Dreams (35)

You may have donated that Times of Your Life Paul Anka 8-track to charity when it didn’t sell at the last neighborhood rummage sale, but the words to “Good Morning Yesterday” live on. Sometimes it is hard to find the “memories you left behind” as Anka sang in 1976. Sometimes, as Freud argued, those memories sink below the level of our consciousness, but continue to work on us in various ways even decades later. Sigmund Freud even formulated a term “return of the repressed” to explain where neurotic symptoms originate, writing that illness is

...characterized by the return of the repressed memories -- that is, therefore, by the failure of the defence.... The re-activated memories, however, and the self-reproaches formed from them never re-emerge into consciousness unchanged: what become conscious as obsessional ideas and affects¹

Jung, too, expressed the opinion that our memories can torment us to a dangerous extent when he wrote,

It may be that the majority of hysterical persons are ill because they possess a mass of memories, highly charged with affect and therefore deeply rooted in the unconscious, which cannot be controlled and which tyrannize the conscious mind and will of the patient.²


You don’t have to be a depth psychologist to notice when, at times, memories of your own rise up unexpectedly out of nowhere, often instigating powerful emotions. It happens for me with a handful of certain memories that show up, surprising me with their content and their intensity, making me wonder why a certain memory would arise for me when millions of others are lost.

This is why I was fascinated to meet Daphne Dodson, a qualitative researcher who has spent the past 20 years interviewing people, who is currently researching and writing about a concept she calls “Memory Tending”... Read the full article and listen to the 26 minute interview with Daphne Dodson and Bonnie Bright.

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9142455098?profile=originalMedicine person Wanbli Mato, (Frank) Eagle Bear, tended to the extraordinary healing of thousands of people in his lifetime with the ritual use of sacred stones. These stones, material embodiments of the Anima Mundi, or Soul of the World, he carried in various places inside his own body, and were the prima materia with which he channeled healing for the soul and body.The stones literally spoke to him and helped him see the ailment of the afflicted person then guided him to the appropriate medicines in nature. Wanbli Mato shared that in this practice the spiritual power of the stones must be “stirred up by ritual use” along with the natural power given to each person working in a healing relationship with Creation (Thomas Mails, Fools Crow 1988, 126, 127).

It is with this sense of collaborative healing that I believe Dream Tending and the Global Dream Initiative has answered the call to tend to the deep suffering of the Anima Mundi’s body and soul. One of the basic tenants of Dream Tending is that the Anima Mundi is present in all things. This includes dream figures or images that seek our conscious awareness each night when we dream, the images that arise in active imagination, and daydreams.

In Dream Tending, part of our task is to identify and tend to a soulful and relational dialogue between wounded images and images that offer healing, paying particular attention to Indigenous Images that indicate the Anima Mundi’s suffering. As Dream Tenders...

(Click here to read the full blog post on the Global Dream Initiative web site—and be sure to join our mailing list if you want to keep abreast of GDI news, information, and events).

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He was Busy Mouse, Searching Everywhere, Touching his Whiskers to the Grass, and Looking. He was Busy as all Mice are, Busy with Mice things. But Once in a while he would Hear an Odd Sound. He would Lift his Head, Squinting hard to See, his Whiskers Wiggling in the air, and he would Wonder.

So begins the ancient story of Jumping Mouse and the Sacred River, an Amerindian story, published in Seven Arrows (1976) and handed down by Cheyenne Elder Hyemeyohsts Storm to the rites of passage guides at The School of Lost Borders and Animas Valley Institute, to me and now to you. This teaching story is often told to vision quest initiates, those who are “lamenting for a vision” to bring back to their people, on the eve of their descent into the underworld. It is a threshold story that mirrors the Global Dream Initiative: how we got here, why we are here and where we are headed. In this epic tale, Mouse hears the roaring of the sacred River. A loving and crafty guide, Raccoon, comes to him when he can no longer deny the calling:

Little Mouse Walked with Raccoon. His little Heart was Pounding in his Breast. The Raccoon was Taking him upon Strange Paths and little Mouse Smelled the scent of many things that had Gone by this Way. Many times he became so Frightened he almost Turned Back. Finally, they Came to the River! It was Huge and Breathtaking, Deep and Clear in Places, and Murky in Others. Little Mouse was unable to See Across it because it was so Great. It Roared, Sang, Cried, and Thundered on its Course. Little Mouse Saw Great and Little Pieces of the World Carried Along on its Surface. “It is Powerful!” little Mouse said, Fumbling for Words. “It is a Great thing,” answered the Raccoon, “but here, let me Introduce you to a Friend.

Here, Mouse meets Frog, who encourages him to “Jump!” While he is high in the air, he glimpses the Sacred Mountains. He lands in the transformative waters, much to his surprise! Next, he is given a new name, a Medicine Name, which points to his own healing and his unique ability to offer healing to others. His truer name is “Jumping Mouse”.

All of us have Medicine names, that introduce us to our own transformative powers. They come to us in the swirling eddies of dreams and the wilderness of visions. Images are the bridge between these “true names” and the one given to us by our parents: they reflect our greatest gifts and preflect our service to the world. They dwell in the Sacred River which runs through us all. When these delightful waters sweep through our bodies—when we allow our consciousness to descend into their depths—they wash away emotional toxins, thought-pollutions and limiting illusions. We are restored to health. The deeper we dive into the Sacred River, the more meaningful life becomes, and the more access we have to timeless wisdom that can guide the leaders of communities in the healing of the planet, if only they will listen!

All of the problems of the world that the Earth Charter seeks to eradicate: environmental degradation, war, gender oppression, economic disparity, slavery, animal cruelty and terrorism originate from the damming up (the “damning up”) of the glorious tributary which leads us back to “Source”. Those in industrialized nations who remember dreams and have visions of a better life for all intuit there is so much than the monotony of soul-less jobs, shallow relationships, mind-numbing news-entertainment and financial pursuits at the expense of well-being. They long for our returning to that Sacred River. But all too often, when we have dipped our toes into the fresh, rainbow-rippling streams, glimpsed the beauty of our own reflections that echo back to us the beauty of creation we are met with scorn. “The Sacred River and Mountains are not real,” The disparaging voices tell us, blind and deaf to poetry, to us. They would rather eat fast food then sip the Nectar of the Gods, it seems! “Go back to your cubby hole, Mouse!” They chide and warn, fearfully, resentfully. Their world is black and white, cut off from the soul-full waters. This makes us all feel grey as lead. Meanwhile, because the answers to the problems are in the River that they refuse to acknowledge, society grows sicker and and more disillusioned by the day,

Jumping Mouse Returned to the World of the Mice. But he Found Disappointment. No   One would Listen to him. And because he was Wet, and had no Way of explaining it   because there had been no Rain, many of the other Mice were Afraid of him. They believed he had been spat from the Mouth of Another Animal that had Tried to Eat him.

