A woman dreamed, “I am in a log cabin in the woods. It seems like I’m near Lake Tahoe. There are people there who I seem to know but don’t recognize. We are visiting and relaxing in the warm atmosphere of the cabin. I have this dream periodically, and it is always calming and peaceful at ‘my cabin in the woods.’”
It seems that we live in two houses. One is a physical structure composed of wood, concrete, bricks, metal, etc. The other is the house of our soul, the dwelling of our innermost self. Our soul house can be symbolized in many ways in our dreams, sometimes even as a cave or grotto. Often it will have a strong connection to nature, either by its setting, the materials it is composed of, or both. Our soul house can be a very calming and centering place, as it was for this dreamer. To be connected with our deeper nature is healing.
A man dreamed: “I am on the property my parents once owned, although it now seems to be mine. It is quite different from what I remember. It has large boulders the size of houses, a stream running through it, and it overlooks the ocean. I walk around the land and find a square dwelling made of thick rock walls. It is partly submerged in the soil, as if it has been there for a long time. I go inside and encounter several smaller rooms, each with a bubbling fountain in it. It seems like a sanctuary.”
This dream, like the first, conveys a strong connection to nature in both setting and materials. In addition, both the log cabin and this stone building give the impression of a strong and enduring structure. This may reflect the stable and eternal nature of the soul. This dream also suggests how the dreamer’s deeper nature is connected to his parents and ancestors since the building seems to have been on the property a long time. The implication is that our soul has an ancestry, and our inner nature may, in part, reflect and serve this ancestry.
A 55 year-old man dreamed: “I am in a room of a larger building. The room has wallpaper on the ceiling which I apparently put up years earlier, but which I no longer like. I decide to tear it down but as I do I see that the ceiling is covered with all sorts of unnecessary objects and hardware left by previous owners, or perhaps myself. I must have put the wallpaper up to hide these things. I realize that this is going to be a much bigger job than I thought. As I work I notice that the original ceiling was very well built and crafted of hand-hewn timbers. I realize that the ceiling will actually be quite beautiful when I get this other stuff off of it. I sense that it must be part of an older, but very well-made house.”
This room is part of the dreamer’s soul house. It is a metaphor for the dreamer’s relationship to his deeper self. This fact is amplified by the focus upon the ceiling which, being above the dreamer, symbolizes a spiritual perspective. The wood beams reflect the dreamer’s true spiritual nature—the deeper structure of his psyche—which has, over the years, been covered up with assorted objects. These objects likely symbolize various compromises and adaptations he made over the years in an effort to fit in. Compromise and adaptation are inherent aspects of life. However, when they go against our true nature and core values, they lead to the creation of a false self that erodes our integrity or hinders its development.
Sometimes our soul house will be cramped, messy, filled with garbage, or in a state of severe disrepair. Often this occurs because we have not been spending much time there. Maybe we have not been listening to our soul or giving genuine attention to our spirituality. Our lives tend to degrade without awareness and connection to the reality of our inner nature and destiny.
On his property overlooking Lake Zurich, near the town of Bollingen, Switzerland, Carl Jung built a two story tower made of stone. This simple, cylindrical room was added on to over the years as he expanded the building into a home. On its walls he carved various images drawn from his dreams, researches, and inner visions. This tower was the place where he did his most fruitful work with the unconscious. It was his soul house.
Two months before he died he dreamed that “from an unknown place” he had come to his Bollingen tower which was now made of gold. He held the key to the tower in his hand and a voice told him that it was now completed and ready for habitation. In discussing this dream his colleague, Marie-Louis von Franz, states, “After Jung had built his tower in Bollingen, he often had dreams in which an exact replica of the tower stood on the ‘other side of the lake.’ He interpreted this to mean that his tower was actually just an earthly copy of its true form in the beyond, i.e., the Self [or personality core]. His last dream of the tower says to him that now the other-worldly residence of the Self has been completed and is ready for him to move in.”
Jung’s dream suggests that perhaps we all come into the world with a blueprint of our inner nature and destiny etched upon our soul. It might also imply that at some level we are all trying to build (consciously or not) our soul house in our lives here on earth. Certainly, our physical house can be like a sanctuary (as Jung’s tower was for him) and, therefore, a place for deepening our relationship with our soul. But the house that matters most, and the only one that goes with us to the other side, is the house of our soul. It is important that we take the time to discover, explore, help build, protect, and inhabit the house of our soul.
von Franz, Marie-Louise. On Dreams and Death: A Jungian Interpretation. Shambhala: Boston 1987.
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D. Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.
I very much appreciate what you have written. It is as clean and sparse as the hidden ceiling in the dream. I also enjoyed “The moral autonomy of the dream”. Edward Edinger is a favourite of mine as well. I have been doing dreamwork for over thirty years and like what you have written and the feeling and attitude behind it. Thank you.
Thanks very much, Ned.
I continue to learn a great deal from Edward Edinger myself.