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Carl Jung: Dream Analysis Seminar Lecture III 

Carl Jung Depth Psychology Facebook Group


1 dream analysis

Dream analysis. Notes of the seminar given in 1928-1930 by C.G. Jung.


21 November 1928

There are two questions today.

The first one is: “Is it a characteristic of images in dreams which should be taken on the subjective level that they bring up few associations?”

No, one cannot decide by the number of associations whether a dream is to be taken on the subjective level.

The criterion is quite different.

That is the subject of the second question also: “Could you discuss further the factors which make you choose between a subjective and objective interpretation?”

There are certain definite principles which decide whether I should prefer the objective or the so-called subjective interpretation.

You are aware perhaps that there are subtle differences in the ways of using the words subjective and objective.

I must make it quite clear that the subjective interpretation does not mean what one ordinarily designates as subjective-that a subjective opinion is not very substantial for instance, that it is personal, just what you think about it, but by no means sure to be an objective truth.

I don’t use the word subjective in that sense.

When I say that a dream is correctly interpreted on the subjective level, I mean that the image in the dream primarily or exclusively refers to the subject himself; and in an interpretation on the objective level, the image refers to an object, another person than himself.

It is exceedingly important to know when to apply a subjective and when an objective interpretation.

The general criterion is: when a person in a dream is known to you intimately, playing a role in your life at the present moment, one may consider an interpretation on the objective level,
because the object is then important.

But be very careful not to make mistakes here.

According to the Freudian point of view, the person of whom you dream is a disguise for another person—one person is substituted for another.

For example, if a patient dreams of Dr. Jones, who has been the family physician, she may assume that Dr. Jones would be a disguise for me.

That is the way Freud would take it in order to make it fit his theory.

But it is by no means certain that the unconscious does mean me even though the patient makes the connection.

Of course it is understandable that the patient prefers that interpretation I am here, while Dr. Jones is far away.

But the unconscious is perfectly free to take my image if it wishes to do so, there is no obstacle to dreaming of me, so we must explain why the unconscious chose Dr. Jones.

In this case Freud would say that the reason the patient dreamed of Dr. Jones was on account of certain fantasies connected with me which were difficult for her to mention; better
to dream of Dr. Jones, who is a long way off.

That is Freudian theory, but since I believe more in real facts than in theory, I say that is perhaps so, but I am not sure.

I must see if that theory explains every case. And I find that in many cases such an explanation is unnatural and does not succeed.

If we are forced to take the idea seriously-that I am expressed by Dr. Jones-why does the unconscious take that trouble?

The unconscious uses the figure of Dr. Jones because it means Dr. Jones and not me.

There is no reason to believe that the unconscious does not say what it means; in sharpest contradiction to Freud.

I say that the unconscious says what it means. Nature is never diplomatic.

If nature produces a tree, it is a tree and not a mistake for a dog.

And so the unconscious does not make disguises, that is what we do.

It is disagreeableto have albumen in the urine, but albumen should not be taken as a disguise for sugar. Freud’s theory was made by his patients.

The analyst is too much under the influence of his women patients, they fill his mind with their thinking.

These dynamic wishes of women are a source of error to the doctor; one has to work all the time against such suggestions.

The absolute truth is that the unconscious spoke of Dr. Jones and said no word of Dr. Jung.

Now in cases where you dream of a remote relative, or someone whom you have not seen for ages, or someone who is perhaps known to your family but plays no actual role in your own life and is in no way important, in such cases there is no point in assuming that the person is, say, an autonomous factor in your psychology.

Since he doesn’t enter your sphere with the onslaught of a real person, since he doesn’t arouse a psychic vortex in your mental atmosphere, he is more probably merely an image which has to do with yourself alone.

Someone with whom you are immediately connected may cause great disturbance in your mental atmosphere, and therefore you are perfectly safe in assuming that the remote person is only an image in the dream referring entirely to yourself.

Even where the objective interpretation is advisable, it is well to consider also a subjective possibility.

Probably the reason that certain persons come particularly close to you is that they are carriers of a symbolic truth, for whoever gets at your psychology can do so only on the basis of participation mystique.

Otherwise the other person would not have a handle on your soul.

