Archive for the ‘Images of the Self’ category

Waking Reflections on the Great Fish, Loss of Identity, and Meeting the Father of the River Dream

March 23, 2021

Comment: Here are my waking reflections (WR) recorded when I woke up after the dream posted just below (see Close Encounters of the Dream Kind: Battling the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River). My practice in recording dreams when I wake up with one is to find a low light space and just begin writing as fast as I can in order to capture as much of the detail, energy and flow as possible. I care about being able to read what I’ve written later(!), but try not to worry about punctuation or spelling at all; I just keep writing and try to record everything that comes into my head, in the timing it comes. I am recalling I believe Jeffrey Raff’s description of Jung recommending this fast writing as a way to support greater access to these communications from the dream time. This is as if a spontaneous active imagination experience, as the ego is involved in sorting and making sense of this somewhat altered state.

Waking Reflections: when I first sat down to write, I was struck with the question of what happened beneath the surface! Popping back up naked and and in a state, in a public place, was uncomfortable, but strangely secondary to the real action. I had a vague sense of apprehensiveness about the possibility this dream be alerting me to the fact the I wasn’t able to land an important fish in my life, and, I lost my identity in the process to boot… and, and, a part of me has been dazed and confused since? Questions about who was the fisher person, in the world versus anima or an inner lover figure drifted through my head. How was it that I was in the position I was in, as if perched on the little craggy island between the channels, and, alert to possibility of diving in after the rod and reel instantaneously? feeling … when it came to describing the scene with the elder who seemed to live on the riverbank, looking after the cache, the name that popped vividly directly into my head was Father of the River, He who has his station of ancient order along the banks of the wildly abundant river, where the fish are mythological Leviathans. The opposites of order and wildness felt very important. Who is this Father of the River in relationship to me, my work. My strong sense being he was/is the deep guide to all my work, the elder, the wise old man, the Father of the River, in psyche, guiding me, Chuck, in relationship to the river of life, emotion, life flow, and all the abundance in psyche, nature, and the work of becoming conscious. He understands being a part of nature and the ways that as humans we cannot control or dominant elemental energies through force.

When recording this dream, Behemoth first came to mind; in researching a bit, it seemed Leviathan would be more appropriate. For now, it seems most accurate to say it was a very large, salmon like fish. In the dream action, I was decidedly pulled under by it and experienced complete amnesia for what happened beneath the surface. *In posting this today, with regards to these initial associations, I would like to do some research about the Leviathan, to see what the spiritual and historical record can contribute; it’s always a question of time and priority.

Before sharing one more vivid association to the last scene, being invited into talk to the keeper of the cache, I want to say my next post here will be my active imagination process in search of answers to the question what happened when I was pulled under?

One more complicated association towards the end of my recording this dream was a dream and the timing of meeting Doug Von Koss while attending a week long men’s mytho-poetic gathering in the Mendocino Woodlands. After waking up about 4:30 AM with a powerful Eye fetish dream, spending an hour outside in the moon light in a round of very powerful waking dream embodiment, I had just finished a pen, ink, and watercolor picture capturing the vividness of the image, when I heard someone singing, slowly working their way down the path leading up to the lodge where I was sitting, alone, with my painting. Doug, on a mission to get a cup of tea, walked right up to me. He took one long look at me, my freshly painted image, and said “something’s happened.” He then invited me to find a time later to tell him all about it. And, to my surprise, suggested if I would like him to paint it on my forehead on the day of the planned major ritual, this was something he could do for me. This was very much like the river elder inviting me into his realm to hear my story. He then also invited me to join his small group of men who would be offering the morning wake up chant for each of the cabins. This ritual became an important part of my waking to world each. How lovely…

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?

Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) A Source Quote from Elie Humbert: On Ego, Self, and the Individuation Process

September 10, 2020

Below is a lengthy and interesting formulation on narcissism from an ego problem in need of a solution perspective.

“Narcissus directly experienced an insatiable quest for the self and acute anguish in the face of everything that threatened his self-image. Jung took up Narcissus’ subjective experience and discovered the Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”) within which the subject is caught. This internal force seeks the constitution of an ego complex around which it wants all of psychic life to revolve. Before the ego differentiates itself by relating to the unconscious, it is in a state of Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) (C.W. 14, par. 364), a turning of consciousness upon itself. The danger then is that the image of the world and the image of the ego risk becoming confused with one another.

