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 bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-03-13 18:56, kjb wrote: I would like to share a dream, which (to me) was very significant and relevant to this topic because it is how I came across the JCF.
This statement might sound strange to some people, but it makes sense to me. Oddly enough, i had an incredibly powerful precognitive dream referring to experiences i had weeks later, on a spontaneous adventure hitchhiking to the Santa Barbara area, while visiting the Pacifica Graduate Institute and the Joseph Campbell Library and Archives.

No need to go into detail, but the experience proved surreal, numinous, and particularly striking in that i was in the habit at the time of writing down my dreams at length most mornings, so had a record of stunning correspondences between the dream and subsequent events.

Of course, the dream was related to not just the events of outer life, but movements within my psyche. Many other dreams i've recorded have had precognitive elements - for example, during the years i was recording dreams on a daily basis, deja vu suddenly made sense, for i would find those moments of odd familiarity with unfamiliar circumstances foreshadowed in dream

which is one of the advantages of keeping a dream journal...

Rarely, though, have there been so many precognitive elements in one dream as the one i experienced before visiting the Joseph Campbell Library. It's as if my psyche wanted to impress upon me the value of dream to Campell's perspective, as well as the common source of dream, myths, mystical experience, and the human imagination.
I dreamt that I was at the start of a path that led off into the countryside. I was anxious to start walking but the companions with me were stood chatting and I wanted to wait for them. After a short time,slightly annoyed and realising that they were not going to start the walk, I set off alone, observing the trees and grass etc that I was passing.
It almost seems as if your psyche is mirroring your journey through life - you have a path to follow that is different from your friends, who are caught up in superficial chatter. Doesn't this seem the dynamic active in your life at this moment - your interest in spiritual and philosophical matters this past year draws you on a path separate from friends of yours in real life - people whom you may love, but who don't seem to share your interest in the deep questions?

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, speaks of this as hearing the Call - the first step on the Hero's Journey. Indeed, the myths we're most familiar with from a wide variety of cultures tend to tell the same story (hence, the "hero with a thousand faces") ... but it is also the journey each of us face through life.

Campbell points out that clues and signposts along the way are found in myth and dream ... which seems to be something your dream is certainly saying!
Having walked some distance, I stopped to look back at the path I had travelled and suddenly realised that it had led me in a semi-circle and had I walked across in a straight line I would have reached the current postion in half the time.
Fascinating! All sorts of mythic associations can be made with this image.

(You wouldn't by any chance happen to be around age thirty-five? ... just a random shot in the dark, but always worth checking - though that is likely reading the image a touch too literal.)

I think of a half moon - which points to the development of lunar consciousness: delving into one's interior, exploring "inner space," developing intuition, experiencing a more active dream life.

Of course, it's only half of one whole - 180 degrees out of 360 - which may be why i associated with the "halfway" point of the threescore and ten we're allotted in myth.

But half of a whole also suggests you'll need at some point to develop the other half of the circle to round out your being.
As I contemplated this, I looked at the area encircled by the path more closely and realised that it was sacred ground and that the purpose of my trip was to reveal this to me. Stepping inside, I suddenly became aware that there were other people present and that I had unwittingly been disrespectful. They started gasping with shock at how I was desecrating their spiritual place.
Every dream image contains multiple layers of personal and mythic associations, many parallel, but some seemingly at odds. In a dream image, though, we embrace the paradox - there is no one right interpretation, but the same image keeps opening out onto wider vistas the more we plumb its depths.

Here, you have created sacred space - and this realization seems the purpose of your journey - and the purpose of your dream

...but there are individuals who seem to belong to this space that are shocked by your presence.

Sometimes, in myth and dream, these can be horrific deities (e.g., the cherubim with flaming swords barring entrance to the Garden of Eden) or aggressive individuals - they fulfill the role of temple guardians, keeping the profane from desecrating sacred space

...but your encounter with them is not too terribly tense, as the mysterious guide who appears (one of the magical helpers Campbell speaks of, who come to the assistance of the hero in such myths - and in our own dreams, and, come to think of it, in waking life as well) assures you. After all, you have followed a ritual path to reach this point.

