Friday, October 30, 2009

Midlife Dream Play--III Ilumination

After a few more years of midlife dreamplay with Z, my therapist and guide, I arrived for the session after sharing a dream in which my deceased mother fell to the ground where I took her in my arms and told her that I loved her, and was told by the doorman, "We wouldn't be meeting today." He gave me her room number in the hospital. I knew that she was old but I didn't know her age. Since she hadn't called and canceled our session, I feared that it was serious. As I returned home to call the hospital, the image of holding my mother in my arms flashed in my mind and I felt the emotions again, but for Z this time.

My fears grew when I called her hospital room and got no answer. I called the nurses station and was told that she had an infection and was in for tests but had fallen and broken her hip while trying to find the toilet in the night. And I had just told her the dream the previous session!

I went to the hospital for visitor's hours the next day. She looked beat up, had a black eye and bruises on her arm. I touched her fingers gently and was reassured by her grip. I realized that I had never done the same for my mother and was thankful for a second chance before realizing that this was not a dream.

"So you started your August vacation a week early," I said, but was still uncertain what was real and what was dream. I just stood there holding her hand and gazing into her battered face. With her sitting behind me in therapy I only looked her in the face as I arrived and left, and I was the one lying down the rest of the time. This was a disconcerting reversal. For a moment I thought she had staged it all for the therapeutic effect, but her condition was far too real. She was the patient now, I thought. I squeezed her hand and repeated my words to my mother in the dream, "I love you."

In our first session after Z’s vacation, I shared this dream:
I'm in the dining room of my childhood home and focus on a framed figure from the wallpaper (Colonial Williamsburg pattern). I feel sorrow and cry. "You're crying for your lost childhood, not your home," I chastise myself. I go to my childhood bedroom, but my parents are there, asleep on a sofa bed. My mother gets up and hugs me, and I am reassured to feel her two breasts after her mastectomy. "Wrong room," I say and go to my grandmother's room, but my uncle and his wife are staying there. Then I realize that my parent's room with their plantation bed is my room now.

Even my dream is telling me that my childhood is not my home. We don't go back home to childhood but to our home for the second half of life. Even our lost completeness, what I am crying for, is not the completeness of the second half. Completeness was originally merger, oneness, and, as the midlife journey teaches, the resolution of the conflict of duality, of Plato's split people, becomes neither one nor two in the second half. Colonial Williamsburg is gone with the wind along with childhood.

I do a final tour of the home that I cry for--first my bedroom where I find my parents sitting on a sofa bed, the place for overnight guests. They are gone now and just visiting. I move on to my grandmother's room. She ran the kitchen and the cleaning woman--my first Z. She's gone also, replaced by her son, my uncle, just as I have replaced my parents. Their room is mine now. In reality their plantation bed is in the guest room of my current home, where I must return.

It is ironic that my mother died of breast cancer as if her nurturance was diseased. Now she has been made whole again after my previous dream of holding her in my arms and saying that I love her, which I repeated to Z in the hospital. The symbol was integrated into my midlife home when my eleven-year-old daughter greeted me with a hug and the news that she had gotten her first bra the night before the dream. In case I hadn't noticed.

It required years of dreamplay with Z in my childhood home to restore my mother’s nurturance, just as the play of darkness and light transformed the dark father into the ruddy-faced grocer in the previous post. The trickster is very playful!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Midlife Dream Play--II The Quest

After a few years of dreamplay and journeying with Z, my therapist and guide, I had this dream:

It's after midnight and I can't sleep. I go out the kitchen door of my childhood home, through the carport, into the backyard and walk around to the other side of the house beside my parents' bedroom. I look at the sky in front of my house, which is a beautiful blend of darkness and light.

I walk back around to the kitchen door and open my eyes to see the doorknob glowing in the dark, closer than I expected. I go into the kitchen and hear a car driving into the carport. I drop down and hide on the floor below the windows, paralyzed by fear, but manage to get up and confront the man at the door.

