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Dreamed c. 1912/12/25 by Carl Jung

...around Christmas of 1912, I had a dream. In the dream I found myself in a magnificent Italian loggia with pillars, a marble floor, and a marble balustrade. I was sitting on a gold Renaissance chair; in front of me was a table of rare beauty. It was made of green stone, like emerald. There I sat, looking out into the distance, for the loggia was set high up on the tower of a castle. My children were sitting at the table too.

Suddenly a white bird descended, a small sea gull or a dove. Gracefully, it came to rest on the table, and I signed to the children to be still so they would not frighten away the pretty white bird.

Immediately, the dove was transformed into a little girl, about eight years of age, with golden blond hair. She ran off with my children and played with them among the colonnades of the castle.

I remained lost in thought, musing about what I had just experienced. The little girl returned and tenderly placed her arms around my neck. Then she suddenly vanished; the dove was back and spoke slowly in a human voice. "Only in the first hours of the night can I transform myself into a human being, while the male dove is busy with the twelve dead."

Then she flew off into the blue air, and I awoke.

[Jung thinks the green table's an alchemical symbol; he mentions several mythical twelves. He speculates on the absent male dove, ignoring the one he met.]
But I could find no solution to the enigma. Finally I had to give it up.

Footnotes to Jung's Red Book do briefly address the main character, the bird-girl who spoke to him.

[The dream] showed the anima as elflike, ie. only partially human. She can just as well be a bird, which means that she may belong wholly to nature and can vanish (i.e. become unconscious) from the human sphere (i.e. consciousness).
SOURCES: Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1989 ed.) p.171-2, and The Red Book (2009 ed.), p.198


Jung's interpretation of this anima-dream is erudite (dragging in Yule and the death of the sun along with Hermes Trismegistus) but weirdly obtuse, too. It's Christmas, yet he thinks only of pre-Christian symbols! The dove is the divine messenger in Christianity; this dove-girl speaks to Jung not in human form but as a bird--consistent with a herald, not with a symbol of unconscious nature, let alone an actual gull or dove--and what's with that? He's precise about the table, but can't tell a gull from a dove? Jung seems to finds a divine herald less memorable than... furniture.

Seems to me Jung projects onto his anima's bird-form an unconsciousness that's still Freudian--a view of the dreaming mind as primitive, animal. But she seems quite (not to use a loaded word) lucid.

She says she can manifest in the only form he'll accept as conscious only at night, when her male counterpart is out of the way--as they say, "dead to the world." That is, she's warning Jung that his anima/intuition can only shape messages in a form he'll accept during his sleep, when his scientific rigidity relaxes. Quite the opposite of Freud's view that dreams hide their real meanings; here, even in animal form, she speaks clearly. It's the day persona that restricts her--makes her, most of the time, present herself in a form he dismisses.

She's ready to talk. But is Jung ready to listen? The answer, in that decade, seems to be no. Soon after, when Jung started to do art--his famous mandalas--he doubted himself; so he asked his anima "What am I doing?" Of course she answered "Art." He denied it vehemently. He was a respected man of science. What did a childish, animalistic female know?

He revised his opinion over time; but he had a long way to go. This was, I think, his first suspicion that the 'unconscious' might be less blind, less 'un-', than Freud thought.

LISTS AND LINKS: shapeshifters - birds - kids - play - guides & animas - clocks & time - sexism, specism, agism, all three? - blindness & denial - 36 years later, Nancy Price listens to her talking bird, in Dead or Alive?; 60 years later, Wayan dreams of birds, girls and twelveness in 12 Swallows, 700 Daughters

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