Within each of us resides a dichotomy that of the masculine and that of the feminine. Fundamentally at our essence we are androgenous. It is our gender and response to culture that tends to pull the persona towards being of one way or the other.
The psychiatrist Carl Jung suggested that in the dreams of a woman the image of a man represented her animus, her masculine aspect while in a man’s dream the image of a female is his anima or feminine aspect.
Basically these aspects are there to bring balance to the imbalance that culture and the persona have created. It is presumed that when out of balance humans are much less of what they could be if they were to embrace both aspects of themselves.
This idea is nothing new for one doesn’t have to look too far to see that the deities Shiva and Shakti within the Hindu religion one of the world’s oldest represented the masculine and feminine aspects that when joined brought wholeness and oneness. In Ancient Greek and Roman philosophies both goddess and god needed to work in harmony or it meant trouble for humans.
Actually there are many stories where the feminine and masculine come together to create wholeness. Most fairy tales and fantasy stories include the coming together of males and females to bring about success in some endeavor. It’s the extraordinary power of relatedness and the bringing together of our personal and collective unconsciousness’s that often drive our actions e.g., the hard working narrow focus of the seven dwarves having their lives expanded by the compassionate beauty of Snow White or the wisdom shared by Dorothy of OZ with her three male companions which leads them to embracing their true selves. There’s also the necessary male and female joining in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series that made it possible to overcome the evil of Voldemort and save the magical world from his terror, that was to bring balance to their world.
On a more current level and what could be called the waking dream one might say that a new leadership of male and female relationship in the United States will bring back balance and harmony in the way the U.S. does its business. The former leadership was so psychically skewed that it created a destructive imbalance that drastically weakened the power of the whole.
The masculine and feminine non gender influenced aspects of our archetypal selves transcend our individual psyches and if we are open to them can provide us with a way of becoming whole and complete and much more effective in our lives.
These aspects are reflections of our soul and it has been said by many that the soul of a man is feminine while the soul of a woman is masculine. So when they show up in your dreams, that road to the soul, pay close attention to what they are saying or doing for they may be there to show you the way to who you really are.
In a recent post I talked about the vivid dreams people seem to be having during the Coronavirus lockdown. Several people have shared their dreams and experiences during the lock down and I thought I’d share an example of what many people are experiencing along with my response to them.
Hi , thank you for reading this! Last night I had 2 very distinct dreams: 1st dream: I watched 3 tornados form in my back field (NE), and a bolt of lightening nearly struck my 7 year old, standing on the back porch. I was able to get my son and 2 dogs into our safe spot. We were fine. 2nd dream : Real life -I have 5 cats (we live on 10 acres). My cats are inside/outside . I fear that I will loose them but I also know they are willing to take the risk and are very happy. Dream: I watched 3 large coyotes move in and surround The house/the back porch once again; where the cats love to hang out. I made eye contact with the largest coyote and held its gaze, walk past all of the coyotes and was able to have all the kitties come into the garage and lock it down. No harm came to anyone. I know there was a 3rd and I can’t recall it. I know it’s there though. Honestly it was odd feeling when I woke up, curious and not fearful or worried. In an odd way it was very reassuring that I will be able to keep my loved ones safe. I do believe there will be 3 waves of the virus. Recently I have been connecting on a spiritual side with Gaia and embracing those beliefs. We have started celebrating pagan holidays as well. Thoughts?
Interpretation:I use the image suggestions from the book Morpheus Speaks to assist in the interpretation.
These all seem to be anxiety type dreams and probably reflect the inner emotional turmoil that you are experiencing right now. Bad weather dreams often reflect the state of ones emotions. Children often reflect the ambitions or future aspirations of the mother and in the dream this has been attacked (by the lightning). Note also that lightning can symbolize an inspiration or insight as well. The “safe spot’ could be your subconscious dealing with the ‘troubled waters’/situation/circumstances you see yourself in at the moment and your need to stay safe in order to protect your family.