The story of Jumping Mouse hints at the solution to the fear: the way back to the River. This is the “Hero’s journey” (Campbell, 1949/2008). Our foolish mouse becomes a hero by facing his nightmares of the “dots” in the sky, the devouring predators, by following his dreams. On this path, he meets wise helpers and together they find their way back to the River. The return is not always easy. We begin by walking, but we cannot get to the Sacred Mountain by staying on the ground, and growing wings is a tumultuous process, as any fledgling bird will tell you. The longer one has been gone from the depths and the heights, the more trying the journey may be.

He is blind and he can’t see them. The wolf feels tremendous compassion and feeling for Jumping Mouse his brother, and his heart stretches out to him, and the wolf cries. Then he leaves and Jumping Mouse is left alone, blind, nothing but looking within, and   he can feel the spots on his back, just pressing in, hard. And then he hears the rush of wind and wings and then there is a fantastic shock and everything is black.

The first step of facing nightmares of any kind is to call in the beloved companions from the Dream Time (Aizenstat, 2009). The Global Dream Initiative seeks to facilitate the world’s return to these sacred landscapes, to ease the fears, to offer guidance, and to see with expanded vision all the diverse colors of the Psyche more clearly, like Jumping Mouse.

The next thing he knows, he can see colours. He can see! He can see colours. And he’s amazed, astounded, he doesn’t know if he’s dreaming or what is happening. But he’s alive and he can see colours… from the colours comes a voice. “You want a medicine?” And Jumping Mouse says, “Yes, I’d like a medicine.” And the voice says, “Just get down as far as you can and jump up as high as you can jump.” So little mouse gets down as low as he can and jumps up as high as he can jump, and when he does, the wind catches him and swirls him up and up and up in the air. And the voice calls out from below him, “Grab hold of the wind!” So little mouse reaches out and grabs hold of the wind as hard as he can, and the wind takes him higher and higher until everything begins to get clearer and clearer. Crystal clear, and he can see all the great beings of the prairie, the buffalo, the wolf on the mountain, and he looks down into the medicine lake and there are all the lodges of the people reflected, and on the edge of the medicine lake he sees his friend the frog. He calls down to him, “Hello, brother Frog,” and the frog calls back to him, “Hello, brother Eagle.

The Global Dream Initiative is grounded in the Sacred River. It is a “Tree growing roots in the ocean’s depths” as one dreamer recently dreamed. All Mice, Eagles, Raccoon, Buffalo and Wolves are welcome. To return with us to these healing waters, one simply has to share dreams!



The excerpts from the Jumping Mouse story are from: Storm, Hyemeyohsts (1972) “Seven Arrows,”Harper and Row Publishers, NY, NY http://www.katinkahesselink.net/other/mouse2.html
Aizenstat, Stephen A (2009) Dream Tending. Spring Journal. New Orleans, LA.
Campbell, Joseph (2004) A Hero Has a Thousand Faces. Princeton University Press. Princeton, N.J.
The Earth Charter: http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/mods/theme_a/img/02_earthcharter.pdf

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Display in the Window of a Used BookstoreEvil Clown Looking Out of an Upstairs Window

A young woman posted a dream of hers to the internet, and I thought that it provided an interesting and provocative compliment to several of my images. What is depicted in the images above are sights that I happened to encounter while walking about Baltimore. Perhaps it is imagery like this that people chance to notice on the street  that is retained by their minds,  becoming  the raw material both for their dreams and for their nightmares. Below is the description that this person provided concerning their dream:

"OK..so in my dream when I open my eyes (they aren't really open but in the dream they are) I see a clown standing at the end of my bed...I try to run but he kinda like grabs me with no hands like some kind of magical hold because I can't move but I can still see his arms and he is in my face and he keeps pretending to bite me but never actually does (he had it seemed the teeth of a dog....they were very big and most were sharp). He like puts his open mouth to my skin with his teeth out or he licks his finger and then tries to bite me but always backs up and then I began to say NO! and I pray and say Lord help me (I told him I forbid you to haunt my dreams anymore in the name of Jesus Christ) and when I say the Lord's name his clown face seems human and it shakes kinda like in slow motion and the human face seems to be trying to escape the clowns body."
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Useful are, Invented Dreams

The careening arrow of time, relentlessly moves on, and I, the surprised passenger, catapult along, happy to be.
    While sitting in converse with another, I gave a fancifully brief, "invented" dream to make a point about the non-temporal overview that seems to manifest in dreams and creative activities. It (the invented dream) was "made up" on the spot, but it reminded me that this is an ever present process, this upwelling from the unconscious and realms beyond, which we (I) tend to quantify in "dreams" parsed out in the night. Yet it is always present, spilling out in associations, turns of phrase, intuitions, transient thoughts. The more I thought about this "invention of the moment," I noted it's strong compliance to the qualities of dreams, even tho it emerged mid-thought while fully(?) awake in conversation with another person. It included a reference to an imaginary person, (I gave him a name with ease, tho I have no immediate association to the name chosen??), presient knowledge, confabulated actions and dramatic exaggerations, all with emotive tension and surprise.
    [The actual "dream" as I told it in the moment was, "I am traveling, by myself, and come to an intersection, and have the strong impression that I should turn left immediately, which I do, only to see two actions simultaneously. I note a long lost friend on the right sidewalk (Alfred?) and watch in the rear-view mirror, as a massive/horrific collision of vehicles occurs in the intersection, I had just allowed myself to be diverted from, by the intuition to "turn left."]
    While I have personally and clinically had multiple version of "this dream," this particular one was "created" and told in the moment as a useful invention. Upon secondary reflection, after the fact, I noted strong pun elements in the directionality of the action, always to be looked for in any unpacking of dream content. "Going straight, or turning right, invited disaster, only following my intuition, turning left, avoided the calamitous potential, and produced the charmed encounter." Our literal waking ego mind, hears only the implied directionality in it's concrete form, but the "inner" ear notes that I should not insist on "right," as in being right, nor straight, as in inflexible, but left, as in "the path left chosen." I then encounter "Alfred" of which I have no personal association, but my first "hit" in a search brings me to a long posting about the "Mentor" archetype in which Alfred is noted as the mentor of Batman, an association that I fine useful. He is on the right, as in "correct" and his smile confirms the connection. The rearview mirror is that which reflects backwards upon the path not chosen.
    For a momentary concoction, in the midst of a rapidly flowing conversation, "this imaginary dream," ends up having more to it, beyond the making of a point, about the non-temporal nature of dreams and creative activities. It is an important reminder that dreaming is the primary condition of mind, and the epiphenomena of my thoughts, skittering upon the surface, like drops of water on a heated skillet, here for the moment, vanishing evanescently. I am not the source of the energy, that bubbles up, like magical springs, nourishing the attentive visitor, and creating life forms in it's wake. Grateful I am, to acknowledge the source, however unknowable. Tis' the fool who claims any presumption of authorship, as I am but a conduit for a grand designer. The spontaneous noun/verb inversion just used, invokes Yoda, another Mentor figure, which tends to confirm that I might be "on to something."
    Off I go, to search for the source of that spring....