Therefore from the theoretical point of view, and also for practical purposes, it is exceedingly valuable and wise to see how far the object that is to be

But this is a philosophical postulate, and it is a great mistake to substitute that for reality.

If you should always interpret the object as subjective, it would make your life relative and illusory; you would be completely isolated because you would have burned the bridges which connected you with reality.

I must insist on the objective value of such objective images.

I would not, however, lay stress on the object but on the image.

If you dream that a certain remote person with whom you have no dealings of any kind lies to you, to say that this person, whom you haven’t seen for ages, is a liar conveys nothing at all, that is

But if you dream that a person actually in your atmosphere lies, then you must look at him under that aspect because there might be something in it; it becomes important to decide whether the lie is in you, or in the other, or if there is deception between.

There may be a certain quality of your own in a state of non-recognition.

Many people think they are very good and that the black substance is almost non-existent in them, yet they have a fair amount of it, being human!

If they dream of a black sheep, the black sheep is not very important, but to call themselves black sheep is exceedingly important-much better that they take it an to themselves.

So if you dream that your best friend is a black sheep, it means that either you are a black sheep, or the friend is, or there is dirt between you, I should like now to come back to the jeu de paume, that pelota basque.

I told you that our patient’s associations about the arrangement of the hall point to a communion ceremonial or ritual; and that there also seems to be an allusion to a sort of pelota game because he remembers a hall where it was played, and to the hall of a Swiss Verein where the members come to play and to eat-a communion. From mediaeval manuscripts we learn that the old ritual jeu de paume was played up to the twelfth century, and in certain remote places, at Auxerre in France for instance, up to the sixteenth century.

I have been doing some special research concerning these games. I dug up Latin texts from mediaeval manuscripts that describe this pelota, and I want to read you the translation.

Unfortunately, since it was very familiar in those days, and everybody knew about it, the description is perfunctory and the texts are a bit vague, but you will get something from them anyhow.

You remember the hall in the dream has a dining-table spread for dinner and dinner ought to take place, but instead, his associations pointed to a ball-game going on, pelota bosque.
Fragments from Mediaeval MSS.

“When the ball, called pelota, had been accepted from the newly elected canon by the dean-his head being covered with an amice or hood-the rest of the canons began to intone antiphonally: “Praise
to the Paschal Victim.”

Then the dean, supporting the ball with his left hand, danced, and the rest joined hands and, chanting, executed a choral dance round the labyrinth; meanwhile the pilota was thrown by the dean alternately to the dancers, one by one.

After the dance, the choir hurried off to the repast (the dean and canons and more distinguished citizens sat on benches with high backs, in the orchestra or choir) and all without exception were served with
the repast, and with white and red wine in moderation (cups filled two or three times) while a reader intoned a homily from the pulpit.

Then a large bell rang, and the canon most recently elected stood ready holding the ball before his chest, and in the nave of St. Stephen at about 2 o’clock, he presented it to the dean, who turned back his amice from his head that he might manipulate the ball.”

Here is another game that was played at Narbonne, an Easter Monday ritual, also from a Latin manuscript of the thirteenth century:

“While the bells are ringing for vespers, the whole chapter assembles in the archbishop’s house, and his servants serve certain dishes and wine to all.

Then the archbishop is to throw the ball.

And the prefect, or political governor of the town, is to provide the ball and to throw it in the archbishop’s absence.”

And here is a nice fragment from Naples (Bishop of Naples, 508-536) in a ninth-century codex: “In memory of this event were celebrated every year certain games of ball for the comfort and
refreshment of the soul.”

These took place before a great populace in the Santa Maria Maggiore at the feast of St. Januarius, on the third Sunday in the month of May.

It is interesting that these games were played “for the consolation and recreation of the soul.”

Then from the twelfth century, there is a manuscript in which Jean Beleth, a theologian of the Faculty of Paris, writes:

“There are some churches where even the bishops and archbishops play with their subordinates, stooping even to play ball-although it seems more praiseworthy not to do so.”

This was obviously written at the time when the game was becoming unpopular.

There are other very interesting facts in connection with this exceedingly peculiar custom.

Possibly there is a connection with the ceremony of the “bride-ball” which was thrown between bride and groom.

And in other games in the churches the ball was kicked or torn to pieces as the god of the past year.