He has dark, slicked-back hair, like the actor George Hamilton, and is wearing a business suit. He says that he is inspecting the fruit producers in the neighborhood. Not enough people are eating fresh fruit, and the producers are having to freeze their product. Salmon also. People don't realize that salmon contains a special ingredient, he says. While he speaks, he is eating grapefruit sections. I feel as if I'm doing what I can. Meanwhile, his appearance has changed to a ruddy-faced, stocky man like a grocer or butcher.

It's after midnight--midlife. I can't sleep and begin an odyssey of my own. The journey begins in the kitchen of my childhood home where many of my dreams are located. The kitchen was the domain of my grandmother, the maid and cleaning woman, a guise of the Latin woman from my Descent dream in the previous post. Beside the kitchen is the carport--the port of entry to the outside world and, later, the Ascent.

Behind the house is the backyard where I played, where my father buried my childhood dog, but that is only a passageway. I want to see the sky out front. I could look at the sky from the carport side of the house, next to the cleaning woman's kitchen, but I want to see from the other side of the house, beside my parents' bedroom. Same sky, different perspective. From that perspective the sky is a beautiful blend of light and dark--the opposites. From there I can see the dawn coming and the end of my quest, but I am not ready and return to the kitchen and the transition space of therapy and play.

Back in the darkness I must open my eyes to see the doorknob of the kitchen door glowing, closer than I expected. I am not ready for the dawn but there is illumination in the doorknob to my midlife transitional space. Inside I hear a car in the carport. I am paralyzed by fear and have dropped down, descended into the darkness below the windows and the light.

Somehow I rise again, manage to get up and make a stand. The dark father has come to inspect fruit. Tropical fruit.

There were citrus trees in Florida where I was born. My family brought a grapefruit tree back home from Florida and planted it beside the kitchen. Each winter its growth was killed back by the frost, but it would grow new sprouts every spring. Even at midlife. After midnight. Fresh fruit is healthy; it should not be canned or frozen. The Latin woman's tropical tree can be transplanted, however, and regenerate itself at springtime.

Salmon is a different kind of recovery--a second half of life recovery. It's what Erik Erikson calls generativity or the transfer of power to the next generation. Odysseus returned home and rescued his son's patrimony and Prospero gave up his magical powers and his daughter's hand in marriage. To the indigenous North Americans the salmon is a mythological creature for its powers of generativity, its struggle upstream to its source to lay its eggs for the next generation, to regenerate itself like the grapefruit tree.

The actor George Hamilton was the lawyer to the Godfather in the film, but his dark, sinister appearance changes to a ruddy-faced Nordic--from dark to light. Hermes was the god of transformation, of alchemy. He could change appearances--the mercurial trickster and player. He was also Odysseus' guide in his encounter with Circe and convinced Calypso to set the voyager free to return home. The trickster in my dream changes from dark lawyer to the Godfather to a dealer in fresh produce, a grocer or butcher. At Scott Peck's community building workshop I became close to a Nordic looking German named Manfred. Man freed. Man freed by both recovery and transformation, freed by dreamplay with darkness and light.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Midlife Dream Play--I The Descent

“I work with dreams”, my therapist, “Z”, told me at our first session at the beginning of our midlife dream journey. I told her that I dreamed now and then, but had come to her because of my interest in the unconscious. We chatted for a while, and I went home and began our journey immediately with this dream:

I leave school for summer vacation and ask an important friend to look in on my two Porsches in the garage when I call. I get off of the train onto a sea wall overlooking home far down below. The road down to home is further on, but I got off early, at the peak of the railway where I could just slide off the train onto the sea wall. Below the wall is a shear drop, but I wave, cheerily to my two friends on the train, who wave back. I carefully get down the steep drop from the wall and go back to the nearest and most direct way down to home, not the road further ahead.

At the entrance of the way down, I must pass a family of crabs in the sand. A young crab leads me through the bones, picked clean by the crabs, to a side exit to the way down. I run into the sandy way with my old dog, leaving behind the threatening people. My old dog then sprints ahead of me and I can't keep up with him.

