Archive for the ‘Active Imagination’ category

Close Encounters of the Dream Kind: Battling the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River

March 19, 2021

Author note: Keeping a dream journal is a wonderful major step to beginning to pay attention to our depth. I have been pondering posting more dreams with their active imagination (AI) dialogue transcripts for some time. In my excitement to be diving into Jung’s Black Books, see post below, and witnessing his process, and his courage, I feel compelled to post more of my own close encounters of the dream kind. While one could make the case that dreams without specific personal life context can only be lacking, the burden of connecting the dots with one’s intimate life and work is great. In the spirit of all creative processes, and embodiment, it seems dream offerings and active imagination dialogues, from/with psyche, can stand alone. Might we give them that respect? I am deeply curious about what could come out of such an (limited) engagement with you, fellow dreamers. May we experiment with bearing embodied witness together in celebration of psyche? Let the images and affects, the energies and the mysteries speak for themselves!

Dream: Encountering the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River

April 10, 2020 4 AM: awakened with a big dream: Bank side of powerful river within a developed almost city like park, I recognize a medical staff person, like a hospital nurse I know; she/we are comfortable and collegial, and chat briefly; I see she has a very long fishing rod and reel set up and is ready to cast out into the water upstream; I am, have been, standing on what seems to be a rocky island like outcropping, with just enough height to block one’s view of the right bank, just off the left bank where she is; I am looking upstream from my rocky perch, which is running parallel to the current, with the larger flow and deeper channel to my right. I see her hook a huge 12-16 foot long fish! It strikes and jerks her off the bank and into the water flowing through the left channel of the outcropping, and I see that she can’t hold onto the rod and reel, and in an instant, I realize if I just dive into the water from my rocky observation point I might be able to snag the rod and hold onto the fish; I do and sure enough I am just able to grab it as it goes banging, and flying by; I am now being pulled into the deep water in the channel on the right side of the island. I can’t think about how I’m going to hold onto the fish, only that I have a chance to save the gear and the catch …

For a brief moment, I am being pulled under towards the opposite shore; I feel strong and hopeful, not worried about drowning, but really, just totally engaged, and then … poof, it’s over and I am crawling out of the river, naked, somewhat disoriented, and I have no idea what happened to the fish, the gear, my clothes. I am looking around trying to orient myself to the bank, others, only slightly distracted by the fact of my nakedness; I see her, stunned, and throw up my arms as if to say “wow!” Then I became aware of the loss of my wallet and everything else usually in my pockets, ID, credit cards, phone, and begin to want to find something to put it on and find out what happened to my clothes. Did anyone see the action? See what happened? I seem to be amazing or a problem for some who are just trying to do there usual daily business. I see what seems to be a group of wait staff setting up a buffet honoring dinner with well-dressed people being seated in a riverside hall like garden area. I am/feel way out way out of sync with this group!

Then I find myself on the opposite side of the river, along the deep channel, walking downstream, south along the east river bank and I discover a hidden from view storage area, with closets, clothes rods, and a cache of well preserved, boiled wool and other heavy duty fishing/fishing boat, navy surplus type gear and I feel hopeful “this is where my stuff will show up, in salvage.” I am taking a close look when a ruggedly dressed-for-the-elements, ancient mariner type man confronts me with what am I doing here? While initially stern and guarded/protective, I get his attention and he directs me to step into a nearby place to talk; I start with pouring out my recounting of what happened, how I found myself, there, just now… about the amazing fish, like the ones known to be in this river… I remembered having seen others this big; I sense he knows everything about this river, this station along the banks of this river; he will be the key… I woke up. It was 4 AM.

Waking reflections: In honoring the dream itself, I am holding back on my reflections for this post for now.

I will follow this dream up with my active imagination process dedicated to trying to find out what did happen when I was pulled under?

Jung on Active Imagination

March 16, 2021

I am enjoying a seminar with THE SALOME INSTITUTE of JUNGIAN STUDIES on Jung’s newly published Black Books (BB). The course is guided by the institute’s director, Satya Doyle Byock, and astrologist Carol Ferris. Seems we’re off to a great start!

Working in depth to understand Jung’s process of self experimentation, as it informed his birthing of analytical psychology, offers an up close look at our own journeys. I hope to be bringing forward key concepts in support of all who dare to consciously deepen in relationship to the unconscious.

Here is Sonu Shamdasani, the primary editor, commenting on Jung’s approach to active imagination: “In December 1913, (Jung) referred to this first Black Book as the ‘book of my most difficult experiments.’ In retrospect, he recalled,

‘my scientific question went: what would happen if I switched off consciousness? I noticed from dreams that something stood in the background, and I wanted to give this a fair chance to come forward. One submits to the necessary conditions – as is in a mescaline experience – so that it emerges.’ (BB, Volume I, p. 24)

“Jung described his technique for inducing spontaneous fantasies: ‘The training consists first of all in systematic exercises for eliminating critical attention, thus producing a vacuum in consciousness.’ One commenced by concentrating on a particular mood and attempting to become as conscious as possible of all fantasies and associations that came up in connection with it. The aim was to allow fantasy free play, but without departing from the initial affect in a free-associative process. This led to a concrete or symbolic expression of the mood, which had the result of bringing the affect nearer to consciousness, hence making it more understandable. Merely doing this could have a vitalizing effect. Individuals could draw, paint, or sculpt, depending on their propensities:

‘Visual types should concentrate on the expectation that an inner image will be produced. As a rule such a fantasy-image will actually appear – perhaps hypnagogically – and should be carefully noted down in writing. Audio- verbal types usually hear inner words, perhaps mere fragments or apparently meaningless sentences to begin with…. Others at such times simply hear their “other” voices…. still rarer, but equally valuable, is automatic writing, direct or with the planchette.’

Once these fantasies had been produced and embodied, two approaches were possible: creative formulation and understanding. Each needed the other, and both were necessary to produce the transcendent function, which arose out of the union of conscious and unconscious contents. 

For some people, Jung noted, it was simply to note the “other” voice in writing and to answer it from the standpoint of the I: ‘It is exactly as if a dialogue we’re taking place between two human beings…’ Dialogue led to the creation of the transcendent function, which resulted in a widening of consciousness. His descriptions of the use of inner dialogues and the means of evoking fantasies in a waking state match his own undertaking in the The Black Books…” (C.G. Jung, BB, Notebooks of Transformation, Volume I, Edited by Sonu Shamdasani, 2020, pp. 54-55)