Psychotherapy is essentially the work of making shadow conscious—all that we have not discerned then disowned, or projected onto others. We seldom welcome shadow, for it is marked by emotions and motivations that deflate, disturb, and dethrone ego. From family scuffles to political hostilities and outright war, we most often meet our shadow in others. Its presence is signaled by a strong urge to take action, with feelings ranging from judgment to antagonism, from pity to self-sacrifice, and from obsession to disgust. If we have the courage to face and relate to the inner world of another, we experience and expand our own inner world. Shadow is the dark doorway to renewal and development, creativity and compassion. Jung said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Here’s the dream we analyze:
“I am in the backyard of my grandparents’ house. It’s night and very dark out, and I can see the lights on in the house. I have a bird feather in my hand that is luminescent with green and purple. I stick it in the ground, and a bird appears—a dove, I think. It flies away, and I stick the feather in the ground a second time. Another bird appears and flies away. I do it a third time, but this time I take a feather from the bird that appears and replant it in the same spot. When I do this, the ground trembles. Something big is happening, and I’ve started something I can’t stop. The third bird flies back to me and tells me to find a swan to make something called svala. Then I’m at some sort of school party, like a reunion or homecoming. I see an Indian woman I knew and used to be friends with. We haven’t seen each other in a long time and are no longer close, but I think she might know the meaning of svala and how I am supposed to make it, and what it will do. I keep trying to talk to her, but things keep getting in the way. Finally, she invites me to her room. There is beautiful music playing in the background, and her room is full of soft, golden light. I tell her about the dream with the feather and needing a swan to make svala and that I don’t know what it’s about. She laughs and says, “What is a swan but transformation? The hardest part in making svala is finding the swan.”
Swamplands of Soul: New Life in Dismal Places by James Hollis.
Learn to Analyze your own Dreams: https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/
Link to Lisa’s lecture and workshop: https://ofj.org/event/another-whom-we-do-not-know-dreams-as-the-voice-of-the-inner-companion/