B : Blame




We all do it – blaming others or circumstances.

‘I didn’t mean it’.  ‘It’s not my fault’. ‘The devil made me do it’.

It’s an age-old story originating in the Garden of Eden.

We know this story or the myth whether or not we take it literally. Somewhere it’s lodged in our brain.

That one forbidden Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil had been standing in the middle of the Garden tempting Eve for a long, long time. Those apples, bright, shiny, plump, lustrous, tantalizing in the extreme, were there, every moment of every day.

Come a day, or was it the night? –  the serpent offered Eve the apple. Take it, he said, and your eyes will be opened.

We can see Eve prevaricating – I cannot, she said. But, she does accept it, bites and chews and swallows the pips. It tastes good.

In good faith she offers it to Adam who also bites, chews and swallows.

G.d then appeared giving them a little time to hide, covering themselves and cowering in the bushes, for they knew they had done wrong. He addressed Adam for it was to him that the prohibition was initially given. Adam said that Eve was to blame and Eve of course blames the serpent.  We know that they were then banished from the Garden and sadly, woman has been blamed forever after for their fall from grace.

(I will write about the above in a later post to illustrate another way of viewing this with psychological and contemporary eyes – i.e. that it was necessary for Adam and Eve to get out of the Garden and out of unconsciousness, but for the moment I want to look at this issue of blame).

I sense that G.d was not necessarily angry with his children for disobeying His orders. For after all, we all need to break free of adult prescriptions at some stage of our lives in order to live authentically. And the attainment of knowledge and free will is no bad thing.

What was reprehensible to Him was their act of denial and each of them denied responsibility and blamed the other. Their individual acts did not belong to them – it was in ‘the other’.

Denial is the first human instinct. They declare themselves ‘victims’ – not perpetrators.

Is this pattern of blaming the other so deeply ingrained that it seems almost impossible to discard? We start doing it at an early age. Maybe it requires an absence of fear and punishment – and shaming – for a person to openly admit the part they played in their action. We all want to stay in our loved ones ‘good books’.

Adam and Eve denied that they acted freely.

This is the exile from Eden – to learn of the gift of free will, and yet also bear the fear of freedom, with the knowledge that when laws are breached and broken, guilt is your partner.

Blaming serves no one; least of all, one’s self.

A is for Ageing


ageingA – also for Arlee, who got us going with the A-Z – thank you Arlee!

Somehow ‘ageing’ (British English) is more direct – the word ‘age’ is undeniably there.

 Childhood, young adulthood, childbearing days are well and truly behind me. My adult sons now occupy that life stage I have left behind.

So, what lies ahead?

Am I prepared for this next stage into elder-hood as I feel the sands shifting beneath my feet? Do I need to be aware, or prepared in any way as I consider my position as a woman who is no longer young in a world that celebrates youth, beauty and glamour? Does what ‘the world’ admires mean anything to me? In what way am I subtly influenced by these outside factors?

I see the wrinkles around my eyes, my knees look different, my upper arms are not as firm as they used to be. I disguise my greying roots with hair colour as I know that a darker colour suits my skin tone. These are somewhat superficial concerns yet they are a reminder of time passing and my getting older. These are mostly physical and observable concerns, what I see in the mirror – when I look.

I know that exercise and healthy eating habits are especially important at this particular stage of my life. I know that loss of physical balance is inevitable as one ages and I experience this in my yoga classes. I do not maintain ‘the tree’ on one leg with ease. I admire those who hold these poses and I hope to get there. I am inspired by my mother who was a yoga teacher well into her old age. I am more aware of my breath and the value of breathing correctly. I know that brisk walking is beneficial for bones and balance.

But if I look deeper into the looking glass and try to see beyond the physical, I ask different and more probing questions about this issue of ageing – questions directed to my psyche.

Psyche means soul .. and it is this aspect of me that I wish to continue to explore. Which means for me going down, not up, down into the depths, fishing, seeking for soul, to find that which animates me. To connect to and be conscious of soul which resides in me and yearns for expression. To still be in awe of a sunrise or sunset, the beauty of a flower or stone, the smile of a child, the wisdom of an old person, the gift of friendship. To feel the pull of soul and to nourish it.

Of course, this is not the prerogative of ageing. But for me, as I age, I find that I am more aware of the value of my life and that of others. I am more grateful for all the many blessings that abound in abundance.

I see ageing as an alchemical process of body, mind and soul.

I see this mysterious alchemy as a way of becoming more of who I am. It is an inevitable process and I trust that my attitude towards this is one of humour and curiosity; and an openness that this transition has its own sweet pull and adventure into the unknown. I know that the attitude that I turn to the mirror will be the one reflected back at me.

Rumi: Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.

Pesach and Easter

light in the darkness

Pesach and Easter

I wrote this blog this time last year at Easter and Pesach and I have copied and pasted it as I want to share it again.
It appears here in slightly edited form.

Pesach and Easter – both occur over the weekend of the full moon. At the Council of Nicea in 325 AD it was agreed that both celebrations would be linked to the full moon on or following the vernal equinox (in the northern hemisphere) and the autumnal equinox (in the southern hemisphere) and thus would fall on any Sunday between 22 March and 22 April.

 Chag Sameach to all of you – may it be a blessed time. And the same to all of you for Easter, may it be a blessed time.

