Jonah & the Whale: a dream for our time

Dec 30, 2021

Photo Credit: Jonah and the Whale (1621) by Pieter Lastman

The Bible as sacred text serves as a source of revelation and wisdom about the divine. As mythology, the Bible establishes norms for daily life and organizes psychic life forces. For Jung, mythologies and religions are symbolic expressions of archetypal patterns that foster the development of consciousness. Mythology reveals the dreams of a culture just as dreams bring personal mythology to light. Jung said, “We must read the Bible or we shall not understand psychology.” The Bible is not psychological only, but unless it is also psychological, we may not be able to relate its contents to our personal lives. We, therefore, engage the mythos of Jonah and the whale. Orienting to Jonah as dream in the world, a dream for the world, and a dream of each of us can help us better understand ourselves in the context of a greater whole.

Here’s the dream we analyze:

“I’m at my girlfriend’s apartment, standing in a hallway with several doors. All of them save one are closed. Behind them, I sense a tremendous power. I stop in front of one of the closed doors and open it, but I don’t cross the threshold. It’s either my girlfriend’s childhood room, or it is mine. I guess that I first believe it to be hers but then understand that it’s mine. The room looks quite innocent, but I sense a trap inside. I somehow understand that I may ask one question to the presence that lingers in the room and that the question will be answered. I also understand that if I enter the room and the force is benign, I may exit and come back as I please, but if the presence is not benign, I will never be able to leave once I enter. So I need to construct a question that operates on two levels at the same time: it must seem to be an innocent question, but with a hidden purpose to determine the nature of the force. I start to think but draw a blank. Then a question very clearly “drops down” into my mind, and I examine it. It’s not only a good question, it’s the perfect question, and I put it forth: “How can one know when it is enough?” The answer comes quickly, accompanied by the sound of gnashing teeth and crushing boulders, and all too clearly reveal the nature of this entity: “It can NEVER be enough!” I then understand that it is the devil who dresses his frustrated angst in these words, and the answer makes me completely uninterested in entering the room. I decide instead to continue; I’m done with the things that are here. So, I go to the room with the open door, and after a short period of preparation, I fly away. When I fly through the window, a strange thing happens: as I pass through the glass, I feel that my amber body is being cleansed. It is as if all the impurities that it has accumulated during the entire ordeal were stopped from passing through as if the glass was some sort of filter. As a result, I feel more free as I continue my journey.”


Joseph, Diele, FCR. Jonah: The Story of Us https://www.amazon.com/dp/1556053924/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_8SGRSZT47FB9YA4RN6PV

Hollis, James. Tracking the Gods: The Place of Myth in Modern Life https://www.amazon.com/dp/0919123694/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_VZMCVWT0D7FQ0880MW1W

Stein, Murray. The Bible as Dream: A Jungian Interpretation https://www.amazon.com/dp/1630516686/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_HW0D3QRPE2HH0X20PM3V


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams: https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. Deborah

    That was a wonderful episode! I did not know the full story of Jonah, so this was enlightening and entertaining, with so many Jungian parallels. Thank you.

  2. Tosia zraikat

    Hi. I wonder if you would make these episodes downloadable, as they used to be. thanks

  3. moss

    Loved this episode. Thank you.


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