Are you ready to boldly go into the world of dreams? If so, meet your navigator Jane Cicchetti; author of Dreams, Symbols, & Homeopathy.
After reading this book, I have to say that I never knew dreams could be such a ponderous subject! I was merely hoping to find an explanation for that dream where you can’t find the bathroom? Or the bathroom doesn’t have a door? Instead, Jane has written an intelligent book that demonstrates knowledge of ancient medicine, ancient Greece and Rome, the beginnings of Christianity, the Reformation, alchemy, Jungian psychoanalysis….As a matter of fact, I had to start over at page one several times–let’s just say this is not a book you can read at the bus stop! But, I think I’ve got the full trajectory now, so, here we go, Jane, with some carefully-considered, high-level questioning! Question #1:
What is homeopathy?
Oh no, wait a minute, that’s the question I’ve been saving for George Vithoulkas! How could I have mixed these questions up; I’ve got your questions here in a mayonnaise jar–hermetically-sealed–and guarded by the Goddess Minerva, whose references, come to think of it, I never checked, and who may not even be a goddess! Let me just look at her resume…Minerva Schwarz; Hackensack, New Jersey; Domestic Goddess. OK, this seems to be in order. Minerva, the first question please!
The book seems to be saying that dreams are not only a look into our past, but also the past of our whole species! Or maybe even every species from the beginning of time, as our dreams evince knowledge of things we can’t possibly know. Am I on the right track here? Carl Jung called this knowledge “the collective unconscious”. What’s the significance of this for us?
You’re definitely on the right track. The symbols in dreams can be related to themes or myths that are part of the collective unconscious and can be related to something that the dreamer is completely unaware of on the conscious level.
Dreams can contain imagery that is primarily individual and personal or can contain archetypal imagery, meaning that they contain symbols that are associated with the vast well of knowledge that makes up the collective unconscious. Archetypes are impulses that make up the collective unconscious and have no form per se but stimulate certain universal images. Dreams that contain archetypal imagery are often the most important dreams to indicate the simillimum.
The group of characteristic symptoms that we use to find the correct remedy is very similar to what Jung called a complex. This complex is a group of symptoms, from the mind/body that surrounds an archetypal core. Here Jung indicates that our problems are rooted in a reality that is greater than the personal- that at our core we are all connected to the collective unconscious.
It should not be difficult for homeopaths to understand this because Hahnemann came to a very similar conclusion when he developed his theory of miasms, particularly when he spoke of psora. Psora indicates an underlying disease common to all of humanity. (I find it amusing that Hahnemann excluded himself from that group.) As classical homeopaths, whenever we treat chronic disease we are treating a miasm– i.e., the underlying collective disease. Therefore, dreams that tap into the collective unconscious at the point where the individual complex is connected to an archetype, will be most likely to reveal a substance that will be successful in treating the miasmatic disease.
What is also important is that, to be useful for the homeopath, the dream cannot be used outside of the totality of the case. The totality of the case is the group of symptoms that surround the archetypal core indicated by the imagery seen in a significant dream. By the way, the archetypal symbol may be also seen in a person’s language, bodily symptoms, fantasies and delusions, and in their likes and dislikes as well as in dreams. Dreams are an important, but not the sole portal through which to view these symbols.
The more general implication of the collective unconscious and Hahnemann’s theory of miasms is, of course, that we are not as separate and individual as we sometimes think. It is more likely that the delusion that we as human beings are separate from one another and from other members of the animal, plant and mineral kingdom increases depending on the degree to which the vital force is deranged.
Jung tried to stay away from this subject with Freud as much as possible. The main argument between them was around Freud’s theory of sexuality. As Jung’s mentor, Freud saw Jung as someone who could extend his lineage and often asked him to not abandon the theory. Although Jung felt the theory of sexuality was valid, he did not feel that it was relevant to all neuroses.
There is a new biography of Jung by Deirdre Bair (Jung: A Biography) that goes into the relationship between Jung and Freud in great detail. On reading it, I was amazed at the difficulty and conflict that existed between them and how they struggled with their relationship. One has to have compassion for these two great men, who developed theories that had such a significant impact on our understanding of the psyche while dealing with their own inner conflicts. They were each so far ahead of their time that there were very few people who could help them.
My purpose in writing the book was to help homeopaths to use dreams in a way that was appropriate for the current time. What was particularly difficult was to take the writings of the Alchemists and of Jung and make them understandable to most readers. These writings are notorious for being difficult. My book is quite a bit easier to read than those sources but, you’re right, it’s definitely not beach reading, except, perhaps, for people who write books with subtitles like “Archetypal Dimensions of Healing.”
