Home' Nova National : May 2010 Contents DREAMS
© NOVA MAY 2010
I want to be where
Your bare foot walks.
Because maybe before you step
You will look to the ground.
I want that blessing.
THE PILGRIM IS the spiritual version of the
wanderer, one who follows the footprints of
those who have gone before to receive a holy
blessing. Images such as the "Feet of Vishnu"
and the "Footsteps of Christ" often provide
the starting point to this profound spiritual
Legends associated with the archetype of
The Way (the Tao) tell of adventures in the
exterior world, but hold far deeper meanings.
The wanderer who takes an outer journey also
makes an interior trip into the realms of the
unconscious and, in the process, discovers
the mysteries of their beginning.
Joseph Campbell, who furthered Carl
Jung's interest in wanderer myths, collected
stories from diverse times and cultures, and
brought them together in his work The Hero
with a Thousand Faces. Campbell not only
compared mythological stories to prove that
the archetypal pattern of the wanderer occurs
everywhere, but looked at their recurring
patterns and hidden messages.
The mythological opening to the
archetype of The Way often begins in captivity.
With fairytales this captivity is literal: the
potential pilgrim is imprisoned by a dark force
or a spell or a dragon in a cave or castle. In
real life the entrapment may be a relationship,
society or a job. Whatever the circumstance,
there's a pressing need to break free.
Both the Buddha and St Francis of Assisi
began their wanderings in this way. They were
known to have "everything" -- status, money,
kinship, pleasure. Yet in the midst of plenty
they felt something was missing. Francis
renounced all his possessions; the future
Buddha left a kingdom and a family to ride
off by night into the forest and an unknown
fate. His followers refer to the "Footprints of
Buddha", a vivid image believers interpret as
Feet and footprints are an essential
part of the archetype of The Way. The feet
take us along the path, the footprints act as
a guide. Painted, engraved, or sculptured
representations of footprints were used
to guide pilgrims from very early times. In
antiquity, stones dedicated to Isis and Venus
were marked with footprints to indicate I have
been here. Barbara Walker, in The Woman's
Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects,
tells of visitors to ancient goddess shrines
who followed such footprints to reach their
destination. In dreams, such images have
long been associated with the outer and inner
journeys spiritual seekers undertake.
Man follows the earth.
Earth follows heaven.
Heaven follows the Tao.
Tao follows what is natural
-Lao Tz: Tao Tê Ching.
Dreams of departure, crossing the
threshold, initiation, adventure and return
show us something of the pilgrim's journey.
The first, departure can be the subject of a
large number of dreams, as it is sometimes the
hardest step. C, a woman in her forties, had
a long series of "departure" dreams before
deciding to go to Spain and join the 1000 year
old pilgrimage to the shrine of St Jacques at
the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
(also called The Way of St James).
Many thanks to C for sharing the following:
"For months I had dream after dream
where I was swimming huge distances
without arriving. I saw myself from above.
I was a tiny figure in a vast sea that lay
between two mighty land masses. It reminded
me of the Dardanelles, the stretch of water
separating (joining?) Europe and Asia. It was
vast -- as big as the sea between Australia and
Once the decision had been made,
the dreamer left the comforts of home
and embarked on the archetype of The
Way. Her wanderings, however, demanded
great endurance. During the inner journey
that accompanied the pilgrimage, C found
herself struggling with what she described
as weird dreams: encounters with irresistible
attraction, magical beings, mythical animals,
monsters, imprisonment, even death.
Following sacred footprints can lead
through trials such as grief and humiliation,
as well as to the greatest of joys. Even when
the metaphorical or actual pilgrimage is made
in the company of like-minded people, the
experience is always a solitary one, unknown
and sometimes forbidding. But no one can
take the journey for us, and in the process we
discover that life is not about pain -- it's about
Jenny Albertson (BA Hons MA IAJS) Jungian
practitioner, teacher and group leader for more than
20 years, has lived and worked in London,
New York, Fremantle and Sydney.
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