By James Hillman
Uniform version of the Writings of James Hillman, quantity 9
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Uniform version of the Writings of James Hillman, quantity nine
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A dream brings with it a terrible urge for understanding. We want dreams decoded for their meanings. But the dream, like the animal in it, is a living phenomenon. It goes on displaying itself, pointing beyond itself to ever further interiority if we can hold back the hermeneutical desire so that the image can elaborate itself. If so, then does amplification help the image, and how? ” 13 By establishing the symbolic context through historical, philological, and iconological research we gain an objective core of meaning of the dream animal.
To explore and to justify this sense of substance and power in the dream animal, to come to terms with this otherness, is our remaining task. First, however, we must recall in broad lines the modes of degradation of the animal kingdom that are still operative in the response of the interpreter to the dream and in the response of the dreamer in the dream. Modes of Degradation The many difficulties of the “dream-I” with the animal in dreams – perceiving the animal as dangerous, fearing its bite, pursuit by it, invasion by many of them – definitely correspond with the dreamer’s devaluation of the animal in the dream – the desire to avoid, to control or to eradicate it, or in the dreamer’s misperception (that familiar little phrase, “I thought …”) of the animal and its intentions.
Why would eating crab cure the pig? The cure must be homeopathic (like cures like) for the crab, too, is symbolically lunar, moist, and anti-heroic: Baldur dies when the sun enters Cancer; Hercules is impeded at Lerna by a crab seizing his foot, thus impelling the hero to re-double his leonine force. The astrological Crab arrives at the summer solstice when the sun “stands still” after its upward climb, a moment of watery depths and reflection before the hot dominion of Leo. Its astro-anatomical place are the breasts and the stomach, quite like the pig.
Animal Presences by James Hillman