as the greatest challenge to our identification with body, family, worldly status and the external world as a means to identity. We leave this world naked except for the quality of our own being.
Meeting oneself, and self responsibility, are further themes of individuation.
The fact that our waking self is a small spotlight of awareness amidst a huge ocean of unconscious life processes creates a situation of tension, certainly a threshold or ‘iron curtain’, between the known and unknown.
If one imagines the spotlighted area of self as a place one is standing in, then individuation is the process of extending the boundary of awareness, or even turning the spotlight occasionally into the surrounding gloom. In this way one places together impressions of what the light had revealed of the landscape in which we stand, clues to how we got to be where we are, and how we relate to these. But one may remain, or choose to remain, largely unconscious of self.
The iron curtain may be defended with our desire not to know what really motivates us, what past hurts and angers we hide. It may be easier for us to live with an exterior God or authority than to recognise the ultimate need for self responsibility and self cultivation.
To hide from this, humanity has developed innumerable escape routes—extenonsed religious practice, making scapegoats of other minority groups or individuals, rigid belief in a political system or philosophy, search for samadhi or God as a final solution, suicide. This aspect of our matunng process shows itself as a paradox (common to maturity) of becoming more sceptical, and yet finding a deeper sense of self in its connections with the cosmos. We lose God and the beliefs of humanity’s childhood, yet realise we are the God we searched for. This meeting with self, in all its deep feeling of connection, its uncertainty, its vulnerable power, is not without pain and joy. Example: ‘On the railway platform milled hundreds of people, all men I think. They were all ragged, thin, dirty and unshaven. I knew I was among them. I looked up at the mountainside and there was a guard watching us. He was cruel looking, oriental, in green fatigues. On his peaked cap was a red star. He carried a machine gun. Then I looked at the men around me and I realised they were all me. Each one had my face. I was looking at myself. Then I felt fear and terror’ (Anon).
The last of the great themes of individuation is summed up in William Blake’s words ‘1 must Create a System, or be en- slav’d by another Man’s; I will not Reason and Compare: my business is to Create.’ A function observable in dreams is that of scanning our massive life experience (even a child’s life experience has millions of bits of information) to see what it says of life and survival. Out of this we unconsciously create a working philosophy of what life means to us. It is made up not only of what we have experienced and learnt in the general sense, but also from the hidden information in the cultural riches we have inherited from literature, music, art, theatre and architecture.
The word hidden” is used because the unconscious ‘reads’ the symbolised information in these sources. It is, after all, the master of imagery in dreams. But unless we expand the boundaries of our awareness we may not know this inner philosopher.
If we do get to know it through dreams, we will be amazed by the beauty of its insight into everyday human life.
In connection with this there is an urge to be, and perhaps to procreate oneself in the world. Sometimes this is experienced as a sense of frustration—that there is more of us than we have been able to express, or to make real. While physical procreation can be seen as a physical survival urge, this drive to create in other spheres may be an urge to survive death as an identity. Dreams frequently present the idea that our survival of death only comes about from what we have given of ourself to others. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences