Coronavirus, Consciousness, and Shadow


There is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites…Nothing can exist without its opposite; the two were one in the beginning and will be one again in the end. Consciousness can only exist through continual recognition of the unconscious, just as everything that lives must pass through many deaths.

Carl Jung, CW, vol. 9.I, par. 178.
Eugene Carrire: Meditation

Last night’s dream: Dream #5186. April 27

We’ve been invited to stay at the home of a lovely couple. They are middle-aged, intelligent, attractive, successful. The home is spacious, but simple, nothing showy or fancy. As we enter the large open family room/kitchen area, the man tells us proudly about having recently received a large stimulus package from the government. As he’s obviously financially comfortable, I find this offensive. I say, “It’s too bad there are so many truly needy people who couldn’t get any money at all.”

Someone behind me says gently, “Yes, that’s true, but you won’t find any sympathy for your position here, so maybe it’s best if we don’t talk politics.”  I agree. I am their guest and they know how I feel, so hopefully I won’t have to listen to any more of this.

Somehow I feel perfectly at home here, almost as if it’s my home. I freely go wherever I want to, curious to know what’s here, without worrying that I might be trespassing. In what feels like an attic, I open a rectangular cardboard box filled with old hats or caps. In another room I open a box full of old purses, all in good shape.

I’m hungry so I go into the kitchen and look through the refrigerator. I open a thick package wrapped in butcher paper and string. Inside there are what appear to be soft, thick slabs of ham and fat. I say to Fred, “Oh, let’s have some of this.” I pull off pieces of delicious meat with my fingers, enjoying the ham taste, but leave aside the white fat. I show Fred another container full of thick white cheese with some little balls of bocconcini mozzarella mixed in and put some on a plate for him.

I start to leave the food out on the counter, then suddenly realize with a sharp pang of conscience, that this might have been planned for dinner. How did I not think of that? Feeling guilty now, I wrap the ham and cheese up and put them back in the fridge. I think there’s plenty left. I hope no one will notice I ate some.

The wife comes in and quietly prepares dinner in the background while the guests, perhaps 8 or 9 of us, gather around the table and begin to talk. When the food comes, there appears to be more than enough for all. I’m so relieved. I enjoy these people who seem very nice. There’s nothing showy or ostentatious about them. They appear to be good, kind, and well-intentioned, if a little out of touch with the suffering of so much of the world’s population.

The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance.  Carl Jung, CW, vol. 9.II, par. 14.

To live oneself means: to be one’s own task. Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself. It will be no joy but a long suffering, since you must become your own creator. ~Carl Jung, The Red Book, Page 249.


This house is my psyche. These people are parts of me. My ego doesn’t like the enjoyment that financially well-off people are feeling about being given more money by the government than they really need. Yet if truth were told, I would be glad to have more money that I don’t really need for future security and a legacy to my children. My inner Observer doesn’t like my ego’s critical attitude toward my shadow. Is this the Self that calms my indignation?  I’m torn with conflict. I can’t point fingers at the self-righteousness or hypocrisy of anyone else without seeing my own. 

Emotions: Through most of the dream I felt comfortable and curious exploring the house and chatting over the meal. I felt self-righteous about the man who accepted money that was meant for people in real need. I felt guilty when I realized I’d eaten some of the food that might have been meant for the other guests, then shame at my desire to hide my crime, then relief when I realized there was still plenty for everyone and no one knew I had taken some or thought less of me.

This dream depicts the guilt I’m feeling about being financially and physically comfortable during this coronavirus pandemic when so many others are jobless and don’t even have enough money for food and necessities. There are all kinds of usable items stored away in my house that so many others could use. My refrigerator is filled with food, and I eat without thinking of anyone else’s hunger. I’m ashamed of myself for being so complacent and clueless. And I’m ashamed for feeling relief when no one else sees my complacent and guilty shadow.

Me whining: There truly is no consciousness without suffering. It seems so easy for many people to judge others for the same things they themselves do. They don’t seem to see their hypocrisy. I don’t have that luxury. But I’ll gladly suffer the burden of any consciousness I can acquire because I have accepted my task to add whatever I can to collective consciousness.

