It’s been over a decade since I began recording my dreams, and while so much has changed, what remained the same is the powerful sense of having a conversation.

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Original Title: isthmus on Jung on dreams
Original Post Date: June 26, 2006 @ 3:33 am


Johanna Pieterman

“… the relation of the unconscious to the conscious mind is not merely mechanical or complementary, but rather compensatory, taking its cue from the anfractuosities of the conscious attitude, the intelligent character of this unconscious activity can hardly be denied.” [1]

It’s a commonly accepted idea that dreams provide unconscious information that is in some way obscured, repressed or simply absent from consciousness. But Jung is saying something more: that dreams offer not simply a passive compliment to what is lacking in the conscious mind, but intelligent responses to conscious lack. Which is to mean, the unconscious is not simply a blank mirror offering an inverse reflection of consciousness, but it is an entity capable of generating its own symbols.

“… dreams may sometimes announce certain situations long before they actually happen. This is not necessarily a miracle or a form of precognition. Many crises in our lives have a long unconscious history. We move towards them step by step, unaware of the dangers that are accumulating. but what we conscious fail to see is frequently perceived by our unconscious, which can pass the information on through dreams.” [2]

Here Jung refers to the manifestation of unconscious desires which may have taken prior form – however nebulous – within dreams. Hence, the unconscious in many ways, shapes the future, drives us forward and as such, can have a divinatory value. The trick is, with magic, you are learning to pay attention to these unconscious currents. You grant yourself a chance at autonomy and revolutionizing your own future. Without this knowledge, genuine autonomy is a mere illusion.

“I avoided all theoretical points of view and simply helped the patients to understand the dream-images by themselvse, without application of rules and theories. Soon I realized that it was right to take the dreams in this way as the basis of interpretation, for that is how dreams are intended.” [3]

The language of dreams and symbols is infinitely flexible and you must take care and time to learn this language, and to do this requires listening skills. Just like in real life conversations, this means listening to what is actually there instead of simply imposing your own cognitive schemas onto the speaker. Of course misinterpretations happen. But in time, you may find the dreams beginning to understand the abstract and more linear language of consciousness; you may find the dreams adapting to you instead of you simply adapting to it. You may find you are finishing each other’s sentences…

[1] Carl Jung. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Vol. 5: Symbols of Transformation. New York, NY: Pantheon Books Inc., 1956. 65.
[2] Carl Jung. Man and His Symbols. Dell Publishing, 1968. 36.
[3] Carl Jung. Memories Dreams Reflections. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1963. 170-1.