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Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

[Carl Jung on Dream Associations]

Lecture XII 1st February, 1935

We will continue with the associations to our last dream.

The wasps’ nest reminds the dreamer of having been attacked by wasps on a walk – and he associated his fear of this with an explosion.

This connects it with the last dream, he is afraid that emotions may sting.

Cactuses were a hobby of his childhood, he had a large collection to which he gave a great deal of care.

When we begin to interpret this dream we find that it does not only touch the personal level, but also the impersonal, which enters with the fairy story motif.

A part of it, therefore, belongs to the category of big dreams, the theme of the locked room, for instance, is found in myths all over the world.

It portrays a general human experience which cannot be reduced to the personal level and if we take it literally we could say it means that it is forbidden to go back to the mother’s womb.

We find this same theme in the incident of Nicodemus.

In this dream the pool is a symbol for the mother, but had the dream meant to refer only to the mother it would have said so.

The mother here is represented as a pool in the palace, showing that the archetypal world is meant.

This dream refers to the part of the psyche which is born with the child.

The human brain is the result of a long process of evolution, as is also the collective unconscious.

The individual experience is woven in to this tissue, so it is of vital importance, where we come from, who our parents are, and what our early surroundings were.

We say that a person has such and such a character, but one is born with a form which can only be changed with the greatest difficulty.

The child does not only want to stay with the mother, but also in the palace, which represents the world of mythology.

Unfortunately very few people can remember these primeval pictures, many people become ill because they have lost them and only get well when they find them again.

All great art and religious experiences are an effort to get back to these primeval pictures.

Plato’s philosophy is concerned with these pictures of a time before creation, creation is a reflection of these pictures.

We see then that the great difficulty this dreamer experiences, in leaving his youth behind, is to leave these primeval pictures with their powerful fascination, but he has to decide to go out into the world of wasps’ nests, with his elder brother, his riper personality.

He is always on the lookout for being stung, people with this attitude are always wasps themselves.

When we are able to face these stings we come to the flowering cactuses.

The dream here plays on an earlier activity, the caring for the cactuses; the idea being that you can have the flowers if you can stand the pricks.

The fear of life is very great in such patients, but this is a hopeful dream, showing that industry can overcome the difficulties.

Dream VIII – I am again out walking, but this time with a friend instead of my brother.

We come to a fruit tree and my friend gives me a capsule full of bees’ eggs.

Context. The dreamer says of the friend that he was his greatest friend at school.

He is moody and sensitive, likes light music whereas the dreamer’s taste is for serious music.

He is vain and fond of jewellery.

The dreamer fought him often and hit him over the head as he did his sister.

He associates the fruit tree to an apple tree planted by his mother, bringing in the theme of Adam and Eve.

In speaking of the bees’ eggs the dreamer says that both ants and bees are extraordinarily industrious.

The motif of industry, which we found already in the last dream, is stressed here.

We will now interpret this dream.

The friend is the inferior side of himself, such friendship s are very common, for it is nice to have someone always at hand to whom we can feel superior, but such things fall back on ourselves, for when we go out into the real world we cannot blame someone else but must each take the responsibility for our own inferior side.

There are people indeed who always project the blame, but I hold this to be incorrect!

The fruit comes to him from the mother, through the friend, the shadow; this means that if he goes out into the world with his shadow, fruit will
come to him.

A capsule full of eggs means many possibilities for further development.

This dream shows that he is far enough on not to stay with his mother, but to go out and be fruitful.

This does not just mean to generate a child, but by industry to show that he is fit to do something in the world.

This is far more important than having a child.

Our parents in the Garden of Eden also found the apple a prelude to something unpleasant, that is to doing some work.

This dream is constructive, as dreams often are, so we can hope that he is on a good road.

In the next dream we come to the last fear, the fear of the female.

Dream IX – I am walking in a beautiful p ark and a lovely woman comes rapidly to meet me, her hair is loose and hanging over her shoulders.