I arrive with my wife and baby daughter at an unassuming house down below. My wife climbs through a side porch towards the back. She asks me to lift our daughter up to her, which I do with some difficulty, then realize that I can't climb up myself. I notice a way to crawl under the porch and say, "I'm not proud," then crawl under to join them. As we enter the backyard of the house, I notice an easier way around the house that requires no climbing or crawling. The female owner of the house is working in the backyard and says, "Yes, there are many ways."
She is joined by six or seven smiling children. She is young and attractive. I say to her in Spanish, "Estoy muy joven," then correct my grammar and say, "Esta muy jovenes." Still wrong.

I'm taking a break--going on vacation from school, leaving my Porsches behind with an important friend. My worldly trappings. Portia was the wife of Brutus who had an important friend in Julius Caesar. Some friendship! Odysseus left two women behind when he returned home--Circe and Calypso, his two Porsches. In his case the important friend was immortal. Caesar proved to be all too mortal. But Odysseus had challenged the gods with the ambition of Brutus.

Like Odysseus I am impatient to get home and get off the train early. At the peak, at midlife. It is downhill to the road home, but I get off onto a sea wall at the beach. My Washington dream journey began at the beach with the important friend, the powerful black man, in hot pursuit. The sheer drop is as anxiety provoking as the sea was in Washington, but I wave, cheerily to my fellow travelers on the train.
Somehow I negotiate the steep drop and backtrack to the nearest way down to home, impatient once again, and like Odysseus, encounter the hazards of impatience and regression. The entrance to the way down is guarded by a family of crabs. Both my mother and father had died of cancer, the crab, their bones picked clean--another midlife specter. In The Tempest, the spirit Ariel sings:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.

So there is the hope of transformation, a sea change into something rich and strange, in this ordeal. Like in Washington there is the sea, waiting for me—the quantum sea for formless play—on the seashore.

I need a guide through the crab hazard, and when on the sandy way down. Shamanic journeying is often guided by animal spirits, and my dead dog comes to my aid, his spirit too swift for my mortal legs. On Odysseus's return home he was recognized in his beggar disguise by his old dog, dying in the garbage of the suitors, and Dante found animals in the dark wood on his midlife way.

I arrive at home with my wife and child, my Penelope and Telemecus, but again, like Odysseus, there is much work to be done. The house is unassuming, unlike the Porsches I left with the important friend, so at least the grandiosity has been worked on. My childhood home was unassuming, and I would remain there in my journey for many years. The work involves choosing the way as it was up top getting off the train. My wife takes the high road and I the low. I'm not proud. There is an easier way, neither high nor low, neither my wife's nor mine. The woman working behind the house tells me there are many ways. My work is to find mine, as Joseph Campbell described the heroic journey.

This is my first dream, as I began my work with Z, my guide on the midlife journey. The woman in back of the house in my dream is hanging laundry--dirty clothes have been cleaned. More work to be done. My grandmother did the wash when I was a child in my childhood home, and Z is eighty years old. But the woman in the dream is young and attractive with six or seven happy children, a good mother. My grandmother had seven children, and my young attractive mother was the oldest. More work will be necessary in sorting these women out, the "jovenes." More work and play. I am back with the children in my childhood home. I'm not only confused about their identities but my own as well. I tell the woman, "I am very young," in Spanish. It is the regressive way I took by backtracking from the seawall.