Since Hahnemann and others of his time had little understanding of the psyche, and that era had rejected the ancient wisdom about dreams, our homeopathic literature did not contain much information about how to actually use dreams in practice. All we had were the dreams that were dreamt during the proving with no information as to whether they were dreams that were typical of the prover when not under the influence of the remedy.
Once I started writing, I realized that, in order to accomplish the goal of making dreams useful to the homeopath, I would have to include a history of dreams in medicine and an anatomy of the psyche as humanity has attempted to understand it up to this day.
In your discussion of “The Shadow”, you deal with the concept of “scapegoating”. It seems that every society picks someone to hate and then projects their own “shadow” on to that person or people. You explain that it’s really the shadow that you have to unearth and base your prescription on, am I right?
Although the shadow contains very important information that is easy to overlook in a case, we really must consider the whole person- the light and the dark, the conscious and unconscious, mind and body. The reason that I teach a lot about the shadow is that it is the part of a person that has been suppressed and often goes unnoticed. Understanding the shadow of an individual will complete the picture and allow us to be more confident in our prescriptions. Many characteristics are put into the shadow because we don’t want to look at them and we certainly don’t want anyone else to see them. That’s why we must look to dreams and do careful case taking in order to find the symptoms that are in the shadow. As you mentioned, we all tend to project our shadow- and then we hate those things that we project onto. Therefore, a good question to ask someone during the homeopathic interview is what qualities they hate in other people. When someone has a powerful dislike of a certain qualityâ€”we can be fairly sure that these are qualities that exist within them- in their shadow. In a family, the scapegoat, is the family member that holds the projected shadow of the family members. I heard of one family where everyone was very nice except for one son- he terrorized everyone, including all of the people in the town they lived in. AND- the mother and father allowed this to happen. This only makes sense when we understand that the son was holding all of the negative energy for the whole family. The scapegoat has a purpose.
Unfortunately, we no longer have rituals that utilize the scapegoat, so it gets distorted. Originally the scapegoat was an animal that was driven out into the wilds after a ceremony- carrying the negative energy of the community into an area where the energy would be rendered harmless. Of course, the ritual also made the process conscious, which is what we want to do with shadow energy. Whitmont talked about this as potentizing the shadow energy so that it becomes useful.
Jane, I hate people that are hateful! Does that mean I’m full of hate? Do I need a hate-filled remedy? But I do go on. Let’s talk about Christianity. You say in your book that the rise of Christianity in 500 AD destroyed the practice of medicine, which at the time was a union of rational and intuitive knowledge established by the Greek civilization. What was inherent in Christianity that caused such a descimation and what kind of medical practice ensued?
Actually, it had nothing to do with the spirituality of Christianity and everything to do with the development of an organized religion that became a political force at that time. The church, representing Christianity, became a power structure that told people what to think and believe and was powerfully against people engaging in spirituality on their own. This power structure was against people connecting with forces of nature, plant spirits and pagan rituals that had been a part of medical practices.
Traditional cures using herbal remedies and potions were considered witchcraft and outlawed by the church. Many of the practitioners who were persecuted by the church were women, especially the midwives and herbalists who were re-named witches.
Sickness was thought to be a punishment from God and the only way to cure someone was to pray for their forgiveness. That is why most of the doctors of the middle-ages were priests and why the hospitals were in monasteries. Patients in these hospitals were comforted and prayed for but there was very little treatment.
Later on universities were developed to train individuals and the practice of medicine was limited to mostly men. Laws were formed that stated that only trained and registered people could practice medicine. So the church led the movement towards a patriarchal, institutionalized form of medicine, and moved people away from earth centered, natural treatments.
I am struck that during this time of the persecution of women for trying to practice medicine, Hahnemann insisted that his wife Melanie be given a medical degree, as she was, in his words, “the best homeopath in Europe!”
Melanie Hahnemann was a woman who refused to be confined by the restrictions that were placed on women during her time and had a profound effect on Hahnemann. Rima Handley’s book A Homeopathic Love Story describes her relationship with him and how she developed into an excellent homeopath. Melanie is a great example of how personal development can have an effect on others even during difficult times.
Jane, this topic is so interesting, we’re going to have to bring you back in September in order to do it justice; but, for now, can you tell us about your Ontario conference scheduled for October and what the lucky participants can expect?
