By Sheldon Shalley
In a recent review of my journal I came across the following dream. I have removed the names of persons in the dream other than myself for privacy and confidentiality.
I dream that I am with “A”, “B”, “B”’s husband, “C” and “D”. We are in our new space which is still being renovated and built. We are discussing a case. “D” gives an interpretation or what she would do. “B” says “that isn’t addressing the ‘real problem’” inferring that one doesn’t’ get to the core problem that quickly, thus supporting and validating the necessary length of psychoanalysis or the psychoanalytic approach. That is, it takes a long time to get to the core inner conflict or problem. “B” says that she has been seeing one person for 2 years and they still haven’t uncovered or gotten to the main issue, the original or core wound. I now understand that the purpose of the hours and hours of talking is to eventually get to the core wound or conflict. I had given them 3 different interpretations of a case. “B” says (of my interpretations) “one is too dark, one is too light and one is too cold.” I think then we can work together to the “one that is just right” referring to Goldilocks and The Three Bears fairytale. There is something about “C” going somewhere to do something. I don’t remember now, but it seemed an important or a powerful piece.
Dreams reveal what is going on in the unconscious. They are attempts to communicate to the waking mind something about us, our relationships with others and situations in our lives that we are not aware of. It is like the unconscious is saying I know that you don’t see yourself this way, but this is how I see you. Carl Jung believed that dreams can offer solutions to problems we are facing in waking life and serve to guide the waking self to achieve wholeness. Dreams guide personal growth and help us achieve our full potentials.
I had this dream at a time when a psychotherapy group that I had been with for 17 years was dissolving, and I had made the decision to join two members of that group (A and B in the dream) and form another psychotherapy group instead of going with other members from the original group. At the time of this dream, the three of us (A, B and me, the dreamer) were in the process of renting space, building and furnishing offices and selecting sub-lessees for the new practice. I was also involved in a certification program with the Four Winds Society in Shamanic Healing and Energy Medicine, and at the time of the dream was still somewhat caught in the psychoanalyst/shaman struggle in my attempt to live in both worlds and integrate the two. So the dream did come at a time when I was undergoing significant changes and trying to discern and sort out my path.
A little over one year from the time of this dream, this very scene played out in one of our case conference sessions. However, this blog is not about interpreting or addressing the dream in that context, only to point out that dreams often pick up on what is unconscious or unrecognized in a person, a family or a group sometimes months in advance of the situation manifesting in reality.
Disturbances in one’s world reflect psychological forces and factors within that person and between that person and those in his or her world (Walsh). In other words, the state of my world reflects the state of my mind. The outer mirrors the inner. By mind, I mean the conscious and unconscious processes that direct and influence my mental and physical behavioral and result in a particular perceptual system and perspective. It is this perceptual-perspectival system that produces a corresponding experience, worldview and self-sense (Walsh). To the extent that I believe that my experience, worldview and self-sense are accurate and correct I will (1) experience and even create disturbances in my world when I come up against perceptual-perspectival systems differing from mine and (2) project the shadow side of my perceptual-perspectival system onto the outer world and meet it in others who then become the carriers of the projected states and the causes of the disturbances in my world. To the extent that differing systems do not recognize that each system is partial, selective and relative, that both reveal and conceal, clarify and obscure, we project and/or become the carriers of the projections of the partial and selective information. What is unconscious or unrecognized in the various systems gets acted out and create conflict and suffering. This “unconscious” or “unrecognized” material often shows up in our dreams. If we are unable to understand or address the dream successfully, the unconscious situation will often show up in our lives as “fate” as it did in this case.
What I am presenting here is my personal work on this dream including a shamanic journey to consult with my “shamanic tribe”, my personal associations, amplifications and interpretations and how it led me to revisit the fairytale, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” to get to an “interpretation” of the situation posed in the dream that is “just right”.
