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Dreams and Rituals - Why the Two - or Three - Go Together

I hope you don't mind, Jerry, but I've copied our previous conversations on ritual and am bringing them in here, to start a new thread just for this subject, something I could have done from the beginning. I copy/pasted our previous posts at the beginning and my more elaborate answer follows.

MY QUESTION WAS:

What is your opinion on using ritual as a means of working with a dream, or of bringing resolution to a dream?

Jerry Answered:

Raymonde,
Your question reminds me of what Campbell said about rituals. Something that although directed to the meaning of a myth has pretty much the same application as do dreams except dreams are an 'enactment' of ones personal myth.

"A ritual is an enactment of a myth."
He goes on to explain:

"Myths puts you in touch with a plane of reference that goes past your mind and into your very being, into your very gut. The ultimate mystery of being and nonbeing transcends all categories of knowledge and thought. Yet that which transcends all talk is the very essence of your own being, so you’re resting on it and you know it. The function of mythological symbols is to give you a sense of "Aha! Yes. I know what it is, it’s myself." This is what it’s all about, and then you feel a kind of centering, centering, centering all the time. And whatever you do can be discussed in relationship to this ground of truth. Though to talk about it as truth is a little bit deceptive because when we think of truth we think of something that can be conceptualized. It goes past that."

Apply this to dreams and I see the same results. The Aha! moment one has with the sudden flash of understanding from the depths of the unconscious. Just as myths provide insights to the universal patterns, dream do the same with personal emotional patterns. How to apply this enactment to dreams would be the question. Art work is a form of ritual and it is used often as therapy.

Do you have a specific ritual in mind? It may help in resolving an emotional issue. More information would help in determining this.

You can read more from Joseph Campbell on this topic at Mythic Reflections. Thoughts on myth, spirit, and our times.

An Interview With Joseph Campbell, by Tom Collins

Here is something from the interview that is a truth.

Tom Collins: The ancient Greeks were surrounded by the presence of gods and statues and reminders of gods."

Joseph Campbell: But that doesn’t work any more. Christianity isn’t moving people’s lives today. What’s moving people’s lives is the stock market and the baseball scores. What are people excited about? It’s a totally materialistic level that has taken over the world. There isn’t even an ideal that anybody’s fighting for."

So true. What chance is there for a new myth to emerge if there is no imagination?

~*~

My RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE:

Again last night, or early this morning, I had three different (but related) dreams that I remember.

My dream life has doubled in intensity and by a significant remembrance factor since I've come to this forum and have started sharing my dreams here. I know something really important is happening in my life here, and I think rituals form an integral part of dream synthesis as a process of individuation.

Rituals have in the past helped me "assimilate" a dream's contents faster and deeper than if I had not performed the ritual.

I'll come back to this with a more satisfactory answer. "life" is begging my attention. You have cats, I have other stuff.

~*~

I continue my answer this day, February 21:

According to several Jungian authors that I’ve read (Von Franz, Robert Johnson, Anthony Stevens and Jung himself) the use of rituals is important in helping one not just ‘understand’ a dream, but also to bring it to its natural unfolding. Bringing it into one’s physical world not only makes it real to the conscious mind, but its Transcendent Function, like the digestive enzymes needed to break down the foodstuffs we eat, chips away at the dream’s nutrient potential and frees it, allowing us to assimilate the unconscious contents more completely.

Jung said in his book Dream Analysis, “The main fear of the unconscious is that we forget who we are.”

With dreams and active imagination, one can keep that connection active, and the ritual, well the ritual enables the bond of remembrance – of who we are – to form in a concrete, physical way, the way that the bodymind can fully comprehend.

There is such a strong connection between myths and dreams, and, in my opinion, ritual ties the two together. Dreams want us to connect to the archetypal world in such a way that therein we will find the answers to our questions, the solutions to our problems. Have not the ancients of old gone through the same challenges, and conquered them? If we look to them, to the MYTH, if we relate that to the myth of our lives, then we will see we all belong to the same, as you point out, Monomyth of humanity. First the dream, then the Myth, then the ritual.

In the book Private Myths – Dreams and Dreaming by Anthony Stevens, he has a full chapter devoted to “Rituals of the Imagination.” Here are some highlights, emphasis mine.

“Dream analysis achieves little if it remains a purely intellectual activity. Dreams have to be felt and their message translated into life. Sometimes this happens spontaneously: the insight generated by a dream or a vision can be so dazzling that one is bowled over by it and one’s life is transformed. Such an experience brings about its own revolution and one can do no more than follow it through.

