Become the container of your emotional waters and be free to wonder about what’s next.
NY-based “therapist for creatives” Melissa Daum, LMFT, draws from ancient symbols, Greek mythology, fairy tales, and alchemy to shed light on modern-day conundrums. This realm of feminine magic and symbolism is easily overlooked, on a cultural level and in turn, within ourselves. In an effort to better identify and explain some of this magic, Melissa wants to field questions from YOU! Feel free to share with her your deepest secrets, strangest dreams, most absurd single behavior.
SEND YOUR QUESTIONS/DREAMS/SECRETS to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s question comes from T:
My dream tonight was composed of two parts, and was so vivid that I still remember it.
In both parts I saw my ex-partner. We were together for 14 years and it’s been 3 years since our separation.
The dream took place in the big and spacious sunny apartment that doesn’t belong to my partner, but she is managing for someone else. Instead of renting it, she filled it up with water, but all kinds of underwater objects created a sea floor, as well as an octopus 🐙. She is watching it and studying it. I am under the sunny and clear water just mesmerized and in awe of the creation and octopus. It’s easy for me to be there and stay there. It’s feels very good and comfortable. I ask her how she did it all? Octopus gives me a small touch on the face with one of its suction cups. When I finally decide to leave, I walk off the property and the owner, a young tall handsome man, walks by me. I try to leave a bit quicker thinking “Oh no she is going to get in trouble for this.”
Our next scene, we are on a love seat in front of the TV, kissing. I know my family is here too. I feel a bit shy, uncomfortable but mostly excited and happy, with doubts in my mind about if it’s a right thing to do and if it will work out…
Thank you for your guidance!
As your significant relationship was fourteen years long, the separation must run very deep. While in your conscious life you’ve been broken up three years, unconsciously it sounds like part of you is still swimming in the relationship.
For this water-world dream, I’m going to focus on the solutio phase of alchemy. Solutio is Latin for loosening or dissolving; also, solution or solving. (You can read more about alchemy in my post on the nigredo phase, or the phase of blackness.) In short, alchemy is the mystical and pre-scientific art of transmuting base metals into gold. This cryptic practice spanned the globe, and lasted up until the Renaissance in Western Europe. We have Carl Jung to thank for redeeming the value of alchemy in metaphorical terms, as it was never shown to work literally. Jung noted how alchemy was a perfect allegory to describe psychological transformation, as what one rejects the most in oneself (base metal) is also the way to the gold.
Solutio is the stage where the base metal is dissolved, which will allow for it to coagulate in a new way. Psychologically speaking, this is like when one’s outdated ideology starts to dissolve — it can be a tearful time when this happens in therapy as the “base metal” is grieved. Thus solutio describes the paradox of solution and dissolution occurring simultaneously. I see this paradox come alive in your dream; it’s as if you’re both flooded and reborn at the same time.
Let’s take a minute and think about the octopus, because wow, an octopus! The Book of Symbols. Reflections on Archetypal Images, my go-to symbol encyclopedia, describes the octopus as follows: “The octopus resembles its cousins—the whirlpool, the spider’s web, the wheel and the spiral — in representing both the mystic center, and the unfolding of creation through dissolution.” Thus the octopus is the p e r f e c t creature to have visited your dream as it further reflects the paradox of solutio. It is the amorphous “mandala in motion,” signifying you’ve been touched by the mystical epicenter of the psyche. In my read of the dream it feels like you got its blessing to emerge anew. I’d be very curious if after this dream you felt more at peace with the break-up. I think the octopus intends that for you.
As you surface from the underwater place, you meet the handsome property owner. It’s like a meeting of land and sea, or the masculine and feminine dimensions of your nature. Alchemical illustrations often depicted a king and queen as a means to emphasize the dualities coming together in a “chemical marriage.” Jung would say this indicates psychological transformation occurring at the royal level. Thus the “land lord,” who governs the realms of logic and reason, right and wrong, probably has some thoughts about the flooded apartment.
And then your dream shifts into its epilogue. My read on this dream finale is that you can sit in the “love seat” of all your mixed feelings. Shy and uncomfortable feelings are snuggled up next to excitement and happiness. These disparate feeling states are coexisting peacefully. Now you become the container of your emotional waters and are free to wonder about what’s next.