Ichhaftigkeit (C.W. 11, par. 554) might well dominate the individual psyche if its own one-sidedness did not give birth to the shadow, which becomes in turn an independent complex opposed to the ego. The ascendancy of the shadow (of which the return of the repressed is but one aspect) overturns the organization of the ego. Jung analyzed the transformation process that then begins. Rather than focusing upon narcissism, he studied the conflicts, sacrifices, and mutations that mark the successive moments of the subject’s formation.

Jung insisted on the fact that becoming conscious puts the ego in jeopardy. A 1941 text reflects what he himself had lived through thirty years earlier:

The integration of the contents split off in the parental imagos has an activating effect on the unconscious, for these imagos are charged with all the energy they originally possessed in childhood, thanks to which they continued to exercise a fateful influence even on the adult. Isolation in pure ego-consciousness has the paradoxical consequence that there now appear in dreams and fantasies personal, collective contents which are the very material from which certain schizophrenic psychoses are constructed. (C.W. 16, par. 218)

Even while it endures such an ordeal, the ego cannot escape from an inflation, be it a negative or positive one. While relating to its own solitude and to the psychic elements it integrates, the ego either allows itself to become possessed by an upsurge of psychic energy or defends itself from this energy by identifying with its own conscious boundaries. Is there no way to avoid these two false solutions?

But at this point a healthful, compensatory operation comes into play which each time seems to me like a miracle. Struggling against that dangerous trend towards disintegration, there arises out of this same collective unconscious a counteraction, characterized by symbols which point unmistakably to a process of centering. This process creates nothing less than a new center of personality, which the symbols show from the first to be superordinate to the ego …The center cannot be classed with the ego, but must be accorded a higher value… for which reason I have called it the “self.” …the experience of the self has nothing to do with intellectualism; it is a vital happening which brings about a fundamental transformation of personality. I have called the process that leads to this experience the “process of individuation.” (C.W. 16, par. 219)

Thus by becoming conscious and by withdrawing projections, the ego is led into a state of either inflation or deflation. Neither of these states is resolved unless an unconscious center of the personality to which the ego can relate is brought to life.

…Influenced as he was by alchemy, Jung focused less upon images and more upon processes. The conjunction of opposites, with all that it implies of separation and differentiation, provides the schema with which one can understand the activity of the Self. Jung summarized this activity using three concepts: (1) becoming follows upon a compensatory movement; (2) wholeness consists of the relationship of consciousness with the unconscious; (3) psychic organization evolves according to the law of differentiation.

When referring to the concept of wholeness, which Jung used frequently, one must recall that the English word totality obscures the original German meaning. Jung rarely used die totalitat but almost always die Ganzheit (ganz, ganzwerden). Now the root prefix ganz does not signify “total” but “whole.” It would be better to translate Ganzheit by the English “wholeness.” Far from aiming to become, possess or experience everything, the Ganzheit is correlative to the experiences of dissociation and fragmentation. Jung specified that Ganzheit is not a Volkommenheit, not “a total achievement, perfection.” To individuals who feel the presence of two beings within themselves, Ganzheit appears as a possible unity. It is in the sense of a possible unity that the experience of the Self resolves the dissociation of consciousness from the unconscious and allows the subject to be whole.

…the Self is the true center of the personality from which the ego, by its goals and values, is alienated. Thus the ego must sacrifice its values and goals if it is to submit to the orientation of the Self. This sacrifice is brought about by the recognition of the shadow, and will have the characteristics of what some will later call a symbolic castration. Sacrifice differs from symbolic castration, however, because sacrifice does not culminate in the mere acceptance of human limitations and death but leads to a living relationship with the unconscious subject.

…What is at stake in the analytic process is not the death of the ego but the sacrifice of Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”). Not only does the ego not disappear, but the conflicts that it goes through release it from imaginary states and allow it to come to its own reality.”

Excerpted from Humbert, Elie, C.G. Jung: The Fundamentals of Theory and Practice, Chiron Press, 1988, pp. 61-64.

