Dream analysis. Notes of the seminar given in 1928-1930 by C.G. Jung. Edited by William McGuire.
LECTURE IX 20 March 1929
We haven’t finished the collective symbolism of the last dream.
But first are there any questions from the last seminar?
Mr. Gibb: What about the fact that the dreamer’s wife brings in the bread, and not he himself?
Dr. Jung: Yes that is important, it belongs to the personal part of the dream.
Mr. Gibb: His wife in reality is rather apathetic, why does she bring in the food in the dream?
Dr. Jung: In the patient’s associations he explains this by saying that his wife brought the wrong food, so Eros goes away.
Mr. Gibb: The wife seems to have brought a considerable variety of food.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the statement of the dream is against this fact.
You-remember I brought that that point in the last seminar.
The wife brought the white bread too, which the child ate, so the husband’s statement is not quite just.
We had better go through the dream again.
This is a difficult dream because there are two very different elements in it, first, the personal concrete situation of the dreamer, the lack of sex, of Eros in his marriage.
But secondly there is something else introduced: the supernatural intervention which complicates the personal concrete aspect of the situation.
On the personal level it is apparently an insoluble problem.
Often people who suffer from certain symptoms that appear to be personal are not able to solve their problems on that level, because their importance is due to a collective fact.
A personal situation can be upset by the general conviction that the things which cause the particular problem ought to be so and so.
So long as people suffer from the idea that certain situations are due to their own personal mistakes they cannot be corrected.
It is as though they would build a house lightly and there comes a very cold winter so that the house cannot be heated properly; they think it was their fault, in the way they built the house, while
the real difficulty is that the winter was unusually cold.
It is not their fault.
The same thing is true of opinions.
General convictions can be the cause of individual trouble.
People in India have queer religious ideas that are not at all hygienic, so their individual troubles are due to the general mistake.
If you ask the people why they share such ideas, you ask them why they are moral and religious, because these ideas are their religion.
They injure themselves by a sort of idealistic attitude.
The good which must be considered as a virtue may be the cause of the worst consequences.
The very thing that makes it a virtue produces the unhappy consequences.
In the interpretation of his dream, if we do not consider the collective character of the Eros symbolism we cannot understand it.
We will try to get as far as we can with the personal interpretation.
You remember that the dreamer is in an intimate situation in the bedroom with his wife.
Then the supernatural comes in.
The door opens and no one enters.
But when the man goes into the next room there is the little naked boy.
He brings the boy into the bedroom, and thus far one could say surely love is lacking; but that is not so, for in a way he loves his wife, and his wife loves him.
It is sex that does not work.
Ordinarily people make little difference between sex and love and the two words are interchangeable. “Faire l’amour” in France means having sexual intercourse.
So one could say that the Eros figure in the dream is sex, because that is obviously what is lacking in the marriage.
Yet when the man embraces the boy he notices that his feeling is not sexual, he feels the satisfaction of a different kind of love.
The dream points this out, therefore the boy cannot be sex.
Then comes the statement in the dream that the wife is bringing something for the child to eat, mostly white and black bread, and he refuses the black bread, but eats the white.
Then the dreamer assumes that the child goes away because his wife has not given him the right kind of food.
ln his assumption that the boy means sex, he can say that, as his wife is rather negative in that respect, she does not give the right kind of food to Eros and so he goes away.
Obviously his personal interpretation gets him nowhere, so we must go into the dream more deeply.
First of all you remember that I have told you that this patient is a thinking type, there.fo re he makes interpretative associations.
It is the only way for his type to associate.
Some analysts refuse such interpretations and say to their patients, “You must give simple facts, not explanations.”
If a thinking type tries to give this kind of associations he will get way off and not connect the right facts at all, and this will falsify his associations.
So you must accept his explanatory way, his associations may not fit, but that is true of the irrational type as well; they may give facts and feelings that lead the analyst
astray, he must take all this into account.
The dreamer does however associate the little naked boy with an antique figure, which we can call Eros; but that is a Greek idea that is capable of many interpretations, it cannot be taken as sex alone.
The man’s feeling in the dream is a feeling of love.
He says in his associations, “There was no sex in it at all,” so even in his dream he expected something sexual. That is to be expected in the unnatural relation with his wife, his nonsexual relation.
