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Communicate with dream images, don't interpret them

(Artist: Agostino Arrivabene)

When you catch a glimpse of an owl, how do you respond? Do you think, "Ah, that represents my wisdom"? Or do you simply enjoy and stay present with the owl?

When you travel in a foreign country, do you make up language translations or ascribe your own meanings to customs you don't understand?


Why then do most of us have such colonialist attitudes when encountering our own dream figures?

In this talk James Hillman discusses the importance of observation and responsiveness rather than interpretation when encountering dreams.

"The phenomenologist of the psyche is also the naturalist of the psyche: watching the way it produces what it produces. I might see the ants [in my dream] suddenly eating each other up. It's no use saying this is a destructive scene that's happening. I have to wonder about purposefulness too. Let's watch. Maybe the psyche is taking care of the problem by itself. We don't know in advance. We have to stick with the image; stay in the imagination. 'Oh oh! They just starting crawling up my legs! I'm going crazy!' (That's that fear, you know.)

Now the image is vividly coming to life. Still, stay with it. What is your reaction? I can brush them off...I can get a dish of honey to attract them elsewhere. I can sing them an ant song. You see I can do something in relationship to the actual thing that is happening. But what I won't do is interpret the ants. "


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