Dreams that feature images of weddings are common. They allude to the potential for the joining of opposites — what the alchemists referred to as the coniunctio oppositorum. Therefore, they whisper to us of our capacity for wholeness.
Following is the transcript of the dream discussed in Episode 220 — Can We Consider Abortion?
Our dreamer today is a 35-year-old male who works as a filmmaker. He writes,
I’m in a dressing room, or ante room getting ready for my wedding. My mother steps in to make some critical remark to me. I don’t remember the exact details, but something along the lines of, you’re never ready on time or you always leaves things for the last minute. Then she exits, leaving me alone with my father. We’re getting ready for the wedding. I ask him what all the guests are going to do while they’re waiting for us, and he reassures me that the rabbi of my synagogue will keep everyone entertained while we get ready. I then hear the rabbi leading all the guests in Jewish songs from outside. Back in the dressing room, my father and I are putting on tuxedos. I take out a box of studs for the tuxedo shirt and lay them across some kind of table with a soft surface. The golden studs are spread out across the surface, and I begin to sift through them but I’m unable to distinguish which studs belong to me and which belong to my father. They look identical. I examine them in the palm of my hand and grow frustrated, being unable to pick out which one is which. Then I realize that I am not clean shaven.
I have the same struggle that I currently have in my waking life, and grow even more frustrated, feeling a sense that my parents never leave me enough time to get the things done that I need to get done. Then I wake up and ask myself, why am I blaming my parents for my own time management problem?
As context, he writes, “I married my wife three years ago, and I didn’t wear a tux at the wedding. She converted to Judaism but the entire process including getting my parents to accept our relationship was a deeply painful and difficult process. My wife and I recently moved to a new neighborhood which is not in the Orthodox Jewish part of town and in some way, it felt like the end of a chapter in our conversion where Judaism saga with my parents, which is when I had this dream.”
The main feelings in the dream were anger, frustration, disappointment, and exasperation. Then he adds a little bit more of personal note. “The rabbi in the dream was the rabbi of my synagogue for my entire childhood and teenage years. He remained extremely close with my parents, my father in particular, until recently, and helped coach my mother through accepting my wife’s conversion, and our relationship together. He and his wife and children frequently appear in my dreams. Though I can’t give a thorough explanation, I suspect this rabbi has played a part in helping my father manage or control his relationship with my mother.”
So, if we just start at the beginning, and there’s a pending wedding. Jung really was stimulated by wedding symbolism. That meant a lot to him. It shows up a lot in an archetypal work and in alchemy and mythology, that the wedding or the coming together of two things to become a new amalgam was compelling to Jung and so the idea that that’s been invoked is significant.
You’re right. There’s so much about a wedding, symbolically, there’s so much. It’s a union. You know, it’s the coniunctio, it’s the coming together. It’s the integration of the opposites but it also means a choosing. The tarot card of the lovers was sometimes known as just “the choice” because to make a commitment to someone means to forsake all others and when we get married, there is something very deep that gets activated, where we are choosing a certain life and yes, we’re forsaking other partners, presumably. But we’re also really separating psychologically from our parents much of the time.
I went immediately and I think you guys your comments are, they are too into family systems and the male female dynamics in the dream. We have the dreamer or the dream ego, his wedding and then we have some opposition in real life from the dreamer’s mother. But the dream mother says you’re never ready on time. She makes the critical remark. The alliance with the father, and then the mix up with the studs, and I can’t help but hear a little bit of a pun in the word stud. But the masculine alignment of the father there in the dream with him, the father trying to ameliorate the relationship with his wife, the mother-in-law, the rabbi who’s almost always a male. They say, in family systems therapy, that there are always six people in the room. There’s the couple and then there is one person’s father and mother, and the other person’s father and mother. So, I’m just kind of playing with all these various forces that are active in this room.
It seems to me that the little fantasy that I weave about the dreamer and his life is that he was embedded in his family of origin as all of us are, and that included being embedded in a certain culture and religion, which is true for some of us and less true for others of us. His marriage to a woman who converted to Judaism was an opportunity for a psychological separation from his parents. But it’s not effected yet. It’s still in process, or perhaps it’s just finished because the mother complex is chastising and critical, you’re never ready on time. So, there’s a kind of infantilization going on. I mean, the dreamers is 35, and his inner mother is treating him like he’s eight. It was his mother complex and then his father is a positive symbol but there’s this problem that the dreamer can’t differentiate what of value belongs to him, and what of value belongs to his father. So, these studs are golden. They are of the highest value. So, this could be values, attitudes, kind of, you know, ancestral gold, as it were, that’s been handed down through the generations, in terms of culture, in terms of cultural values, or qualities even, qualities that the dreamer has. Which ones are his and which one are his father’s? He can’t tell and then he’s inappropriately, you know, kind of hasn’t shaven. He didn’t clean up, and he gets frustrated with himself and then has this critical question as he’s waking up, why am I blaming my parents for my own time management problems? And we might ask ourselves, as we become psychological adults, which often happens decades after becoming chronological adults, why am I blaming my parents for my problems? And I think it’s a lovely dream. I think it’s a very significant dream. It’s a dream of a man who is really putting his hands on the plough. He’s really taking on his own psychological truth and his own psychological life and I imagine that his marriage to his wife and the move out of the Orthodox Jewish part of town are part of that discernment process of what’s mine, and what belongs to my parents. In this whole scenario, we have the rabbi, who is a wonderful figure, very positive. He invokes the archetype of the senex, the wise old man. But also, I think of the Self. I think the rabbi carries the Self and in that he can unite the opposites and he can facilitate the integration of these opposing forces, whether it’s mother and father, or whether it’s the son and his non Jewish wife or she wasn’t Jewish before and the parents, the rabbi can facilitate the coming together.
