Sunday, July 24, 2011


This dream might  be rated R due to its horror factor. If  I'm to share the nature  of my dream life I feel I must share this type of dream as well as  easier ones. I suggest one read the blog post called 'dreams 101'  before reading this dream. The nightmare  portion of this dream was so jarring I could do nothing but try to absorb it and  tone it down so it did not continue to haunt me. In the end no one was harmed but it scared the shit out of me. I did not  want to think about it but knew it needed to be better integrated into consciousness if I were to benefit from it.

Dream:  The dream centers  on fishing. There were so many vivid details that I feel  unable to describe it very completely. Bev, I and others are on the water. I recall one time it was very cold waters in some kind of ocean harbor. There was an imaginary line described to me and I was told to not fish to the left of it. They said that water was too cold to have fish. But seeing no harm I cast my bait into the cold water. I quickly had a strong pull. It felt like a large fish. As I reeled it in it seemed my line was tangled with Beverly's. For a moment I thought we were both snagged up on something . But then we began to see the large fish. I was able to bring it safely to the surface. It was a good catch. Then Beverly hooked one and reeled it in. Her fish is a very vivid image to me now. It was a pretty bright 'blue fish'. I took it off the hook  and told her  it was a 'blue fish'. She was pleased with her catch.
 Then I and others were hiking our way through sand dunes with knee high water running through them. I hesitated to step down into the water. But when I did I was pleased to find that my leather lace up boots seemed to keep my feet totally dry. It seems there were other more challenging aspects to this dream but I am recalling no specifics.

Nightmare. This began with a voice saying, 'The Father will wake him at 6:00.' I barely awoke and saw the clock said 6 AM. Then I went back to sleep and had this nightmare. All of this was in this very house. I was in the bathroom. I pulled up the edge of the carpet on the South side by the toilet. There to my disgust was dirt and there lay a good sized dark colored snake. The head looked like it could be a viper. I was horrified. I went out of the bath and closed the door. I was imagining finding a frog gig and going in and trying to kill it but I had no such tool. At that moment a man knocked at the front door. He asked if an old woman could use the bathroom. Reluctantly I and others agreed. She came in and was very old , using a walker and not particularly nice. She seemed irritated. She had a 'witch' air about her. I told her I needed to prepare the bath room. I went back in . Now the snake looked larger. I covered it up with the carpet and let the woman go in. Then the dream switches to a man on a step ladder in the basement right below the bathroom. He may be the same man who came with the woman. He was working up high in the floor joists. Suddenly a huge black dirty python like snake dropped headfirst all the way to the floor. It appeared clumsy as being drunk. His body covered the whole span from the house floor to the basement floor with obviously much more body still upstairs. It calmly began to slither into an adjacent basement room. The full body was never exposed. Anyone who saw it was totally horrified. I had no response at all. Just struck speechless in horror. 

Reflection: I'm still frightened and have no thought of any meaning other than to scare me to death. I'm only relieved that no one was hurt. It being in my house makes it very personal and all the more disturbing. I've never been able to outgrow my basic negative reaction to snakes. I know the fear I and others have of the snake image is very irrational. An innocent garter snake in the yard brings forth the same intense emotion as a rattle snake cornered, coiled and ready to strike us. I know in most ancient cultures the snake was a positive symbol of wisdom and fullness of life. But the Eden story's negative image seems to have so much sway over the western psyche including mine.
 I'm pictured as 'fishing' in forbidden waters which is very much parallel to the Eden story and eating the 'forbidden fruit' which  was clearly stated as the source of deepest wisdom. Fishing is a strong symbol of a human's attempt to retrieve the contents of the dark unconscious. And there are always strong social voices, for good reason, discouraging such human wanderings. But only through the encounter of the ego consciousness with the deep unknown Collective Unconscious can the needed evolutionary steps of humanity be taken. My CPE(Clinical Pastor Education) was a formal move I made in that direction. At the time I had some awareness  I was stepping into 'deep water' but I had no comprehension as to how deep, and cold. I consulted with a trusted church deacon  about entering CPE and he felt it would broaden my perspectives. Was he ever correct! I just now read Shelby Spong's tribute to an old pastoral friend from St. Louis. Their lifelong friendship began with taking CPE together. So I was reminded that others who have drunk very deeply of forbidden unorthodox waters were , like me, first stirred by a strong CPE experience. For me that was 1980-81 and again 1983-84. My inner life began an enrichment process that has continued.

