Week Two: Dreamscapes—what can they tell us?

The setting of the dream—the dreamscape—is often as important as the figures and the actions.

Think about what settings recur in your dreams, and think about what that might tell you. These “typical” or recurring settings can be lifelong patterns, or they may change depending on what’s going on in our lives. One dream series may occur in a particular setting; then when that series ends, the next one may occur in a different “typical” location. For me, shopping malls occur a lot, and urban residential streets; so do old houses with wooden floors and staircases. And museums—LOTS of museums. It’s not just the recurring locations that hold meaning, of course—they all do. Nothing in a dream is random. Psyche goes to some trouble to choose these particular images.

Try to make notes on all the details of the dreamscape. Find out all you can about the dream’s setting—what makes sense and what doesn’t? If it’s a natural setting, where in the world does this type of landscape naturally occur? And so on.

How do we approach our dream landscapes? We can treat them as we would a figure in the dream; sometimes, when we ask a question, the landscape itself will speak. We can re-enter them in imaginal space (like we did in class), then go walking around and exploring with all of our senses alert. Who else shows up? What’s for sale in the stores? When you start nosing around, how do things morph? And what can you learn from these special locations?

Here’s one of my dreamscape adventures for you to check out:  “The Music Room.”

And here are a couple of bits from Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. I recommend this book, if you don’t already have it.

The first photo (easier than typing it in!) is from p. 202:

MDR p 202

The second and third photos are from p. 213 and p. 214. Jung gleans a lot of information from these dream locales, which in fact seem to foreshadow major parts of his ongoing work.

MDR p 213

MDR p 214

Perhaps we can glean the same kind of information from our own dreamscapes, as we learn to watch for it.

Here’s the quote from James Hillman that I mentioned in class:

“…[W]e cannot distinguish between fancy and fantasy, between imaginary, imaginative, and imaginal…. [W]e cannot discriminate among the apparitions themselves…. Our situation is that we cannot perceive differences between kinds of imaginary voyages….

“We need an imaginal ego that is at home in the imaginal realm, an ego that can undertake the major task now confronting psychology: the differentiation of the imaginal, discovering its laws, its configurations and moods of discourse, its psychological necessities. Until we know these laws and necessities we are caught in calling its activities ‘pathology,’ thereby condemning the imagination to sickness and the persons of it into making their appearances mainly through pathological manifestations. But this major psychological task of differentiating the imaginal begins only when we allow it to speak as it appears, as personified. Personifying is thus both a way of psychological experience and a method for grasping and ordering that experience.”

From Re-visioning Psychology by James Hillman (1975,  pp. 36-38)

And this came across my virtual desk this morning. It’s a reflection on Gaston Bachelard’s book The Poetics of Space. The entire article is interesting, but this bit is especially noteworthy in view of the topic of next week’s discussion.