Archetype of the Wave: image of energy and motion

Aug 4, 2022

Photo Credit: Matthew Paul Catalano via Unsplash

Images of earth’s perpetual restlessness waves gently rock us, lift us up for an exhilarating ride – or inundate us in the terrifying phenomenon of a tsunami. Surfers surrender to the rhythm of waves, an embodied metaphor of attuning to the rising and falling of unconscious forces. Poseidon, Greek god of the ocean, was also the deity of destructive tidal waves, which can sweep us away and show up often in dreams. In physics, a wave is a disturbance that travels through space and matter, transferring energy from one place to another and, therefore, part of the fabric of the subatomic universe. From playful white caps on a summer’s day to waves that pound the shore as they break, waves are a potent image of energy and reflect inner psychic processes.

Here’s the dream we analyze:

“I am paddleboarding with my ex-boyfriend and several other people, mostly older adults. We are in a mountain lake, with an evergreen, tree-covered mountain rising from the lake behind us. The sun is out, and the water is calm. It feels pleasant. After some time passes, I notice several people quickly swimming to shore. The sky has suddenly drastically darkened, and I think it’s either about to rain or the sun is setting, so it’s time to leave. The water gets rougher now, too. My ex and I swim to shore, and I am surprised by how quickly and easily I am able to swim. When I get to shore, I notice that the older adults are struggling in the water. I want to help them, but my ex stops me. It is now that I notice that the dark sky is actually due to the fact that the mountain is completely on fire, and the fire is rushing down toward the water. I have to stand and watch, hoping all the older adults make it. The fire reaches the water, and the last of the older adults are thrust to shore. It is very dark now, and there is something beautiful about the fire. I want to get a closer look but am wary of getting near the water, which I know will be scalding. I get closer and try to take a picture, but at the moment I go to capture the image, the smoke obscures my view.”


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  1. Greg

    This episode brought to mind Margaret Gibson’s poem The Great Wave of Kanagawa which has given me great comfort at different times in my life. To me the poem is about being engulfed by the numinous and the transformation that comes with it. https://www.npr.org/2003/07/12/1334789/sunken-garden-poetry Thank you for this episode!

  2. Judy Gibson

    I’m appreciating the previous comment as it reminded me of the image of The Great Wave of Kanagawa from 35 Images of Mt. Fuji.

  3. Judy Gibson

    Also reminded me of this poem that my Dad used to quote:
    Sparkle sparkle little twink,
    What the heck you are, I think?
    Are you particle or are you wave?
    I can’t tell how you behave.

  4. Simcha

    The podcast and these comments remind me of Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, the Sea (1978) where characters are engulfed by waves and (almost) drown.

    Never thought of understanding that novel like a fairytale, where all the characters are parts of one self / Self. But the sea, its dangerous waves, its monsters and its seals are literally fatal and healing.


  5. Rastislav Kucinsky MD

    I have to agree after 20 years of kitesurfing, gliding on the waves harnessing wind, air, water energy is deeply spiritual activity. Many times I dream about perfect landscape with white caps on ocean signaling strong enough wind, sunny day, movig big waves all that constelate perfect condition for kitesurfing. Kite is using wind power and allows surfer to ride board or hydrofoil on waves. So there is perfect interplay between spiritual power of wind harnessed by kite with mother nature. Riding is then certain revery like state when rational function, thinking is turned down and mind is immersed on the next move based on instincts, muscle memory, balanced dynamic flying like feeling full of adrenaline. Moves are similar to beautiful ferocious dance. I would not call it submission or surrender to elements, for me it is rather feeling thet my body is participating in playfull interplay of cosmic energies. If everything is constelated perfectly (wind, weather, abilities, equipment etc) then we called it: “Epic session” . It is highly addictive.
    Rasto Kucinsky


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