There’s a real alliance here amongst the male figures in the dream, the dream ego, the rabbi, and the father.
In service to the dream ego’s differentiation and individuation.
In service to the dream ego’s wedding. What I’m also interested in here is the dynamic of the feminine in the dream and in the dreamer’s life. The rabbi helped the father coach his mother through accepting her new daughter in law and in the dream. The mother is critical of the dream ego. So, I imagine some of it has to do with coming into his own as an adult male in the dream that’s imaged by him not being ready on time, not being able to sort out the studs. In other words, his differentiation from his father having a beard stubble that he didn’t shave, but some of it is also coming to terms with the feminine and it’s telling that he and his wife moved out of the Jewish Orthodox neighborhood in waking life, just recently, the critical or conflictual dynamic is with the feminine.
Everything you guys have said makes good sense and I really agree with it. I found the moment with the gold studs to be particularly energized and it’s this place where he really slows down, has to really concentrate to figure out what’s mine versus what’s my father’s and it’s a difficult discernment. I mean, it’s very hard for him to do. But well, what a wonderful way to think about the analytic process and we really do have to meticulously pick through the values, ideas, behaviors that we inherited, and asking ourselves whether this belongs to me. So, I just thought that image was really great. I did think it was interesting that as he’s struggling to differentiate from his father, he becomes aware of his beard, which is an explicitly masculine manifestation of secondary sexual characteristic.
Says Joseph as he strokes his beard!
There you go! And this feeling that the beard has to go, that has to be shaved off, but I had my self-thinking, does it have to be shaved off? Do we have to be clean-faced, which in a sense, harkens back to a younger time? Or is the stubble, which I think is often a roughness and unrefined thing about him? Is there room for that? Not sure. The ego thinks, you know, this is something that has to be cleaned up. But there’s a choice there that one should consider. In the end, when he’s talking about his parents never leaving him enough time to get the things done that he needs to get done and then he questions who he’s blaming for it. But I was imagining there is, again, this dawning awareness of the parental complexes that they do act in him, and I think like the mother complex, they have this kind of, you know, fingers snapping, come on, come on, come on, quality to them, which gives this sense, perhaps an artificial sense of urgency that may not be warranted. He’s questioning that as one of the separations in the tuxedo studs, this urgency around time, this anxiety about planning and getting things done in a particular way. Is that really him? Or is that just to kind of an inherited anxiety from the parental complexes.
When I think about him as a filmmaker as a creative type, there are times in the creative process where things cannot be hurried. They cannot happen on a schedule, that there’s this daimon, there is an inner intelligence that’s doing things on its own schedule, as compared to when the filming starts. Once the filming starts, every second is accounted for and efficiency and getting things on time is very important and in terms of managing budget and other factors. So, there’s a place for some of the parental values. So, it’s a place where maybe it’s being invasive. I loved what you guys said about the rabbi. The rabbi is the one who holds the groom and the bride and welcomes them into this new life and so the fact that the rabbi has come forward as the self that facilitates the amalgam of the relationship, as I think a sign of the transcendent function. The parental complexes couldn’t get that done but the internal Rabbi can.
Yes, it’s great.
Yeah, I also like the rabbi as a figure of joy because all this is so heavy, but the rabbi will keep everyone entertained. You know, not praying, or silent, but entertained, and he is leading all the guests in Jewish song.
Yeah, that’s lovely. You’re right, that’s really lovely.
So, part of me says, isn’t part of the message of the dream to lighten up, enjoy. You know, in Jewish services, there’s often a cantor as well, which is unique to Judaism and the cantor leads people in song and generates a feeling of joy. So, people are really participating in the singing and that feeling of life, which is what you’ve mentioned already, I think is happening, that process of discernment, that is indicated by our dreamer, having moved out of one neighborhood and into another.
I like you bringing that up, Deb also, because the rabbi, taking care of the congregation, lets the ego know that it’s okay that he’s moving on his own schedule, that the congregants can handle themselves that this isn’t a disaster, even though the mother complex is, you know, very concerned and anxious but the rabbi is really demonstrating like, it’s okay, we’ll all handle ourselves. We’re having a good time. Come on, you’re ready.
You know, James Hollis writes about how one of the tasks of midlife is to develop a mature spirituality, not just that kind that is handed to you by your parents. And it does require this process of discernment. We go back and we sift through that which was given to us by the father. We might say, you know, yes, this is still alive for me, I want to keep this part of it. This speaks to me, but this value, maybe this doesn’t matter to me. There’s a real conscious stance toward the religion, the dogma, the values that are transmitted culturally, and that is part of our individuation. And it seems to me that this dreamer is in the process very much of doing that. I’m guessing here, but it seems like Judaism is possibly still quite important to him, but they’ve moved out of the Orthodox part of town and so he has a new stance toward his religion.