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Dream interpreted by Howard Teich, Ph.D.

A man of Asian descent has the following dream:

 “I was in a far away exotic place. Eventually I noticed things on the floor. They looked like old washed up, mud-covered tree trunks, embedded in the floor. I looked closer at one, and it looked like a dark mud-covered stone tiger. Looking closer, I realized it just didn't look like one, it was a tiger, sort of half incarnated. Out of fear, I kicked sand from the floor on its face to see if it was real. I felt bad, immediately after. The tiger looked back at me.

I am in a light-blue-colored room and I see two tigers and then notice that the room is full of tigers. One is bigger than the rest. There are two more big female tigers, each with two cubs. I make sure the door is closed. There is no lock. The door is flimsy, a poor Asian sliding wood door with windowpanes.

I decide to switch to a room upstairs. I walk out of the room, and realize I forgot my phone and my key to that room. I go back in and find them. I go back out of the room and try to lock the door. It won't lock. The more I try to lock it, the more the door comes off the hinges. There is another door to a room adjacent to the room I was in. That door opens and men and women appear. That door falls off too. Then the tigers come into the room. There are two. We are somewhat afraid but we stand there and do not run. The two tigers sit there against the light-blue wall.

I feel myself surrendering to the situation. The room goes dark. And out of nowhere, there is a light coming from above me and to the right, just slightly in front, like a flashlight shining down on me. It is a pure white light. Not too bright. Not too dim. I just stand there. Empty mind, just light. Until it eventually fades. I think of the old paintings from Europe lit in the same light, when someone is spoken to from above. The light at the end was amazing. It was there whether my eyes were open or closed. Didn't matter. I was in pitch black room lying in bed, in a lucid state. It wasn't a big light. I remember it was very white, though.”



Dreams are the way the psyche speaks to images and gives expression to instincts that derive from most primitive levels of our existence to return us to the natural law of our being. Creativity is woven into us and ready to be ignited like the tiny speck of immense energy in the early moments of the universe. Instinctively we know that life is an adventure of chaos and order; we desperately want to control things for the fear of disequilibrium. This dream actually offers us a paradoxical dynamic in the face of chaos, the courage to “surrender” to the moment rather than to try to control it.  When the dreamer surrenders to the environment, “the room goes dark . . . out of nowhere, there is a light, coming from above . . . like a flashlight shining down (on the dreamer). It is a pure white light . . . I just stand there, empty mind, just light . . . I think of the old painting from Europe lit in the same light, when spoken to from above . . . the light at the end was amazing.”

Surrendering in Goethe’s words is to “die and become.” To the extent that the ego consciously embraces “death” it constellates life in depth. Surrendering is to give up a belief about some form of control and reposition us for a different type of encounter. What we have to give up in our surrender is our “objective” mechanical worldview and reintegrate ourselves into nature’s self-organizing patterns that provide us access to light and energy. By surrendering we once again immerse ourselves in light and energy.

Light and energy are the creation principle of the cosmos and our planet. In the new scientific Gaia creation story, the theory is that our planet and its creatures constitute a single self-regulating system, which is in fact, a “great living being.” We now recognize that the Earth itself comes alive in the whirling dance of matter in space that manifested the crust of the earth that eventually transformed itself in what we call nature, water, mountains, valleys as well as stones.

The dream begins with nature in the form of trees and stones, “I was in a far away exotic place. Eventually I noticed these things on the floor. They looked like old washed up, mud-covered tree trunks . . . embedded in the floor. I looked closer at one, and it looked like a mud-covered, dark stone tiger.” Our awareness of “mud covered tree trunks” initiates our understanding that we are about to enter a story of growth, proliferation, generative and regenerative processes. Trees, often symbolized as the tree of life, stand for inexhaustible life, and are equivalent to a symbol of immortality.

“Out of fear, I kicked sand from the floor on its face to see if it was real.” Creation stories from all around the ancient world have a common theme, where mankind is created from sand, dirt, mud, or clay. In the Egypt creation myth, sand and mud are obtained from the Nile to create life. In Genesis 2.7 “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” In China the goddess Nau Gua  “carefully shaped yellow clay making human images which she breathed into and they came alive.”

The mud, clay or dust form of the tigers is the prima materia that births this primal creation energy into the dreamer’s life. In alchemy, the prima materia is the “single original stuff that goes through a number of alchemical operations to produce the Philosophers’ Stone.” One alchemist says, “one must start with a bit of the Philosophers’ Stone if one is to find it.” As Jung says, “. . . the entire alchemical procedure . . . could just as well represent the individuation process.” Tiger energy is for this man his access to man’s Philosophers’ Stone for his individuation process.

Tigers are the biggest cats in the entire World. The tiger is associated with Tsai Shen Yeh, the Chinese God of Wealth, and this god is usually seen sitting on a tiger. The tiger is the protector of the dead, and will often be seen in graves as a mark of protection, assuring peace for those who have died. It is also an image that symbolizes the supremacy of the intangible forces, and our ability to harness the tiger's power in our lives.

Stones are symbols of being, of cohesion and harmonious reconciliation with the Self. Their hardness and durability suggests to us the antithesis of a biological thing subject to the laws change, decay, and death as well as the antithesis to dust and sand as aspects of disintegration. Paradoxically, the Philosopher’s Stone symbolizes unity and strength. In Islamic worship, the most celebrated stone is the Kaaba meteorite in Mecca, Among the stones venerated by the ancients, the Greek’s had the omphaloi, or in Hebrew, the stone is God’s house, “and this stone which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s House” (Genesis 22). In other words the stone is a symbol of authentic Self, a symbol of our wholeness and individuation.

