Anima + Animus = Divine Marriage

Since he is animus, his seeking has also to do with finding the fully initiated feminine in the psyche and keeping that as the main goal, regardless of whatever else crosses his path…this animus is doing the real work in preparation for showing and acting the true soul-Self of the newly initiated woman in day-to-day life. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Whether or not you identify as a man or a woman, our androgynous self is always seeking to integrate the feminine with the masculine. This is the only way we will achieve the archetype of the divine marriage. Jungian analyst and author, Marion Woodman, wisely states how this life-long journey is perhaps the most important pilgrimage we will ever take. Why? Because it entails coming into wholeness with yourself and others.

Let’s dive into how female dream characters in your dreams play a role. First we need to understand that female dream characters represent qualities such as nurturing, listening, sensitivity, intuition, receptivity and caring. Likewise, male dream characters often embody such traits as action, intellect, assertion, and will-power.

Therefore, when a woman appears in your dreams, notice the feminine qualities she embodies. Is she passive, bold, fearful, nurturing, outspoken or timid? When we are aligned with the feminine, or feeling-function, we can identify and express our feelings, practice self-love and compassion for others, listen deeply to what others are saying, seek understanding and trust our intuition.

When a man shows up in your dream, observe his behavior and notice how you would describe him. Is he determined, bossy, sensual, heroic, tyrannical, controlling, or creative?

Jung referred to the archetypal feminine presence in a man’s dream as the anima, and the archetypal masculine presence in a woman’s dream as the animus. In Latin, the words anima and animus mean soul. Becoming aware of these archetypal images are essential in our emotional, intellectual, and psychological development.

Perfectionism is not the goal of the journey toward the divine marriage because it is fraught with shame, but wholeness is.

For example, in my counseling practice, when I am working with men and his relationships, we often begin with his relationships with women. And then, we look at how female characters appear in dream time. How women are showing up in his dreams tells me everything about his relationship with his feminine aspect, and therefore everything about his ability to relate to women. Until he accesses what is going on in the inner realm, nothing will change or improve in the outer realm. If a female dream character—his anima—is cold and withdrawn, I know he has work to do in creating a caring relationship with his inner woman. Being more sensitive to his own needs, his creativity, his own soul, is what is calling his attention. Why? Because the anima is reflective of a man’s search for soul. And until he is in right alignment with his feminine aspect, his connection with his soul and his relationships with women will suffer.

Likewise, if a female client is dreaming about a particular male character who consistently bullies her, or in someway makes her feel badly about herself, we will explore ways for her to stand up for her values and speak her truth. In this case, taking conscious action is needed. Until she is comfortable with her masculine aspect, she will attract men who wish to dominate, manipulate, and ignore her strength.

What we are talking about is the integration of both masculine and feminine aspects in a person. Wholeness. Completion. This is the path of individuation and it ain’t easy. But it is, oh, so very fulfilling. I’ve witnessed male clients completely transform their relationship with women by working with their anima. And I have been blown away by women shifting their connection with men by learning to understand and embrace their masculine side. Sometimes the result is ending their current relationship, but usually it entails improving and deepening the relationship they have with their partner.

And in case you’re wondering, sexual orientation and gender is irrelevant in the archetype of the divine marriage.

Each of us requires the delicate balance and intimate dance of the masculine and feminine to achieve the divine marriage. Once you have reached this deeply fulfilling state of being, you will no longer “need” people the way you once did. Your desire for relationship will stem from a place of wholeness and you will recognize that the only real reason you are joining with the another is to support each other’s soul growth. You are no longer looking to “get” your needs met. You are beautifully co-joining with another to deepen your connection with your own heart and soul, as well as the heart and soul of your beloved.

Namaste. 

Dreams that Lead You to Your Life’s Higher Purpose

Dreams that Lead You to Your Life’s Higher Purpose by Laura Grace, PhD

Dreams, being your “inner GPS” inform every area of your life. Your nighttime dreams possess the power to lead you in discovering the deeper meaning of your purpose. Simply put, dreams reveal why you are here. How? By uncovering your hidden talents and gifts. In revealing the people who “appear” to you and are meant to support you in your soul’s development.

Here is a personal example of how your dreams can provide specific direction for accessing your life’s work and creating abundance.