I am pleased that Bev caught a  beautiful fish. Blue was not her favorite color however. But in the dream she is pleased and well. I'm glad. I've always felt a strong desire that she be well and happy. Beverly and my lines being tangled as we wrestled with the deep things of life is a very appropriate metaphor of our relationship....strained because of the complexities we were given but very much a working team, caring about each others success and well being. The dream also shows my fishing effort in the deep cold ocean water to have been successful with no permanent harm coming to me. Tromping in the sand dune waters seems also to be more than a personal thing. It too pictures me in strange places that are not without danger. But thankfully my feet are protected and managing to find some solid ground even in the waters of the unconscious. The Biblical message warns about the shifting sands and prescribes the human get their feet to solid ground. There is no real solid ground in the sand dunes but the most needed solid ground can only be found by risking the trip through the watery dunes.

The nightmare begins with  an old woman who is clearly an 'anima' image. She invites herself into my most personal space.
I was invited into CPE indirectly through Bev's and my counseling experience. My very first awareness of the anima was a 'turtle dream' my second year of CPE. An absolutely  dazzling  female image emerged from a turtle shell. I was totally amazed and asked others to 'look at that'. But others could not see her. My dealings with the 'anima' have been going on  now more than a quarter of a century. I've felt  she has become a well integrated part of me in a very positive  and helpful way . But here she shows up all cranky and acting as if she does not know me. She goes straight to the center of  strongest instincts and deepest emotions imaged as the 'bathroom'. Her being old may reflect that for my mortal lifetime she is now old with me. She seems irritated in the dream at the slow progress of my life. She is impatient that my life has become  stuck. She intends to get my inner, and possibly outer,  life to a new place. She is coming to kick me out of my comfort zone. Is this another kind of  'wake up' image? It was in the living room of this house in 1984  during a group card game Beverly noticed me nodding and told a lady at my table,  " Wake Jim Up!"  This was  at my 40th birthday party. My literally falling asleep during that card game prompted her statement.  It seems in retrospect to have been the launching words for an extended mid-life crisis involving a classic Jungian type 'Confrontation with the Unconscious.' Since that incident me being 'awakened' has been a constant dream theme. In about three months after that I lost my ministry job which seemed like a personal and family tragedy that had a strong 'awakening effect' on me and drastically changed my life    And here the 'Father' promises to 'awaken me at 6.' This dream has  startled and awakened me .  I'm practically numbed by it. .

This is precisely how I feel about my life now. I am stuck. I have no capacity to deal with the giant snake that has become my inner life. The snake is in my instinctual personal life , the bathroom, but far more it is overwhelming the unconscious sources(the basement) that feed my conscious life. The snake is out of its natural environment. It is as bothered being in the house as I am for it to be there. It showed no signs of aggression, just looking for a place to go and reminding me that I too need a new place to go probably inwardly. Obviously the symbolism here is more than I can fathom.  A 'living symbol' always says far more than one can comprehend. It can't be fully rationalized.  Once that happens the symbol begins to die. It has served its life giving purpose. But some symbols we are exposed live throughout life and never lose their power over us. The snake had made its to my consciousness. It was 'upstairs'. But once upstairs I have not been able to bring it under control. I have 'bit off more than I can chew'. And what cannot be kept in consciousness must return to the unconscious which is a regression not progress. So the snake awkwardly falls back into my unconscious. Something in the dream made me think the snake was drunk. It is like the snake is even bewildered at being caught and pulled between human consciousness and unconsciousness. If it showed the snake successfully returning to the unconscious , the basement, then it would imply that I have not been able to successfully complete my task of integrating my experience of the unconscious into consciousness, my own but perhaps also  to the collective consciousness of my peers.( This blog that no one reads may be an effort to do some of that.) In the dream the snake does not unnoticed slip back to unconsciousness. Because my ego is pictured ready to meet him even though he has fallen into the 'basement'. The snake is 'known' now at least by me. So just my 'being there' was perhaps accomplishing much. He can no longer hide. Obviously there is still much work to be done to get the snake back upstairs and fully into the environment of collective consciousness in some kind of presentable way that I can't now comprehend..