Stones are among our earliest tool, weapons, and symbols of power, Increasing the might and the effectiveness of early men and women in coping with their environments. The stone as an archetype can be compared to our brief human life span as a symbol of endurance; indeed it suggests the concept of eternity. Yet, the common stone surrounds us everywhere and we give it little value. For the alchemist, the “mean, uncomely stone, cheap in price” becomes the indestructible material of transformation into the Philosopher’s Stone. The Arabian alchemist Morienus expressed it even more directly: This thing (the philosopher’s stone) is extracted from you: you are its mineral and one can find it in you.” The dreamer must patiently work throughout his life, like the ancient alchemists, “with love” to transform what we least value—the dead, the ignorant, or false aspect of ourselves, into the true stone, wise and eternal.

The Gaia creation story tells us that all the mysteries of life, including the matter in the universe, are part of our ecosystems in evolution. Even DNA, virtually the oldest thing in Earth’s evolution, still propagates itself from the beginning in the unbroken chain. Rock transformed into “endless creatures who recycled it in turn into sediments that were subducted back into the magma of origin by great tectonic plates.” In other words, at one point, the matter of stones, like all earth, were part of the self-regulating living systems of which all other life forms evolved. As the crust became more alive with bacteria it created its own atmosphere and finally produced the larger life forms—the trees, animals (tigers), and people.

Tigers in many Asia cultures are powerful symbols, the emergence of the king archetype. The central organizing principle of the Self, the Light, has emerged to shine on this man’s birthing his creativity at a deeper level, giving him access to the cosmic energy of all life. This illumination is a signal of his spiritual strength.

 To surrender to an archetype like the “tiger” takes an authentic ego rather than the inflated ego that tries to dominate and control life. In the evolving authentic ego, dreams engage an archetype of an earthly animal, representative of transpersonal principles. Here the awakening to the evolution of the authentic ego. It alliance with unconsciousness is able to animate the “stone tigers,” birthing their living presence as a primal force of his nature and humanity. The dream shows there is no way to keep this tiger family of energy inanimate in his life and work any more. Here the urge to consciousness that has resided in the unconscious, and that had not been fully realized as a natural urge, has emerged. There is no way to lock away this energy. The tiger path is his “light” and the archetypal state of his enlightenment of the authentic Self emerged, as opposed to a previous state of ego consciousness

The blue color of the room that the tiger emerges in, is important. It represents the lunar context that is the holding container of this energy for the dreamer. Just as the lion is representative of the burning force of the sun, the solar aspect of life, in contrast, the tiger with its yellow body and black stripes mirrors the symbolic ambivalence of the power of the night and the lunar. The tiger, as a big cat that can dispatch its prey with a single stroke of might to the neck, is an energy of lithe elegance and lusty sensuality. It conveys protective grace and noble authority that has inspired everything from warrior societies to shamanic magic. Tigers hunt in silence and agility that almost seems supernatural. The tiger signifies the structure and ferocity of the warrior, the capacity to spring into action at a critical time, yet as the dream shows, the ability to “surrender” to the silence of nature. On its black forehead marking’s every tiger carries a pattern identical with the Chinese character for “king.” In the Japanese tradition, the tiger is a creature of mountainous ascent and descent, and evocative of the qualities of the lunar yin, at sunset, autumn and earth. Here and not here, the tiger is like a spirit of wind, “The mysterious rustling of the wind in a bamboo thicket, a sound that has an unearthly and eerie charm.” The tiger represents the vital powers within ourselves that are now being embodied in space and habitat and respects the force of its living presence in nature. The tiger represents one of nature’s most extraordinary incarnations of creative aggressiveness and sovereign instinct.


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Marion Woodman: Dancing in the Flames

The evolution of Jungian psychology owes a great deal to the work of Marion Woodman, a renowned analyst and author who is a pioneer in the understanding of the role of feminine principles in the healing of the human psyche. Her life and work are chronicled in Adam Greydon Reid's striking documentary Marion Woodman: Dancing in the Flames (Capri Films, 2010), which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in depth psychology and to Woodman fans especially.

Through dynamic conversations with mystic and political activist Andrew Harvey, Woodman shares the personal and professional experiences that fuel her belief in the importance of cultivating a sacred connection to the feminine—meaning to body and to earth—in order to facilitate personal, cultural, and environmental transformation. She teaches that opening to change requires a willingness to surrender to the archetypal processes of death and rebirth, and asserts that even our very Earth is going through such a process now; it's up to us whether or not the Earth is reborn.

With sparkling eyes and her trademark passion and grace, Marion details how she became intimately acquainted with psychic death through her struggles with anorexia and uterine cancer, both of which she overcame by working with her dreams, particularly by learning to integrate the emotional energy of her images into her body. The story of her recovery from cancer is an exceptionally moving testament to the miraculous healing power of making the unconscious conscious.

Probably one of the most poignant and inspiring aspects of the documentary is its exploration of Marion's 50-plus–year partnership to her husband, Ross. Reflecting on the many shifts that have been a part of their journey to mature intimacy, the Woodmans joke that they have had four marriages. Each stage of the relationship has involved the shedding of increasingly deeper levels of projections—a process their marriage is still undergoing, Marion reveals.

As Marion speaks, her words are at times illustrated by the evocative animation of Academy-Award–winning artist Faith Hubley. Hubley's whimsical, at times surreal, images do a wonderful job of bridging the gap between intuitive and intellectual understanding of Woodman's philosophies, and also reflect the dreamscape from which many of Woodman's ideas originated.

All the elements of the film—dialogue, animation, and music—seamlessly work together to capture the fiery spirit of a woman whose desire to become conscious—to dance in the alchemical flames of her soul—saved her very life. Longtime fans of Woodman may find, as I did, such an intimate portrait simply sublime.


Find more of my writing on www.thenightisjung.com.  —Melissa Chianta

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Where There's Pain There's Cure

More than we think, we as adults generate our psychic sufferings. We don’t think we do, but we do. We’re immensely biased to believe our problems come from outside of us. Often, they come from the inside. Of course, external childhood and adulthood traumas are real and take root in the psyche. They dig in and can cause an endless cycle of problems and illnesses. But one day, we realize that what came from the outside is now inside and needs attention. Otherwise, everything is projected outward and becomes traumatic, emotional drama after drama playing out in our life like an onstage play. Fortunately, psychic pain always carries the seed of its own cure. 