Shamanic Journey to Consult with my Shamanic Tribe
I journey to the upper world to seek the consultation and advice from my tribe. I join them for a while in the drumming. They then ask me why I have come. I tell them that I need help in understanding a dream and tell them the above dream with some background information.
The leader of the tribe says “we will take your dream under consideration.” They leave and are gone for some time. They return and the leader says: “D” is the left brain, rational, face value, scientific, just give me the facts, what you can observe and see and test–the engineer and scientist in you, that only believes what you can see and prove, the facts. “B” is the analytical part of you that is always looking for what is hidden, always looking for the symbolic meaning, always looking into the dream, into the unconscious, into the dark. She doesn’t really believe that things are “just as they are.” That is too simple for her. She likes to make things hard, more complicated. She is always digging deeper and deeper, never satisfied. “D” part gets so tired of that. It is too much work for her. She tries so hard to please the “B” part, to be seen as competent and perfect in “B’s” eyes. So she feels minimized in you sometimes, not smart enough, and judged. We notice that “A” in your dream is silent, that she doesn’t speak. She is the part of you that hides behind your fears of being wrong and not good enough, of upsetting people, yet it is the part that tries to keep everybody happy by meeting all their needs, accommodating them, making sure that everything is taken care of. “C” is the competent, planner, the developer in you who is able to see the vision of something and make it happen, bring it into reality. He is the pragmatic, practical part but also the dreamer/visionary that sees how to make a vision work, He draws up the blue prints for the future. The fact that you didn’t remember what “C” was to do tells us that you are not in the best relationship with this part, that you don’t pay attention to this part like you need to if you are going to solve this dream.”
We know that bear came to you in a dream many years ago and again in recent years, yet you have not developed your bear medicine. We suggest that you explore the meaning of the story “The Three Bears” and the numbers 3 and 4 for this is about Bear Medicine and movement from the 3 to the 4.
With that they pick up their drums and join the drumming.
One of the ways to get at the meaning of a dream is to gather personal associations to the various images in a dream. Associations are thoughts, feelings, and memories, and anything else that spontaneously come to mind when reflecting on a dream image. In addition to the information given to me by the tribe, these are my personal associations to the images in this dream.
B: analytical, looks for what is hidden, the symbolic meaning, always looking into the dream, into the unconscious, into the dark. She doesn’t really believe that things are “just as they are.” That is too simple for her. She likes to make things hard, more complicated. She is always digging deeper and deeper, in order to become satisfied.
A: care-giver, fears of being wrong and not good enough, of upsetting people, tries to keep everybody happy; accommodates, tries to validate everybody and keep everybody taken care of, obsesses over details so everything will be right and perfect.
C: competent, planner, the developer; visionary; makes it happen, bring it into reality, pragmatic, practical planner.
D: left brain, rational, face value, scientific, just the facts, what can be observed, seen, and tested and proven–the engineer, the scientist, likes order and structure, mechanistic and technological.
Too dark: scary, difficult. Menacing, heavy, obscured, dense, closed, stifling, sinister, convoluted, can’t get to it, can’t find it, negative/bad, frightening.
Too light: surface, positive, encouraging, over exposed, open, airy, illuminated, spiritual, can’t look directly at it, too much, too intense.
Too cold: way off, Lifeless, distant, sterile, unfeeling, aloof, intellectual, technical, distant, withholding, emotionless, untouchable.
Goldilocks: curiosity, feminine, explorer, intruder, naive, innocent, needy, seeker.
Bear: aggression, Carry, powerful, protection, wild, endure, animal, brave, strong, authority, nurturing (as in mother bear).
Before I offer my interpretation of this dream, let me do some amplification. Amplification is gathering information from other sources that adds additional meaning to the dream by realizing connections existing between the dream and similar themes in mythology, fairy tales, religious practices or beliefs and universal symbols.
