Dreams and the Questions They Present

As an author of books on dream interpretation, I help others decipher the clues behind the questions presented by dreams. The success of my Way of Dreams interpretation app has attracted an audience of mostly tech savvy Millenials, who are introduced to Jungian ideas through the oracles and archetypes on my website Cafe au Soul.

author Dr. James Hollis

James Hollis, Ph.D.

As synchronicity would have it, I was asked to conduct an author to author interview with Dr. James Hollis, Executive Director of the Jung Society in Washington DC about his book, Living the Examined Life and his upcoming workshop: The Interpretation of Dreams. With 15 books to his credit, I was curious about his creativity and inspiration, and the advice he might share with other authors.

The interview that follows captures Dr. Hollis’ deep wisdom and professional insight about the challenges we face, the part dreams play in discovering the numinous, and most importantly, his practical advice for accessing dreams as the wisdom of the soul. Dr. Hollis generously shares how he became an author and the vision and inspiration that keeps him at his work.

Questions at the Crossroad

Kari Hohne:  Thank you Dr. Hollis for joining me today to discuss your book, Living an Examined Life, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We’ll also be discussing your upcoming workshop The Interpretation of Dreams and what dreams may offer writers in the way of inspiration and direction.  I love how you share your ideas in what you write, and I’m really excited to speak with you today.

Dr. James Hollis:  Thank you. And thank you for inviting me.

Kari Hohne:  Living an Examined Life is described as a guidebook for somebody at a crossroads in life. I felt you offered an insightful way of exploring the meaning of crisis in this book. What purpose does crisis, conflict or meeting a crossroad in life present to us?

Dr. James Hollis:  I think life is full of invitations, and sometimes the invitations come to us in the outer world through external conflicts, disappointments, losses, or encounters of various kinds. Sometimes the invitation comes to us from the inner world, where we have a troubling dream, or we have an insurgent depression. We may wake at three in the morning and realize our life is flat and unsatisfying, and we don’t know what to do with it.

An Invitation to Reconsider

All of these occasions are invitations to reconsider. One of the things I’ve learned as a therapist is how much of our life is on automatic pilot and how much of it is conditioned reflex, and often protective mechanisms, which paradoxically then bind us to the disempowered past from which those protections arose.

Kari Hohne: It seems like writer’s block can come from disempowering tapes of perfectionism an author might not realize are operative. Can you give us an example of those disempowering binds?

Dr. James Hollis:  As children we learned to avoid what felt overwhelming to us, so flash forward a few decades and ask yourself, “All right, where do the patterns of avoidance keep showing up in my life? What are the consequences of avoidance? How is that an invitation for me to step into what was once fearful, but today is how I reclaim my life?” Or, “Where are my patterns of accommodating the other? Or, flipping it around as a control mechanism of my own, might I be controlling my partner or my children or whomever?”

In those moments, you see, there’s often a kind of humbling encounter with the presence of the past in our contemporary functions But it’s also the moment we begin to free ourselves potentially, of those binding constrictions that again, were once protective perhaps, but are now constrictive.

Life Will Take Us to Swamplands

Kari Hohne:  Do you believe that the crossroad itself, or the challenges we face are a way of calling ourselves to change? In other words, is this a gift for us?

self help book Dr. James Hollis:  Yes. And another way of putting it, in a book I wrote years ago called, Swamplands of the Soul, I said, “Life will take us to swamplands, places of loss, places of betrayal, places of guilt, etc…sometimes through the acts of the gods, metaphorically, or the choices and consequences of others, or the consequences and choices we’ve made.

And in every swampland we will feel humbled, we’ll feel powerless, we’ll feel upset and angry. But in every swampland there is a task, the identification of which and the addressing of which can lead us from a sense of victimage, to active engagement in our life.”

So, in other words, what do I need to address in this situation over which perhaps I have no control? What is my task here to maximize my sense of personal freedom and dignity at a time when my adopted limitations may be all too obvious?

Kari Hohne: It is often challenging to remain inspired as an inspirational author when faced with crisis. Have you encountered this type of challenge before?