We Have a Choice

Patients in depth psychotherapy are caught in a whirlwind of relational pain and hoped-for cure. Life hangs in the balance. Over time, individuals learn to turn within and reflect on themselves and their life. Insights often unearth dark energies that have stirred up life troubles and uncannily drawn bad situations and dysfunctional people their way. It seems like bad things just happen out of the blue. But, when we take time to learn from our feelings and dreams, we come to see that there’s a reason for them. Then, we’re ready to understand that we can do something about our predicament.

 Humanistic and phenomenological depth psychology teaches about the reality of self-empowerment. Even in horrid predicaments, we have a choice. In an online professional listserv with other psychologists today, we talked about the ability to choose. I related a saying that we have a good dog and a bad dog in us. Which one lives depends on which one we feed. We keep feeding the emotional drama by blaming others rather than stopping and looking closely at ourselves and our life.

 Begin Your Healing Process

Our ability to choose empowers us to begin our own healing and growth process. People look for a different locale or a partner to change things up for them—make them happier. It doesn’t work. Outer changes don’t automatically translate to inner changes. We have to start with coming to terms with the dark emotions and dreams on the inside, then we stand a good chance of changing the outside for the good.

 Slowly and painfully, patients listen to vital feeling states and dreams. Emotions and dream symbols open up vistas of experience that lead to a greater understanding of self and others. Off in the distance, a light starts to faintly glow at the end of a dark emotional and spiritual tunnel. Along the way, step by step, we deal with buried feelings, set our attitudes on course, and let go of dead-end relationships. Dream images guide us along the way, inch by inch through the dark tunnel. Then, the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter. Light dawns only after sensitive and patient turning within, soul tending.

 Pain is There—Cure is There

A person I knew socially complained about not sleeping. He asked me what I thought. I remarked that sometimes we don’t sleep because we fear our dreams. We run from going down deep into the unconscious mind, the realm of sleeping and dreaming. He resisted going to bed, nervous behaviors keeping him up till all hours. Headaches developed. Other physical symptoms followed. Some weeks later, he said that what I told him kept coming back to him. Our meeting again was a sign, he said, that he needed to take my words to heart. I encouraged him once again to allow extra time for sleep and rest.

 The pain was there, so I knew the cure was also there. Resistance to inner truth generates physical and psychic pain. He finally succumbed to sleeping more regularly. Dreams followed. They detailed relationship conflicts he had refused to face, decisions needing to be made and followed through with.

 I’m not sure how things went for this man since I haven’t seen him for some time. But I do know that once dark realities are brought to light, the potential to heal is set in motion. Once we see what’s wrong, we can find some clarity about what we can do to set things right. It’s never easy, but the tough going of following through with necessary life changes is a hundred times better than the misery of staying stuck. We initiate our cure by understanding that psychic pain always carries the seed of its own cure.


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Dear Depth community. Warm greetings for a happy new year.  

At this time last year many of us were preparing to launch the Earth, Climate, Dreams online symposium, which was a program consisting of 12 recorded interviews with some of the expert scientists, psychologists, Jungian analysts, and educators who are providing some of the most critical thinking about the topics.

Now, in honor of the anniversary of that symposium, I'm pleased to let you know that all 12 of the depth dialogues are being released to the community. Those of you who attended the original symposium had the benefit of meeting together each week for six weeks online, along with many of the presenters, to discuss each week's featured interviews and to sit together in contemplation of some of the challenges we are facing in our current culture--a culture which seems to be changing drastically by the day.

Thank you to each of you who make space each day for the transition we are going through, and for the opportunity to engage with something much larger than ourselves--a sense of soul that is so greatly needed by all.

Following are links to each of the 12 interviews on YouTube.If you feel inclined to make a small donation in exchange for the interviews, please do so. Either way, enjoy the depth and breath of these wonderful thinkers in the field.

In soul,

Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.




Earth, Climate, Dreams: Depth Psychological Reflections in the Age of the Anthropocene 

Over time, humans in western cultures have undergone a profound restructuring of the psyche resulting in a traumatic sense of separation. In modern day, we face a growing set of challenges on ecological and social fronts. The era of what is now informally called the Anthropocene—a term referring to the significant impact of human activity on the planet— has arrived. The current crisis requires that we reflect on our situation from a depth psychological perspective, contemplating how we might tap into the underlying archetypal themes at work in the culture and begin to articulate them in ways that inspire and move us to personal and collective action.

The depth dialogues for this  symposium offers the  opportunity to engage the topic from a depth psychological perspective, allowing deep reflection and thoughtful response.


Video Presenters with the links to view each Dialogue Below:

Bonnie Bright, Founder, Depth Psychology Alliance, HOST

Steven Aizenstat, Chancellor and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute


Susannah Benson, Academic, Researcher, Educator, and Counsellor


Jerome Bernstein, Jungian Analyst


Michael Conforti, Jungian Analyst


Nancy Swift Furlotti, Jungian Analyst


Sally Gillespie, Jungian Psychotherapist


Veronica Goodchild, Professor Emerita at Pacifica Graduate Institute


Jeffrey Kiehl, Jungian Analyst and Senior Climate Scientist


Jonathan Marshall, Anthropologist and Senior Research Associate at the University of Technology Sydney


Robert Romanyshyn, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute


Susan Rowland, Chair of MA Engaged Humanities & the Creative Life at Pacifica Graduate Institute


Erel Shalit, Jungian Analyst



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9142468499?profile=originalListen to a new audio interview or read a detailed summary article of “Dreams, Calling, Suffering, and Individuation: Finding Light in the Darkness” with Jungian Analyst and New Pacifica Core Faculty Member, Fanny Brewster: http://www.pacificapost.com/counseling-and-community-mental-health-a-soul-based-calling (Link to listen at the bottom of the Pacifica Post page)


It may be all too easy to get stuck when we perceive the patterns of ecological destruction and political conflict we are witnessing these days, and to feel disquiet and even grief about what's happening in the world around us. A lot of people are suffering because they don't know what to make of what's going on in the culture and on the planet, and they feel powerless to do anything about it. We are affected by daily news about the extinction of species, loss of life, and people mistreating one other, sometimes in terrible ways.

Working with dreams allows us to tap into the psyche, which leads us in a certain direction in the process of becoming more whole, a process Jung referred to as individuation.