Context. The dreamer associates the park to an actual park where he used to walk with his mother and a pretty dance student.

The loose hair reminds him of a famous dancer Arita Sacchetta, who used to wear her hair loose and also of Russian students.

Such h air is now very fashionable, they call it “storm tossed” hair.

When we come to the interpretation of this dream we find it is mainly positive and it was one of the last that he dreamt with me, as shortly afterwards he was able to leave me and make his way out into the world.

He married, but that was not the end of the story, for it went over, as marriages do, into a new chapter – a fresh set of difficulties.

In this short transition you can see how feeling develops and goes over from the mother into manhood.

The great reproach which is brought against psychology is its personal and introspective nature, but psychology consists of all that the human spirit has ever experienced and that can certainly not be called personal.

The same myths crop up all over the world where there is no possible communication.

This shows the very general character of human psychology.

When the problem of a patient takes place in a personal sphere, the dreams are formed of personal material – family, personal friends, et cetera.

This dreamer was such a case, there have been only very occasional references to impersonal material.

The problem is not always that of getting out into the world, many people are already courageously in it, the problems are then different, it is a matter of adaptation to this or that person, or to this or that situation.

Then there are other problems, threatening things which it seems dangerous to speak of, they are unhealthy or taboo, so we slip away from them.

Real life is always tragic, and those who do not know this have never lived.

I will now give you a very difficult dream of another dreamer, which will call Jar a great deal of patience on both sides.

The dreamer was a young man of twenty-four, well-educated and whom I did not know personally.

The dream was sent to me by a colleague with a few personal notes.

He had remained stuck on his way out into life, not from fear but because he went into it too deeply.

There are cases like that, they understand the world in too deep a sense.

Buddha was such a case.

He was a prince with everything that he wanted in the world, but he knew nothing of the truth of life.

One day he went out of his palace and s aw a strange-looking man.

He inquired what was wrong with him and the man replied “I am old”.

“Why” asked Buddha, “what is that ? ”

Another day he met a man who was ill.

“Ill? What i s that? ”

Then he saw a man on a bier and learnt of death.

The shock was so great that he left his palace and went into the desert, but being a hero he returned to life.

There are many people who see life like that and have no more courage to go on.

This dreamer’s case is a tragic one.

He reacted with a psychosis; he was put in an asylum and though he was brought out and was quiet at times, the problem was never
solved and it ended in suicide.

This dream is a glimpse into a tragic life.

Dream. I am under the Cathedral of Toledo.

There is a cistern filled with water which has a subterranean connection with the River Tagus.

This cistern is in a small dark chamber and there is a snake in the water with eyes that shine like jewels.

There is a bowl of gold close by which contains a small dagger.

This dagger is the key of Toledo and whoever possesses it, owns and rules the town.

The snake was the friend and protector of my friend, whom we will call B.C.

My friend had had the courage to put his naked foot into the snake’s mouth, for he was a child without guile.

The snake had licked his foot and both were very happy in this friendship, but only B.C. knew no fear and when he disappeared the snake was forgotten, nobody cared for him.

I go into the dark chamber and speak to the serpent, I speak with respect but do not feel afraid.

The snake tells me that Spain belongs to me because I am a friend of B.C.

It begs me to grant it a favour, to give it back the boy.

I refuse but think of going down into the cistern myself but eventually

decide to send my friend S. who is a descendant of the Spanish Moors.

To risk the descent he must recover the original courage of his race, so I advise him to get the antique sword with the
red handle which is to be found in the factory of weapons on the other side of the Tagus.

My friend gets the sword and goes into the cistern and I tell him to pierce his left palm with the sword.

He does this but he is not able to keep his countenance in the powerful presence of the serpent.

He is overcome by fear and pain and staggers up the stairs without the dagger.

I am therefore not able to hold Toledo and I have to leave him there as a mere wall decoration.

This is a dream of fate which gives the dreamer information as to the course his life will take and in this case the actual end was suicide.
~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture XII, 1Feb1935, Pages 179-182.