“Myth is the dream of the people – the dream is the myth of the individual” Herbert Silberer

Whether my attraction to liminal states comes from a lifelong interest in dream states, or attention to dreams leads to an interest in liminal, non-ordinary states, or a mix of both, is unclear. Perhaps it’s the persuasive sense of something deeper and richer, the hidden treasures calling out as beauty does, that draws me more closely to both.

“The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened.”James Arthur Baldwin

A dream of mine is for a willingness to be changed by everyday communion with the world as it is; an edgeless movement between day and night. Perhaps then, an exchange between the mysterious states of dreaming with day world awareness of time and fate, can bridge the two more readily. Maybe when the day world sense of reality becomes less “me,” then the night world of dream figures and mysterious places becomes less “not me.” The waking dream of the day world blurs the edges into a more seamless connection of day into night, you into me and life into death.

The etymology of the word “dream” is itself evidently controversial, ambiguous and unclear, but surprisingly relates to “joy, mirth, musical sound.”

In his book, Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology, Sonu Shamdasani’s discusses Théodore Flournoy, and his influence on C.G. Jung:

Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology (häftad)“The dream could have a purposive and teleological role in developing latent faculties. It derived this from the special significance that Flournoy attached to the creative imagination. This faculty was “the foundation of our being.” It was stimulated by reality, to which it applied itself through acting to transform it. As a result, “the human soul is a machine to transform the real.”

Who remembers the day world or questions the reality of waking states while dreaming? Dreaming is perhaps a deeper immersion into a more passive state where something other than willed, intentional focus of the day world has its way with us. As the Greeks told of Persephone’s abduction into Hades’ Underworld, so are we immersed into a world not of our choosing.

We may wonder what dreams mean, but one of their gifts is that they do not so readily give up their meaning. While dreaming, who asks what does this mean? In some sense, their gift is the freedom to let the characters, plot and movement of the dream roll on, moving us into unknown territory with no need of anything other than participation.

“It is, indeed, good that no valid method [of dream interpretation] exists, for otherwise the meaning of the dreams would already be limited in advance and would lose precisely that virtue which makes them so especially valuable for psychological purposes – namely their ability to give a new point of view.” C.G. Jung

Although no precise meaning may be found in dreams, they may give us insight as if shuffling the deck of our day world experience and viewpoint. They allow us an experience that may not be available to us in waking states. Who knows where dreams are drawing from? There are many theories, and I suspect they each may contain some validity. I like that we cannot precisely know the dream’s function, purpose and meaning. Yet they can serve creativity by offering insights that bring us new ideas and new ways of seeing when we attend to their presence and messages.

Jung,1910 Prints & Photographs Division Library of Congress

Dreams allow us an alternate way to see ourselves, others and the world. If attended to, they can act as a bridge to the unknown, and in that sense have a creative function.

In a letter to one of his students, Jung says:

“In the deepest sense we all dream not out of ourselves but of what lies between us and the other.”

One of the gifts that Jung gave us is to reconsider the value of the dream world as a counter weight to a one-sided day world experience of both ourselves and others. Dream plots and characters may force us to see ourselves and others in ways that shock us or are entirely unrecognizable.

“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.” Carl Jung

I have found though, that by attending to dream images and movement, they do reveal to me a much-needed understanding, often through a highly charged emotional dream that upon waking, shows me something I was either unable or unwilling to see before the dream.

So, perhaps it is that our conscious, waking, day world self, finds its deepest roots in the mystery of whatever source dreams and life itself may come from. Maybe, in some way we may never fully understand, we carry with us the origins of the universe and all subsequent traces in a blend of physical and psychological experience that serves to further articulate the mystery of being.

Dreamland by the artist Joni Mitchell

“We’re going to lay down someplace shady
With dreamland coming on” Joni Mitchell

Except as noted, all quotes from Sonu Shamdasani. Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science. Kindle Edition.

18 thoughts on “Dreamland

  1. “Myth is the dream of the people – the dream is the myth of the individual” Herbert Silberer

    Excellent quote…
    Stunning post… Thanks for sharing this well documented article.
    All the best to you, Aquileana 😛


  2. Most simply put – dreams tell us what we do not know. I have come to agree with this in the recent weeks while undergoing my own Jungian analysis. I have been recording my dreams in a journal for a long time now. However, only working on them with the help of an analyst has revealed their hidden depth and a wealth of meaning. The hardest thing is to interpret one’s own dreams.
    While I agree with you that no interpretation is “the final one” I must say I have experienced some amazing aha moments when I thought about my dreams: Yes, this is it – this is what my dream tried to tell me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Monika,
      Thanks for sharing your insights. I do agree with you that working with an analyst, which I was fortunate to do awhile back, absolutely changes the dreams and the focus and specificity of their meaning.