The kittens can be about vulnerability, yours and your sons, to the wildness of the circumstances you are having to face down (the coyotes). Overall the dream is suggesting that you can face up to the threats you are encountering. The coyotes could also reflect your animal nature, your instinctual feelings. They can also come to us in our dreams as spirit guides and speak to our inner power and their symbolic energies (which yours does). You have it within you to face down whatever threatens you at this time.
Note also that in Native American lore the coyote is a trickster come to stir things up in one’s life and to test one’s mettle and to challenge one’s traditional way of looking at things (this is why some theologians think of Jesus as a trickster symbol). Consider also that the coyote may reflect an aspect of your own personality such as being clever and resourceful (the raven is also one of these animals).
Dreamer’s response(partially edited for privacy):
I felt it was a message that we would be safe, to trust myself and my instincts. I am capable of navigating and caring for my family during these times. My son’s health is compromised and life for all of us in a bit challenging right now.
I didn’t pick up on my internal struggle until this weekend. I see it clearly now, in the dreams about the tornados and in my most recent. I have been on the fence about some very personal beliefs and how to accept the changes that I have undergone and the impact they may have on my relationships. Yet I saw this weekend that I will become stagnant and unhealthy if I do not move forward. Plus, to trust my instinct regardless of how they materialize within the world at large.
This dream is full of very vivid images that mostly relate to the dreamer’s emotional state and they reflect what is going on with them during their day. Note also that with most dreams there is new material or insights that one may not have focused on during the waking hours. The unconscious mind from whence dreams come picks up on what’s happening while the conscious mind is busy trying to survive and during the download process of dreaming can provide a wealth of information that the waking mind may not have noticed. This dream had the potential to create powerful change through new insight. Most dreams if not all come in the service of our health and well-being.
There were also archetypal symbols such as the coyote/trickster in this dream that have somewhat universal meanings beyond the unique meaning that the dreamer brings into the dream.
The following is a draft section of a new book to be published later this year, “Morpheus speaks: The Book of Dreams” (RJ Cole, 2018).
Insight: Being possessed is an archetype itself (symbolic meaning that is found across all cultures). Many years ago people would employ priests or even lay mediums to exorcise an individual’s devil that has “possessed” them. But even now the old version of the primitive possessor demon lives within an unexplored psychic phenomena and acts out behaviors that are contrary to a person’s best interest. One only needs to look at how many so-called fearful “conservatives” will vote for the very issues and people who only mean them harm, directly or indirectly, to see the truth of that statement. All too often when we deny our complexes, our demons so to speak, we become possessed by them, we allow another force and energy to take over our lives.
We all have a person who isn’t there. It’s a shadow that follows us everywhere we go even on the darkest night with no moon or streetlights’ glare. It hides behind a mask amongst the deepest caverns of our mind, lurking, stalking and waiting to strike. He or she are all the emotions and distasteful parts of ourselves that we just as soon not see during the daylight but often show up in our dreams at night.
We shun them for they are not who we want to be. We lock them up in our cages so deep hoping that they will never escape. We hide them in the dark, dank and stinking tunnels of our unconscious trying to forget the smell of them and hoping that eventually they’ll die. But they never die for you see they feed on our fear and the energy we use to keep them hidden. Occasionally they’ll escape to the upper realm and play havoc with our relationships, our emotions, our goals and plans. Like little gremlins they toy with us.
“When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…”
The shadow is a universal archetype whose presence is felt by us all from time to time. We deny its existence but that won’t do any good. Why won’t he go away? Because he can’t, he’s part of us and if you could cut him away we wouldn’t be us any more.
His power and persistence in our lives lies in our resistance to him. When pretending he’s not there he can wheedle his way into everything we do and try to be often with disastrous results.
“Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.”
–Antagonish by William Hughes Mearns
There’s a paradox here in that he won’t go away until you ask him to stay.