There was once a trial, a cause celebre, on account of the ball-play in the church, at the time when it became unpopular; the text speaks of the “ball of the past year” which had to be kept by the old canon and handed over to the canon of the new year, an old Easter custom.

That is like the god of the past year that had to be dismembered in order that everybody should participate.

Compare also the Christian communion where the god is dismembered and eaten.

This is all connected with the sacrificial ceremonies in the springtime, like the anthropophagous custom of the king being dismembered and eaten at the spring festival to strengthen the tribe and for the fertility of the fields in the coming year.

So it is quite probable that this ball symbolizes the sun.

It is also linked up with another strange custom, “the burial of Alleluia.”

In the middle ages Alleluia was believed to be a woman because “a” is a feminine ending-an unknown woman who was buried at Eastertide, so she would be a sort of queen of the past year.

In the archives of a church at Toul, in Lorraine, is a manuscript, written in 1497 by one Nicolas, canon of the Cathedral, in which is registered, 15th article: “Alleluia is buried.”

The Latin text which refers to it prescribes what to do at the burial.

“On the Saturday preceding Septuagesima Sunday, at nones, the choir boys are to assemble in festal attire and arrange for the burying of Alleluia; and after the last benediction they are to go in procession
with torches, holy water, and incense, carrying a clod of earth on a bier, through the cloister, wailing, to the place where Alleluia is to be buried; there to sprinkle water and grain on the clod of earth,
to swing the incense, and to return the same way.”

This custom is very old. The clod of earth is the ball, and the ball is the sun, which is renewed at Eastertide, as well as the earth.

The original meaning is very simple: the sun would not rise again if not supported renewed through sacrifice at Easter time.

Alleluia was simply Mother Earth, a feminine potency made to suffer death, burial, and resurrection, and supposed to be responsible for the new sun.

The American Pueblo Indians assume that they support the sun by their ritual, and this is. the same thing, death, burial, and resurrection.

–My Indian friend Mountain Lake said to me said: “If the white man keeps on interfering with our religion, in ten years they will see something!”-the sun would not rise again.

When we first discussed the jeu de paume I did not remember all these details, that it was really also called pelota, etc., and it was probably unknown to you; nor had the dreamer the faintest idea
of these connections; so his dream is curious-the dining, the seats, the pelota, all that material comes together in the dream and his associations.

And there is another contribution.

You remember that we were talking in our last seminar of the community idea, which the dream alludes to in the statement that “everyone is turning his back to it.”

While we are listening. to our conscious transactions, we forget that our unconscious is reacting at the same time: when we speak of a disturbance of the community idea, we constellate directly a disturbance of community in ourselves; the patient’s psychology is also our own, and the rapport is not so good.

We think this is just a dream, and forget that the unconscious is reacting in its particular way.

The fact that we turn our backs upon communion is constellated in us and has certain effects.

Therefore after the last seminar certain people complained of a disturbed atmosphere, and some gave the rationalized explanation that it was because we stopped and took tea and that broke up the continuity of the meeting.

Evidently they did not feel the communion of eating together.

If they were aware of the upset community idea, to take tea together was really the thing to do; it should have been an expression of community.

I was accused of not taking a cup of tea, but at least I smoked the pipe of peace!

Now when people have been disturbed by a reaction from the unconscious, there is always a medicine man who has a dream concerning the matter.

A community is an organism, a symbiosis, and we form a sort of organism here while thinking together; and if anything disturbing happens· within this organism, some mind receives the disturbance and says “look out!”

In a primitive community, it would be the mind of the chief or medicine man.

For the time being we form something like a primitive tribe, and the medicine man will say: “In the night while sleeping I saw a vision and a spirit spoke.”

Dr. Shaw has had the dream of the medicine man and she will tell it to us.

Dr. Shaw: I dreamed that I went to Spain, and there a bullfight was going on in a big arena; a man and a bull were fighting and a great crowd was shrieking that the bull must be killed.

I did not want it to be killed and I fought for the bull all night.

Then Dr. Jung at the lecture next day told of the killing of the Mithraic bull.

Dr. Jung: Now link up this dream with the problem in question.

You remember that we discussed the Mithraic bull-killing and the question whether killing the bull has still the same symbolic meaning; in a bull-fight people turned their faces to each other and
therefore it symbolized community; and we spoke of the importance of that symbol as self-discipline when the cult of Mithras was the religion of the Roman legions.