Just some thoughts from me about Easter and Pesach.

Someone on the radio last year took exception to people saying ‘Happy Easter’. That person said it was not a happy time because of Christ’s death. There was a brief discussion – this was not the topic of conversation on the radio – but the anchor did say that it was also a time of redemption and renewal. He captured this very well in a few words.

Pesach or the Passover has a different focus to Easter. Pesach is what it says .. a Passover.  Pesach is a time for ‘looking back to the going forward’, whereas Easter is inter alia a remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection. Pesach commemorates the Exodus (Greek : going out; second book of the Bible) of the Israelites from Egypt who up until then had lived as slaves since the time of Joseph. Four hundred years after the end of Genesis, Moses led the children of Israel to the land which God promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Moses and the Israelites had lived as slaves under the rule of Pharaoh and the Pharaoh refused to release them. God sends 10 plagues upon Egypt, the last of which was the slaying of the first born in any home. But, God told Moses, none of the Israelites would be killed – their homes would be passed-over. Pharaoh pleads with Moses to end the plagues and so lets the Israelites free. They flee their homes with unprepared and unleavened bread and also after slaying their lambs. The Pharaoh reneges on the deal and chases after the Israelites but Moses strikes the Red Sea which parts and the Pharaoh and his army are drowned. And as Joseph requested on his death-bed: Moses took the bones of Joseph with him for Joseph had surely sworn to the children of Israel, saying: God will surely remember you, and you shall carry my bones away with you. Exodus 13:19.  This amazing story tells of the birth of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea under Moses, and their arrival at Mt. Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments. There is much much more by way of narrative to this story but it is not my aim to re-tell it. On their journey from Egypt to Israel, their hardships are great and many. My aim is rather to focus a bit on what this annual and very religious time means at least in terms of my (probable) limited understanding; and also in a way that has nothing to do with my being Jewish or non-Jewish. I like to think back and wonder what it all means in terms of me, today; and the relevance for all of us today. And indeed, it is curious is it not, that Easter and Pesach overlap … and for me it is, as I write this, a duty almost, to look briefly at the symbolism of these two events.

Christ’s act of His descent into Hell after the crucifixion is the ultimate act of individuation. It is in preparation for His ascension into Heaven. The scriptures tell the story of Jesus and His life and they are beautiful beyond imagining. Every word, every setting, every moment is painfully poignant. They are also very challenging – to take in the words of the scriptures in a meaningful way, is to enter into the story and feel it. From all points of view, from every angle, I can’t help but see that the scriptures are very psychological indeed – they speak straight to the psyche. How can He not be celebrated, not least for sacrificing His own life that our sins be forgiven; but also for His unconditional love, His sympathy and empathy; His poetic justice; His showing us that the spirit alone is of value; His love for the sinner who repented … so for me the time of Easter is a remembrance of Jesus’ life and message.

The Pesach means for me the end of slavery and finally reaching the Promised Land; it is a remembrance of the fulfilment of God’s promise that is joyfully celebrated. In terms of my world today, it is timely to remember freedom from slavery which can take many forms .. being a slave to lust, material wealth, being trapped in so many ways and looking to myself to try to discern where I am a slave or trapped in my complexes. Joy in the possibility of being free from all forms of slavery; pain in Christ’s death – yet also a fulfilment of God’s promise and joy in that too.

The images of Moses and Jesus are alive and well and their message lives on

– synchronicity – 3 – new moon rising – Lilith & Eve –

I wanted to post last night but there was so much else to do after saying farewell to guests who had been with us for several days. All those tasks I’d delayed needed attention after their departure as they did again this morning; I’ve dealt with many of them – at least there is some order amongst the chaos and a new week looms.

New week, new moon – as of last night. Chinese New Year – the year of the water snake. I had an idea it was new moon last evening and I looked out in my garden up to the skies and later on out my bedroom  balcony to see if I could spot it. But no, the clouds were obscuring the sky.

I would have liked to have greeted it.

Lawrence, my next door neighbour, phoned me early this morning to thank me for the flowers I’d delivered to their family a day or so ago for their Chinese New Year. He truly believes that this is the year of meaningful change and it was good to catch his up-beat mood.

Later on this afternoon I was able to get onto my Facebook page and it was good and inspiring to see all the Chinese New Year greetings wishing all prosperity and health; as well as to see the greetings and pictures in Chinese, the script smooth and sensuous, fluid and flowing. It is also the Tibetan New year and for Tibetans, also the year of the water snake. Both ‘philosophies’ or ‘religions’ offer all good things to all people so it was uplifting to read all about this from various people who posted on my FB and to see the snake in pictorial and lovely form.

To my amazement there was mention of Lilith’s rising. The initial one I saw was forwarded to me by my FB friend Porsha. There were very angry comments about Lilith.  Porsha knows that I have written about Lilith; she was showing her support to me in that she mentioned my book in her support for Lilith and in her response to the previous angry  comments –

The other FB mention on Lilith arrived on my page a short while later –

I have taken the liberty of excerpting the FB article below and can only say that Stephanie who posted it will be happy about this. I plan to let her know –

“Goddess of the Day – Eve/Lilith – New Moon in Aquarius – Sunday, February 10, 2013 – The Year of the Snake begins –Happy New Year again and welcome to the Year of the Snake. I can’t help but think this will be a good year for goddess energy to rise in each of us.