Usually the message is less overwhelming and one needs to do something about it in order to enhance its influence. Action in the light of a dream is a psychological obligation one owes to the Self. It may be done either practically or in the form of a ritual, itself a symbolic act.

He goes on to list the three stages needed to make the most of a dream: - here I quote direct from this chapter:

“1) Basic dreamwork, using association and amplification to establish the personal, cultural and archetypal references of the dream and gain insight into its meaning;

2) Register the essence of the dream in consciousness by writing up what it means in terms of your life, illustrating it, working on its main symbols in clay, etc., so as to give it substantive form;

3) Build on the dream, mobilizing its energy and ploughing its meaning into life, either practically, as in direct use in relationships, or symbolically, as in ritual, active imagination, psycho-drama, Gestalt work, etc. “

In 2010, I had a great revelation happen to me because I did the above steps. In fact, the dream and my success at understanding it turned my world upside down and it made me see what I had been all my life, since the abuse, since I was 6 or 7 years old. It was powerful, to say the least, and I know I owe a lot of the ensuing assimilation of the unconscious contents to doing that ritual.

I’ve been using ritual since to work with my dreams and other life transitions or important events, though I’ve not done any in a while. I feel I am missing something in my life right now and it just seems natural to suggest it, that I incorporate ritual in my soul/dream work – now that I’m here in this forum, having these dreams reveal deep truths of which my unconscious wants so much for me to be aware.

You say:
“What chance is there for a new myth to emerge if there is no imagination?“

Here is Stevens’ answer:

“All three stages require development of one’s powers of imagination, even the most practical application of a dream’s disclosure”

So – there is the imagination forming the myth, as we work on our own personal myth by understanding our dreams and ‘doing something about it’ ... in imaginative, creative, and ritual ways.

Have you or anyone else here used rituals to help you with your dreams?

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Re: Dreams and Rituals - Why the Two - or Three - Go Together

Raymonde,
The ritual I use is my normal routine every morning. By that I mean I usually interpret dreams in the morning hours when my mind is fresh. I go through my regular morning routine of making coffee, feeding the cats and then sitting down with a cup of coffee {and usually something light to eat} and begin to go over a dream, one at a time, and giving an interpretation. What I am doing is preforming those necessary tasks that need to be done first then clearing my mind for my dream work.

I don't have a routine as in 'meditation' prior to interpretations. But anything we think about in detail is a 'mediation' of sorts and performing the other parts of my morning ritual and going to my dream work is a ritual. I am preparing myself for a voyage into the unconscious, tapping into those inner resources I have developed and refined in working with dreams.

And I don't have any specific ritual I use in my daily life, other than the one I use in my workout shooting basketball. I use physical fitness to center myself physically as well mentally actually stopping 4 times {every 15 minutes} during the workout to center my breath, my body and my mind. I don;t I have mentioned it to you but I have routine shooting basketball by myself for am hour 3 times a week. I've learned to shoot the ball using intuitive senses as well as physical abilities. Those 'intuitive shots, where I shoot the ball instantly on contact and without thought are amazingly accurate. Over my head, behind my back, some amazing shots. I have been doing this routine for about 5 years. I had not perform any serious workouts with a basketball before then. I believe my work with the unconscious, learning and let go and trust the intuitive mind, is greatly responsible for my abilities with a basketball. Here is a short 'Youtube' video post of my workout.
Workout At Grant St Center. It doesn't catch all the shots I make, especially some over the head shots where I catch the ball with one hand and in the same motion put it back up.

Note: Soon after I made this video I have intensified my workout. Before I moved to Florida I worked out at least 4 times a week and usually walked another 20 -30 minutes afterwards. I've adjusted my routine here so to get a more intense workout, to keep up the same pace I had before moving.

A short story about my workout. Often when I do my routine there is an older man, in his mid 70s who also shoots basketball. I was told he is a basketball coach. He is a quite person not prone to conversation {I always engage people}. We've worked out on opposite ends of the court many times. Last week we were each shooting the ball when we met at mid court. He unexpectedly started a conversation asking me who taught me to shoot basketball. I told him I taught myself. He said I was doing it wrong. My reply was my intent was more than just putting the ball in the basket {which you can see from the video I do quite well}, my intent was the exercise, the shooting, running in short sprints, jumping, etc. Exercise was why I was there. Then I asked him, "could you shoot like I do as well I do?" He paused for a moment and said, "no". That ended the conversation. My unorthodox style puzzled him.