The seminar is being hosted by Carolyn Ramos of Toronto Homeopathics and will be in Ottawa, Ontario on October 2-3. It is entitled Dreams, Symbols and Homeopathy, Archetypal Dimensions of Healing, (same name as my book). I will be covering the integration of rational and symbolic methods of case analysis, the anatomy of the psyche including the concept of the collective unconscious, the shadow, and the principle of opposites as applied to homeopathy. Specific principles and techniques of dream analysis will be taught. Materia medica of little known plant remedies with their symbolic and mythological significance will also be covered.
After taking this course, participants should be able to use dreams more effectively in their homeopathic practice and be more able to discriminate between dreams that are important in finding the remedy and those that are not. They will also leave with a basic understanding of the role of the unconscious in homeopathic case taking as well as how their own psychological state effects their practice of homeopathy.
They can also expect to have an enjoyable time and perhaps, understand themselves a wee bit better through their own dreams.
For more information, Carol Ramos, by telephone 416-604-0017 or email her at [email protected] You can also read more about the seminar on the web at
Continued next month….
Jane, are you ready for Part 2 of our inquiry into your new book, Dreams, Symbols and Homeopathy? Are you ready for more challenging, and in-depth, probing questions? I was afraid of that. All I have are the ones I made up. So, brace yourself (not!) here comes another cavalcade of thrilling questions:
Regarding “compensatory dreams”: This is a very interesting concept–that a shy person, for example, will dream of great exploits and great achievements to “compensate” for his one-sidedness. Here’s the problem I have with this concept, I would think that if a person could “achieve” in his dreams, it would inevitably “spill over” into his waking state and affect him in a positive way. In my own experience, I don’t dream anything that I can’t actually do. There’s one exception though, I’ve found that when friends aren’t speakng to me, I dream that they are; or if someone dies, I dream they’re alive; it’s as if I’m in denial. I wonder if a dream like this would be considered an Ignatia dream, or is that a compensatory dream too?
Dreams often show us the other side of ourselves- in other words- they compensate for how we are in our waking state. And yes, what they say about that other side of ourselves can “spill over” and change our life. The problem is—we usually don’t want to listen because the dreams are often shadow material. Remember our discussion of the shadow- that it is made up of parts of ourselves that are unacceptable and undesirable? Because we don’t want to look at this shadow material it is easier to just say this is nonsense that happens while I am asleep.
When we become serious about looking at our dreams or if our homeopath helps us analyze our dreams and uses them to find a good remedy for us- we begin to accept and integrate this shadow side of ourselves. We are then on the path to integrating our shadow energy and becoming a healthier and more conscious human being.
The dreams that you mentioned (that someone who isn’t speaking to you really is, or that someone who is dead is actually alive) can, like all dreams, have different meanings depending on who you are; in other words, your whole life story, what exactly happened before the dream and how that relates to who you are as well as your exact associations to all of the details in the dream. These dreams could indicate any number of remedies depending on how they fit into the whole picture of who you are and under what circumstances they occurred.
Here’s a question I get from some of the parents in my practice: When a child has a nightmare where he seems wide awake, talks, cries, etc., but the parents can’t communicate with him, and especially if he’s just been given a remedy within a few days, what significance can one make of a dream like this?
Unless there is an emergency situation, it is important to always wait and see what happens after someone has taken a remedy. It really depends on what happens after 4- 8 weeks to be able to evaluate the significance of a child having such a nightmare after taking a remedy. One thing that occurs to me is that any child receives quite a shock coming into the world and a good remedy might just bring this up in a dream.
Of course if this continues, we might have to consider a new remedy because the first was incorrect or it uncovered this layer of shock.
As far as the importance of the content of the dream- I have rarely found the child to be able to remember the content or these nightmares until much later on in life. Of course the eyes open, crying etc. are important but I think that parents have enough to be concerned over without being too concerned about an occasional nightmare even if it occurs after giving a remedy.
As it happens, the child I was thinking of when I asked the above question was much better the next day. I wonder also about the dreams where a person is sure he’s awake and not dreaming. He may dream that someone is in the room–robbers, for example. He tries to get away or call for help but he’s paralyzed (REM sleep). He’s very distressed by this. Do these dreams hold any significance for the homeopath?
What is significant about these dreams (where the person feels that they are awake), is their intensity. Intensity in dreams is important just like intensity of any symptom or modality is important.
When using dreams all of the principles of homeopathic case taking and analysis still apply. We become the unprejudiced observer of a person’s dream state and let him or her tell us what the dream is about – in each and every minute detail. After that we may or may not have characteristic symptoms that will be part of the important symptoms that we use in our analysis.
