Whoosh! Issue 18 - March 1998

Dream Archetypes In DESTINY Scroll
By Carljungus Of Athens

The Unconscious

[4] Good afternoon. Welcome to the third in our series of lectures on the Mind.

[5] It has been said that consciousness is that irritating time between naps. Luckily, we shall not be dealing very much with the conscious mind today. Instead, we shall be dealing with what I call the unconscious. Specifically, we shall be discussing the images that the unconscious presents to us in our dreams.

[6] We can think about the unconscious by using a simple analogy. Imagine that you are in complete and total darkness and standing on a low hill. Imagine, too, that there is a bright area of light at the base of the hill. Everything you can experience through your senses, along with all of your memories and emotions, are in that illuminated area. This lit area is your conscious mind. Outside of this lit area is darkness. We know that there is something there, but we can have no direct experience with anything there whatsoever. This dark area is your unconscious.

Two Forms Of The Unconscious

[7] There are two forms of the unconscious. The first form is the personal unconscious. The personal unconscious is made up of things that are part of one's personal experience, but that one has suppressed. They are things one does not want to know about or has simply forgotten. They are no longer brought to memory, but are part of one's personal experience. The second form is the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is made up of things belonging to us as a species. It is something we all share.

[8] It is important to note that the unconscious is not just below the surface of consciousness, but is literally unknown. Nevertheless, the unconscious does communicate with us. It can communicate with us in stories we write, in art we create, and in the dreams we dream. In fact, the unconscious communicates with us most readily through our dreams.

[9] A dream is a little door to the secret and hidden recesses of the soul. Dreams form one of the most important means by which our unconscious communicates with us. The dream shows the inner truth and reality of the dreamer as it really is; not as one conjectures it to be, and not as one would like it to be, but as it is.

[10] However, the unconscious does not communicate with us in words. There are no words for its version of reality. The unconscious communicates with us in symbols. A symbol is a metaphor for the unconscious truth that lies behind it. A true symbol appears only when there is a need to express what thought cannot think or what is only divined or felt. It is important to understand that such symbols are not mere names or even philosophical concepts. They are pieces of life itself -- images that are integrally connected to the living individual by a bridge of the emotions.

[11] This means that one cannot find the meaning of these symbols in some sort of dream dictionary. You know the sort I mean: "If you dream about turtles, it means that your in-laws will pay you a visit". The true meaning of the dream symbols must be seen in the light of the dreamer's own experiences and personality. They are not pre-defined. Dream symbols are messages specific to the dreamer. The dream is an experience to be lived, to be listened to, and to be applied to the way we live and regard our individual and collective lives.

The Destiny Scroll

[12] Rather than discuss this further, I feel that it would be better to show how all this can be applied by using an actual case study. It would be very difficult to have someone relate their dreams here in public -- some dreams can be quite embarrassing! What we shall do, instead, is examine the symbols in a dream that has been recorded for us.

[13] This dream has been preserved in a recently unearthed scroll of ancient origin. The scroll was written by the bard, Gabrielle, and was discovered a little over a year ago by Lichen of Pirrhea. The scroll, named the Destiny Scroll, is approximately one thousand years old. This is the sixth historical document attributed to Gabrielle. In this scroll, as in the other five, Gabrielle chronicled the life of her warrior-companion, Xena. This is fortunate, since it will allow us to read the dream symbols found in the Destiny Scroll in the context of what we have come to know of Xena's life and personality, little though that may be.

[14] The playwright, Tyldus, has even been instrumental in making the Destiny Scroll into a drama! I know that everyone here is familiar with the story contained there, so I will not dwell on all of its details. My purpose here is to examine Xena's dream and discuss its many symbols.

[15] One might ask how much of this dream is actually a replaying of events from Xena's memory. That, of course, is impossible to answer. Many, even most, of the characters and events in Xena's dream might well come out of her own memory. However, we shall see that her unconscious mind has wrapped her memories up in a package of symbols. Our purpose here is to identify these symbols and then interpret their personal meaning for Xena.