From the Author of “It’s Not Always Depression”

March 1, 2019

While attending the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) Immersion training last month, Hilary Jacobs Hendel’s book It’s Not Always Depression was identified as a very important offering reflecting the fundamentals of how AEDP works to address transformative change. She apparently has been able to strike a nerve in the collective, helping lay people and professionals alike understand the importance of identifying core realities about family of origin issues, including neglect, trauma, etc.

I did attend a presentation years ago by a mental health managed care company orienting primary care physicians to the importance of helping patients recognize their depression or anxiety profiles as biological, setting up the primary intervention as biochemical. For me, the unintended(?) consequence of this was it discouraged physicians from believing in the importance of their role in standing in for the good enough ritual elder, who, in caring about your life and your troubles, helps you believe in your goodness, and your resources, in finding a way to better manage life’s joys and sorrows. I knew at the time this was message was just plain wrong and said so. It was a spirited debate, but, alas, many good people, providers and patients alike, continue to believe in the need to treat depression as a disease, not a reaction to human life situations.* (see comment below) I do appreciate the important role medications can play in the mobilization and recovery process, but we all are in need of support to recognize our life trajectory, and create a narrative which strives to hold the joys and sorrows which are both our ancestral inheritance and the source of enlivenment and meaning.

I just received an email from the AEDP list serve from Hilary and at first glance, find her blog to be chock full of helpful information. A recent posting demonstrating how she works with the change triangle is very clear and concise. See: https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/what-is-the-change-triangle-c18dd

Poking around, I see she has a series of four posts discussing “Getting to Know Your Three Brains”. See: https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/single-post/2018/04/09/Getting-To-Know-Your-3-Brains-Part-1-How-Brain-Knowledge-Helps. These are very focused daily process guides to correcting one’s one-sidedness, in the direction of hearing from our minds, emotions, and bodies. She identifies the Self as the core consciousness which can function as the Maestro in the orchestra of the three brains: mind, emotion, and body.

With response ease in mind, I wanted to post these resources and encourage you to check out her work. She seems to be an embodied translator of the AEDP process work, with very accessible applications for self-guiding this work.

Once again, it is curious to me about the way this model identifies the role of Self without any explicit cross referencing to Jung’s original work with Self, ie: ego-Self axis. I find this fascinating and exciting, in that it suggests to me an intersection of depth processes. In the mid 1990’s when I attended an update on self-psychology with my early psychoanalytic mentor Rowe Mortimer, I was delighted to hear him describe how the psychoanalytic schools think about internalized others, ie: mother, father, as “active, dynamic, willing entities. This language seemed a perfect, yes, I said PERFECT bridge to what I had been learning about Jung’s complex theory. It is just this bridge that is at the center of my explorations here: the interface between the experiential state‘s self-other-affect, and the nuclei of a trauma complex, reflecting the archetypal layer evoked by the emotional overwhelm. See: https://healingintheblur.com/2017/08/01/complexes-as-bridge-to-the-symbolic-world/

From my work, the archetypal layer and realm of the complexes contributes a depth which speaks to the possibilities of just how episodic memories of trauma get stored and are indeed waiting to be re-discovered by ego consciousness, in the service of healing original wounds. To be continued.

From the Dream Time: An Eye Fetish

January 18, 2019

During an hour this past week, in reflecting on an apparent mismatch in enthusiasm between two family members, and the amount of suffering this produced, consciously, for one of the party, the issue of archaic human longing came up. The dream below is one of several which moved me towards a deeply felt experience of this. I will be looking through my archives for a couple more in series as part of bringing this forward. As a stand alone dream, this one is pretty fun in terms of the sheer intensity of the energy. I had the dream the second night into a week long gathering of men with Robert Bly, Robert Moore, Malidoma Some and others, in the primitive Mendocino Woodlands Camp.

July 24, 1991: I woke up at 4:30 AM with a long dream in mind; details fuzzy/sharp and excessive. Doing men’s work here at Mendocino Camp; On and on and on; making shit, talking shit, doing shit; singing and dancing and drumming and imagining.

After all this stuff, what a mess of bodies and stuff happening everywhere, all over, all the time. Robert Bly picks up a little piece of wood I had painted to look like a green snake(?) eye; blue eye, mottled green and white serpents shape; fashioned from a stick with a knot in the center, or maybe plywood, jigged out, and painted. Pretty crude representation at that.

