Seeing With A Different Perspective


Joseph Campbell said, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”  How many of us realize that the plots of the books and movies we love—even the most fantastic, dreamlike ones about imaginary times, places, people, and creatures (for example, The Wizard of Oz)—are commentaries on the inner life of every human being who ever existed? How often do we remember that a weird dream is not just a meaningless phenomenon but a personal message about the realities of our unconscious selves?
Looking for the psychological meanings of public myths and private dreams is a powerful way to train your intuition, heal yourself, and increase your wisdom. Sometimes you won’t like what you see: Who likes the Wicked Witch of the West?  Yet, if you can imagine this story from a different perspective—as did the writers of the Broadway play Wicked who told it from her perspective—you’ll see how even the most terrifying villains can have benevolent intentions and teach valuable lessons. I’ll illustrate with a recent dream.
Dream #4346:  A Dragon Wants to Enter The House
I’m in a house. My mother’s in the kitchen. A dragon is outside flapping its wings against the roof and banging against the walls of a room in the far left corner. I walk down the hall and stand in the doorway. The opposite wall looks like a garage door with windows in the top half. The dragon is hanging down from the roof, its gigantic head framed in the windows. One huge eye stares at me. Its open mouth is lined with pointy teeth.
As I turn away in fear it bangs on the window. I hear a crash. He must have broken through. I call out to my mother, “Run! We’ve got to get out of here!” This feels like Fred’s old house so I know the door to the garage is ahead and hope we can escape in my car. Then I realize I don’t have the keys.  I ask my mother where they are and hear her voice saying they’re in the family room.  Oh no! I’ll have to go back toward the dragon to find my keys.
I awoke with my heart pounding. Do you see how archetypal the symbols are?  House? Kitchen? Mother? Dragon? Windows? Doors? Eye? Teeth? Keys? About the only things missing are a hero, some woods, a sword and a horse! This is a drama about the unfolding of my private myth. So far I understand that a powerful unconscious emotion (the dragon) is desperate for my ego’s attention. Although I’m gaining perspective on it (I glimpse it through windows separating me from the unconscious) I still fear it. It has something to do with the nurturing (kitchen) I received or didn’t receive from my mother, and also with my husband (I’m in the house where he grew up).  Finally, the keys to this mystery relate to family (the keys are in the family room). For the next several days I’ll carry this dream with me, feeling its feelings, talking to its images, looking to developments in my waking life for new insights.
Why am I telling you this dream? You can’t possibly understand the complexities of my inner life, and even if I did, I wouldn’t share them all here. But I want you to see my trust in the benevolence of dreams, and I’d like to help you work with yours. So with the understanding that your responses say more about your inner life than mine, I welcome your projections. Perhaps I’ll share some of mine next time if I think they could be helpful.

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0 Responses

  1. Jean, your words “You can’t possibly understand the complexities of my inner life, and even if I did, I wouldn’t share them all here. But I want you to see my trust in the benevolence of dreams” are powerful. It amazes me that almost as soon as I posted on my blog site today, my latest dream and how my dream can help others understand the value of a dream of how it points to waking life and compliments it – it amazes me that you have basically done the same thing as my e-mail program alerted me to your latest post – synchronicity?

    1. Yes, I would say so. I love it. Another site that publishes many of my posts also published one of my dream posts — the one titled Dreams and The Holy Dark — just yesterday. It has a similar message. The times must be ripe for this information! Thanks, Jeanie

  2. I had a short series of dreams last night but the first in the series may interest you.
    I am trapped in a cave, and there is a small child with me; it’s a very low, tight cave and I am almost unable to move at all. The child tells me that people are coming and I see that the entrance to the cave is in front of us. It’s actually quite wide and I know that I should be able to at least make it to the entrance, but I can’t. We watch as a whole load of cyclists go over the top of the cave entrance and vanish into the distance. I can see details like the way the sand spins under their tyres as they speed off. The child tells me that others will come, and I nod. I realise there is another cave that we can move into, higher than this one and with more room to move, and it doesn’t press down and make me feel so jammed and with some agonising manoevreing I manage the s shaped join. I am conscious of being large and unwieldy and of taking up too much space.