Before The Dream

It was the best of times...it was the worst of times...

Everything of backstory consequence happened 10 years ago, regardless of the episode.

[16] As Gabrielle's narrative begins, three incidents occur that caused deep stirrings in Xena's unconscious. In the first such incident, we find Xena and Gabrielle visiting the village of Cirra. Cirra had apparently been laid to waste years earlier by Xena and her army, who killed nearly every man, woman, and child in the process. Xena tells Gabrielle that she needs to visit this place to understand, "Why I was who I was, and how I can ever atone". As she walks through the ruined village, she has a waking dream. Xena sees the image of a young blond girl. The girl mouths the single word, "Why"?

[17] Whether this image is that of someone she remembers from Cirra, or represents the many orphans Xena and her army created, I cannot tell. It is very clear, however, that this visit awakened deep feelings in Xena.

[18] The second incident to note was Xena and Gabrielle's rescue of some travelers who were being attacked by a group of bandits. The bandits called themselves the Children of the Sun. The rescue itself is not the important thing here. What is important is the fact that Xena seems to have recognized a pendant worn by the one of the travelers. We shall discuss this pendant in some detail later.

[19] The third such incident was an invocation given by the bandit chief. The chief prayed to the Lord of the Moon to grant him a sign. Xena witnessed this invocation. We cannot know who or what the Lord of the Moon meant to the bandits, since we are not told where they were from. For Xena, however, the Lord of the Moon would mean only one thing: the goddess, Artemis.

[20] As we discussed yesterday, Artemis is an archetype. That is, she is the symbolic representation of a universal motif from our collective unconscious. Specifically, Artemis is metaphoric of the Amazon shamaness, the adventuress, the huntress. She is independent, a feminist, and a competitor. In her most general sense, Artemis represents the mature feminine principle that understands how to caretake, yet maintains a balance within herself. In Ephesus, where her cult has been strongest, Artemis is a mother to all life. All wild animals are sacred to her, but especially the deer. We shall be seeing more on this theme later.

[21] By the way, when I use the term "feminine", I do not mean it as reference to commonly accepted modes of dress, speech, or action. I am referring, instead, to the unconscious, instinctive attributes associated with being a woman.

[22] In the course of the rescue, Xena receives a serious blow. She begins to hallucinate -- to dream. Dreams of this sort, which I call "big dreams" ?can be especially meaningful. Big dreams are those that tend to occur in people who are in great suffering or near death. Xena is clearly both. Fortunately for us, Xena later recounted this dream to Gabrielle, who recorded it in exquisite detail. We shall now turn our attention to Gabrielle's transcription. I shall intersperse my commentary on the dream symbols as we go.

[23] The first part of the dream is Xena's unconscious' answer to her question, "Why was I who I was"? It is important to note that things could not have happened to Xena literally as they did in the dream. If they had, she certainly would have known what had happened, and she would have had no reason to ask her question at Cirra! Instead, the answer comes to her in the form of her dream's many symbols.

The Warrior Princess

And I thought Joxer clanked when he walked!

Xena had more sensible, if perhaps less attractive, attire back then.

[24] As Xena starts her dream, she recalls her sack of Neopolotis. She is dressed in fine blue linens and silks. She also wears a scale armor breastplate and cloak of gold.

[25] When the dreamer herself appears in a dream, she generally represents only her conscious ego. "Ego" is what one usually means when one says, "I". The ego is the subject of one's consciousness -- the sum total of the physical sensations, memories, and emotions one experiences in one's conscious life, hence the term "ego-consciousness". The other figures appearing in such a dream represent the dreamer's more or less unknown, unconscious qualities.

[26] Xena is dressed in blue and gold. Blue is the traditional color of the celestial cloak -- the sky that oversees the earth below. Gold is the color of royalty. Xena sees herself as one who is overseeing, that is, protecting, Amphipolis. The armor establishes her as a warrior. The gold armor and cloak show her in the image of a queen or princess. She is dressed, in other words, as a Warrior Queen or Warrior Princess who has taken on the role of the Protector of Amphipolis.

