A Dialogue with the Self


serpentine_fire_81Carl Jung said the Self is both our core and our circumference. Some think of it as our soul, the totality of who we are and who we have the potential to become. Jung called it the archetype of wholeness. In later years he referred to it as our god-image and connection to the Mystery some call God. Composed of the twin drives for self-preservation (i.e. masculine logos, represented in alchemy by the King archetype) and species preservation (feminine mythos/eros symbolized by the Queen), the Self shapes our ideas about what is sacred.

As the source of our irresistible compulsion to grow into our true selves and express our unique creativity, the Self is an ongoing, never-ending process.  I see it as the psychological equivalent of the physical exchange of energy and information constantly occurring at the quantum level between the molecules of our bodies and between us and our environments. As I understand Jung, he suspected that the energies of both processes, inner and outer, are united in one intelligent, purposeful, evolving collective unconscious, Force (as George Lucas named it), or Zero Point Field (as some physicists now call it), which promotes increasing order, health, and wholeness.

We associate the Self with six attributes: wholeness, centrality, unity, love, pattern, and the life-giving force. We grow conscious of its guidance by noticing these themes in the symbols and synchronistic events of our dreams and waking life.  Benevolent by nature, the Self calls our egos to their heroic destiny of merging with the indwelling Mystery. Our egos often reject its guidance, but it never gives up on us. The more we notice and respond to it, the more it responds to us.

The following story from one of my earliest blog posts illustrates the loving interaction that can take place between ego and Self:

I’ve just arrived at my soul’s home in the mountains of North Carolina where I will spend the remainder of the summer. I’ve often wondered why I love this place so dearly, why it makes me feel so loved and connected and alive and grateful for my life. My answer came last night and this morning.

spider-web-with-dew11I’m at my desk looking out an east-facing window. The morning sun enters my backyard late because it has to rise above the mountain before its rays filter down through a thick tree canopy. Most of what I see is in shade but a patch of sun has highlighted the brilliant silver threads of a spider web between two branches of a buckeye tree. Grandmother Spider is busily checking connections, tightening threads, and hunting for tasty morsels that got trapped during the night.

Pursuing the threads of last night’s thoughts, this morning I picked up Aion, Volume 9, ii, of Jung’s Collected Works, in search of symbols of the Self. In paragraph #356 he writes:

“The commonest of these images in modern dreams are, in my experience, the elephant, horse, bull, bear, white and black birds, fishes, and snakes. Occasionally one comes across tortoises, snails, spiders, and beetles. The principal plant symbols are the flower and the tree. Of all the inorganic products, the commonest are the mountain and lake.”

Spiders. Mountains. Trees.

When I entered the gravel road last night my arrival was heralded by a cawing black crow who flapped off toward the house. The first thing I did was feed the rainbow trout in our pond. Black birds. Fish. Lake. (Do you think a pond counts?)

Then I walked around the garden to check out the flowers. My treasured peonies are already spent, but the pink New Dawn roses and purple clematis are a-riot on the trellis, the hydrangeas look like giant blue and white powder puffs, the hostas are sending up tall bud-laden spikes, the astilbe have myriad pointed white cotton candy tufts, the golden daylilies are in full bloom, and there’s a  mound of pink petunias by the kitchen door. I don’t garden in Florida. It’s just too hot. But here I can have my flowers. Flowers.

Below Bear Pond and Shadow Brook there’s a small pasture and stable where my horse, Shadow, used to spend his summers. I’ve always had a thing for horses. And Shadow, well, he’s a subject for another post. Horses. By the way, bears are the theme of this mountain home.  They’re all over the house.  But that’s another story too. Bears.

bear-grandfather-mtn-tim-floyd-7796081Speaking of bears, every summer for ten years I’ve come here with my sweet friend, a handsome golden retriever whose name was Bear. He passed on last August, but his ashes are in a white box with a label that says “Bear Raffa:  Forever Faithful” in a cabinet four feet to the right of where I sit. I cried when I entered the house without him last night. But this morning when I was still in that borderland between sleeping and waking, I heard his joyous booming bark. Twice. He’s glad I’m back. I’m glad I’m back.

Do I need any further reminders of how loved I am and why I love this place so? Not really, but such is the nature of the Self that I’ll probably continue to get them every day anyway. And night, too. Sweet dreams of the Self, my friends.

