Q: I am inside a very wealthy estate home where a family lives, a white family. I understand that an Asian-American woman and her daughter are also part of this family, although they are not integrated. It’s as if the family hasn’t known that they existed. I learn that the woman and her daughter have a fortune. The Asian woman has known about this money of hers, but the rest of the family has been oblivious until now. Then there is a big meeting, as if to decide the future of this money. It’s understood that this money belongs to the whole family and they need to decide how it’s distributed. The meeting room is filled with mostly white men. The woman and her daughter aren’t there. A man arrives with his son who is in his late teens. The man is very blonde and white and he’s to serve as the judge at the meeting, which will be like a trial hearing.
A: Last month, I wrote a dream interpretation that dealt directly with the meaning of race in the unconscious, as well as one that explored a motif similar to your dream in that it featured a well-to-do Japanese man. I’ll explore more of the meaning of these issues and symbols here, but I’d encourage you to read through both of those interpretations as they’ll help to stimulate your own associations and thoughts about the meaning of your dream.
Your dream opens in the setting of a family estate. This setting suggests a couple of things to me. First, it indicates the plurality within psyche: our single personhood is made up of many different aspects of being, just like a single family is made up of different members. We are not just the “I” character in our dreams, and the image of a family estate renders this beautifully and simply. Second, this image also makes me wonder if the problems with which this dream wrestles may be ones that your whole family wrestles with. So much of our individual psychological viewpoint is rooted in the values, culture, and themes of the family in which we were raised; we are deeply influenced by our environments, and just as a plant will thrive or die, grow tall or grow crooked, depending on the conditions of the environment in which it was planted, so will we. While this may be stating the obvious, I offer it here because I think it’s an oft forgotten aspect of our own psychology when we’re exploring our individual dreams or individual growth. We are products of our environments. Important to keep in mind, however, is that our personal evolution will invariably effect the evolution of our family and culture as well. We each have the power to be change agents, just like those little mutant genes in Darwin’s theory of evolution that start to pull a species in another direction.
The most basic cast of the characters in your dream are: you, the white men, and an Asian woman. For our readers, I’ll report that you are a white American. Broken down simply, you represent the conscious ego attitude of your psyche, the white men represent the rational, masculine, intellectual viewpoint that dominates your psyche, and the Asian woman represents the under-appreciated, “irrational”, feeling, feminine, yin standpoint. For Western psyches, Asian characters in dreams often represent that which is opposite the dominant standpoint of one’s psyche (East versus West) which in America almost always means the artistic, feeling aspects as we are such a thinking, information, goal-oriented culture. If an Asian character arises in a dream, it’s worth exploring how it portrays one’s underdeveloped feeling type. (Of course, one would need to explore their personal associations to all the racial and cultural parties represented, as well as take into account one’s personal heritage.)
From the Jungian view, and certainly my view, the goal of psychological development is not “health”(whatever that is) or to function seamlessly within one’s social environment (most modern societies are pretty unhealthy!). The goal is more aptly described as wholeness. To pursue wholeness means that we are frequently trying to accept parts of ourselves that our dominant attitudes do not initially perceive as being valuable. This dream seems to be dealing directly with this issue, and it’s sending you a very lovely and validating message that there is great wealth to be found in parts of you that are just becoming visible. She has “a fortune” — she’s rich! Her value is undeniable. Also, money can represent energy. Think of the mythological relationship between Gold and the Sun. Or the modern parallel of Black Gold, Oil, where the tie between money and energy is evident. Money and energy are archetypally and literally linked. This wealthy part of you is a storehouse of energy, and her value for you is tremendous.
Now, what you’ll want to be attentive to is the fact that “the ruling principle” of your psyche continues to be the dominant white man, rational, thinking, legal perspective. Your feminine, feeling aspects are increasingly being recognized for their value, but they’re still not being included in decision making. They’re not even in the room. The result is that this part of you that the Asian woman and her daughter represent is being violated, de-valued, stolen from. Their perspective and authentic voice is not being honored. It suggests to me that while you may understand that the feminine, feeling, relational, instinctive, yin aspects of your character are important (they’re being recognized as part of the family), they are not yet deeply affecting your being. The value that the rest of your psyche is starting to recognize is not yet at the stage of altering the whole system.