Accepting all parts of the self both light and shadow is to honor your wholeness. Treating all aspects of yourself as equal will allow you to use all your energies in a direction of your choosing rather than moving to the hidden ghost’s bidding or wasting your energy trying to keep half of you caged.
The title of this blog is “Embracing the Individual Shadow” that suggests that there may be a Collective Shadow that we live in as well. Where is it? I’ll go into that at another time. Until then see if you can find it. It shouldn’t be too hard. Let me know what you find.
Not too long ago I read an article in the New York Times. It was a story about the museums of death found in many places around the world. I was surprised by the title for I thought all museums were about death aka Natural History museums with all its carefully displayed dead animals, Art museums where most of the painters have been dead for such a long time, The National Funeral museum in Houston, Tex., antique auctions museums where you can find really old furniture from the houses of dead people, well you get the idea.
And what’s the fascination with cemeteries and skulls and horror stories?
I think that we dwell in awe and fear at the world’s greatest mystery, death. It’s that part of life that terrifies most of us because it portends something we can know nothing about, non-life, specifically our own. What is non-life? We know it’s the opposite of what we have now, but what is the opposite of life really? And why do we even ask the question? Fear? Fear of the unknown, fear of what is dark to us? Our unconscious mind is dark to us but as long as we are alive we have potential access even though we’d rather not, but death? Now there’s a darkness and unknown we can’t even begin to fathom. It’s a bottomless abyss that goes on forever.
For some it’s not death that is feared but the process of getting there because it can be so frighteningly painful and mostly uncomfortable or so it looks. We humans will enter into almost anything if we truly believe there’s a pot of gold at the end of it– something better than what we have though we’re never satisfied with what we have. But not to know? Too scary.
The promise of no pain and eternal peacefulness seems a pretty good draw for letting go of life so as to enter some kind of heaven, but the “Great Decider” determines whether we wind up there or in the burning cauldron’s of hell, or so we’ve been told, though I’m pretty sure those stories come from the same type of folk that wrote the stories for the Brothers Grimm and for the same reason, to keep the children in line, whether they be little children or adult children. This reflects the belief that left to their own devices people won’t do the right thing. That is of course a pretty cynical view of humanity usually portrayed by the “fearful ones” who don’t know who they really are and by extension who we are. In the United States we call them Republicans or the Alt-right.
Some folks have solace in the belief that they, body and all, pass into another realm. But the ego part of us is of the flesh, that 3lb squishy thing inside our head that some of us occasionally think with and that decays and shrivels and turns to dust– we like with everything else in life can’t take it with us. So what is it that goes on to wherever we imagine consciousness continues on to?
“The soul! The soul goes on” cry still others. But what is that? Have you ever seen it? How often have you been aware of it? Do you actually identify with it? How many of us truly know of that invisible, ephemeral ghost in the machine that we imagine to be us, after all aren’t we the thinking, feeling, frightened, pain wracked, opinionated, memory-filled, squealing thing with a name and social security number?
So what is the soul? Is it a living thing? Well if it is living within the body wouldn’t it be subject to the same decaying effects after death? Ahh, so it’s not alive, it’s, what, a spirit? What’s that? And why does it need us as a host to visit the world? And if it loses its host where is it, what does it experience then? Is it conscious? Was it our consciousness all along only we became duped by the not so long lasting ego that convinced us that we were actually the ego?
Recent research has shown that even after a person has been pronounced brain dead, usually a no-turning-back step beyond clinical death when the heart stops, that “consciousness” may in some cases continue beyond the functioning body1. This is known as an OBE or Out of Body Experience. What that consciousness is however, that appears to be separate from the brain has scientists stumped.
This soul thing probably has no fear of death because death isn’t part of its life but the ego is a jealous thing and envies and fears the soul because of its non-death. It dreams of being like its opposite and creates a myth of everlasting life. There is everlasting life, but probably not like the life we currently experience, but the ego doesn’t want to hear that, so let’s just keep that between us.
