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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Do You Believe in the Paranormal?

I wrote this post for P.W. Creighton's Paranormal Perceptions Series a couple of weeks back. Thought I'd give it a bit more airtime on my own blog.

Musings on the Paranormal Genre

I believe in paranormal phenomena. I actually believe it’s a prerequisite for anyone writing fiction with paranormal elements.

Let me kick this off by sharing one of my experiences. About twenty years ago, I was living in Shingletown, California, a small community a few miles east of Redding.  I took a shortcut one morning on back mountain roads to drive to Burney where I was scheduled to do a radio broadcast. Coming down Highway 44, the steering wheel of my Volkswagen Rabbit ripped its way to the stops. My car spun a few times and slammed into a snow bank leaving me shaken. I looked at the clock: 7:58 A.M. I hadn’t been speeding. The pavement was bare and dry. I was worried I’d developed a mechanical problem in the steering mechanism, but when I fired up the car and drove the rest of the way to my destination, it didn’t misbehave. I found out later that day a very, very close friend of mine—basically the brother I never had—died at exactly 7:56 that morning. I figured Don was trying to take me with him.

I’ve had other experiences over the years that defy rational explanations. I’ve also had many, many patients over my long years as a therapist relate fantastic events. One of the reasons I was drawn to Jungian dream work is its emphasis on the paranormal. It’s not widely known, but Jung was a mystic. Before he’d accept a patient, he insisted they have their astrological chart done. He’d look at his chart next to theirs (synastry) and decide whether he could work with them.

Dreams speak to us in symbols. But it goes far deeper than that. Symbols have archetypal value; they’re also unique to the dreamer. So, for example, snakes in my dreams might mean something entirely different than snakes in yours. This is why “kitchen table” dream books that list symbols and their meanings are almost less than useless.

I had a bad climbing fall once. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured beyond contusions that started with my forehead, extended to a very black eye, and covered one arm and both legs. It took a couple of months for the bruising to totally resolve. At one point, I dreamed I was standing by myself in the middle of an empty plain. It was twilight. A phalanx of snakes slithered toward me from every direction. They crawled up my body and wound around it. In the morning, I felt like I’d turned a corner and was well on the way to having my body mend.  In my dream, snakes were a positive factor. In many of my clients’ dreams, they’ve been portents of disaster. That’s what I mean by symbolism in dreams being unique to the dreamer. Interestingly, when I told my own analyst the dream, he clucked at me, went to a closet, and drew out a painting. It was an almost exact depiction of my dream, except instead of snakes, it was sea serpents swimming toward the central figure. One of his other patients had painted it years before. That would be a good launching point for a discussion of the Collective Unconscious, but this blog post isn’t the place for that.
If you pay attention to your dreams, over time you learn the language unique to your psyche. Years ago, Marie Louise Von Franz and Fraser Boa made a movie called the Way of the Dream. It’s available in DVD (4 of them) and some clips are even available on You Tube. If you’re truly interested in Jungian dream work, this is a must see. It’s clearly dated since it was made in 1995, but Von Franz was Jung’s primary disciple. She joined Jung an analysand when she was 18 and never left. Oh, she attended college and graduate school, but she lived all her life at Bollingen, Jung’s retreat in Switzerland.

This blog post is long enough. I usually like to cap them at 500 words. If you have any questions about Jung or dream analysis, I’d be glad to try to answer them. I’d also love to hear about your paranormal experiences. Really, I would.

8 comments:

  1. I definitely have had some encounters that defy rational explanation. Noises, things moving, things disappearing...my house is full of ghosts I'm sure of it.

    And dreams...I've had more than a few that creeped me out. Some that turned out to be premonitions even. Too bad I didn;t listen to them beforehand.

    We're having some dream issues in my house right now. my daughter has been having tons of nightmares lately about dying (among other things). It's starting to freak me out. I know most dream symbology says that personal death means change in life, big changes. Well she's almost 14 so change is "the thing" right now. In the fall she'll start high school, there's boys...yeah change is everywhere. I just don;t know what to do about the nightmares. They've been keeping her from sleeping well for over a month now

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    1. Hi Roxanne,
      Yes, dreams are intriguing. You're right on the money about your daughter being on the cusp of many changes. In many ways her old self (that would be her child self) will need to "die" to open the door for her woman self to emerge. How about giving her a dream diary and seeing if she'd like to write her dreams down. They'd just be for her, not to show them to anyone.

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  2. I will suggest that to her. Maybe that will help her work things out. I gave her a dream catcher kit to make but she had "issues" with it. I'm going to either buy one or have her brother make one, he's made several and is pretty good at it.

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  3. I found your blog through WLC. It's great to connect.

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  4. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

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  5. Interesting post. I make use of dreams and voices in my novel Dreaming of Laughing Hawk. Guess I never thought of it as being "paranormal." It seemed pretty normal to me.

    I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! I hope you stop by to visit me at http://www.scheherazade-thewritinglife.blogspot.com/

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    1. Oooh, sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out.

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  6. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

    ReplyDelete