Eve is a misunderstood goddess who has her roots back in the ancient goddesses of life-death-rebirth like Ishtar, Inanna, Isis and even Kali. She and Lilith may have been one and the same before the Christian patriarchy got a hold of the story and split the sexual Lilith part from “innocent” Eve, who they said was made from the rib of Adam and after being tempted by the snake caused the fall of man by eating the apple. 

The snake, symbol of the goddess, coiled around the Tree of Life, tempted her all right. Its message was: “Hey, do you want to dither here in the Garden of Eden all of your days or do you want to take a bite out of life and find meaning? I can’t promise you a rose garden, but I can promise it will get a lot more interesting. Like me, you will experience transformation. What do you say, Sister: the same old thing day after day or an interesting life?”

I’m with Eve. I’m going to take a bite every time”.

(Thank you for this post on my FB Stephanie)
Well, I was amazed. This is significant. Which is why I feel compelled to write this blog.
Truly, I am not making a synchronistic connection but maybe it means something – or not – that Pope Benedict XV1 today offered his resignation due to his ‘old age’; he is, after all, 85 years old. He is the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. His statement on his resignation was heartfelt and I admire him for it, spoken with kindness and scrupulous honesty. It is his time to rest – and for a new Pope to be elected.
So, these are interesting times – and I for one wish Pope Benedict XV1 very well in his retirement and for the new Pope (of whom there are several contenders) to oversee or rule the Vatican with kindness and compassion.
May he hear the voice of women; hearken and be heartened – May he facilitate non-threatening creative feminine energy to arise in its inimitable and wondrous way ..
Happy New Moon and Happy New Year to all!
I have this picture hanging in my study … a print that I picked up from the British Museum some years ago. I have just looked at it anew.
Photo: Goddess of the Day - Eve/Lilith - New Moon in Aquarius - Sunday, February 10, 2013 - The Year of the Snake begins</p> <p>Happy New Year again and welcome to the Year of the Snake. I can't help but think this will be a good year for goddess energy to rise in each of us.</p> <p>Eve is a misunderstood goddess who has her roots back in the ancient goddesses of life-death-rebirth like Ishtar, Inanna, Isis and even Kali. She and Lilith may have been one and the same before the Christian patriarchy got a hold of the story and split the sexual Lilith part from "innocent" Eve, who they said was made from the rib of Adam and after being tempted by the snake caused the fall of man by eating the apple. </p> <p>The snake, symbol of the goddess, coiled around the Tree of Life, tempted her all right. Its message was: "Hey, do you want to dither here in the Garden of Eden all of your days or do you want to take a bite out of life and find meaning? I can't promise you a rose garden, but I can promise it will get a lot more interesting. Like me, you will experience transformation. What do you say, Sister: the same old thing day after day or an interesting life?"</p> <p>I'm with Eve. I'm going to take a bite every time.</p> <p>Lilith by John Collier

synchronicity – 2

Funny how synchronistic events seem to follow a ‘feast or famine’ modus operandi or at least that’s my personal experience. When nothing unusual happens, it feels like desert time for me – nothing seems to flow easily; I feel dry, uninspired, uncreative and particularly unproductive. I want something to happen – I want a sign, a symbol, some sort of encouragement to my self that reassures me in some meaningful way. I feel like a wanderer in the desert seeking an oasis from which to drink plentifully, to submerge, to ease my parched throat, body and soul, and I don’t want the oasis to be a mirage. I want that wet, sparkling, clean, refreshing water – and I want it NOW.

But, as I write, and since I use the image of the desert, I realise that its outward appearance – of flatness and sterility – is deceptive.

The desert may conjure up images of long, un-ending, arid wastelands, the horizon illimitable, its way unending. The silence may feel unbearably oppressive. Not another person, animal or plant to be seen. No comforting word or thought, no water. The stars and moon may come out at night and provide a vision of magnificence and beauty, but the vision is not of this world – it is too far away. It is not the here and now.

One feels deserted.

Is there any value in these feelings of desertion? I’d be the first to reach for distraction rather than confronting this feeling of being in a dry, arid desert. I’d be the first to find something else to do, and most likely find something to eat to fill the symbolic emptiness and be hugely dismayed and disgusted with myself afterwards.

But there are times that I sit in the emptiness and go through my own dark night of the soul. I look inward and sit in the stuck-ness. I hate being there. I feel weary and sick of my own self. I am my own worst enemy, restless and inert at the same time, wanting to jump out and be anywhere but where I am, but quite immobilised to even jump. But, the wheel excruciatingly, slowly, turns and I feel that I can breath again.

And what, you may ask, has this to do with synchronicity?

Well, I was on my way back from the shops this morning, feeling dull and unmotivated to do tasks that needed doing in the house; it was also hot. I was uncomfortably aware that I hadn’t posted for a few weeks but I could not even begin to think of what to write on synchronicity.

A song was playing on the car radio – one I recognised from way back when. I was wondering how I would dance to it. It was a bit too slow perhaps to rock ‘n roll to; I imagined that it would be nice to be in someone’s arms to swing around in gay mood. Every breath you make, every breath I take – you belong to me .. I was bitching a bit about ‘you belong to me’ … but the song ended, and the announcer said the song was Police, from their album “Synchronicity”.