The man really loves his wife as he understands love, and his wife loves him; you cannot expect of people anything beyond their understanding.
The man does as much as he can do with the exception of sex.
The dream says that the wife is doing what she can to feed the child, so his explanation that his wife does not give the child the proper food does not apply at all.
We could rather conclude from the dream that his wife is doing as well as he is.
He and his wife are together in their room at night, and a miraculous situation develops, the door opens and no one comes in.
This would make even the most hardboiled intellectual shiver but the man courageously goes into that room and finds the boy and brings him over into the bedroom, then his wife
does her share and brings the child food.
This shows hospitality in the true primitive form, but it does not work either, and the child disappears out of the window.
It is as though he said to them, “You are both doing what you can, but sex doesn’t work.”
So this boy is something else. What is he?
He is not sex because the facts of the dream contradict it.
He may be love, he surely is not sex alone.
We have another hint in the dream which helps: the boy is naked, why should he be?
The dreamer says that it is the traditional way in which Eros is represented, hence his association points to the idea of a deity.
Do not be alarmed when I speak of a deity.
People think that with a metaphysical hook I am getting something down from Olympus.
Thinking a thing does not mean that it is true, nor that it exists.
We can think an hypothesis.
We are here concerned with an idea, an inherited psychical fact.
The tendency of the mind is to function as it always has functioned, and it is far more probable that it will continue to function as it did five or ten thousand years ago, rather than in a way it never has functioned.
Those ideas that have been alive through the centuries are most likely to return and to be operative.
They are archetypes, the historical way of functioning, and so the general way.
Meteorologists infer weather prognoses according to what the last few days have brought; when there is a series of bad days your most probable prognosis for the next day will be that it will be bad again.
Continuity is natural from inertia, and so it is with our mentality.
When the mind of man has functioned in the same way for centuries it is most probable that it will continue to function in the same way.
When the dream introduces a deity to the dreamer’s consciousness, it means nothing to him except a sort of figure of speech.
I can say of a wine, “Isn’t it divine,” as a sort of speech metaphor, an exaggerated way of praising the wine; it doesn’t mean that the god dwells in it.
And so Eros is here introduced in a metaphorical way, as a poetic personification of the thing called love.
Yet to the unconscious the concept of the coming in of a deity is a divine fact with all the paraphernalia of the deity.
When the idea of deity appears in the functioning of the mind, what the Greeks called the dei
The door opens and no one comes in.
Now look out for ghosts, devils, etc.
The deity is always preceded by terror, fear, or a feeling of a divine presence, a special atmosphere, a sort of emotional fringe comes up with it.
This is shown quite plainly in the dream, so we are safe in assuming that it is in line with the old idea of the appearance of the god.
The old Romans and Greeks understood the deity.
They did not say that a man fell in love, but “The arrow of Eros has hit him.”
It was the personification of the emotion of love, an active autonomous principle working in man.
They projected it, of course, into sacred trees, groves, caves, rivers, mountains and into Olympus.
We do not understand that kind of psychology now, but primitive man (and the Greek was primitive man) was so connected in a participation mystique with the object that these
gods were part of his life.
So if he said, “The god of this table spoke to me in the night,” he would mean about the same as if one of us said “I dreamed that a certain complex appeared in the form of that table.”
For example, a woman who had lost her father dreamed that she met him and he told her that after his death he had reincarnated as a clerk and was a very poor young man (he had
She said to him, “How did you get out?” for she knew that he had been in her hot-water can.
He answered, “Oh, you know, Jung lifted the lid and I escaped.”
This is a most amazing idea, but if you know something of primitive psychology you can understand it.
There the ancestors are living in pots and jars.
That is why the Indians in Central America make their water-jugs like human faces, they paint legs and arms, eyes and ears on their cooking vessels, for they are the spirits, the lares and penates, gods of the hearth sitting near the fire.
When I told my patient this she was much enlightened and made a father transference to me, which meant that her mind was liberated and she could get to work.
She associated her father’s reincarnation with her own rebirth and renewal.
That is the archetypal idea in dreams.
In the present dream of our patient we have a similar case.
A deity is a personification of an autonomous factor.
What would it be when you boil it down to a psychological fact?