Jung often focused on how individuation was about leading us back into the collective. The work is about individuation, and then to be able to go back out into the world and be a part of raising consciousness and deepening consciousness in the world, and being actively engaged with others in the collective.

Depth psychology is also deeply concerned with suffering, suggests Fanny Brewster, Jungian analyst and core faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. It's about awareness, commitment, and being human in a way that requires you to suffer. With depth psychology, you learn that the way out is through, Brewster insists. Going through darkness and not-knowing becomes a psychology of discovery, of finding light within the darkness, which ultimately is a source of great richness.


Listen to a new audio interview or read a detailed summary article of “Dreams, Calling, Suffering, and Individuation: Finding Light in the Darkness” with Jungian Analyst and New Pacifica Core Faculty Member, Fanny Brewster: http://www.pacificapost.com/counseling-and-community-mental-health-a-soul-based-calling

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9142468656?profile=originalWhen you work with dreams from an animated point of view, notes Stephen Aizenstat, who pioneered the process of DreamTending, it brings the dream to life. When one comes into a relationship with the image, it allows the image its own innate intelligence, and it can speak to us what it knows.

Through this process, we develop a community of soul figures which become “intimate others,” offering the capacity for powerful relationships. We can “live into” these relationships in times of crisis, of deep personal loss, or of incredible genius.

“The Global Dream Initiative is all about that,” Aizenstat observes, “Coming into small communities all around the world, sharing, opening up, letting the figures come forward offering themselves to our imagination, and listening to what is being asked of us.”


Read a detailed summary article about the session offered by Dr. Steven Aizenstat and Dr. Douglas Thomas at the “Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century” conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute in June 2017

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9142466258?profile=originalChinese medicine is a system that's rooted in nature. Using primary treatment tools like acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, and cupping, the practice focuses on maintaining health and preventing illness.

As a doctor of Chinese medicine for over six years, Brian Falk has nearly completed his Ph.D. in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Somatic Studies, and he has had a chance to experience a multitude of correlations between Chinese medicine and depth psychology.

Since studying depth psychology, Falk has gained a greater awareness of the power of the psyche. He was struck by the ancient Greek healing traditions and other medical and historical aspects from which western ideas originated and how similar they were to Chinese thought; specifically in relation to how the body can be healed through dreaming. Dreams help us deepen into our own human experience, and can even be helpful in dealing with death, Falk notes. He also came to see how much imagery there is in Chinese medicine, and the power of images has helped him gain a deeper appreciation for both fields.

Falk also finds that depth psychology fills some gaps that were left by his professional training in Chinese medicine. While Chinese medicine is a complete medical system focused on treating every part of the human, the idea of the personal and the collective unconscious; the shadow; and the archetypal perspectives that aid in understanding the human condition are mostly absent, he suggests.

Falk’s larger awareness has continued to expand through his research for his doctoral dissertation entitled, “Smell Your Reflections: On the Soul’s Meaningful Scent Images.” Perceiving images of smell allows us to go beyond the physical experience of smells in our environment, and reach something on a much deeper level of the psyche, he asserts.

Listen to the interview or read a detailed summary article at www.pacificapost.com/integration-chinese-medicine-somatic-studies-and-depth-psychology

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9142464253?profile=originalFor Stanton Marlan, a Jungian analyst author of the iconic tome, The Black Sun: The Alchemy Art of Darkness, his interest in alchemy may be traced in some part to his childhood stone collection. As a child, Marlan used to use his stones to “write” in wonderful colors, delighted in the way each had a certain capacity to express themselves in a unique way without crumbling in the process.

The stones, which he kept in front of his grandmother’s house where he lived, became a very early “image” for Marlan, carrying a great deal of meaning. When his grandmother determined the stones were cluttering the front yard threw them away, it resulted in a sense of profound loss for the boy whose colorful stones were so rich valuable to him. In some deep way, Marlan reflects, the search for the philosopher’s stone, or the search for meaning in stones, was an early imprint on his mind as a young child.

Later, Marlan became fascinated with Jung’s work on alchemy, longed to know more about what the alchemical illustrations meant from a psychological, emotional, spiritual perspective. Jung opened the doors to understanding alchemy in a way that earlier scholars had not done, Marlan points out. In the practice of alchemy, the alchemist tried to transform matter, specifically by changing a base substance into a valuable substance, such as turning lead into gold.

Jung’s contribution is that he recognized that what the alchemists were attempting to do actually related to symbolic spiritual life. To put it simply, Jung observed that one could work with a depressive personality—one weighed down in its own substance weight— through varying procedures, transform it into a golden one—shining, valuable, developed. Jung’s understanding of alchemy as a transformative psychological process was an early imaginal way of understanding the depths of the unconscious the transformation processes that he was developing in his own work in depth psychology in the individuation process.

When Marlan first read Jung, it activated a very deep place hearkening back to his childhood where the world was alive, changing transforming; where substances mattered, where those substances produced a sense of spirit....

Marlan will be a plenary speaker at the weekend symposium, “Ars Alchemica: The Art Alchemy of Transformation,” August 25-27, 2017, at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA


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9142462477?profile=originalWe are all more or less traumatized, affirms Donald Kalsched, a Jungian analyst and trauma specialist who wrote Trauma and the Soul. Kalsched avows that reality confronts us with “things that break our hearts,” noting that there’s also a huge amount of unacknowledged terror in all of us.

Nightmares can be an effort by the psyche to help us integrate some of disowned material from our childhood. In what Kalsched has termed the “self-care system,” a system of defense which is made up of both protective and persecutory inner objects, individuals who have been abused or neglected may be tyrannized by archetypal figures in their dreams.


The work of C.G. Jung adds so much to our understanding in this arena, Kalsched asserts, because Jung believed there is a spiritual dimension to life, that we all have a religious instinct that senses and hungers for that connection to spirit….

Read the detailed summary article or listen to the full audio interview with Donald Kalsched here

Dr. Kalsched is presenting at the upcoming "Response at the Radical Edge" conference at Pacifica in June, 2017, and will be teaching a certificate program for clinicians starting in November. 

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 Sharing my latest audio interview and blog post...


Susan Grelock has been busy lately—albeit busy in a way that many of us have probably not contemplated in lives filled with jobs, family, and a daily dose of media, whether via Internet, TV, or on-demand series we can binge-watch at will. Susan has been speaking with artists and biologists who have an interest in wolf conservation.