That gave me a start … it was a drop of water in my desert.

‘Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of someday meeting yourself again’. E.M. Cioran (1911), Rumanian-born French philosopher. ‘Strangled Thoughts’, The New Gods.

The photograph was one I took up in Madikwe Game Reserve a few months ago .. it was very very dry – we were out on an evening drive. The photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the night fall … or the dryness of the reserve …


Synchronicity – an acausal connecting principle

A meaningful coincidence?

C.G. Jung observed that in the therapeutic process, it happened sometimes that an outer event co-incided with an inner event, often in periods of crisis and transformation in the patient’s life. Healing was hastened in that a new orientation to the crisis being faced was brought about to the patient’s benefit. The individual has a sense that there was something more beyond mere randomness, that ‘grace’ seemed to operate in a mysterious way.

Jung described a classic example of synchronicity with one of his analysands. She was highly intellectual, well educated, rational in the extreme and inaccessible to matters of the psyche. Her dream the night before was about a gift given to her, an expensive piece of jewelry in the shape of a golden scarab. Jung was listening to her rhetoric, when he heard a sound behind him, tapping on the window pane. He opened the window and a beetle flew into the darkened room, which he caught in its flight. Its colour, a golden green, was very similar to that of the golden scarab. He handed the beetle to his patient saying ‘here is your scarab’.

From this moment, her analysis could continue effectively as she realised immediately the significance of the outer (objective reality) event mirroring  her dream – her inner, subjective reality. Her intellectual armour was pierced. She was able to move from her one-sided and fixed view of life towards a more whole and integrated view. I would also add that the beetle coming in from the outside (light) into the darkened room has meaning in that light was shed on the inner darkness.

There would appear to be no determinable cause for such a happening, hence acausal.

The Egyptian symbolic meaning of the beetle is of rebirth and transformation. .

We have all, at some stage, had experiences of synchronicity operating in our lives. A more mundane experience is that of thinking of someone for no particular reason and the phone rings and it is that very person. Or you suddenly see them somewhere as you are thinking of them. Or the same numbers seem to pop up all the time. Or you have a song in your head and switch on the car radio and that very song is playing. Or a book in the book store falls at your feet – and it is the very book that you ‘needed’ at that moment even if it wasn’t the one you were looking for.

Mundane perhaps, though the sacred often appears in the mundane.

What is going on when such events happen? Are these happenings only the tip of the iceberg and if we paid more attention and were more open to them, would they occur more frequently? Is there some sort of governing principle at play that could awaken us from an egocentric perspective to an awareness of Unus Mundus if we are alert and aware to acausal happenings?

Synchronicity has psychological and philosophical implications and as Marie Louise von Franz, one of Jung’s student and close associates stated towards the end of her life ‘that the work which has now to be done is to work out the concept of synchronicity. I don’t know the people who will continue it. They must exist, but I don’t know who they are’.*

* Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. Richard Tarnas. Plume. Published by Penguin Group. 2007, pg 59

dreaming – awakening

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakens. 

– Carl Jung –

This quote is at the beginning of a book “Deepak Chopra, Leonard Mlodinow: Is God an Illusion? The Great Debate Between Science and Spirituality”. Mlodinow is a physician and I doubt Chopra needs any introduction.

It is true that the inner world is of immense value. It is here that soul-making occurs. Our own dreams point the way.

I look back over this year to when I started my own garden of eden blog and I am deeply grateful to all of you who have read the blog and to the many of you who have left comments.

Many of the comments have been quite elaborate and I really feel that have learned much from them! Thank you!

I know that in a previous blog on dreams I have used these quotes before, but I am using them again as they are worthwhile repeating.

Talmud: An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter –

Socrates (in Plato’s Phaedro): An unexamined life is not worth living –

Thank you for being with me on this journey! I wish you and your families all the very best for 2013 – health, joy, dreaming, awakening.

– a dream and a meditation –

Many years ago I woke in the middle of the night from a dream. For me it was very powerful and I knew, just knew, that I would remember it. How could I forget it – it was very vivid and very mystical. I went back to sleep.

In the morning, it was gone. I tried as hard as possible to recall it, but could not. I was so mad. A missed opportunity, this I knew. I was very upset.

Some days later I was driving out of town somewhere admiring the scenery. Music was playing on the radio. All of a sudden I remembered my dream and stopped the car and wrote it down immediately on the only piece of paper to hand in which some food had been wrapped. This is the dream:

I am in a large underground cave, lit by candles. I don’t know what I’m doing there. There is a large wooden table with benches surrounding it. The atmosphere is calm and friendly. There is some sense of anticipation. Annie suddenly appears in the cave, We are both wearing robes. She is tall, very fair, very beautiful. She approaches me – we greet each other. I give her a beautiful sparkling Faberge-like egg, which she accepts, and then she leaves’.

