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Dream Figures from the Collective Unconscious

Morning light shining on walking bridge

When was the last time you had a dream? Pick any night dream or one that occurred as a waking vision. And it doesn’t matter if it’s recent or from the distant past. Recall an image that loomed large in your dreamscape. Is there a person? Maybe an animal, an object, or even a swath of color? One thing you remember, it felt important. Perhaps the dream character showed up in past dreams as other forms. Even so, overall, the essence of it remained the same.


The presence of powerful dream characters stay with us throughout the day or longer. Not all dreams have memorable status. Some hold special energy. These are the significant ones, what Carl Jung calls the Big Dreams. They help us crack a code of meaning that we’ve been searching for in our lives.


Where do dream figures originate

First, I’d like to say, what I love about our world is there are so many dimensions to it. We humans sailed around the globe, explored many of Earth’s continents and mapped out her lands, yet there is more to discover. I’m not referring to the land mass but to the world we cannot see with our physical eyes. The one visible to our inner, imaginal eyes.


Our ancestors knew of and honored these places. A few are…

  • The family of three worlds to the Dagara in West Africa: the spirit world, the physical world, and the world of ancestors.

  • For the Aboriginal peoples there is an unseen world of energies, spirits and forces called the Dreamtime.

  • In Celtic spiritualities there are versions of the Otherworld, which is contiguous with our own. Interestingly the Otherworld is both non-local and rooted in a sense of place.

  • The Sufi describe a world of the imaginal called Mundus Imaginalis, a term coined by French scholar and philosopher Henry Corbin.

  • The Choctaw peoples of North America call their sacred place Nanih Waiya, a mound that leads to the center of Earth.


There are other ways to illuminate understanding of this primal energy – or sacred intelligence – that flows between realms of consciousness.

  • Carl Jung brought his interpretation of these contiguous realms to psychology with what he called the Collective Unconscious. 

  • Theoretical physicist David Bohm referred to the ground from which a deeper reality emerges as the Implicate Order.


While the presence of “otherness” is imagined differently, curiously similar names are used to describe her messengers: gods/goddesses, beings, soul guides, angels, or energies embodied in our lives as synchronicities, archetypes, insights and wholeness.


Dreams are portals to the otherworld

Dreams are the bridge to understand sacred intelligence. Dream symbology is the language through which the otherworldly energies speak. For me, and in my work with inner wisdom, dreams are key to navigate healing and reestablish balance and wholeness.


The archetypes we encounter in dreams are special guideposts for inner wayfinding. Archetypes are energies incarnated in a way that we can understand. In her course Courting the World Soul Sharon Blackie explores archetypal “energies” in the Otherworld calling them “original patterns from which copies are made.” Archetypes bring greater clarity to our personal lives through the figures they embody. At the same time, sharing dreams with others offer insights for everyone.


One Dream Circle participant described her experience as “a unique, safe, and special place for the imaginal to land and emerge with new wings.”


Getting in touch with your dream energies

Ask yourself: How are energies presenting themselves in dreams? Who and what are those reoccurring figures appearing to you in the dreamscape?


When exploring the images, patterns, or energies of dreams and waking visions, Carl Jung suggests active imagination. He advises. Inspect or observe what you see stepping forward. Spend time taking a long look at what is presenting itself. Once you have a good picture of the dream character or your energetic figure then confront it with questions. Who are you? Why are you in my dream?


Also, ask your dream-self, what are you here to see in the dream? (Remember your dream-self is not a carbon copy of who you are in real life. Take an honest look at your dream-self. What is different…what wants to be seen?) There may be animals or an interesting landscape. What is the gift or message stepping forward from the “other” world, the world of original patterns? What is showing itself?


Our world is a mystery. Certainly, engaging with multidimensional realities is not easy to grasp. Especially if we approach it from our over-thinking modern mind set. For the most part original ways of seeing were “bred out” of us, in a manner of speaking. In my Dream Circles I use the word exploration, not interpretation, to describe our work. It’s fascinating to enter the imaginal field of dreams to see the treasure awaiting us. What is reflected to you through your dream figures?



Munya Andrews, Journey into Dreamtime. Ultimate World Publishing, 2019.

Sharon Blackie, The Rooted Woman Oracle. Hay House, 2024.

Katharine Donovan Kane, Soul’s Homecoming. Balboa Press, 2021.

Malidoma Patrice Somé, The Healing Wisdom of Africa. Penguin Putnam, 1999.

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