Thirty years of dreamwork and countless rewards. Yet I’m still a problem to myself. Anyone else feeling like that these days?

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Watch for her new book, The Soul’s Twins, to be launched by Schiffer Publishing this October.

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20 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie,

    “Thirty years of dreamwork and countless rewards. Yet I’m still a problem to myself. Anyone else feeling like that these days?”

    Short answer is yes! My long answer goes something like I guess the work (however defined) continues until we take our very last breath, perhaps beyond. I hope so.

    Thank you for unpacking your dream with us. I enjoyed your associations! My first thought was how strongly your feeling function was activated by your male host. How different your values and beliefs were to his thinking function.

    And later, I was intrigued by how much your (dream) ego needs the red (rubedo) meat and how the masculine in opposition choose the cheese (citrinitas?). Hmm, ham and cheese are perfect bedfellows (sandwiches) aren’t they! They belong together, as do the masculine and feminine.

    Lots of food for thought there! Love and light, Deborah

    1. Oh, Deborah, I’m delighted to know you understand. I received an email from another reader who offered some consolation with her own recent ‘problems with herself.’ I have to quote her last line: “Suffering and grief are great teachers if only I’d be a better student.”

      Yes, we’ll probably be coming up with associations to our most recent dreams on our deathbeds. And they will surely contain shadows too. I have to keep reminding myself that there could be no light without shadows, and vice-versa. We’re fooling ourselves if we think otherwise. I too hope the work will continue beyond this life.

      You’re right about my dream ego’s strong feeling response to his fairly strong thinking function.You have put your finger on the source of many of my inner conflicts. Although my feeling function is a bit stronger than my thinking function, they’re both very well developed and often find themselves at odds, especially over moral issues.Sometimes being able to see both sides of everything feels like a curse because it creates ongoing battles in me. Ironically, I am very conflict-averse.

      I did not make the alchemical associations to the meat and cheese. Wow. Thank you so much for that. It makes perfect sense. I identify mostly with my feminine side, which seeks soul, the red (rubedo) vitality and essence of life, the ‘meat’ of things. And I see my thinking function as more masculine, less connected with physical matter, i.e. what really matters, and more with with the colder, reason-oriented albedo, (the cheese was more white than yellow although for the sake of brevity I left out the part of the dream where before I put the cheese back in the refrigerator I put it in a frying pan to warm it up so it would coalesce into a firmer mass. It came out of the pan with a yellowish brown crust! Warming up the albedo over the fire? Really? How could I have not seen the importance of that alchemical detail?). Anyway i think of my masculine side as still awakening, still in the stage of seeking greater consciousness, wholeness, perfection, and purification. This is a brilliant insight.

      Your summation is just beautiful: “Hmm, ham and cheese are perfect bedfellows (sandwiches) aren’t they! They belong together, as do the masculine and feminine.”

      Thank you, dear sister. Your help with this dream has been invaluable to me.

      Much love, Jeanie

  2. I was walking through Harvard Square before the pandemic hit, and I happened to say aloud to my husband, “Of course Trump doesn’t care about the have-nots . . .” and a homeless person, sitting on a step, said to me, “You can’t blame everything on Trump. The have-nots have always been here.” That really hit home for me. Projecting “out there” what I have known inside all along. The only way I cope is to Pay It Forward. Share the wealth, so to speak. There is, indeed, suffering in consciousness – but would we want to live any other way? Thanks for reminding us, Jean.

    1. Yes. It’s natural to project our frustration about the injustices of life onto handy scapegoats. “Stone the adulteress!” The unconscious does it automatically to protect the ego from suffering the guilt. What is rare is an ego that is conscious enough to recognize the projection and withdraw it.

      I too am paying it forward. Literally. Not only does it help to assuage my guilt, but it’s the right thing to do.

      I love your question about there being suffering in consciousness: Would we want to live any other way? No, I wouldn’t.

      Thank you very much for that, and for sharing your thoughts, Diane.

      With love, Jeanie

  3. A very valuable post Jeanie ~ thank you for penetrating share! The Jung quotes will remain with me for years for ongoing contemplation and meditation. The Rumi quote ~ a timely reminder.
    This is from my ‘waking-dream’ during a recent trip to Mudjimba Beach – Saturday 11th of April at about 4PM.