When Odysseus returned home he was recognized not only by his old dog but by his childhood maid as she was bathing him and saw his scar. The woman out back in my dream is a washerwoman also. With Z the seawall and crab family lead to the attractive Latin washerwoman. Odysseus would never have faced the underworld without the seductive charm of Circe. There is work as well as play in the underworld.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Midlife Dream Play

It is said that the first half of life belongs to Freud, the second half to Jung. Our first forty years are dedicated to channeling our sexual and aggressive drives to the aims of family, community and economy, heroic efforts--the life instinct versus the death instinct. At midlife the darkness becomes visible as William Styron documented in his account of depression. Lurking in the darkness is all we left behind in our heroic quest, all that detracted from our destiny like the ruins of an earlier civilization buried under the new. For the remainder of life we excavate the buried ruins for the treasures of life's second half. We still fear the darkness but appreciate what can be reclaimed before we ourselves are reclaimed. This is the time for Jung's archetypes of the collective unconscious, the shadow of our heroic ego, our opposite-sex soul or spirit that we have neglected, the mystical which made Freud so uncomfortable.

The darkness also contains the madness that we found overwhelming as vulnerable children in the face of the inevitable traumas of birth and growth. Winnicott believed that our human authenticity hides in that madness and must be recovered, cautiously, when we are ready, no matter how painful the reencounter with the darkness. Winnicott called the madness “creatice chaos”, the area of formless play, the infinite sea of quantum energy out of which reality emerges.

Darkness is reencountered in dream. Both Freud and Jung had midlife dream journeys that resulted in Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams and Jung's encounter with the collective unconscious. Jung described his encounter in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections as a steep descent into a dangerous inferno reminiscent of Dante's midlife journey. For seven years Jung dreamt of Salome, Elijah, Philemon, Ka and other creatures of the lost civilization that embodied spirit and soul as well as madness. But like Odysseus, another midlife voyager, Jung returned from the underworld destined for home and his journey's end.

Shakespeare encountered the darkness in The Tempest and reminded us that "we are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep." Like Jung, Shakespeare envisions a magical old man and soulful young woman, Prospero and Miranda, who guide him through the storm and a reencounter with his madness, to his own vision of home.

Home is in the darkness. It is where we started and where we're going. Home is our madness, both ecstasy and pain. There the opposites reunite that were torn apart in heroic quest. Like Plato's divided creatures we find our missing half in the embrace of Yin and Yang.

Freud was more reluctant than Jung in embracing his missing half at midlife. Perhaps the heroic drive was more compelling, or else the fear of the darkness was stronger, but, for whatever reason, Freud remained, like his hero Moses, excluded from the promised land. Of course, Freud offered the hero Oedipus as his guide in his dream book, another wanderer in the desert longing for the promised land. Both Oedipus and Moses are patriarchal heroes superimposed on the ruins of the matriarchal civilizations buried in the darkness. They are part of the "archaic heritage" that Freud cites for dreams that originate beyond the experience of the dreamer, similar to Jung's collective unconscious.

Just as the mythological heroes who descended to the underworld, Jung had his guides to the collective unconscious in his dream journey. Winnicott calls therapy “two people playing together”, with the therapist as guide as the mother was for the child at play. I had a midlife dream journey with an eighty-year-old woman as my therapist and guide. She was trained by the anthropologists Roheim and was well equipped for my descent into the archaic past. Together we experienced Winnicott’s formless play in midlife transitional space.

The next four posts will explore the phases of my midlife dream journey with my guide: the descent, the quest, illumination, and the ascent, similar to the ones presented at the Mythic Journey workshop at the Washington Association for the Study of Dreams annual conference related in an earlier post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dream Play with the Dead

After the annual conference of The Association for the Study of Dreams in Santa Cruz, I had treatment for my prostate cancer the week of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, and felt under attack myself. At the conference I had told Sven Doerner that I would come to his dream-sharing retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico during Day of the dead festivities the end of October. Local curanderos(healers) participated in the dream sharing and were available for individual healings, which sealed the deal for me.

The retreat was at Sven’s hacienda in the sacred valley of Monte Alban, which my wife and I had explored thirty years earlier. It was like going back to college to get my Triumph Spitfire. Sven’s dream-sharing approach is for the group to reenter a dream hypnagogically as in Jung’s active imagination, intensifying the bodily sensations and “cooking” them alchemically in the retort of the group. The goal is to free blocked or channeling diffuse impulse, especially opposing impulses. Blocked impulse would be earth or body bound, while diffuse would be air-borne, intellectually or spiritually. The alchemical retort of the group is transitional space between body and mind, earth and air, like the water in my Washington dream, a medium of flow versus being stuck or all over the place. Yet another imaginal space for dreamplay, but a living, human space.