    1. This is very interesting, indeed. Since I have an idea from your recent posts what you’re going through, I can see how this dream could be speaking to how you’ve been feeling lately. If this were my dream, in my projection I would see the child as a positive messenger — a sort of child-like outlook of trust, openness to what is going on, and a willingness to speak it and face it — that is alerting my ego, raising its awareness, to forces moving around and within me. Bicycles and wheels and tires all speak to the ongoing journey of a soul whose life is moving on despite my ego’s current sense of entrapment. I’d also see the penultimate image of being able to move into a higher, roomier cave (symbol of the maternal womb and gestation and new life and all that) as a positive sign. The last image, or lysis, shows where my energy/thinking is heading: i.e. perhaps in the direction of self-criticism vs. self-acceptance? I wonder if developing my child’s increased awareness of this inner critic might help my disarm it somewhat? Thank you for stopping by, Viv. Let me know if any of this is helpful. Jeanie

      1. It confirms my own interpretation, and also doesn’t follow the idea that many might see as me keeping myself trapped. I do also want to get out of the cave, and go beyond.
        Very helpful, thank you.

        1. Your struggle to get out is very apparent in the dream and dreams don’t lie. They can’t lie because they are facts of nature, and not stories made up by our egos. Jeanie

        2. P.S. Viv, I just realized a couple of additional important things I want to share with you about the symbolism of the cave. First of all, it can represent one’s first encounter with the unconscious! Second, the sixth dream I ever recorded after I decided to get serious about inner work featured an elephant trying to get out of a cave and me trying to hold the door shut so it couldn’t escape! For me this meant that my ego was afraid of the powers that would be unleashed by an exploration of my unconscious self. Hope this helps. Jeanie

  3. Do you believe we dream out of both the personal and collective unconscious? Do you think dreams out of the personal unconscious always make us of archetypal images? I’ve never dreamt in archetypal images, that I’m aware of. My dreams always employ people and symbols from my every day life.

  4. Hi Rob,
    Yes, I do believe we dream out of both the personal and collective unconscious. Many dreams seem to be purely personal, a few are purely archetypal, and most seem to be both. I believe this dragon dream is both. In other words, there is meaning for me at both levels. In fact, every symbol and theme of a dream can have 3 possible levels of meaning: personal, cultural, and archetypal, so I always look for associations at all 3 levels. This perspective greatly enriches my inner work. I suspect you might find more archetypal meaning in your dream symbols and characters if you looked at them that way. May I suggest that you might want to check out my book, Dream Theatres of the Soul, as it deals directly with this issue.
    Thanks for your questions, and good luck with your dreamwork.
    My best,

  5. 24 Thanks for your dream, Jean, and for inviting us to project on it.
    If it were my dream…. I”m in my house and the kitchen that resembles my mother’s kitchen.It is the place she cooks, so I recognize something is “cooking” in me that wants deeper resolution in my feminine self mothering and empowerment. The dragon outside, is a experienceds as threat to what is cooking inside of me and trying to get my attention from above and to the left of the room. This is a call to higher resolutoin of something of my past still operative in my present. I walk down the hall which lies between two sides that has a door at the end between the two sides where come to I stand. The other side of this door holds the resolution in the dream. Seen for what it is, the dragon’s wings could be my own wings of self empowermen. If I enter this door it would help me deal with the deep threat I’m feeling in the dream to my inner mother house; my whole feminine identity and power, my fully integrated and creative masculine and feminine nature. The dragon’s head is huge which tells me this shadow part of me has huge potential for my greater good or evil and must be faced with greater clarity. The garage windows to the right represents an unconscious masculine aspect of myself affecting my feminine self in an unconsious negative way but wanting to let the light of consciousness in. The dragon’s body bridges the roof from left to right with the doorway in the middle, for me this is about greater integration of my unconscious potential in my feminine self that has felt threatened by a more controlling, negating aspect of my masculine. The dragon’s big eye is staring at me and it’s pointy teeth threatening to eat me…if I don’t make this power conscious. (I experience that in real life from griding my teeth which has made my lower teeth more sharp and one more pointy!) This eye wants me to SEE and Feel myself more resourcefully empowered from within greater harmony of my yin/yang dynamics; the Divine Creative Child Within. Yet, I turn away in fear as this consciousness attmpts to break through and sees me from the right window which has a more whole perspective emerging for me in bridging the two sides! I call out in fear to my mother side knowing we have to get out of there, yet turned to the masculine identified side,(husbands homegarage) where the dragons body was draped in order to excape in my car. It seems I want to return to my usual egoic way of escapting this threat, but I don’t have the keys to the car for escape. I must face the dragon of self-negation in order to find the keys for navigating my whole psychic reality more courageously and wholesomely. Instead of allowing my inner negating masculine voice of self-doubt and insecurity about what I have to offer, I’m invited to draw from the inner resourcefulness of my integrated inner family as the key to my whole Mother- Powered- Self for what I have to offer in an authentic way for healing purposes.Yes, this dream for me IS about more full empowerment of my whole Self toward creative expression of all of who I am, without fear and with grater self-confidence in each moment. Thank you Jean!