Still others see the soul as a transmitter of the spirit into the receiver of the brain that then allows it to be manifest in the world making us sort of like a TV with arms and legs.
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”
The Psalm of Life
by– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I go into greater depth with the exploration of death in the Chapter from the “Dragon’s Treasure”titled Death, Yours, Mine, Ours (pg. 168).
1 Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that ‘out of body’ and ‘near-death’ experiences may be real, independent.co.uk/news/science/life, 7 Oct. 2014.
Q: Do you think there is something like a magical person, Bob? Are some people really magical or is it an illusion we create?
A: There are mystics, who seem moved by the spirit of something ineffable and there are those who are so integrated with the world around them that they seem to make things happen. There are also those who have the unexplainable* show up in their lives at a greater frequency than normal. There are those people who seem to exude magic as though there is some unseen source of energy about them as well. There are yogis, gurus, shaman and just ordinary people who can do phenomenal and extra-ordinary things. I don’t think there are Harry Potter wizards and witches with wands and broom sticks, but there are those who seem to wield a form of magic.
One of my favorite writers of this kind of magic is Carlos Castaneda who wrote about a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan who I believed after three books was a real magician. Though the character was fictional, Castaneda wrote from what he knew and what he knew was truly magical and extra-ordinary. I have tried a number of the lessons taught in these books (they are novels not self-development books) and have found them useful both in my practice and in everyday life.
And this would be my definition of “magical”, the ability to produce and perform the extra-ordinary. Some people are very adept at that. Some are able to see things that the rest of us do not and are able to use what they see in extraordinary ways. Some have phenomenal talents that they are able to boggle the mind with. As you know I believe that within all of us there is a magic waiting to be unleashed. Some are closer to it than others, meaning they have fewer obstacles to its expression. What I write about is how to deal with and overcome some of the obstacles.
Keeping in mind my definitions and caveats, in my nonprofessional opinion my answer to your question is “yes” there are probably magical people e.g. people who wield magic.
*I use this word whenever I come up against a phenomenon that appears real, but is without any scientific corroboration, or explanation.
A reader recently commented on a posting from The Dark Knight of the Soul Blog. He noted that the reduction prayer I had used at the end of the post looked very much like a 13th century magical incantation from the Liber Medicinalis (Book of Medicine).
Accident? Coincidence? Not really, both the incantation and the reduction prayer act pretty much like mandalas in that they focus the mind inward towards its center. It is in this center that the wisdom of our soul lays. It is from this place that magic can happen.
These incantations, prayers and meditative practices tend to focus on the centers of our being while removing the outward directed conscious mind that is restricted in its perception of reality and opens a door to a whole new way of being and perceiving.
So what have we discovered so far about magic that might allow us to practice being in it and thus allow for a different creation within our lives?
1) Magic is all around us; we are already in it.
2) Magic cannot be controlled; in fact, we must release control in order to wield it. Magic is about “being” not “doing”. Magic cannot be understood, or controlled, because the process itself is a “doing”. Magic arises on its own and not through your manipulation.
3)Magic is a way of living and not separate from everyday experience.
4)The consciousness can open to Magic when the soul is allowed to express freely.
5) We have access to magic when we don’t place limits upon our expression.
6) To know magic, watch children at play.
7) Maintain authority over your expectations/standards by remaining at choice with your behaviors and self-expression. Be what you are, not what someone else wants you to be.
8) Magic becomes available when one dissolves the separation between ones opposite aspects and recombines them into a more functional whole e.g. dissolve the internal gender differences. Aspects of the assertive, decisive, thoughtful, creative, compassionate, emotional and intuitive can exist side by side within all of us.
9) Call out your shadows and your demons, do not suppress them. Note: you are not your negative aspects; you have negative aspects, but are not them.
10) Quiet the mind. Stop thinking things to death. Magic cannot come from the “thinking” mind. Live at least some of your life in the incomprehensible.
11) Magic does not come from the rational.