After three flights from New York during post-9/11 security, I arrived in Oaxaca after dark and was driven to the hacienda wondering what I had gotten myself into. The next morning the sun lit the bougainvilla outside my window and reassured me.
In the first dream I shared with the group there is a primitive shower with a pull chain which I don’t use. I go out into the hall in my terry cloth bathrobe where my father passes me with his eyes closed as if he doesn’t want to wake up, and he’s wearing a robe like mine. The night before I had placed his watch chain on the alter for dead loved ones who may visit us during the Day of the Dead, and it served its purpose well. He had died of cancer when just a little older than I, and I was determined not to follow him. But my father was no more engaged with me in death than he had been in life. Some in the group wept for me but I remained dry-eyed until someone said, “Pull the chain!” referring to the primitive shower. Once again I was resisting the water, blocking the flow.

The next night I dreamed of two college friends in a dorm room. The larger of the two learns that his father doesn’t love him and acts out self-destructively with alcohol and cars, then dances dangerously on the balcony ledge until he falls. The smaller reluctantly goes to his assistance, taking him in his arms down on the ground. The larger one gets the smaller in a rageful grip until the smaller reassures him, “I can help you.” Next the smaller jumps down from the balcony himself, lands safely on his legs and joins the larger who is waiting with a guitar to make music together.

In sharing the dream I felt the rageful grip and the joy of making music, opposing impulses in the alchemical method. The acknowledgment, “I can help you,” allows the two to make music together rather than act out self-destructively. “The tomb is empty,” one of the local healers said, cryptically.

Later in the week on the Day of the Dead, the group spent the night in a local cemetery, where the townspeople covered the graves with marigolds and lit candles.
That day we built a sweat lodge and purified ourselves for our spirit encounters.

At the end of the week in Oaxaca I had a healing session with the curandero who made the cryptic observation. He felt my prostate cancer was a lower back problem, and I told him the dream image of being draped backwards between the bull’s horns and my back going out afterwards. He said I had undigested anger down there, and, after my dream encounter with the rageful roommate, I had to agree. The healer gave me a limpio or cleansing with sacred water blown from his mouth onto my heart and the back of my neck, and sent me back to New York with baths and pills and a medicine pouch which I carry in my pocket as.

Was it the spirit of my father who visited me in my dream on Day of the Dead, or was it a masochistic Freudian wish fulfillment, a judgemental superego, or a Jungian compensation for my spiritual inflation in the sacred valley of Oaxaca? Perhaps I, the dreamer, was encountering Winnicott’s “not me” other—a ghostly playmate. The encounter did lead to dreamplay the next night with my grief and rage that surfaced in the dream character represented by my college roommate. Our play evolved into music-making, as the grief and rage became song.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Playing With the Divine

During the third annual conference that I attended of the Association for the Study of Dreams, there was a shamanic dream-incubation ceremony. At the previous two conferences, I had been drawn to the shamanic sessions to heal a low-grade prostate cancer and wanted to continue. The dream association is a group of therapists, researchers, teachers and practitioners that provides the communal energy of both intention and attention required for dream incubation.

At the evening ceremony, we chose quartz crystals from the sacred stones and feathers in the center of our circle. I associated crystals with superficial New Age practices and, as we danced to the drum around the circle, having our crystals blessed, I was skeptical, but, like at the previous two conferences, I suspended my disbelief. I maintained my determination as we sat down for the guided visualization in which we wound up at an underground spring to ask our crystal a question to be answered in our dreams that night. We were told that the energy of our crystal would enhance our intent, and out of nowhere came my question, “How can I be faithful?” Then I repeated it slowly, “How can I be faith-full?” Full of faith.