Years ago, I was a human resource director for a CPA and consulting firm in the Midwest. Most of my time was spent firing managers and partners as the firm underwent a series of mergers. As a highly sensitive person and empath, this was excruciatingly painful and I experienced immense burn-out in only a few short years. The life-force had been sucked out of my soul and I resigned. Instead of immediately putting myself back on the executive market, I felt guided to take a year off and do some significant soul-searching. So, I withdrew my 401(k), bought a house on small lake in the Midwest, and took my ten-year-old daughter, Alexis, and our cat, Buttercup, and moved in to a new home with my beloved partner, Thomas. It was a new beginning. Emotionally and financially it was challenging, yet I spent the next twelve months delving into spiritual teachings, journaling my thoughts and feelings, and working with my nighttime dreams. At thirty-two years old, it may have been one of the best years of my life.

Daily, I asked for guidance from my dreams and how best to use my gifts, strengths, and talents. During this time, I had a powerful dream:

I am sitting in the driver’s seat of my red Toyota which is parked in a parking lot. Next to me in the passenger’s seat I see a dark blue book with “Bhagavad Gita” scrolled in gold across the cover. I open the car door and see several brochures that I have created lying on the ground and next to them are various silver and gold coins.

This dream was showing me that writing combined with spirituality were a definite part of my life’s work. As I followed my dream’s cues, I began writing articles for spiritual and personal growth publications, something I had never done before. As a result, I had the following dream:

I am guided to look under my bed and discover enormous diamonds in the shape of crystals. I am amazed by their beauty.  After looking under the bed I look to another part of the floor and see two or three similar stones, not quite as large as the one under my bed, but just as radiant. I awake feeling happy and inspired.

These dreams affirmed the work that carried me deeper into my authentic self. They paved the way to profound abundance, not just financially, but emotionally, intellectually, creatively, and spiritually. The fact that the diamonds were shaped like crystals revealed the multi-faceted potentiality within me.

Looking back over the past couple of decades, I can see how prophetic the dream truly was. I became inspired to write a series of articles that were published throughout the country and eventually morphed into my first book, Gifts of the Soul. Next, the book and articles inspired the creation of The Self-Mastery Program, an intensive that supported individuals in accessing their inner gifts. I taught The Self-Mastery program for ten years and in the meantime, penned my second book, The Intimate Soul. (Both books were written and self-published under my former name, Laura V. Hyde.)

Unlimited ideas continued to spring forth and I developed a series of additional programs, workshops, and retreats. During this creative era, I generated a course on dreams and coached people on understanding and utilizing them. Desiring to deepen my spiritual growth, I attended an interfaith seminary program and began providing spiritual counseling.

The “multi-faceted” diamonds represented skills I never knew I had, and didn’t have, until I began working with my nighttime dreams and stretching beyond my comfort zone. Edgar Cayce wisely affirms, “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.”  Listen to your dreams. Like a diamond, they possess marvelous, mystical, multi-faceted brilliance.

If you would like to see the video that accompanies this blog, watch the video below which is more in-depth. And it means a lot to me if you will kindly give it a thumbs up if you find it helpful. Namaste.

Snake Dreams & Transformation

Our dreams recover what the world forgets…The dream animal shows us that the imagination has jaws and paws, that it can wake us in the night with panic and terror or move us to tears…and see their living forms so that we respond to them with the gift of intelligence.  ~~James Hillman

Your night times dreams are a gift. Why? Because dreams generally point to our blind spot. They never tell us what we already know. The trouble with interpreting your own dreams is that you can’t see your own back.

This blog is meant to help you understand your dreams so they are relatable to every area of your waking life. And since animals commonly play a main character in our dreams, we are going to examine how they come to us as our HELPERS. They crave intimacy and offer us insight to our higher and lower selves. They call us back to the earth and to our own bodies. If you follow your dream, humbly, that is where your real life begins. And this is especially true for the most misunderstood dream animal: the snake.

Jung stated, “The commonest dream symbol of transcendence is the snake.”

However, in our culture, snake is portrayed as a slippery, slimy, poisonous creature that goes back 2000+ years to the biblical story of Adam and Eve. When we refer to someone as a “snake” we’re implying they are cold, calculating, and untrustworthy.

But in some ancient cultures the serpent is seen as the most universal and auspicious archetype, one that symbolizes rebirth and transformation. Snakes shedding their skin represents the power of birth, death and rebirth, and such transformation occurs when the snake’s eyes begin to cloud over. As a natural shapeshifter, snakes are honored for being able to both journey below the earth’s surface (a.k.a. underworld) and bathe in the sunlight of the upper world. 

Snakes Appearing in Your Dreams

Snakes are often seen as a sexual object in dream time. And if snake randomly appears in your dreams, pay attention to flirtations and sexual energy occurring between you and another. Snake sometimes means a misalignment in psyche so it may show up to warn you that the path you’re heading down with another may be dangerous.