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0 Responses

  1. Sweet dreams of the self , indeed Jeanie. This morning on wakening, it’s nearly 7 a.m., I had my first lucid dream for some while. I’ve had a couple of weeks of dreaming and making no effort to remember or note the dreams down. This morning I woke up to a dream where I had been dressed in blue denim, the uniform of my younger days forty years ago, and I was getting changed into, what can only be described as raiments, bright yellow, shining. In the dream I can see them on me and my hair is purest white. The next second I look at myself and I am clad back in the denim. How can this be? I ask, and start changing clothes again, back to the golden free flowing clothes.again it changes back to the blue denim, me as my younger self again. I realise this must be a dream. I will the clothes to change back to the bright sunny yellow, I feel so good about this. I wake up feeling so happy about it all.
    You, writing of the “irresistible compulsion to grow into our true selves” once again, brought massive internal nods from me. That and the Self “calling our egos to our Heroic Destiny” rang true this morning too.
    I love the posts where you talk of, or are in your North Carolina home. Your awareness of the connectedness with nature. Your own personal Walden!
    And your writing of “the more we notice and respond to it, the more it responds to us” rings true internally and to the external world to. A reminder for me, and my lazy side, to put the work in and reap the rewards.

    1. Wow! That’s an extraordinary dream, Brian.
      For me, if it were my dream, I’d say that the fact that it was lucid, and that my response to it, both during the dream and afterwards—feeling so good, so happy about the beautiful bright flowing raiments and pure white hair—-underscores the specialness and uniqueness of it: its intention to catch my attention and affirm my growth and show me the beauty of my true inner self! And yes, a reminder too, that I am loved, and if I continue to do the work the rewards will continue to permeate my waking and dreaming life.
      I really love this one. I love knowing that you are establishing such a meaningful dialogue with the Self. What a gift it is to you, and to me as well. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  2. This post is for me like a meditation Jeannie thank you. It brings again to mind the purposeful benevolence of the Self. It is there for us to make use of by way of dialogue as you say. And we can, by writing down our dreams even if it means waking at 4.44 a.m. as I did this morning to record it.
    Beautiful graphics – that spider web with Grandmother Spider says it all! may the Force bear with you at all times. Or Bear with the Force …

    1. Thank you, Susan, You bring up a good point—that recording and pondering our dreams is one way of dialoguing with the Self. This has always been my primary practice, the one that established my ego’s connection with the Self in the first place. Just taking the time to wake up at 4:44 a.m. (love the 3 4’s—another way the Self catches the ego’s attention) to write it down is a way of ‘telling’ the Self, “I’m listening. I respect what you want to say and I don’t want to forget it, Thank you.” Isn’t this the same respectful attitude we have when we dialogue with all the people and creatures in the outer world that we care about and want to connect with? So should it be with the entities that populate our inner worlds.
      Glad you like the graphics. Yes, the centrality of Grandmother Spider’s web does say it all…..the delicate, exquisite beauty of Nature’s mandala as compared to the human-made one! One comes from the outer world, the other from the inner, both expressing the beauty of the soul, whether a human soul or the world’s soul.

  3. Jeannie–tell us more about the mandala at the opening of the article. The form and colors are so alive and vibrant.

    1. I agree. I began writing my blog 6 years ago, in March of 2010. My media trainer introduced me to Google images and it was our understanding then that a blogger could use these images freely as long as s/he was not publishing them in a money-making format or claiming them as her own. So at the time I failed to get the information as to who created this gorgeous mandala. I regret that very much, as it is one of the most commented-on images I’ve ever used here. I’d love to credit the artist, so I just did a brief search for it on Google images, but I couldn’t find it. But when I brought up the saved image in my wordpress file, I found this title— serpentine_fire_81.jpg —embedded in the link. Perhaps if we look that up we might find it. I can’t right now….I have houseguests, but if you find it, I hope you’ll let me know!

        1. Awesome. Thanks, Diane. I clicked the link and found the page where the mandala is featured. Unfortunately, I can’t read it, as it appears to be in Spanish! But here’s the link for those who want to see it: https://albaricoquenalmibar.wordpress.com/tag/la-india/ Many thanks, Diane. Can anyone tell if the name of the artist is Albarico Quen Almibar? Or is that just the name of the person whose web site this is? Or is it not a name at all?

  4. Thank you, Jeanie. I feel the Love and sense of Centered Self in your Home Mandala. Maybe Spider Woman held the center the day you wrote this and all emanated from her, but maybe the central symbol changes for you as it does for me. I know that here in my home, I’m held, protected, and guided by nature and dreams. I receive the energy and silence I need for a meaningful life and inner and outer work.

    1. Hi Elaine, Yes, symbols for the Self, our Home as you put it, show up in myriad ways. Just a few days I dreamed of a Wise Child baby who, though being a newborn, was speaking to me like an adult. Seeing symbolic meaning in these images, both waking and dreaming, is a primary feature of my outer and inner work.

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