My workout demonstrates two things. One is what a person can do {most anyone} when they take physical fitness seriously, which includes a better quality life. The second is what one can do when they learn to 'let go' and use the senses. The video shows that but not to the full degree as when you watch a full 60 minute workout. The intuitive mind is amazing when you learn to trust it. Not only in working with dreams but many other applications as well.

Question. What type ritual do your perform, if any? I can think of mental exercises as an option but is there a specific routine you use?


Jerry The God Within You A Prayer For You




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Re: Dreams and Rituals - Why the Two - or Three - Go Together

I love that you include intuition in your exercise routine. I've seen the video and it is simply amazing!

Your intuitive handling of the ball, of focusing on the goal, is admirable and I, for one, sure wish I could do that! Of course this is a ritual for you, no doubt about that.

A ritual can, as you say, be incorporated into anything we do, especially if we do it with intent. But the sort of ritual that I'm talking about is more of a "healing ceremony" that specifically targets dreams.

I am currently writing a new post for my Perennial Goddess blog on doing a dream ritual, so as soon as I'm done, I'll paste it in here.

Loved seeing the workout - what a great idea to video tape that. You are inspiring me.

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Re: Dreams and Rituals - Why the Two - or Three - Go Together

Raymonde,
My workout looks even more 'impressive' {ego me} in person, over the hour I put into each workout. If I can ever get it together I would like to create an exercise routine using basketball and professionally videotape it. Physical fitness has been a part of my lifestyle for 33 years, from doing weights, then aerobics, then various routines over the years. I stopped running and starting walking only back in the late 80s, having seen how so many were having serious problems with the lower extremities. For what I want out of it, studies have shown a brisk walk is as good as running. I do it primarily for the exercise with the intuitive part a secondary function. I credit my dream work, the developing of my intuitive senses, for the ability to shoot the 'extreme' shots. Teaching the body to let go, using the Force you might say.

Before I discovered Campbell, Jung, and dreams it was the one thing that kept me centered. I worked through two divorces and many other 'psyche' things during this time. To have it along with my dream work is definitely a very positive to have and makes the journey that much easier. I am working for a balance in my physical, psychological and spiritual self.

Would you believe I have a bad back? And I don't mean occasional problems but I've had extreme pain in the past. This routine, along with a good diet, controls the pain and problems I would have had in the past. And no medication required. The only drugs I have to endure are what we get in the food we eat {which can be extreme, if we only knew}. And a still an occasional beer or toke on a joint when it is mistakenly passed around to me.

I've been doing the basketball routine for about six years, developing it to what it is now. I've stepped up my routine since I made that video to include more sprints to aid the cardio. There are so many aspects to what I am doing, dexterity in dribbling which enhances flexibility {I have a short video of dribbling I will need to post}, hand to eye co-ordination, using most if not all the muscles, cardio and most of all, the way I do it, it is extremely fun to do. I don't compete with anyone, so there is no pressure or 'ego' to please. I have always left feeling better than when I arrived. Always, in the 33 years I've been doing physical fitness.

What I want to do is team up with a certified aerobics teacher and develop the routine. Proper techniques to teach stretching and various other aspects that we use in aerobics. It is something many men and women can do to be and stay healthy. And like I said it is fun. And if there are any who are capable and willing to learn Jungian psyche, perhaps an ability for them to do the same as I do with the basketball.
Learn to let go and just be.

I do have one advantage. Working the fence business has given me very strong fingers. Along with my 'touch' I have developed I can work magic. I look at it in the same way I do in balancing my psyche abilities. Being an extrovert I am naturally more of a 'sensing' person. To be able to tap into an intuitive self, developing and balancing the opposites, that is what I strive for.


Jerry The God Within You A Prayer For You




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Re: Dreams and Rituals - Why the Two - or Three - Go Together

Jerry,

I admire your diligence at working out in such a physical way and, seeing as you are so adept at dunking that ball, it certainly proves to have worked well for you. You have inspired me to not only continue walking on a daily basis, but also to go back to one of my favourite exercises, yoga and stretching.

I used to run and lift weights in my early thirties, but just like you, I had to stop and take up walking instead, for the same reason. The high impact of running was injuring my knees so much that I couldn’t run anymore. Though I must admit I am very glad that I did take it up when I did. It allowed me to quit smoking altogether and I haven’t smoked since.

It’s very hard to believe that you have a bad back by what I see in the video! Good on you for healing yourself and seeking natural ways to stay fit, sans medication. That is indeed admirable, as Lt. Tuvok would say.