But if snake makes continuous appearances in your dream, pay attention. This is particularly true if you are doing inner work and old trauma is beginning to surface.  

For example, when I began my doctoral program in depth psychology and somatic studies and began delving into the unconscious, all kinds of snakes began starring in my dreams, from black snakes with long red tongues to green diamond back rattlers. Somatic, or body-memories surfaced from experiences I had while growing up.  One night while sleeping in my dorm I dreamt of a snake that sunk its fangs into the top of my left hand. As I waited for its venom to kill me, I noticed that a warm, fuzzy feeling began to pulse through my body. In  Shamanic traditions venom is not seen as poison but as “medicine.” Being bitten by a snake symbolizes the initiation into transformation.

How Do You Work with Snake Dreams?  

A good way to delve into snake dreams is to use the art of Association. Association is a Jungian, straight forward approach to dream work and can be done in very little time. For example, when I first listed my associations of snake, I wrote: slither, slippery, sneaky, constricting, squeezing, poisonous, temptation, flirting, sexual play, seduction, manipulation, power, control, fear, father’s belt, physical punishment, men, unsafe.

The next round my associations went deeper and I noted: frightened, wound, intimacy, distance, guarded, protective, healing, trauma. The key is to keep going back to the original dream image and writing down your associations without pausing. Once you begin thinking about it, you’ve shifted from psyche to intellect and will lose the deeper meaning. Also, you might become inspired by associations that arise and begin associating those images, but don’t go there, doing so will cause you to lose sight of the original dream image. Start with one dream image and stick with it until an “aha” moment happens or you feel an inner click. Some associations will have an emotional charge to them and that’s where you want to focus.

The body remembers everything you have ever experienced and carries the burden of stress, disease, and trauma. Dream images, like my myriad snakes, live in the blood cells, skin, muscles, and organs of the body. By working with the images, the snakes became my personal daimon to the point that even the “poison” that flooded my body after one snake decided to sink his fangs into my left hand became a form of “medicine.”

After the initial shock wore off, I was able to tap into the venom and receive the strength that I needed to confront the past and transform some painful experiences.  This ancient, reptilian image led me to a deeper understanding about my reactions, behaviors, fears, and desire for love, and in alchemical terms, was akin to turning base metal into radiant gold. Using dream images to transform old wounds leads us to individuation, wholeness, self-love, and greater aliveness. You may be wondering, what happened to the snake dreams? Well, two weeks before finishing my final doctoral course and writing my last term paper, snake exited the realm of my dreams and hasn’t made an appearance since. 

The last snake dream I had revealed both the inner and transformation that took place over a period of three years. Internally, I felt less fear, more self-compassion, and self-love. Externally, I experienced more faith and trust in people and my terror of snakes disappeared.

I’m outdoors in a large open space and several feet in front of me is a long, green snake with black stripes. The snake has been living underneath some dense foliage, thick ivy. It has been living under there for a long time but now it’s out in the sunlight. I see it has black narrow eyes and then I notice two more round black “eyes” above the regular eyes, sitting on either side of its head. Looking more closely, I can see that they react to the light, like sensors and then it gives a very loud rattle.

Next, I see something move around the top of the snake’s head and a baby snake with tiny legs unhooks itself and crawls down its face. The baby scoots away and then a very bizarre thing happens: The snake completely transforms itself by pulling its skin forward until it covers its eyes and face. It now looks like a beautiful, large, green succulent that curves downward. I am fascinated and realize I no longer need to fear snakes.

This dream is filled with a wealth of images: Large open space, green snake with black stripes, thick ivy, eyes that are sensors, the sound of the rattle, the lizard-like baby snake with legs, transformation from snake into a large succulent.  Here is an example of my positive associations:

  • Open space: Nature = place I go for reflecting, healing, feeling open-minded, getting grounded, peaceful, favorite place to be
  • Green snake: Rattlesnake, poisonous/medicine, green is a “healing” color, primitive, reptilian, shapeshifter, kundalini energy, sheds its skin
  • Thick ivy: I love ivy, dense cover, easy to maintain, grows in my yard, resilient, protective
  • Eyes that are sensors: Insight, sensitive to light, awareness, vision
  • Rattle: Primal, rhythm, Native American, instrument, warning, ancient, felt it in my body
  • Baby snake with legs: Birth, new beginnings, circle of life, lizard-like
  • Transformation into succulent: Change, healing, shapeshifter, awakening, verdant, alive, magical

Remember, your night-time dreams are a gift. Especially those you resist for they offer the greatest growth and opportunity for transformation.

