Campbell on Reading Dreams

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Post by carnelian » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Martin, your dream about the little bird sounds amazingly like the ones Marion Woodman describes in her tapes and books.

She describes people she has worked with who have found a starving little bird -- in an attic or in a cellar, usually -- and it says to the person, "All I ever wanted to do was to sing my song." And the person had not even known that the bird was there.

She also describes people finding a dirty, neglected, starving child in the same situation -- and the child says, "If you had known I was here, you would have killed me."

I'm struck by the detail that your little bird was in a cave, not a cellar or attic or dungeon or some other man-made structure. And that the wild animal was there, preventing you from feeding the bird yet not eating it himself. It speaks of the natural, the instinctual, the feral. In dreams, does a cave imply a womb?

Thank you for the beautiful Rilke poem. A friend is looking for it -- I'll let you know if he finds it...

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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Carnelian, Marion Woodman's books promise to be interesting lecture for me. And I'm eager to hear Rilke in English!

The bird was not in a cave, but in a cage. I've reread my original post and recognized, that at least once I wrote cave. JR told me before, that I had written jung instead of young. I'm wondering if these errors do mean anything psychologically, or if it was just by accident. I understand that you're struck by the symbol of the cave - it offers a new realm of possible meanings. But here we are already in the realm of the arts - in the broadest sense of the word -, because what I was dreaming about so many times was a bird in a cage.

Interesting that the birds and babies in Woodman's research seem to symbolize the same. Maybe women tend to dream abot babies instead of birds? I think of Julia's dream.

However, after reading your post I thought I remembered a story, where the master himself talks about a woman who had heard a bird singing in the woods, when she was young, and he says it was the Call. I was searching for the story, and found it, a few minutes ago, in An Open Life. Joseph Campbell in conversation with Michael Toms. Only, to my surprise, there's no bird in the whole story. He talks about music in the woods. Nothing of a bird. Seems, I have projected my own dream symbology on that story:
There's an extremely interesting psychological story of a woman in the hills of West Virginia who, when she was a little girl walking through the woods, heard wonderful music. And when she got home, she forgot what it was. Now, this is a woman in her late sixties who felt that she had missed her life, and it was only while in psychoanalysis that it came out that the song she had heard was the Call.

This, curiously, is precisely the problem of the shaman: the young person who is alone on the seashore or in the forest and hears music; those people who have the knowledge that the music must somehow be followed must stay with it. It may make a lonely life for you, but that is your life. And this to me was a very interesting theme. I'm sure that in our world, where emphasis is put on success and all that, the song is heard and forgotten by young people.

That's missing the Call. "Dread the passage of Jesus, for he may not return."


(I have not idea about the source, Campbell is referring to. It's not mentioned in the book.)

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Post by carnelian » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Poetry and dreams have a lot in common.

I haven't heard from my friend yet about the poem you were talking about, Martin -- but I found this site with new translations of Rilke's poetry combined with some evocative images...

http://www.shutterfly.com/progal/slide. ... 1e&idx=-1


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Post by 42mice » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

thanks everyone for this great thread. As i read the dreams, my mind is filled with several dreams of my own that want to be heard. I even discovered a clue to one concerning water and waves.

I have to admit that its hard to post some things. What can be more personal than your own unconsious? Im learning alot, what i find the most important, like others have mentioned, is that the dream is about you and the things in the dream are parts of you.

I made a discovery last month that about half the dreams ive writen down in the past year seem to have a theme. In the dreams Im trapped or running,from a goverment,robots,evil father,infectious disease,robbers.......

It seems as if they are recurring dreams but in different forms. I dont know what it means. Another part of me thinks that they all have different meanings. I dont know. Im new at this and although i think ive learned alot from my dreams, i cant say ive sucessfully interpeted a "full" dream.
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Post by SkiaOura » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

42mice,

What happens when you run away from the things chasing you? Can you get away? Do you keep trying?
To me, turning around and facing the things chasing me, have been the best parts of dreams ever. At the moment of impact, the fear melts away, and there is an extatic union with the monster, or whatever it is.

