July 3, 2014

Dream Archetypes

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In a dream, conscious awareness is united with the unconscious because a dream has roots in both. It is a bridge over which images from the outer world travel to the inner. On the occasions when preoccupation with the personal unconscious is diverted or overcome, a symbolic rise from the depths of our being, can launch us high into the spacious dream world of the collective unconscious, among the universal ‘archetypes’. Here we have an independent existence, another life entirely, where the dream dreams the dreamer. Jung wrote, “people do not dream’, they are dreamt. We undergo our dreams”.

When we dream, the person we are most likely to meet there will be ourselves, although rarely can we accept this, when we bring the memory of strange encounters back to reality. The King – the Queen – a God or Goddess – a shadow; Can these figures truly be ghosts of ourselves? Freed from the limits of reality, our inner selves – the archetypal selves – will be discovered out there in our personal dreamscape. The quality of these inner beings is energy, so each dream figure will represent different aspects of vital forces at the dreamer’s disposal. These vital forces manifest as principles, so not surprisingly they can take on every form imaginable.

The shadowy figure who frequents the land of dreams is probably the neglected potential or frustrated side of the dreamer’s nature. Everyone has a shadow-figure and, because this is nearly always one of their worst sides, it tends to remain in the background, unnoticed. The encounter with the shadow can be frightening, but once it is accepted, that it is a part of us, fear vanishes; for how can we be afraid of ourselves? Sometimes our own shadow has shades of another, reminding us of someone we greatly dislike. This is because that person has beome our mirror and in this we see our own reflection.

Common Dream Archetypes

Great Mother Earth

Every women is a realm of incarnate energy, embodying feeling, instinct, intuition, compassion and unconscious awareness. She is the Great Mother Earth representing wholeness, and this wholeness is found in four main archetypal figures. The Mother, the Princess, the Amazonian and the Priestess – and their negative counterparts:

The Mother is recognized by the protective, maternal spirit with an ability to nourish, shelter, love and make a home. She also has an opposite side to her face – the Terrible Mother. This mother is possessive, devouring, smothering and destructive. She is the angry green-eyed goddess who jealously enslaves her lover and husband, as well as her children.

The Princess is the child within the woman, the eternally youthful girl and the flirt. She has the power to attract as well as being attractive. Her other face, the Fatal Siren, is not so pretty. She is the wrecker of marriages and is the image of erotic fantasy.

The Amazonian is the intellectual qualities in a woman. When this aspect of herself is developed she will be a succesful career woman, well able to compete with men. The counterpart to this image is the Huntress. She is the career woman who hounds and despises men, either because her ambitions have never been fulfilled or because she has failed to develop or recognize her own animus.

The Priestess resides in the inner sanctum of woman, the heat, and is full of intuition and instinct. Society disparages these qualities, so there is no visible place for her in the real world. None the less she exists, secretly, and if she does emerge she is often wrongfully recognized by most as her darker counterpart, the Witch or Sorceress. The Witch or Sorceress is a primitive form of female intuition that cuts a woman off from life and the spiritual sphere. She becomes trapped in her own world, as an archetypal figure appearing in dreams, symbolizing all the negative aspects of womanhood.

The Wise Old Man

The Wise Old Man complements the Great Mother Earth. Every man is the embodiment of the intellect, enthusiasm, determination and conscious appreciation. Together, these represent logical reasoning and are found in the four main archetypal figures. The Father, The Prince, the Warrior and the Priest, and their negative counterparts:

The Father is recognized as a figure of authority, law, order, social convention, the provider, and masculine protectiveness. The negative counterpart is the Ogre. Here is the oppressive, cruel father who threatens with rigid discipline and over-conformity.

The Prince is the youth containing the seed of potential growth for the future. He is also the seeker. The distinction between the seeker and his darker side, the Wanderer, is slight. This wanderer force, shuns responsibility and commitment, thus producing the eternal ‘Peter Pan’.

The Warrior is the daring, successful individual embodying ambition and drive. When this aspect of the self is developed, tycoon qualities are manifest. The opposite side of this coin is the Dictator. This aspect, with its aggressive egotism, becomes dominant when the emotions are suppressed and neglected.

The Priest is the knowledgable manipulator of forces and energies, the extrovert mouthpiece for inner thoughts. His counterpart is none other than the Black Magician, a figure who often appears to be helpful initially, but is then revealed as a trickster.

The four aspects of womanhood and the four aspects of manhood, each with its shadowy counterpart, form the basic archetypal pattern within the individual. Rarely does one archetypal figure dominate the whole self, but when it does, the results are disastrous. A balance between the four aspects is what should be strived for, plus the recognition of the four shadow aspects; knowing that under certain cirumstances they too may emerge.

In addition to this, every woman possesses within herself the figure of a man who is, in Jungian terms her animus, and every man possesses within himself the figure of a woman, who again in Jungian terms, is his anima. These figures are the proverbial ‘dream man’ and ‘dream woman’, and their images are the key to understanding the opposite sex, and to helping us to reconcile our heart, our emotions with our intellect.

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2 Responses to Dream Archetypes
  1. This article was interesting! I wish I could remember my dreams. There are just a handful that I can remember. I am trying to understand what you wrote. In the dreams that I can recall, I remember self, I remember birds…what do you mean by Shadow figure? Would that be, what I represented in my own dream that wasn’t obvious to me after I awoke?

  2. Dream Guide

    Hi Joanna, I am so pleased you enjoyed the article. We all dream every night, but as you’ve mentioned, not all remember them, or if they do only retain fragments, that quickly disappear upon waking, unless we write them down. That is why I always recommend people keep a note pad and pen by the side of the bed. That way they can write them down as soon as they wake up.

    Birds in general represent spiritual freedom. The ability to soar to higher awareness. Freedom, from material ties. Individual birds also have symbolic meaning. For example: The Dove represents freedom, peace and spiritual awakening. The Raven symbolises, fear of the unknown – flight into unknown parts of the self.

    The shadow figure, can sometimes manifest as a scary character. A monster or a witch.. Or even an unpleasant character, someone we know in ‘waking life’. All have something in common, and that is fear. Often what we fear is something we need to work on within ourselves. Many find that difficult to face. What we suppress, will find other ways of making itself felt in our lives. That is why I believe, ‘nightmares’ are our most powerful teaching dreams.


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