Psychology and Religion

There are any amount of magical rites that exist for the sole purpose of erecting a defence against the unexpected, dangerous tendencies of the unconscious.

The peculiar fact that the dream is a divine voice and messenger and yet an unending source of trouble does not disturb the primitive mind in the least.

We find obvious remnants of this primitive thinking in the psychology of the Hebrew prophets.

Often enough they hesitate to listen to the voice.

And it was, we must admit, rather hard on a pious man like Hosea to marry a harlot in order to obey the Lord’s command. Since the dawn of humanity there has been a marked tendency to limit this unruly and arbitrary “supernatural” influence by means of definite forms and laws.

And this process has continued throughout history in the form of a multiplication of rites, institutions, and beliefs.

During the last two thousand years we find the institution of the Christian Church taking over a mediating and protective function between these influences and man.

It is not denied in medieval ecclesiastical writings that a divine influx may occur in dreams, but this view is not exactly encouraged, and the Church reserves the right to decide whether a revelation is to be considered authentic or not.

In spite of the Church’s recognition that certain dreams are sent by God, she is disinclined, and even averse, to any serious concern with dreams, while admitting that some might conceivably contain an immediate revelation.

Thus the change of mental attitude that has taken place in recent centuries is, from this point of view at least, not wholly unwelcome to the Church, because it effectively discouraged the earlier introspective attitude which favoured a serious consideration of dreams and inner experiences.  ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Parra 32