On the Numbers 3 and 4
Let me begin by looking at the numbers 3 and 4. In this dream the number 3 occurs three times—(1) I have given 3 different interpretation of a case, (2) “B” says one is too dark, one is too light and one is too cold, and (3) I make reference to the Three Bears fairytale. There is a reference to the number 4, i.e., I say “I think we can work together to the ‘one that is just right’” suggesting a 4th option. So this dream is about moving from 3 to 4.
The number three is a very complex symbol, appearing in myriad uses and meanings in fairytales and mythology throughout history. Basically it symbolizes a spiritual and/or biological synthesis, a solution or resolution to a duality, a certain completeness and fulfillment or anything that contributes to personal fulfillment in that is represents the resolution to a conflict between two opposing psychic forces. The number three represents creative power, growth and forward movement toward manifestation. Thus the repeated three’s in fairytales and myths, represent the completion and or manifestation of something, an active unity which brings forth fruit or a solution and is associated with movement and something coming into being—manifestation. In fairytales, things happen in threes as evidence of a completion, something has now occurred, is manifest.
However, if we consider that the number 4 symbolizes a more complete wholeness, Jung suggests that three may signify that something is nearly but not quite complete; or that which is lacking in you can be supplied only by some part of your unconscious self that you find too frightening to acknowledge and use (italics mine). In my own analysis, dreams in which there was movement between the numbers 3 and 4 were significant in that it suggested that I had resolved some duality (the number 3) and was beginning to face something else in the unconscious that would move me forward toward greater psychic wholeness through integration of some unconscious psychic content. While 3 represents a certain wholeness resulting from the union of 1 and 2, four represents a more complete wholeness in that it has integrated yet another aspect of the psyche. For example, a resolution of the psychic conflict resulting from the ego’s or persona’s confrontation with the shadow might result in the number 3 showing up, but further resolution say with the anima might bring up the four.
If I take the “one is too dark”, “one is too light” and “one is to cold”, the logical next response is “one is too hot.” Now we have the opposites– light/dark; cold/hot. And we have the number 4 again, the greater wholeness. In Jungian thought the quaternio or quaternity (four) represents two pairs of opposites forming a dynamic cross. Since the missing or shadow part is included, the quaternio personifies the totality of the Self, e.g., represents both the darkness and light in the God image. So the question becomes: what “disowned part” or “shadow part” might this dream be pointing to? Perhaps the fairytale, the Three Bears, will offer some insight. But before I take a look at the fairytale, I need to examine the archetypal and universal meaning of dark and light as well as cold and hot.
On Dark and Light
Dark or darkness and light or lightness are complicated symbols with often contradictory meanings as woven throughout history. Here I give only a cursory summary. Dark or darkness is equated with matter, with the maternal and germinant, but pre-exists the differentiation of matter and therefore, corresponds to original chaos, the mystic nothingness and a path leading back to the profound mystery of the Origen or Beginning of things. The gloom that is traditionally associated with dark/darkness represents the state of underdeveloped potentialities which give rise to chaos prior to the introduction of light. Hence, the darkness that is introduced into the world, after the advent of light, is regressive and thus its traditional association with the principle of evil and base forces. (Cirlot, pp. 76-77). Cooper also points out that darkness is the primordial chaos and associated it with the powers of chaos as well as the source of existential dualism pointing out that darkness is the ground of the light which emerges from it. In this case darkness is unmanifest light, the pre-cosmogonic, pre-natal darkness that precedes both birth and initiation and that state of transition as in death and initiation. Germination and creation take place in darkness and everything returns to darkness in death and dissolution. Thus darkness and light are dual aspects of the Great Mother as creator and destroyer (p. 50). Compare this with my associations of scary, difficult, menacing, heavy, obscured, closed, stifling, sinister, can’t get to it, can’t find it, negative/bad, frightening. For me the bottom line is that dark and darkness symbolizes the unconscious, the dark origin/source of everything, from which everything evolves, including our conflicts and problems and therefore can appear frightening and threatening.
