Ever had one of those epic dreams? The kind of dream you can’t forget. Even though maybe you would like to? A dream that was on one hand alarming, yet on the other hand filled with addictive fascination. What do you do with such a dream? Run to the “Dream Symbols Lexicon?” Does such a thing exist? Not for Jung. He explored his dreams and those of his patients through the lens of alchemy and the tool of mandalas.
I had another one of those dreams last night. The dream is too raw for me to share now. And I have yet to process the dream yet through amplification, mandala, or analysis. But, the power of the dream drove me post another reflection about Jung’s work.
C.G. Jung’s biographical Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, includes forty-two of his key life dreams. Jung’s dreams and his own interpretation of dreams can be best understood through Jung’s paper, “Individual Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy,” found in Dreams (Bollingen Series XX) wherein he analyses twenty-two dreams and subsequent mandala drawings of a colleagues’ patient.
If you know of an easy guidebook or primer to alchemy—please share. I have talked to a few learned friends and scholars. They told me the alchemical works are arcane, intended to mystify and confuse the reader. I am obliged to concur, especially after reading Jung’s volume 13 of his Collected Works, Alchemical Studies. Still, even though my head is swimming with obscure references to ancient mythical beings, I am being fetched to continue my studies. I have found Patrick Harpur’s novel, Mercurius: The Marriage of Heaven and Earth, like a flickering light from a spent candle on a blackened night. I have come to imagine for nothing more—other than for Jung to appear in a visionary moment and become my guide. I am patiently in anticipation.
There are several interviews with Jung and documentaries about his life available on YouTube. I found them biographically interesting but lacking in the depth found in his writings, especially regarding alchemy and the mandala. That is, however, to be expected. As a novice, though, I found these films a good place to supplement my Jungian pilgrimage. A close friend loaned me Gerhard Wehr’s Jung: A Biography. The work is readable, candid, and somewhat balanced in presentation. Still, without studying Jung’s own writings about dreams, alchemy, and the mandala I would be left without the master’s voice speaking into my imagination.
The more I work, the more I hear, the more I see, the more shocking and vivid the dreams, the more colorful the mandala, and the less I know. More reflections to come later—I need to get back last night’s dream.