Center for Sacred Psychology

Soul Food Archive: Psychospiritual Theory

Main Courses are offered on a frequently changing menu. Here are words and images to ingest and digest for inner nourishment. We hope these hearty meals invite you to taste and savor, to muse, reflect and remember, to journal, to create art...that is, to feast on food for the spirit.


Pascha #2, by Archimandrite Kiprian,
Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY*

Our current main course, below, is just one of several Soul Food offerings. Please visit, also, our buffet of Guest Caterer Specials and, for lighter fare, our Desserts & Snacks counter. And, to sample earlier menus, we hope you'll check out the Soul Food Archive. Like all who prepare foodstuffs, we hope to hear from those we serve! Space to leave comments, or read others' comments, on our cuisine follows each Soul Food offering.

 

 

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One of the spiritual gifts of the 20th century was the re-appreciation of the power and value of our dreams.  The industrialized western world had, at the time of the so-called 18thcentury Enlightenment or Age of Reason, largely turned its sights away from things which couldn’t be proven…dreams being one of several “un-provable” experiences which became sidelined by the intellectual ethos of the day.

But, as we know, mystics of all traditions, and people of indigenous cultures, have kept dreaming practices alive—dream temples, dream incubation, dream sharing, and so on.  Then, thanks to the early depth psychologists—Freud, and then Jung—there began a renaissance of dream appreciation, which flourishes today.

[A little aside: In the early 1980s, some of our staff began to give workshops on dreams.  At that time, we felt it imperative to back up our ideas with all sorts of “proofs”—for example, the great people who had attended to their dreams (e.g., Abraham Lincoln), the acceptance of dream practices by most of the world faiths, the proliferation of dreams in the world’s scriptures and so on.  By the turn of the millennium, such validating had become unnecessary.  Dreams and dreamwork had, once again, entered mainstream consciousness. Truly, an Enlightenment.]

So, this Main Course entry is simply offered as a reminder of the power of our dreams.  They can be seen as one of the two most valuable ways of self-understanding, an introverted way.  (The companion way, is projection—wherein we meet parts of ourselves in the outer world, therefore an extraverted way.)  Here is some artwork as an homage to the dream world; both pictures below come from Christian legendry.

Above, we see a narrative picture showing, on the left, the early 13thcentury Pope Innocent III, asleep and dreaming.  In his dream he sees a grey monk holding up the church.  To the right, that same friar appeals to the pope for recognition of his newly formed community, the Franciscans, and because of his dream Innocent is convinced that Francis of Assisi deserves his blessing, and will help with renewal of the then-tottering church.

Interestingly, in the lore of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), there’s a similar legend (and paintings) of Dominic approaching the same pope for recognition of his new order of mendicant friars.  Innocent dreams that a monk in a black-over-white habit holds up the church.  There are also paintings of Francis and Dominic together, side by side, bolstering up a medieval institution in distress. 


And here’s a gentle scene from the legend of Saint Ursula, a British princess who supposedly lived in the 4th century.  Lore has it that she was on pilgrimage before her wedding, with eleven thousand maidens.  They reached Cologne, where they were slaughtered by Huns.  This painting shows Ursula’s precognitive dream foretelling the terrible end of her journey. The bearer of the dream, a typical Renaissance angel, floats across her doorsill. The angel carries the palm of martyrdom, and wears red shoes (reserved in Christian symbolism of the day for holy ones).  Note: Ursula sleeps with one hand behind her ear, as if to be sure to hear the dream message!  And do you see her reading desk, her crown laid at the foot of her bed, and her pet dog next to her slippers?—simple touches that humanize this young girl of long-ago. 

Although the story of Ursula takes her from Britain to Rome to Cologne, the artist Carpaccio has painted her in his beloved home republic, Venice—and his Venetian viewers will, therefore, doubly appreciate that Ursula’s story could also be (in some ways) theirs, making her pilgrimage an allegory of their own pilgrimages and sufferings.

These pictures of dreamers might lead us to ask some questions...
Which dreamers of lore, or scripture, or film, or books do I recall?
Have I drawn pictures of any of my dreams recently?
What next step could I take in honoring my dream life?

 

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We're interested in ways this Soul Food may have touched your life.

Click HERE to send us your comments...

 

Read Others' Comments...

Thanks for the great dream pictures. It's interesting that almost all world religions have pictures of dreamers--Mohammed, the Buddha, several others. The thing that has helped me most with dream recall is numbering each dream, and having the next number next to the blank space in my dream log--as if I'm waiting for it.
Max
Santa Fe, NM

Dear Max, Thanks for reminding us all of this helpful tip--it's "invitatory," a way of saying to the unconscious "I'm waiting to hear from you again." Important too, to date each dream we record.

the Center Staff

Los Angeles

 

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* Credits for this page:

~ Pascha #2 by Archimandrite Kiprian, Holy Trinity Icon Studio, Jordanville, NY
A family in old Russia welcomes visitors with special Pascha (Easter) treats. Gratefully used with permission from Holy Trinity Icon Studio, Jordanville, NY, 13361. This excellent website is the source for inexpensive traditional icon prints and mounted icons.

~ The Siesta (Afternoon in Dreams),1878, by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, prolific American artist from Alabama (1847-1928).  From Dover Electronic Clip Art 120 Great Orientalist Paintings, Carol Belanger Grafton, ed., 2009.

~ The Dream of Pope Innocent III, by Benozzo Gozzoli of Florence (c.1420-1497).

The Dream of Saint Ursula, 1495, by Vittore Carpaccio of Venice (1465-1525), one of a cycle of nine paintings depicting legends of the teenaged saint created for the School of St.Ursula in Venice, a charitable institution devoted to the care and education of young girls. Today, in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

 

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WATCH FOR OUR NEXT MAIN COURSE—IN september!