The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends. For all ego-consciousness is isolated; because it separates and discriminates, it knows only particulars, and it sees only those that can be related to the ego. Its essence is limitation, even though it reach to the farthest nebulae among the stars. All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 304
Yet another way to work on your shadow aspects is through dream work. By becoming aware of your dreams, it will be easier to see where shadow areas might lie. This is particularly true where your anima or animus are concerned.
According to Carl Jung, every man has a feminine side and every woman, a masculine side.
The man’s feminine side is called his anima. The anima emerges when a man relates to other people, when he experiences his emotions and feelings, when he attends to the limited but everyday reality of physical life, and when he is open to the wisdom of the natural as well as the unconscious.
For example, if a man relates poorly to people, and if resentment, rage, and sentimentality are his controlling emotions; if he neglects the real in favor of the ideal; if he squashes what is natural and ignores the unconscious; then he will have feminine figures in his dreams that have unpleasant characteristics. The female dream figures might be seriously seductive, flagrantly hostile, sickly, abused, and so on.
Alternately, if a man’s feminine aspects are more conscious and well developed, his dreams will contain positive feminine figures. If he does not know the woman in his dream, it may be a part of his feminine self that he is not yet aware of; if he does know the woman, then it is more than likely a part of himself of which he is already conscious.
Likewise, females have a masculine side that can be seen in their dreams. This masculine aspect is called the animus. The animus is present when a woman is speaking her mind, when she is inspired to action, when she organizes and focuses, when she appeals to higher principles, when she reads, writes, and masters objective information, and when she is creatively or religiously inspired.
Unpleasant masculine figures will appear in her dreams when she misses the point when speaking her mind, when she is generally disorganized or unfocused, when she is rigidly devoted to political, intellectual or spiritual principles, when she can be seduced away from the genuine and grounded life by the lure of an intellectual, spiritual or creative activity that arises from a collective spirit and is not truly her own, when she breaks relationship destructively, or when she alienates people unconsciously.
A woman’s animus displays the healthy and positive manifestations in her dreams when the masculine figures are portrayed as friendly, helpful, and loving males. Similar to men, a woman will see parts of herself that she is unaware of when she does not know the men in her dreams. If she is familiar with the men in her dreams, she is already, even if subconsciously, aware of these masculine aspects of herself.
Next week, I will offer a couple of practical methods for interpreting your own dreams. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to work on your dream recall. Everybody dreams, usually a half a dozen times a more a night. The difficult part of dream work is remembering at least one of those dreams. The most important thing to do is to decide by what method you will record your dreams.
For most people, it is important to place a pen or pencil and a notebook, paper, or whatever you intend to use to transcribe your dreams, next to your bed. This way, if you wake up in the middle of the night and remember your dream, you can jot down a few notes on key words or images that may help you more fully recall the dream in the morning.
Focus your attention on remembering and understanding your dreams before going to sleep. Say a prayer or create your own ritual to help you remember. If you still don’t remember, don’t despair. Dream Work is a process and sometimes it takes a little while to find the right system for remembering your dreams.