When I saw the picture that author Jean Raffa sent me to represent the landscape of western North Carolina, her summer home, I smiled.
The picture shows a root cellar, a place that must be important to Jean as she looked for landscape to represent who she is.
Synchronistically, cellars are also important to me. One of our houses actually had four cellars, each descending lower into the ground. Talk about a place full of potential for influence in the mind, that was it!
Jean believes that if we remember a dream from childhood, it may be a “Big dream.” My dream took me into the cellar of our house. I have enjoyed exploring this possibility with Jean. Here’s my question and her answer:
Q: I can only consciously remember one dream from childhood. How might I explore its depths of meaning beyond the rather obvious ones? You remembered one dream also. From it, you constructed much of your life’s work. Is it possible that a dream about finding a television set (something I longed for but could not have) in the basement of our farmhouse could hold larger meaning? The dream was so real that I actually went down to the basement to look for the TV.
Dreams that stand out from childhood are very often Big dreams. A Big dream may contain one or more of four characteristics. First, it makes a powerful emotional impact on us that is impossible to ignore. Second, a Big dream may have a numinous or sacred quality about it, filling us with awe and making us feel it might contain a special message from God. Third, in a Big dream the dream ego is usually actively involved in the events instead of passively watching or waiting for something to happen. Finally, especially with childhood dreams, it can prefigure the essential issues and direction of our lives.
Your dream definitely meets the first and third criteria, so to start with, I’d ask myself some questions. I’d begin with the dominant emotion and ask myself when I’ve felt that same emotion in waking life. Another question I’d have would be: In the big picture of my life, what might my childhood longing for a television set represent? The first answer that pops up in my mind is that since I grew up in a rural farmhouse which probably didn’t have a lot of modern amenities, it might symbolize my longing for a much broader knowledge about life, a wish to see the big world and perhaps to live a more urban, civilized, educated and sophisticated lifestyle.
To me that, combined with the fact that I find the television in the basement, (a symbol of the unconscious), suggests a strong unconscious wish to move from a more primitive, more instinctual form of consciousness (farms almost have animals on them) into greater self-knowledge and wisdom. You don’t say how old you were when you had this dream but I would suspect it would be between the ages of 10 and 12, a time when most children acquire greater self-awareness, and with it, self-consciousness and the growing recognition of internal conflicts.
So could this dream have a deeper meaning? Most certainly. Could it prefigure the essential issues and direction of your life? Well, only you can answer that question by looking at your ambitions and the inner motivations for your later behaviors and goals. Could this dream, in fact, be a sort of “message” from the sacred within, the archetype of the Self that inspires us to find the sacred meaning of our lives? Again, only you can say; however, if your life has, in fact, been marked by a powerful desire for self-understanding, purpose, and fulfillment of your potential, I would expect it very well might be.
Dr. Jean Raffa is an author, speaker, and leader of workshops, dream groups and study groups. Her job history includes teacher, television producer, college professor, and instructor at The Jung Center in Winter Park, FL. Through formal and informal means, including a five-year Centerpoint course and an intensive at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, Jean has been studying Jungian psychology and her own inner life for more than twenty-three years. Her book, Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dream Work has been used in dreamwork courses throughout the country and is included in Amazon.com’s list of the Top 100 Best Selling Dream Books, and TCM’s book list of Human Resources for Organizational Development.
Do you remember any dreams from childhood? Do you think your dream (s) qualify as Big dreams? I hope you will feel free to ask questions about them to our generous Dr. Raffa, who has answered a number of dream questions in this previous post. If you missed it, you might want to begin the dream exploration journey there.