Dr. Binger: I think it is the man’s own soul, a sort of anima. He takes it in his arms. It is some part of his completeness.
Dr. Jung: But it is not a woman.
Dr. Binger: It may be his renewed self.
Dr. Jung: It is surely some part of his psychology, but introduced as a god, a boy.
Dr. Schlegel: Something that belongs to his future.
It is younger than the dreamer, a younger self.
Dr. Jung: Yes, some future part of himself as a boy, but that would not explain the idea of the deity. It is something not within his personal reach.
I have told you before that there are such historical parallels.
Tages, the Etruscan boy-god who springs from the furrow as the peasant ploughs, teaches laws and crafts to the people and disappears again.
Then there is Meister Eckhart’s vision in the fourteenth century.
Once Meister Eckhart was visited by a beautiful naked boy. He asked him where he came from.
“I come from God.” “Where hast thou left him?” “In virtuous hearts.” “Whither goest thou?” “To God.” “Where wilt thou find him?”
“When I leave all created things” (appearances, veil of Maya). “Who art thou?” “A king.” “And where is thy kingdom?” ”
In my own heart.” “Mind no one shares it with thee.” “So I do.”
He took him to his cell and said, “Take any garment thou likest.” “Then I should be no king,” said he, and vanished. It was God himself whom he
had had with him a little while.
Then there is the report of Meister Eckhart regarding a dream of Brother Eustachius, in Paris.
He saw that many brethren of the monastery stood in a circle in the refectory, but he could not see what was going on, something new that was pleasurable and most enjoyable.
He wondered what it could be, and went closer and saw amidst the brethren a most beautiful little child, our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Maid, our dear Lady, and he was so beautiful that no man however sad or serious he was, but had to laugh at his extraordinary beauty.
The little child demanded bread to eat and Brother Eustachius went to the store-room; but he could not find any bread good enough; only a little piece of white bread.
He went on seeking until he found a whole loaf, but it was not entirely white, so he would not give it to the child.
He got quite anxious, then Brother Ruopreht, who had charge of baking the bread, came and asked him what he was seeking so assiduously.
“I am seeking quite beautiful white bread, that I may give it to our Lord.” Brother Ruopreht said, “Don’t worry, I shall find you such bread.”
He found it and Brother Eustachius took it to the child.
The child said, “There are many great priests but they do not want to bring me anything so pure and perfect, and simple. They have things that are pure and things that are perfect, but nothing that is pure and perfect and simple. But there are a few, often not learned men, who bring me something that is pure and perfect and simple.”
Then Eustachius realized that the humble brother who found the bread was such a man and from that time on he did great honour to Brother Ruopreht and loved him with the whole force of his heart, because he was the man who was able to bring something that was pure and perfect and simple.
1 You can see what kind of a deity this is, a new thought, a new spirit.
All the old gods were psychological facts which later on became ideas.
The old gods represented by the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, are the old personal gods living on Olympus.
They became later on psychological constituents of human character.
We speak of a saturnine expression, a mercurial temperament, a martial bearing, jovial behaviour, etc., and we forget that we thus liken man to the great rulers of Olympus.
A god may appear to you if
it pleases him to do so, and if you integrate or entertain him, as it were, that means a new spirit, a new attitude in you.
Christ is a personal ideal, then he dies and is a spirit.
At Pentecost he descends from Heaven in the form of fiery tongues.
The disciples were filled with a certain spirit, a new agency began to work in them, a new idea. Suppose I get active with a new idea.
Before I had it, when it was still in my unconscious it was a deity, a daemon, something divine; then it becomes my new attitude, my new spirit.
Hence all the different meanings of the word spirit.
“In the spirit of my dead father” can mean “I don’t want to displease his ghost” or it may mean “in harmony with his convictions” and that means an attitude merely.
Now we come to the question of what the deity really is.
Meister Eckhart says that little naked child is God or Jesus.
The child himself says he comes from God, that he is a King, his Kingdom is within the virtuous heart.
So you could say the equivocal quality of the child in this vision is not just a God but a King of the Kingdom of Heaven that is within, within ourselves, not the God without.
That “God within” is almost a technical term demonstrated in the figure of a child.
