“The creative process has feminine quality, and the creative work arises from the unconscious depths—we might say from the realm of the mothers.”~ C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 170.
The journey into wholeness is essentially an act of creation. In order to create anything, we must be willing to trust the source of our creativity. In psychological language, that source is not our rational, masculine, thinking mind. It’s the feminine unconscious.
Many one-sided, Logos-oriented, rational thinkers find it difficult to trust Eros-oriented, intuitive, analogical thinking enough to explore their unconscious selves. To them, it’s an impractical waste of time. Usually, the only people willing to look within are artists, mystics, and dreamers. And aren’t we just a little suspicious of these borderline malingerers?
What we do not realize is that to become more whole, exterior work must be balanced with interior work. Unless our outer life is an expression of our true, authentic Self, we’ll be dissatisfied. Bringing as many unknown or disowned shadow qualities into the light of consciousness as we can is the answer.
Of all the ways I’ve discovered to get in touch with my unconscious contents, the most helpful has been to attend to my dreams. To me, dreams are real events that influence me every bit as much as events in the outer world. I’ve loved them since I was a child. But because I was taught that only outer events are real, and because dreams are so baffling, my logical ego considered them unimportant for a long time. But when I realized they could connect me with my fuller Self, I began to record every one I could remember upon waking each morning. As of this writing, I’ve recorded over 5,578 dreams.
To me, the unconscious is like a sacred, mysterious river that flows deep beneath the surface of my waking, conscious mind. The best way to access its revitalizing water is through a metaphorical well—a direct connection between my conscious and unconscious worlds. When I’m asleep and my ego is no longer in control, the bucket dips deep into this well and brings back portions of the river to relieve my ego’s thirst. These drafts from my unconscious depths are dreams. My choice to respect and record them 31 years ago was a signal to my unconscious Self that I was serious. In turn, the Self began to honor me with helpful insights.
For example, while I went back to school for my doctorate, and for some time afterward, I often dreamed I was in a car that was moving forward dangerously fast. I had to put on the brakes, but for some reason it was always a struggle. I’d try to climb from the backseat into the front. Or I’d strain to push the brake down but it was too far to reach. Either way, I couldn’t stop the car.
In another dream I’d be scaling a steep mountain. When I neared the top I’d suddenly be in a dangerous situation, dangling precariously over the edge or too high for comfort. In my terror I’d wonder what had compelled me to make this dangerous climb when all I wanted was to be safe on the ground.
In a third recurring dream I’d be walking through a house I disliked and realize that I had, for some inexplicable reason, sold the house I loved and bought this one. This realization was always accompanied by a profound sense of sadness and loss. I didn’t understand these dreams then, but the meanings are clear to me now.
The driving dreams represented my drivenness—my inability to put the brakes on my ambitious course. Unconsciously I wanted to stop my headlong dash down the road I had chosen, but I was simply unable to. I was, indeed, driven. The climbing dreams dramatically depicted my obsessive need to get to the top of my chosen profession: to become a full-time college professor. The unsuitable house dreams were saying that the place where I was living, my psychic life, was unsuitable for me. I had neglected work I had always felt at home with (writing) to inhabit a house that was not right for me (college teaching.) These dreams were telling me I was aspiring to heights and a kind of success that were wrong for me, maybe even dangerous to my psychological health. But I didn’t know that until long after I received my doctorate and taught at the local university.
Finally, after years of dreamwork and dissatisfaction, I got the message. With mingled resignation and—somewhat to my surprise—relief, I left teaching and began my first book. That’s when I remembered my deeply submerged dream of being a writer. I had abandoned it at the age of ten in the belief that I could only ensure my security by finding a safer, more practical job like teaching. I was wrong. Writing brought back all the joy and passion I’d been longing for all those years.
My dreams have taught me that no authorities in the outer world know how to get within the heart of me and direct me to the life I was made for. When I discovered my dreams, I found the only guide who possessed the wisdom I had always sought: the Self.
Art Credit: Dream Journal by Jake Baddeley
Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.