Some dream creatures have a special quality, impossible to describe, loving and sentient, numinous. I had such a dream back in 2005 when I was working on a Ph.D.
Dream, July 23: We’re at a big house that we like. There are two outhouses. I use one with great relief, then realize three or more little boys are playing cards in the one next door. The yard is green, inviting for kids. There’s a wonderful creature, like an abominable snowman/monkey, so strong and smart. He loves to wear a golden helmet. He’s knowing yet sweetly naive, happy, loved—feels like unicorn energy. They chase him. He has to be locked away. He gives me a big kiss. They grab his gold helmet off before they lock him up in a little compartment at the side of a barn. I say, “Give it to me. He loves it. I’ll keep it for when he comes out.” He will stay there while something is finished, so I can concentrate.
I was going through a lot of stress in the Ph.D. program. But that stress was pushing me toward inner work. Starting in 2004, while grappling with writing the dissertation, I’d also started seeking balance, in spiritual circles and with nature. Jung wrote about “moments when the universal laws of human fate break in upon the purposes, expectations, and opinions of the personal consciousness.” These are “stations along the road of the individuation process.” That phase of my life—taking me to the depths of hell at times—was also life-defining. Jung wrote, “Everything living strives for wholeness,” that “our conscious life is constantly corrected and compensated by the universal human being in us, whose goal is the ultimate integration of conscious and unconscious, […] assimilation of ego in a wider personality.”
I had a number of what Jung called “big dreams” in those years. Jung wrote that big dreams “employ numerous mythological motifs [that are] semi-divine by nature… We meet dragons, helpful animals […] all things which in no way touch the banalities of the everyday.” He wrote, “They have to do with the realization of a part of the personality which has not yet come into existence but is still in the process of becoming.” (From Dreams, by C.G. Jung, translation by R.F.C. Hull.) When these special creatures come from within, bringing such a feeling of being loved, I believe that could be called a coniunctio, when a bit of the unconscious joins with the conscious mind. I interpreted that my golden-helmeted creature had to be locked away until I “finished” the doctoral endeavor. What was being locked away? A bit of soul? In alchemy, gold is the opus, what we’re striving for.
I think by Year Seven I had decided my gold did not lie in gaining those three letters after my name.