Probably the toughest speech I ever gave was to a group of glioblastoma patients who were in the overt death process from brain cancer, years ago in a hospital. And to talk to them about retaining one’s dignity and one’s sense of inner freedom and one’s sense of interest in the purpose and meaning of life in the middle of a medical, insurance, and all kinds of other constrictions in one’s life, was a very difficult prospect. So again, there’s always a task that life brings to us, and that task can either enlarge our journey or diminish it depending on our degree of capacity to accept it and to live it.

All That is Denied Within Us is Encountered as Fate

Kari Hohne:  In Living the Examined Life, you’d mentioned Jung’s observation, “Whatever is denied within us is likely to come to us in the outer world as fate.” You said this idea keeps you at your work. I’m curious how that inspires you and the books you write?

Dr. James Hollis:  Well I find it a very chilling statement and very disturbing one because it obliges me to ask, “of what am I unconscious?” And of course, the problem with the unconscious is that it’s unconscious. So I literally can’t answer that, but it’s a humbling invitation to reconsider.

For example, to see in a pattern, or a choice, or behavior, or even a stuck place, where is this coming from in me? What is it I’m not addressing? And what I don’t pay attention to is in some way playing a role in my life.

There are many invisible players, so to speak, on the playing field in our lives. And we need to know that these players are there. They’re executing their particular programs. So, what I don’t address in my own personal responsibility, I will bring to my children or to my partner. And what I’m running from in some way is narrowing my life and owning me.

So these are the kinds of questions we usually don’t casually ask. We only ask them when something blows up on us, or something shows up in our lives in a way that is very painful and troubling. That’s what often brings people into therapy. Whether one is in an overt therapeutic relationship or not, we all have this invitation to consider, “Where are the choices coming from in me? What does this touch in my history? Where have I been here before? What’s generating this pattern?”

And often what we’ll find in our patterns of life, and we all have them, is earlier adaptive experiences in life that again were protective at one point, but later bind us to a disabling and diminished past.

Books Speak to the Imagination

Kari Hohne:  So, in a sense, we rise to our noble calling. We are called to become present or mindful as a way to witness our story. In speaking to other authors, in what way has writing enabled you to be accountable for the summons of your soul? And did you always know you would be a writer?

Dr. James Hollis:  As a child, I think books almost saved my life. I was born into very constrictive circumstances, culturally,  in poverty, with a lack of education, and lack of options in life. I found myself hungering for alternatives, pathways and other models.

My best friend was the local librarian, so to her everlasting credit she gave me the run of the library. I didn’t have to stay in the children’s section very long. I began to make friends with the books and in a sense, they were speaking to my imagination.

Our complexes, our adaptations, our life experience tend to have no imagination. It’s bound to its history, it’s bound to whatever the message seemed to be, and the message that all of us got early in life, for example, was that the world’s big and you’re not, the world’s powerful and you’re not.

Encountering the ‘Other’

Kari Hohne:  That’s an interesting point because authors have to shift between the freedom they feel in their imaginative realm and the reality of marketability. One can overwhelm the other.

Dr. James Hollis: How do we avoid getting overwhelmed by that magnitude of the other? Much of our life is lived re-actively and protectively for understandable reasons, but that also leads to a narrow life.

As a child, I imagined in some way that I might enter the world of writing because I valued it so much. And at that point I thought I might try to write a novel, but I didn’t find that writing fiction was my métier, and I wouldn’t have expected to be writing what I write about today. I mean, I write about people’s lives, not as a novelist, but as a person who has the privilege of engaging in an in-depth conversation with people each workday of my life. And when I’m not engaged in the conversation with them, I’m engaged with a conversation with my own soul.

Writing as Self Discovery

I’ve always found writing as a form of self discovery. I often don’t know what I’m going to write in advance. What I know is that something has moved me or called me. And then I think we don’t know what we know until we’re forced to express it in some way.

I’ve actually had the experience of awakening at four in the morning and certain paragraphs were rolling out of my head and I was, in later years, smart enough to get up and start writing because the unconscious was creating. And whenever I have to write a speech or do a paper of some kind, or give some kind of presentation, I often put the assignment in there and something in there starts working on it.

