Psyche’s Dream: A dragon’s Tale (ISBN-10: 1663227276; ISBN-13: 978-1663227270)
As a Jungian trained psychologist and after working with children in a variety of mental health programs and venues e.g., in schools and day treatment programs I learned a great deal working with their dreams. It was through these dreams that the staff and I often had great insights into their inner life and how that played out in their social environments and families.
The story is of a young man who meets an ancient wizard who teaches him the mysteries of real magic, not the magic of wands, spells, and mystical creatures but the mysteries of the inner self and the great power it can wield when one learns to harness it.
The story tells of the great magic that lies all about and within each of us. Young Adam the protagonist undergoes a number of alchemical transmutations and witnesses a number of strange and frightening visions as he undergoes his own process of transformation. Along the way the young man confronts his own inner demons, heals those places within him where life has injured him, and learns to open himself to the magical alchemical powers of the psyche that for most are beyond our imagining.
This is my fourth book on the mysteries of dreams.
During this time of year our dreams can be the portal to other realms of knowledge and awareness. Wakeup!
These images from our deeper psyches are often found in the the mythologies of many cultures and represent pretty much what they do to all societies. After all, where do our myths come from if not from the dark caves of our hidden selves?
Jack-o-lanterns: childhood dreams and memories. A reminder of a changing of something or the end of something.
Witches: The negative feminine or one’s fear of being manipulated (bewitched). Old feelings associated with one’s mother. If a witch of the west she could symbolize endings and dark events or feelings. They can represent unlikeable parts of ourselves or others. Has someone cast a ‘spell’ on you? She may also symbolize something magic in your life, something positive and yet unexplainable. Note that witches in a dream can be either nurturing or overpowering or both if reflecting a conflicted state or relationship.
Magic: Don’t believe everything that you see or hear. Are you trying to solve a problem through wishes and hopes i.e., through magical thinking? Are you being influenced or perhaps controlled by something that you can’t see? If a magician (or wizard) shows up, he or she may represent your inner wisdom or your desire to control and dominate. They can also represent illusion. Are you or is someone trying to fool someone or yourself? Are you hoping to change something or looking for transformation? Do you need to transcend something in your life?
Ghosts: Is something from your past haunting you? Is your subconscious trying to make you aware of something? Do you have guilty feelings about someone or some event? Perhaps you are feeling insubstantial, like you don’t belong. Have you “ghosted” someone i.e., where you have cut off communication with someone without explanation or are being ignored? A violent ghost (or poltergeist) could reflect an inner conflict or some violent part of your own nature.
Is someone or you being too transparent or not transparent enough? Is there some unfinished business from the past?
Phantoms: These can represent fears and/or repressed memories e.g., things that go bump in the night. Do you need to face your fears? They can also represent illusions, delusions, and self-deception. Are you misapprehending something or someone? Are you or is someone misrepresenting something?
Graveyards: This is a place of endings, a place where memories or fears are buried and hopefully put to rest. Traditionally this is a place where the dead and the living come together especially during Samhain (Halloween) when the division between the dead and living thins and becomes more porous. Ancient Celtics and modern pagans celebrate this time of year with feasts and bonfires. The souls of dead relatives are thought to revisit and seek hospitality. They could be appeased by special food and drink, but watch out if ignored (Trick or treat).
Zombies: Where the dead rise from their graves. Where memories refuse to stay buried or refuse to die. They can also represent aspects of the self that refuse to go away. A zombie can represent yourself when you feel controlled by some basal emotion such as fear, envy, haste, or greed or jealousy. Has something died in you e.g., an emotion, ambition, hope, dream, or idea?
Death: This can symbolize and end to something or a killing off some part of you or the death of a relationship.
Werewolves (or any dark creature): This could represent repressed instincts or your animal nature rising and overwhelming you. It could be your ‘shadow self’ a part of you that you’ve tried to reject but that still influences your feelings, thoughts, or actions from time to time.
The Angel of Death or Grim Reaper: This can bea messenger from your unconscious mind where all your dreams come from. The image can symbolize an end to something (see also death above). Something or someone may be attacking you or may represent impending change. They can symbolize criticism, but the reaper may also represent self-criticism i.e., self-attack.
