Whoosh! Issue 18 - March 1998

Dream Archetypes In DESTINY Scroll
By Carljungus Of Athens


[65] There is yet another symbol associated with M'Lila in the dream. Upon M'Lila's tunic is a stylized representation of a stag's head.

[66] This image might have been a transfer of symbols first awakened by the bandit leader's invocation to the Lord of the Moon. Xena would have recognized this invocation as a call to Artemis.

[67] M'Lila wears the image of the stag, Artemis' most sacred animal. This tells us that Xena's unconscious has transferred the symbolic characteristics of the archetypal Artemis (that she is the Amazon shamaness, the adventuress, the caretaker, etc.) to M'Lila. It might also be that M'Lila is symbolic of Artemis herself. In either case, since M'Lila is Xena's teacher-symbol, Xena's unconscious is telling her that these characteristics of Artemis also need to end up being transferred to Xena herself.

[68] We have found descriptions of Xena's armor in some of Gabrielle's other scrolls. In these, Gabrielle describes the ornamentation on Xena's breastplate. The ornamentation turns out to be a slight variation of the design on M'Lila's tunic. This indicates that here, at least, Xena had taken the lead from her unconscious. She took on part the mantle of Artemis. As I said earlier, Artemis is archetypal of the Caretaker. Xena also saw herself as a caretaker in her role as Protector of Amphipolis. Xena, however, was not yet able to maintain Artemis' inner balance, as we shall see in the conflicts that arise later in her dream.

[69] The question might be asked as to whether Xena's unconscious caused her to choose the stag/Artemis symbol for her breastplate, or whether her choice caused her unconscious to assign the symbol to M'Lila. Cause and effect have little meaning when dealing with the relationships that exist between the conscious and the unconscious. One can go around and around playing this chicken-and-egg game. It is enough to note that the relationship existed, and has been manifested in Xena's dream with an association to the powerful M'Lila figure.

The Ransom

[70] Shortly after Xena's seduction dream sequence, she finds herself again on dry land. She is running her fingers through a pile of treasure -- the ransom paid for her animus. The last piece of treasure in her hand is a bracelet of four crystals.

[71] In many dreams, the Self also appears as a crystal. Xena is holding not just her ransom treasure, but her Self in her hands as part of the price paid for her animus. The fact that there are four separate crystals symbolizes the fact that Xena has not achieved the integration and balance symbolized by M'Lila's pendant and implicit in her stag/Artemis symbol.

[72] Xena continues to insist that she wants to join with the animus, but she takes the treasure anyway. As they part, the animus tells Xena to go. He promises he will find her.

[73] Xena wants to have her cake and eat it too. She thinks that she can sell her masculine nature, gaining her Self (remember the crystals?) in the process. Additionally, she expects to have the characteristics symbolized by her animus return to her later. It does not work that way. As we shall see, this treasure was not yet hers to keep.

Encounter With The Waters Of The Unconscious

Maybe they'll ask ME to sing the national anthem now.

M'Lila is adept at singing Celtic songs not written for several hundred years to come.

[74] In the next dream sequence, Xena sees her dragon-ship sailing through the water. It is driven on, it seems, by M'Lila's song. Xena also describes that she saw beasts frolicking down below the water's surface -- the waters of her unconscious mind. Then a strange thing happens. Xena looks at the ship's bow. It has changed. The ship no longer has the eyes or beak that it had before. For that moment, the ship is no longer the dragon. Then suddenly, it is all back as it was before.

[75] Xena's toying with the forces of her unconscious is reaching a climax. The scenes of her in the water tell us that the full powers of her unconscious will no longer allow themselves to be separated from Xena's ego any longer. When Xena sees her ship change, it is a premonition of changes coming on the horizon. She does not yet know what these changes will be. She will find out very soon.

The Animus Returns

[76] The animus' ship is sighted. M'Lila tries desperately to warn Xena off, but to no avail. Instead, Xena welcomes the animus aboard her own ship. Suddenly, the animus' soldiers appear and attack Xena's men. Many of Xena's men are killed. The rest, including Xena, are captured.

[77] As it happens in this dream, the animus often appears as a group of men (the soldiers). In this way, the unconscious symbolizes the fact that the animus represents a collective rather than a personal element. Greater powers of the unconscious are now at work.

Xena's Crucifixion

You know, Xena, I thought you were much bigger.