I’m delighted at his interest in something I made. “Why do you want that thing Robert? What is so special about it to you?” He just laughs that big grin and says: “I just like the feel of it, you know…” and caresses it in his fingers and moves on.

EyeFetishDream1.22.14I woke up somewhat disoriented, having gone to sleep with one ear plug in (snoring in the cabin) and decided to go outside with my journal to write it down. The moon was overhead, moving powerfully through the sky channel created by the creek running through the very tall old growth forest. After writing it down and spending some time with it, I went in to the Lodge and painted the image. Just when I was finishing doing so, I heard the voice of an elder coming down the path, quietly singing, who, coming into the lodge to get a cup of tea, walked up to me, took a long look at me, my painting, and then back at me, and said: “Something’s happened! When you are ready, we must talk!” Later that week, we did.

Luminous Wolf, Shared Piercing Dream

January 18, 2019

January 26, 2009 Dream: “My friends are giving me a medal, to be ‘pinned’ on my left flank, belly. I’m apprehensive, say ‘are you going to use rubbing alcohol on that large pin?’

Just then, a luminous wolf crosses from left to right in front of me. Hard to say how far, how close, her actual size, as she seems to be arriving from another dimension. Very healthy with a full silvery black coat, and surrounded by an incredible aura. She stops, turns her head over her right shoulder, to gaze at me. I notice, as part of her energetic aura, from her left flank, extending above her back, is a large arrow shaft, with feathers, suggesting she has an embedded arrow point in her left side, about where I am to be pierced. Her aura incorporates the arrow, as if she is living with it in vibrant health…”

WolfPiercedbyArrowDreamSelected

Waking Reflections: What struck me was how healthy she was, while still carrying the evidence of a likely mortal wound. Still, energetically, this arrow wasn’t limiting her presence and power.

In the dream it seems I am about to receive a blessing from the Spirit Brothers, a medal of some kind, in recognition of my relationship to my wound. (Unpublished back story) The pinning itself will be a flesh offering. At this moment the Wolf appears, affirming our work from the dream time. YES, she shows us, one’s wound need not be the death of one’s vitality. Something like that. Associations to the pelican piercing her own breast, the piercing of Jesus’ side on the cross, and the Sun Dance ceremony all come to mind.

And, we might ask, who is she, showing up with such vibrancy and generating such an incredible aura? An image of the Self? A transrational presence/being?

Image and Force: Jung’s Supreme Meaning

March 23, 2016

RockLight DreamImage1NoMargin3.23.16

 

After recording the Rite of Passage Rock-Light Being dream, I decided to represent the image in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor. My method for illustrating dreams is to begin by trying to establish the starting point of the dream sequence in the place most likely to allow me to work through and capture all the action, step by step, on one page. I opened this dream with the stone path at the bottom center of the page. I began penciling in the details with no conscious awareness of the greater reveal (Image 1.) As I finished the initial sketch, I couldn’t help but think, “Behold the ancient being with his bright flash of light for consciousness, crocodile brain stem extending into the olfactory region, and stunning child like silhouette! How striking, how primordial!”

EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16

After completing this scene, I turned my attention to capturing a close up of our approach along the rock face. My intention was to create an image-as-threshold to assist me in my ritually re-entering the startling moment. (See Image 2.)

I was challenged at this time in my work to understand what this powerful dream was really offering me. It was one of a number of dreams in a series which seemed to move out into the world, connecting me in important ways to mysterious meanings which defied rational explanation.

Twenty years later, deepening in my Jungian orientation through a seminar series with the analysts of the Santa Fe group, I came across Jung’s description of the serf’s predicament: “I am the serf who brings it and does not know what he carries in his hand. It would burn his hands if he did not place it where his master orders him to lay it” (Jung, Red Book, 2009, p. 230).