Skeleton or skulls: Something dead to you or skeletons in your closet where memories of events are hidden. They can also represent aspects of yourself that you are trying to kill off or thought you killed off but still haunt you. Note what your dream skeleton is doing and what you are feeling when observing or interacting with them. Skeletons can represent and end to something e.g., some idea, or relationship, hope, ability, behavior, or memory. If just a skull it can symbolize your state of mental health. They can also represent something that is not fully developed or in the beginning stages. If the skeleton represents you, are you just a a skeleton of your old self?
Mad Scientist: Don you feel like you are going crazy or somebody is acting crazy or irrationally? Are you or is someone having trouble controlling behavior? Is something or someone threatening you? Are you feeling a loss of control?
All the above dream images can come under the rubric of phantasmagoria and may reflect your unconscious biases. Are you having illusions of reality that may be affecting your ability to see what is real and right in front of you? All these images can have nightmarish qualities and be a wake up call from your unconscious trying to prod you into awareness.
A young man begins to awaken from a dream and finds himself at the door of a strangers house. He knocks and is confronted with the strangest dream of all and up until then what had been an ordinary life became very unordinary indeed.
Originally titled The Twelve Laws of Magic follows an unwitting student through his alchemical transformation into a world most people have never thought existed. It changes him but how and how it will change the reader is for you to find out.
There’s a line from an old set of books owned by my father and his father before him that goes like this, “And then did we, the seven, start from our seats in horror, and stand trembling, and shuddering, and aghast, for the tones in the voice of the shadow were not the tones of any one being, but of a multitude of beings, and, varying in their cadences from syllable to syllable fell duskly upon our ears in the well-remembered and familiar accents of many thousand departed friends.” It is from Shadow.– A Parable by Edgar Allen Poe.
I was struck by the image of the shadows of many “departed friends”. As I say goodbye to some contemporary friends I’m also reminded of the many who have passed before, family and comrades– people who contributed to and enriched my life in many significant ways. There’s hardly a day that goes by without a recollection of at least one of them being pulled from the Library of Memories.
This could also be read as a memorial for the over 316, 000 who have died from the Covid 19 virus pandemic in the United States and the over 1.7 million who have died worldwide and the shadows that each cast upon those who are still living.
What makes them shadows for me is that even though I’m grateful for the remembrances of those I’ve loved and of those who I do not know I don’t want to look too closely at the feelings of loss, best to give a rueful smile at their thought and return the book to its place than to turn the pages toward the grief that still lurks deep within. Best not to look at death too closely because in its blackness I can see myself reflected.
But as with all dark shadows they do not rest peacefully and conspire to darken my present, our present that robs us of hope for the future. The prospect of Death seems to steal one’s energy like one of the ‘Dementors” in the Harry Potter series. But it also, or at least it used to, give at least me impetus to live life as fully as possible while I could. That seemed much easier when I was young and the future seemed infinitely far away. But as close friends begin to leave and the daily climb of statistical graphs make so painfully obvious what was kept at a cosmic arms length is now lurking beyond the next corner.
This feeling is not new to me for I felt it before every morning as I shuffled through the dark to pick up my weapon and a few ammo boxes and climbed aboard the helicopter I was assigned to for that day. There was a heavy air of resignation that weighed on me then that I find returning to me now. But then the point for my life had narrowed to surviving the day so that I could reclaim a future. I was younger then, 22, with a prospect for an infinite future if I could survive the present but now with a very much more restricted future I find that I’m having trouble with all those pesky hidden shadows and that any point to it all is beginning to fade.
Clearly these shadows need to be invited to the party and a new dialog needs to happen. Today I begin to dust off the old tomes stuffed into the lower shelves of the library.
“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!”
–William Butler Yeats
“On my meditation walks I am often moved by the life going on about me– boys with hockey sticks battling in the streets at dusk, flocks of screeching Crows nesting in trees, the smile of the crescent moon with the brightly seductive Venus off her bow. And on a warm night there’s crickets and barking dogs, but on a cold and crisp one there’s nothing but silence and the sound of my own footsteps. Sometimes a breeze whips through the branches and rustles the leaves and I hear the raucous laughter of a dinner party just seen through the picture window of the house across the street.
And the world seems right.
But on other nights my mind is disturbed with its thoughts that whirl like a demented vortex and I hear nothing but my own voice. It’s a boring voice droning on and on about inane this’s and that’s and burying the peace of the night in rubble.
And nothing in the world seems right.