I had often thought and wondered about this dream over the years. I know Annie in real-life, not very well although she is part of my larger social circle. She had never appeared before in a dream. I had no reason to be dreaming of her. I had not seen her in a very long while. She also happens to be a Gemini as I am and I used to wonder about this ‘twin’ – tall and fair as I am not. It worried me over the years, my giving away a valuable jewelled egg. I was aware of the symbolism of the egg – it speaks for itself. What part of me – a part that I perhaps did not value sufficiently – was I giving away to this other person in such a strange place, clothed in robes as we were? Was I giving it away to the ‘other’ in me for safekeeping, until I was ready to take it on? I really had no clue but it bothered me in a real  and disturbing way –

Now, many years later, a few years back, I was at my usual monthly art class at Monika’s home. Margaret, a member of our group, led us in meditation before the class began. While our eyes were closed, she painted a mental picture for us leading us through the various chakras from the bottom to the top. The others and I had, while in meditation, visited a sparkling lake, a forest, a field of flowers, some rocks, crossed a few bridges – all rather pleasing nature scenes. Then I came to a building, into which I entered by the front door. Then I approached another door. I opened the door, and entered the room. To my absolute amazement, there was Annie. She was holding the same Faberge-like egg in her hands that I had given her in my dream in the cave many years back. She gave it back to me.

I was stunned. We came out of our meditation soon after and I was left with a feeling of ‘completion’ in some way .. of something coming together, of my taking back for myself that which I had given away.

– the home of the dream – the unconscious –


This image above brings a few thoughts to mind – ‘as above so below’ – as in the reflection of the trunks of the trees and their branches and leaves in the stream. Perhaps the water is still for the moment and a little bit clogged from the fallen leaves. I am not sure if the water is stagnant or flowing, fresh or stale, spring or salt water. Have the trees been stripped of their leaves because of a storm? I am not sure how deep the water is. It is restful in its way. I like pondering on it. Sunlight is filtering through – and perhaps I can discern a ripple or two.

So it is with dreams –

It has happened to me a few times e.g. that as I was about to introduce two people to each other who I knew reasonably well, the name of one (or both) escaped me at that precise moment of introduction, even though I may been chatting to them previously and separately.

What happened here? I know what happened – that I knew their names but at that moment their names slipped into the unconscious. Or a thought that I had that was important to me in some way, cannot be recalled by me no matter how hard I try to access it. It is there somewhere in my unconscious and all I have to do is to retrieve it. I know it’s there.

I like what Marie Louise von Franz says about the unconscious.

The unconscious is all that which we know is psychically real but is not conscious. It’s a borderline concept, a negative concept. We use the negative concept in order not to have a prejudice.

‘…We prefer the word unconscious because it says nothing. It says only that it is not conscious, and this leaves it as a mystery. We don’t know what it is. We only know that there are psychic phenomena which manifest through dreams or through involuntary gestures or speech mistakes or hallucinations or fantasies which are not conscious.’*

Sigmund Freud was the first to coin the psychological phrase ‘dreams are the royal road to the unconscious’. This is like saying that we can know light only if we know dark. It is by way of the depths that we can reach the heights. Can we perhaps say that dreams are the royal road to consciousness? – on the understanding that it is only by becoming familiar with the unconscious that we can become more conscious?

C.G. Jung’s definition of the psyche includes both conscious and unconscious processes. Consciousness is like an island emerging from a vast expanse of sea of unconsciousness. At any one time we are aware of only a small part of this totality. Awareness is variable and although ‘...consciousness can potentially encompass the totality of the psyche, in practice it moves within a very circumscribed area or field due to its association with the ego’. (Faber and Saayman). ** The ego forms the central core of consciousness and needs to be firmly grounded therein. It is analogous to the beam of the torch which illuminates the darkness of night.

The unconscious is not inactive. Like our conscious mind, the unconscious inter alia‘is ceaselessly engaged in grouping and re-grouping its contents’. *** (Jung Vol 7). This indicates that there is a purpose and aim in the workings of the unconscious. Experiences that were once conscious and have become repressed or forgotten constitute the personal unconscious. This is essentially the repository of memories and is relatively accessible to consciousness, and dreams will initially, predominantly tap into this level of being.

But it is the bigger, deeper, greater reservoir of unconsciousness that we must somehow try to access. This is what Jung termed the collective unconscious. It lies ‘at a deeper level and is further removed from consciousness than the personal unconscious. The ‘big’ or ‘meaningful’ dreams come from this deeper level’. **** (Jung: On the Nature of Dreams).

Through the dream, we venture down into the depths to consciously reclaim some of he fertile ground of the unconscious.

The characters in the dream that we dislike the most give us valuable clues as to what we reject in ourselves. It is quite possible that many of the characters in our dream may be people who we like and admire. We also need to ask what of their qualities do we own that we do not admit?

One’s ego needs to be strong and have firm foundations to undergo the task of knowing one’s self better, and thereby also having an understanding of others. This is an important consideration. How can we pass judgement on any one thing or person when we do not know our own selves? Which means knowing our dark side as well.

Soul work.

Nothing is arbitrary.

* The Way of the Dream. Conversations on Jungian Dream Interpretation. Marie-Louise von Franz, Fraser Boa. Shambhala, Boston & London 1994

**Jung in Modern Perspective edited by Renos Papadopolous and Graham S Saayman. Wildwood House Ltd. 1984

***C.G. Jung: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology CW (Vol 7) translated by R.F.C. Hull. Meridian Books NY, 1956

****C.G. Jung: On the Nature of DReams in C.G. Jung, Collected Works Vol 8 2nd edition, Princeton University Press, 1972

– dreaming the dream onward – part 5

heaven and earthDreams provide the most interesting information for those who take the trouble to understand their symbols. The results, it is true, have little to do with such worldly concerns as buying and selling. But the meaning of life is not exhaustively explained by one’s business life, nor is the deep desire of the human heart answered by a bank account. – C.G. Jung*

 We know so much about so much these days. We are well informed on the latest discoveries of science, medicine, technology. We wonder and marvel at the recent landing on Mars and it is wondrous indeed. The Haldron Collider in Bern may well give us an idea of what came before the Big Bang. We’re connected to the larger, broader, wider world in a way as never before. May we continue to push the boundaries in all fields of our wondrous planet and beyond and find other realities of whose existence we were previously unaware.