Xena survived her crucifixion but remained crippled until Lao Ma healed her much later.

[78] Xena has been betrayed. The captives are crucified, Xena included. Additionally, the animus orders that Xena's legs be broken.

[79] If we remember that the animus is also linked to her father, we should expect that Xena felt her own father had betrayed her somehow. Xena's conflict with her father, however, still allowed the possibility of her leading an instinctive, feminine existence. However, when a woman fights against the mother, the woman may be at risk of injury to her instincts, because in repudiating the mother, she repudiates all that is obscure, instinctive, ambiguous, and unconscious in her own nature. We can therefore also expect that Xena either rejected or was rejected by her mother at some time in her past. It is unfortunate that none of the other five Xena Scrolls speaks of Xena's father or mother, so it's impossible for us to draw any specific conclusions about what form his betrayal or her rejection took.

[80] Crucifixion is a particularly gruesome and humiliating death. It has long been a common practice among the Persians, Egyptians, Carthaginians, and Romans. (The last case plays nicely into Tyldus' portrayal of the animus as Caesar).

[81] Xena's dream-choice of such a death indicates that her unconscious was telling her that she was guilty of a heinous crime that deserved terrible retribution. Her crime was hubris -- the sin of pride. Xena chose to believe that her destiny lay in the direction of power and conquest, although the symbols associated with her tutelary figure (M'Lila) said otherwise.

[82] Some part of Xena's unconscious became judge and executioner. Xena's penalty for her sin is a long and painful death. Her ego has been broken on the cross.

Xena's Rescue

[83] M'Lila suddenly comes to Xena's rescue. She defeats the guards, and cuts Xena down from the cross. M'Lila whistles, and a magnificent horse comes to their aid.

[84] M'Lila's appearance with a horse that comes at her call could not have been possible in real life since M'Lila had only just escaped the animus' attack herself. The horse, therefore, must be another dream symbol. Horses often symbolize the instinctive drives that can erupt from the unconscious. If the horse had been wild, it would have symbolized instinctive drives that have gotten away from conscious control. This horse, however, has a saddle and bridle, and comes at M'Lila's bidding. This tells us that Xena's instinctive drives have been brought under control, but that they are only under the control of the M'Lila-teacher figure, and not Xena.

[85] With M'Lila's return, all of the positive forces reappear.

[86] M'Lila brings Xena to a healer. The healer dresses Xena's wounds and then sets and splints her broken legs. The healer speaks the same language as M'Lila.

[87] Since M'Lila and the healer speak the same language, they are symbolically linked. They are both representatives of tutelary figures needed by Xena to provide help for her psychological weakness.

The Battle

Uh...Xena...this wasn't what I meant when I said 'blood sister'.

M'Lila takes an arrow for Xena.

[88] Soldiers, sent by the animus, break into the healer's lodge. Xena fights with them, her broken legs showing few signs of damage. One of the soldiers shoots an arrow meant for Xena. M'Lila throws herself between Xena and the oncoming arrow, and is killed. Xena, in a rage, kills all of the soldiers. As she kills the last soldier, she exclaims, "The new Xena is born tonight with a new purpose in life -- death".

[89] The battle between Xena's negative animus and her positive tutelary figure (M'Lila) for Xena's soul has come to a climax. Having her legs healed means that Xena's ego-consciousness, which had been broken on the cross, has been partially restored through the efforts of her tutelary figures.

[90] With M'Lila's death, Xena's drive to power, as represented in her negative animus, has destroyed all of the positive, instinctive traits projected by her unconscious into the M'Lila figure. That is, the lure of greatness and power, as seen in Xena's seduction by her animus, coupled with her father's betrayal and her mother's rejection, have destroyed Xena's unconscious, positive attributes that have been exemplified in M'Lila.

[91] In killing the animus' soldiers, Xena has moved away from the positive and toward the negative aspect of what I call the "static feminine" of her personality. The positive aspect of the static feminine is archetypal of the nurturing Great Mother. Xena had personified this archetype in her general role of Protector of Amphipolis (and her partial identification with Artemis). However, in its negative aspect, the static feminine is indifferent to the fate of the individual as it ceaselessly creates, nurtures, destroys, and devours. This is the image of the Devouring Mother.

