Working On A Dream About Individuation: Part II


This is the continuation of the last post about my most recent dream.
Summary of Paragraph II: I find myself on a narrow (12 foot wide) runway bordered by silver metal railings. The ramp rises higher into the sky and farther away from the platform I’ve left behind. The woman to the right who is absorbed in her creative work warns me against continuing but I’m determined to find the fountain. Here are my associations:
Narrow runway: the term “narrow way” is a reference to spiritual seeking. I’d feel better about this path if it were connected to the ground. To me this would suggest more balance between the physical and metaphysical realms.
Twelve: cosmic order and salvation; another reference to the spiritual journey.
Silver metal railings: “As a shiny white metal, [silver] is a symbol of purity…In Christian symbolic usage, silver obtained through refining ore symbolizes the purification of the soul.” (Herder) Railings are light protective structures which, unlike walls, are open enough to see through and easy to move beyond.
The working woman: In waking life, X is a highly motivated, hard-working, task-oriented woman I know. We both channel our passion for social change in creative ways. She is working alone in this high place. As part of me, her warning indicates unconscious doubts I have about my current path. My dream ego’s confidence and determination to continue reflects my conscious attitude.
Fountain: associated with water, deep secrets, and access to unconscious springs and sources of esoteric knowledge that bring blessing and the living water of life.
Summary of Paragraph III: There is no fountain at the end of the narrowing runway, but only a small, enclosed, all-white bathroom with an open door, a toilet, and a sink at the back wall. I worry about the water quality and my safety and consider not continuing. Associations:
Narrowing runway with lower rails: The way ahead is narrower, less predictable, and less safe than where I am now.
White: light, purity and perfection.
Bathroom:  Herder says of the bath: “… it is a place of cleansing, renewal, and rebirth, as well as — in alchemy — a place of mystical union.”
Enclosed room: I imagine I’ll feel safe inside the walls of the bathroom. Cirlot says, “…the wall seen from within as an enclosure [implies] protection…Psychoanalysts frequently regard it…as a mother-symbol.” Does this suggest an unconscious regressive tendency to retreat to my womb-like writer’s aerie where I can observe from afar without risking painful personal involvement?
Open door: Herder says a door is “a symbol of transition from one realm to a new one (e.g., from this world to the next, from the profane to the holy)…[and an open door] presents a challenge to pass through…”
Toilet: a container for bodily wastes. Its presence in my dream suggests a need to eliminate some unwanted emotions.
Sink: The fact that the water comes out of a tap instead of a fountain could suggest a certain “civilized” ability to modify and control aspects of my instinctual, emotional self. Its height and remoteness could suggest emotional detachment from down-to-earth everyday realities.
Worries about water quality and safety: Will this way bring spiritual nourishment?  Is it balanced and stable? Do I want to proceed or should I reflect and reconsider?
I’ll finish this dream and share my conclusions in the next post. Meanwhile, please weigh in about any aspect of this process that interests you.