But what of the inner world and its realities? How connected are we to our inner world? What is the potential value of the inner world? Can it help to regulate and balance our mental and physical energies? Can our dreams help us to be more of who we are or are yet to become? Is there a superior intelligence at work in the unconscious? Do we have any idea of what is of value to us when we reach a stage of thinking ‘where to from here?’ or ‘is this all there is?’ Is there meaning to be discerned in our inner world as expressed by the image of the dream? Can they hint at, or guide to a deeper meaning or an underlying unity in our lives? What can ‘this heap of broken images’ reveal to us? Can we have a dialogue with them? What can they tell us that we do not already know?

We know that dreams are spontaneous, mercurial and unpredictable. They do not seem to fit into our normal waking consciousness and at first glance we can make no sense of them. So we disregard them as nonsense, as we do just about anything that does not fit in with our world view.

Working with dreams is sacred soul work. They form a bridge between the conscious and unconscious, a bridge between world and self. They lead to greater knowledge about one’s self and therefore to the wider world and one’s place in it. They lead away from a psychic numbness that pervades today’s world and towards a sense of more wholeness within.

The unconscious – from where the dream originates –

‘What is not conscious to us is by definition unconscious and unknown to us and this is its mystery’. As Marie-Louise von Franz says in the book ‘The Way of the Dream’** …the unconscious part of our psyche is portrayed in our dreams, and by recalling the dreams, our conscious mind has the opportunity to view contents of the unconscious mind.’

In my next blog I may write about the unconscious that resides within us all and attempt to sketch this untapped reservoir. For now I will end with another quote by C.G. Jung.

When we consider the infinite variety of dreams, it is difficult to conceive that there could ever be a method or a technical procedure which would lead to an infallible result. It is, indeed, a good thing that no valid method exists, for otherwise the meaning of the dream would be limited in advance and would lose precisely that virtue which makes dreams so valuable for therapeutic purposes – their ability to offer new points of view.

So difficult is it to understand a dream that for a long time I have made it a rule, when someone tells me a dream and asks for my opinion, to say first of all to myself: ‘I have no idea what this dream means.’ After that I can begin to examine the dream.***

*C.G. Jung quoted in: The Way of the Dream. Conversations on Jungian Dream Interpretation, Mari-Louise von Franz, Fraser Boa. Shambhala. Boston & London 1994.

** same reference though Marie Louise von Franz’ own words

*** CG Jung, Collected Works, quoted in: Dreams, a Portal to the Source. Edward C. Whitmont & Sylvia Brinton Perera. Routledge. London and New York 1991.

– dreams – the golden thread – part four

I’ve been in resistance mode for the last several weeks. The thought of writing another blog on dreams has filled me with despair. I think this is due to what I see as the enormity of dreams as a subject – or object. As a subject it is too big an attempt to write about dreams on a blog. It is too psychological, too big, too meaningful, too serious, too filled with gravitas. Where do I go from here I wonder to myself. Perhaps I should have attempted to write about them in a different way right at the beginning. I think my second blog on dreams got a bit too technical and didactic in that I gave tips for enlarging the dream inter alia by underlining the verbs in the (written down) dream. This may have been a bit off-putting to those of you who are new to ‘dreaming’. Or perhaps it is simply that no-one really wants to take the time and energy to pursue their dream/s and their meaning; and also that no-one really has the time or the inclination to read a blog (mine) on dreams. Who am I to say anything about dreams anyway. Maybe I am guilty of hubris imagining that anyone else may be interested. But in spite of all the aforementioned misgivings, I feel that I must say something more about dreams, even if it kills me.

All is not so despairing actually. Every now and then things happen that bring me out of the gloom. More lately, I am reading Richard Tarnas’ book: Cosmos and Psyche. Intimations of a New World View. I am newly into the book – on about page 60 in a book of well over 500 pages. It is such a pleasure to read this book. He writes so eloquently and cogently and speaks clearly to the existential crisis that we are in, now, even if we are unaware of it. The rise of technology has dehumanized the world to a great extent, even though we have much to laud and be grateful for the stunning advances in all areas of science, medicine, technology et al.

These days, in our post modern world where reason and empiricism holds sway and our world is largely mechanistic, this way of being has now become overly fixed with very little room for movement or flexibility.

Very little of soul manages to get through. This is why I continue to write about dreams, as I believe this is one of the many fruitful ways of retaining or re-claiming a connection with all that is soul-ful.