I long for the magic I’ve so often felt on so many earlier sojourns through the dark, but on this night it’s not to be. This is when I cry out to the dark denizens of the otherworld, “Come oh magic creatures of the imaginal and entertain me. Bring to me your mystery, your awe, your wonder, and your hidden treasure– make it better than it is.”
That night’s dreams brought me headstones and skulls, darkness and gray empty fields– a reflection of the mood carried back from the earlier journey. And then I ran across the poem by Yeats and I thought, ‘It’s not the fairies of the land he is calling to, but those of the inner soul who are entreated to crawl out from the rubbish and dance with me once again’. And I remember yet again that it is I, it is I who can summon the magic from within.
Beginning in January of 2017 I began a series of stories and articles about real magic. This article is a continuation of that series all of which are leading up to the publication of the book “Psyche’s Dream: A Dragon’s Tale”.
Webster’s Dictionary defines magic in this way:
1a: the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces
1b: magic rites or incantations
2a: an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source
3: the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand
In all three definitions we’re talking about manipulation. Real magic on the other hand isn’t about manipulation. It’s about getting yourself out of the way to allow the magic that is there to manifest. Though that’s also a form of manipulation, but only of the self.
Because what you see is only a projection of your inner thoughts, anxieties, emotions, memories, and beliefs the real world isn’t available to you. But when you get yourself out of the way your vision of the world shifts. Every religion teaches this, every enlightened teacher has embraced it.
Magic can only happen in the real world, not in “your” creation, but in “the” creation. Spell casting is about trying to change what is. Stop casting spells on the creation and it will flow for you much better. But first you need to be open to “what is” and the first step in that is to acknowledge it isn’t what you think it is.
“If one has done ones best to steer the chariot, and one then notices that a greater other is actually steering it, then magical operation takes place.”
– CG Jung, Lieber Novus
Another step is to watch where you’re stepping e.g. step too far into what’s good also means moving too far into what’s bad–super good creates super bad. Good requires that there be a bad and vice versa. You need to learn how to keep them together rather than to separate them. You need to learn to balance.
“He who knows the darkest error knows what light is.”
In everything I’ve discussed so far the Soul plays a central role in the redefining of ones self as a magical being. We are all trapped in the cocoon of the mind, the ego-self. It is here that we wander aimlessly through the cold landscapes of the material world–separated from the divine. We are only partially ourselves when all we see is mind. Finding and nourishing our soul again can make us more whole.
Because I love playing with archetypal images I’ll end this with the Magician of the tarot, the real wielder of the magic so to speak. According to Wikipedia it is the Magician [that] “guides The Fool through the first step out of the cave of childhood into the sunlight of consciousness, just as Hermes guides Persephone out of the Underworld every year (see picture at left).”
It has been said that all created things are the expression of the interrelationship between God and humans. In my mind The Magician represents the wholeness of this relationship. He, or she, (because the Magician has both female and male aspects) represents the dissolution of the separate personality and the reintegration of its opposites. When we resolve our dualities (see #8 in last weeks Blog posting “The 12 laws of Magic”) we become whole again. Psychologically, the Magician represents this resolution and magic happens when our wholeness expresses itself, if only temporarily.
From a psychological perspective let me pose an example: when a woman comes to terms with her inner male she will be able to express her opinions more critically by penetrating more deeply into their origins. When a male comes to terms with his feminine he will be able to express his compassion more readily by accepting the nurturing aspect of his core self.
She may be able to deal more effectively with any unresolved issues with her father, or any other male figure that may have helped her to develop her attitudes about males in general and more specifically about those masculine aspects within herself. He may be able to deal more effectively with any unresolved issues with his mother or any other female figure that has helped to form his attitudes about those feminine aspects within himself.
Each sex is imprinted with culturally mediated material about gender. This material until dealt with at its origin in the individual psyche will negatively affect, or limit, or determine an individual’s relationship with the opposite sex and/or globally with all people.
So it may be imperative that we begin the work of integrating our gender opposites if only to make life easier on ourselves and with those around us.
Males and females are more than anatomically different, they are psychologically different, and it is these differences that when allowed to remain in conflict within us that keep us separated within ourselves and thus becomes the main impediment to the experience and wielding of magic.
“Magic is dangerous since what accords with unreason confuses, allures and provokes; and I am always its first victim.”
