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Let there be Fish for My Self

Let there be Fish for My Self
Drawing, 58 x 84 cm

My dream of fish, river and boatman was included in my ‘dream art’ series (please find my artwork “The Rescue” in the painting section). As follow up of de-coding this dream, I created a series of artworks, depicting the elements of my dream. This drawing presents fish, one of the three main dream characters, in serial repetition, with descriptive text in handwriting.

The fish is an ancient fertility symbol, possibly representing the vagina, going back 4000-3000 years, to the Syrian Goddess Atargatis. Her son Ichthys (Greek for ‘fish’), the protector of fish, used this symbol as well.

In Jungian symbolism, the fish is a symbol of self. Because the self is hard to understand and to describe with words, symbols (circle, mandala) and archetypes (phoenix, wise person) emerge in dreams as representations of the self.

In the analythical psychology of Carl Jung, the self contains consciousness and unconsciousness and represents the psyche of a person; it emerges as the consequence of individuation (which is the aim of human existence and the result of integrating all aspects of our personality).

According to Carl Jung, a dream is “a spontaneous self-portrayal, in symbolic form, of the actual situation in the unconscious.” Every dream can be de-coded because the dream not only supplies the symbols and archetypes but also the key for understanding them. This de-coding is determined by the dreamer’s views and life situations and needs to be done by him/her, not by a psychologist. The meaning of figures, characters, motifs and elements need to be comprehended and whom they are representing; analogies between a life situation and the dream need to be drawn. Carl Jung called this de-coding “active imagination”. Also to be considered are the mythology of animals in different cultures, religions and art. And of course, their meaning in Jungian symbolism.

I have done this work for each and every of my dreams, following the principles of Jungian Analysis. This process was simplified and made accessible by an American psychotherapist and Jungian analyst, Robert A. Johnson, long after Jung’s death. It involves free-fall thinking and dialogue with the dream characters, as presented in four steps (associations / dynamics / interpretations / rituals), in Johnson’s book “Inner Work”, first published 1986.

My dream work leads to my dream art. Please see my linoprint “Joyriding” and my linoprint “Are They Waiting” in the print section, and my oil painting “Crossing Over” in the painting section.