I have not been able to face all things though, which probably means that I am not ready to face those scaries. I used to dream, for many years, of being chased by snakes. Sometimes I would dream that several times in one week, and the dreams would become nightmares, always. Finally I sat at the computer and let my fingers tell me who the snakes were. Through this free-association, I found out that the snakes were my poisonous mother, and were able to associate the feelings of the dream to her instead. Since that day, I have never dreamt of scary snakes.

Maybe free-association can help you identify whether the robots, disease, and other scaries are related or not.
I think that dreams of running away are extremely close to this "waking" world, and very litterally describe to the dreamer what is going on in hir life.

Julia.
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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Dreams are often referred to as the voice or language of the subconscious. A place in which everything means something and the stage is set with a specific set of symbols and meanings; symbols in some ways unique to your own experience and universally similar in others. But I think the great thing about dreams is that they never tell you anymore than you already know. This doesn't make sense when you think about how confusing or strange some dreams can be. Yet confusion in this case rises not from our ignorance to the meaning or symbolism, but in my opinion from a denial of the facts of our daily experience by our waking conscious or to use a Jungian term, our persona; that little white lie we wear so tightly over our real face so that even we can forget what we look like underneath. It tells us things are fine when their not, and that things are wrong when they are right. But when it is removed we are objective and honest.

"We" lie to our Selves all the time, but our subconscious never lies. It may use your persona against you, but somewhere in the dream space there is always a message from reality. The dream is both a language and a space that facilitates a dualistic conversation between the subconscious and the persona, but what is really happening is we are dropping the lie (or creating a split character without a persona) and confronting the reality of our own character. Running away is in this sense also a confrontation, just one with no conclusion.

I like your technique for conversing with the subconscious Skia. There are a lot of good ways to enter such a dialogue; dreams and free association are just the tip of the iceberg. But then again so is the individual subconscious just the tip of consciousness.

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Post by SkiaOura » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

JR,

Like you say, there are so many techniques for understanding ones own dreams. And to find out more, well, why not go to Denmark?
http://www.asdreams.org/2004/index.htm

Of course there are easier ways, but probably none that compares in fun. :wink:

I will definitely try my best to go there, and I hope that other associates will be there also.
And Martin, this is really your neck of the woods! :smile:

Julia.

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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Julia, Copenhagen is always worth a visite! :smile:
On 2003-11-03 01:30, 42mice wrote:
I have to admit that its hard to post some things. What can be more personal than your own unconsious? Im learning alot, what i find the most important, like others have mentioned, is that the dream is about you and the things in the dream are parts of you.
That's an important point. I know it consciously for a long time now, that every image appearing in our dreams is a part of ourselves. I tend to forget about it too easily.
On 2003-11-08 00:52, JR wrote:
"We" lie to our Selves all the time, but our subconscious never lies. It may use your persona against you, but somewhere in the dream space there is always a message from reality. The dream is both a language and a space that facilitates a dualistic conversation between the subconscious and the persona, but what is really happening is we are dropping the lie (or creating a split character without a persona) and confronting the reality of our own character. Running away is in this sense also a confrontation, just one with no conclusion.
So all we have to do, interpreting our dreams, is to put all those fragments together and create a coherent superior image or "inner landscape". Interesting.

I'm thinking about that boney man, who appeared first in Tree Hugger's dream and afterwards, inspired by her in my own. TH told me, that several posters have asked her if they were meant with the boney man. (In fact I was one of them.) She told me that she has identified the boney man being herself. (I'm not sure if she has already posted that information, but a while ago she told me she wants to post it, so that nobody has to worry about being the boney man anymore.)

In my own dream the boney man appeared, poisening the river. So my first reaction, after TH had told me she was the boney man, was thinking: Ah, that chap in my dream was Cranky Scientist. But the recent posts by 42mice and JR convinced me that to conclude that would be just too simple. Of course those dream images can refer to a real person or object, but the way they are represented is speaking rather about our subjective perceptions than about the real persons and objects.