The Animus

George Clooney wannabe.

Caesar, Julius Caesar.

[27] One of Xena's soldiers brings a male captive to her. This prisoner possesses great nobility and bearing. He is dressed as a warrior. His goal is to rule the world.

[28] This man is Xena's animus. An animus is the personification of the masculine nature of a woman's unconscious, just as the anima is the personification of the feminine nature of a man's. Everyone is born of a man and a woman. Therefore, every woman must, to some degree, be possessed of a masculine nature; similarly, every man must be possessed of the feminine. As regulators of behavior, they are two of the most influential archetypes.

[29] As an aside, the dramatist Tyldus embodied the animus in the character of Julius Caesar. Personifying the animus as Caesar makes for good drama.

[30] One of Xena's soldiers attempts to kill the animus. Xena stays his hand. Her plan is to ransom the animus. She will sell him for 20,000 dinars. He claims that he is worth five times that amount. Xena believes him.

[31] Xena sees great value in her animus (the personification of her masculine nature). Her animus sees even greater value in himself. Nevertheless, Xena is willing to sell away the powers represented by her animus for the treasure they will bring.

The Seduction

Want to peel me some grapes, big boy?

Xena likes Caesar's confidence and style.

[32] As the dream progresses, Xena's fascination with the animus grows. She listens intently as he speaks of destiny. She is seduced by the power of his words. She sees great potential in their joining forces. She wants to be a partner in his plan to rule the world.

[33] Xena plans a seduction of her own. The tools of her seduction, however, are not words. The only tool she plans to use is herself. In the seduction sequence of the dream, Xena and the animus walk slowly around each other in a circle, reminiscent of primitive courtship dances. However, each stays at opposite ends of the circle. They are, in other words, diametrically opposed to each other -- at least, at first.

[34] During this dance, Xena explains (or rationalizes) to the animus how she started out on her career. She began by defending her hometown of Amphipolis. She then extended her dominion to the neighboring provinces in order to create a buffer zone of protection around her home.

[35] The animus stops his "dance" and tells Xena of his goal to achieve greatness (as opposed to mere power). His words further seduce Xena to join with him. Xena moves into the circle toward the animus. She tells him of her desire to join forces. She and the animus join physically, if not emotionally. Xena believes that her plan has worked. She thinks that she has seduced the animus. However, it is the animus who has seduced Xena!

[36] A woman's father influences her animus, just as a man's mother influences his anima. We can expect, therefore, that Xena saw her father as a powerful figure whom she admired. He was a man she valued greatly, but who valued himself even more. Nevertheless, she liked what he represented, and wanted to be a partner in his life. This is not to say that the animus is her father. It only means that many of the father's characteristics are bound up in Xena's unconscious projection of her animus.

[37] The circle (the circle of their "dance") is a universal symbol from the collective unconscious. The circle is a symbol of the Self. The Self is the organizing center of one's psychic system. It expresses the totality of the psyche in all of its aspects. We Greeks have called it our inner daimon. In Egypt, it has been expressed as the concept of the Ba-soul. The ego, as we discussed earlier, is only a small part of the total psyche. At the start of the circle-dance, Xena and the animus are on opposite ends from each other. However, as the animus' words further seduce her, Xena moves into the circle to join with this personification of her masculine nature.

[38] Xena's animus is archetypal of the "dynamic masculine" pattern of her personality. In its positive aspect, the dynamic masculine is expressed in initiative and action directed toward a goal. In this aspect, the dynamic masculine is the Hero, the master, and the conqueror in service of the individual. In its negative aspect, however, the dynamic masculine takes form in its excesses. The dynamic masculine's creative thrust is now perverted into destructiveness and violence. This is the Hero gone mad!

The Sea And The Ship

The sail material came from the couch of the key grip.

In real life, the "Xena" ship is affectionately known as "Rob's Folly". Note there are several Robs involved in the show.