Traditionally, light is equated with spirit and the manifestation of morality, of the intellect and virtues. Light with its whiteness alludes to a synthesis of the All. Light is also the creative force, cosmic energy, and psychologically speaking, to become illuminated is to become aware of a source of light, and in consequence, of spiritual strength. (Cirlot, p. 188). Cooper says that light is the manifestation of divinity, cosmic creation, associating it with Logos, the universal principle of manifestation, the primordial intellect, truth, illumination, gnosis, and direct knowledge. He points out that radiance symbolizes new life from the divinity and is the first thing created, the power of dispelling evil and the forces of darkness. Light is associated with an encounter with ultimate reality and is associated with direct knowledge as opposed to the indirect or analytical lunar knowledge. Other associations to light are truth, liberation, transcendence of the world, pure being, associated with the Yang or masculine principle, the Self, Atman, cosmic creation, wisdom to mention a few. Compare this with my associations of surface, positive, encouraging, over exposed, open, airy, illuminated, spiritual, can’t look directly at it, too much, too intense. For me light is consciousness which taken to the ultimate is the Divine/Transcendent Light of all- knowing awareness.
So the question becomes how is my thinking, my views and interpretations too dark, too chaotic, too obscure, too scary and too confusing, too complex, i.e., not clear, too unconscious? And how is my thinking, my views and my interpretations too light, too intellectual, too spiritual, too transcendent that it gets cut off from the human element and from matter?
On Cold and Hot
Cirlot points out that cold symbolizes “the situation of, or longing for, solitude or exaltation,” “loveless”, something “spiritualized and dehumanized” as well as “silence” whereas heat symbolizes the “libido” and “biological and/or spiritual maturation” (pp. 52, 142). Adding the idea that cold symbolizes solitude, loveless, and dehumanization, where is my thinking, views and interpretations too detached, aloof, isolated, sterile and not human, cut off from feeling and warmth?
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Fairy tales are the simplest and purest expressions of the collective unconscious and thus offer the clearest understanding of the basic patterns of the human psyche (Von Franz, The Interpretation of Fairytales). Of all the animals that Goldilocks could have encountered in her journey through the forest, she chooses bear. And of all the fairytales that my dream could have made reference to, it chose The Three Bears. Since my dream makes reference to the Three Bears, I can assume that the unconscious is suggesting there might be some meaning in this fairytale pertinent to this dream and thus pertinent to my life.
A search of The Three Bears reveals several versions that went through several changes over the years. In the first and oldest version, a she-fox who then became a little, old vagrant woman who engages in illegal and uncouth activities intrudes into the bears’ house instead of the familiar Goldilocks who appears in later versions. The bears themselves also changed over the course of several years from bachelor bears, to a brother and a sister bear and a friend to the more familiar Father, Mother and Baby Bear of the later and more commonly told versions. Goldlilocks’s herself undergoes changes, from a “silver-haired one” who evolved from a selfish, rude child to more benign golden-haired figure. Her fate also varies. In some versions she runs into the forest, in some she is almost eaten by the bears, but her mother rescues her, in some she vows to be a good child, and in some she returns home. So what was originally a fearsome oral tale became a cozy family story with only a hint of menace.
The basic motif is that the feminine, whether it be an old vagrant women, a rude, selfish girl or a more benign, innocent child enters into the home of a family of bears uninvited and while they are not at home. Not only does she enter their home uninvited, she makes herself at home by tasting their porridge, sitting in their chairs and lying on their beds. Several symbolic interpretations have been offered: (1) baby bear dealing with an unwanted intrusion, giving imaginative body to the fears and wishes a child has about an imagined or real new arrival in the family; (2) Goldilocks dealing with her personal search for identity, her struggle to move past Oedipal issues to confront adolescent identity. Father’s role is too extreme (porridge too hot, chair too hard, bed too big), Mother’s role is too familiar (porridge too cool, chair too soft, bed too spongy), Baby is just right but the chair breaks. Goldilocks has outgrown childhood. She is in the in-between stages, nothing quite fits. Search must go on. Thus, the story becomes an escapist tale that thwarts the child reading it from gaining emotional maturity; and (3) Freudian pre-Oedipal anality, maintaining environmental and behavioral order, and distress about disruption of order, leading children to align themselves with the tidy, organized bear protagonists rather than the unruly, delinquent human antagonist. In addition to these interpretations, I offer that Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a tale about the feminine trying to come into a relationship with her deeper inner feminine instincts symbolized by the bears, but having difficulty with the process and going about it in an inappropriate manner. I will address this idea later in this article. But first let me examine the role of animals in dreams and fairytales.