This would mean that God has the qualities of a child. From this psychic fact you can understand the words of Jesus, “If ye do not become as a little child. ”
This God, this divinity, has the appearance of a child.
If you do not become as a little child you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you cannot make true the God within.
‘I’he difficult thing is that when the God within makes himself visible you can only trace his way by the things we call infantile, childish, too youthful in ourselves, but these very things promise future development.
Whatever is already developed in you has no future, it has reached its culmination.
The continuation of life always originates in those things which are undeveloped.
That is the ever-creative basis from which new developments are born, and when things are contained in an autonomous form, things that are not subject to our choice are gods and daemons.
Everything that is resisting us in our psychology is a god or daemon because it does not conform to our wishes.
It is as though we were possessed by fears, emotions, undertones outside of ourselves.
All new contents are at first autonomous contents; and where there is such a content we may be sure that in its development it will possess the individual either with or without his consent and it will bring a great change into his life.
Later on it will be a spirit in which things are done or said. So in this dream a new spirit has come in.
While the man is still intent on the problem of sex, his unconscious says, “That is not it at all, it is God,” a thing that is there and not there, not at your command.
If you have the spirit or attitude which gives the best welcome to a deity, then he might appear, he might bestow his blessing upon you.
The dreamer does not understand this at all.
As we have seen from his association, he regards his problem as a mechanical one, a sexual one, but his unconscious says that the solution of his problem depends on the god entering the scene.
The god is still an autonomous complex, not yet an attitude, or a ruling principle.
The collective parallels show this child as always connected with the existing ideas of the time.
In the Middle Ages it is Christian, the Bambino, Jesus. They did not dream of calling it Tammuz or Dionysos.
Perhaps they did not even know that the ancients worshipped Dionysos in the form of a little boy.
They called it the Christ Child.
They represented it in the form that meant something to them, something impressive, therefore they called it the Son of God. God was then an external fact.
We could not call that little deity Tammuz or Dionysos, because we are no longer living in that age.
In our actual modern mind we cannot explain it like that any more; we understand it more psychologically than ever before.
We explain the little naked boy as a psychological fact.
A thousand years hence they may have an entirely new name but it will be merely a new form of expression for the same old fact.
The planets will never protest at the names you give them.
Jupiter is quite indifferent as to whether you call him Jupiter or some other name.
You must interpret these facts psychologically, but you must interpret them according to the best theories at your disposal.
The original Christian teaching was the best in its day.
An old Greek Father who lived in A.D. 190 spoke of Christianity as “our philosophy that flourished in the time of Augustus.”
The Christianity of those days was interpreted like a philosophy, it was one of the Gnostic systems, a sort of theory of how best to live.
We see such a possibility in a psychological adjustment to life.
We no longer believe in an authoritative revelation.
We no longer think along those absolute lines.
To the people of two thousand years ago it meant something to say, “The Son of God has appeared.”
In the old days everybody had revelations.
The principle that worked for two thousand years was that someone had the truth and could reveal it.
The backbone of the Catholic Church is the claim to the possession of the eternal truth.
It is invested in the Pope and you must simply accept it. But for us this does not settle it.
No one would say now that the truth has been revealed to him, we cannot build on revelation.
We believe in the honest attempt to understand psychological facts. If you take these things seriously enough, in the spirit of scientific devotion, they will have the same effect that was formerly reached by authoritative revelation.
Are you satisfied with this interpretation of collective symbolism?
Dr. Binger: In the terms of modern symbolism what name would you give the Boy?
Dr. Jung: I always use metaphors in order to designate these things.
If I should name it such and such a thing, I would catch it and I would kill it. People would cling to the word, but if I say Puer Aeternus, using a metaphor, we all understand what is meant.
Dr. Binger: Is there any modern symbolism?
Dr. Jung: No, there is no such thing.
I definitely prefer not to invent a cage in which I suggest that I have caught the Puer Aeternus.
Dr. Binger: I mean that “Christ” was used before. Is there anything for a symbol of this?
Dr. Jung: These things that originated in earlier times have come down to us through use.
The Puer Aeternus is a shepherd boy.
In Christian philosophy there are many forms of the shepherd figure.
“The Shepherd of men” is also a title for Christ, “The Mystery God,” “Teacher of mysteries.”