[39] Early on in the dream, Xena finds that she is on a ship. She and the animus are soon at sea.

[40] Water is an important dream symbol. When dreamers are in water, it is most often a sign that the dreamer has entered a world away from the "hard ground" of conscious reality and has entered the fluid realm of the unconscious. Xena, however, is not in the water. She is aboard her ship, separating herself from the murky depths of her unconscious.

[41] The ship is described for us in detail -- even to the crow's nests near the top of the two masts. The ship, we are told, has painted eyes and a beak on its prow. (Tyldus transformed the beak into a ram.) The two sails are triangular and wing-like.

[42] Perhaps Xena actually used a ship to transport herself and her soldiers. However, the symbols expressed in her dream tell us more. Conspicuous in its absence is a feature that would be essential for such a vessel: oars. Without oars to drive it forward, a ship has no use for a ramming device! We can be sure, therefore, that the ship has symbolic meaning beyond its image as a ship of war. Without oars, Xena's vessel flies over the sea powered only by the wind in its sails -- its wings!

[43] With its eyes, beak, and wing-like sails, the symbol being expressed by Xena's ship is that of the dragon. [Translator's note: the term in Carljungus' original text is "drakon". "Drakon" means "feathered serpent", and is translated here as, "dragon".] In mythology, we often see that the hero must fight a dragon, which represents the opposition that must be overcome in order for the hero's quest to be successful. The dragon-symbol guards a treasure of great value. By overcoming the dragon, the hero gains the treasure for herself. This is the heroic confrontation with the dragon (which represents the forces of the unconscious) for the sake of achieving its treasure (fully realized self-hood).

[44] In myths, the hero is the one who conquers the dragon. In addition, she who has never met the dragon, or who, if once she saw it, declares that she saw nothing, is no hero. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it, wins the treasure.

[45] In Xena's dream, she does not do battle with the dragon. In fact, Xena does not even see the dragon! Instead, she sees only a ship. She rides the ship (the dragon) over the waters of her unconscious, keeping safely away from its depths. Furthermore, although the dragon still guards a treasure (the treasure that is stored in its belly -- that is, the ship's hold), she does not realize its true value.

[46] All of the earlier animus seductions take place while riding Xena's dragon-ship.

The Teacher

Notice how the ram's horns accentuate my breasts nicely?

Being a teacher of Xena is like being a boyfriend of Gabrielle -- it shortens the life span.

[47] A new dream symbol is soon introduced in the form of a young woman. The woman is discovered on deck, and she proceeds to beat off all those who try to capture her. She kills one of Xena's men, and even paralyzes Xena's right leg in the process. The young woman, M'Lila, exhibits skills Xena has never seen before. Xena is fascinated. It is only through Xena's own efforts that M'Lila is finally overcome.

[48] M'Lila is brought before Xena, but she speaks a language that Xena cannot understand. However, Xena's animus, who has been watching all of this, can understand the language and translates for Xena. The animus must act as an intermediary to allow easy communication to occur between Xena and M'Lila.

[49] M'Lila is symbolic of the teacher or tutelary figure. The teacher-symbol is common in mythology, which has as its base, the archetypes of the collective unconscious. In many of these stories, the early weakness of the hero is balanced by the appearance of a strong figure who enables the hero to perform the superhuman tasks that s/he cannot accomplish unaided. As we understand now, these tutelary figures are symbolic of the powers resident in the hero's unconscious -- powers that are brought to action to aid the hero in time of need. Theseus had Poseidon; Perseus had Athena. These tutelary figures do not have to be represented as gods or goddesses. For example, Achilles had Cheiron, the wise centaur, as his tutor. Xena had M'Lila.

[50] The fact that both the animus and M'Lila speak the same language represents the fact that both come from the same place: Xena's unconscious. That Xena does not understand M'Lila's language is to be expected. Much of what she will see and experience in her dream is symbolic of the forces active in her personal and collective unconscious. These symbols require an interpretation transcendent of literal meaning and language.