So, if the person dreamt that they were awake and “heard” robbers in the house, and tried to get away and couldn’t, and felt it very intensely, would the homeopath then use the rubric, Dreams of robbers? Or is it more significant that the person has a dream where he believes he’s awake? Do we even have a rubric for that? By the way, should Arsenicum be added to the rubric “Dreams of robbers” in your opinion?
It depends on what the person’s association to the dream is and how that relates to his or her whole case. If fear of robbers is a big issue then we could use it as a symptom. I might use, fear of robbers or delusion, robbers rather than dreams of robbers. By the way, Arsenicum album is listed in the Millinnium Repertory under both fear and delusions of robbers. We can always use the fear and delusion sections when working with dreams.
I very rarely use the dream section of the repertory.
I find the dreams in provings, especially the newer provings to be generally interesting but consider that “raw” material that needs looked at as a group dream. If many of the provers have dreams of green elephants – that’s interesting. Also, if many of the dreams are somehow related to other symptoms that are being experienced during the waking state – that’s significant. Otherwise, how do we know that the dream is not characteristic of the dreamer rather than the substance? We would have to analyze the dreams of the provers for a period of time before the proving. I believe there are some people who have done that.
Wait, stop the presses! Did you say you almost never use the Dream chapter of The Repertory? So, you’re saying if someone has a dream of black animals, don’t automatically think of Pulsatilla, but rather, ask, “How do you feel about animals?” or “Do you have a particular association with the color black?”
Yes, we shouldn’t automatically think of a remedy because a person has a dream that is listed in the repertory. The way we proceed is to ask the person, “what does that particular animal mean to you?” “Why do you think it appeared in the color black? You can also have them describe exactly what is happening in the dream. It is also important to ask what was happening in their life before they had the dream. After that, you may have a symptom that is relevant to your case or the questioning may lead to some other interesting information.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that after you have chosen the best remedy, that it can’t be confirmed by the dream section of the repertory. That happens occasionally. And- when it does happen and the remedy works, I think of it as confirming the accuracy of the dream as actually belonging to the remedy.
If you look at many of our old provings, you will see that many of the dreams are typical of the provers, not of the remedy. Our material medica is full of these kinds of misleading symptoms- Franz Vermuelen has done some great research in this area.
Jane, I’m surprised you didn’t say the color black in the dream was an archetypal symbol!
Elaine, even when we have archetypal symbols in dreams we must first try to understand the personal meaning that the symbol has for the individual. After that we can integrate this with the archetype. Archetypes are pre-form, pre-verbal impulses that make up the collective unconscious and give rise to symbols or images that are universal. These symbols are seen throughout history and in many cultures. When working with archetypal symbols we must be very careful not to resort to the general “this symbol always means so and so” thinking. We must, rather, look into the historical and varied meaning of an archetypal symbol and see what it is telling the dreamer. In order to find out the true meaning we research the archetypal meaning and discuss it with the client until we find the direction in which the archetypal symbol is pointing . The more active the client is within this process the better. One eventually acquires a library of books on myths and symbols to do this work but my favorite is the Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant. This book draws on the meaning of symbols within many times and cultures.
You’re not going to believe this but, because of all the hoo-hah over “Dreams of Robbers” we had previously, guess what I dreamed of last night? You guess it, robbers! I dreamed my husband, his nephew Earl and I were going to rob a movie theater. We split up. I was sitting about 10 seats away from Earl and my husband was in the front row when the gun fell out of Earl’s pocket and rolled down the ailsle and was picked up by another audience-member. I thought, “Well, that’s it, we’ll never be able to rob the theater now!” I got up to walk over to where my husband was sitting to tell him what happened when I realized, “What have I done? Why did I draw attention to myself by getting up? Now I’m the prime suspect!” Then the alarm went off and I woke up. It’s just as well. So, there you have it Jane, “Dreams of Robbers”!
I’d like to end this interview with a reminder from Carolyn Ramos, the sponsor of the Oct. 2nd and 3rd conference in Ottawa, Canada featuring Jane; and by the way, you readers from Pakistan, Australia and other far-away places? I know you think you can’t possibly make this conference, but, if you leave now, I’m sure you can get there in time! And now I give you the lovely and fabulous, Carolyn Ramos:
“Dreams, Symbols and Homeopathy: Archetypal Dimensions of Healing”
This seminar will fascinate those interested in homeopathy and psychology alike.
Dreams and symbols point to a fundamental reality which is not readily suppressed by medications and societal attitudes. Information, taught in this course, on how to accurately use dreams and symbols, will give the homeopath access to characteristic symptoms which may otherwise be overlooked. This is particularly important in cases of deep pathology and complex cases.
Registration on the website
Carolyn Ramos HD(RHom.)
Continued next month….
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