During her research, she got really interested in the Yellowstone-Teton region because it's a focal point for wolf conservation, especially with their fairly successful wolf re-introduction project that is now nearly three decades old. Wolves are also crossing down from Canada and breeding with local populations, so wolves are now “crossing paths with humans” in that area in ways they haven’t done in North America for almost a century. Artists there also seem to be focused on depicting wolves to instigate interest and to spur conversations about them, perhaps in new ways.more

Recently, Susan took some time to share with me how her journey led her to Yellowstone National Park when wolves entered her life through dreams. As a result of paying attention to her dreams and applying a depth psychological lens, rather than simply looking at the wolf as a dream symbol as psychology might tend to do, she began painting wolves to be able to better understand them and to enter into more of a lived experience of them. In this way, wolves went from a dream animal to something she began experiencing every day in her life. As a result, Susan began to wonder about wolves... Click here to read the full post on Pacifica Post 

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Dr. Pat Katsky is a Jungian Analyst and core faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and she has been a therapist for thirty years. When Pat sat down with me in a recent interview, our conversation focused on the idea that some of the most psychologically healing experiences come from the natural world, a theme derived from an upcoming certificate program, “Dreaming the Earth: Earthing the Dream” starting April 15, 2016.


Pat mused on how in the last million or so years of history, humans have always needed nature and did not feel separate from it. But with the industrial revolution and the development of society as we know it, we have lost the connectedness. It has become something we do for vacation, she observes, then we return to jobs and daily life where nature is distant.

Knowing Pat is a Jungian analyst, I ask her how she believes our dreams shed light on our connection to the planet. Dreams are the deepest part of us speaking to us, sharing wisdom and perspective, she responded, noting how Jung used the word numinous to describe certain kinds of dreams that make us feel we are in the presence of something larger than ourselves—when we feel awe or a sense of mystery.

As an analyst, she has seen many “big” dreams—that is, life-changing dreams clients from clients that involved the natural world. She recounts some stories (which, she notes, she has permission to share). Some dreams, for example, introduce a particular animal which becomes a totem figure for the dreamer. In one specific dream, an individual found himself standing on the ground, which began to shake. In the dream, the dreamer thought he was experiencing an earthquake, but then became aware it was a giant animal shaking itself awake. Other clients have had images about unusual movements of stars, or of the sun and moon in an unexpected relationship to one another. As you might imagine, Pat insists, some of these kinds of powerful images can have lasting, life-changing effects on people... (Click here to read the full post at PacificaPost.com and get the link for the audio interview)

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Analysis: Three Dreams and a Song

In the world of dreams, one’s friends live forever, for they can be present at any time. In this way, I have expected the eventual visits of my close friend, who passed away this fall, in my dreams and in the recollections of him that occur to me.

With the alchemical signature of wholeness [1] of three and one, I present three dreams and a song from my content, culminating in a rejuvenation dream at the beginning of the year. In hopes of processing grief in a healthy way, I wanted to look at these experiences.

Song/Fragment: (the morning after Brian’s death) I woke up with the song, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” by REO Speedwagon, in my head. Particularly significant was the line, “it’s time for me to fly …”

I remember now that Gary Richrath, the guitarist for REO, died five days before Brian did in September. The song fragment is relevant and connects the two people, in death. The body disconnection in death is symbolized by the line, “it’s time for me to fly …

In the weeks that followed, 

Dream: I see a scene from one of my pictures, of myself and Brian on the Avalanche Trail (descending Mt. Yale) with Mt. Princeton in the background. I am in the scene, and Brian is saying something. Startled, I wake up.

I had expected him to appear in a dream, so he did. A picture that’s on my wall came alive in the dream. Startled, I couldn’t deal with it. The Avalanche Trail (actually called a route), treacherous in the winter months, is safe enough in summer when we were there, but the reference seemed somewhat ominous. We had done that trip as a loop, which makes the reference symbolize wholeness.

In my experience of dreams, if one can’t make out words of dream characters, taking in the context of the whole scene may convey deep meaning.

Another month went by.


Semi-Lucid Dream: I was with Brian at the high lake at McCullough Gulch. He went over the berm to the lake, and I called him back. I said, “Brian! Come here”, and as he turned and came toward me, I said, “you’re alive! You’re in the Dreamworld!” Shaking his hand, then hugging him, I couldn’t believe he was here. He wore a tan shirt, looked healthy and had piercing blue eyes. He didn’t say anything.

Satisfied, remembering the feeling of happiness, I felt that I had made contact with my friend, rejoicing in the moment. The fairly short and lucid dream allowed me a high level of awareness, which translated to waking right after. I had seen my friend in the dreamworld and that was all that mattered to me (no participation mystique here; I understand that this content is made of projections, not to be mistaken for my friend in the literal sense). The lake is the one featured in my profile picture on the forums.

With the coming of the new year, I had the following dream.

Brian’s Rejuvenation - I look in on Brian, who is lying on his death bed. From the same position he was in when he died, his left eye is open. The eye is all black. I notice it moves. His bald head is elongated, like the Egyptian royalty who had their heads bound to be shaped like that. I go back into another room, pondering this. 

Some other people are with me in the other room, when Brian walks in the door, wearing jeans and a new blue checkered shirt. I greet him, grasping both his hands. He says hello, and he walks to a couch and sits down.

He is talking with a woman who is standing in a doorway (on the west wall) which leads outside, where it is sunny. This woman is very interested in him, and I think, “he already has a girlfriend.”

There is a general air of a party atmosphere, and I am happy. I am thinking that perhaps, during this time he has been deceased, that his cancer may have receded and he has a new chance at life. Maybe he can start to do the things he stopped doing, like hiking.

There is a lot of imagery in this dream. This is January and I was to receive a portion of Brian’s ashes, for the postmodern duty of dispersing that portion on a mountain.This didn’t happen and I was resigned to forget about the possibility of the endeavor. 

The Egyptian myth of Osiris [2] and a show I watched depicting the uncovering of the body of  Tutankhamun by Howard Carter were relevant to events surrounding the passing of my friend Brian, related in my previous blog, Analysis of a Dream Series [3]. In the myth, the recovery of Osiris’ body parts is vital to events in the myth; not so in my outer life but it did in the dream, as an integral part of the myth. To quote Thom Cavalli:

If the body were not returned home, there would be no possibility for a proper funeral or any chance of resurrection.” [4]

During this time that I had been reading Joseph Campbell [5], dealing with motifs of death, resurrection (or rejuvenation) and rebirth, including the Dying God Motif [6], I had been thinking of the idea of carrying the memory of my friend into the next season as I continue to hike and climb our local mountains here in Colorado.