Why I Was Who I Was

[92] It might seem that when Xena (that is, her ego consciousness) kills the animus' soldiers, she is rejecting what the animus represents. Not so. By killing the animus' soldiers (a form of initiation), she has destroyed her unconscious projection of power and has absorbed and concretized it into her ego consciousness. Xena ends her first dream initiation through a type of death and rebirth. The positive, instinctive forces of her unconscious, symbolized in M'Lila, have died, and Xena's ego-consciousness has been reborn as the Devouring Mother. This is what Xena meant when she proclaimed that, "the new Xena is born tonight".

[93] Gabrielle tells us that this is also the moment of Xena's physical death (actually, a near-death experience) from the wounds sustained while fighting the bandits. It is appropriate, and quite symbolic, that we mark the simultaneous death of both Xena's body and of the positive, instinctive aspects of her psyche. Such events are what I call "synchronistic". These are events that are meaningfully coincidental, but have no precise cause-and-effect relationship to each other. These coincidences cannot be explained by causality. They seem instead to be connected primarily with activated archetypal processes in the unconscious.

[94] What we have witnessed so far in Xena's dream is her unconscious' playing out of the answer to the first question she asked at Cirra: Why was I who I was? Xena's unconscious has given her the answer through the symbols in her dream. The reason she became what she was is not because Xena was betrayed by a man who felt himself destined to rule the world, and who then caused the death of a newfound friend. This would be a literal reading of the dream's symbols. Remember, if things had happened to Xena literally as they did in the dream, she would have had no reason to ask this question in the first place. She would already have known the answer long before her visit to Cirra!

[95] We need to look past the literal dream images and ask what these images meant -- that is, what is the meaning behind what Xena's unconscious was trying to say? The dream tells us this: Xena became what she was because she consciously rejected the positive, balancing forces alive in her unconscious. This rejection was symbolized in the killing of M'Lila by the forces of ambition and power. Xena, instead, was seduced by her own ambition, and she chose to identify with power, death, and destruction!

[96] In the next part of Xena's dream, her unconscious answers the second part of her question: How can I ever atone?

The Wasteland

M'Lila needs to cut down on the carbonated beverages.

Special effects rose to meet the challenge of limbo in DESTINY.

[97] Xena finds herself tied to a cross in a burning wasteland. Images from her past drift around her. M'Lila appears, dressed in blue. She is no longer wearing her stag tunic. M'Lila still wears her pendant. Now, when M'Lila speaks to Xena through her thoughts, Xena can understand her.

[98] M'Lila tells Xena that she has a destiny, and it is hers to choose. Xena admits (confesses) that she did choose her destiny, and she chose evil. M'Lila tells Xena, "Now that you know evil, were evil, you can fight evil". Xena hears Gabrielle's voice reminding her of the friendship and love they share. Gabrielle's voice says, "The world needs you. I need you". Xena tells M'Lila that she has to go back. Xena bows her head, dies, and the dream ends.

[99] Xena's unconscious has placed her (that is, her ego-consciousness) back on her cross. The wasteland in which she finds herself is the wasteland of her inauthentic former life -- the life in which the proper balance between her ego-consciousness and the instinctive forces of her unconscious has gone unachieved.

[100] M'Lila is dressed in blue. This symbolizes that M'Lila is entering her dialogue with Xena dressed in the celestial blue of the Protector. M'Lila is simply telling Xena what she needs to do to finally achieve psychic balance. Since M'Lila is no longer wearing her stag/Artemis tunic, she is saying that Xena's relationship to Artemis is not currently an issue in answering Xena's question of, "What must I do to atone"? Other matters need to be addressed first.

[101] It is now simply a matter of whether Xena can understand what it is that M'Lila is saying. If Xena interprets M'Lila's words, "Now that you know evil, were evil, you can fight evil," simply as "You were bad, now be nice," then Xena has missed the point!

What Must I Do To Atone?

[102] So, what is the point? Xena's unconscious is telling her that her goal must be to refocus her ego-consciousness. Xena had come to know two evils. First, there was the evil that she experienced in her external, consciousness-focused world. M'Lila's charge to Xena in this context is that she must be a champion in the fight against evil in a land in turmoil. She needs to use her skill, knowledge, and experience to help put down the warlords, bandits, and other generally bad individuals that are running rampant. That, however, is not all that M'Lila meant.