    While lying on my back in the later part of the afternoon I see a large wispy cloud formation high up in the atmosphere that looks just like the human spinal column – with the vertebra all in alignment running from west to east replete with even the Inter-vertebral discs. At the same time scores and scores of butterflies are coming out of – appearing from – the blue of the sky over the ocean and flying only a couple of meters above my body – passing through my field of vision. I am bewildered about just where all these butterflies have been (and why) way out over the ocean – seeming to be appearing out of thin air. Then a sublime blue color (as is seen in the rainbow between the green and the indigo – 5th chraka at the throat) suddenly appears centered down the entire length of this spinal column image … and then the top third of this ‘spinal column’ of cloud blows away into streaks appearing like a comb – and as an added contextual element, I have for the past couple of weeks been experiencing pain in my neck – back-right-side. I’m currently in process with/about this occurrence.

    Any feedback about this symbolic content is welcome.

    Also … this might be of interest to you;

    Be well. Linn and I send love and light from ‘the underworld’ – Australia


    1. Hello Richard,

      Thank you for you kind words. I, too, find those quotes memorable.

      Speaking of memorable, I can see why you wonder about this beautiful ‘waking-dream’. Of course, it’s your associations and the “Ahas” you have about them that will bring you closest to the personal meaning this dream has for you, but I’ll toss out a few archetypal themes associated with your symbols, some are from Taschen’s The Book of Symbols, one of my favorites.

      Taking place as it did under the sky by the ocean, we immediately see the connection between the heavens (home of the sky gods, spirit, masculine) and the ocean, (our unconscious, psychic depths, the maternal womb, feminine, soul).

      The spine: essential features of the principle of integration that leads to duration, transformation, and the “ascent from mere biology to consciousness.” Also, the spine connects what is below with what is above, earth with heaven, ego with the realm of archetypes, a vital link that gives the personality “backbone,” a fortitude able to support the weight of an authentic life.

      Clouds: limitless freedom and tranquility, a connection to and a release from the terrestrial, moving between formlessness and form, the hiddenness and manifestation of the divine, the shifting imagery that hovers in psyche’s in-between thoughts of spirit-matter nature, merging with the formlessness of infinity.

      Bones: evoke “psyche’s archetypal structure of ancestral experiences that supports the personality and transcends space and time.”

      Blue: “linked with eternity, the beyond, supernatural beauty, religious transcendence, the spiritual and mental, as opposed with the emotional and physical and with detachment from the earthly.”

      And finally, as you know, the butterfly is a classic symbol of soul and psyche’s self-renewal.

      The only emotion you mention is bewilderment about where the butterflies came from and why they are here.

      If this were my dream I would think that the pain I am experiencing around my spine could be a trigger for this waking-dream and the associations I have with its symbols. Certainly, feeling bewildered about all this happening at this time in my life would be a normal reaction to the physical reminders of life’s big questions about my mortality (Why am I here?), eternal life of the soul (What will happen to me?), spirit, my individuation journey toward the union of opposites within myself, etc.The top third of the image blowing away into streaks might suggest the shifting imagery in my current thinking about this issue, with the added imagery of the beautiful butterflies as a loving reminder of my soul’s inevitable renewal.

      Thank you for the link to Jeffrey MIshlove’s video. I really look forward to watching it as soon as possible!

      And thank you for writing. It’s always lovely to hear from you. Be well.

      With love and blessings to you and Linn, Jeanie

      1. Thank you Jeanie for that absolutely beautiful sharing of symbolic associations! It has significantly facilitated my entry into deeper meanings of this event. I very much appreciate you taking the time for this!

        May you and yours remain well in these amazing times.

        Linn joins me in love and light ~ Richard

    1. Thank you, Kirsten. Your dreamwork always evokes the same response in me. With loving wishes for health and healing, Jeanie

  4. Not sure my earlier ‘comment’ reached you. . . we’ll see about this one. Miss you. Wish you were closer – even if email is a fairly quick and somewhat ‘personal’ way to communicate and stay in touch. . . Jean S.

