Feeling and Dreaming Myself into Life


Remedios Varo, [Self-] Encounter
Dream #198: “Hiding From the Enemy”Someone desecrates my small, primitive wooden house and ransacks my possessions while I’m away teaching writing classes. It’s a dark night and the enemy is looking for me. I’m in danger. I hide, lying flat on the ground, pressed against the outside wall of the classroom, afraid to breathe or make a sound. My tribe values my contribution and won’t give me away.

I dreamed this in January of my last year of teaching writing in college (classroom). I wanted a tenure-earning position as a professor, and although many signs pointed to the unsuitability of this job for me (house) I was still reluctant to give up on my goal. I felt I would be letting everyone (my tribe) down, most of all myself, by not continuing to teach.

In dreams, houses represent the psychological condition in which we’re living. So I see that my inner life is cramped and primitive. Moreover, it’s a mess. But instead of trying to fix it up, what am I doing? Hiding in terror behind a classroom! The dream said my ego regarded anything (enemy) that prevented me from pursuing my chosen career as a dangerous threat. The Self knew that my creative and reflective instincts were not fulfilled in teaching. But my ego didn’t know that. The Self felt like an enemy that wanted to destroy my goals. I was hiding from the truth and pursing a career that was not right for me. I didn’t fully understand this dream right away, but it made me more aware of disowned feelings about my career.

Many of us live lives that are not right for us because we want to impress, please, or prove something to our tribe — our families, friends, and mentors. This is the sign of an ego in the early stages of soul-making, when we are unconscious of our underlying needs and motivations and unaware of the authority and wisdom of the Self. We don’t know or trust the Self. We don’t believe it’s in charge, and we’re afraid it might want something different for us than what we believe we must have.

Anything and anyone that obstructs our progress in achieving our goals is a blow to our ego and feels like a dangerous threat. It does not occur to us that these obstacles might be messages from the Self. We are convinced that our ego is the only one who knows what we need and is capable of obtaining it. Since we don’t know or trust the Self, we judge ourselves by the standards of others while ignoring our own feelings. Our measure of success is whether or not others admire and approve of us. If they do, we feel proud of our accomplishments and remain almost completely unaware of our inner dissatisfaction. The Self wants us to develop our hidden potential in activities that are satisfying to us. If we pay attention to our dreams — gifts from the Self created especially for us — the Self will guide us, easily and naturally, toward our spiritual destiny — our heart’s desire. Ultimately we realize this was our ego’s desire all along. We just didn’t know it.

My solution was deceptively simple and came in its own sweet time. I tolerated the tension between my ego and my Self without shutting down or rushing to premature closure. When I discovered Jungian psychology and dreamwork I took the symbols and images of my dreams seriously and attended to the emotions they elicited. The better I understood the Self, the easier it got to choose what honored my inner life as much as my outer one.

A few months before this dream, the Self sent me a big dream in which I was wading upstream against the current in a rushing river, heading toward my true home. That dream told me that something in my unconscious had shifted. Without my ego’s full awareness I had changed directions. Now I sought my real home, my authentic life, my true Self. At the end of that school year I retired and began the work I am made for: writing about the inner life of the psyche on its journey to wholeness.

It seems to me that the energies of life support two basic human endeavors: to become ourselves and learn to love. Until we get the first one right, we can’t accomplish the second. That’s why making the unconscious conscious is my life’s work now and nothing less will ever satisfy.

How do you feel about your work? If you are not involved in work you love, what prevents you from pursuing something that appeals to you? If you had the money, time, and necessary preparation, what would you most like to do? Have you dreamed about a house? How does the dream relate to your waking life?

Credits: Wikipedia [Self-}Encounter, Remedios Varo

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.com. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, is now available at Schiffer, Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit and wherever books are sold. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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2 Responses

  1. A powerful dream when you needed it. I’m so glad you were clearly guided. I love the image you shared, too.
    I’ve had dreams where the house is a torn up mess and others of finding new rooms (a common theme for many) just for me. During this pandemic time, my dreams are social with few political references which amazes me. There is an occasional mention of covid, but I have many dreams of parties and being surrounded by loving laughing friends. It must be an attempt to balance this quiet stay-at-home hermit’s life. The joyful party dreams inspired me to push past my aversion to Zoom (with a cochlear implant) and arrange more online social gatherings–some on Zoom, some on FaceTime, and some taking walks on my trails with friends and their dogs. I realize the winter of our discontent is just beginning, so I’d better do something to prevent depression.
    I’m reassessing much of what I consider my work and putting everything aside for a while. I need a break from Athena as I ask for guidance.
    New Year’s Blessings to you, Fred, and your family.

  2. I love seeing how dreams compensate for the reality of our waking lives. And I love how you understood this and acted on your need for more social engagement.

    For many years I’ve spent the week between Christmas and the New Year reading and looking for common threads and new developments in the dreams of the current year before starting a new dream diary for the next. So far I’ve read the first 28 (out of 151) and already come across some surprising insights I didn’t understand when I had the dreams. One suggested a very interesting title for a possible workshop about The Soul’s Twins. I may follow up on that, but right now, like you, I feel the need to put it aside for now. For me, the guidance will come in renewed excitement and motivation, often when I least expect it.

    New Years’ blessing to you and your boys and pups!

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