Your ego is a key player in your soul’s journey to wholeness. A strong and courageous ego aids your psycho-spiritual growth; a weak and fearful one holds you back. To gain a better understanding of your ego’s status you can track your dreams. Your ego shows up every night as you, the dreamer: the one climbing the mountain, driving too fast down the dark road, running from the stranger, forgetting to feed the baby, standing naked in a crowd.
The Elephant in the Cave was the name of one of the very first dreams I recorded after I fell in love with Jungian psychology. An elephant was trying to get out of a cave and I was trying to shut a wooden door to keep it in. The “I” trying to keep the elephant in was my ego. The cave symbolized a dark, unconscious cavern in my psyche. The elephant represented a strong inner force I didn’t want to acknowledge. For many, elephants symbolize power and wisdom. Now I realize I was afraid of these parts of myself, afraid of how letting my true power out might upset my safe and familiar life. But I didn’t know that then.
Several months later, a dream I called Going Against the Current confirmed that my dreamwork was paying off. I was daring to challenge conformity. But was I finished? Had my ego grown open, strong, and brave? Not by a long shot. A few months after that I dreamed Hiding from the Enemy. There was the fear again. Even though I (my ego) was taking my inner life seriously, the dream said I was still afraid of aspects of my unconscious, still trying to hide from my truths. Still rigid and one-sided. But I still couldn’t understand how these messages related to my waking life.
Fast forward about a year when along came a dream I called Killing the Weeds:
I’m carrying a container of weed killer with a thin tube coming out of the top. I’m careful not to touch the tip of the tube because I don’t want to get poison on my fingers. I walk along a patterned brick path adjoining the foundation of a large house and let the point of the tube fall on two large weeds that have sprouted up in the cement joint between the path and the house.
This was confusing. Weeds are nature, and although most of us want to get rid of weeds, they’re not always bad. A weed in one part of the world is a greenhouse plant in another. What if I was trying to kill something in myself that was actually good? It was only when I put the dream into the context of my waking life that I saw what it could mean. A few days earlier I had made an uncharacteristically outspoken speech to a group of Episcopalians and two priests had mildly disagreed with something I said. To my surprise, I was devastated by their implied criticism.
My dream explained my discomfort. Until that point in my life, pleasing and impressing conventional authorities had been fundamental to my personality (the foundation of the house). This trait had served me so well that I had achieved a certain amount of success in the eyes of the world. But I had come to see my need for society’s approval as a pesky, unwanted trait (weeds) that had forced its way through the sturdy foundation of my spiritual journey (patterned brick path). Realizing that my strong tendency to conform marred my prospects for continued growth, I had chosen to rid myself of it by pursuing self-knowledge (my dream ego was killing the weeds), but this felt subversive and I was afraid of being punished (poisoned).
Now I know why I resisted my soul’s flowering for so long. I still thought the male God I grew up believing in might punish me if I dared to question the beliefs of His religious authorities. The ego’s fear of retribution is a soul-killer! We feel so much safer trusting authority figures than challenging them. Isn’t this the message we were sent as children? But there comes a time in the life of every individual when you need to trust your inner messages and develop your own authority. When that time comes, it’s up to your ego to enter the soul’s garden, take a look around, and start weeding.
What unwanted weeds plague your soul’s garden and prevent you from becoming the person you were born to be? What’s the worst that would happen if you took steps to get rid of them? What’s the best?
Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at Kobo, Barnes 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.