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  1. HI Jean,
    Perhaps the key is where you said “I find myself on narrow runway…” Perhaps this is literal and figurative, spiritual and physical. The dream plops you there, on a runway, but you are put on that runway on purpose—to find yourself, or at very least some part of yourself.
    The narrow runway suggests there is little room for error. You’ve come too far and know too much. The way is narrow yet filled with wonders. Also, it would, if it were my dream, be telling me to keep an open mind, to not be so confined in my own set of beliefs and ways of looking at things.
    The railings, as I said in my last comment, suggest boundaries…and the image that comes to me is when my wife and I were driving through the high, twisting roads of Jerome, Arizona. The drop off was steep and high and the railings were not light—they were strong, capable of withstanding the weight of a car, and very reassuring. And for me, as I project myself into your dream (as you have so graciously opened your dream up for visitors!) I am reminded that as someone who has suffered abuse and betrayals, I must remember, no matter how far along the journey I go, to always keep clear, strong boundaries. Boundaries mean freedom for me today, not limitation. They are angels cloaked in steel and metal, cables and wire, strong enough to keep me from falling into my old self, which, in a heartbeat, could go plummeting off the mountain into the valleys of despair.
    The working woman, for me suggests the need to go with others. While ultimately we walk alone in the end, we are welcomed by throngs of heavenly hosts. Along the way, there are many who get so involved in their work as to stop and not move forward—they just sit and warn others of dangers, dangers they themselves have not faced because they have left the social gathering to paint the view. Nothing wrong with any of that, obviously, but, in your last post, you wrote, “I look beyond her…” And if this were me, I would take this to mean, I need to certainly as myself if the heralders of dangers are true, but I also need to look beyond them and keep moving.
    Finally, the small, white bathroom—the restroom as I mentioned last time, and the concerns you have for the water…to me suggest wisdom, and the need to take a break and let some things go, so to speak. It also suggests that it is not the end of the road—it’s a pit stop, perhaps into the realms of the mother, the safety and cool reassurance of the watery way. It also makes me wonder what’s next. While each dream is probably complete in and of itself, to me, it would indicate the journey is to a place of rest and letting go, but by no means the end of the road. The waters of life are everywhere.

  2. Hi Joseph,
    Thank you for your comments. You are so kind to take the time to give such a thoughtful response.
    Some of your associations feel right on. I like your take on the words, “I find myself on a narrow runway…” Yes, this dream is about finding my authentic self. The problem for all who aspire to self-knowledge is to cut through the accumulation of cultural expectations and our own preconceived assumptions about who we are and who we “ought” to be.
    Your association about railings as positive boundaries we need to protect also clicks. As an introvert, I continually struggle to define the boundary between my “social” (relationships) self without betraying the inner, spiritually-oriented me who has a strong need for solitude and plenty of time for the inner work that recharges my batteries: i.e. fills my cup.
    And yes, I, too think the bathroom represents, among other things, a necessary, temporary pit stop: an opportunity to rest, reflect on where I am, let go of whatever needs to go, and take the time to refresh what needs refreshing. I had the dream during a busy time when several of these issues were highlighted for me. But then I have to wonder what the inner woman’s warning is about. What danger does she forsee? This is the most puzzling part of the dream for me.
    Thank you for your comments.

    1. You’re welcome Jeanie, as you can tell, I’ve let go of worrying whether I am writing too much…:)
      These couple of thoughts came to me as I read your reply.
      I wonder if there was an emotional charge to her warning. Since that’s the most puzzling part, if it were me, it would suggest fear. The great thing is you kept moving–boldly even. And I don’t view this as reckless. You saw how she was living (apart, preoccupied) and perhaps thought, “Maybe for you it’s dangerous,” and then happily moved on. Perhaps the only danger was in telling her what you were doing and showing her the cup. I know I need to be careful who I share my gold with (hence the need for railings and boundaries)—there is jealousy out there, especially from those who are not going anywhere. If it were my dream, she might be that part of me that wants to stay put and perhaps complacent—the part that wants me to rest on my laurels, engaged in something purposeful I suppose—but isolated. She would be that part of myself I would pray most for. I know only too well what it is like to be stuck and afraid. I am tired of the old voices warning me not to move ahead; the old voices that are most comfortable in the past, or at very least stuck in limitations and separateness.
      Lastly, your posts have awakened something in me (as you saw in my Reflections on fb) that is almost indescribably wonderful–we can remember our dreams! That’s astounding to me. And that we all have a poet’s soul, or an artist’s soul, and can search our dreams for meaning is remarkable and priceless. It is perhaps the highest testimony to their being a Creative force in the universe. We are charged with co-creating not only our dreams and the meaning we give them, but our waking hours, shot through and through with the golden threads of hope, wonder, love, and the desire (which is a Latin word, meaning literally, “from the stars”) to shine, and to help guide others along the way.
      Thank you, and again, thank you.

