Ouroborus Dreams

Dreaming and the Body: Encapsulated archetypal energy expression

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Image operates in the body, both during wakefulness and in dreaming, as spontaneity, a kind of stream of consciousness which Schul (2015) points out is, in writing, the bodily experienced images of sensations, ideas, memories, feelings, etc. (p. 3). I think the way Halprin (2003) discusses improvisation, spontaneity, is similar (p. 119-120). When awake, the image may arrive in the body as a symptom, feeling, or movement and while asleep the body then includes the dream body as well as the physical one. Then, we may find the physical body reacting to, participating in tandem with, or reflecting the dream body. Landal (2002) says imagery is, “a mediating force between conscious though process and unconscious psychological and biological dynamics and patterns” (p. 117). The image, whether in the dream or in the body, is an encapsulated archetypal energy expression. Contained in this moment, this psyche, and this experience, the archetype finds its way into manifestation. Yet, both the body in the dream and the body awake are often disregarded as worthy messengers for unconscious contents. We are quick to ignore both the dream and the body (awake and asleep) and focus on the mind and the conscious awareness. This perspective divorces us from the embodied experience of the psyche. Landal says, “the body is actively and continuously involved in any imaging process” (p. 118) and later says body psychotherapy aims to, “surface and release embodied experiences and memories” (p 119). This gave me pause as I was reading it because release is not always the goal in depth psychological work. Being with, learning from, experiencing, enduring, engaging, assimilating, are also important and necessary elements of the work. If the goal is release, and it seems sometimes without always even engaging the image for its archetypal energy, then we are losing something valuable in this style of including the body and image. Just a thought I was pondering this week.

Halprin, D. (2003). The expressive body in life, art and therapy. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Landale, M. (2002). The use of imagery in body-oriented psychotherapy. In T. Staunton (Ed.), Body psychotherapy (pp. 116-132). Brunner-Routledge.

Schul, J. (2015). Embodied writing. Somatics Magazine-Journal of the Mind-Body Arts and Sciences, 17(3), 40-43.

Sacred Practice: Marriage as vessel for individuation

Cape Cod 2016

This week I find myself reflecting on my own marriage. In her book, Shelby (2018) says, “Human love is sacred practice” (p. 189). It is sacred to love the humanness of another and yourself. The flaws, quirks, and foibles of my wife are some of the things I love the most about her. Together, we are real, heard and witnessed. Thomas Moore begins his writing on soulmates by saying soul functions as a conduit for both connection and individuality. This seems to me the gold in romantic relationship. When Psyche returns to herself, when she sinks into unconsciousness at the end of the tale, she is utterly within. It is from this place that a real connection with Eros occurs, when he returns to meet her where she is. We cannot be connected to another if we are not fully ourselves in the relationship or allow the other the same freedom. We free ourselves from what Moore (1994) sees as the spirit’s desire for perfection and find as he says, “value in fragmentation, incompleteness, and unfulfilled promise” (p. 255). These are elements of long-term love as much as they are of relationships that don’t last many cycles. For me, love of soul is love of the universal in the particular(s). Loving the experience without judging the journey means soul is permitted to be both in this moment and beyond this body. This can happen in any meeting with ourselves or another. Romantic love allows for it if we don’t’ idolize it. Idolatry stops being about the gods and becomes about the icon. I fear that we’ve created idols of romantic love in our culture and have blocked ourselves from the true grace and grit it can bring the soul.

Shelby, S. (2018). Tracking the wild woman archetype: A guide to becoming a whole, in-divisible woman. Chiron Publications.

Moore, T. (1994). The soulful relationship. In Soul mates: Honoring the mysteries of
love and relationship (pp. 233-254). HarperCollins.