Namaste

Relationship Beginnings, Endings and Differentiation

Relationships Beginnings, Endings and Differentiation, Part One

Image result for shadow pics of couples

February is the month we celebrate love, joy and the passion that stems from an intimate relationship, qualities especially apparent in a new relationship. Most love songs seem to be filled with lyrics about the arc of passion that brings two people together, symbolized by the power of Eros. However, at the other end of the love-song-spectrum are lyrics about the painful ending of a special relationship.  Enter Thanatos, the god of death. Yes, most of us are familiar with the magnetic pull of Eros and the passion we feel when we fall in love, but who is Thanatos? Thanatos is equally as powerful and important but often overlooked. It is the shadow side of Eros. Frequently misunderstood, people rarely want to look at this Greek mythological figure, the god of death. But having worked for years with couples in therapy, I see Thanatos as a misunderstood cry for differentiation.

If you are in a long-term relationship, you know how important it becomes to create space for yourself and each other as the relationship evolves.  Differentiating is the healthy way to be independent within a partnership.  This means setting boundaries, spending time apart to nurture our soul, delving into creative projects or activities that fulfill us, and allowing our partner the same freedoms. When we don’t recognize the need to differentiate or believe there is something “wrong” with the relationship, we are denying the qualities of Thanatos.

While counseling clients I have witnessed numerous times when Thanatos has reared his head. And frequently, couples believe that because they want more space or time apart from their partner, it must mean one or both of them want out. Eros appears to have died and passion has been replaced with our partner’s flaws. Instead of wanting to be with them, we desire more and more time away and alone.

Image result for couples letting go of hands

If left unrecognized, this is often when the relationship becomes confusing, the couple experiences disillusionment, and/or a breakdown or uncoupling begins. It may feel like the relationship is dying, and part of it is. But that does not mean you need to uncouple, rather it signifies that the way things have been going are no longer working. Passion has been replaced with complacency and taking each other for granted. Change is required so the partnership can move to the next level. From this perspective, Thanatos signifies a new beginning.

Dr. Carl G. Jung, the founder of depth psychology, believed that how we behave stems from the result of the different way we use our mental capacities. From this concept, Isabel Briggs Myers created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This instrument has been used for many years and helps people clarify his or her basic personality type. The “intuitive-feeling” person relates deeply to the Romeo-Juliet archetype and the idea of falling madly, deeply in love with his or her soulmate. These personality types are particularly sensitive the power of Eros and crazily happy when experiencing the beginning throes of a relationship. However, when Thanatos begins to creep in, this personality type often experiences distress. Where did my beloved go?!  Desiring time apart may feel opposite from earlier days and therefore, the relationship must be doomed.

Image result for images of thanatos

Yet, Eros is impossible to experience without Thanatos.  Thanatos represents a time in the relationship to honor the distancing, confusion and estrangements as a meaningful progression toward expanding the relationship.  It allows Eros to become renewed and remain alive. Therefore, this is a crucial time to individually expand within the relationship, as well as stretch the comfort zone of the relationship itself. This critical juncture can lead to death of the relationship, or, to two people learning to differentiate which can lead to individuation. Strong communication and creative ways to support the changes are required. Patience and trust that growth is occurring is also helpful.

In Part Two, we will look at how Thanatos shows up in dream time. Stay tuned! And to watch a short interview about this topic, check out the interview I recently had with professional coach and story-teller, Zette Harbour. Namaste.

Dreams: The Looking Glass of Relationships

DREAMS: The Looking Glass of Relationships

Deepen your intimacy in relationships  images

Our nighttime dreams are the looking glass into our relationships and relationships are a significant part of our lives. Jean Paul Sartre stated, “Hell is other people,” and though that might feel true at times, without relationships, we severely limit our ability to evolve. Humans are hard-wired to connect. Developing open, loving, trusting and healthy connections takes great commitment, consistent effort, and mindful awareness. Specific dream characters, symbols and feelings emerge to show you unresolved fears, insecurities, and even traumatic experiences that occurred and are inhibiting your connection with others.

