Dreams and the Soul

Jung … describe[s] the dynamic of humanity and divinity as functions of each other in some detail. Basically this dynamic takes on the form of a never-to-be-completed psychic cycle. In the first moment the soul regresses to an immersion in and identity with the energies of the divine. In the second moment the soul then mediates these energies to consciousness. When the cycle is taken in its totality, Jung is found to be saying that the moment of the soul’s identity with God is the necessary prelude to the birthing of the divine in human consciousness. His Answer to Job describes the same process in terms of a baptism, the baptism of consciousness into and from the pleroma, the creative and formless source of all form and consciousness. In every analysis reliant on dreams this process is at work as the dreams take the soul into the depths of the psyche and then speak directly to consciousness through the soul from her immersion in these depths. This process makes of the analyst both the observer and the catalyst in the baptism of the individual into the life of the individual’s evolving myth as that individual’s greatest contribution to the emerging societal myth. [1] (emphasis added)

Dourley’s description of the dream resonates with me like nothing I’ve read by Jung. There are moments when Jung waxes poetic as when he describes the dream as “a little hidden door in the innermost and secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego- consciousness extends.” [2] But most of what I’ve read by Jung concerning dreams has been more clinical: “impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche,” [3] “autonomous psychic complexes which form themselves out of their own material,” [4] “a highly objective, natural product of the psyche,” [5] “a psychological adjustment, a compensation absolutely necessary for properly balanced action.” [6] While these characterizations offer invaluable insight into the mechanisms, causes, and purposes of dreams, Dourley’s one-line commentary provides a palpable connection for me. It undoubtedly has to do with my current life-path coordinates which place me in the domain and under the strong, seemingly autonomous influence of reevaluating my connection with Christianity.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. [Galatians 3:27]

The symbolism of the soul being immersed in the psyche which has the Self (the imago Dei, of which the Christ is a symbol) at the center is a very powerful, personal statement of the role of the dream. It evokes Paul’s words of being “baptized into Christ” with the dream initiating the baptism. In the Greek,page1image26448 “put on” has the meaning of donning clothes but with the idea of “sinking into” the garment. Could there be a better descriptor for our soul, under the influence and following the urging of the dream, falling down into the depths of the psyche to be immersed, clothed, as it were, in the psyche as the Self is? As we are immersed, “baptized into Christ” each night, we “put on Christ” both inwardly, as our soul is enveloped in the unconscious, and outwardly, as we integrate the dream contents – the direct communication of the dream with our consciousness through our soul – into our waking, outer life. The dream, then, is the conduit between us and the numinous. It brings the soul face to face with the Self, our imago Dei, the Christ, and it then brings to consciousness the words, ideas, concepts, from the Self, from the Christ. In both extremes – deep in the unconscious and in consciousness – the dream allows us to be in the presence of the numinous.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

Likewise, being “in Christ” now also takes on a more personal, more comprehendible meaning with the symbolism of our soul in “her immersion in these depths [with Christ].” and becoming a new creation is our integrating the contents of the unconscious. The “new man” is the more highly conscious person we become through the process of individuation.

The other image that presented itself was of reading a series of letters from one lover to another, one friend to another, one colleague to another. It would be a one-sided conversation but imagine how much one could learn about both parties from letters written over a decade or two. Analyzing the hand writing, the imagery used, the topics discussed would be very revealing. The same is true of the dream. It is a one-sided conversation but over a period of time it would be as informative and intimate as a stack of letters.

References    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Dourley, John, “Jung and the Recall of the Gods,” Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice (2006) vol. 8 (1) pp. 43-53.
  2. Jung, CW 10, par. 304.
  3. Jung, CW 10, par. 317.
  4. Jung, CW 8, par. 580.
  5. Jung, CW 7, par. 210.
  6. Jung, CW 8, par. 469.
Posted in Uncategorized