Haiku and ecological individuation

I came of age in the era of Earth Day. I remember the first year it was acknowledged in my school, in the 80’s, when we were each given a tiny tree to take home and plant. It was a little ritual that stayed with me as an image of what and how I can do something for the Earth I live on. As I was thinking about this post and which of the options to tackle, I recalled Dr. Kiehl’s story about the mockingbird singing atop a telephone pole in the morning. He called that act the bird’s “morning ritual” (Exploring Our Being in the World, para1) and that resonated with me. To sing, for a reason, even if the reason is simply to hear it, to plant a tree, for a reason, even if the reason is simply to touch the earth, are rituals because of the attitude of attention we bring. I am partial to ritual in my own life, some formal and others not. Fifteen years ago, I started writing Haiku. After time passed, I started to use it as a meditative practice. I observe and then write what wants said without judgement. Writing this long in that style, now when I sit down to do it I automatically think in the correct number of syllables (ha!). I don’t try to make it good, just real. How is this current world and I interacting today? What do I see and how is it the same as me? I find I’m always filled with gratitude after this practice.

Kiehl, J. T. (2016). Facing climate change: An integrated path to the future. Columbia University Press.

Empathy as a psychological way of being in the world

Alfred Adler was an Austrian medical doctor, psychotherapist, and founder of the school of individual psychology. His emphasis on the importance of feelings of inferiority, the inferiority complex, is recognized as an isolating element which plays a key role in personality development.

Empathy is key to the way forward, with ourselves in our own psychological development, with others, and with the many beings we share this world with. It’s something I find in my practice clients often need permission to give to themselves as they work on the issues they think brought them into the work and those that are influencing them unconsciously into the work. I’ve often used a version of tonglen practice, breathe in first compassion for yourself, then exhale compassion for the other (or the world) as a therapeutic tool. Dr. Keihl’s book felt very much like reading an extended version of tonglen, both the above version and the original which breathes in the pain of the world and exhales compassion. I was struck with the words, “Empathy is a grand connector across our complex web” (p. IDK because I have the kindle version).

I got to thinking how can we support the development of empathy in ways outside mindfulness and Buddhist practices. I think art in its many varieties is an option here. I’ve been considering the genre of novels that tell the story of an animals life from the perspective of the animal. These kinds of books offer a way into the life of the Other. I started by thinking of the book The Bees by Laline Paull. I learned so much about bees when I read the book, fell in love with the story of their lives, the meaning the had in their daily activities, and found myself feeling so connected to them we decided to start keeping bees (and planting special flowers for them). Two other books are interesting in this kind of empathy building, the White Bone (an elephant tribe) and the Rat, both of which tell their stories from their points of view, displacing humans. I’d like to believe these kinds of stories can build a bridge that can matter in this effort to curb climate change.

Deer, lightning bugs, and snakes

Animals are a big part of my life and show up in my dreams all the time. They usually play prominent and significant roles in my dreams and active imaginations. I struggle with the perception of animals which makes them only instinctual. I find it problematic when we don’t allow them an emotional life or say that it is only us personifying them. Jung says that, “in nature the animal is a well-behaved citizen” (p. 170). He calls it piety, to follow the laws of nature. I found that beautiful. An animal shielding its young from the weather, or playing with a member of its community, sharing a hard-won meal, correcting pack members with a sharp snap, all of these are the kind of devotion to the purpose in front of them.

We’ve recently moved into a camper on some land we bought for a farm while we build our little home and have come into close communion with its current residents. A herd of deer feast outside our door every night, the meadow lights up like glitter with lightening bugs, and we have lots of snakes. While this is only one way of seeing each of these multifaceted animals, I’ve found myself reflecting on the value of sharing in a close community of like-minded others (deer), the need for reconnecting to a sense of the magical and allowing myself to be seen in order to create (fireflies), and how any forward movement psychologically can only happen by moving sideways (my favorite and personal guide the snake). I found Russak’s statement, “with each species that disappears, our models for comparison diminish” (p. 50) profoundly moving and sorrowful, because I find myself seen most clearly through the eyes of animals, both inner and outer.

Jung, C.G. (2002). The earth has a soul, the nature writings of C.G. Jung. (M. Sabini, Ed.). North Atlantic Books.

Russack, N. (2002). Animal healing. In Animal guides in life, myth and dreams:
An analyst’s notebook (pp. 31-50). Inner City Books.