In The Shepherd of Hermas, the shepherd is Christ, but the name of Christ is not mentioned in the whole book.
Hermas was said to be the brother of the second pope,s a Christian, but at the time when Christianity was a mystery cult, and as the gods could not be named, he was simply called the Shepherd.
There was a time when Christ was represented as Orpheus, or as the good shepherd, with a lamb over his shoulder.
The custom then was to call this guiding principle the “Shepherd that was herding the flocks,”
“The leader of men,” “The Fisher of men,” so Christ was identified with Orpheus and also with Bacchus.
The fish symbolism of the early Christian church was frequently represented in pagan mystery cults.
There is an old mosaic floor in a temple of the Bacchus cult, where the fish symbolism is used as in the Christian cult.
The Etruscans called Tages the “unearthed boy,” the “ploughed up boy.”
Where the name of Tages originated I don’t know but obviously it was the custom to give that boy a name.
Those of my patients who have had an experience with Puer Aeternus call it just “The Boy.”
When I hear them talking of “The Boy,” “The Star,” “The Sea Hawk,” or “The Fire Spark” it sounds just like an antique text, just as in Egypt one spoke of “The Eye of Horus.”
You cannot see why “The Eye of Horus.”
It is just an abbreviation for a very subtle kind of experience that creates obvious values, a sort of mystery atmosphere.
Nobody knows what “The Boy” could possibly be. Those people who talk of “The Boy” are in a way taboo, naturally they are thought to be a little mad.
I am quite certain that in antiquity when they talked of the “Poimen,” “The Fisher of men,”
“The Hanged God,” people considered them mad.
In the Palatine in Rome there has just been discovered on the walls of a room supposed to have been a sort of military academy for cadets, a mock crucifix, a childish design of a man with an ass’s head,6 with the Greek inscription “Thus Alexandros worships his God.”
It relates to the old Jewish tale of Jehovah worshipped as an ass.
There are representations of Set, the Egyptian devil, with a head like an ass (probably not an ass but an okapi, a sort of antelope with long ears found in upper Egypt), crucified by having three knives stuck through him.
The effect of such a cult on the people of that time, who didn’t know what it was about, was peculiar.
The great writers of those days didn’t know on what it was based and did not know the language of the new cult.
It was a sort of Jewish mystery cult, but the people only knew that its members would not sacrifice to the Caesars.
Question: What is the significance of the crucified God?
Dr. Jung: That would take us too far from the subject of the dream.
The shepherd is a symbol of the “Guide for the flock,” a figure that brings them together.
The shepherd is just what we have here in the dream, the one who holds them together in the flock.
Here he is the unifier between the man and woman.
These two people are both concerned with the boy.
The man brings in the boy while the wife brings in the food.
The boy is tertium comparationis.
When there are two things that are opposites, they must be united by a third thing, that is, a new unity, not just by a compromise between the two.
The process must be triangular. Unless something new comes into the relationship it cannot work.
In this case it is sexuality that does not work, because the thing from above is lacking.
If the thing from above is not there or if the thing from below is not there, it does not work,
They would both be quite capable of realizing the importance of the thing from below, but not of the thing from above.
We seek from the tangible and concrete world and we would hesitate to assume that the fact that we have no living religion could matter.
In the Roman Catholic Church two people are not married as we are.
They are married in Christo, Christ holds them together.
Two people not married in Christo are not married at all, it is not real.
The authority of the Church is supreme for either marriage or separation.
The idea is that human beings cannot be connected except through God. I have seen a Roman vase of the second century, probably made by a Christian, since it has a Christian marriage scene on it.
It has several scenes showing different aspects of the relation between men and women.
There is a couple united through a trident-through Neptune!
A man is using a mandrake root to charm a woman-seduction, witchcraft.
Then a couple with hands united through a fish.
The fish stands for Christ. That is the idea of the Catholic Church, that the two are united in and through that spiritual fact.
With us the fish stands for a content of the unconscious.
So this “Boy” as a new personification represents a revelation from the unconscious, the birth from the unconscious.
The idea in the dream is that the boy should intervene to establish the connection.
He appears, then he says good-bye!
He cannot stay because these people do not understand what he means. ~Carl Jung, Dreams Analysis Seminar, Pages 176-186