This essay explores Jung’s Visions, Notes on the Seminar 1930-1934, Lecture 9, December 8th, 1930, pp 155-157 (To read the Visions essay series from the beginning please start with Seminar #84 )
The next vision is long and Jung’s discussion of it is cursory. This essay, (and the following to be post at the end of the month) will primarily focus on my own amplifications and questions regarding this content.
I beheld a man on horseback riding over a mountain stream. The rider looked down and saw a man baptizing himself in the water below. He took from his saddlebag a few grains of wheat and threw them upon the water, and it sprang into fully ripe stalks.
The banks beside the stream became steeper until at last the rider found himself in a narrow defile of rock. He then came out into a plain, in the full sun light, and I saw that the man on horseback was the (American) Indian (from her previous dreams). Before him was an ancient city, white, with many domes.
A great crowd was gathered in the square. The (American) Indian looked up and saw in the sky a golden sun. Then he saw the crowd was worshipping the sun. There was also a fire, and near the fire a fountain. The Indian held his face and body over the fire and then stood up unharmed.
Then the crowd shot arrows at him but without harming him Finally an arrow hit him in the left leg below the knee; he pulled it out and blood flowed.
The Indian then returned to his village, was welcomed and all the animals come out from the woods and the fish throw themselves on dry land
Characters: The indigenous man who has been a guide or psychopomp leading her through these visualizations, a crowd of sun worshipers who then attack the Native American man, the villagers that welcome him home. The dreamer/visioner is present only as “beholder”
Exposition: The psychopomp grows corn stalks magically after seeing a man baptized.
Turning Point: He moves through a dark, narrow passage and comes out into a wide open plain.
Lysis: He is attacked in this open plain, but the attacks are futile, causing only a glancing injury. He returns to his home and his community and the animals celebrate and welcome him.
One point we must touch upon is the role of the therapeutic relationship and its influence upon the content that the dreamer/visioner is producing. Jung has already clarified that it would be a clinical error to associate the guide or psychopomp in these visions with himself as the therapist. This would intensify the dreamer’s idealization and dependency upon the therapist, and the dreamer would be less likely to recognize this symbols as aspects of her own psyche. This is her inner guide, her internal leading, a piece of her own soul leading her through trials and toward her inner home.
But an idealizing transference to the psychotherapist exists nonetheless. The dreamer entangled in their own complexes, and the dreams and visions they produce, can be profoundly influenced by the desire to be pleasing or fascinating to the therapist. Such active imagination and contemplative exercises are closely related to self-hypnosis, and even the therapist’s activated curiosity or excitement about an image can operate as a post-hypnotic suggestion, encouraging the dreamer to produce more and more such content. In this way, Jung often seems “taken in” or swept up by the richness and intensity of the visions, and one wonders if his cursory treatment of this vision is in anyway influence by a sensation that the dreamer may have (unconsciously) produced this complex vision, almost over-loaded with archetypal content, to try to fascinate him. If/When a therapist sense that the dreamer is producing dreams to bring the therapist close, rather than to follow their own trail of symbolic content, it is important for the therapist to step back from taking an active role in amplification, to modulate their excitement, and to leave the images and symbols in the dreamer’s lap to find meaning in for themselves.
The next issue we need to highlight is the process and influence of cryptomnesia on the dreaming and associative process. Cryptomnesia – the resurfacing of a forgotten memory –may feel like one’s own idea or production when it returns. I wrote about a small experience of a forgotten memory here: where a rhythmic phrase, divorced from its origins, floated up into my awareness and I was grateful that something about it felt so deeply familiar that I googled it and discovered its source, rather than inadvertently plagiarizing it in my writings.
I recently tweeted about a dream I had on twitter, where I was served a sweet and starchy tropical fruit pudding that I identified as “poi” and that I ate with my fingers. I have never had poi to my knowledge, and have no conscious awareness of ever being told what the ingredients are or how one should eat it. I had no idea as I shared the dream if it was proper or offensive etiquette to have eaten it with my fingers. Yet, someone quickly confirmed that poi is a fruit pudding with starchy tarot root intended to be eaten by hand. This could seem like some synchronicitous event – information emerging from the “collective unconscious” or some deep, universal archetypal symbol – that I had no way of knowing about – but it is far more likely that when I was 5 years old in 1969, the tenth anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood that my kindergarten included some information about Hawaiian culture in the curriculum to commemorate the event. My psyche relied on an image, stored in my memory banks, to represent an experience of pleasurable, healing nurturance.
I suspect that there are some significant images that may rely on such cryptomnesias in this vision, as well as some parts of this vision that may have been unintentionally produced to enthrall Jung.
We will look more closely at these elements and that the archetypes presented in this vision in the next essay.
NOTE: This essay is one of my Seminar Essays which are generally only available by subscription behind a paywall. This one is posted publicly both as a sample and for use in teaching and for workshops I facilitate on these subjects. More information on this twice monthly essay series available by clicking here.