Sifting and Witches (sometimes naming posts is the hardest part)

Jung’s assertion that our “immediate connection with nature is gone forever” is hyperbolic. Simply sinking into unconsciousness is not elimination, as the unconscious acts as an autonomous, willful, and creative force. An image of sifting flour came to mind for me in this respect. The flour in the sifter is where the focus of the baker lies, while what is sifted into more delicate and softer particles falls into the bowl beneath it. Then, the baker scoops that back into the sifter to refine further. As things move in and out of consciousness, it seems a process of refinement, of sifting, occurs. What falls into unconsciousness eventually returns, not lost but preparing.

Reading through Fideler (2014) and White’s (1967) work I reflected on this enantiodromic-esque process and the repressed contents of immediate communication with nature working to become conscious again. The rise in witchcraft practices is an interesting development considering the decentralization of the human as nature, in nature, indicative to the Abrahamic faiths and ensuing philosophical perspectives. While one can argue the effectiveness of witchcraft and their attempts to re-immerse the human in nature (in some traditions the influence of Christian ideals is still heavily noticeable), it is interesting that the numbers of identified witches is increasing at the same time that the number of Christians is declining (Kosmin, 2009).

The witch is a shadow element of the Christian psyche. As Christianity repressed their own participation, reliance on, and connection with nature, they also began murdering witches (or at least people accused of witchcraft). The fact that most witches were female is unsurprising. The process of menstruation and birth are undeniable and unavoidable reminders of the pure naturalness of humans. The rising of the witch can be understood as a rising of the nature repressed in the modern psyche and the human need to be immersed and engaged in its numinosity.

Kosmin, B. A., & Keysar, A. (2009). American religious identification survey summary report. ARIS. http://commons.trincoll.edu/aris/publications/2008-2/aris-2008-summary-report/.

The analytic and the synthetic walked into a dinner party . . .

Illustration of a winged, fire-breathing dragon by Friedrich Justin Bertuch from 1806

Embodying and explaining are states of being in the world. Both are part of the human experience, each privileged differently by culture, purpose, necessity, etc. The need to know in our culture, for the reasons why based on causal connections, has dominated the Western psyche for some time now. Jung (1997) recognized this “split” but also assured us the other half, the more instinctive and naturally connected aspects of the psyche are not gone even if they arrive in images instead (p. 52). To be in this world, as the sensing and experiencing organs of the psyche becoming conscious of itself, both aspects are necessary. I find the idea of a split a rather aggressive metaphor, and therefore perhaps a fantasy generation of the analytical part of the psyche.

Carolyn Merchant (1983) tells us of the ancient poetic understanding of mining as a violence done to the earth (p. 31-32), an act possible if earth is not sentient, which brings forth monsters from the depths. Jung (1997) says our rational position, the mining of the psyche we can imagine, has “put us at the mercy of the psychic underworld” (p. 94), the monsters of our own depths as we forget our numinous connection to nature. I wonder if imagining the split of the psyche is also another kind of violence, an unnecessary one. What if, instead, we are entertaining diverse expressions of the archetype(s) of balance, or wholeness, or life. In this metaphor, both the analytic and synthetic are present but, just as conversation at a dinner ebbs and flows between interests and curiosities, so too will our own psyche. As a good hostess, our role is to notice when the conversation needs to be guided for greater inclusion.

Jung, C. G. (1997). Man & His Symbols. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.

Merchant, C. (1983). The death of nature, women, ecology and the scientific
revolution. Harper Collins.


One of the laments of the writers theorizing about synchonicity and psychology is the difficulty of translating this cosmology, based on the quantum discoveries and resulting revaluation of the nature of the universe, into the common language and understanding. Even more so, perhaps, into the felt-sense of life. The up and out nature of much of the ways science, and some of these authors, discuss these new perceptions of reality can have the effect of divorcing the individual from the whole while attempting to connect instead. I’ve been pondering this deeply lately because I have great concerns about the tendency to become so heady and philosophical, even so directed toward the skies, that we end up working against the desire to connect, to feel and experience the connection, to the cosmos for many people.

At one point in his book Le Grice calls individuation the process of “transformation involved in consciously aligning oneself with the evolutionary movement of the cosmos” referring to is as Logos (The psychological dimension of evolution, para. 10). This coupled with Swimme’s comment that, “the relationship between part and whole has to do with the fulfillment that comes with creativity” (p. 96), led me to thinking deeply about the necessity of Eros in this process of understanding and translation. Eros as expressed through our creativity.