In the Red Book collection, we get to look in on Jung’s initiatory process. In his dialogues with the spirit of the times and the spirit of the depths, Jung describes how he came to understand the existence of an ancient consciousness enlivening us all, and how this guidance, this “supreme meaning” comes to us. The spirit of the depths comes in and places understanding and knowledge at the service of the inexplicable and the paradoxical, sense and nonsense. The melting together of sense and nonsense is what produces the supreme meaning. In Jung’s words (2009), supreme meaning is “the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come… image and force in one, magnificence and force together … the beginning and the end … the bridge of going across and fulfillment…

Furthermore, from this perspective, Jung observed “To understand a thing is a bridge and a possibility of returning to the path. But to explain a thing is arbitrary and even murder…” (Jung, Red Book 2009, p. 229-230).

While I was enjoying a newfound sense of freedom from my compulsion to explain and contemplating on magnificence and force together, this 1994 dream and these illustrations came to mind: might they be an example of image and force in one, magnificence and force together?

RockLight DreamImage1NoMargin3.23.16EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16

1994 Dream: Rites of Passage and the Rock-Light Being

March 22, 2016

EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16

The following two part dream was a big dream for me, one of a series of dreams during my early years with the mytho-poetic men’s community; during this period I attending many weekend and week long workshops with Robert Bly, Micheal Meade, James Hillman, Robert Moore, and Malidoma Some among others. Locally, a ragtag band of us dedicated ourselves to exploring first hand what we could learn about midlife initiatory ritual process through an evolving collective and personal story enactment model. The dream:

“I am at a grand competition of some kind, like a graduation rite, with lots of people cheering on those who have achieved their goal; the ritual consisted of the graduate first throwing a small ball out as far as he could, and then running as fast as he could to bring it back. This was an individual act, with no attention paid to the time or comparisons with anyone else. Sending him out and welcoming him back, the crowd simply roared in celebration of his achievement, reflected in his level of clarity and intention. This was most impressive, an honor and joy to behold, and the enactment enabled all to witness. I didn’t know how the game worked but his throw was so compelling that I elected to go running after the ball also; Coming from the side of the field, he had thrown it down field in my direction, I dived over and behind a large bolder in pursuit of it, and then heard an urgent warning: “Get ready because he surely is coming after it. It means a great deal to him.” The implication is that his force could unintentionally kill me if I were in his path.

Part 2: Then the scene switched to three of us, two men guided by a woman, working our way up a rocky terrain stream-bed like path. I am in the middle. It’s quite dark and there is a strong sense of wilderness, adventure. We get to a rocky rise and our guide stopped suddenly, pointing to a watery place contained by the stone to a set of large eyes watching us. An archaic archetypal crocodile, huge, was perfectly lined up on us; should we have continued up and over we would have been eaten. She motioned us to move sideways and we looked for a way up while watching for more crocodiles. I saw another one and couldn’t find an easy way up. Calling to her, she had gone up and was out of sight, she doubled back and offered a hand, pulling me up near by, saying “this old VW bus windshield comes in handy.” Working our way along the trail next to a vertical rock face, I got into the lead. As we walked along in darkness a door suddenly flew open, right in front of me, letting a flood of bright yellow light out; with it, I saw something was tossed out; then the door closed just as quickly, leaving no trace. At first I felt anxious about almost being hit or seen, then I was curious about who or what lived in the rock, and what had been thrown out? I sensed some indigenous peoples must be living there secretly.” Pausing, the alarm went off.

REFLECTIONS: At the time of this dream I was wrestling with my awareness that while I felt very serious about my personal analysis, more attention and focus was possible. In the opening celebratory ritual process scene, I noticed my dream ego was identified more with the witness who  jumped into the ritual action from the sidelines, in contrast to the dream figure  who has done the work and is moving into the new life with community blessing. In reality, I was at the time deeply engaged in working through my own childhood near death, initiatory life event with the help of a band of spirit/soul brothers.

In active imagination, I re-entered the second scene, hoping to dream-the-dream-onward and discover more about the origins of the rock dweller and the meaning of the tossed out object. I dialogued with an ancient reptile man-like being, a self identified gatekeeper and light tender who releases the light. In response to my question, “What did you throw out?” he replied they were shards of light, reflections of everything that has ever happened in my (Chuck’s) life. Each shard mirrored a scene of my life. I was to know they existed and seek to gather them all up; this was my path to self-knowledge. Considering the flash of light as an image of enlightenment, the Self shining through, I interpreted this as signaling the importance of doing the work to remember everything fully. The shards would provide every detail in turn.