Only men were admitted to the Mithraic ritual, the women all went to the Earth Mother.

Now, in Dr. Shaw’s dream the bull is not to be killed, she fought against it.

What does this dream mean to you? Any one of us might have dreamt it.

Suggestion: It might be the struggle against making a sacrifice we all object to making a sacrifice.

Suggestion: Is there not something good in this bull that we should not kill?

Suggestion: Killing the bull might signify an old-fashioned way of making a sacrifice. Perhaps a new way can be found.

Dr. Jung: There is a connection between the last two suggestions.

Killing the bull as a symbol of community is very old-fashioned, to us that does not express community.

Not long ago I had a letter from a patient [in Mexico], a lady who had just been to a bull-fight, and she hated those blood-thirsty people, she said it made her so angry that she was quite ready to kill everyone there with a revolver!

So a bull-,fight does not now promote a feeling of community.

The whole performance is most despicable, our feeling is entirely against it.

One should not behave like a bull in a china shop, one should not be uncontrolled.

We can understand the symbolic meaning, self-discipline, but we don’t get that inspiration from watching a bull-fight; an actual bull-fight would give the opposite effect.

We have outgrown that symbolism, just as we have outgrown the idea of redemption by eating the flesh and drinking the blood_ of the victim; few people today feel the mediaeval emotion when eating the body and drinking the blood in communion.

There is still a lot of very buried and archaic earth mysticism in Switzerland, however.

A Swiss woman who came to me recently for treatment confessed after long resistances that she had a secret means to help her to sleep, or to help against indigestion, etc.: “An old man told me that secret.

I drink the blood of Jesus. In the night, when I can’t sleep, I repeat to myself: ‘I am drinking the blood, drinking the blood of Jesus, the blood, the blood,’ and then I feel myself drinking it and can sleep.

If I wake, I do it again sometimes a dozen times in a night.”

One day she went into the cellar-she was a very good housewife-and in standing on a chair to reach some apples on a shelf, she slipped and crashed down.

She said: “I quickly drank the blood and was not hurt.”

She got a tremendous mystical association from drinking the blood; such things are still realities.

So the bull-fight as a mystical symbol is antiquated, like much of our Christian symbolism; our common emotion can no longer be aroused by these symbols.

If anyone should dream of killing a bull in our day, we should put an entirely different interpretation on it.

Therefore we need a common interest which would allow us to build a community feeling again.

That Dr. Shaw dreams she is fighting against killing the bull means that the bull should not be killed.

The bull is natural force, the uncontrolled animal, which is not necessarily destructive.

We have the Christian prejudice against the animal in man, but an animal is not evil, just as it is not good.

We are evil, man is necessarily evil, because he is so good.

Only domesticated animals misbehave; a wild animal never misbehaves, it follows its own natural law; there is no such thing as a good tiger that eats only apples and carrots!

A wild animal is a pious, law abiding being who fulfils, the will of God in the most perfect way.

The bull is a fairly wild animal, and if we kill the animal in ourselves we kill the really good things in ourselves too, not the apparently good things.

Therefore for us to kill the bull would be blasphemous, a sin, it would mean killing the natural thing in us, the thing that naturally serves God.

That is our only hope-to get back to a condition where we are right with nature.

We must fulfil our destiny according to nature’s laws or we cannot become true servants of God.

So we understand what the message of the medicine man would be.

Dr. Shaw was most righteously wrestling against killing the bull: “Don’t make the mistake of killing the bull, because this is the only thing which can connect us; we must come back to the natural and eternal laws; then we shall be in the blest state of the animals, and that will bring together again all which has been separate before.”

The advice of the medicine man is valuable.

Now I also appear in the dream-Dr. Shaw and I know each other pretty well, and when we meet in dreamland we don’t take each other too seriously-in her associations I say that the toreador
has killed the bull; the bull that should not have been killed has been killed.

Why do I confirm that?

Well, just because our bull is killed, Mithras killed the bull for us.

Don’t forget that Christ completely absorbed Mithras; that old Mithraic idea has been continued in Christianity through the middle ages up to recent times; bulls and even little lambs have been killed, everything that was animal has been killed throughout the ages.