I tend to joke how there are a bunch of little people running around trying to organize the file, and what I find is they always get back to me. But not necessarily on my ego-bound schedule, like five o’clock in the afternoon when I have to have a report on my desk. They’ll awaken me a week from now, at three or four, and I’ll have clarity about an issue or how to approach a subject. And that’s what I’ve learned, I think every artist knows.

Kari Hohne:  Yes, the feeling of being led in our writing. Do you also feel that when you are teaching? Like, you’re learning through the process of teaching?

Dr. James Hollis:  Of course. No two classes are alike and no two lectures are exactly the same.  As we engage, we’re bringing a different selfhood because we’re not the same person we were yesterday, or a year from now, or five years ago. And the same is true in the classroom, learning to read the expressions and the body language of the class and to adapt along the way.

I find giving a class or a talk, is in some way a work of art because there’s a shaping. I’m aware of a certain amount of subject matter to cover, essential points and the time in which to do it, but also to open it up to the visual clues that I’m getting back from people. And through the years I’ve come to trust the process that in some way produces a different work each time.

Neurosis is Being in Opposition to Nature ‘Naturing’

Kari Hohne:  Nature inspires much of what I write, so I was intrigued with something you wrote in Living an Examined Life.  You described neurosis as being in opposition to nature naturing. You used the word, ‘naturing’ and I am curious to know whether you believe nature natures us through dreaming? And if so, can you elaborate a little on that?

Dr. James Hollis:  Certainly. First of all, we are born as natural creatures, we are animals. However, we don’t live Living an Examined Lifein the forest, or off the land. We live in complex societies. And those societies necessarily make demands of us, and as Freud put it so succinctly, “The price of civilization is neurosis.”

Meaning, we have to meet competing claims upon us:  the claims of our body and our emotions on the one hand, and the claims of our culture on the other hand. And the more divergent their agendas, the deeper the split within us.

And so, in some way the task really is to address, later in life, “How do I begin to heal that split?” Or if I don’t, I’m a creature really, of whatever fate threw me into, the family of origin, the popular culture, and whatever messages I got from it, which I either serve or spend my life running from.

So the real issue then is, how do I begin to pay attention to my own nature naturing?

We Average Six Dreams Per Night

And certainly the body carries messages to us all the time, our energy systems, our feeling functions. You don’t choose your feelings, feelings happen spontaneously. You can choose to discard them, to anesthetize them, repress them, split them off, project them, whatever, but they are a qualitative analysis of how things are really working as seen from the administrator of the interior as opposed to ego consciousness sitting up there in the executive tower.

And also in dreams. If you live to 80 years old, you will have spent two years of your life, that’s one fortieth of your life, in an active dreaming state whether you remember them or not. We average on a normal eight hour sleep cycle, if such average exists anymore, possibly six dreams.

Now, no one remembers all of them of course, but we know from brain wave activity that much dreaming is going on and nature doesn’t waste energy, and it’s obviously serving a purpose. And that purpose may be to metabolize and process the magnitude of stimuli that we receive in any given 24 hours, which is more than consciousness can absorb.

Dreams Offer a Commentary Outside of Ego

If we pay attention though, dreaming is not just metabolizing and processing, it is also reacting and commenting. If we pay attention over time, we begin to realize there’s something in there that is offering a commentary on how my life is processing, as seen from a perspective outside of ego.

In other words, I could go to bed tonight and say, “Well, I’m going to dream of hamburgers tonight.” The psyche is not going to pay any attention to me. It’s going to produce what it wishes to produce in service to its own agenda.

I can ignore that or I can say, “I wonder what’s going on inside? What does the inner world have to say to me?” Because when I begin to do this, ironically, what I begin to do is access a deep, natural wisdom that our ancestors knew about that we tend to have forgotten.

It also begins to recover for us, what I think is the central project of the second half of life, which is the recovery of personal authority. In other words, of the magnitude of messages that traverse our consciousness at any given moment, some of which are conscious, some are unconscious, which messages, so to speak, impulses, and assignments are coming from our depths, and which are simply reactive to our outer stimuli, and which are coming from the complexes and adaptations of the past?

