Electric Dreams

Jung the Great Dreamer but Where Are His Little Dreams?

Strephon Kaplan-Williams 

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Kaplan-Williams, Strephon (2001 March). Jung the Great Dreamer but Where Are His Little Dreams?  Electric Dreams 8(3). Retrieved from Electric Dreams December 30, 2001 on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams 

 Strephon Kaplan-Williams, author, the Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual, Elements of Dreamwork and the Dream Cards

We start with an observation. Jung himself was not a dreamer. He was a great dreamer. Jung originated the term, Great Dream, by which he meant any dream that like drama, had a beginning, middle and an end, was complete in itself and whole. In his _Memories, Dreams, Reflections_, published after his death, he gives us his great dreams and tells us how they directly influenced and guided his life. They are indeed major dreams and show the Jungian dreamwork process. Jung's childhood dream was of going down a tunnel underground and coming face to face with an erect penis on a throne. The Jungians call this a phallos to indicate an archetype, not a human. So we get the impression that Jung was a great dreamer, a version for some of a Jungian saint.

I once had in my year long dreamwork training a man who presented dreams of flying from earth to mars and so on. He really impressed us and so I named him the cosmic dreamer. However, his wife told me privately that he only remembered and wrote down his great dreams. He never bothered with all the ordinary dreams, what one analyst of mine called the skunk dreams where we are shitting in the living room and not the bathroom, or where I had to stack hundreds and hundreds of pieces of wood.

This raises an issue. Certainly when we remember or only present our great dreams, those with major archetypal and mythic imagery, then we are going to believe in the Jungian collective unconscious and that everyone out there is having great dreams of the archetypes. To illustrate, an older lady in a dream group complained that she only had ordinary dreams compared to some of the other members of the group. She would dream repeatedly of a simple farm with a fence around it and in that fenced in area would be a cow. Certainly she could not be classified as a great dreamer. But I did suggest one thing to her. If she wanted to dream of mythic creatures she should read a book about dragons before bedtime. She replied that she would do just that and bring the results in the following week. Well, in fact she came to group beaming, for she now had her first mythic or archetypal dream. She dreamed of the same simple farm with its fence around the pasture. But this time instead of there being a cow in there she now had a dragon fenced in! She could now earn the title of Dragon Lady, a more exciting title of course than Cow Lady.

So this incident illustrates the difficulty of interpreting dream content. I call it dream context. What is the dream landscape you habitually dream in? So, as some have said, if you go to a Freudian you have Freudian dreams and if you go to a Jungian you have Jungian dreams and if you go to a Lucidian you have lucid dreams. This last part I have added of course.

What is key with any dream is the context within which it is dreamed. This does not mean necessarily the context of the dreamer's life but of the dreamer herself. I once counseled a young woman dreamer. Her father wanted her to stay in college because he was an academic himself. But she kept dreaming of trees, forests, streams, mountains. So I suggested that she could simply follow in life what her dreams were dreaming for her. She quit college and went full time into the ecology movement. I am almost sure that was the right choice for her.

Thus we have the issue, do we lead the dream or does the dream lead us? Are we dreaming certain a symbolic context because we are creating our context, like a Jungian who has to be a Jungian because he identifies with being a Jungian?

To rephrase the paradox, might it not be better that for some Freudian patients who are having Jungian dreams that they be referred instead to a Jungian, and that the Jungians then reciprocate by sending their clients who have a lot of sex dreams to Freudian analysts?

In my own trainings and practice I will work with anyone's dreams and usually go along with their context. Some are always dreaming about their personal relationships while others mostly journey alone in their dreams. I don't intervene and suggest other kinds of dreaming but if anything, enhance with the dreamer the context they are dreaming in. One woman years ago who had never had any interest in animals except her house cat started dreaming of dolphins. What were we to do? Suggest that the dolphin is symbolic of a mammal who regressed to the sea, or is a mythic animal the ancients revered and so she was having a spiritual experience or that dolphins represent relating across species and therefore she should improve her relationships with the other sex, or all the variations thereof? No doubt you can look up in Jung's collected works what dolphins mean for him. However, what this dreamer wanted to do since she kept dreaming of her dolphins is that she took her vacations to Australia to visit people who visited the dolphins in the sea. This became a major advocation for her. This also raises dreamwork issues.

One danger of the Jungian approach to dreams is when it remains interpretive. The orthodox Jungian turns symbol into concept. They create interpretations based on their knowledge of other dreams, on mythology, on symbols and artifacts of culture. In fact, one of the major Jungian books on dreams is all about interpreting dream symbols and nothing at all about using Jung's active imagination techniques with dreams.