And I confirm that the bull has been killed, the toreador has done his work.

Of course, it is a figurative kind of speech to say the bull is dead; it is alive again and again and has to be killed again and again.

Now since it is an individual and not a collective problem, what can we do to bring the bull back to life?

We should seek to re-establish connection with him, or he might become alive in a part of our psychology where our conscious cannot reach.

How can we get at that?

The bull must be alive, otherwise community would be impossible.

1 emphasized that dream to show the interaction of the conscious and unconscious, but now we will go back to our patient.

We were discussing why the brother-in-law’s wife had not come with them-that it was probably on account of the illness of the child.

That is the subject of the next part of the dream.

The dreamer is now at the house of his brother-in-law, where he sees the child, a little girl, one or two years old.

Change of locality means a shifting of the psychological scenic background, and that means a different kind of problem, a change from a collective to a familial basis for example, from a public place to a private house.

The main statement of the middle part of the dream was that there was no community, no coming together, the reason being that the woman has not joined in; as in the nature cult of Mithras, the women did not join in; and jeu de paume was also a man’s game.

If the woman does not come in, man is in it only with his intellect, not with his feeling.

This is the reason why some men dislike to have women on committees, etc.-they have no proper connection with the feminine part of their own psychology.

This woman has not joined in because the child is ill and the child is not in a public place—but in the house.

The scene has shifted to a private place inside the individual.

He said about the house of his brother-in-law: “My father lived several years in that house, and my sister inherited it; it is only about a hundred paces away from my own house, so we often see each other.

The house and shutters are all monotonously painted grey, and it gives a dreary, monotonous aspect.

I wish they would paint the shutters at least a different colour to animate it a bit.”

The description of the locality is very important; the place where the dream is staged, whether hotel, station, street, wood, under water, etc. makes a tremendous difference in the interpretation.

We have already discussed the fact that the brother-in-law must be considered as a very subjective image, he is really a part of the dreamer himself, a part which isn’t properly connected, and therefore he projects it into his brother-in-law.

But we get the important information from his association that his house is not far away, which means that it is not very far from consciousness.

He could easily become aware how far he is the brother-in-law, and how far the child of his brother-in-law is his own child; the house of his brother-in-law would be, of course the unconscious aspect of his own house, the place where the drama is going on.

The house recurs very often as a symbol in dreams, and it generally means the habitual or inherited attitude, the habitual way of living, or something acquired like a house, or perhaps the way one lives with the whole family.

His habitual attitude is uninteresting and grey as the house of his brother-in-law, and he longs for more colour in it.

We must see how this is connected with the other events in the dream; it might be connected with the sickness of the two-year old-girl.

The child: In reality it was a boy of two who was ill and died, and the dreamer’s two other sisters have each a little girl in her seventh year whom he likes.

He says: “I like little girls much better than little boys, they are much nicer and more expressive.

I like my own little daughter better than the boys.”

There are no other associations, so I call his attention to the age of the child.

I told him he should have some association with two years-a certain length of time: “What about two years ago?”

“Two years ago I came back from abroad and settled in Switzerland.

I began then the study of occult literature, spiritism, theosophy, all sorts of things; only lately I gave it up more or less, because I was not quite satisfied, not just lack of interest, but some odium around such study.

When my little nephew died two years ago, I was just reading a book by Dennis Bradley, Towards the Stars (evidently a religious book).

I liked it particularly and gave it to my sister after the death of the boy.”

He had also read German occult literature: “I read a famous German book: The Visionary of Prevorst, written by Dr. Justinus Kerner, 1829, the first history of a case of somnambulism psychologically
observed, and most interesting.”

He told me he knew a certain doctor who was acquainted with analytical psychology but not expert at it, and he thought of suggesting that he should write an analytical study of the visionary, on the condition that he should
not rationalize Kerner, make a fake of him.

“I desisted because I saw the doctor was himself a bit neurotic and such a study might injure him.”

I know that doctor and he is not a psychological light; if he had attempted to write this analytical study, it would have been poor stuff-a good thing he desisted!

We have now an enormous mass of material connected with that child. I will repeat certain facts:

(1) It is a non-existent child, a mere creation of his unconscious imagination.

(2) The patient prefers girls to boys.