The act of commitment changes things: Goethe

This means to me that when I commit to any project the universe supports that commitment. When I say ‘yes’ an unfolding seems to occur both innerly and outerly. I know that as mother’s milk increases the more the infant is fed from the breast, so too do dreams yield more of their secrets and enchantments when I say ‘yes’ to my dreams and ‘yes’ I will take them seriously and pay them the attention that they deserve. When I say ‘yes’ to my psyche, it responds and is helpful along the way, even though I may be in for some surprises, good or otherwise.

                  the importance of the inner world as counter to the outer world

The language of the dream – mostly in metaphor – opens up our inner space. Our dreams tell a story and they really do invite you in. Of course they are not easy to decipher. The dreams says you have to go really deep if you want to understand me. I will take you where you have never been before. I will tell you things that you did not know before. You may be disoriented when your dreams start to mean something to you, but disorientation is necessary to experience deeper unity.

That which is neglected will appear on the outside as in Fate

                                 a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

 Every interpretation is an hypothesis, an attempt to read an unknown text. (Jung, Collected Works, 16, para. 322)

One would do well to treat every dream as though it were a totally unknown object. Look at it from all sides, take it in your hands, carry it about with you, let your imagination play around with it. (Jung, CW, 10, para. 320)

So, something compels me to continue my diligence in writing down my dreams and pondering on them, knowing full well that I have a duty to my psyche to listen to what they are saying and knowing too that the answer is not immediately apparent.

– dreaming the dream onward – the golden thread – part three

Several times each night the unconscious part of our psyche is portrayed in our dreams. We are given the golden opportunity to bring our conscious mind to view those contents, by using our imagination in an attitude different to our usual modus operandi.  It helps us view our current, past and future life situation in a way which complements the mode usually used.

It seems that the more attention we pay to our dreams, the more they yield, even though the material may not be immediately understandable. Like mother’s milk, the more the infant is fed, the more milk is made. It is a two-way street. Our soul seems to be fed in some way, and it seems to get extra energy and insight when we diligently and creatively record and investigate our storehouse of dreams.

We begin to discern the value that this journey of dreaming holds for us. If we know who we are, or becoming, we can be who we are.

The dream speaks in a language of images and symbols which is quite different to our ordinary everyday language. It speaks in a language which initially seems vague and strange to us.

The language of dreams takes time to learn. This language of dreams is the language of the arts, poetry, metaphor, myth, symbol and image, in contrast to the language of logic and reason that we usually use. We all have our blind spots; there are possibilities and perceptions we choose not to entertain because we don’t want to admit them. We may not have the vocabulary to begin to trace its meaning/s and this is one of the reasons why dreams are often very difficult to understand and why we choose to ignore them. Its language is often indirect but not always. At times it is blatantly obvious what it is trying to convey. For example, you believe yourself to be a kind person and the dream portrays you – or someone else in the dream – as cruel. It is showing you that you are not enough aware of your capacity for cruelty and is conveying an element of you (portrayed by another person in the dream) that need to be recognised.

As part of this of this onging dialectical process, we become increasingly aware of the outside influences of the world on our own inner world and vice versa. We begin to look at things, events, circumstances, happenings, feelings, thoughts a little more closely, like a scientist with a microscope who concentrates and magnifies the scope more clearly; or like a Sherlock Holmes on the scent of something, which initially seems mysterious, strange, difficult and indefinable, yet in which we sense a valuable clue is being presented.

We wonder whether dreams hold the clue to unravelling the knots in our stressful lives. Could there be a link with the image or drama in the dream with ongoing e.g. physical symptoms, psychological dramas, unsuccessful relationships and unresolved inner complexes which never seem lessened or resolved?


500 words.

– dreaming the dream onwards – part two

A few of you commented on my previous blog on dreams and their value thereof, which I always appreciate. Others responded via e-mail and it is these few comments that I want to share with you inter alia in 501 words.

Gwynn in the US said her dreams were like watching a re-run of a movie; Carol in Canada said her dreams were like watching a movie, in which she gets to play the main part!

Sonja here in Johannesburg, South Africa, said “I think of it as an infinite story factory .. an endless library of books meant for ME”.

These are insightful and useful metaphors! I hadn’t thought of them that way before! They gave me permission to use them in this blog.

Dr. Deon van Zyl, who facilitated a dream seminar a few weekends back which I attended, responded via email suggesting that the dream be given a title, a genre and a central one-line theme.

Among other valuable tips I learned at this dream seminar is the tactic of underlining the VERBS in the dream.

The following is a completely made up dream by me:- I am employing the ‘tactic’ of underlining the verbs.

I am walking on the road, enjoying the sunshine and view, minding my own business, thinking about things when a person suddenly appears out of nowhere and rushes up to me swinging a stick. I turn away and start running. I am wondering what to do and how to escape. I spied a bridge up ahead and think that if I get to the other side, I will be ok. I trip and fall, get up and continue running. I cannot see who it is.

Walking, enjoying, minding, thinking, appears, rushes, swinging, turn, running, wondering, escape, spied, think, get, be, trip, fall, get, running, see …

I (usually) write verbs out on the opposite page of my written down dream. I like to check out the energy of it and wonder about that.

In the beginning of this made-up dream, all seems quite peaceful but the whole tenor of it changes suddenly and dramatically.

I look at any repetition of verbs (the above made-up dream has one or two). My dream in the morning is enormously enlarged by this simple device. If I have 2 or more dreams in the same night I look to see if there is any connection and if not (sometimes they seem completely disparate), I wonder about that. Occasionally, all I have is an image – nothing more.