Sorting through that traffic is central work and is complicated work, and it has to go on every single day. And if I ignore that, then you can assume I’m mostly on automatic pilot. Kierkegaard talked about a man who was shocked when reading the Copenhagen news that his name was in the obituary column because he hadn’t realized he had died. By implication, he hadn’t realized he’d been here either.

Soul is the Organ of Meaning in Us

Kari Hohne:  Do you see nature naturing in dreams as an evolutionary mechanism? In other words, is it something outside of us in a sense, that is driving our higher being-ness? Is it nature’s way of driving growth?

Dr. James Hollis:  Well, yes it does, sure. Our nature is interested in growth development, that’s clear. And growth development is often the enemy of our complexes, which are often protective and constrictive.

Our assembled reflexive anxiety management systems, which we all have, and these things which were again, once Shakespeare Twelfth Nightprotective, later become prisons to us. As Shakespeare said in Twelfth Night, “No prisons are more confining than those we know not we’re in.”

And so, as long as I’m growing and developing, I’m feeding the soul. You know, soul is the literal translation of the Greek word psyche, so I’m talking about soul as, in a sense, the organ of meaning in us.

Kari Hohne:  I see, I love that explanation.

Dr. James Hollis:  We have the organ of cognition called the brain, but we are also creatures that suffer disconnects from meaning. And meaning is something that is not just an artifact of consciousness, it comes from some deeper place within each of us.

And when my outer choices, or my outer environment support the motive and agenda of the inner world, then I feel a sense of home and contentment and well being. But when it’s in conflict, as is often the case, then I’ll suffer discord and pathology.

Discover the Wound and You Discover the Genius

Kari Hohne:  In Living an Examined Life, you mentioned how the wound triggers the genius in an individual. Do you see that as an aspect of heightened creativity? Does the wound drive some people to become more creative? 

Dr. James Hollis:  Yes. It’s often where people have been really hurt in life that they become highly thoughtful.

The bad news is that it’s the kind of thing can co-possess them and  keep them imprisoned.

For example, one of the programs I do is called The Wounded Healer and it’s really about how often people in the helping professions have come from very troubled families. They often get bound to trying to fix the world as they once tried and may have failed to fix their own families.

So I would go so far as to say, metaphorically, half of the people in the helping profession should be there, and half of them should flee and go be truck drivers or tree surgeons or whatever it is their soul wanted.

On the other hand, many people can be, in some way, triggered by that experience to be very thoughtful and to take it very seriously, and that leads in some way, to the mode of expression they will find. In other words, when people write, they’re not writing out of a vacuum, they’re writing out of energy systems within themselves.

Out of the Quarrel with Ourselves, We Produce Poetry

Some of them are activated by external stimuli, of course, such as a historian who’s writing or someone who’s doing journalism. But even so, it triggers the whole inner world and it’s out of that conversation that in a sense, the work of art emerges. And Yeats put it this way, he said, “Out of the quarrel with others, we produce rhetoric. And out of the quarrel with ourselves, we produce poetry.”

Kari Hohne:  You’ve written many books throughout your life. What advice might you offer authors from your experiences? 

Dr. James Hollis:  There was a time when I was in academia, and my first book was an academic study of the British playwright, Howard Pinter. Then I didn’t write for 20 years because there was something in me that was resisting and was in protest. Writing, yes. Assignment, no.

So that all changed when I left Academia and entered a different kind of work, where there was a whole world of expression that was waiting. But in a very practical way, we have to remember, writers are people who write.

I’ve had hundreds of people who’ve said to me over the last four decades, “Well, I always wanted to write a novel, or I always wanted to be a poet”, or something.  And there’s always a ‘but’ that somehow rationalizes not doing it.

The world is full of lousy excuses. “I don’t have time to write. I work long days, every day. Then I go home, I eat, talk to my wife, watch the news. Then I have an hour to two hours to write before I go to bed and get up and do the next thing… same thing the next day.” And it’s like, all right, if you do that enough times, you come out with a manuscript of some kind.

Writing to Engage the Mystery

You have to be willing to face your fear because so many people have thought, “Well, I have nothing to say.” Or, “I will be ridiculed when I speak out.” Or, “I’ll be, in some way, marginalized or criticized.” And you see that’s a complex people have.

