Jungian Individuation - or - Development of Women's Personality

Dreamer: Christina, 55, Canadian

A couple of nights ago I woke up from a dream that fascinated me then and now. Unfortunately I don't know what was happening before the image that woke me.

In the dream, I was watching a huge wheel-like object, more like a large golden ring. This large shimmering ring was turning in place. Inside this was a smaller ring also beautifully shining gold and turning in place. The smaller wheel/ring revolved inside and at right angles to the larger one. As I watched this amazing sight, I asked if it was a world. An answer came from someone who said it was a universe.

I have been thinking and wondering about this interesting dream. It was not at all frightening, but truly wonderful.

Mr. Hagen's Reply: Jungian Individuation - or - Development of Women's Personality

I have used a Jungian model to explain your dream mainly because of your age (second half of life) and some of the background information (e.g. spiritual) you have provided. There are however other perspectives that provide a viewpoint for your dream and offer a different approach to the theme.

Jungian Model of the Development and Integration of Personality

For Carl Gustav Jung, ("The Development of Personality") the wholeness of personality is achieved when conscious and unconscious parts of the mind, body and soul are integrated together in a living relation.

"Personality, as the complete realization of our whole being, is an unattainable ideal. But unattainabilty is no argument against the ideal, for ideals are only signposts, never the goal."

Jung believed that the psyche expresses "a natural religious function" in collective dreams, myths, folklore, fairy tales, poetry and hallucinations.

The archetypes are collective phenomena which represent universal facets of personality. To illustrate: Jung believed that the Persona was a collective archetype that developed in reaction to the civilizing process. The formation of the mask (persona) and role behind which most people live provides the foundation for communal life.

Mental health is dependent on the symbolic and metaphoric expression of these collective spiritual values.

Individuation: Symbols of Creation and Transformation

The creative dialogue between the conscious and unconscious provides the foundation for the individuation process of a person. The creative urge transforms the chaos of unconscious content "into such images as appear in dreams, fantasies, visions, and every variety of creative art." Are you still quoting Jung here?

The dynamics of personality are determined by conscious/unconscious flow and gradients of the symbolic work of creation. Life as a journey from beginning to end is a metaphor that mirrors the individuation process.

Mythopoetic Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious

For Jung, the study of the archetypes of the collective unconscious revealed that Primitive man was powerfully motivated by spirituality. The fulfillment of basic material needs by hunting, fishing and agriculture were counter-balanced by the building of religious narrative values and explanations of creation.

The expression of these unconscious religious fantasies is produced by the archetypal matrix of the creative forces built into all human beings. For Jung "The Child Archetype", "archetypal content express itself, first and foremost, in metaphors".

Jung's "Essays in Analytical Psychology" defines archetypes as built-in metaphoric systems of both primordial images and emotions. "They are inherited with the brain structure, they are their psychic (psychological) aspect."

Archetypes transform creative energies into symbols (metaphors) and provide the individual and the community with the myths and narratives that guide the generational rites of passage from birth to death.

Various collective archetypes Jung believed to have discovered include: the earth mother, the persona, the shadow, the anima and animus, mana and the Self.

Erich Neumann: The Great Mother

Erich Neumann's "The Great Mother" attempts to describe the archetype of the feminine by illustrating its presence in numerous art works.

The figure of mother earth is symbolizes every realm of nature. The tree, the ocean, fruit, and animals all represent a metaphoric environmental perception which when culturally configured expresses itself in dreams, rites, folklore and creation myths.

For Neumann, the Great Mother is represented by the Uroboros, the snake biting its own tail. As the Great Round it represents the ego's (cognition) beginning and the end, male and female, positive and negative, conscious and unconscious, chaos and order, life and death.

The process of growing and becoming whole is represented in the completion of the mature person. This process is viewed as the outcome of self-actualization.

Mysterium Conjunctionis

The goal of Jungian individuation is wholeness and a deep understanding of creation and the creator.

A perfect mystic marriage between conscious and unconscious, heaven and earth, mother and father, matter and spiritual processes is experienced in the revelation of the mystery of creation. This experience has been labeled by Jung as mysterium conjunctionis. This is evidently what you experienced in your dream.