When I began the Jungian-Senoi Institute in 1978 in Berkeley, California, no one I knew of was doing dream reentry. Jung had already stated in his writings that sometimes he had his patients carry the dream forward. Jung stated you do not interfere with the dream itself, you do not change it in anyway since it is a direct product of the unconscious. But he did say that amazing things could happen when you began at the end of where your remembered dream left off and did active imagination of letting new images come to you as you continued your dream journey. Jung said he learned about imagery techniques from Ignacius Lyola, the founder of the Jesuit order who had his monks do guided imagery with the Christian dogma.

What I did was entirely new and it took a lot of courage on my part since I had been trained as a Jungian for ten years with Dr. Elizabeth Howes of the Guild for Psychological Studies. Don't change the dream! said Dr. Jung in effect, or this is ego inflation by the archetype!

But a woman dreamer, herself a therapist, in my dreamwork training for a year kept having repeat dreams of dark male figures. Now I could have interpreted these in Jungian fashion for her as negative animus symbols, but in fact I wanted to get to the emotional level with her. Turning _ image into concept_ simply would not do since it was interpretive and thinking. I needed to turn _symbol into function_, the functional approach. Jung had indicated that powerful things happen when you reenter the deeper psyche through active imagination which I also call the meditative state. So I got this dreamer's permission to take her back into her dream of the dark mysterious man with her eyes closed and my eyes closed.

What happened lasted an hour and a half. Other spontaneous imagery came up for her and it quickly turned into a man who had years earlier raped her. So then we had to go through that. I learned also that simply taking a person back into their psyche via the imagery could in fact be dangerous. I had the Senoi concept from Kilton Stuart that you could intervene in the dream situation while in the dream state. The Senoi trained their children to let themselves fall all the way when they had a falling dream instead of waking themselves up as if the dream was a nightmare. So here in this dream reentry I did not tell this dreamer what do to but suggested she simply stay present to this man, who was the image of her rapist, and encounter him however it came to her. My guidance was supportive and not directive, following the Jungian principle of let the deeper psyche produce its images spontaneously.

The amazing result was that for this dreamer a lot was healed for her at the feeling level because now she could confront her attacker. She had been having these negative male figure dreams because of a past traumatic experience. I subsequently used dream reentry with other dreamers who have been raped and also with other trauma victims and in each case with amazing and healing success. Their repeat dreams never repeated themselves after going through guided reentry with me. And their emotional life changed dramatically.

I hasten to add that many people now who have not been professionally trained in psychology or dreamwork at a highly skilled and supervised level are using active imagination and a form of guided dream reentry. One recent case in point from the Netherlands is of a priest who goes around telling his groups to close their eyes, see a forest and see their wild animals in the forest.

To the classically trained Jungian this is rape of the unconscious. It is a rational approach used to evoke imagery from the unconscious. Some people will immerse in the suggested images but what gets evoked can be more than they can emotionally handle.

So it is not simply Jungian to do dream reentry, active imagination or creative visualization, a misnomer for what is not always creative when you have people close their eyes and suggest things to them to visualize.

I strongly advocate that people who use active imagination on others and dream reentry with others be supervised and trained in handling ethically and professionally this technique. Having said this I know that there are many out there who will not go along with this statement. But I can tell you from personal experience that active imagination and dream reentry are powerful techniques. You can unbalance a person's psyche if you are not really knowing what you are doing.

But for those of you who will go ahead anyway I urge that as a guide you stay supportive and neutral as much as possible. You do not direct what the person you are guiding should do. You do not say when someone is at the door of a dream house, would you enter the house now and report what you see there? Better you say, You are at the door of this house. What are you experiencing right now? Then after experiencing the situation you can as guide ask, what choices do you have here? If finally the choice is to enter and explore the house, still keep it neutral. The guide can say, please start slowly. Just open the door and proceed at your own pace. Describe what you see. It will be amazing and unpredictable what is seen or experienced there. The guide supports possibilities. He or she does not direct the show with an exaggerated sense of his or her self importance at using such a powerful technique.

The reason I still consider myself Jungian is that through the dream and dreamwork channels the archetypes, or energy structures, have become very real for people at a feeling and imagery level. I use my Ego and the Seven Basic Archetypes model to help balance situations. If there is too much adversity I may search with the dreamer for a little more heroic, but without suggesting the images themselves.

Thus in a dream reentry and the dreamer is before her dream cave and it is dark in there, should you suggest that she summon a helper or light a torch? Aha! Guiding again by telling someone else what to do or what you would do. What if the choice is not to enter the cave in the dark. Again, stay present but don't suggest what to do. You are at the entrance to this cave. Can you just describe what you are experiencing there? And above all, never ask a person how they feel! Feelings are rational reactions. I feel fine. I feel bad. These are evaluative statements. It seems to pull the dreamer out of their trance state where they are open to their unconscious. How are they supposed to know what they feel? They are experiencing without immediate evaluation. That is the point.

