The Art of Integration -XVII-


Without the metaphor, the mind may be fed, but the imagination and heart go hungry.

Without the pondering in the soul, the banquet table in dreams may be laden, but the food is not assimilated and so the soul starves.

There is nothing sadder in analysis than to see dreams rich with healing images, but the dreamer is unable to eat ~ that is, consciousness either is unable or refuses to take the time to bite into, chew, swallow, digest, and integrate what is represented by the images.

So long as the meaning of a dream is not brought to consciousness, the metaphors we are dreaming are enacted either in our bodies or in our relationships. If, on the other hand, we work hard on associations to the dream images and allow the feelings, imagination and mind to move in and through and around the symbol, inevitably we are silenced by the rightness of the metaphor. There is a moment of YES! or OH NO! when the truth resonates through body, soul and mind, sometimes a painful truth, but nevertheless a truth that leads toward freedom.

The raw honesty of an image from the unconscious can strike us dumb with tears or laughter, often with both, because the image moves on that fine edge of the absurd between tragedy and comedy. If the ego can assimilate the point of view presented by the unconscious and see itself objectively, then it can find a new standpoint. It can observe itself suffering, but at the same time experience the suffering as pangs of birth. The ego that is relating to the soul (rightbrain thinking, if you like) is motivated to reflect the dream images in painting, dancing, singing, sculpting, writing, etc. thus allowing the healing process to transform what would otherwise be dead images into life energy.

Transformation takes place through metaphor. Without metaphor, energy is locked in repetitive patterns , Medusa traps energy in stone. In the creative matrix, the symbol flows between spirit and matter, healing the split.

In children, the split has not yet taken place, thus for them the world is still magical. Their imaginations light up their bodies. They play. With total concentration, they play. Uncanny wisdom slips out of their mouths, but it is not conscious.

In the growing-up process in our culture, rational thinking supersedes imaginative perception to such a degree that imagination is stifled. Without it, spontaneity and creativity petrify. When eternal essence is no longer perceived in daily living, life becomes a repetitive treadmill. The feminine container, the receiver, is so shut down that nothing new registers. The contraries (spirit/matter, masculine/feminine) cease to be perceived as living. Without their tension, humor, wit, playfulness, the salt that gives life its savor is not there.

Laughter explodes when two different realities collide, and if we are to live the divine comedy, we have to be holding the tension of the paradox between those two worlds.

– Marion Woodman, The Psychology of Transformation

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