From a Jungian perspective, these people in the interior of the sacred space circumscribed by your path might well be some of the personages and beings that populate one's psyche - archetypal energies and individuals embedded in the unconscious, both personal and collective. Of course, a first encounter with psyche's personification of such forces often proves uncomfortable to ego

(ego is Latin for "I," and is simply "me" - the "I" i think myself to be, how i experience and perceive myself)

This doesn't seem as shattering an encounter for you as for others - and you have a guide to get you through:
Very embarrassed I tried to leave as quickly as possible, but a man appeared and in a gentle voice told me to ignore them as I had not done any harm. As I looked at him I saw that he was bare chested and his torso was covered in tattoo type markings similar to Maori artwork.
Seems like a shamanic figure - certainly an image like what one might find in Campbell's multi-volume Atlas of World Mythology. This being is an example of an archetypal motif Jung terms "the Wise Old Man" when encountered in dream.
He held up his hand and on the palm was a drawing of an eye enclosed in a triangle. On his abdomen, underneath some of the tattoos were three initials - jcf. I then awoke from the dream.


Wow, kirsten - this is potent! Though there are many layers of association and meaning compacted into any given dream image, the dream speaks for itself here, triggering the websearch that brought you to the JCF site - heck of a coincidence, considering the value placed on the dreamscape by Joseph Campbell

...but then, Campbell very much embraces Carl Jung's concept of synchronicity - meaningful coincidence...

Welcome aboard - and thanks for jumping right in and sharing your dream experience - spooky!

Maybe you should sleep on it...

:wink:

bodhibliss

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

Interesting. The 'Eye in the Triangle' refers to the all seeing eye of Reason... as it is found on the dollar bill. Others have different meanings for it.

A search will bring up various christian sites warning of its association with satanism.

It can also represent the third eye.

You'll find a sample at the bottom of my web page.

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

Thanks both for you replies and interesting analysis bodibliss. Certainly has given me food for thought. I am 32 so maybe there is some significance in this and I am entering the lunar phase of consciousness - I shall start a dream diary to reflect upon. It is good also to know others have enlightening dreams. I think that I would benefit from reading some of Campbell's works - I shall start off with your suggestions bodhibliss. Also I shall check out your website Clemsy.
Regards,
kjb
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Here is a strange dream I had...Saturday evening under a full moon.. 3-4-04

A man who lost something...a football game...I think he was a coach...came home to his pretty dark haired wife and his beautiful mansion. I could feel that he was very depressed and that he didnot want to go home.
As he pulled up to the house, his wife greeted him happily. She told him to hurry up, I believe they had to go somewhere that evening. When he protested, she said, "you should have remembered."
He was upset and he clearly didnot want to go anywhere. His driver suggested they go for a drive and get a drink. So they drove away to the dismay of his wife.

Strangely, the car was driving upside down...pushing through piles of leaves through a road in a forest. It seemed like Fall becuase leaves were everywhere. The driver was telling him something; he made me feel uncomfortable.

My dream breaks off, now...I think the same man is searching in the jungle. I think it's the man. They come across a village tightly enclosed in brush and bushes. A huge, long, yellow snake enters into a hut. (As a person watching the dream, I remember telling my real-life son to look at it) There was no fear present.

Soon it was night time. Although it was still light outside. Everyone in the village takes their place around a huge circle. The snake reappears and winds itself around the center of the circle. The village man tells me that the snake is for protection. It will eat anything (beasts) that try to enter the circle. I'm not sure where I should rest for the night. I choose the far right (back) side of the circle. A garbage can is behind me...not a good sign I feel, so I move ahead a spot. Still feeling afraid.

We look outside (front) of the circle. The sky is blue; open fields; gray mountain in the distance.

A bright blue, furry, snake-like thing slithers into the circle. The snake bites it, and the villagers put it in a pot to cook it. I get the feeling they want the smoke to appeal to other beasts. We wait nervously.

Suddenly, the blue sky fades...everything is cloudly, we cannot see...panic fills the air. After searching, we realize the gray mt. is still present in the darkness...almost a relief. However, our light has left us for good.

We travel to another village one that I seem to know about. We make alliances with them during this dark time.

Strangely a kitchen with a light -- belonging to them -- separates the villages. A girl from the village...feeling strangely like myself...takes down the light and electrifies herself. She dies. We all say you should never touch the light..."even with metal," I point out.

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

Here is a dream from yesterday.

I remember thinking enough was enough and why not jump. So I jumped. Falling.

