The images and myths that have been passed down to me, are a part of my psychological inheritance. Can dreams be a form of determinism? Determinism is the philosophical view that all events are determined by previously existing causes.
Cause and effect.
The outcome cannot be changed. Whatever is supposed to happen, happens.
I heard this in a dream.
There is something comforting in the thought that everything has already been determined.
The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung noted that when it comes to our unconscious, there are two different levels, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious, with the latter being on a deeper level. According to Jung, we should understand that for the most part, we cannot control what our psyche does. The same way a plant creates a flower, the same way our psyche and unconscious creates symbols. This would mean that every dream we have is proof of this process taking place. Deeper into the unconscious some layers haven’t been formed in the personal life of the individual but during the thousands of years that the human race has existed. This is the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is like a massive warehouse. A shared, inherited memory and the storage area for the sum of the human experience, so far. Our psychological inheritance.[i]
Through his studies in mythology, Jung discovered that there can be great similarities between mythological patterns in cultures that are widely different in time and space. He began to formulate a thought that seemed radical to the medical science of the time, the idea that people as a group had a soul, this being the collective unconscious. This meant a shift from traditional psychology where one saw each individual’s psyche as consisting only of his or her past to a type of psychology where one saw humanity as sharing a “group soul” that everyone had a part in. This would mean the myths that we share in our communities and families are vital for the continuation of humankind.[ii]
While underwater, I encountered a colossal fishlike creature. As it was hiding in sea weed I couldn’t make out much, except its face, but the feeling I got was that this being was of considerable size. I don’t remember much else from the dream except for the fact that the creature started to hum a pleasant song that caused me to wake up.
According to Finnish mythology, there is a belief some species of larger fish are connected to the ability of singing.
Have you had any strange dreams lately?
When the bear appears, it fills me with dread. Most of the time I instinctually run away from it. It feels like I’m in the presence of an old God, someone that is to be respected and not disturbed. Only to be viewed from a safe distance.
Of all the animals, the bear was seen to be the most sacred one in Finnish mythology. So sacred that its real name was never uttered out loud, lest you’d want to have bad luck while hunting. Seen as the embodiment of the forefathers, it has many names it goes by; mesikämmen (mead-paw), Otso (browed one), kontio (dweller of the land), metsän kultaomena (the golden apple of the forest), and is regarded as a woodland deity.[iii]
I was a magpie. I distinctly remember turning into the bird and then flying off.
I might have been chased by something or someone.
There was a big river beneath me.
In Finnish folklore, magpies are one of the birds that represent witches. It is said witches take the form of a magpie during dusk and fly all night.[iv]
I saw an egg crack.
In the Finnish world creation myth, the goddess of air, Illmatar, comes down to earth to bathe in the primordial waters. After seven hundred years of floating, a sea bird appears looking for a place to land. Illmatar lets the bird land on one of her knees, and the bird lays six eggs, five made of gold and the last one made of iron. As the eggs were incubating, they got warmer and warmer, until they burned Illmatar, causing her to knock the eggs down into the water where they cracked. The bottom of the eggshells formed the land, the egg white the moon and the stars and finally, the yolk formed the sun.[v]
Without myths, we would have no contact with neither the past nor the present. To better understand ourselves, we need to understand the myths that have shaped our cultures. The individual consciousness is only “the flower and fruit of the season, sprung from the enduring, underground rootstock; and it would harmonize better with the truth if it took into account the existence of the rootstock. The root system is after all the mother of all things.”[vi]
Growing up I heard stories of my late grandmother who used to have vivid dreams. It was said she was an etiä[vii], and that she often predicted things that were about to happen through her dreams. In my family, we still use dreams to predict the future, just like she did. We refer to these types of dreams as etiäisiä, the you experiencing something that is yet to happen, a type of doppelgänger. The different symbols seen are an important part of the prediction. Some of the symbols we discuss are connected to death. Like losing one’s teeth, a sign that someone is about to die soon.
The dead have been visiting more often.
Seeing mirrors in dreams indicates that I am lucid dreaming. Meaning I become aware and in control of the dream. The mirror in itself is usually referred to as a necessary navigation system that refers to the intellect, which can help you think and persuade one to identify with its insights or reflections.
A way to observe yourself.
The floor disappeared from beneath my feet.
I was choking and couldn’t breathe.
I get the feeling I need to be more honest.
The more chaotic the dreams, the more anxious I get while awake.
The only dreams I seem to have lately are nightmares.
My eyes are so tired.
You’ve never visited before. Before going to sleep I had asked where the snake should be. You showed me by drawing a circle on my upper thigh.
This is where the snake now resides.
The snake is a guide to independence and seclusion, but also a symbol of renewal and rebirth. It sheds its skin like a shaman assembling a new body or a magician taking on a new magical name and identity.[viii]
By being shown these symbols, I find myself asking if this could be the collective unconscious letting me in little by little, and the by-product of this then is that I’m getting to know myself better?
Images: Anna Julkunen
[i] Vivienne Crowley, Den andlige Jung, p.39 – 66, 2001.
[ii] Vivienne Crowley, Den andlige Jung, p.39 – 66, 2001.
[iii] Wilfrid Bonser, Folklore Vol. 39, No 4, p.349 – 352, 1928.
[iv] Thuleian Tupa, Korppi, varis ja harakka – siivekkäät ystävämme, https://www.thuleia.com/linnut.html (downloaded 2021-11-05).
[v] Elias Lönnrot, Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, p.27, 1835.
[vi] Vivienne Crowley, Den andlige Jung, 2001. Jungian psychology has been disregarded as not being scientific due to the fact that it accounts for the emotional state of a person.
[vii] Karelian word for someone who can predict the future.
[viii] Thulean Tupa, Voimaeläin – käärme, https://www.thuleia.com/kaarme.html (downloaded 2021-11-30).