Thursday, July 14, 2011

An 'Anima' Dream about Serving

Dream Aug10,2009:  I was by the water's shore and a woman was present. I was in the role of her servant. She had many kinds of fishing rods and I was to keep them orderly and clean. There was some kind of magic device made of plastic. I knew that she was going to click this device at some point and it would be of great advantage and like a gift to me. This made it very easy to work for her knowing that she had my interest at heart and the reward would be one of great joy.
Indian Fisher Woman

REFLECTION: This is clearly an 'Anima' dream. My effort to open the window on my dream life would not be complete without sharing such a dream. As is customary I let my mind be free to explore and ponder as I 'reflect' on this dream. I don't intend such a reflection to be a sermon. If it sounds like that it is intended as a sermon to myself. Also, I am editing these reflections for the blog keeping in mind  that others may read them.

'Anima' is the name that Jung uses for the central feminine figure that often appears in dreams and fantasies of humans, especially Jung thought those of men. I think this feminine archetype is also a central figure in the unconscious of post-modern women. Jung demonstrated the important and living role 'she' plays in the process of the images of the Collective Unconscious becoming conscious in individuals, a process he called Individuation. Experiencing this aspect of the unconscious was an important part of the intense  internal  experiences I had beginning in mid August of 1985. 'She' was experienced as a living person whom I was compelled to acknowledge as real and full of promise and life. Another of  'her' characteristics is a strong and unexpected sense of humor. Eventually I came to understand that 'she' was a part of me that had previously not been at all conscious to me. And as a collective archetype I believe she is a part of us all.  A figure representing her does not even appear in this dream but she is fully present. I refer to this living structure of the psyche as a 'she' for this is exactly how the experience strikes a human. This feminine reality is not like an 'it' but like a personality. It is a way the mind truly invites us to 'talk' to our self , to our anima who is 'like' another person.

Her not having an actual image here is a reminder that the anima is not a visible real human woman but an inner spirit, goddess-like presentation of a man's soul.  In dreams she may appear as a mother, sister, goddess, friend or witch, hag, prostitute or street walker and countless others.  All my life I've heard talk of our eternal soul but  the concept lacked real meaning or value for me. Even though it is talked about as  that which is worth 'saving' it remains to most people something with which we have no experience or  genuine attachment. Most  have no real feeling about such an 'it'. But when the 'soul' is experienced even in a dream like this as an inner female personality that is a part of our being, a part of our inner life, we can truly come to love, value and care for 'our soul'.  She really gets our attention. We can come to look at 'her' as a guide and as this dream shows I am  to be  a servant of the soul. The Soul , I think , is closely associated in meaning to the Biblical Holy Spirit. I think the two  are parallel in many ways. The soul experienced becomes what unites all other experiences. For Christian Trinitarian Theology it can be the soul, the anima or Spirit that unites the chaotic, wild, horrific power of 'Father' and the reasoning, caring attributes of the 'Son' or Logos. The Soul, the anima, brings life to a man's inner world. She is even surely the presentation to him of 'eternal life.' I believe it is informative to reconsider how the gospels present women, especially Mary Magdalene, as a very close comrade  and  forever faithful comforter to Jesus. This may be how the story speaks of Jesus' experience of the Anima I'm speaking of. Words of a pop song some years ago say, "If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting... time after time." These are words that describe the Anima at her most endearing. And she is ones own Soul and will bring out the very best  and most that  is in a person.
Man Serving Woman

Above all else,  the anima is a fisher-woman. Fishing has always  been an image for a human, in recent times usually a man, bringing something from the depths of the unconscious, the unknown water, the sea. And this is what the anima does for a human. She is able to gather up content from the personal and collective unconscious and bring it to consciousness in the human mind. This she does in dreams, hunches, intuition, revelations and visions. What she brings is always in symbolic language. She is the bridge between consciousness and the unconsciousness and so is the way that the competing opposites in the inner and outer world are potentially brought together and transcended. For Paul Tillich, prominent Christian Theologian, the central opposites now needing united are 'power and meaning'.... and he would see these as parallel to 'Father and Son' respectively. Other areas that were once one that have been split into opposites by the arrival of human objective consciousness are male-female, matter-spirit, consciousness-unconsciousness, earth-heaven, sexuality-spirituality, Eros-agape, etc etc.

The anima is depicted in this dream as having a vast array of fishing gear. She is the expert in bringing just what is needed from the depths of the unconscious and presenting it to the human conscious mind. Thus she is the great giver of gifts. She brings the gold, frankincense and myrrh to the human incarnations of God. She brings that which can at first terrify and disturb consciousness for she is always including the 'other' that consciousness had chosen to eliminate for simplicity and ego satisfaction. She brings a lot and she expects a lot of the human person. And she will do most anything to bring about a higher level of consciousness in a person and in a culture. She is one who confronts humanity with the troubling reality that at times what has been good must give way to what is now better. She brings to remembrance all things ancient but only to say that what is ancient has now shifted form and meaning. She agrees with the Christian idea that 'In Christ All things are new' and are 'always becoming new'. She knows that death has its place in all things. Nothing is permanent except the archetypes that bring forth all that is real both in the material and the spiritual world. She is in direct touch with those archetypes and so brings their new twists and arrangements into human consciousness.

She works for the continued good of humanity. She is behind the evolution and the survival of the species. She will appear as one who does magic, as anticipated in the dream, for the well being of those who will give her their devoted attention. She takes what humans produce, such as plastic here, and uses them for extraordinary purposes. Yet she will not always interfere when humans use such material to destroy, consider the nuclear bomb. She is one whom the human can know is worthy of serving. The servanthood so prominent in Christian teaching finds its very tangible and practical meaning when one is relating to the anima. This is clear in the dream. This archetype was living in Medieval Christianity in the stories of the Knight  serving faithfully  his lady.  It is seen in the New Testament as  Christ serving the Church, his mystic bride.  Such  archetypes of the unconscious  surface in myriad ways over the centuries. It is always a mistake to take one of these appearances as being the 'one and only' one or the 'eternal truth.'  This is a mistake that happens in all religious systems, taking the single example of  an archetype as being the only 'true' one. Serving 'her' and thus serving humanity makes total sense. She is good to work for because she loves to reward those who seek 'the way' she offers. 

Bible devotees can see in the anima another presentation of the personification of 'divine wisdom' that is so beautifully spoken of as the feminine Sophia in Proverbs. The teaching of Jesus is in this same vein, that of Wisdom rather than specific rules and regulations.  The anima, Wisdom and Jesus all are saying there is 'a way' that is different than any conventional way or wisdom. There is indeed 'a way' that is 'less traveled', 'a way' that is 'narrow.' They all are saying that we are called to march to a 'different drummer'. So there is a warning in their message. It is not a warning of being forever lost from the sacred presence or 'burning in Hell'  but a warning of missed opportunity to do what is the spiritual purpose and task of human beings... to receive as much of the unconscious content into consciousness as we are capable.  This is a great work of love. This turns out to be the greatest service we can be to our fellows as well as the greatest gift we have to offer. The anima comes to especially help us with that task. And as we take up that task she always promises just as the N. T. scripture states that we are indeed headed for that indescribable 'joy that is unspeakable and full of glory'. Jim

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