The North

[51] In addition to her unique fighting skills and strange language, there are a number of very important symbols associated with M'Lila. The first is that she is a runaway slave from the North. (Tyldus, in keeping with his "Caesar" theme, represents this by having M'Lila be a runaway slave who has been captured by the Celts of Gaul).

[52] "The North" is symbolic of the unknown land. The sun rises in the East, continues overhead into the Southern sky, and sets in the West. It then passes under the world in "The North" to be born again in the East. In many primitive myths, the hero is told that it will be safe to travel to the East, South, or West. The hero must not, however, travel North, for that is where the monsters live. Of course, the hero, being the hero, travels North to overcome the monsters that live there.

[53] This unknown land, represented symbolically by "The North", is another representation of one's unconscious. It is in the unconscious that the monsters live. These monsters represent the instinctive forces that every one of us must confront if we are to live and grow as individuals and as members of society. In confronting these forces, one comes to terms with them, makes them positive, and gains the treasure (fully realized self-hood). Having M'Lila come from "The North" is, of course, symbolic of having M'Lila come out of Xena's unconscious. M'Lila is here to instruct Xena in how to confront her own monsters as a natural part of her personal growth and in her coming to terms with her Self.

[54] M'Lila started these lessons with Xena as soon as they met. Remember when M'Lila paralyzed Xena's right leg? In the history of symbolism, the right side generally represents the realm of consciousness; the left, the unconscious. M'Lila, in paralyzing the right leg, is disabling Xena's consciousness -- the thinking part of the Self. By leaving the left side untouched, M'Lila is telling Xena that she must open herself up to the realm of the instinctive forces that reside in her unconscious so that she can confront them, and make them a positive force in her life.

The Land Of The Pharaohs

[55] We are also told that M'Lila came originally from the Land of the Pharaohs -- Egypt.

[56] The ancient religion of Egypt has had a long fascination with the idea of death and rebirth -- a fact that would not have been lost on Xena's personal unconscious. As Xena's tutor, M'Lila's goal is to have Xena "die" to her ego-consciousness and be reborn.

The Pendant

I need me lucky charms!

M'Lila's Pendant. Does it remind you of someone's breasts, er, we mean breastplate?

[57] M'Lila wears a pendant like the ones worn by the travelers Xena and Gabrielle rescued. The pendant is in the form of a cross with four equal branches emanating from its center. At the end of each branch is a spiral design.

[58] M'Lila's pendant is another of her important symbols. Xena saw the same pendant worn by the travelers whom she and Gabrielle rescued. Did Xena have a real-life teacher who wore such a pendant? Did the symbol on the pendant awaken something in Xena's personal unconscious that she associated with the dream-M'Lila? Since Xena is unavailable for clarification, I am afraid that we cannot come to a conclusive answers on these questions.

[59] The pendant's equilateral cross, with its implied circumscribed circle (representing the Self), is seen as a means of psychic orientation. In particular, the four parts of the cross may be seen as representative of the four functions of consciousness -- thought, feeling, intuition, and sensation. These functions equip one to deal with the impressions of the world that one receives from within and without. This is only one application of the "Quaternity of the Mandala". We shall discuss this powerful symbol in detail during tomorrow's session.

[60] The spiral at each of the corners of the cross is symbolic of the winding path one must take to achieve one's goal, located at the spiral's center. (This is analogous to the healing, spiraled serpent of Aesculapius.) The goal to be achieved in this case is the proper balance in life of the four functions of consciousness that emanate from the cross' center. The cross' center, by the way, is another symbolic form of the unconscious.

[61] Xena takes the pendant from M'Lila.

[62] This tells us that Xena first impulse was to take this symbol -- and all it represents -- for herself.

[63] In later dream sequences, M'Lila is described as again wearing the pendant. Xena, however, never sees herself wearing it.

[64] This shows us that Xena saw the M'Lila-teacher as the ultimate holder of the special powers symbolized by the pendant, and that Xena was not yet able or willing to take that mantle on herself.

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