Animals in Dreams and Fairytales
Animals are expressions of archetypes, primordial symbols that tap into the energy that is present in all things. A particular animal expresses the spirit nature of that particular species and connects us to our own innate instinctual selves. Animals in dreams and fairytales seem to communicate something from the ancient vestiges of our functioning on earth—all the head knowledge in the world can’t match the sheer vibrancy and power of our own animal. Or as Jung once said: “The instincts are a far better protection than all the intellectual wisdom in the world” (Platek, B. Instinct as Guide: Animals in Women’s Dreams). It is also important to notice the relationships to the animals in dreams and fairytales. Platek notes that if things are really out of whack, the dream (or fairytale) might portray our animals as attacking or harming us in some way (or being harmed). On the other hand the dream or fairytale animal might come with a powerful numinosity that acts like as invitation back to what is true and meaningful leading us to our true wisdom. While the bears themselves in this tale are not being hurt, they are in the very least, being disrespected and their home violated which brings into question the attitude and moral development of Goldilocks and by association the expression of the feminine in this tale.
The Symbolic Meaning of Bear and Bear Medicine
In An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, Cooper points out that the bear is a symbol for resurrection, as emerging from its winter cave of hibernation with its new-born cub in Spring. It is the symbol for new life, hence its association with initiation and rites of passage. In hero myths, bear is solar, connected with the Sun and the Masculine. In inundation myths bear becomes lunar, connected to the moon and the Feminine. In its lunar association bear is the companion of moon goddesses such as Artemis, Diane and Berne. Besides being the nigredo of the prime matter in Alchemy, bear is a symbol for supernatural power, strength, fortitude. In Christian symbolism, the bear is associated with the Devil, evil, cruelty, greed, and carnal appetite. (I think bear’s association to Devil/evil in Christian symbolism is interesting in that bear is associated with the unconscious and I explore the unconscious for deeper meaning which was one “D’s” criticisms in the dream). In shamanism, the bear is a messenger of the forest spirits (Cooper,p. 18).
In A Dictionary of Symbols, Cirlot emphasizes because bear is the nigredo of the prime matter in Alchemy it is related to all initial stages and to the instincts and therefore has been considered a symbol of the perilous aspect of the unconscious and as an attribute of the man who is cruel and crude (p. 23).
In Symbols and Their Meanings, Tresidder points out that bear is a symbol of the primeval force and as such was an incarnation of the god Odin where in Scandinavia, bearskins were worn into battle. Tresidder notes that bear is associated with other warlike divinities including the Greek goddess Artemis, whose cultic maidens were bears, the Germanic Thor and the Celtic Artio whose worshippers included the people of Berne (Swiss city of the bear). Although she-bears appear widely as symbols of maternal strength, care and warmth, Jung linked them with dangerous aspects of the unconscious (p. 57). In its association with the maternal (i.e., Mother bear) and thus the feminine, bear becomes associated with the feminine element which stands for nature and matter.
When I review the literature on bear as medicine in the shamanic tradition, bear is primarily associated with awakening the power of the unconscious. Bear as a power animal is a symbol of strength, introspection, knowledge, dreamtime and transformation. Because of bear’s winter sleep (hibernation) it is associated with introspection and intuition. Bear helps us to go deep within to find wisdom and insight and to be able to present our truth with confidence and courage. Meditating and working with bear helps one to go within the soul’s den—the inner sanctum—to find answers.