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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

A curious question, for which I don't know anyone has an answer, inspired by Martin's post and my last piece in the Disourse thread: Might an element in a dream be a representation of what someone means or represents to the dreamer?

Don't want to cross threads too much here, but that mental representation, or homunculus, we have of each other is a construct or model and its very much our own, part of us. So here we have an impression of someone based on our own assumptions of who that person is. Those assumptions can be(are?)determined by our own biases and, do I dare use the word, projections.

So these representations we have of each other are not the individuals to which they refer, but a part of ourselves made of objective sense impressions and glued together by our subjective attitudes and biases. Therefore, when we meet one in a dream, are we not confronting, not the referant of the mental model, but what the referant may symbolize to us?

If so, there is a lot of information to be had there, if one is wise enough to untangle the symbols our unconscious throws at us, no?

That leaves us with a) what a 'boney man', such an image in and of itself, might mean and b) what this says to the dreamer about who s/he thinks the possible referrant may be.

Of course, I may be completely lost in the tall grass.

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

"I think of compassion as the fundamental religious experience and, unless that is there, you have nothing."

~Joseph Campbell~

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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ah, good. I'm allergic to tall grass. Okay, TH, then my question would be, and please don't feel compelled to answer either way, this is just my curiosity following its course, since you've claimed that, in the dream, the boney man was someone you'd met in an Internet forum, do you have an inkling as to why that particular individual came to be represented in your dream in just that way?

(Hmmmm. I don't think that sentence has enough clauses.)

Particularly in this case, when the mental image of the individual in question would follow the parameters I outlined in the Discourse thread, I'm wondering about the parallels between the dream image, your 'homunculus' of the online personality and what that homunculus may reflect back to you about yourself.

I'm not looking for particulars, though I'm sure it would be quite interesting. Such may be far more personal than would even be appropriate.

Edit: I asked a few questions at the end there that upon reflection were either stupid questions or obvious ones, so I deleted them. The one asked above is quite sufficient. I note this because the number of views for this thread jumped after I posted.

Clemsy

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am



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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Clemsy, I don't see how the parameters you outlined in the Discourse thread can be applied to bone man.
Not what I meant, but perhaps I'm misunderstanding. You said:
A man was coming to visit me. I had met him on an internet forum and we had become friends.
I assumed from the questions you've received on the identity of this individual, that your dream image was based on an actual person. But, upon reading your initial post over again, that is not necessarily the case. Perhaps this was only part of the dream sequence, and not related to a real person at all. If there is such an Internet acquaintence, then those parameters discussed in the other thread would apply to your mental image of the forum persona, not Boney. The question was:
do you have an inkling as to why that particular individual came to be represented in your dream in just that way?
...which is a follow-up question to the one posed earlier:
Might an element in a dream be a representation of what someone means or represents to the dreamer?
To which you replied:
Yes, Clemsy, the images in a dream often refer to what the dreamer perceives, believes, thinks, or feels about the person, place, or thing they are dreaming about.
There. All my ducks are now lined up. If there is no real referrant to dream image, the question is moot. If there is, I find the added dimension of having a dream image based on such a 'homunculus' even more interesting. To quote myself once more
So these representations we have of each other are not the individuals to which they refer, but a part of ourselves made of objective sense impressions and glued together by our subjective attitudes and biases.
As you say, it gets complicated. Beyond what the whole dream can be interpreted to mean, the pieces themselves tell us a thing or two also. So to reword the question, it's not who Boney is, it's why that dream image for that 'real' person? Again, no particulars are requested.

Don't want to eat up too much of this excellent thread with my side questions, so this will be my last dip in the pond, as it were.

Clemsy

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am



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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ah. So if there was no 'real life' Internet friend, whether he was coming to meet you or not, that the dream image referred to, then this line becomes academic, and no longer appropriate to this thread.

Interesting though.

Clemsy
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