    1. And thank you, Julie! Those are some very helpful associations to stir up with my own and I appreciate your taking the time to share them with me. I do definitely sense that one level of meaning in this dream is about the balance of power between my masculine and feminine sides. Sometimes it helps to have more than one cook in the kitchen!
      My best, Jeanie

  6. And for more dreamers in the house!
    There is a song….”Your story is my story it colors my life with it’s pain and it’s glroy, your story is my story living on”! We seem to have some similar story crossings, Jean.
    Your friend in the woods,

  7. You’ve done it again, Jeanie. What a beautiful and generous post. It inspired these musings…
    “I’ll have to go back toward the dragon to find my keys.”
    I love this image. It stirs my soul like an owl’s wing stirring some magical potion. The keys are always with the dragon. When I turn and face the thing I fear, whether that be a strong emotion or a charged situation, I find hidden keys that unlock doors that reveal themselves as the keys are found. And they usually involve moving towards the family, whether that family is my family of origin, my present family, or the universal, ancestral family. There are keys strewn all along the pathways leading to each other, and leading within. And we all can open each other’s hearts. There are keys in tears, the touch of a hand, the listening ear, the nod of consent…As I keep walking through doors (from within outwards and from outwards within), I see more and more how there is often pain, rage, shame, and terror waiting to greet me. There is also joy, gratitude, and wonder. Through discovering that feelings and dreams are all benevolent (thanks to you), I can let them run their course, say their piece, and watch them either transform right before my eyes into their polar opposites, or watch them shape-shift into other creatures—usually silken, golden koi, luminous angels, or owls that glide through my consciousness like dreams within dreams…Through reading your work, doing EFT, and studying my own dreams as they reveal themselves through my stories, I am able to both feel and honor my wounds, and let them inform my vision of healing. For sometimes the wounds are dragons. Sometimes they bang on the roof or smash through windows. All the time however there is a child moving near, ducking under the table to weave back into the family room, pat the dragon on the head, grab the keys, and come back singing. And by then the dragon’s usually close behind, padding along like a puppy. And as I near the one year anniversary of my mother’s death, I see more and more how that holy child is so brave and so powerful in large part because his mother is near. The moon gave birth to the child, the darkness gave birth to the child, the ocean gave birth to the child, the Muse gave birth to the child, the wound gave birth the child. And they are all near in one form or another. And they all offer provisions and sustenance against the cold and stormy night. The child never moves alone. So this journeying back towards the dragon; this venturing back towards the family, this realization that we can never truly escape–we must all go back towards the things we fear (and love) and find the keys to our dreams, the keys to our waking hours, the keys to the moment, the keys to each other, the keys to ourselves, and ultimately the keys that unlock the doors of the heart that lead to a paradise of innocence.

    1. Oh my goodness, Joseph. You’ve done it again too. You never fail to touch me with your extraordinary images and the stories that feature them. I have no doubt you’ve tapped into the archetypal Source and learned the art of watching and listening without letting your ego’s savage censorship intervene. Your offering, this innocent and courageous acceptance of a true, transparent soul, is really an extraordinary gift to me and the world. Thank you, my friend. I am so honored to know you. Stay conscious. Jeanie

  8. Jeanie,
    A great blog! Thanks for helping to show readers the importance of remembering and reflecting on thier dreams. As we both know, it is a journey we don’t want to sleep through. Waking up to our dreams is a great experience! Thanks for sharing yours in such an instructive manner. I am going to forward this blog on to all my grads now!

  9. Thanks, Justina. I love your line: “It’s a journey we don’t want to sleep through.” Perfect! Waking to my dreams has certainly been the most powerful “medicine” I could have ever taken to heal all the longing and emptiness and doubt that had built up in me over the years. When I began learning about myself through my dreams they simply vanished as if by magic and were replaced with overflowing hope, excitement, purpose and meaning. As my mother used to say, “That’s nothing to sneeze at!” Love, Jeanie

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