(3) Two years ago he took up the study of occult things, also pathological psychology, etc., and is particularly connected with his sister through such an occult book, Towards the Stars.

(4) He was especially interested in The Visionary of Prevorst, and wanted a certain doctor to write a study of her but did not do so, fearing that the man would be injured by it.

The little girl is the child of his anima, and has to do with creative energy, and coming from the occult side is spiritual.

He says there are positive values in that book, it is a sort of spiritual creation, a poetic intention, but he is afraid the doctor might be badly affected by it, and he gave up the study himself because it had a bad influence on him.

He thought occult studies made people a bit neurotic and such a study might injure him.

-He thought occult studies made people unreal; there was so much doubtful matter, so speculative and yet so impressive, that it filled people’s heads with all sorts of vaporous ideas;
there was a poisonous unreality in those things very often, just as certain works of fiction make one feel poisoned.

So one side of himself is concerned with a decided spiritually creative factor that is two years old, and the doctor represents his rational side which he is using in studying this poetical element expressed by the child.

In the last two years a new thing has been growing in this man, not only this interest in occult matters which kept his mind busy, but also a creative interest and intention, which would be the expression not of thoughts but of feeling, and which would give colour to his house.

Now, the colour of this child’s face is bad, and her features are distorted exactly like the boy who died. And he adds without apparent connection: “I am reading very little about occultism now.”

The occult stuff transcended his digestive powers, he suffered from mental indigestion.

Then because the girl is linked up with the boy who died, we must assume she suffers from intestinal trouble too; she has been fed with occult literature, and that is not the proper kind of food for the little poetic soul developing in him.

“Someone informs me that the child would not pronounce the name of my wife,” and on account of that he pronounces the name of his wife to the child and tries to make her repeat it.

He says: “My wife is most beloved by all her nephews and nieces: usually the first name that the children succeed in pronouncing is hers.”

And he mentions that not long ago he received a letter from one of his other sisters in which she told him that her little boy had composed a melody to which he sang: “Aunt Maria is a dear boy.”

In contradistinction with reality this dream-child will not or cannot pronounce the name of his wife, she is evidently in opposition to her.

We know that the relation between the dreamer and his wife is rather monotonous, and within two years a development has begun in him which produces a living being that deviates from his wife.

This child of -his anima is linked up with occult interests and a possible sort of scientific or artistic activity.

He is puzzled by this, and tries to teach the child to pronounce the name properly, rather shocked that something should develop in him that is not in accordance with his wife, that does not fit into marriage.

“I often made the effort to teach my own or my sisters’ children to pronounce words in the right way which they pronounced wrongly.”

He stands for proper form; there should be nothing in his mind or in his heart that is not correct.

So, that something in him does not want to pronounce the name of his wife is a fact which should not be; when the theme of his wife appears, every part of him should shout in unison.

A very instructive detail concerning his attitude.

His wife’s name is Maria and he mentions: “An old aunt of my wife is also called Aunt Maria, but she is quite remote, we have nothing to do with her.”

Then he goes on: “While I was teaching the child to pronounce the word ‘Maria’ properly, I was amused that I only said ‘Mari’-and instead of pronouncing the ‘a’ was yawning, adding a yawn to the name instead of the last vowel; in the dream I found myself extremely witty in doing so, but cannot see the joke in waking life.

All the family protests against his so-called joke, and he says: “Yes, they are quite right, one should not show the children such bad manners, because they cannot, like adults, make a distinction between reality and a joke.”

Again the correct attitude.

This part of the dream was anticipated in the house with shutters painted grey.

The house is grey and he is bored, and his unconscious expresses this by that funny allusion-that he yawns in pronouncing the name of his wife.

But consciously he won’t admit it, he won’t see that life is now developing on another line.

In a later dream he was travelling in a cabin on an ocean liner with his wife and the liner came to a standstill; he looked out of the porthole and saw that they were near the coast and quite close to a ruin on a hill.

Then he was on deck and saw that he was not on an ocean liner but on a flat-bottomed steamer on a river; and then not even on a river but on a duck-pond in a village, where the ship couldn’t move at all, it was completely blocked, and people from the village came on board.

It ceased to be a ship and he wonders: why the devil are we living on a ship after all? ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Pages 29-42