Something that analysts pay scant attention to is how their own psychic work affects the dreams of their clients. The collective unconscious utilizes the personality and expertise of the analyst and this goes far beyond the transference. We should monitor this and take responsibility for it and even learn to be creative with it. We all have our lenses, our strengths and blind spots, and nobody is fully individuated, unless they are a bodhisattva, so the personality of the analyst is a huge factor in what the dreams spotlight and what they sideline. I am very familiar with certain archetypes, and am excited when they show up and it wouldn't surprise me if my psyche is instrumental in evoking them in the dreams of people I am working with: such as owl, deer, turtle, fox, and the archetype of the shadow and certain numbers. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds given the transpersonal nature of the dream. I want to clarify that I am not saying that I am personally steering the dream work, only that my psyche influences the dream work. What I said earlier about the cosmic storm in my poem also applies here: My psyche is your psyche is The Psyche. If an analyst's background is strong in alchemy, then it shouldn't be surprising if the analysant's dreams include a fair number of alchemical symbols. If the analyst has a special relationship with waterfalls or with snake, then those archetypes may show up in the work, in both the dreams of the analyst and the analysant.
Dragon comes up surprisingly frequently with my students. Once again, I don't want to give the impression that I am taking credit for this but, it happens that, due to my psychic history, I am automatically sensitive to the potential of dragon's energy and so, for instance, if a student dreams of eating in a Chinese restaurant, I will be watching for any hint or sign of dragon's proximity. If the emergence of an archetype is even slightly intuited by the analyst, there is an enhanced probability that it will show up, because on a very subtle level, it is not simply anticipated but detected.
One young man (not one of the ones I have already mentioned) shared two dragon dreams. One was a dream he had a few years ago in which dragon was enormous and loomed like a cloud on the horizon. In a more recent dragon dream, dragon appeared in miniature but he said its anatomy, colors, texture and musculature were stunningly detailed. When dragon filled the sky, it was its scale and majesty that were emphasized, but it occurred to me that the archetypal field of dragon was equivalent in both dreams. Scale is relative because the archetype is quantum! Dragon could be the size of the universe or the size of a molecule, bigger than big or smaller than small and the energy is the same. This quantum aspect of archetypes shows up in myths and fairy tales when, for example, the princess is escaping the witch and she remembers to use three objects she was given (by some powerful ally). The witch is about to catch up when the princess throws down her comb and it becomes an impenetrable forest or she throws down her mirror, which becomes an ocean forcing the witch to go way around so the princess can buy time. The active principle is the same in myths and dreams: a symbol is just that, a symbol, but within the symbol is the reality of what the symbol represents, in germ, waiting to unfurl.
When I shared this insight with this young student, he happened to be dressed in a long striped, black and mauve robe. He had a staff with him, and it dawned on me that there was real magic in the room. For a poignant moment it was as if I was a professor at Hogwarts! My own work with dragon had primed me to recognize that dragon was exactly what this shy, sensitive and somewhat androgynous wizard-like student needed. Dragon was showing up as an ally, perhaps one of the most powerful allies one can have. When I saw him off, with a book on dragon symbolism, he was a different person, all charged up.
As I say, students like this one have taught me a lot about the energy body. The clothes they wear are often numinous because they are more than just clothes. They represent feelings, certainly, but also energy. I have come to see clothes as highly charged expressions of our core self. Not all clothes represent energy, but, just for example, picture beautiful, sexy women walking a runway in those fantastic, outlandish outfits that dress-out their allure and sexuality. We are looking at living displays of someone's vision of ultra-feminine libido or energy. Birds, fish, insects and all kinds of animals display their energy bodies, but it is very special and exciting when people do. There is one young man who is gifted this way. Every day he is dressed to catch or surprise or please the eyes in styles that are all his own creation. His gift is his way of being creative with materials and colors. He always looks unique and it's always right, never like a costume or like he is trying too hard. One time he shared a dream in which he was dressed in a full-body jumpsuit made out of reflective sequins. I asked him how he felt in that suit and he said, wonderful. That was when it hit me that clothes are more than a look or a fashion for him; they are vibrant expressions of energy. The energy body doesn't require an outward expression to be perceived, but it is a beautiful and powerful thing when it does find expression in fashion, ritual or art.