[103] The symbols in Xena's dream were inwardly focused. The dream tells us that Xena had also internalized her own evil. This is the second evil she must fight. She must also fight the evil alive in her internal, unconscious world. Xena needs to confront her personal dragon and gain its treasure, namely fully realized self-hood. In other words, no matter how many warlords she defeats, Xena is not a hero -- that is, she has not atoned -- until she conquers the demons -- the evil -- in herself. When I say, "hero", I do not mean the "isn't she great; let's put scenes from her life on an urn", sort of hero. By "hero", I mean the hero potential that is alive in all of us.

[104] I believe that it was the philosopher Nicce who remarked, "Beware lest in casting out your demons you cast out the best thing that is in you". What Nicce meant was that one needs to be careful lest that when one confronts one's demons, one simply destroys them. There is a danger in destroying the unconscious forces that give one one's psychic vitality. What one must do, instead, is confront these demons and make them positive forces in the psyche. We can use a simple example to explain what I mean when I say that Xena needs to conquer her inner demons.

[105] Suppose that one of Xena's inner demons is stubbornness. (It is a small demon, granted, but you have to start somewhere)! When Xena confronts this particular demon, she needs to turn it from its negative to its positive aspect. The positive aspect of stubbornness is tenacity. By confronting and transforming this demon from stubbornness to tenacity, Xena will have turned a negative psychic force into something positive and supporting.

[106] Of course, stubbornness is probably the least of the demons Xena will need to confront from her past! There are plenty of far more terrible demons for Xena to deal with if she is to achieve self-hood. One of Xena's greatest demons is something I call her Shadow. The Shadow personifies everything we do not wish to acknowledge about ourselves. According to another of Gabrielle's scrolls, Xena may already have encountered and battled her shadow-self in another dream. This would have been a great and positive step in the right direction.

[107] Xena's confession and dream-death on her cross represent her acceptance of M'Lila's lessons. This was Xena's second dream initiation. Xena's ego has died to the old, and needs to be born anew.


Xena! Now I have to buy ANOTHER black dress!

Gabrielle frets over Xena, not for the last time, at the conclusion of DESTINY.

[108] The old focus of Xena's ego-consciousness had been the external world of power, glory, death, and destruction. If she is ever to grow, her new focus must begin with the conscious realization of her unique psychological reality, including both her strengths and her limitations. Xena needs to become a psychological "in-dividual", that is, a separate, indivisible unity or whole. I use the term "individuation" to denote this process of change and growth.

[109] The actual processes of individuation -- the conscious coming-to-terms with one's own inner center or Self -- generally begins with a wounding of the personality and the suffering that accompanies it. This initial shock amounts to a sort of "call". Xena, according one of Gabrielle's other scrolls, seems to have experienced such a call through some events that involved an encounter with Herakles. We are not told what form these events took, only that they caused Xena to experience an accelerated maturation toward independence and personal responsibility.

[110] Gabrielle also describes Xena's occasional bouts with self-doubt, as well as some near lapses back to her earlier life. It seems that, at the time the Destiny Scroll was written, Xena had not yet completed her process of individuation that started with her encounter with Herakles. The question, of course, is whether Xena was later able to apply the lessons learned through the symbols in this dream. The short answer is that I have no idea. The documented record we have of Xena's life ends, unfortunately, with the Destiny Scroll.

[111] Xena may eventually have completed her process of individuation and achieved self-hood on her own. Then again, maybe not. I have found that one dream, even as powerful a dream as this one, is seldom enough to make a lasting difference -- especially without guidance in interpreting the long-term meaning of the symbols for the dreamer. Even then, it usually takes months, even years, of analysis for the analysand (the dreamer) to achieve a final breakthrough.

[112] However, there is one bright light shining through all this darkness. It is Gabrielle. I see her as the Caregiver or Healer character type. She is passionate about a few special persons, Xena prominent among them. Gabrielle's fervent aim is to bring peace and integrity to her loved ones and the world. Her idealism is almost boundless and is completely selfless. This inspires her to make extraordinary sacrifices for the people and the principles she believes in. If anyone is going to help Xena achieve her breakthrough, it is Gabrielle.

[113] In addition, once Xena has completed her process of individuation, she will still have more to do. She must then continue her psychic growth by establishing the right relationship between her ego and her Self. Xena's ego will then function as a true mediator between the unconscious elements of the psyche and the external world and society around her. That is, she will finally have achieved the balanced life reminiscent of Artemis, whose stag symbol M'Lila wore in the first part of the dream, and which is worn by Xena on her breastplate.


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