What is extraordinary about Carl Jung’s Red Book, aside from that fact that it was kept secret for almost a hundred years, is that it is not some theory about dreams.
He was writing about his own personal process. In doing so he gives us access to learning how he worked with his own dreams and how we might work with ours.
He considered these writings to be of ultimate importance:
“These years… when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream …..”
Yet the actual process that he used had been largely lost in today’s world of dream dictionaries and lucid dreaming. Jung looked at his dreams very differently. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the Red Book:
“My soul, my soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you–are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again….
……Give me your hand, my almost forgotten soul. How warm the joy at seeing you again, you long disavowed soul. Life has led me back to you. … My soul, my journey should continue with you.”
This is not the kind of material that you will find written about dreams these days. We have lost what is most important, which is that our dreams are inviting us on a journey.
We have read and re-read this book to draw all that we can out of Jung’s own process. He was after all the most renowned dream analyst known today.
We may have wandered away from our dreams but all it takes to return to them is to call out to them the way that Carl did. If you do then you will be amazed at the response that you receive.
This is what Jung literally did. He called out to the characters in his dream and then he gave voice to the answers that came back to him. He did not interpret his dreams nor did he try to alter them. He instead opened a conversation and a real relationship with his dreams.
He created a process that can be used to work with your own dreams. We just have to first let go of our tendency to either judge or interpret our dreams. Then all we need do is listen and begin to learn.
A Step by Step Guide to Getting Started:
Six steps to conversing with your dreams:
- Take one of your dreams and simply pick one character from the dream.
- Ask them a question out loud. You could ask something about your dream or simply “Why have you come to me?” then take a breath and feel into being that character and see what response comes to you – trust the first thing that comes and then speak it out loud.
- Practice switching back and forth between your voice and that of the dream character – you can even change chairs as you do this (gestalt style) or you could journal the conversation as Jung did.
- Pay particular attention to your own feelings as you do this.
- Avoid doing this process with nightmares or other dreams that contain traumatic material ie violence, accidents etc. It is better with these kinds of dreams to have a trained person holding a safe space for you.
- Be tender with yourself around this process. Dreams can contain very intense emotional material. Only go as far in the process as feels comfortable to you.
There is a lot more to beginning a “journey to the soul” but this is a good place to start.
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS?
Do you have questions about this process? Let us know. We have been exploring our dreams in a similar way for almost 20 years. Most of our own work was done in relationship with a trained dream practitioner but we are inspired by Jung’s process to explore this process in other ways.
Let us know what you need to make this process work for you.