I remember being scared, wonderd what may follow, what I may have been wrong about, and more falling, and more falling, and more wondering and waiting, and then I felt it would be soon. The ground is coming. I'll hit and it'll be over. Falling, falling, falling.

Here comes the ground, it must be close, and I thought, well, best to be centered. You want to be centered less you have to do all this again and so in the falling flight, I centered, and relaxed and waited and fell.

Relaxed, centered, hmmm, should be soon, waited, relaxed, centered, woke up.


I remember thinking, when I woke up, damn, I didn't get to see what would happen next.

No terror, not a nightmare, but a potent, couldn't put it out of my mind kind of dream. Did I commit suicide in a dream? I don't think so, but dying was a part of the dream, and rather my thoughts on what it means to be dead kept coming up while I was falling. Sure seems like I jumped off of a building in my dream.


<i>you must kill your god - JC</i>
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Post by Psyche » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks for starting this thread Cranky Scientist! i've got something a little strange...but fascinating...to add:

Some weeks ago, I had a very length complex dream that, at one point, had a sequence with whales. I was told that these whales were killer whales and would devour people. They were "man eating whales". The tank that held them was huge, and not really a tank; it was as if going to the beach/ocean side and walking into the ocean, but only a section of the ocean (this restriction makes the area a "tank"). But I swim with the whales and know instinctively that they are not dangerous...they are friendly. I pat one and swim with them for awhile. The water is soooo warm (quite unlike the ocean!).

Now the weird part:

I told this dream to someone who responded in surprise: he's had the exact same imagery in the past in a dream: whales, restricted "ocean" tank, warm water, being told of danger where there really was none - but he had to go in and swim for himself to confirm this friendliness...etc.

What are the odds?

So then I told another friend: she too has had this same imagery. But with an added feature: a shamanic priestess, and other people holding glowing yellow boxes which then transform into the whales (the boxes open up to reveal a yellow light that fills the open space to make the 'ocean' and the people transform into the whales).

I decided to ask 4 more people: 2 have indeed also had similar dreams. One had more dolphins than whales (but the theme and sequences were the same). The other friend now feels quite connected to killer whales.

OK - the question you've all been waiting for:

Has anyone else had dreams of a similar nature??

sweet dreams!
Joanne

PS * please excuse if you've mentioned this in the thread before...i've read half and need to read the second half - there is a lot of imagery to absorb and mentally process!! :smile:
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I knew this thread was around here somewhere!

I had a dream last night that I thought I'd post for comments. Usually, my dreams are bizarre and chaotic, impossible to describe. Occassionally I get something fairly clear and sequential. Like this:

I'm at the beach. In my hand I hold a solid iron ball attached to a length of rope through a ring on the ball.

I had to bury the ball just where the waves send a sheet of water up the beach. I hold the ball in my right hand and dig with my left. When I dig to about the depth of my elbow, my hand breaks through to where the sand is mostly liquid. I'm surprised by this. I can swirl my hand around down there quite easily. I decide this is exactly where the iron ball is to be placed. I let the ball down and bury it. (Yes, I am getting wet in the meantime.) The rope extends out of the sand. I'm fairly confident that the wave and tide action won't unbury the ball.

I have some thoughts about the imagery, but I'll hold them back in lieu of your thoughts.

Cheers,
Michael


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

Hi Michael - -interesting dream.

My first reflection is: describe what the iron ball is/means to you. Just free flow some thoughts and words until something strikes you with "Ah ha!". OK then bring it back to the beach - was this a safe place? It sounds like it is an intentional act to bury this iron ball - and with the rope on it , sounds like it will be retrieved at some later time.

<Incubation and protection of something> comes to mind.

Does this trigger anything for you?


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

Michael,

I'm thinking of something that is weighing you down. You have to dig through the fine detail (get past some sort of bureaucracy) to connect it to the essential "flow" of your life...

Psyche,

That’s really interesting. Sorry I haven’t had the same dream. Maybe there is some shift in group consciousness in Victoria. Now if your dream involved running with buffalo in the prairies… <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif">



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

Michael,

I'll just share with you some of the first thoughts that popped in my head when I read your dream about the ball.

My first thought was that the ball represents something special to you. When I think of the sea, I think of the unconscious. I felt you were burying the ball in a place that could get in touch with a deeper and unknown world (perhaps your inner mind) -- symbolized as the sea in your dream.