I healed my chronic migraines, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue with only herbs (making my own herbal remedies), writing and listening to my dreams. My dreams told me why I had those difficulties with my body and as soon as I started consciously doing something about it, all my symptoms went away. A great book on this phenomenon is Healing and Wholeness by John A. Sanford, a Jungian Analyst.

”Learn to let go and just be.” Very wise advice! Hummm, I’m an Introvert, by the way, but as you know in the later years, we all have a tendency to want to balance that, so I am embracing my inner Extravert more and more. :0)

Now for my response to your question on how I perform a ritual and a little expose, which is my blog post this week.

Sorry for it being so long.

Rituals, as they relate to dreams...

A ritual is an effective way to internalise a numinous ‘fact’ – such as a dream. Jung says our dreams are already happened. They are to be treated as facts. But we seldom do this. We see the dream as something that is happening to us, apart from us, as an external event or influence. We know at the conscious level that the dream has a relationship to us, but often it’s only in a vicarious way. It’s sufficient, we think, to record the dream or perhaps tell it to someone, then either extract our own interpretation from it, or come to this forum and have you decipher it, and that’s it, the dream is done – next!

However, if we remain outside the realm/circle of the dream, focusing our knowledge of it only on the intellectual level, as if from a distance, placing it on the shelf when we are done, then we are missing out on some very important information. There are still tendrils of understanding that remain in the dream that can only be reached through other senses, other dimensions.

Marion Woodman says that one involves the whole body in an experience, in order to feel the whole, instead of only experiencing the parts of that experience.

Without involving the feeling function in a dream, without acting on what the dream tells us, and emoting its purpose once identified, the dream cannot be said to be ‘understood.’ It’s impossible to completely understand a dream, I know that, but when the aim is to attain that level of the dream that will unlock the dream’s mystery in a deeper fashion, ritual is the perfect medium.

Acting, doing something with, the images as symbols from a specific dream speaks to the message it contains, because imagery and emotion are the dream’s language. What a ritual does is re-enact in the outer world what the dream told us in the inner world. Why this is important and effective, no one knows for certain, but rituals have been performed for centuries to honour events in people’s lives. With a dream, we are honouring its presence in our life, and we are saying that we embrace its meaning. This offers a more complete assimilation of the unconscious contents presented by the dream.

Another powerful application of doing a ritual for dreams is when you have a dream that is posing more of a challenge than usual and there are certain elements that, despite your efforts, still stay out of your sphere of comprehension. A ritual can perhaps link up meanings that you had not considered before.

General Suggestions and How I Do a Dream Ritual

Incorporating the whole body, as MW suggests, one would involve different modes of experience in a dream ritual. Going back to basics, this would involve having a sacred space and involving all the senses.

Body & The Senses:

Seeing – candles, colours, bright feathers, fresh flowers, spiralling smoke, whatever draws the eye towards it in a meaningful way.

Hearing - what is audible and pleasing to the ear, drumming, rattles, singing bowls, clicking sticks, flute, or any other musical instrument of your choosing, and of course, songs from a recording or your own voice.

Smell – the candle can be scented, the flowers, or burning incense as well.
Feeling – textures as in fabrics, wooden, metal, glass, paper objects, picked up and felt with the hands at some time during the ceremony, or writing with a pen or pencil.

Tasting – might involve taking a sip of water or wine, to mark the event.
Movement also is important. Centering one’s self, grounding, doing a stretching exercise; dancing or swaying can also be included.

~*~

Incorporating symbols, tangible (sacred) objects that represent the dream’s contents is crucial to the ritual. In doing this you are taking the dream elements from your own psyche (the unconscious) and giving them a form in the physical world, thus imprinting its importance upon your waking awareness (consciousness).

Different Actions may be incorporated to embrace the dream:
Writing, talking, singing, dancing, drawing, painting, praying, meditating, walking in a circle or a spiral, as you would a labyrinth, are all activities that involve your whole self, so that this is not just a mind trip, but a whole body experience.

Inviting the Sacred to the Ritual means that you are taking this act, and your dream, seriously and solemnly while doing something about it. You attend to it with your whole heart and conscious, mindful awareness.

~*~

The above is not written in stone. Take one or two of the suggestions to make your ritual, if you like, or use every step to perform your next dream resolution. Either way is fine and I’m sure your dream – your psyche – will send you some kind of sign, in whatever small or big way, to let you know that it was worth taking the time to perform. This is all for you, so do what suits you and you alone.

~*~

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