I will just say that amazing things often happen out of a dream reentry. There may even be physical changes. Stephen LaBerge at one point stated he hoped to fine lucid dreaming techniques that would bring about physical healing. Well, I have taken a few dreamers through a dream experience and after they did have a change of symptoms. One dreamer was diagnosed as having breast cancer. She had a dream in which she was in the hospital hall and afraid to open the door to a ward room for what she would find there. I suggested she meditate in front of that door in her daily meditations until it occurred to her what to do. When she finally after many days opened the door she was not a cancer victim in bed there. And her breasts had no sign of cancer in her next diagnosis. The same happened for a dreamer with a diagnosis of cervical cancer. Dream reentry with a huge woman made of earth that the dreamer was helped to experience also meant somehow that her next pap smear was negative.

Not enough to go on statistically but it would not be hard to do clinical tests with the skilled and professional application of dream reentry to the right dreams of persons diagnosed with cancer. Another of my year long dreamwork students was scheduled the next day for an operation on her knee which was lame in part. She dreamed of being in the hospital and healing her knee right there with a method and statement that she knew what was wrong and could heal herself and did not need the doctors. Well, the next day she declared her knee was indeed healed and cancelled the operation and never had trouble with her knee since. Talk about Jesus doing healing's! Maybe it is possible with the right interventions?

What I am suggesting here with the Jungian dreamwork is that you must show results to prove that your methods and personality theory works. Any appeal to "Jung says," simply will not do. Can you produce results? Can you back up your ideas? Of course I have many more examples along these lines.

What is still Jungian about my approach is that the fundamental assumption that dreams reflect archetypal patterns still holds. I have also had extensive experience with psychotic teenagers in the former glory days of St. George Homes, Inc, in Berkeley, California. There also strong interventions through the dream state into the unconscious seemed to be a contributing factor in real shifts out of psychosis into healing. But of course with the mentally ill you have to often put a lot of energy into evoking the unconscious in the right way.

I have had a number of letters now from therapists who used my Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual with effective and healing results with their clients and patients. Sadly it is out of print now but may be gotten as a used book. Also my rewritten edition, Dreamworking is available as a used book. We are looking for a re-publisher and any grounded suggestions would be helpful.

Currently I live in the Netherlands and have a three to five year course for dreamwork professionals that meet every other Saturday throughout the year and work in small groups in between. This is training at the highest of professional levels and graduates must have had over one hundred dreams worked with at a core level. We are Jungian in the sense of Jung's key concepts of wholeness and individuation at work in the deeper psyche and revealing themselves as major energy principles in dreams and their dreamwork. We train professionals of integrity who have done the thorough work on themselves even before working with others and their dreams. Amazing changes in life and dreams have come about with these committed students.

Our professional ethics are based on students having direct experiences of their own dream journeys and life changes brought about through their own dreamwork. This cannot happen without going through the basic three year course, the one hundred dreams worked with, and an enormous shift away from dream control and egocentricity to truly following the guidance of ones own dreams and dream source. In addition students are professionally supervised and trained in using the dreamwork methodology on others as well. My own Jungian training lasted ten year. We try and do the professional level in five to seven years by concentrating mostly on the dream and its dreamwork itself. For my Jungian training I had to read all of Jung's twenty-two volumns, know them practically by heart, and be current with almost all the other Jungian writers as well. Fascinating stuff but for our professional dreamwork training we focus mostly on the dream and its dreamwork. This is the original book of the unconscious and far more powerful than reading even Jung.

I also give a week long summer intensive, this year from June 30 to July 6, 2001 in a forest in the Netherlands. Both my advanced Norwegian and Netherlands students will be there to participate and help lead. You can of course join us if you would like to work intensively for a week with your own dreams. This year our web site should be offering its first comprehensive dreamwork course for work at home on ones dreams.

Strephon Kaplan-Williams has his web site, www.dreamwork2000.com going for a year now with around 500 visitors a week. Of special note is his _Dream Cards_ Interactive page where visitors can pick by synchronicity an unknown Dream Card on a dream or life issue and receive the _Dream Card_ images and inspirational wisdom message which may give personal insight to what they are dealing with. Many have testified that this tool works for them. Also of note is that the _Dream Cards_ in revised edition with new recipes is out for the first time in a German language edition. The _Dream Cards_ have sold over 100,000 copies by now in eight languages. Please also note and pass on to others interested that Strephon is a weekly contributor to analyzing issues in dreams that people share at the Consciousness Forum page of Dreamwork2000.com. Here you can see how he works with people's dreams without making highly personal interpretations. Strephon calls his approach the functional approach to dreams in which dreams are analyzed for key issues in dreams and life and for life principles for dealing with those issues. If we do the work on the dream itself, how to deal with life becomes more obvious. We dream to wake to life!

-Strephon. Strephon Kaplan-Williams may be reached at s.williams7@chello.nl through his web site.