The Self is our Beloved, the core energy in every psyche that compels us to grow into loveable, empowered, authentic, enlightened beings. Our egos often reject the Self’s guidance but it never gives up on us. In its aspect as Dream Mother it reveals itself in symbols and actions based on six basic attributes: wholeness, centrality, unity, love, pattern, and the life-giving force.
Wholeness: Jung associated this with quaternity, or four-ness, because of the way we and our world are created. There are four directions and four winds. Christianity has four evangelists, a cross has four arms, there are four cardinal virtues, and mandalas — the intricate circular sacred symbols produced by many religions — have four sections. Also, humanity has four basic ways of experiencing life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So whenever a circular object (a coin, table, bowl, sphere, etc.) or four-ness (four people, four flowers in a vase, four walls, the numeral 4, etc.) appear in a dream, I always consider their implications for my growth into wholeness.
Centrality: The Self is our psyche’s source of energy and the point from which every psycho-spiritual event proceeds. It is often represented by things with centers; for example, the heart (a vital central organ), the circle with a dot in the center (the central hole in the Chinese jade disk opens to heaven), and ancient symbols for the center of the world, including a cosmic tree (Jung saw the vertically growing form of a palm tree as a symbol of the soul) or sacred mountain.
Unity: Since the Self’s creative energy is constantly being renewed by the ongoing tension between our masculine and feminine drives, it is often symbolized by the balanced union of opposites — i.e. pairs of things, a Couple, reciprocal actions, the Divine Androgyne (suggested by having attributes of the opposite gender), twins, crosses, two interlocking circles making a mandorla, the hexagram or double triangle, the yin-yang symbol, weddings and wedding rings, sex, and bridges — and also through images of the unity in multiplicity, i.e. a pearl necklace or mandala.
Love: Deity’s primary characteristic is love. As our god-image, the Self can be represented in dreams via depictions of people engaged in loving actions such as kissing, hugging, forgiving, helping others, gift-giving, or making sacrifices. When our dream egos feel and demonstrate love for others, or when others make us feel loved, we are being shown something about our capacity for love and the Self’s love for us. Of course, the heart is also a symbol of love.
Pattern: Since we think of God as the creator and sustainer of the underlying patterns that support life, the Self is suggested by patterned walkways, lattices, mathematical arrays, music, webs, grids, the Diamond Net of Indra, holograms, intricately patterned mandalas or jewelry, and so on.
Life-Giving Force: All symbols or acts of insemination, creativity, initiation, birth, growth (i.e. growing babies or blooming plants), transformation (the butterfly), or movement and change (a snake shedding its skin, the double-stranded DNA spiral, spinning wheels), refer to the miracle of our life and the forces that sustain it.
Next time I’ll have some suggestions about how to work with your dreams. Meanwhile, pay attention to your dreams tonight. You might just have one that features the Self. If you do, I hope you’ll let me know!
You can order my newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at www.larsonpublications.com
Ego and God-Image: Part VII
Intellectually the Self is no more than a psychological concept, a construct that serves to express an unknowable essence which we cannot grasp as such,
A recent one involved discovering that there were four dead bodies, hidden in the boot of my car, under tarps and boxes. This then became hidden in the garage. I tried to contact the police by mobile phone but the phone wouldn’t work.
This dream worried me immensely.
Thank you, Viv, for being brave enough to share a very troubling dream. There was a time when a dream like this would have worried me too, but now I see it as very positive. Since 4 is the number of wholeness and the Self, and since the Self is our god-image, if it were my dream I would think it meant that I’m carrying around my old God-image (the 4 dead bodies) which no longer works for me; i.e. it is dead, I’m growing and changing and waking up to new ways of seeing what is sacred and my ego feels very guilty about this because I’m leaving the safety of conforming to societal expectations and beliefs. I feel like I’ve been hiding this fact from the world, and ought to tell patriarchy’s traditional authorities (I see the police as the enforcers of society’s traditions, including the traditional God-image) but I just can’t seem to connect with them.
Viv, I think this dream signals a very important milestone in your psycho-spiritual growth. Death is always a symbol of new life to come, just as winter is always a sign that spring is around the corner. The inner journey to individuation takes you away from conformity toward your true self, and the ego always feels terribly guilty about this. It feels dangerous, as if you’re doing something bad, yet you know deep in your heart that you have to do it and so it feels right at the same time. So you keep growing and changing and being true to yourself and getting stronger, yet you’re also carrying around some hidden guilt.
I had similar dreams at this point in my own journey; I was being taken to a concentration camp by Nazis, or I had helped someone rob a bank and was guiltily fleeing the police, and in one I was in a sorority house and shot and killed an older blonde-haired man who I was afraid of and felt dangerous to me. (In my dreams, blonde-haired people tend to represent gods and goddesses; all the Greek gods and goddesses were blonde!) Now I realize I was killing off an old, unhealthy patriarchal attitude toward women that I had inherited simply because of growing up in a patriarchal society. (You know the patronizing, superior attitude some older men have toward younger women about how they can’t be as intelligent or smart or capable, etc., etc, etc., as men, simply because they’re females…)
In all of them I felt I had done something morally wrong and felt terribly guilty about it. At the time I was not consciously aware of my guilt because I was feeling strong and brave and better than I’d ever felt before, but these dreams showed me the shadow side of psycho-spiritual growth. There are always two sides to the conflict that accompanies growth because an ego that’s always tried to do the right thing always feels guilty about challenging societal traditions, even when it’s essential to its survival.
I hope this makes you feel better!
It does indeed.
I think it helps because the garage the car was in was the one at the house we will be moving to. The last ten days have been extremely fraught as we’d agreed to move without being allowed to see the house. I fielded a phone call from the bishop’s secretary which sent me into a terrible state, because it was to arrange a date for N’s licensing. I stopped her mid sentence and made it VERY clear nothing was going any further until we’d seen the house AND approved it. While I was dissolving into a self-destructive spiral, it seems this created a ripple effect of minor panci among the higher echelons, and lo and behold, we were granted access to the house(and current inhabitant, whom I feel they were trying to ensure we didntmeet).
Now some years ago, I would not have been able to have made it quite so clear I would not be accepting things without protest at least.
Thank you. xx
A marvellous blog that only you could write… you are #1
Thank you, Victor. I so appreciate your kind support! Jeanie
Jean Raffa, Author Blog: http://jeanraffa.wordpress.com/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fan: https://www.facebook.com/jeanraffa Follow: https://twitter.com/#!/jeanraffa
Thank you for the clarity and guidance you share in this post. In the two years after my husband Vic’s death, my ego felt fragmented and lost, but I repeatedly dreamed of wholeness. In one dream, I hugged a weeping little girl in a garden made of a large central potted plant surrounded by four quadrants of plants, some potted and some in the earth. Dream Elaine told the girl, “Don’t you know how much Vic loves you?” The next day, I drew the garden mandala in my journal and breathed in the maternal love. During that time of transformation and grief, dreams of being lost, driving blind, or facing threat were interspersed by soothing and healing reassurance that all was well and holding together in my inner being. I miss the inner quiet and powerful dreams of the self that came during that period, although I’m glad to be healing into my new life.
Your book is wonderful. I’m reading slowly and savoring.
Look forward to your next post.
Wow! Thank you for sharing those beautiful dream images during your time of intense grieving. They’re a beautiful example of what Jung said and I have found to be true, which is that all dreams come in the interest of health and healing. The divine within only wants us to thrive and tries to show us how every night. Learning to listen and understand is one of life’s greatest joys. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my book. Thank you. Jeanie