The emotional impact on me of this dream is extreme. Positively, I do not see anything here as inherently evil. The old woman and the dark huge snake are images seeking to alert me that strong forces of the collective unconscious are being set free in my personal behalf and maybe for a broader human community to which I relate. It pictures a call for life's collective energies to move me forward into a more appropriate inner/outer  situation?  I have sunk deeper and deeper into life's entanglements to a danger point. This house of 35 years  represents all the factors and forces that have led me to be so 'knee deep' in the complex web of a life where I've been fully engaged in the  mortal possibilities of living, learning, loving, working and playing. But the dream seems to say, 'this is no way to end your pilgrimage'. This is not the end result of your 'fishing expedition'. Something more fitting is due. Don't get so settled in as you are prone to do.

“The father will wake him at 6” is a very strong  authoritarian voice. Six has long  been the number that is associated with the dark chaotic waters of the deep unconscious. Six is where I began my journey(accompanied by six older literal brothers) that was to lead me toward the very whole number 8(the double of four or square). My address here for 36 years is 608. From six I was reduced to zero in order to make progress toward 8. I was 'awakened by the father' some 26+ years ago from my  spiritual sleep. 'Father' was the most dominant image of God I knew at that time and His goal was to awake me to a  more complex and hopefully more adequate view of the Sacred. 'He' knew, in His own imperfection and one sidedness, that I needed to be far more acquainted with the   'She' aspects of Sacred life. I take it as an affirmation by the Father that He again would 'awaken me at six' to present me with this nightmare where the 'feminine' anima has the key role.

Finally , after these meandering thoughts, I am left with mostly the emotional impact of the dream. The forces of  the Collective Unconsciousness, the forces of the Sacred, are a frightening thing to  experience. Scripture reminds, " It is a frightful thing to fall into the hands of a living God."  I see nothing in the dream that implies that these forces are working against my well being. But are strongly alerting me to be open to whatever doors the powerful snake and the old anima are attempting to open. Also, these dreams are so filled with collective images and archetypes that it reminds me that whatever is good for me is also good for whatever human community or culture  I am related to. These experiences may be some day my gift to others?  My community for me is first my family. And  I also realize  I am gratefully connected and indebted to all my past church communities , my work with various institutions, my village and the public education system. I  have very strong patriotic feelings toward my native land America. I consider myself a grateful and concerned member of the total human family. I yearn for all fellow human travelers  to be encouraged by what we all might  intuit as being  the Sacred.

I have no idea what to do with myself today. I am so  blown over by this dream. It is far too much for the human ego to handle graciously. But I will try to handle it by not feeling obligated to handle it. I will attempt to just receive it, honor it by recording it, and trust that these forces are at bottom very  benevolent. 

Second Reflection: Snakes have been a recurring image in my dreams all during the past 25 years. Several times the snakes have been very threatening. The first 'big' snake dream and still vividly alive with me happened when I was very lost from any normal life path in the Spring of 85.  I was living alone in a Northwest Houston apartment and had not worked a regular job for several weeks. My family was counting on me for support.  My energy was needed to deal with a beginning flood of images from the Collective Unconscious. I was at the end of my tether in my outer life. The situation was bleak. Then this unforgettable dream. A  pile of precious jewels  were being  guarded by a  large intimidating coiled Cobra snake. The snake obviously would strike me if I moved toward the treasure. So in a sense from then on in dreams the snake has represented whatever my legitimate 'enemy' is. The treasures would represent whatever it is that I should value the most and need the most whether it's information, spiritual direction , relationship or material necessities. The snake represents whatever forces would work against me having the treasures so important to fulfilling  life's tasks and purpose. The snake may be various things whether people, patriarchal social systems, restrictions, outdated traditions or the apostle Paul's 'powers and principalities'.

