“Is the devil invading my dreams?” has been a worry communicated by several dreamers over the years. My likely response was always to deal with the symbolic meaning of the devil or demon mainly because each of us create our own demonic forms based on our cultural, religious, and familial influences. Though this little devil will show up in many forms his existence is an archetype from the collective unconscious of humankind meaning that it resides within the universal psyche as an expression of the antithetical and contrasted phenomena that create the reality that we see.
For example, for something to be experienced as being “good” requires a definition or experience of something being “bad”, female requires male, up needs a down, positive requires a negative, and right needs a left.
Ultimately it is Death that gives meaning to Life and vice versa. Generally speaking it’s our polar opposites that create and inform the reality that we see. It’s fundamentally this conflict that we struggle with that enriches the experience of reality that we create.
When this contrary little demon shows up in a dream it is usually there to point out a conundrum, a paradox, an unattended to contradiction, something denied, rejected, or repressed that is causing us discomfort or driving inappropriate behaviors. Just as with all the other archetypal images the demons are there for our health and well being.
The Devil in a dream can represent our struggle with our basic urges, that which pulls us down. He (or she) can represent our fears, negative aspects and limitations though it can also represent cunning, cleverness and deception. If the devil is talking to you it can suggest that you might you be worried that certain temptations are becoming hard to resist. If you’re friendly with the devil perhaps you are talking yourself or allowing someone to talk you into something that you really don’t want to do. Dealing with the devil or a demon in any way within a dream may reflect your need to deal with an issue of morality in your waking life.
When a demon shows up as Satan itself it can be about things in the inner and outer world that you may fear or you think are out of your control. This can represent something or someone adversarial or confrontational as in an attacker or accuser or just someone critical of you or your work. Frequently people invoke this image and project it onto other people so as to justify hurting them. This happens in all wars or when one takes sides in a political controversy.
Sometimes people experience being possessed by some demon in their dreams. Being possessed is also an archetype and over the centuries people from all cultures would employ priests or shaman, even lay mediums to exorcize an individual’s devil that has “possessed” them. Today we’re more likely to consult a therapist.
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 that only mean them harm, directly or indirectly, to see the truth of that statement.
All too often when we deny our complexes1, our worries, and repressed fears and emotions our demons so to speak, can possess us, in that we allow another force and energy to take over our lives, both internally and externally.
But sometimes he’s just there to show us some clarity on what is good.
1 Complex: A pattern of emotions, perceptions, wishes, or memories in our Personal Unconscious. Some of these patterns can manifest themselves somatically i.e. through the body.
Severely negative and untreated or denied emotional patterns can lead to neuroses such as obsessive-compulsive disorders including perfectionism or poor impulse control or extremely low feelings of self-worth. Both Jung and Freud thought that these unconscious patterns were the most important factors influencing our waking behaviors and attitudes.