In my experience magic can happen when I am willing to allow it to happen in the way it wants to happen and not in my way. It establishes the when and the how, not I. When I allow, or to put it another way, when I get myself out of the way, the universe will work its magic. The power of wielding magic is to not wield it at all.
Now I feel compelled to try and make myself clear at this point regarding some of the things I’ve been talking about such as “ego”, the “shadow”, “gender opposition”, “Self”, “spirit”, and “magic”. First of all these are not things that have any reality in that they are words that symbolize something without form, they are only concepts. You can’t find the ego anywhere in the body for it is an affect of the body, its name and definition is but a construct to help one get a handle on the affect. And “Self”” is but a concept for something contextual. And “spirit” is a name for the ephemeral motivator of life.
All these words are just metaphors and have no real substance. All are unknown in their true nature and most likely unknowable. They are ultimately imaginary. But something imagines them, don’t you think? It is that “imagining” (as verb, noun, adverb and adjective) that I refer to with all the linguistic metaphors of the philosopher, psychologist, and scientist. It would be a mistake to reify them i.e. to give them substance for to do so would only limit them through some mental objectification–it’s why I don’t bother to describe God. And to limit something is as we have seen to limit its magic.
This book opens the reader to the world of the unconscious, the deeper psyche with both its lighter and darker aspects. With sections on universal dream symbols, fantasy creatures, shadow aspects, and nightmares this book provides insights to ones dreams beyond the everyday. It is an encyclopedia of over 5000 dream symbols collected from over 3500 dreamers across 140+ countries and cultures. Though it cannot cover all possible meanings it can direct both the beginner and journeyman dream interpreter to a broader insight into their unconscious mind and then lead them through the process of applying this information to their everyday life.
While walking along a river in the North Country I came upon a frail looking old man with long white beard and flowing grey robe leaning on a staff and gazing at the water rushing by. “Good morning” I said.
He smiled and asked, “How long you been on the trail?”
“Oh about an hour I guess.”
“Is that all? Are you sure?” He added.
“Well, how long have you?” I asked challengingly.
“All my life” he grinned.
Great, I thought, some kind of guru! I was not really in the mood to go deep this morning. I was much more interested in chewing on my private thoughts and worrying all the worries I’d collected over the week.
“You seem to be somewhere other than on a walk,” he added.
“Well I was just taking a walk to ease my mind. Then you showed up.” I said with just a little petulance.
“I haven’t really showed up yet.”
“Uh, what?” I blurted. Is this guy crazy? I wondered.
“You’re so much into your head that I’m not really here for you yet.”
“Explain,” I said becoming a little interested where he was coming from.
“You’re so much in your mind right now that you’re not meeting me, you’re meeting only your mind.”
“Ahh mindfulness, I know about that!”
“Then why aren’t you there?”
“I was trying to until I ran into you.”
“No you weren’t. You were busy listening to your own mind!”
“I was being with my thoughts, being mindful of them.” I said in defense.
“You believe that don’t you?”
“Don’t believe everything you think. You know, mindfulness isn’t about making up what you want to be mindful to. It’s being with whatever is there. You were caught up in and believing what your mind was telling you. You know all that stuff in your head is bullshit don’t you?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“The events in your life aren’t causing you pain it’s your mind chatter that is causing you to suffer. Your beliefs about the way things should be rather than being mindful of the way they are is causing you pain that you then devaluate and that takes you even further out of the moment.”
“I know this!” I interrupted angrily.
“No you don’t! Knowing is paying attention and you are not paying attention! You can’t see the world that’s in front of you because you aren’t looking at it you’re looking at what’s inside your head. You reject what is and because of this you find yourself not at peace. To be at peace you need to cooperate with how things are, then you can see how things need to be.”
“How do you know this?” I asked growing more interested.
“Simply by paying attention.”
“But what about my problems?”
“Most of your problems are but a side effect of not having a clear relationship with reality.”
“But I need to figure out how to make something happen. I need to solve these problems I’m thinking about.” I pleaded.
“You’ve allowed yourself to be conned into thinking that you have control of anything. Stop that. Don’t make things happen, let them happen, you can’t force life into submission. Give yourself permission to be where you’re at.”
“Somehow that feels right.” I said and he smiled and then vanished. I could hear the water washing over the rocks, the wind singing through the trees , the rustle of leaves, and birds calling to one another. It was so peaceful.