Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

i meet the animus…

“I am driving a car.  I look over and there is a man in the passenger seat.  He is explaining something to me.  Calmly, he reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a gun.  He points it at my head and says, “I’m going to kill you.”  I don’t react at all, like it makes sense to me.”
In archetypal dreamwork we consider certain dream characters to be archetypes, energies that can carry the intention of the dream. Two principal archetypes are the Animus and Anima, male and female presences, divine presences if you’re okay with that language. Archetypes may come as people or even animals, all helping to deliver the dream’s message.  They may come in a way that is loving and supportive or they may challenge and provoke us, as shown in this dream, a man with a gun to my head. Either way it is what we need in the moment to understand ways we have lost connection to our true self. 
I came into session really pleased with this dream.  Here I am with a gun pointed to my head and I stay calm…such equanimity.  All the stories of Zen masters who looked death calmly in the eye, who made peace with the tiger who would eat them…wouldn’t they be proud of me.  So when Rodger said that this was an another example of how I am shut off from feeling, not being in my body, it shook me up.  Here I am with a gun to my head and I don’t react at all. I’m still in the driver’s seat, the one in control. The Animus is coming to show me how even faced with death, I am numb, anesthetized, mistaking that for some kind of enlightened state. Who wouldn’t be afraid with a gun to their head? Who wouldn’t be in awe and fear in the presence of an archetypal figure?…the me that is shut down to feeling. Rodger had me close my eyes and really feel into the moment, to truly believe that I was going to be shot in the head.  It took a while but I finally felt my insides turn to liquid, an embodied visceral reaction…for a brief moment I was in my body and not in my mind…but it didn’t last. 
Homework: Feel the black revolver against my head.  Believe he is going to kill me. Feel that.
I worked with my homework, feeling several times an hour into this moment.  Sometimes I could just touch my fear but most times I went to a quiet place, my serene self. Why was this so difficult? After two days, I truly began to wonder about my lack of capacity for feeling.  My childhood experience was full of fear; maybe I was de-sensitized.  Was my fear factor fried?  As a girl I learned to postpone difficult feelings, especially fear.  I would tell myself that I could feel my fear but would have to wait 15 minutes.  By then it would usually subside.  I became very skilled at postponing all rising feelings. As a young teen I was inspired further to manage my fear with Victor Frankl’s statement in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” when he spoke about his Auschwitz experience. To paraphrase, one cannot choose or control all life’s situations; however, the one freedom left to us is in choosing our attitude about the situation.  That teaching became the core of my being and when confronted with life’s difficulties that is where I went.  In a given moment, a difficult feeling would rise, but quickly, very quickly, I moved to a more efficacious frame of mind, one that bypassed that feeling. To exacerbate all this, almost 40 years of meditation practice, teachings of emptiness, non-attachment, selflessness and yes, fearlessness.  In meditation we are taught ‘skillful means,’ to be present, accept and then transform life’s pains and sorrows.  Rodger mentioned peeling an onion, layer by layer, to get to the feeling underneath; there is the peeling of the onion in meditation training as well, but when we arrive at center, it is empty!  He suggested that I may have even been attracted to Frankl and Buddhist practices as they offered me a way to avoid these feelings. So this is not about meditation, perhaps my misuse or misunderstanding of it. I continue my meditation practice, though now it now supports me to stay with a feeling as it arises, to truly feel it as it moves through me. The dreams are telling me the truth. In order to survive I had learned to shut down, not feel fear, pain, other difficult emotions. So what is this all about, the dream’s desire that I feel, including a return to difficult feelings such as fear and pain? What is to be gained from that?  To be continued….

Mary Jo Heyen
Archetypal Dreamwork Practitioner
Dream sessions in person, via Skype or on the phone

1 thought on “i meet the animus…”

  1. What you describe is the beauty and the bedrock of the dreamwork–we are loved, loved so deeply, and our dreams constantly reveal that to us. Thanks for this. I love the wallpaper/background you chose too!Tracy

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