We touch the truths of life, and the cosmos, through poetry, myth, music, dance, etc. When we create, and attend to creativity, we are a cosmos that loves. We love what we create and are broadened by the act of creating, loved in return by our creation. We are transformed by love. I am interested in the science, and the philosophy, but I am moved by poetry and literature, by music. The logos doesn’t have meaning without the eros; it has no impact. When I turn to Rumi, Oliver, Gibran, then the science matters to me and can enact on me and in me, but without the mythopoetic I find it devoid of the necessary soul. Depth psychology offers a mythopoetic soulfulness which encourages relationship between the logos and eros.

Le Grice, K. (2010). The archetypal cosmos: Rediscovering the gods in myth, science and astrology. Edinburgh, UK: Floris Books.

Swimme, B. (1996). The hidden heart of the cosmos: Humanity and the new story. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Archetypes as psyche enfolding

David Joseph Bohm FRS was an American-Brazilian-British scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind.

My imagination was captured this week by the holographic order of David Bohm with its two kinds of order and the idea of holomovement. Allan Combs and Mark Holland (1996) describe the holographic order as being one of reflection, enfolding and configurations of movement saying, “we might envision the entire cosmos as . . . spreading, interpenetrating, and creating complex patterns of interaction throughout” (p. 18). Inherently at the center of this idea is the whole contained in the part and vice versa. When commenting on Bohm’s “comic web of relations” Fritjof Capra (1987) says “If any part of a hologram is illuminated, the entire image will be reconstructed, although it will show less detail than the image obtained from the complete hologram” (p. 96).
I see metaphorical connections between this idea in quantum physics, the archetypes of Jung, and the archetypal moves of Hillman. Jung (2010) says, “the archetype represents psychic probability,” meaning that all its emerging possibilities are contained within the whole, and Hillman (1977) tells us that the archetypal is a “subliminal richness” of “invisible depth” (p. 80) even when on the surface it shows us something with less detail like the illuminated hologram. Both interpretations of the archetype have at their core the notion of movement, either as a kind of circling around or a downward spiraling similar to the holomovement of Bohm where “flux is the primary reality of the cosmos” (Combs & Holland, 1996p. 18).
Finally, the implicate order of the psyche might be seen as the organizing patterns of the archetypes, while the explicate order as the expression of the archetypal in the particular. Combs and Holland say explicate order is, “no more than the surface of the implicate order as it enfolds” (p. 19). So too, the archetypes as we experience them in the psyche through dreams, complexes, etc. are the surface experience of the deeper movement of the nonpersonal, transpersonal psyche.

Combs, A. & Holland, M. (2001). Synchronicity: Through the eyes of science, myth, and the trickster. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Capra, F. (1983). The turning point: Science, society, and the rising culture. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Jung, C. G. (2010). Synchronicity: An acausal connecting principle. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hillman, J. (1977). An inquiry into image. Spring, 1977, 62-88.

When suffering incarnated the god of love

I will speak to a time when suffering was a part of a shared experience and through that sharing held something of the sacred for me.  In the early 90’s I was one of two caretakers for my friend who was dying of AIDS, along with his partner.  We lived together and were each other’s family when our own would not have us.  I loved these two men dearly and deeply, and they loved me as well.  It was the first time in my life I’d been loved by another.  And, we suffered together the daily difficulties of a prolonged dying process, of the indignities of both the one losing life and the others struggling to make what was left worth living.  This intensity of the suffering of love and the joy of love bled together until there were times I couldn’t tell the difference between the two and the suffering was as dear to me as the joy, simply because we were all together.  We shared so deeply of ourselves and created a bond that I experienced as spiritual.  It was beautiful and horrible at the same time.  The day Brian died, I was 8 months pregnant and he placed his hand on my belly as he said his last goodbyes.  He whispered something to my daughter I couldn’t hear but I believe her soul did.  She was born on the one month anniversary of his death.  I saw both faces of love during that time, its cruelty and its redemption and both were worth it to me.  His partner and I still miss him, but he’s there with us when we talk to each other, when we share our continuing love for each other and him.  I may never believe in anything else, but between the three of us the god of love incarnated.  It took its sacrifice, but it also blessed us in equal measure.