As female receptive energy, bear is the guardian, keeper and companion of dreams, astral travel, visionaries, mystics and shamans. Bear is also one of the old images associated with the Great Mother and can thus represent both the positive nurturing aspects of the Great Mother as well as the devouring destructive aspects of the Mother. As a symbol of strength and stamina, bear helps one find balance and harmony in body, mind, and spirit. Because of bear’s winter sleep where she gives birth to cubs, bringing them out in the Spring, Bear is associated with death, re-birth, and new beginnings. Bear relates to all initial stages and primal instincts. Because bear cubs usually stay with the mother for up to two years, this can reflect that projects may not come into fruition until the second year of the cycle.
During the winter sleep bear’s kidneys shut down completely, something scientists are studying in hopes to find a way to duplicate this in humans so that diseased kidneys would have time to heal. Metaphysically, kidneys are symbols of discernment and discrimination. So if bear has shown up one needs to ask important questions? Is your judgment off? How about those around you? Are you not recognizing what is beneficial in your life? Are you not seeing the core of a situation? Are you being too critical of yourself or others? Are you wearing rose-colored glasses?
The bear’s ability to heal is known virtually within all cultures and bear is known as the great healer. Bear speaks of deep truths that cannot be ignored. She shows us how to know ourselves and to be true to that knowing. She is the teacher of deep psychic abilities that lead to shamanic journeys that achieve levels of trance that lead to sacred dimensions that will show the inner truth of matters and how to draw from inner strength to address these matters with gentle love. Since bear holds the teachings of introspection and self-knowledge, when bear comes into a life, it is a message to pay attention to how we think, act and interact. Also, because of bear’s association to honey, it is a reminder of those with bear totem to go within to awaken the power, but only by bringing it out into the open and applying it will the honey of life be tasted.
So, on one hand, bear can be seen as the scary aspects of the unconscious, the fear of looking inside and finding the deeper, unconscious and even darker meanings of our thoughts and behaviors, those unconscious, primeval forces and primordial powers that fuel our thoughts and actions which amounts to “looking into and seeing the deeper meaning” (the conflict raised in the dream). However, on the other hand bear is also healing medicine. As Ina Woolcott notes, “[w]hen our world appears negative, dark and confused, when our physical senses and reason and logic seem to fail us, when it feels there is no path to follow, Bear helps us go within to discover our deepest resources, where the light of inner knowing and intuition aids us in healing our wounds and finding our way home.”
My History with Bear
Bear first appeared to me in a dream on 11/13/80 as a symbol of the unconscious and my journey into dreams which at that time was fraught with fear and conflict related to my father’s fear that I was “delving into the devil”, that dreams and the unconscious were somehow evil, a belief stemming from his Christian beliefs and training and thus some of my own programming. Bear appeared in a dream again on 11/10/10 (almost 30 years to the day of the first bear dream). In this dream I dream that I am sleeping. I wake up (in the dream) and notice lying beside the bed on the floor is a brown or black bear. I feel fear and think the way to save oneself from a bear is to bite its forearm. I move as if to get up and the action scares the bear and it runs off. I then get up. It is dark and shadowy, but I can see. I walk into another room in the house and in walks a large animal. At first I think it is the bear, but then decide/realize that it is a large St. Bernard dog.
I meditate on this dream, wondering what it might mean. I finish my meditation and as I go to put my Mesa away I notice the lineage stone is missing. I am quite shocked by this and have no memory of what I might have done with it. I then wonder if I might have put it where I keep my crystal and pendulum. Sure enough, there is was. As I reflected on this “unconscious act” I suddenly get the message: “The lineage stone was the only stone that had not yet returned to me from the stars. It was like my misplacing it was to bring attention to it and suddenly I realized that the bear in the dream was the lineage stone coming back to me as “bear medicine.”