12) Magic grows from the secret orderliness of chaos. Allow yourself to be confused. Thinking that you know something about what is real can be very limiting to living what is real.
“It [magic] opens spaces that have no doors and leads
Sitting outside one morning watching the sun rise above the hills of the Colonial Valley and sipping from a cup of coffee cradled between my hands and warming the air around and within I looked down into the cup of dark liquid and this came to mind…
A shadowy and bitter brew somehow satisfying some hidden emotional need.
In its liquid darkness the Daimon hid and waited to spring forward on my not fully awake soul and wrestle me to the ground demanding that I pay attention. With the next sip I paused to look inward and again found the other self.
Reflections from the dark mirror within the cup transformed into intuitive murmurs and visions from the unconscious like Scrying mirror images from the imaginal.
Suddenly, as these things always seem to come, the quiet turned to tension and I knew that it was time again to get up and confront the Daimon.
I once used the term “the alchemist’s crucible.” I think this term came to me because at the time I had been reading Jung’s Memories, Dreams, and Reflections and was struck with how often he delved into the alchemical arts as a means of understanding the human psyche.
This got me to thinking about the symbolism inherent in alchemy. On the surface the alchemists seemed to be looking for a means of transmuting base metals into precious metals e.g. lead into gold. I think that they were trying, among other things, to make sense of this world of opposites and dichotomies by to find an underlying unity. Why? Well, part of the human condition seems to be that we are all separate from each other and the environment that we find ourselves in. This experience of separation breeds, as I’ve said before, various levels of fear ranging from discomfort to all-out panic. We want to protect ourselves from what is ‘not us’ whether that be on the personal or communal (meaning the tribe, state, nation) level. This of course is the basis for personal and social conflict. Finding a resolution to the conflict that arises from opposition has been key to the history of alchemy, and politics (which is a kind of alchemy itself).
The goal of trying to make sense of what-is by attempting to resolve the basic conflict caused by separation can be seen in all our mythologies where mankind is always trying to deal with its twin natures of the beast and the spirit e.g. note the invention of the Centaur (man’s torso and head on the body of a horse), or the Minotaur (a bull’s head on a man’s body) and the fact that all hero stories have a thematic conflict to resolve. A great deal of modern psychological therapy is to assist the individual with internal psychic conflicts e.g. the conflict between what you are and what you want to be.
I think that among the fundamental goals of all religions, philosophies, and sciences is to bring to consciousness the mysteries of the universe and to observe its fundamental unity.
I also maintain that this unity, this wholeness, already exists, but is generally beneath our awareness. Because of this the universe looks fragmented and dichotomous. This gives dream-work a whole new purpose in that it can bring ones unconscious psyche to consciousness so that we can experience a greater whole and thus a better understanding of what makes us tick. The more we understand of what it means to be human the better our understanding of where we’re standing. For example, to get to know a tree, one needs to stand under it, to ‘listen’ to it. To know another anything (person, place or thing) one needs to stand under it, to be within its context, or to stand in its shoes, and is thus the root meaning of ‘understanding.’
This reminds me of the teachings of G. Gurdjieff, a early 20th century Russian mystic and spiritual teacher who wrote that humanity lives its life in a “Waking Sleep” and thus only experiences reality subjectively. He suggested that the vast majority of humans live as automatons, but have the power to awaken and become something so much greater.
“Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies.”
As automatons we become susceptible to the manipulations of others (advertisers, politicians, radio talk show hosts, religious leaders and zealots, and the hysteria of the masses). The one sided development of our humanity that most of us experience is what passes for ‘life’ in the modern world. I believe that we need to develop all aspects of who we are in order to become a fully integrated (actualized) human being that is fully present to an expanded sense of reality instead of the limited reality we currently embrace. In my experience we mostly just argue our limits without trying to see beyond them.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.”
– Richard Bach, Illusions
There again is that concept of ‘limiting’ being a root to perverted reality. For many of us we limit our personal development to one of four areas–physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual and for the rare few who might include more than one or even all, they limit the impact through narrow definition.