When you put your hand down, you found a place in the sand that would hold your "special treasure" in a place that was certainly in touch with the unknown (the swirling waters). Yet, it would not be exposed until you wanted to access that special treaure (by using the rope).

Were you seeking answers to anything at the time of your dream?

Were you "fishing" for something unknown?

Just my thoughts...

However, as Cranky Scientist pointed out earlier in this tread, dreams may contain universal themes, but it can be difficult to grasp the meaning of another person's dream.

She said,
I must admit that I am stumped by your dreams. There is a big urge in me to start analzying away, but there is also the realization that context is lacking. If I started in I would probably be projecting my Self onto your dreams. And as Jung said, your dreams are about you, not about the analyst's projections or theories
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Michael,

If I may add my two cents here, your dream indicates that at the time you dreamt it you were worried about a 'hidden pain/injury'. You were worried because it was going to 'undermine' your 'integrity '(of health?mind?emotions?moral standards?) and your subconscious self was advising you to take 'bold action'. Well, it's been a while since you had this dream, so I suspect you have already fixed the problem.

Cheers,
Evinnra <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Oh my! I haven't checked this thread, obviously, in quite a while. My post lay fallow for quite a bit before a bite, as it were.

Thanks, folks, for your responses.

I imagine that each of you may have offered something to work with.
It sounds like it is an intentional act to bury this iron ball - and with the rope on it , sounds like it will be retrieved at some later time.
Quite right, Psyche...
I'm thinking of something that is weighing you down. You have to dig through the fine detail (get past some sort of bureaucracy) to connect it to the essential "flow" of your life...
Cliff, this has potential. An impressive interpretation of the symbols. Evinnra, I would say the same to you.

Scarlett, your post particularly rings true to me. It reminds me of something of an epiphany I had right here at JCF... my 'golden age' of contribution.

Now to try to find it...

Ah. Three years ago I developed an image I called 'the surge zone'.
The surge zone is a unique ecosystem. It is the intersection, in the metaphor, between matter and spirit. It can be a horrifically violent place. It can be calm and peaceful.
So that shoreline… a surge zone with rising and falling tides, rocky wave blasted cliffs, inlets where the tidal surge is unstoppable and deadly, placid tidal pools and stretches of flat glass smooth blue and green occasionally whipped into violence… that’s Avalon. From there come our visions and waking dreams. From across that boundary the Muses whisper to those who will listen. There the mystics swim… and others are dashed against the rocks.

I’m not going to discuss the Ocean other than <SILENCE>.
This discussion occurred in the Collective Unconscious and Language and metaphor threads.

Martin and Ruiz, those were the days, no?

Anyway, the imagery in the dream takes on a larger meaning in this context, considering that this exact spot... the 'surge zone' hold particular significance for me.

Interesting. I recall another dream I had no too long after the one I described here. One image that stands out is sitting in a farm house eating dinner with the family. One wall is missing and faces the sea. The waves wash up and into the house as we eat...

I'm going to let this cook for a bit. Please feel free to comment.

Michael

PS: I did have fun revisiting those old threads. The Language and Metaphor thread was a wild ride at the time.



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

On 2006-01-13 19:20, Michael wrote:
It reminds me of something of an epiphany I had right here at JCF... my 'golden age' of contribution.

Now to try to find it...

[...]

Martin and Ruiz, those were the days, no?
Clemsy getting sentimental?! - These were great days, my friend, but don't forget that we are still great: Life being here and now!! <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif">
Works of art are indeed always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Clemsy getting sentimental?!
Sure, my friend, he has his moments. We were 'young' at forum participation at the time, no?

So will the 'older' recall the 'younger'. <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2006-01-13 19:48, Michael wrote:
So will the 'older' recall the 'younger'. <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">
Doesn't matter, old friend! As much as it doesn't matter, if the younger recall the older. The main thing is, they'll repeat our triumphs and failures, twinkle twinkle, like we repeated those of others coming before us - each one making the same mistakes and improvements in his own and unique way ... that is everything what still counts for me. Let's stay young while growing old...!

Personally, I have learned that 50 : 50 % from Joe and from the arts - where everything is at least old - but in some rare and precious cases at the same time new. Nothing new in this world - unless everything's new!

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