This dream also suggests that I am still somewhat resistant or fearful of this journey suggested in the dream by my stated fear and my attempt to “save myself from the bear” by biting its forearm. The “biting” was a way to “ward the bear off, to protect myself from bear, to get the bear to leave.” This mirrors my lack of acceptance of bear, my resistance to something that wants to break through from the unconscious. However, the energy returns as a St. Bernard. I used to have a St. Bernard and so am not afraid of this dog. The dream uses something that I can accept, that I am not afraid of. What is the connection between St. Bernard and bear? It turns out that the masculine given name Bernard has a German origin. The meaning of the name is from an Old German compound meaning “bear-hardy” or “brave as a bear.” St. Bernard of Menthon is the patron saint of mountaineers after whom the St. Bernard dog used in mountain rescue work is named. “Hardy” means strong, brave, sturdy, tough, able to endure, to be bold and courageous. Perhaps I fear and resist this “bear-hardy” part of me that is able to endure and stand firm in whom I am—my soul’s song and expression. This suggests that I need to develop my “bear-hardiness” or “bear energy” in order to fulfill my soul’s mission.
After all of this association, amplification, etc., I am left with the awareness and simple truth that this dream is pointing out that I am still caught in some duality. It is like the unconscious is saying,
“I know you don’t see yourself this way but this is how I see it. The rational, thinking, mechanistic, scientific approach (D) can’t help you here. It can’t get you to the core of the problem because it only sees the world one way, linear, as mechanistic cause and effect. On the other hand you are able to interpret things at a deeper level but you still haven’t understood it quite right. You are either too complex convoluted and analytical (dark) or too spiritual and transpersonal (light) or too detached and intellectual (cold). You still have work to do to get it “just right” that is, to move into the approach of viewing the world and your cases and clients that is uniquely yours, that ‘fits you’. This will require some planning, vision and movement (C energy) on your part, but by working together, by honoring, respecting and listening to each of these parts of you, the A, the B, the C, and the D in you, you will find the attitude, the approach, the view that is yours.” So this dream is an invitation to journey on and about work yet to be done.”
So what is the work? Perhaps just like the end of the dream identified the problem and pointed to working together “to get it just right” referencing Goldilocks and the Three Bears as a solution, the answer is in the ending of the Three Bears Story.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears Re-Visited
Here is my interpretation of the conclusion of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. As long as Goldilocks, the curious, naïve seeker, was able to try things out, explore, even taste, take classes, play around with bear material, without having to face the bear energy directly, she was ok, but when they showed up, i.e., when she waked up to the reality of this unconscious energy, this power, this reality, she bolted. It was too scary. She didn’t have the capacity to get to know, integrate and learn to live with bear and bear medicine.
If I were to rewrite the conclusion of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, here is my conclusion:
“Feeling satisfied by her exploration of the house that she had stumbled on in her journey through the forest, Goldilocks decides to lie down and rest. Falling asleep, Goldilocks dreams that she sets out on a journey through the woods in search of medicine for her mother who is sick. She explores, skipping along, noticing the butterflies, birds, rabbits and other animals along the way. After several hours Goldilocks notices that it is getting dark, and she is getting tired and hungry. She looks back and realizes that she has come too far to turn back. She cannot reach home before darkness falls. Weary, tired and scared she is just about to sit down on the ground, against a tree for the night when she decides to travel a little further on. As she turns a bend she sees a house, and she can see the light of a candle flickering through the window. Relieved and happy she runs toward the house thinking she has found help, a warm meal, a place to stay for the night. As she walks upon the porch and looks into the window, to her surprise and shock she sees a family of bears. Frightened she turns to run. As she does the door opens and the large Father Bear asks, “who goes there?” Trembling and frightened that he might eat her if she didn’t answer, she explained, “I am Goldilocks. I have wandered far from home and I cannot find my way back as darkness has fallen. I thought that I might find food and a place to rest for the night until I could continue my journey on the marrow. Father Bear says, “do not fear, my child. Come. I will not hurt you. We have plenty of food and a place to rest. You are welcome here.” Turning away for a moment, Goldilocks looks into the forest, which now is dark as the sun has set. Hesitantly she turns back to the bear and slowly walks toward him. Timidly she enters the house with Father Bear who introduces her to Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Mother Bear sets a place at the table and pours Goldilocks a bowl of porridge. Goldilocks tells the bears about her journey through the forest and her search for medicine to heal her mother who is sick.”