That could actually be true, but is it enough to shut your capacity, your calling down? We all write for utilitarian reasons, like we write notes to ourselves, “Remember to do this tomorrow.” But to write from a standpoint of a creative process, no matter what modality it takes, is in some way to engage with mystery.

Something in each of us, which is expression, doesn’t mean a person has to write. Someone else can express it James Hollis quotethrough the work of their hands. Some will do it through their relations with others and their capacity to be in relationship. Others will do it through intellectual efforts, and some will do it through the creative process that we call the arts.

So again, we’re all different. But there’s something in us that’s always wishing expression, something is wishing embodiment. And I’ve also found, as historically it was reported, there’s some other element that Plato and others called the Daimon.

The Daimon was a tutelary spirit in a sense, so Plato expressed it very deliberately, “I don’t philosophize, the Daimon speaks through me.” And we’ve all had that sense at some point, of almost being possessed by some energy, some spirit if you will, and then it’ll disappear.

Writing as a Conversation with the Other Within

And we can’t necessarily call that up, but you have to, in some way, be open to that and be able to give yourself to it. I never expected to wind up writing about the world of psychology, but the world was always a curious place and I always asked the questions as a child, “What’s this about? Who am I? What am I here for? What really matters?”

And those questions, I think have persisted throughout my life and I ask them in different forms.

I ask them in therapy, I ask them in my reading, I ask them in engagement with other people.

But where I also found it took me, was in addressing those kinds of questions in the writing process. And again, out of that invitation to the other within, there is potential dialogue that emerges, a dialectic, that out of that comes the third. And the third is the finished product.

Writing To Answer Questions

Kari Hohne: For an author who is writing to get published, can the endeavor lead to a type of crossroads? In other words, if we’re meeting blockages, are they our own blockages, and can we learn about them through the process? 

Dr. James Hollis:  I don’t write to be published, I write to find out what I think, feel, and believe about something. And I’ve always been a little surprised, and I mean this literally, a little surprised that other people respond to it.

On some level, I don’t mean this narcissistically, but I write for myself because it’s a mode of trying to figure things out. And the fact that other people can-

Kari Hohne:  Join you on your journey…

Dr. James Hollis:   Yes, it’s a benefit, it’s a bonus. You know?

Kari Hohne:  Yes, I feel that too. To date, you have published 15 books. Do you approach writing any differently now than when you first began?

Dr. James Hollis: When I first began, as I mentioned, I think I was writing under assignment, that’s what The Middle Passage bookprofessors do. And then later, I just started … for example, the first book that happened after I came back to writing was called, The Middle Passage.  I was asking myself a question, “Why is it that so many people who come into therapy with quite different life circumstances and stages of life and presenting issues, what is it they have in common?”

I began to realize what they have in common is something has died in their lives, something has played out.  It’s as if an old road map that may or may not have worked well, is no longer applicable to the territory. And something else has not emerged, they’re in a difficult in between.

So I started thinking about that, and then it occurred to me that it was historically called a passage.  Passage is where some phase of life dies, you outgrow it, nature discards it whether you feel comfortable in that or not.

Writing as an Invitation From the Soul

And there’s a difficult and awkward in between, and then something else emerges, which is the next stage of your journey.

So that’s what led me to write a book called, The Middle Passage. It was really my wrestling with that question in the therapeutic world. And I think all of the books have in a sense, since then, emerged from the experience of daily therapeutic life.

I’m privileged to be engaged in depth, in questions with people who are going through a thoughtful process in their life. This is sometimes triggered by outer conflicts or problems, sometimes it’s an invitation of the soul.  And from that process, then, it leads to the book. And at some level, I never decided I was going to sit down and write a book. It was as if something was already deciding it for me.

Kari Hohne:  I know exactly what you mean. You were following, not leading.

Dr. James Hollis:  Yes. For the last half dozen books, I keep thinking, “Well that’s the last one, that’s the last one.” And today I’m not saying that anymore. Now this last one, Living an Examined Life, was meant to be a summary, partly appropriate to my stage of life, and at the same time, who knows. I won’t say it’s the last one anymore.

