The Shadow, Dream #9, November 11, 1989
This dream was originally entitled, Burning up the garbage. A numinous encounter with the Divine Child within, the dream is as alive in me today as it was in 1989.
In my dream, a young child about Rachel’s age or smaller is walking toward me. As she walks, the pack sack on her back begins to burn. I take a step closer and we make eye contact. The child removes the burning bag. We merge into one person and watch peacefully as the bag and its content burn without a trace into nothingness. I am deeply peaceful. I awaken.
In 1989, I understand the dream to mean that a burden of garbage, old beliefs, misunderstandings, pain, grief have been burned away. I am free to be the Real Child created in the image of God. I write a long poem to honoring the dream, the Mysteries of God, silence and stillness. I begin to question what “God” means.
I meditate. During my silence, I recall experiences of prayer during the pilgrimage to Lac St. Anne this past summer. Two friends prayed with me that afternoon. One told me she had a vision of a stone rolling away from my heart. The still peacefulness remained with me for many hours and into the evening. I read Luke 16:19-31. I am discovering the inner world of the Bible. I am coming to discern the difference between outer consciousness, worldly mindedness, sensory physical expression. Materiality starves the soul which becomes like a beggar awaiting scraps from the intellect and the senses. The soul, on the other hand, is eternal. In death there is no physical expression, thus the soul and inner consciousness will be free! I am begin to know that my search is within myself; thus the dreams. There is no outer authority that will “fix” me. I am seriously on my own. As a child, I read voraciously. The lives of the children at Fatima, a book I found in the shelves at my local church, miracles at Medjugorje, Garabandal, Zeitoun. I suppose I was already searching so many years ago. I studied elementary psychology in University. I studied nothing whatsoever about C G Jung, spirituality or the soul. My religious training consisted of family life, Sunday Mass and the Baltimore Catechism. As a midlife woman, I am looking for depth, not rules. Not external authority. I long for understanding. The intellect, the rich man in Luke, does not hear the still, small, inner voice. The heart and soul hear but the ego self refuses to give up control via the rational intellect. I am seeking integration, I guess. I begin to write. I AM. I contemplate the meaning of omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscient. Words memorized and spoken back to the Catechism teacher in summer and written i the correspondence lessons in winter. Understanding? I don’t think so. Now, at the age of 43, I am determined to develop my own understanding of these words. In a prayer of thanksgiving, I sing Glory Alleluia. I repeat my mantra. I am ready to take one more step. I am reborn. I move from birth of the inner life to maturity in the inner life. I am. I trust the process. I trust the Christ within. I am purified by the waters.
February 13, 2015
Reading that long ago dream and my Journal from that day, I am struck anew by the changes in my physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual life, my inner life and my understanding of Jungian theory, spirituality and religion. I cannot begin to describe it in one blog. Since I have recorded over 400 dreams, the story unfolds as do the the intervening years.
Symbols in the dream
The young child is often a symbol of a new beginning, new life and growth.. There are many possibilities, potentialities and potencies in the symbol of child. Innocence, trust and naivete abound. The child was numinous, the Divine Child, an archetypal image.
The pack on the child’s back is an archetypal symbol of the shadow within according to the theories of Jung. These dreams are mythic, great or grand dreams. They are often the dreams that occur during significant times of change, transformation and transition in your life. The collective unconscious holds universal archetypes identified by Jung as persona, shadow, anima/animus, Divine Child, the Wise Old Man or Woman, The Great Mother and the trickster. These archetypes possess a universal significance.
The shadow contains my treasure trove according to Jung; those rejected and possibly shameful aspects of self that I wish to hide from the world. Shadow work is critical to understanding of self and Self and contains within us what we do not wish others to see. Projecting our shadow onto others is the work of the false ego. Understanding that what we like in others is within us as is what we do not like about others! Hence the concept of projection. The work of our dreams is to acquaint and communicate with our unconscious. Shadow work is a difficult component of dream work as it contains our most primitive, uncultured and awkward selves. I have read where a sincere, loving person dreams of being a murderer while the murderer dreams of being a saint. It is definitely pause for consideration. I must say however, nothing in dream work is as simple as that. Literality has no place in the symbolic and metaphorical world of dreams. What is in your shadow? Everyone has a shadow. Proof lies in corporate sales of the latest and greatest stuff to help us hide ourselves beneath the latest fashions, rid us of wrinkles, sweat smells, hairy legs, or crooked teeth together with multiply self help courses in self-confidence and assertiveness. Watch the little ones in their complete abandonment. Lost in a task, tongue pursed, or joyously explaining their latest passion. What happens to that child shortly after birth? The socialization begins. The don’ts, the shaming, the shh, and don’t do this or that admonitions. If you want to know and acknowledge your shadow and begin shadow work, pay attention to a dream in which you find your dream ego thoroughly dislikes or likes or is afraid of another person in your family or your group of acquaintances. Then, write out what you like so much about that person and what you dislike so much. Then, softly and gently look over your portrait of you … and your self. Watch your dreams for signs of shadow bags! What are you dragging around with you that does not serve you well in all aspects of yourself.
The world also drags around its shadow, we call it war, mayhem, murder, violence and rage. The more we heal ourselves, the more we heal the planet.
Eye contact between my dream ego and the Child brings to mind the eyes as window to the soul. It feels as though an encounter with divinity. Fire is symbolic of transformation. Through fire we change wood to ashes, raw to cooked, cold to warmth. In this dream, the fire transforms the garbage I hold in my shadow bag, the bag I drag with me and that weighs me down so heavily. It changes the inner baggage to nothingness. Today, just working with the dream with more knowledge than 26 years ago, the deep peacefulness returns.
Personal transformation continues to be the main drive beneath my writing. In 1989, I was but a very raw neophyte to self understanding. I continue to be afraid to publish this … except now … I have another new reason. Another young woman has come into my life with the very much similar questions about Catholicism that I had struggled with over the last 26 years. And, everyone needs a friend on the journey. I am continuing on the Trail pointed to in the Cleansing dream of October 29, 1989.