At that moment a sound startles Goldilocks and she awakens from her dream. As she opens her eyes, she sees that she is surrounded by the three bears of her dream. No longer frightened, she tells the bears about her dream. Warmed by her story, Mother bear invites Goldilocks to join them for breakfast, setting a fourth place at the table for Goldilocks herself. After breakfast Goldilocks says that she must journey on to find the medicine to heal her mother. Father Bear says first he wants to give her something. Father Bear and Baby Bear take Goldilocks for a walk in their gardens and wooded areas. Together they choose various herbs, berries, nuts, leaves, sticks and stones, and other things from the earth. Father Bear wraps them up in a bundle and ties the bundle to a long stick and gives it to Goldilocks. In the meantime, Mother Bear has prepared a basket of food for her trip. The bears give Goldilocks these things as well as big hugs and wish her well.
Goldilocks journeys on for years looking for the medicine to heal her mother. Along the way she eats from the bundle of herbs, berries, roots and from the basket of food that the bears had given her. She also meets people, animals, birds and even creepy crawlers, needing help, and she willingly gives to them from her bundle of herbs, berries, nuts, twigs and stones and from her basket of food, which she notices, to her amazement, never runs out.
A long time has passed and Goldilocks is now quite old. Her golden hair has turned to white, her skin has wrinkled and her body has grown tired. One day, feeling particularly discouraged and sad that she had not been able to find the medicine to heal her mother, she sits down at the edge of a pond to rest and contemplate her life. As she stares into the water she is quite surprised to see looking back at her an image of a half human, half bear figure. As she looked more closely she sees the curious eyes of a much older Goldilocks and the wise and loving eyes of the Father Bear. Goldilocks realizes at that moment that her chance encounter with the bear family that night so long ago was none other than the awakening of her soul’s song, that she herself was the medicine that she sought, the medicine that would heal the Mother.
To this day among the peoples of that region, they still tell the stories of the Bear-Woman who wandered the land seeking medicine to heal her mother while all the time giving to all in need from the bundle she carried on her back.
This piece of Active Imagination establishes a connection at the symbolic and archetypal levels of the collective unconscious, engaging the energetic patterns that fuel and hold this story and assists in moving the dream forward. For in re-visioning the story, I have changed the relationship between Goldilocks and the Bears, between the feminine and her instinctual wisdom and between myself and the unconscious. From this discussion finding the “just right” is about integrating the Feminine as Nature and Matter, and healing my relationship to the Feminine, to Nature, to the Earth, to Matter and the Spirit which lives in matter. I shall see what manifests as far as a solution that is “just right.”
This discussion leads me to conclude that the bear is an apt symbol as well as a potential power animal or totem for psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. The role of bear is to “awaken the Intuition.” The lesson of bear is to “integrate the parts into the Whole.” Its element is the “Earth.” Its wind is the west which is “the Quest within.” Its medicine is “to channel the Primordial, (i.e., unconscious) forces. In my mind this is a great mission statement for my psychotherapy/shamanic practice and Bear is an appropriate totem animal.
Here is my artistic rendition inspired by this dream work.
Bear Woman (Goldilocks all Grown Up)
The message of the work on this dream becomes my dream: Be the medicine that heals the earth by remaining continually open to spirit as a hollow bone through which spirit moves.
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