Kari Hohne:  The subtitle of your book is: Wisdom For the Second Half of the Journey, but my audience is the 20 to 30 year olds, who must learn to detect meaning in life, so I see this as an excellent guidebook for anyone. You captured the life path beautifully, so please don’t stop writing.

Dr. James Hollis:  Well, thank you. Thank you. It’s in the hands of the muse, not me. I’m now her servant, that’s all I can say.

The Self is a Verb. Not a Noun.

Kari Hohne:  Another gem from Living an Examined Life was how you described the Self as a verb and not a noun. How would you connect the Self as a verb to one’s calling in life?

Dr. James Hollis:  The Self is an archetype of development and purpose in our life. The Self is not an object. If it were an object, we’d call it a noun and therefore, it would show up in an MRI or x-ray.

It’s, rather, an energy system and you sew it to yourself. It is ‘selfing.’ I know that is not very good English, but it’s more accurate psychologically.

The Self is an energy system that is attending to the digesting of your food, the maintenance of your very complex bodily operations, and emotional operations in your life. At the same time, it is invested in your own growth development and purpose in life.

When our life is not being experienced as a meaningful experience from the standpoint of the Self, it pathologizes.

And so, pathology is how I, as a therapist or other therapists, track backwards to say, “All right. What is the Self asking of me since my ego hasn’t been able to figure this out?” And then you begin to realize, “All right. The Self is an autonomous other that is present within me.”

Again, I don’t make up my dreams, the Self makes up the dreams. The Self is trying to communicate. Therefore, the invitation to the ego is, “Hey, why not pay attention? You might learn something here.”

Live the Question. Not the Answer.

Kari Hohne:  I love the last chapter of the book: Live the Questions, Not the Answers.  What I also enjoyed about Living an Examined Life was a sense that the difficulties in life are really the gift that opens us to the deeper mystery of individuation. Perhaps those weren’t your words, but you used the word numinous as something not willed by ego that solicits our engagement.

Dr. James Hollis:  Yes.

Kari Hohne:  Can you speak about the numinous active in dreams and also in daily life? 

Dr. James Hollis: The numinous comes from a Latin verb that means to nod or beckon, so it’s something that reaches out and speaks to us. We can see the numinous in another person and we’re drawn to them, or we’re afraid of them. We walk into a museum and one painting speaks to us, while another one doesn’t, why? It is because there was something of the numinous in that arrangement of color and shape that touched something deep within us.

So the numinous is that which calls us to awareness or attentiveness. Terrible events too, tragic events, losses, betrayals, disappointments are also numinous events because again, they are triggers to our awareness. And we need to ask a question, and that is, “Of what should I be mindful when I reflect on this experience?” And again, “What agenda or task does this bring to me now?”

What Speaks to Me and Reaches Out and Touches Me?

Kari Hohne:  Does the numinous behave differently in dreams?

Dr. James Hollis:  I’ve always loved that saying by the French surrealist poet, Paul Eluard, who said, “There is another world and it is in this one.” That is the recognition that numinosity is in this life in all moments to some degree. The question is, “what speaks to me and reaches out and touches me?”Paul Eluard Quote

For example, when I’m in a therapeutic session with an individual, I have to be mindful always that I don’t know what is right for them, but something inside of them does know what’s right for them. And when we begin to track the process in dialogue with all their systems at work, we begin to encounter that purposefulness. In other words, there’s purpose to their symptoms, there’s purpose to their suffering, there’s purpose to their dreams and the ego may or may not want to deal with it, but it’s an invitation.

Kari Hohne:  So, it’s the same process in one realm?

Dr. James Hollis:  Yes. And to realize something inside of a person is always seeking it’s expression, is an encounter with a numinous inside of each of us.

Kari Hohne:  Is synchronicity related to the numinous? In other words, when what we are dreaming is encountered in what we experience, is that numinous?

Dr. James Hollis:  Well, synchronicity, first of all, is coincidence. We know that mathematically. But synchronicity has been defined as acausal causality, which is a paradox. Just as there are outer events that produce each other, atoms bumping against atoms, there’s also an inner causality, a psychic or spiritual causality that works in people’s lives too.

