I had a dream last week… eons ago now, but the essence of the dream has not left me and one of the things I have noticed since I started blogging is that some posts keep knocking at the door of my consciousness saying, ‘write me, write me’. This is one such post.
As part of my reading around dream work and with CG Jung specifically, one thing is repeated often, our unconscious is connected, our feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, hope and joy are connected through universal symbols and images and so perhaps this dream will speak to some of you too, which is why I have given in and said, ok, I’ll share.
So, here it is:
I was driving along in my car going fairly fast (as is the norm with me I hesitate to add, both in the car and in life) and I was not wearing my seatbelt. Standing in front of me was a row of policemen, blocking the road. I realize that I am not wearing my seatbelt and slow down to try and put it on. The policeman on the far left is a big black man. I think to myself, I know this man, but I cannot place him. He is holding up a rifle, pointing it directly at my face, indicating (quite obviously I suppose) that I should pull over, so I move into the left-hand lane and try to slow down, but, because of my speed I only manage to stop much further down the road and so have to reverse back to where he was standing. Now, with seatbelt securely fastened, I start to reverse and as I do I gently bump into a lady parked behind me. (Please, let me say at this stage that I am not a bad driver, even though my unconsciousness seems to be painting a different picture *clears throat innocently*). The lady is perfectly sweet and tells me, it’s ok, it was her fault because when you hit someone in the back it’s the fault of that person and not the person in front (A message in the art of self-deceit perhaps?) So, we smile and wave and I go on my merry way, to find the policeman to receive my fine, my punishment…
I enter into an old empty warehouse and start asking around for him, I eventually find him and explain why I am there, that I think I have a fine and I am coming to collect it. He takes me to his desk where his computer is backed up against a fridge. Now, as we all know, a computer cannot function if it is backed onto a fridge (apparently it’s a universal truth!!) and so again, I cannot receive my ‘punishment’.
Another thing I have learnt in my dream work is that a hasty interpretation or a blanket, one-sided approach does not always reveal the full truth and so this dream will take some more time to unpack, but this is what I have worked out so far.
Let’s start with the policeman. A big black man (whom I vaguely recognise), he is my masculine self, my contrasexual archetype, the animus. The fact that I am somewhat afraid of him, also to me in some ways indicates he could be part of my shadow self. Shadows are the opposite of who we try to be, the parts of us that we try to deny or reject. It’s the part of the personality that ‘lurks in the darkness’ and although usually of the same sex, in my self-reflection I am trying to bring together the male (animus) and female (anima) aspects of who I am and so I know this man is that masculine part of me, which is authoritative and ‘moral’, a part of me that I reject as un-feminine and the part I need to embrace more fully.
The policing self, is aware of where I may be travelling too fast, not taking notice, being a little hasty and so steps in front to warn me to slow down and to become more conscious. This life is not a race and so my shadow self, my male side is also a gift. He doesn’t want to punish me, he wants to warn me: ‘put your seatbelt on, take some precautions with your life, be mindful, be careful and be more authoritative’.
Bringing our shadows into the light can make them seem less scary and in this case not something that I even really need be ashamed of. I am learning at Seminary to grow a backbone, I am learning when to stand up for myself and say NO and when to be flexible and amenable (this is not an easy tension to manage), but this dream reminds me that life is not about right and wrong, punishment and retribution, it’s not about judgment and condemnation – which is how I initially viewed my masculine self – rather this message seems to call me to mindfulness and inner strength. Obeying the laws of ‘artful living’, authentically.
I can be highly critical of myself and am always looking for the punishment for my actions. Even in this dream I rushed to an interpretation which showed that I am dealing with feelings of guilt and retribution, when in actual fact as I have listened and wrestled this imagery out, I have come to realize that my chasing after a policeman is more about me needing to own my authority than about receiving some kind of punishment. As a Christian, I know about forgiveness and this dream came a night or two after my reflection on Jonah, when I read that ‘God is a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity’. (Jonah 4:2) But what you know in your head and what you feel in your heart (or your shadow) is not always the same and so this is another layer to the dream.
Joseph Campbell in his Reflections on Artful Living quotes Jung as he says:
All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all ego-hood. “It is from these all uniting depths that the dream arises, be it never so childish, grotesque, or immoral. So flowerlike is it in its candor and veracity that it makes us blush for the deceitfulness of our lives.’ – CG JUNG
My deceit is not owning the 2 sides of who I am, the little lady sitting at the side of the road who says ‘it’s ok, don’t worry’ (even when it clearly does) and the authoritative policeman, who is there to guide and protect me. The dream seems to ask me to integrate my light and my dark, my authoritative male self, with my nurturing female self, pairing them up by working towards ‘individuation’, Jung’s word for the process of achieving wholeness .
And so I want to say thank you that the dream came as a way of saying, listen to your inner policeman, own your authoritative side, learn to recognise the many sides of being BlissPhil, so that in life I can become more whole, more present and more balanced.
Dream on … *smiles*