Back in my dormitory room, I held my crystal in my left hand, the receiving hand, as instructed and asked the question three times before holding it under my pillow and closing my eyes. With such intention, my attention didn’t last long as I was immediately bombarded by hypnagogic images and words as soon as my eyes were closed. Where were the words coming from? I wondered in my liminal state. First, I heard “take the 1:30 bus” and recalled that I had signed up for a bus trip to the Field of Dreams, an Indian dig where dreams had led anthropologists to major finds. The next morning I checked the departure time for the bus. It left at 1:30. Next, I heard the words “white light,” which reminded me of the light in my crystals. Then I heard “don’t talk,” and tried to still my racing mind and focus my attention. “Filling stations,” I heard next.

The year before at the conference, I had my first healing dream of going back to college and retrieving my red Triumph Spitfire with old gas, which concerned me. Now I’m told by whomever that to be faith-full I must be a filling station, providing gas for myself and others. I thought of stations of the cross; filling stations are service stations. Recovery programs and spiritual disciplines emphasize selfless service to be faith-full.

Then came the only dream of the night when I drifted off to sleep after the onslaught of hypnagogic answers to my question. In it, I am on a low dock on the beach with a wet, naked woman pressed against my back. I can feel her belly in the small of my back and feel her breasts higher up my back. She feels wonderful, but I wonder if I’m being faithful. At the convention two years before, before I got the prostate cancer diagnosis, I attended my first shamanic journeying session and dreamed that a large black man pursued me and dragged me down to the beach towards the sea. I realized that if I resisted him I would be anally raped in the sand. Now the sea was rewarding me with a healing image, a wet mermaid pressed against my lower back, near my precarious prostate, where the black man had threatened to violate me two years before. I must have been faithful, because my faith was being rewarded.

At 1:30 the next afternoon, I went to find the bus to the Field of Dreams. The leaders of the crystal ceremony the night before joined us to perform a ceremony of atonement with the Indians and their land. I learned that the site was a quarry for stones used in their ceremonies thousands of years ago. Quartz was one of the stones and, fortunately, I had brought along my crystal. It was then I knew the purpose of the words “take the 1:30 bus” from the night before.

Where do those words come from? James Grotstein, in his incredible book Who Is the Dreamer Who Dreams the Dream?, implies that there is an “ineffable subject of the unconscious” who is, in fact, divine. Grotstein offers both a dreamer who dreams and a dreamer who understands -- the ineffable subject and the manifest, personal audience, like the hero and chorus in Greek tragedy.

Freud’s id, the source of primitive desire, possesses the “phylogenic heritage” of mankind, much like Jung’s collective unconscious. Part of our phylogenic heritage is, of course, everything divine, from nature and spirit to a monotheistic God. Jung’s Self is one of the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Both Freud’s id and Jung’s Self, as we mentioned earlier, are possible sources of the words I heard in response to my question “How can I be faith-full?”

The British pediatrician, D.W. Winnicott, observed the play of his young patients and proposed transitional phenomena like play such as creativity and religion, that magical area between what he called the me and the not-me which is neither created nor discovered but emerges like a dream. Winnicott’s not-me could be like Freud’s id and Jung’s Self at play with the ego in transitional space and dream.
Like children’s play, dreams can be curative and instructive, but they are play -- dreamplay. Play can be serious; life and death can be the stakes, but it’s only play, only a dream. Children confront the trauma of otherness and duality in play. Birth can be painful, separation from the divine, a loss of completeness. Play seeks to heal the separation, to reconcile the split and the loss. It is a dance with the divine, which has become alien, utilizing both the concrete and the imaginal and the overlap between the two, the transitional space. There, ego and id or Self, me and not-me, play “on the seashore of endless worlds,” to quote Winnicott and Tagore.

The separation from divinity has resulted in an emphasis on individualism versus the shared myth, ritual and community of the earlier cultures. Individualism has heightened the trauma of otherness and duality and the resulting narcissism and addiction to fill the “God-shaped hole.” While the traditional myths and rituals have faded, dreamplay with the divine remains as a cure for the traumatic separation from the whole.

