Archive for September 29th, 2009

One of the most exciting and provocative of Carl Jung’s ideas, revolving around his analysis of dreams, is the enantiodromia.

The notion can be traced to the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. It refers to natural tension that exists among opposites: the one exerting pull on the other. This pull is especially pronounce when the experience of one side of the opposition is especially extreme.

A few examples:

(1)When darkness is long and deep, as in Alaskan winters, the summer light is intoxicating, and too much so if one isn’t careful.

(2) The inseparability of young lovers invariably leads to their getting on each other’s nerves and their need for “space”.

(3) Political leaders preaching extreme puritanical views are often seriously tempted by the very things they claim to abhor.

Dreams are messages from the realm of the archetypes: guiding patterns within the fabric of space-time. Scripture is replete with dreams interpreted as divine revelations of destined roles and mandates. They were gifts from above and were experiences approached with great respect and gravitas.

In examining our own dreams, it is a rich spiritual practice to search for enantiodromia ( things represented in the extremes) exciting their opposites. Once identified, it is valuable to test the degree to which the extreme occurrence is a finger pointing to the real drama in realities that lie opposite the given imagery.

For example, I recently dreamt that I was on bleachers at great altitude with water far below. The bleachers were more like steel beams on skyscrapers under construction.
Suddenly, a ship careened into the structure and it crumbled beneath me and my family. I moved with uncommon agility to dodge falling metal to get them to safety.

The extremes in this dream are the bizarre height and my uncommon agility.

This dream surfaces at a point when I am no longer a man of youthful strength, endurance, and daring. The enantiodromia is the archetypal reflection on aging and the second half of life. Is it a message about battling the natural life process and its necessary stages, and a call to accept new limits and new age-appropriate activity?

Each stage of life brings with it new lessons and opens up novel vistas. In one’s middle to late- middle years, there is a chance to see more and take it in more fully as the pace slows.

The Spirit calls on us to find a right pace that is attuned to archetypal patterns that guide each stage of life. A dream of youthful vigor and speed, strength, heroism and thrill-seeking on mile high bleachers is a striking contrast to the natural state for a late middle-aged man.

So, looking at one’s dreams in terms of the enantiodromia provides a powerful perspective on the emerging hurdles along life’s journey. 

Next time you have a dream of extremes, you might ask yourself if the embedded story being told revolves around realities quite opposite the given plot lines, characterization, timing, or place.

May your dreams be occasions for fascination, spiritual insight ,and able guides on your search for joy and deep fulfillment.

© The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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