The Eye Motif of the completely black left eye will refer specifically to an awakening in the unconscious. The elongated head reminds me that Tutankhamun’s mother had this “mod” (result of head wrapping as a child; identity, “The Younger Lady” from tomb KV35), connecting Brian with Tutankhamun again, to continue the theme of rebirth. An elongated head, though not consciously intended by Egyptians, seems to symbolize an enlarged brain and expanded consciousness to me, from our 21st century perspective.

As I have left Brian to whatever is happening here, the scene shifts but to the same room as it was before it was a sick person’s living room. There are people here and Brian walks in, renewed. Hair, new clothes, a new man. We welcome him and he enters. Reproduced in my blog [3], Brian’s dream begins, 

… at first, with an awareness of the morning sunlight taking on a strange appearance as it shined through the slats of the blinds near his bed.

Brian’s dream had begun with morning sunlight shining into his sleeping area. On the opposite side, where there is a window but no door in reality, a new doorway appears in my dream, containing afternoon sunlight and an anima figure, who is associated with him. I don’t know why he wouldn’t rejoin his girlfriend, which reinforces the idea that the figure exists in an image with the sun, as archetypal content. She speaks to him from the left, from the unconscious, as he is on the right, within consciousness again. Her words, not heard, are not as important as the context of her appearance.

Looking at the image, I can’t help but think the afternoon sunlight relates to the second half of my life, that his anima figure is perhaps mine, or that the anima appears as she relates to him, as she would relate to me, because after all, it is my dream. He is integrated into my reality and as our situations were similar before his illness, I move into the second half of life as I have planned, carrying Brian, or his memory, with me as I would have, had he lived. Perhaps he stands as a proxy figure for me, as a role model.

A new, numinous doorway filled with afternoon light represents a new possibility for life, a life filled with consciousness, for Brian in one perspective, for myself in another. In his acceptance, he would look forward to a new journey, a new dawn [7]. In mine, to continue the journey which I haven’t completed [8]. 

In Brian’s dream, he faces east, toward the rising sun. In mine, he faces west, toward the setting sun, perhaps my sun. In his dream, the sun “takes on a strange appearance”. In mine, there is an unknown woman within the doorway of its light.

There are lots of bits that relate in smaller ways to myth which I have not looked at or not expressed in this post in the interest of brevity, yet I have included enough relevant material for the continuity of the series. The idea of the sense that death itself may be healing [9] might be looked at closer, for example.

[1] C.G. Jung, CW Vol. 13, Alchemical Studies- Pg. 224, Axiom of Maria Prophetissa 

[2] The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Translator, R.O. Faulkner - 1990

[3] Analysis of a Dream Series

[4] Thom Cavalli, Ph.D., Embodying Osiris- 2010

[5] Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology- 1968

[6] James Frazer, The Golden Bough- 2nd abridged 1994

[7] Marie-Louise von Franz, On Dreams and Death

[8] C.G. Jung, CW Vol. 5, Symbols of Transformation- Pg. 92, Fig 3, The Voyage of the Sun: The Western Goddess on the Barge of Evening Gives the Sun disc to the Eastern Goddess in the Barge of Morning.

This image contains the psychological root of the “heavenly wanderings of the soul”, an idea that is very old. It is an image of the wandering sun (fig. 3), which from its rising and setting travels over the world.”

[9] Michael Meade, The World Behind the World- The Return of Healing:

“Mythically, the center of one thing leads to the center of everything. Seen that way, the illness of one person becomes the ailment through which all that ails a community can be addressed. The wound in one person can become the door through which everyone can find the center of life again.”

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Sorting the Bones

“This is our meditation practice as women, calling back the dead and dismembered aspects of ourselves……”–Clarissa Pinkola Estes


In her dream, a woman finds a pile of bones out behind the place in which she is living.  This is a disturbing image–with its suggestion of a crime have been committed, an act of brutality, or harm having been done.  Although the dream does not provide information about the actual events that occurred, it marks a dark history.  The remnants of that history–the bones–have been left in a heap.

The particulars of this dreamer’s life are not mine to share.  But I can attest to the fact that many of the women that I see in my therapy practice have been harmed in some way.  Our culture does not protect the feminine well.  Women experience injuries to their bodies, their minds, and their souls.  Many carry these wounds silently within themselves–shame or lack of support keeping them quiet–pretending that everything is okay.

The psyche is not fooled.

Despite our best intentions, one day the soul lets out a cry and we dream of bones behind the place where we live–behind the façade, the persona. Something breaks through to the surface (prior to this dream, in fact, this woman had had another dream in which something buried was being dug up).  Something wants our attention, our love and our care.  The psyche brings us an emotional truth in our dreams.

And so the bones are above ground–no longer buried in the depths of the unconscious.  This woman has made a discovery within herself.  She is now aware of the pile of bones behind where she lives.  The bones are up.  Whatever issue they represent has now come to the surface.

It is at this point that healing can take place.

It is not possible to heal when something remains buried, underground, away from consciousness.   Only the discovery of the bones–the discovery of our own injury–can allow us to find our way back to ourselves.  Once we have seen the bones, we can no longer pretend or turn away.  We can begin to retrieve and process our memories, our history.  We can feel our grief and anger and allow our feelings to flow.  Most importantly, perhaps, we can tell our stories and feel our pain and be witnessed.

But first the bones must be sorted.  For this dreamer they are all in a heap.  In other words, experiences, memories, feelings are all jumbled together.   Processing a pile of bones is not an easy thing to do–it can feel overwhelming, frightening, or numbing.

That is why the bones need to be sorted.  Sorting is a particularly feminine activity.  It has its own rhythm and timing.  In the tale of Eros and Psyche, for example, Psyche is given the task of sorting an enormous pile of seeds.  Sorting allows us to process and make sense of–make meaning from–our experiences.

Each bone in the pile has a story to tell.  Each bone must be examined and held and put in its proper place–related to in a way that feels emotionally authentic.  This sorting takes time.  It cannot be rushed.  There is no formula for how long it takes to grieve injury or pain.  We need to honor the bones–to sing their songs and ritualize their place in our lives.  They mark our wounds and our hurts.  They also form a key part of who we are in our wholeness and our humanity.  We need to come into right relationship with our bones.

Only then can we give them the resting place they deserve.


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