In the process of Animation, you tend to dream images as more than signs pointing to a particular answer, as Freud said, or symbols representing an archetypal meaning, as Jung offered. In animating the living images of your dream you experience them as also phenomenal, like living animals, with presence, pulse, and body. As James Hillman, an archetypal psychologist and thought leader in the field of dreams describes: dream images actually “personsonify the soul.” That is, dream figures are living inhabitants of our soul life.
In Hillmans way of looking at dreams, you go beyond association and amplification to a new process called animation. In animation, you look for ways of experiencing dream images in their living, embodied reality. For example, the lion, rather than just referring to childhood rage or the universal archetype of nobility, now takes on a physical existence, actually present in the room, on the prowl, roaring with its fanged mouth, lashing its tail and licking its huge, furry paws. Furthermore, this is not like watching a lion in a movie, because in animation we are able to actually interact with the lion in “imaginal play,” talk to it, ask it questions, pet its fur, hear what it has to say, and follow it through its habitat. It’s a full-immersion, interactive experience.
Dream Tending Methods of Animation are based on the idea that dream images are alive. Methods of Animation return vitality to the dream image that is inherent to the image to begin with. You use Dream Tending Methods of Animation to “re-animate” or “resuscitate” dream images, that is, to bring back to life images that have otherwise been reduced to the medium of narrative, description or explanation.
Unlike the Personal Developmental Methods of Association which link dream images to other, similar life events, or Archetypal Methods of Amplification which enhance dream images through investigating similar symbolic references, methods of Animation focus on the actuality of the image. These methods explore the dream image as a living phenomenon in and of itself. You experience dream images as active, embodied, imaginal entities, with presence and pulse.
You discover that information about the dream is generated, therefore, not through an interpretive method of image-linking, nor an analytical process of image enhancement, but through an animating process of embodied correspondence between you and the dream image.
Another example: an elephant appears in a dream. In addition to considering the dream elephant from the personalistic point of view (elephant as representing my animal instinct), or from the perspective of the collective (elephant symbolizing a sacred animal or deity), the emphasis here is on the living, breathing activity of the elephant as a “living image” of the dream. You use methods of Animation to enliven the field of consciousness that exists between you and the dream image in order that the embodied presence of the image can be experienced as alive existing in an imaginal way in the room along with you.
To find more about methods of Animation, enroll in Stephen Aizenstat’s course Tending the Dream Image. This beautifully produced, step-by-step course assists you in relieving pain, reclaiming your purpose, and reaching your soul’s potential.
Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., has devoted his life to understanding the profound wisdom and healing power that exists within each of us. He is Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has explored the power of dreams through depth psychology and his own research for more than 35 years.More Posts by Stephen Aizenstat