  3. Joseph, these additional thoughts are very helpful. Thank you. And I’m thrilled to know you’ve been awakened to the miracle and meaning of your dreams! It is, indeed, astounding that we are given these amazing gifts every night and can discover our true selves by mindfully playing with them every day. You are so very welcome, Brother Traveler!

  4. Jean,
    From my experience in working with dreams where the person is in or past the mid-life years, I generally tend to look for the ‘deeper’ aspects within the dream. Because these older years are more about reflection and looking back, looking for meaning and purpose, and less about ‘prospectus’ and looking forward as with a younger person, the deeper introspection issues of spirituality are common. But I also feel it important not to overlook the current waking life experiences as a ‘central motif’ in a dream, as I would with a younger person’s dream. Indeed like you, at this stage of life, I would look for and likely see the dream’s primary message as a commentary on the spiritual self. But in your dream I sensed something other than this spiritual aspect {as outlined in my original interpretation}. Something ‘stood out’ that seemed to be more than just about the inner world.
    In Joseph Anthony’s most recent post he mentions ‘an emotional charge’ that ‘would suggest fear’. In your response to my interpretation you stated it “helped me tie the dream to two specific experiences I had a week or two before in which the “release of emotions” by two others who found me on twitter did shake me up a bit.” Would Joseph’s ’emotional charge’ be these two recent experiences {prior to the dream}? ‘Being careful who I share my gold’ could be a reflection of the two twitter experiences? If we look at Joseph’s post and apply the ‘her’ as a commentary about the twitter experiences, the need to pray for her as subjective as well as objective, would that fit with those experiences? A summary of my intended interpretation would be the new world of communication, such as twitter, being aware of the affects/influences on the outer self. ‘The two of you’, the spiritual as well as the waking ego {all the parts}, are/were affected by these ‘two’ recent experiences {as well as ‘you and her’}. If it is true every dream has at least two applications/meanings, could this be the ‘second’ if not primary focus of this particular dream?
    {We can’t overlook the importance of numbers in dreams. The number two does seem to take a life of its own in the dream and its interpretation}
    These instruments of the new social communications are great tools. It has allowed me to express my ‘other self’ through my website Myths-Dreams-Symbols. There are pitfalls indeed, especially the need to be weary of those who seek to ‘use and manipulate’ for their own purposes. But these experiences may be a test of the spiritual ‘Self’, testing the ‘self’ in the waking life of social experiences, going beyond the creative being you and I tend to associate with when working with the spiritual dream. A test of the caliber of the ‘hero/heroine’ journey, transforming the old self into the new, becoming ‘wholly’ that new person where the spiritual is in command and not letting the emotions be the guide as is usual with the ego centered self. The death and resurrection as symbolized by Jesus on the cross can only be realized when the individual takes on ‘wholly’ the spirituality identity, applying it in every phase of life, every experience in life. My understanding of the hero myth, Campbell’s monomyth, is the transformation is spiritual, applicable to all aspects in life. Becoming that spiritual person makes the individual the hero in their own life.
    Footnote: What is interesting was Campbell’s experience some 30 years ago with his first computer, the ‘machine’ seemingly having its own mind. Perhaps a prophecy on this new age of technology.

  5. Hi Jerry,
    Yes, I think you’re right. This dream does seem to be about both social and spiritual concerns. Your mention of social media was the key that helped me figure out the social part, which, of course, is intricately tied to the spiritual as well. I totally agree with your understanding of the hero myth as being about applying one’s spiritual identity to all aspects in life. In my experience, this is the work of a lifetime! Certainly there are still aspects of my ego and emotional life in need of redemption! With your help, I’ve come to believe this dream highlights one of them.
    Ms X was the most puzzling part for me because I had other associations with her that I didn’t share with my readers (for lack of space). The more I pondered this dream, the more these associations shaped my thinking about her role. There was, indeed, an emotional charge associated with fear in her warning. I’ll explain more fully in my next post.
    I can totally relate to Campbell’s relationship with his computer. There are times I’m convinced mine is possessed!
    I’m so grateful for your input. It’s been enormously helpful.
    With blessings and gratitude,

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