    1. Hello, Jean. I didn’t receive a comment from you earlier, but I got this one! Thank you so much for writing. I miss you too. Thank goodness for the internet. Hope to see you again before long….when this strange time has passed. Love, Jeanie

  5. A poignant dream, thanks for sharing it. When we heed the archetypal demand to strike out for our potential we’re bound to suffer guilt. The alternative is to suffer shame. Throughout my journey I tried to balance the conflict between acknowledging the inner need to fulfill my potential and, even more challenging, not to wave away my achievements, while also surrendering and giving way to the needs of others.
    Your generous sharing brought some great comments. I’ve been thinking of the boxes – one with hats and caps – the other with purses – items with rich associations.
    I’m not a hoarder, but some things I store in boxes or drawers when I can’t emotionally detach myself from them. We are strange creatures.

    1. Dear courseofmirrors,

      “Throughout my journey I tried to balance the conflict between acknowledging the inner need to fulfill my potential and, even more challenging, not to wave away my achievements, while also surrendering and giving way to the needs of others.” What a beautiful summation of the inner journey!

      Thank you, Ashen. This has been my experience as well. The guilt comes from feeling that I’ve gone too far, hurt, disappointed or offended others, or fallen short of my goal. It’s pretty much ongoing. But you’re absolutely right: the alternative of ignoring my soul’s call out of lethargy or fear of offending or losing, would have brought unbearable shame. It reminds me of the old saying, “Better to have lost in love than never to have loved at all.”

      I hadn’t thought yet to explore the symbolism of the boxes and their contents. This quote from Taschen’s The Book of Symbols: “Hats hide, reveal and augment who one actually is.” Hats are persona symbols that show the world what we want them to see. Boxes in attics are containers for objects that are no longer needed. Hopefully this suggests that I’ve given up trying to cover or bottle up my true personality.

      And this from Taschen about purses: “…a purse is an intimate object holding intimate things.” It may suggest factors related to the containment or displacement of elements of identity, money (or psychic energy)…” Could the fact that these purses are empty and have been stored away because they are no longer useful to the owner suggest that I no longer feel the need to hide my identity or hoard my money–psychic energy? It does feel that this is one possible layer of meaning (among many) given the issue presented at the beginning: my dream ego’s judgment of the man who took free money he didn’t need away from people who do need it.

      Thank you so much for mentioning your curiosity about these images. It has piqued mine. Exploring them just this little bit is extremely encouraging. I focus too much on my guilt. I need to turn it instead toward enjoying the freedom from containment in societal conventions and roles that are too ill-fitting for my soul.

      What a gift this dream, and you, and my other dear readers are to me. Thank you.

      Love, Jeanie

      1. Thanks for your response, Jean. Glad I sparked more investigation.

        The varied expectations we have of each other are hardly ever satisfied. One way to go about it is to give from one’s need without putting pressure on returns. Difficult, especially when it’s a basic need for containment, which may have been frustrated early on. It’s tough, but nobody can mother everyone they meet in their life. I had many such demands, since I exude the kind of calm that promises containment, probably because I have faith in the one being and its guiding spirit. Therapy training helped me to respect my limitations and set boundaries for my rescuer.

        About hats – I recall the hats worn by Rumi’s whirling dervishes represent a tomb stone – the ego and personality aspects, which, though necessary to conduct ourselves in life, must eventually be surrendered to join the one.

        1. “Difficult, especially when it’s a basic need for containment, which may have been frustrated early on.” This resonates. I think it’s true of me. I expect issues around nurturing and mothering — needing to feel lovingly held and contained — are the foundation of most complexes. I’m sure they are of mine.

          “I exude the kind of calm that promises containment.” So do I. In fact, a newish friend recently said as much to me. I attribute it to the same source. And you probably know it’s a typical quality of those of us who are INFJ’s on the Myers-Briggs PTI.

          I appreciate knowing the symbolism of Sufi dervish hats. A beautiful reminder of what is required of all who seek individuation and wholeness.

          Thank you for these most helpful and insightful observations. Your therapy training has served you well.

          May you stay safe and well during this time of coronavirus.