In trying to explain the energy body to some of these students I ask them to consider the fur of the fox. Its coat has three layers: a downy fur close to the body, which is equivalent to the emotional body. The middle layer is thick. It lofts, so when you push against it, it pushes back. That is what a healthy energy body does. It actually has "body" and is there to protect the emotional body, so we don't go around crying over all the misery and brokenness in the world and leak and melt away. And the outside fur is our outermost energy field that we can use to protect us from the storms and winds if life.
When this student told this dream I remembered how, when I transferred to Hampshire College, and after I began analysis, my favorite outfit was a gold corduroy full-body jumpsuit. When I was wearing it I felt energized and luminous, like a star child. This memory helped me put 2 and 2 together and realize that the easiest way to visualize our energy body is to picture ourselves dressed in a way that makes us feel like children of the stars!
A couple of nights ago, I dreamed of a dark, worn dress-jacket with lots of pockets, some of which were filled with herbs and medicines. I can easily picture wearing that jacket; it suits me, it expresses my yearning to heal, to be a healer. This dream is saying, go ahead, put this jacket on, fill the pockets with medicine. What's stopping you? This can be taken literally, as in go out and find such a jacket and put it on and see how it feels, or it can be interpreted as an energetic expression of a powerful way of initiating an intimate working relationship with my own healing energy field. When we were visiting Yale's Beinecke (rare book and manuscript) Library, a glass case with an exhibit of the writings and drawings of Giocoma Balla caught my eye. An Italian painter, art teacher and poet, G. Balla was best known as a key proponent of Futurism. The curator had written the following: (Balla) ". . . envisioned the body as shapes in motion, force fields and vectors. His Manifesto of Men's Clothing (1913) condemned traditional clothing . . . Future clothing should instead be dynamic, simple and designed to wear out. Brilliant, 'muscular', 'energetic', 'aggressive', 'shocking', 'electrifying' colors and patterns will lift the wearer's spirits and brighten street life, lifting collective gloom and spreading happiness." Clothes that are designed to wear out express an energy that ebbs and flows and needs to be renewed. Such clothes would be the opposite of a uniform where one-style-suits-all. When you think of it, the idea of a uniform is that it suppresses the spontaneous expression of individuated energy, and represents service to a regulated form of energy.
Have I said enough? (I can never say enough about the students. They bring out the best of me. They make me try harder to explain things that I got used to explaining by shortcuts. And when I'm too much in my head it doesn't fly with them. I see their eyes glaze over. I hate that. When someone's eyes glaze over I take it personally. I can almost see their thoughts receding or veering away, like a bee spotting a better flower, or shutting down as if [staying with the bee] the flowers are closed. They can't help themselves. Adults are such good fakes but with students you can always tell if they are with you or somewhere else.)
Have I said enough about our various bodies? Shirley said, after I read an excerpt of what I have written, Can't you come up with another word for "bodies"? You use it too many times. Why should I have said enough? Nobody said anything about this sort of thing when I was growing up, so I have to make up for that omission. The catechism was: What you see is all there is. Tools can aid the senses and help us see smaller or further or even through (as with X-rays) but it's all the same reality. You're not really seeing anything new because we are physical, so how can our physical senses perceive anything non-physical? Even when we do experience or enjoy non-physical effects we pride ourselves in being one with the brain-power that invented the effect or technology, so we rarely leave the mindset that "this is my party" so I get to decide who or what is invited. And anything that can't be explained is not on the guest list. It is an impossibility. You can dissect and examine and get really good at describing but everything is right there. Just be a good observer and you'll be fine. Even when I was a teenager I knew this was bullshit. What a hoax, what a lie, what a waste.
Almost all the interesting stuff that is happening in life all around us is what you don't see, or that your I-dentity doesn't see, but might sense, and therefore experiences as "missing" (my father's lament), or you might see something that others can't, but you don't believe what you're seeing! But, in fact, the world is so alive and animated it overwhelms the cerebral cortex, that part of the brain that gave us technology, philosophy, modern medicine and junk food, all the -osophies, the -isms and -ologies and so the cerebral cortex decided to play God and say, anything that we can't explain or figure out either doesn't matter or isn't real, and we created a cult out of our dysfunction, our dominance, establishing systems of laws of combat (Imagine that -- banning certain ways of killing while sanctioning others!), privilege, distribution of wealth, of governance and learning that would guarantee that anyone who didn't swallow the dysfunction hook-line-and-sinker would simply fall between the cracks into the realm that doesn't matter or isn't real. But, in this little nutshell history, when psychedelics woke up the psyche of the Western world to the great hoax, by that time the system was ironclad, it was a super-system, the Matrix.