The revolution that will need to take place within your psyche is akin to the social revolution of including the feminine perspective in land ownership and voting. The Asian woman who represents these different functions in your psyche will not only first need to be brought into the room where decisions are made, but she’ll need to be able to alter the process as well. She can’t just join the courtroom proceedings that is being run, and was established, by the dominant lawyerly masculine function. They’ll need to learn from her and allow her to help establish the proceedings under which decisions are made about her money for the sake of the whole family. Like the meeting of Native American tribes and the White Men that riddle our history, all “deals” that were struck between the two within the legal framework of the white men were a charade. The only fair deals that these two peoples could have struck would have required profound evolution of each population as the two grew to understand and value the very different cultures and systems of justice they each brought to the table. The fact that one simply dominated the other was not ultimately a win for either side. As we’re recognizing more and more, the dominance of the white culture over the Native American resulted in tremendous loss of wisdom and heart based thinking. We’re needing to reclaim much of that for ourselves now.
What does this mean psychologically? This aspect of your being that the Asian woman represents cannot simply be incorporated intellectually. You can know that you are needing to feel more and think less, for instance, but until you get in a non-intellectual way how to do that, the value and energy she carries won’t be released. She’ll need, over time, to affect your whole character.This will initially be scary for the more intellectual, rational aspects of you, but as you learn to incorporate what she has to offer and ask her what she wants and needs, you will be transformed, and you’ll be the richer for it.
Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!
Satya is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com
Q: I’m getting rid of stuff and I decide to throw out this wooden table and chairs set. I think, “My mom bought this for me at a garage sale for $65” which is true (it was my set when I first moved out on my own and I had it until recently when my fiancé and I bought a house). I tear apart the chairs with the intention of using them for firewood. They come apart easily, but I notice that the bolts holding the pieces together are enormous and very sturdy, even though the chairs are not. I decide to use the chair pieces for firewood anyway, but when I come to the table itself, I change my mind. I decide to keep it, even though it’s kind of crappy. I regret having torn apart the chairs.
A: Well, my dear, it seems like you’re in the middle of some pretty significant life shifts, huh? I mean, you say you’re engaged, so it doesn’t take much dream interpretation to understand that! But your dream lays out what’s also happening on the inside: you’re sorting through the stuff of life, of earlier days, and tossing away the family and single life for the older, married one.
But that’s just the easy stuff. The bigger things in this dream appear to be a reluctance to change. You’re stuck between wanting to get rid of, literally and psychically, “your stuff.” You know it’s time, but you’re still holding back. You decide to tear apart a set of furniture but then, see it in a new way, reconsider its value, see what’s good in it, and change your mind. I wonder, is it change that’s tough? Or is it more specifically a question of not wanting to look down on, or devalue, what is old and inexpensive? What is it about that table that makes you feel you shouldn’t continue with your original plan of “getting rid of stuff” and, rather smartly, recycling it as firewood?
I see you assessing and reassessing the value of things throughout this dream. You remember the inexpensive cost of the set, then after rejecting the chairs, you then notice that they have some sturdy components! The bolts are good. It might feel like a stretch, but I think this reflects a waffling between devaluing your family, then appreciating them again, then feeling badly for having ever lost appreciation for them. In this dream, in this transition, you’re saying goodbye to your mother’s influence and care, and it hurts a little and is a little confusing. You can’t help but note that the bolts, the glue, the foundation of your life, is strong, and you know it, even if it’s not necessarily made of the same stuff you value today. And this causes confusion for you. You know you’ve outgrown this furniture in a way, but you struggle with what to do about it. You’re letting go of those old influences, those old things that used to make-up your psychic home, and that’s proper, my dear. It’s time. It’s just a matter of the attitude with which you undertake it.
It seems smart to use this set for firewood. Respectful. You’re not just tossing it away in the city landfill, that would be sort of sad. Here, you’re reflecting to yourself how you are recycling the energy of the old stuff by burning it, even if you’re a little ambivalent about the whole process. If, in the dream, you had tossed the furniture into the ocean, or buried it in the ground, I’d think you were fighting this process more than you are. In the imagery from this dream, however, it seems you’re reluctant to let things go and move forward, but your instincts are good. I would suggest you take some time to look at what’s holding you back, assess how and why you value the past and your family the way that you do, and make the peace with the changes you are preparing to make. Dream this dream forward and let that table go, along with the chairs. Don’t look back. You’ll feel better when trust your original instincts to let go of the old and move forward. There’s nothing wrong with it. You can simultaneously know that the bolts are good, appreciate the set, and still let it go.
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Satya is a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in applicable dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and the stage of life between young adulthood and mid-life. www.quarterlifecounselor.com