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The Devouring Mother

One of the first dreams I can remember having was when I was about 4 or 5 years old. It was a very simple dream but one of the most emotionally profound that I've ever had.

It began with me running to my mother so she could pick me up in her arms. As soon as she's holding me in her arms the dream turns into a nightmare. She turns into a monster with fangs that wants to suck my blood.

My mother was always the most kind caring mother I could ever ask for. Its always puzzled me to this day why my subconscious would have told me otherwise.

I recently learned that there's something called the devouring mother archetype in myth. The idea is that mother earth gives life but we're all going to go back to her some time when we die. However, I don't think a 5 year old really understands death. How could my dream be about going back to mother earth if I didn't even fully understand dying at that age?

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 36-Canada/Ontario

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Re: The Devouring Mother

Warren,
Your dream would primarily be related to some physical experience more so than the archetypal mother related to Mother Earth. Because you were so young when you had the dream {first memories normally start at age 4 or 5} the dream would likely have associations to your real mother but the nightmare would have other associations {whereas in later life, after childhood and teen years, the associations would related to each other}. Jumping into her arms would be a natural inclination {related to archetypal instructions}, seeking protection and comfort. Her turning into a monster would represent a fear which in a child's mind could be related to something other than your real mother. It could represent a fear of something else and likely to do with an experience you had before having the dream. You may have been watching a TV program where a mother {or something similar} was involved with monsters, fangs and sucking blood. The images would be less symbolic and more tuned to natural fears of a 4 year old {unfounded fears brought on by actual visual experiences}. If you were in your 20s and had this dream then there would be a good chance the images were symbolic, possibly addressing the pattern associated with a 'devouring mother'. A 4 year old has a developing mind that tries to make sense of nonsensical things and their dreams would reflect those nonsensical experiences as images. Not so with an adult.

As for the devouring mother, Mother Earth and the issue of death. A myth is a pattern of collective behavior and the devouring mother would be a psychological pattern {a myth is an exaggerated truth}. If you had a mother that was obsessively controlling in early life then it would not be uncommon to have a dream that depicts that emotional issue {an unresolved issue at the time of the dream}. The myth of Mother Earth as a devouring mother is a metaphorical pattern that relates to the psychological issue within a person. It is true the earth can be devouring and represent death {dust to dust}. But it is metaphor and not literal {it is exaggerated}. Within the psyche of a person who had such a mother there could be dreams of the earth swallowing everything. Symbol and metaphor explains the reason for such a dream.

As for the issue of the archetypal devouring mother in a child's dream. Your mother was a good mother so it doesn't fit. But the archetypal influences are already within the psyche so the issue is something that can have an influence in dreams. At the age of 4 or 5 the fear of monsters unconsciously touches on the issue of death {without any conscious realization of it}. Within the programmed psyche {archetypes} is this information but it has not been consciously assimilated. You know but you don't know. Unconsciously it is there {programmed for later life} but consciously it isn't {the mind of a developing child's mind too young to understand}.

There is one other comment I will make to do with the dream. All dreams are important even at the age of 4 or 5. Something left an impression on your mind and the energies from that usually are significant. There is the possibility the psyche was touched by an experience that would reflect on later life. What that could be is anyone's guess and would require an examination of your whole life to determine what it might be {and even then it may not be known}. if you still remember this dream at the age of 36 then there is a reason for it. It could not even involve your mother but have to with the experiences that prompted the dream. I think back to some of my earliest memories and although they are literal memories the emotions I felt are still relevant also. Dreams reflect the emotional self no matter the age. But the age has a lot to o with how you interpret the dream {the reason I ask for age and gender}.

Jerry

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 63 Space Coast, Fla.

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Re: The Devouring Mother

Thanks Jerry,

But I'm still a bit confused about the interpretation you gave me. You write in very academic terms so for somebody like me who is just learning about Jung it can be difficult to understand.

First you mentioned that my dream was probably brought on by some physical experience, for example, watching a scary movie. However, you also said that archetypal images are already present in the unconscious at the age of 4 though the child is too young to understand them.

I read the link you gave me on archetypes and it says that they can loosely be compared to instincts in animals. Therefore,they must be present at birth just as animals have instincts at birth.

Was it something I experienced that caused the dream, was the image brought on by my collective unconscious or were both responsible? Maybe this cannot be known for sure.

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 36-Canada/Ontario

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Re: The Devouring Mother

Thanks Jerry,

But I'm still a bit confused about the interpretation you gave me. You write in very academic terms so for somebody like me who is just learning about Jung it can be difficult to understand.

First you mentioned that my dream was probably brought on by some physical experience, for example, watching a scary movie. However, you also said that archetypal images are already present in the unconscious at the age of 4 though the child is too young to understand them.

I read the link you gave me on archetypes and it says that they can loosely be compared to instincts in animals. Therefore,they must be present at birth just as animals have instincts at birth.

Was it something I experienced that caused the dream, was the image brought on by my collective unconscious or were both responsible? Maybe this cannot be known for sure.

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 36-Canada/Ontario

Have You Posted Before? Date of Last Post {Use Search and Your Post Name to Help Find Last Post} Male

How Did You Find the Dream Forum? Yes

Re: The Devouring Mother

Warren,
We are all born with the archetypal energies but how they influence an individual depends on that person. At the age of 4/5 it is unlikely there was a direct link between your dream images and the unconscious archetypal energies. There is always the possibility these energies are pointing to future personality characteristics or possible emotional conflicts {mother turning into a monster depicting future problems with feminine relationships when you get older} but that is unlikely. Usually such conflicts stem from actual experiences in life {as a young child} and since you had a great mother and there were no conflicts that would make your mother a monster {that you know of} that makes it even less likely. But there is always the possibility. Do you have a problem in your relationship with women? Do you feel women can be 'devouring' and as such having a relationship and the fear {albeit unconscious} the woman being a mother would cause emotional conflicts for you? That is where an archetypal image would point to future characteristic traits. You would instinctively know early in life {unconscious of course} something already within you {a personality trait} that will not develop until later life {and it could be a propensity to possess this trait but it does not play out}.

Most likely the dream is a common 'silly' dream of a 4/5 year old and nothing more. Watching a movie or reading a story about monsters and mothers could have been the stimulus for the images in the ream but unless your mother had been a 'monster' in her some of actions toward you then it would not be directly relate to your mother as a devouring mother. Unless of course you feel she is a great mother despite her 'devouring' attitude, if indeed she possesses those traits. Look at who you bare at age 36 and see if there are any associations to a devouring mother. If so then, yes, the dream could have been 'predicting' the future {actually not since dreams don't normally predict but instead compensate what you already know, consciously and/or unconsciously}.

Jerry

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 63 Space Coast, Fla.

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Re: The Devouring Mother

Thanks again Jerry,

No, I don't have a problem in my relationship with women and my mother was a great mother. I guess not all dreams need to make sense logically, they are just neural discharges sent up from the brain steam.

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 36-Canada/Ontario

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Re: The Devouring Mother

Warrne,
I'll provide a more detailed response this weekend but I wanted to respond to your statement, "they are just neural discharges sent up from the brain steam". That is the furthest from the truth. All dreams have a purpose even when it is from a 4-5 year old child. I'll explain when I give my detailed response.

Jerry

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 64 Cocoa/Space Coast, Fla.

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Re: The Devouring Mother

Warren,
Let me direct you to a dream post by Pat that should answer your questions about childhood dreams. another devouring mother dream from childhood

Jerry

Age & Gender & Location {Required}: 64 Cocoa, Fl

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