See your beliefs, attitudes, and judgments toward yourself and others

Dreams are often referred to as the “mirror to your soul” because they reflect the deeper, hidden aspects of us that we are not seeing clearly. Also, they reveal how others see us which likely differs from our self-perception. Jung referred to this aspect as the “persona,” the mask we wear in public for others to see. It is the false-self that needs approval and strives to be liked, appreciated, and wanted. Therefore, our dreams are not meant to please us but to awaken us. They are often perceived as disturbing because they will not succumb to our noblest notions of ourselves. “The closer one looks,” Marc Ian Barasch states, “The more [dreams] seem to insist upon a challenging proposition: You must live truthfully. Right now. And always. Few forces in life present, with an equal sense of inevitability, the bare-knuckle facts of who we are, and the demands of what we might become.”

Dream characters are “projections” of ourselves

When someone appears in your dreams, ask yourself, “What is my perception of this person?” It might be someone you haven’t seen in twenty-five years or your current next door neighbor. The key is to get in touch with how you see this person and what traits they are mirroring back to you. This is not easy because no one wants to see negative qualities in themselves. Which is one of the reasons that the unlikeable traits have been projected on to another during dreamtime. Rich with self-awareness, dream characters are the psychic lens for you to truly see yourself. They reveal your false-self, the persona and mask that you wear as well as the traits you have adopted since you were very young. Every person starring in your nightly dreams are unconscious projections of yourself. From this advantageous perspective, your dream characters can help you learn more about yourself than you might ever imagine.

Laurasig

For a deeper exploration into your dreams, please click HERE.

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Join me in my upcoming webinar on “dreams” check it out HERE

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Discovering Your Shadow in Dreamtime

 

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Discovering Your Shadow in Dreamtime

Dreams offer special gifts which help you with every issue you are facing in waking life and one of the most significant is discovering and reclaiming your Shadow.

Your shadow contains aspects of you that are unconscious or that you may have judged as “negative” or “bad.” (And also include positive traits that you have not yet acknowledged or accepted.) Discovering your shadow allows you to become aware of all aspects of self which leads to integration, wholeness, and individuation.  Jung viewed the individuation process as our ultimate goal. Individuation requires becoming conscious of our prima materia—the unconscious material that has been repressed so we may experience the alchemical process of transformation. Dreams provide the opportunity to witness the prima materia in ways that we are unable to experience during waking life. People who advance towards individuation tend to become harmonious, mature, responsible, and are aware of their connectedness to all things.

A personal example of prima materia entails a series of “snake” dreams I began having when I immersed myself in a doctoral program grounded in depth psychology and somatic studies. As I delved into the hidden realms of the unconscious, childhood trauma and attachment theory, “snake” dreams began to emerge. Having been terrified of snakes my entire life, I was confused about why they were showing up now? Were they trying to convey some aspect of me, (a thought that horrified me), or were they representing someone in my life, (almost as frightening)?

I sought advice from an instructor I deeply respected who advised, “Snakes sometime appear in dreams when there’s a misalignment in psyche. You’re on a new path that is triggering some old stuff, so write down your dreams and notice if they shift as you work through the course material.” So I did. His advice was spot on because the more I delved into the realm of the unconscious, the more snake surfaced during dreamtime. The more I remembered and re-witnessed childhood trauma, a myriad of snakes showed up—from black snakes with long red tongues to green diamond back rattlers. Somatic memories surfaced from the abuse and neglect I experienced during my developing years. This was the prima materia that had been buried and needed to surface so it could be re-experienced in a safe environment and transformed. Remaining dedicated to understanding my dreams and working with a somatic trauma therapist helped my snake dreams shift. As I moved through the trauma, “snake” evolved from something painful and frightening to an image that became my most powerful guide.

The body remembers everything you have ever experienced and carries the burden of stress, disease, and trauma. Dream images, like my myriad snakes, live in the blood cells, skin, muscles and organs of the body. By working with the images, the snakes became my personal daimon to the point that even the “poison” that flooded my body after one snake decided to sink his fangs into my left hand became a form of “medicine.” After the initial shock wore off, I was able to tap into the venom and receive the strength that I needed to confront the past and transform some painful experiences.  This ancient, reptilian image led me to a deeper understanding about my reactions, behaviors, fears, and desire for love, and in alchemical terms, was akin to turning base metal into radiant gold. Using dream images to transform old wounds leads us to individuation, wholeness, and greater aliveness. You may be wondering, what happened to the snake dreams? Well, two weeks before finishing my final doctoral course and writing my last term paper, the Wise Snake exited the realm of my dreams and hasn’t made an appearance since. Powerful, yes?

For more information on how to work with your dreams including practical ways to approach them, please check out my newest book, Dreams: Soul-Centered Living in the 21st Century at Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Soul-Centered-Psychological-Achieving-Transformation/dp/198503493X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1526418154&sr=8-3&keywords=laura+v+grace