If I gave the above dream a title, I would call it something like “Walk interrupted”. Genre? “Threat” or something like that. A central one-line theme: something like “Unknown Attacker” or “Running Away” or “The Bridge Ahead” or … who knows what …

Listening with a keen ear to the message/s of the dream/s takes courage and commitment and a hearty dose of introspection and Self-reflection.

Will we listen and hear the messages from our ‘other’ world? As real and as different as our conscious world?

501 words.



– dreaming the dream onward –

It is daft of me to attempt to write about dreams and their value in 1001 words but I will try.

We all dream; this is fact. I could give the science behind it but this would take up too much word space. Scientists have now determined that dreaming most often occurs during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Particular brain wave and cortical activity occurs at all stages, phases and cycles of sleep – REM activity has its own particular function. The ancient brain inter alia seems to be at work in REM sleep.

My dreams have always been of interest to me (at least!). Dreams of others are also of interest to me. Dreams are extraordinary creations, tapping into the mind’s great capacity to recall, to imagine, to evaluate and to integrate. It’s no wonder that dreams have been a source of inspiration for artists and philosophers, scientists and inventors.

*a few examples:

Robert Louis Stevenson, the prolific author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, wrote that he got many of his best stories from his dreams

German chemist Friedrich A. Kukele visualized the molecular structure of benzine (a closed carbon ring) in a dream –

Young Albert Einstein dreamed that he was sledding down a steep mountainside, going faster and faster, approaching the speed of light, which caused the stars in his dream to change their appearance. Meditating upon that dream, Einstein eventually worked out his extraordinary scientific achievement, the principle of relativity –

Jack Nicklaus told a friend that he had improved his golf swing after dreaming of a new way of holding his club –

Ok, so what about us?

The Talmud states: ‘An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter’.

Socrates states in Plato’s Phaedro: ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’.

Statements from long ago. Do they mean anything in a world greatly changed from that time way back?

Many of us say ‘I don’t dream’ or: ‘I don’t remember my dream’ or: ‘I remember only a fragment which seemed to have something to do with the office’ or: ‘it was just a regurgitation of something that’s currently happening’. Or: ‘I remember my dream, but it was so strange and weird that it had nothing to do with me’. Or: ‘it was so banal that it really can’t mean anything at all’. Or: ‘thank heavens it was only a dream and has nothing to do with my real waking life’. Or: ‘I keep on having this recurring dream – I wish it would go away because I really don’t know what it means’.

Or: ‘Dreams? Bunkum.’

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

You are the author of your own dream. The dream does not come from somewhere else or from someone else. It is you having the dream. Or, ‘an other’ part of you is having the dream. A vital part of you – an essential part of your psyche and inner world – is partly revealed in your dream. At night time when all is still, without any conscious will on our part, our body, brain, mind and soul enters an ‘other’ world, a world as real as the one we live in our waking lives. Our day ego takes a backseat while we sleep – and dream.

Our dream world is a much neglected one. This is surprising since it is a font of wisdom and wonder, accessible to anyone who takes their dreams seriously. It holds as well a promise of unearthing hidden treasure.

Who are those people in my dream? Are they part of me? What/who do they represent? What am I doing in this peculiar/ridiculous/unknown/familiar place? Who are those unfriendly people? Why are those people, long dead, in my dream? Why I am I naked? Teeth falling out? Why am I sitting for an unprepared exam? Is this dream trying to tell me something? Is there a dialogue? I seem to be both participant and observer – what does this mean? How do I relate to this dream? What are the images, what is the feeling tone? Am I comforted or fearful? If I were to give a title to this dream, what would I call it? Is there some sort of theme here, also from previous dreams? Is my unconscious world trying to tell me something? And what is my unconscious anyway?

Committing one’s self to engaging in one’s own dream is hard work, from the beginning. It means writing it down so that it is not forgotten even at  02.14 a.m. And if woken again to write that one down too. If the dream gives you cause for pause, then know that there is meaning in it. It is essential not to make any immediate interpretation. We all have our blind spots. We cannot see behind our own backs. The dream needs to be mined. One needs to keep digging. One needs to ponder, consider; and ponder and consider a great deal more. Like any work worthy of merit, painstaking detective work is required to decode the material. There are no short cuts.

When looking/pondering/considering the dream in the cold light of day, it is important NOT to bring our conscious waking attitude to the possible meaning of the dream. An ‘other’ attitude to the meaning of the dream is required. A different language is required, one that does not use logic and reason, cause and effect. It is better to bring an attitude of ‘unknowing‘ to the dream, giving it time to unfold. Sometimes a dream is understood only retrospectively, many years later.

Dreams reap their own rewards. Fragments of the whole seem to be retrieved when we pay attention to our dreams. They show the way, your way, however dimly and narrow the road perceived – but a sense of more authenticity seems to be in the air in our daily lives.

Riches indeed!

So, pen and notebook, torch, intention, attention, curiosity and a dollop of trepidation (like all travellers going into the unknown) before Morpheus embraces you …  happy harvesting and may your dreams inspire you.

1001 words.

*All the material in this blog is excerpted from my essay titled: ‘Dreams – The Inner Way’ in my book, and is far in excess of 1000 words – more like 10,000 words. I barely touched the surface there. 36.



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