In recent years zombies have become an increasingly popular theme in movies, television, and literature. From what I can tell, they have also been spending a lot more time stumbling across the landscape of peoples’ dreams. What is it about the walking dead that has captured the interest of so many people? Or, perhaps a better question is: what is taking place in our society and our individual psychologies that makes zombies a relevant theme?
Unlike a ghost, which is a disembodied spirit, a zombie is a dis-spirited body. They are human entities which behave as if they are alive yet they are “dead.” Their soul/spirit is elsewhere. They lack consciousness and the spark of life. If we look at this image symbolically, zombies represent ourselves when we have lost touch with our own soul, when we move like automatons, blindly and more or less unconsciously through life. We may appear to be awake when in fact we have fallen asleep to our soul, the font of our individuality.
Carl Jung once wrote: “The more you cling to that which all the world desires, the more you are Everyman, who has not yet discovered himself and stumbles through the world like a blind man leading the blind with somnambulistic certainty into the void where all the paralyzed ones follow him. Everyman is always a multitude. Cleanse your interest of that collective sulphur [an alchemical symbol of desire] which clings to all like a leprosy. For desire only burns in order to burn itself out, and in and from this fire arises the true living spirit which generates life according to its own laws…” (MysteriumConiunctionis, CW 14, pars. 189ff)
The “Everyman” for Jung is the societal man, the part of us that thinks, values and behaves in accordance with the collective viewpoint of the many. To the extent that we see and live within the bubble of this perspective, much of our thinking and feeling is done for us by others and we lose touch with our own individuality. As we are educated into the desires of the world we are often de-educated from the desires of our soul. The result of this is what Jung calls a “somnambulistic certainty,” a sleepwalking arrogance, otherwise known as egocentricity. We are entranced by our own worldview and goals, but fall utterly asleep to the wisdom and values of our deeper self.
In my experience, when people dream of zombies it is often because they are losing or have lost touch with their individuality. They may be relying on the consensual “wisdom” of society rather than seeking out and trusting the guidance of their own soul and intuition. They are falling asleep to their inner spirituality and calling. Such dreams should be taken seriously and not brushed aside as the chance result, for example, of a zombie show you recently viewed. It is important to reflect on the ways you may be trading your soul for conformity, and a path of consciousness for unconsciousness.
In recent years zombies have taken on a new characteristic. Modern depictions of zombies show them to be more violent and carnivorous towards the living. They are more determined and contagious, readily transmitting their deadness and somnambulism to those they attack. Why is this trend occurring? I believe it reflects a more virulent and aggressive process of soul attack, clone-making, and spiritual unconsciousness in the world today. For example, time- and mind-wasting activities beckon daily, vying for attention through your phone, computer and television. Is the newest video game or reality TV show helping you develop your unique potential and gifts? Is Facebook adding to the depth and quality of your relationships? Are the latest spiritual and metaphysical fads (e.g., The Secret) helping you become more conscious of your shadow, or do they just embolden your ego?
The values of materialism, narrow self-interest, and expediency are on the rise, displacing the character-building values of honesty, integrity, compassion, and service. What better metaphor than the zombie to depict the psychological and spiritual cannibalism that is starting to proliferate in our society? What better image to describe people who are falling asleep to the reality and value of their own souls?.....
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D. Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.
On my blog I have been analysing The Walking Dead, which can be interpreted in many different ways that are all relevant to one or another context. May I link to your web page?
Hi, Malcolm. Yes, be my guest.
I had a dream where locked in the interior of a large iron ship was a zombie chiild. I eventually got the courage to go into the sealed up areas with this child and it proceeded to walk me around showing me meaningless things. When it became clear that this was a waste of time I tried to leave and the child tried to half heartedly bite me on the arm though it didnt leave any mark or puncture the skin. When I was going through the customs checkpoint I was shown a wristband of the first woman who had ever gone down into the ship to see the child and survive. Several months before this dream I dreamt I was in Malta and three ships docked two of which emptied hoardes of zombies onto the dock. I tried to secure my apartment against the zombies but couldnt. The zombie child dream must be taking place on the third ship to discharge the cargo and this child is the last one left.
I would like to know whether I should bring healing to this child or do I need to kill it as it is a zombie? And if it can be healed – as zombies cant always be returned to life – how would I do that?
Many thanks in advance.
Those are interesting dreams and interesting questions.
You have to be careful here: It is possible that the things the zombie child is showing you seem “meaningless” from the ego’s perspective, but not the soul’s. Might there be a clue or important symbolism behind the things you are being shown? The ship probably symbolizes your psyche and the child is showing you parts of it–compartments–that you haven’t seen before. It would seem that the zombie child may reflect some emotional deadness within yourself, a part of you that died or which you lost touch with as a child.(?) In any event, the child is losing its zombie potency; it can’t turn you into a zombie anymore. You have shown the courage to face it and to explore territory within yourself that you were afraid to before. I suspect the child may be redeemable–that is, ready to come back from the dead–if you give it further attention and get to know it (such as through active imagination).
I hope these thoughts are of some help.
Hi Andy, Thankyou very much for your reply and your thoughts on the dream. Yes I dream of ships every so often and I think they are likely to be a representation of how I navigate through my feelings. A few months ago in midwinter I dreamt three ships docked in Malta and two of them discharged zombie hordes. I was trying to batten up my apartment to keep them out. This feels like it’s the last of the cargo in the third ship. I have been “working’ with the zombie child in creative imagination by letting it out and healing it, air sunlight, good food, play and affection. So thanks for your gentle advice on this. Letting it die or killing it would be more in the vein of the life/death transition and having to let parts of ourselves die to the old to be born again anew in life transitions. I find it helpful having input from the Jungian tradition. In the Tibetan Dream Yoga tradition they would say to let the monster devour you in a dream rather than run or hug/heal it. I thnk it points to a wound sustained in a narcissistic stage of early childhood development that had me going around in circles looking for healing to thoroughly let go of addictions which were medictaing this pain. Dream work is so amazing and so powerful! Many many thanks for a little discussion. Best wishes, Bridget.
Yes, that would make sense, the zombie child symbolizing a dying addiction. It seems like in the dream, then, and in your outer life, the addiction is pretty much vanquished. Very good!