If the snake in the present dream represents my enemy, the dream shows the enemy had gained a very strong foothold pictured as  living in the intimacy of my own home. And the enemy is big, strong and powerful. Without some kind of intervention on my behalf it appears the enemy would be able to make its final and effective strike against me. Then this dream shows an intervention being done by the anima and her buddy. It becomes significant that I escort her into my bathroom. I allow her into my most inner life.  I first attempt to 'prepare' it for her. I am likely  very concerned about who is going to win this battle that is taking place which determines my destiny. It is primarily a battle happening within me which is always where the real spiritual battle happens. And it can also spill into the meaning of my outer life. The snake appearing drunk may  imply that he has been weakened or wounded. The anima came into the bathroom, confronted the snake and drove him out of his strong position designed to harm me. (Keep in mind  that I understand all of these symbolic figures are a part of me.) The snake that guarded the treasure in '85' looked at me 'eye to eye'. This snake though large appears clumsy. It never looks at me and finally is trying to get away from me. Does the dream perhaps show that some  major battle has been won? That whatever the treasures are they are not under the control of the snake anymore? The  old cranky anima woman  is pictured here  for me as a hero and rescuer. That is how I've thought of 'her' for decades  but she really surprises me in this dream.

The unexpected image of the anima seems to me parallel  to how many people perceive Jesus the Christ related to them.  I'm led to this thought. Would it not make' the Christ' symbol  more accessible and a stronger spiritual influence today if it were recognized as a broad and inclusive symbol , not totally fulfilled by any one particular person, even Jesus of Nazareth? Then every human is potentially an incarnation of the Christ Symbol. Is this not what Paul means when he says, "It is not I but Christ who lives in me."  If the Christ is understood to be such an archetypal reality it implies that it can take limitless forms, just as the anima does, and it can mean somewhat different things to different people at different times in history. One likely could find a parallel image of the Christ in other world religions. What a positive connecting link to different peoples that would be.   Christ in Western culture has taken somewhat different forms even in the church  but unfortunately many such unique interpretations of the Christ are claimed to be the 'one and only' correct one, thus 300 + denominations. There are many pre and post  Jesus stories that are similar to the Jesus of Nazareth story including, miraculous birth, martyr death, resurrection and ascension. All of this  suggests that a finite number of archetypes in the collective unconscious come back into human consciousness in  different forms depending on the state of mind  of the social group that is needing a  change of  conscious attitude and improved spiritual/psychological balance. (This can be why it is true there is 'nothing new under the sun'.) When at any one time in history  the archetype attaches to a particular person and situation, as with Jesus of Nazareth,  and it is interpreted  as the 'one and only' or the 'one True' version of the archetype  negative things likely eventually happen. For one thing the once appropriate appearance of the archetype ceases to be appropriate when a new changed situation arrives. And while the collective unconscious begins to bring different archetypal structures to life in the population, people clinging to the details of a previous incarnation of the archetype  find themselves clinging to something that is no longer living but has become a relic.  Such people will make desperate  efforts  socially and politically  to keep it alive. Also to claim a 'one and only' Christ or similar symbol pushes people toward  defensive anger and violence when other  legitimate experiences of the Sacred begin to arrive.

This process( of archetypes seeking to become  uniquely conscious according to new human needs and circumstances) also works in the life of the individual. My dreams may give one example of how the collective unconscious effects and encourages change in the  attitudes and values of a person.  And this is done without destroying the deep psychological structures of the individual(S/he stays fully the same person.) Such a psychological/spiritual process calls for the active cooperation of the individual with the contents coming to consciousness. I would be delighted if my experience might some day contribute some small  piece  to such an understanding. Jim 

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