Freud considered dreams fulfillment of infantile unconscious wishes, which is what play is all about. And, in emerging from the unconscious, the ego finds the id primitive and alien and must heal the split between consciousness and the unconscious with dreamplay. In a similar process, the conscious ego finds Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious, including the Self, alien and overwhelming. Jung’s individuation is a transitional phenomenon achieved through play between the ego and the Self, the me and not-me of Winnicott.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Divine Dream Play

Dreams were once divine. In early Greek and Biblical times, mortals received inspiration, guidance and healing from the divine in their dreams. Before the philosophical and religious establishment became the exclusive voice of the divine, gods and their emissaries intervened nocturnally in the lives of mortals. Those Greeks seeking healing would go to sacred sites of the demigod Asclepius and incubate a dream and wait for a sign from the god that a healing dream was imminent, then retire to the dormitory to be visited by the god or his assistants in dream. At Epidaurus, those assembled would experience the catharsis of tragedy performed in the open amphitheater where the communal chorus would bemoan the fate of heroes. The combination of communal catharsis and divine dream intervention was healing. Then Plato declared that dreams were not divine, just as later Catholic leadership determined that the divine no longer communicated with mortals but was confined to official texts, interpreted by their priests.

Freud, like Plato before him, wanted to rescue dreams from the caprices of the divine and give them a mortal rationale, like the enlightened scientist that he was. Uncomfortable with the irrational divine, Freud gave dreams a human determinism and a personal unconscious source, later called the id, the mysterious “it” that took on the primitive and mythological aspects of the divine, even appropriating the Greek tragedy, seen often at Epidaurus, with its hero Oedipus Rex.
Jung, unlike his mentor Freud, was more comfortable with the mystical, but found the Eastern concept of the Self more acceptable than the Western divinity and gave it the status of Freud’s id or “it.” Just as dreams were the unconscious desires of the id to Freud, they were the Self’s unconscious compensations to the ego’s unbalanced conscious position to Jung. In both cases, dreams are interventions from sources once considered divine.

The Greek tragic hero had the communal chorus for human reflexion and Jung’s conscious ego had the collective unconscious of shared humanity for compensation. Freud’s was a single-person psychology like his science was Newtonian isolated particle physics, while Jung learned from Wolfgang Pauli and quantum theory that no particle is isolated but goes back and forth from the communal mist of potential. Some quantum physicists associate the infinite mist of potential with the divine.
Freud and Jung worked one on one with the dreamer, interpreting the dream, while dream-sharing groups return the isolated ego to the communal that the Greek chorus provided the tragic hero. In a group, the dream is not interpreted but resonated to by the listeners as the Greek chorus did long ago. Montague Ullman has compared dream-sharing groups with the quantum mist of potential interacting with the isolated dreamer.

Greek dream incubation was part of the shamanic tradition that included Tibetan dream yoga, a practice to prepare for the sleep of death, and indigenous dream practices around the world. The quantum mist of potential has been compared to the dreamtime of indigenous cultures, the spirit world from which waking reality is manifest like a particle from the quantum mist.

And what is dream incubation that brings divine intervention to shamanic practitioners like the ancient Greeks? It is a combination of two spiritual practices -- prayer and meditation. Prayer asks for divine intervention and meditation is the receiving state. Prayer requires intention and meditation requires attention, two additional disciplines that involve energy management. First, intention focuses the energy of the request and attention is an attunement to the divine in a receptive mode. Shamanic practices, like Greek tragedy, are communal activities. The divine is summoned ultimately for the good of the group, and the two energy applications, intention and attention, are enhanced by group participation to recreate the mist of infinite potential out of which the manifest emerges from the divine. That’s why the Greeks would gather at sacred sites and participate in performance and incubation communally. The energy at the sacred sites either from the god or from the timeless practices of intention and attention enhanced practices as did the ritual.