      I wonder if you experienced the big dream upon entering into analysis? I had that happen on the very day I first called and scheduled a meeting with my analyst. Just last week, my boss (yes my boss!) invited me to join her in attending a dream retreat workshop in December. The very night of the day I registered (last Friday evening, which is what prompted the writing here) by phone for the workshop I had 3 very big dreams.

      I am absolutely convinced that the interior and exterior worlds have their own way of communicating and feeding each other and work together in a most creative way.

      So, I agree that there are very big, even life-changing dreams. I suppose I said what I said as a way to encourage others to consider many angles if a dream does not seem to make sense. I would say too, that one’s relationship with their dreams is a lifelong practice and most certainly comes alive working through analysis. Still to this day I find that the practice of writing my dreams down and reading them back the next few days or weeks are very revealing.

      I am so happy that you are going through an analysis. My own experience is not something that I care to write too much about, because of the personal nature of it, but it not only changed my life but I truly believe diffused a lot of powerful, destructive energy that was destroying me and my life.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry for replying so late, Debra. You asked about big dreams. Well, not really – I did have them many years ago when I started studying Jung. But right now my analysis sort of focuses on very personal issues and therefore the dreams are “small” but very significant and revealing. I was really lucky to have found my therapist. He is extraordinary.


    1. Hi Linda
      You know – I thought about the same thing and I do not know what the answer is. But I believe you are on to something – perhaps is a far future humans will have an all-encompassing consciousness and they will be aware of all the unconscious material? I know that I used to have more dreams when I was younger and “less conscious.” Now I do fix a lot of issues with daydreaming and other imaginative activities involving the totality of the psyche.
      But still – I may be wrong about this.


      1. Hi Monika It is a real possibility that we will evolve to that point. Many think we are on the brink. There are so many ways to heal. I continue to examine my thinking patterns and also use music and meditation along with dreamwork. For people like me who are so intellect focused, getting out of my head is often the best method. Body work also helps since it moves thorough the ego theatrics and mind games. Do you buy into the recent ascension theory? I may post on it when I am in the right mood.

        so much to ponder and Deb’s blog is a great place for pondering 🙂


      2. Hi Monika and Linda,

        This is in response to your conversation about dream states. Linda, I would love to hear more about the ascensionist theory!

        Yes, I can see how dreams during analysis take on an everyday feel, perhaps because we are attending so much to their presence that they speak more readily than ever before?

        I must admit though, that the climax of my analysis was the event of a very big dream experience that woke me up with what I now understand to be kundalini energy surging up spine. The dream before waking was almost nightmarish, very emotional, and did not make much sense at the time. Over the course of the next few months, the dream image began to make much sense and the ensuing psychological changes have never left me, nearly 20 years later. In a sense, there still remains a mystery about this experience and I’m cautious to this day not to explain it rationally. There’s a knowing that’s beyond what words I can find to speak of it.

        Since that time, I have had a few of what I call big dreams. Big in the sense that they wake me up and are typically stunningly beautiful, either because of a profound sense of love felt in the dream, or of visiting an unusual place, typically of cosmic proportions. More recently I had a series of three dreams, the last two of which were quite lucid in the sense that I was awake in the dream and could will things to happen.

        What I wonder about dream states is whether or not there is a more seamless sense of moving from dayworld into nightworld. I’ll admit that I can’t imagine a time when our physical bodies as they are now, will not need this pulsing of states of consciousness, especially if it’s true that our sleeping states tap into the source of all consciousness. That tapping in may be essential to the entirety of our existence. While it’s quite probable that we come to experience the state in which the source is accessed more frequently and deeply, could a physical body ever come to contain the entirety of that source? As well, Jung noted that the unconscious is what is in the shadow; what we are not aware of. Can we ever not create shadow by virtue of the focus that time and bodily existence require?

        I don’t know. But, I am very excited by the surge in modern interest in these questions and respect for the value of these experiences. I wish I could bottle some of my own and donate them all to those who have not yet experienced the beauty and joy of what I would call ecstacy.

        Much love and appreciation for you both!

        Liked by 1 person

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