exploring the unconscious world of Dreams through Myth, Symbols & Metaphor
the psychology of dreams....a Jungian perspective

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Dream Theatres of the Soul:
Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dream Work
& Their Interpretation(s)
Dreams About The Persona

Dream 1 - Dream 2 - Dream 3 - Dream 4 - Dream 5 - Dream 6
These are personal dreams and interpretations from Jean's book Dream Theatres of the Soul

'The Elephant In The Cave'

The Dream

It is night and very dark. I try to lock an elephant in a cave, but when I push the door to close it, I break it. I run for help because I am afraid the elephant will get out and do some damage.


Elephant: In religious practices or traditional literature, the elephant often symbolizes power, wisdom, and happiness. To me, the elephant suggests my instincts for reflection, because more than any other instinct, this one has the potential to bring power, wisdom, and happiness to the human soul.

Cave: An archetypal symbol (see Glossary of Jungian Termnology 'HERE') associated with birth (the Eastern church depicts Christ's birth in a cave), the maternal womb, and sacred initiation rites. The cave is a dark place containing spiritual treasures, and is a symbol of initiation, potential, and rebirth.

Door: A guardian of inner mysteries. The door represents a psychis force that, when closed, keeps us from knowing what lies behind us. However, when it is broken or opened, access is allowed between the outer, conscious world and the secret, inner world containing things of spiritual value.

Personal Meaning

This is one of the earliest dreams I ever recorded. Although it seemed simple, it profoundly illustrated a basic issue in my life: I am a deeply spiritual person with a strong desire to understand myself and the meaning of my life, but for a long time I (my ego) was reluctant to commit myself to introspect self-examination on a regular basis. My dream was showing me that my need to reflect on my inner life (elephant) was a powerful, instinctual force that was breaking down my resistance door to conducting inner work (cave) and emerging into consciousness despite my ego's fears.

Since this was a "big" and "initial" dream for me, I have examined for the important questions it told me to ask about my life. The key questions were: Why am I so afraid of the elephant (my instinct)? and how can I keep the elephant from being a destructive force? The dream suggested that my ego was afraid of both the personal discomfort of reflecting on my inner contents (psychological) and the 'damage' this introspection might cause to other people (this could be friends, family, priest or clery, or analyst) if I took it away from them. Nevertheless, in my desire to appease the elephant, I decided to act on the message of this dream. I gradually pared down my outer activities and spent more time on reflective work: reading psychological and spiritually oriented literature, relating what I was reading to my life, examining my dreams, paying closer attention to my feelings and motivations, and writing about my emerging insights.

Cultural Meaning:

As our egos grow strong enough to seek self knowledge, we begin to discover our true natures. In our youthful pursuit of perfection, we may have tried to protect our loved ones from the 'damage' we were afraid they might suffer if we exposed the truth about ourselves. Or perhaps we thought it was selfish to think about ourselves. Whatever the reason, many of us spent our early years ignoring our real needs and feelings. It is hard to let these things out where we and others can see them, but being courageous and honest enough to look within, to let the elephant out of the cave, is one way to become an authenic, empowered woman.

Changing our focus from the outer world to the inner world (not to be confused with just the spiritual aspect, but also psychological) does not come naturally to most of us. It is difficult to relinquish the external rewards our egos crave - the satisfaction of hearing someone say we are wondreful, selfless saints; the pleasure that comes from checking off another item on our list of things to do; making money; being proud of a spotless house; being needed by many people and organizations. The rewards of inner work are more subtle than these, but they are definitly more life-enhansing.

Exploring the elephant's cave requires courage, diligence, perserverance, and commitment. Most of all, it requires faith in a higher power. We need to believe that something bigger than our egos is guiding this venture into the dark unknown (unconscious), and we have to trust that the rewards will make the struggle worthwhile. Without this kind of faith, giving up the rewards of the extrenal world may seem frightening and pointless because we tend to value only that which we can see and measure.

This dream is from Jean Benedict Raffa's book 'Dream Theatres of the Soul'.
About Jean Benedict Raffa <GO>

Dream 1 - Dream 2 - Dream 4 - Dream 5 - Dream 6


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