Synchronicity is Acausal Causality. A Paradox.

So we’ve all had the experience of thinking of someone and suddenly we get an email from them, or a phone call, or something like that. Now, is that synchronicity or not? It’s hard to say. The more remote the likelihood, the more likely there’s something else that’s been constellated. The person and I, let’s say, have been in some way in a constellated energy system that linked us, whether we were present to it consciously or not.

And it motivated that person to contact me. So synchronous events are always events in which one asks, “Is there a meaning to this more than simply what happened?”

In other words, without imposing upon it meanings that may not be there because stuff happens, there is a sense that, “What does it mean that I lost my job?” Or, “What does it mean that this relationship has this pattern here?” Or, “What does it mean that these dreams keep pointing to this issue?”

When I look at it that way, I’m engaged with the other, and that’s the encounter with the numinous.

Kari Hohne:   I tend to believe all individuals are profoundly creative because we all dream.  For authors who might want to engage more with their creativity, how can connecting with our dreams lead to higher creativity? And how might authors and creators benefit from your upcoming course, The Interpretation of Dreams?

Dreams Are Synthetic and Creative

Dr. James Hollis:  Yeats once wrote, “In dreams begin responsibilities.” In other words, if a dream is identifying an issue, topic, step, place, problem, I now can no longer say, “I don’t know that. I have no awareness of that.” I’m accountable in some way for what has become manifest.

And dreams also, as history has shown us many, many times, are part of the unconscious process that’s going on within all of us. It’s very synthetic and creative, and speaks in images.

It would be more convenient to the ego if the psyche tapped out telegrams or text messages and said to the ego, “Buy this friendship, sell that emotion.”  It doesn’t. The psyche speaks to us in a pictorial language, in the language of the body, in the language of the feeling function, in the language of our energy systems, in the language of dreams, and imagination, and so forth.

So out of that comes, in some way, or another, images, which are allowing us access to, or a bridge to (which is what the word metaphor means) a world that is just as real, but which is otherwise invisible, and otherwise not tangible. And that world is, in some way, part of my reality as well.

Learning Dream Interpretation

Kari Hohne:  I love how dreams reveal our innate creativity. In your course, The Interpretation of Dreams, do you provide tips to remember dreams and discuss the dreaming process?

Dr. James Hollis:  Yes. It’s a single lecture of 70 minutes with questions, and transcripts. It is an introduction to why we dream, the kinds of dreams we have, and I talk about four different kinds of dreams and how we can begin to interpret our dreams.  I also give examples of various kinds of dreams along the way.

Kari Hohne:  Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me.  I’ve enjoyed our conversation.

Dr. James Hollis:  Thank you for inviting me, first of all. And secondly, this is the first time I’ve actually been asked about the process of writing. So, in that regard it was a new angle for me and very interesting.

The Interpretation of Dreams Jung Master Class
Dreams as a Path to Personal Authority

with James Hollis, Ph.D.

We spend up to a third of our lives in the underworld of sleep, and we average six dreams per night. While many psychologists find such autonomous psychic production the random firing of neurons, careful observers, equipped with a knowledge of metaphor and symbol, discern that careful tracking of these phenomena leads us to perspectives on our lives far different from that observed by the ego. In this course we will learn dream theory, methods of dream interpretation, and actual practice working together on dream material.

Early Bird Pricing through May $97

Register Today

Regular Price $147

James Hollis, Ph. D. is a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst in practice in Washington, D. C. where he is also Executive Director of the Jung Society of Washington. He is also author of fifteen books translated into nineteen languages. For more information, please visit his website.

Kari Hohne is a dream analyst and author who explores spirituality through nature. As a pioneer of dream research and expert on archetypes, she presents the common “hero” cycles in dreams. For more information, please visit her website, Cafe Au Soul.

2 Responses to Dreams, Creativity and the Inspiration of the Numinous with Dr. James Hollis

  1. What a fabulous, insightful interview! Thank you! I can’t wait to look into the Master Class.

  2. Jill says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed.

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