Menorah

What do the seasonal lights mean to you?

Last year at about this time I went to hear a Jungian analyst give a lecture in which he analyzed “A Christmas Carol” from a Jungian point of view. It was fascinating to hear him dissect the story as if it were a dream about individuation: Scrooge was the part of one’s self that can’t accept the joy of the moment for refusing to confront the past; the candle was the light of awareness, etc.

After hearing this talk I began to think about the holidays as if they, too, were a dream — and then I realized  — they are a dream! That is, in the sense Joseph Campbell spoke of when he said myth is the dream of society, and our individual dreams are our personal myths. In that sense the winter holidays are packed with the symbols of our collective dreaming consciousness.

A memory of Christmas Past

Looked at with the dreamologists’ eye, we find plenty of symbols to analyze in the dream of our holidays. The Christmas and Channukah lights might symbolize the light of love, of awareness, and hope. The tree at Christmas, the menorah and dreidl at Channukah, the straw beneath the bed for Three Kings Day: Each is a symbol packed with meaning.

What if you looked at your entire holiday this winter as if it were a dream? Peer beyond the material gifts you are exchanging and reflect on what you are giving from your heart.  Just as there is no one correct interpretation of symbols in a dream, there is no one way to interpret the gifts, lights, tree, wreath, etc. in your personal experience of the holiday.

Try this:

  • Write down an event that occurs this holiday season in first person, present tense, as if you were writing out a dream report.
  • List all of the elements in the account: Characters, objects, etc.
  • Write the first three words that come to mind when you think of each element in your account.
  • Now read the account back substituting those descriptive words for the person or element mentioned in your event.
  • This Mad Libs-like exercise might help you find personal meaning in the events that unfold during this mythical – sometimes magical and sometimes mystifying — time of year …

Wishing you beautifully gift wrapped dreams to open and enjoy this holiday season!

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