  6. Thanks Jeanie for this and for the amazing comments. My mind is pinging off in all directions and associations. I sometimes find it a ruddy curse to see all sides of the story, no peace at all. I’m a burden to myself. Would I have it any other way? Sometimes I yearn to just slip into oblivion … not really but that thought crosses my mind. What more can I do or what more can I be … but perhaps to keep on questioning, reflecting, paying attention. With the restrictions that are going on here in SA I’m remembering the time when our people who were not white, had to carry dompas (passes) on them at all times and be able to produce them if the police stopped them. Like as not, they were thrown into the back of a van. So THIS is what it feels like to have freedoms taken away.

    Money is representative of energy.

    I saw such a beautiful sun bird the other day at close distance, twice, within 10 mins. The colours were wonderful. Usually if we get a sighting of this small bright bird, it is quite hidden in among the foliage of trees. But this was quite close and personal. I was in awe – and now it makes me feel and think that things that are usually hidden, sometimes show themselves in full light.

    Love to you and thank you again.

    1. Dear Susan,

      The burden of growing consciousness can be extremely heavy. I confess there are times when I yearn to slip into oblivion too. Fortunately they don’t last long. Remembering the beauty and joys of life, the wonder of simply being, breathing, is usually enough to bring me back fairly quickly.

      Along those lines, I was very moved by the recent post Elaine shared about practicing praise. I know you read it too. Here’s a link for those who are interested:

      “So THIS is what it feels like to have freedoms taken away.” Yes, I’ve thought that too. Humbling, isn’t it? It changes your perspective. What I have is so much more than anything I’ve lost.

      We don’t have sun birds in Florida as far as I know. I googled images of them. What exquisite creatures they are. What an uplifting gift to be given a glimpse of one. What a mystery this life is. What joy is available to us when we have eyes that see and ears that hear and hearts that feel. And someone who loves us as we are.

      With love, Jeanie

  7. Jeannie, I haven’t received your blogs in my inbox since you updated your website, so I subscribed again–but this might have happened to others, too.

    Yes, my shadow is alive and well and I’m filled with inner conflict. I can’t even appease my guilt by taking boxes I’ve packed for the Re-Use It Center because the center is closed along with so much else. I’m rich by the standards of most in this world and comfortable by US standards. I have plenty including 71 acres of land. My goal has been to keep enough money to stay home when I need help. That goal felt threatened when the stock market crashed recently, so I had mixed feelings when it rallied. This stock market surge won’t help the poor with minimum wage jobs, but it’s going to big business and people who have retirement accounts (me!). I’m dealing with my guilt by giving much bigger than usual donations to various causes–environmental, feeding hunger, ACLU, and political–but there’s no way around my privilege. My local son does my grocery shopping (and I whine a little inwardly when my usual brand of yogurt isn’t available in the stores), Both my sons would take care of me in a minute. I’m have health insurance and feel protected when so many are vulnerable and sick.

    I appreciated your unpacking of the dream. Another luxury is talking with my Jungian dream worker–we’re “Zooming” these days–an hour a week. It’s a luxury and necessity because I miss living with someone who loved to share and unpack dreams. I also appreciate the quotes in this blog. Thank you for helping me dig a little deeper into my own inner conflicts.

    1. Yes, it has. The problem is that when I converted my wordpress account to my blog, it may have only transferred the followers who had signed up by email. Many people follow my blog on Facebook, twitter, and other places without signing up to receive it via email. If i don’t have your email, you won’t receive my posts via email. I’m hoping those who aren’t getting these posts will figure it out soon. Also, I have a new newsletter coming out tomorrow and will have the same issue. So please sign up below for my newsletter too.

      Thanks so much for sharing your guilt here. And your ways of appeasing it. It alleviates my own guilt a little and helps me be a little less hard on myself. You’re lucky to have a Jungian dream-worker. I’d give a lot to have one. Maybe you can give me the name of yours now that s/he is Zooming with you?

      You’re very welcome, Elaine. Thank you for alerting me to your problem about receiving my blogs. It’s given me a chance to share it here for those who are having the same problem. And thank you for inspiring me with your beautiful and always pertinent posts.

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