Some further thoughts about the ring/wheel are included below.

Metaphors of Wholeness: Geometry of Creation

For Jung, numbers and geometry have an archetypal foundation; in their conscious form they represent the archetype of order.

"The psychic images of wholeness which are spontaneously produced by the unconscious, the symbols of the Self in mandala form, also have a mathematical (geometric) structure." (Jung)

From the unconscious flow the personal and collective narratives which are projected onto the communal dreamscreen.

Mandalas, from a Jungian perspective, are geometric symbols of the basic order of the psyche as a whole, integrating both the individual and the collective.

Magic Circles and the Cosmos

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning "magic circles" with a central point. The mandala is one of the oldest known religious symbols, the sun wheel being its earliest known form. In Eastern civilizations the mandala was used in yoga as an aid to contemplation. There are Christian mandalas showing Christ at the centre with the evangelists at the cardinal points.

For Jung ("Concerning Mandala Symbolism") the mandala communicates the sensing of a centre of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged and of which the centre is itself the source of all energy.

The appearance of a mandala symbol in a dream may, through its implications of order and wholeness, exert a compensatory action on a chaotically disordered consciousness: "it may work toward integration and help to restore equilibrium." (Jung)

In "Aion" Jung states that "Mandalas are symbols of order and that they occur in patients during times of psychic disorientation and reorientation. As magic circles they bind and subdue the lawless powers belonging to the world of darkness, and depict or create an order that transforms the chaos into a cosmos"

In religious iconography the geometric morphology of heaven is symbolized by the circle, the geometric symbol of the earth is the square. The mandorla, an almond shaped figure, is formed by two intersecting circles which integrate the opposing poles of representation of matter and spirit, square and circle.

Jungian Maturation and Stages of Life

The movement of the sun provides a metaphor for life and death. Jung compares the first half of life to the morning, when the sun rises above the horizon to its meridian. The second half is marked by the sun completing its curve, sinking and disappearing.

This provides a circle/cycle logic in terms of the stages of life, for what is needed and appropriate in the morning will be transformed into other needs in the evening of life.

Jungian Psychotherapy: The Spiritual Self

For Jung the Self is the centre of personality and discloses our intimate relationship with nature and with all life, not only human but animal and plant. This relationship reaches into the inorganic matter and the cosmos as well.

In therapy Jung watched the growth of an understanding of the centre in his patients he was treating. They grew to develop a more satisfactory adaptation to life by taking into account the forces of the unconscious.

For Jung the Self provided the Vision of Wholeness of nature and culture, masculine and feminine, the four cognitive functions of thought, feeling, intuition and sensation, extroversion and introversion, the conscious and unconscious and the stages of life.

Art, Geometry and Creation

In the 15th century a radical shift took place in the configuration of art. Perspective was added to the artwork. Geometry has provided a paradigm to organize information about the viewer and the viewed (Weltanschauung), the artist and the art. Behind each scene, image, painting, architecture, film and dream exists a perspective, a point of view. Geometry provides visual techniques and ways of looking at oneself and the world.

Women's Personalities and Creative Writing

People fashion and pass on meaningful myths, rituals and symbols from the collective conscious and unconscious experience. Each dream is a literary work which is part of the whole of literature. Norman Holland, in "Dynamics of Literary Response", provides a "dictionary of fantasy" in which core or primal themes can be correlated to early child development.

Dreamwork provides access and insight into the literary foundations for these primal themes and the dictionary/encyclopedia of fantasy. The dream as a literary forum can be decoded to make transparent the success and failure of adaptation into socially acceptable language and behaviour.

Dreams are experiments and exercises in creative writing and the literary use (conscious and unconscious) of the dream.

Women's dreams are different from men's dreams as can be observed from the dreams posted at the website. Dreaming's function is to reinforce the narratives and stories one acquires (through memory) in one's lifetime. Sidonie Smith, in "A Poetics of Women's Autobiography", shows the problems women are faced with in shaping the story of their lives.

Hope these thoughts are of help and provide some insight,
Mark H.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.