“The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
What do I mean by expanded definition? This morning in a group discussion one of our group told the story of a young soldier who stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) while patrolling in Afghanistan. He lost his foot and part of his leg. At first everyone, including the soldier, saw this as only a tragedy, but eventually it brought the family together in ways none of them could have imagined before the event. Everyone connected with the event began to see another more positive outcome, born from the very real tragedy, that would not have happened without it.
I think that the meaning of nearly every event in our lives can be used to expand our reality. Set aside your limited thinking and self-limiting thoughts and be open to reality. Learn to see beneath the meaning of your personal or collective definition to see what else may be there.
“And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
This was a quote from the 1999 movie, The Sixth Sense. In it a little boy confesses to his therapist that he sees and interacts with dead people. The journey that he and the therapist go on becomes a frightening and transformational trip through the spirit world that parallels the world of the living.
An interesting fantasy, but other than those who have claimed to see ghosts, or in stories or movies, or over-dramatized TV ghost hunter shows when, if ever, has this been a reality?
There is an archetypal specter that shadows us throughout our lives and that most of us try to ignore, but one that informs the way we live, behave, and move within our personal universes–DEATH.
Dead people in our dreams have visited many of us e.g. dead relatives and loved ones, dead celebrities, or even ourselves. Ghosts, spirits, and specters fly in and out of our dream spaces, threatening, or offering cryptic advice. Some of us have teetered on the brink of death while others have fallen in. We’ve been shot, stabbed, clubbed, eaten, and died by accident, or disease, or the bite of a snake sometimes over and over again across many nights. We have witnessed mass killings on a field of battle, or in our own homes. What is all this mayhem about?
In part it’s as simple as working through the concept of death itself–an attempt to develop a working relationship with it. These dreams help us to work through our deepest fears for ourselves and for the loss of others.
Sometimes dreaming of those who have died, or fears for our own death can be messages that we have become stuck in our grief, or our fears. At a conscious level we often convince ourselves that we have handled death, or we actively suppress our fears so as to function more efficiently. However, denial, or suppression only works, if it does at all, on a superficial and temporary basis. Healing has not happened because the wound remains hidden and not exposed to the air and a weeping scab is formed under which the wound festers. Learning to face these wounds and fears can be part of a healing process that allows us to move on in our lives.
Dead people in dreams, especially those we know, can be an attempt of the mind to deal with sad feelings, memories, guilt, loss, frustrated love, or anger connected with the person who has died, or to just complete our relationship with them from when they were living.
“To die, to sleep no more; and by a sleep, to say we end the heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks that flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream; Ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”–Shakespeare, Hamlet after the ghost of his father has come to him to tell the circumstances of his death.
When these dreams are faced and accepted (vs. denied, or rejected) this eventually allows the dreamer to resolve the loss and move on. There are also people whose images visit us when we are in times of stress and are looking for guidance or consolation. My Dad often shows up when an old feeling, or special memory associated with him is longed for, especially one that can lead to my own health and well being. Some people have shared with me that when facing an intractable problem and wishing the wisdom of a deceased parent were available, that that parent in their dreams will often visit them.
If you as the dreamer were to kill someone in the dream, it’s most often a symbol for the desire to “kill off” what they represent, e.g. a feeling, a relationship, their effect upon you or others, or even a circumstance or situation which their character may represent.
The death of feelings (such as when there is a loss of love for something or someone), or motivation, or the end of a plan, relationship, a belief, a chapter of ones life, or a transition about to happen e.g. mothers sometime see the death of a boy child in their dreams as the son transitions in waking life from one state of being to another– into preschool, or kindergarten, his first overnight, high school graduation, and off to college. In fact, whenever one is in transition from one state of being, or one event to another, dead people and death can show up in a dream. And when it does, ask yourself, “what is dying in my life–what is coming to an end, or what has the potential for ending soon?” This will give you clues as to the meaning of the dream.