Sep 262012
Woodblock by Kristine Velez

Woodblock by Kristine Velez

As Joseph Campbell famously says, “Dreams are the private myth & myths are the public dream.” Indeed Campbell and other mythologists, such as those delightful Jungians, discovered amazing cross-cultural motifs in Fairy Tales. Those patterns, (or what we now call archetypes), are found repeatedly in stories from around the world, seemingly unconstrained by geography or epoch.

Imagine for a moment that you could strip your ‘local’ story down to its bare essence, to find what you  have in common with everyone in the world, and you’ll get archetypes.

From the Greek archetupos, meaning “first-moulded,” fairy tales are the blueprints of our innate, universal experiences.

Archetypes get activated in our dreams during meaningful transitions, but having lost the art of symbolic language in our culture, we don’t recognize (or remember) them when they arise.

Working with dreams & fairy tales helps us to see when we are undergoing important rites of passage, such as initiation, courtship, marriage, birth and preparation for death.

They bring meaningful dimension to our human lives by showing us the chapters in our mythic journey. We aren’t just leading unnecessary lives, but stepping through the same gates with bravery and despair, awe and triumph as the heroes and heroines we grew up admiring in our storybooks.

As the woman who gives birth in a dream at the same time she launches a creative project into the world, she recognizes how long the labour, how precious the outcome, how fragile yet the offering. She comes into contact with the hugeness of her experience, and knowing how fairy tales work, might then follow their maps with greater confidence into the unknown.

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  8 Responses to “Dreamspeak: The Importance of Fairy Tales”

  1. amazing world <3

  2. I really enjoy your writing, and this piece is wonderful example why. I have been wondering recently if there isn’t a better word for archetype. It seems like it can be an easy slip-in when discussing dreams, even it doesn’t seem to fit. I’ve been trying to figure out a better word, spirit perhaps, but have been unsuccessful by and large. I wonder if you have any thoughts on the word.

    • Thanks for your feedback Tim, it’s nice to hear from you! I’m not sure I could suggest a word unless I knew the context…can you give me an example of where it slips in?

      • I guess the more I think about it archetype has been replaced more and more by cliche. I feel like there is a fine line by what you share cross culturally and it getting repeated so often that it becomes a generic version of itself. In its truest form I feel the experience comes down to the individual essence of the dream, and the word archetype somewhat belittles that essence for me. I mentioned spirit before as a substitute but I don’t know if there really is a substitute. All words, I feel, carry a certain power and archetype has been granted too much gravitas.

        • Tim, to me you have not described sufficient reason for abandoning ‘archetype’. just because that word is overused in our culture hat doesn’t mean that ‘archetype’ is not an appropriate word to describe recurring motifs in dreams, no matter how individual the dream seems to the subject. That is it’s correct use.

          • Perhaps it is the ‘correct’ use for you Conor. For me, however, it is not. It simply doesn’t resonate inside of me as befitting the situation, and I find it limiting. For me, it is alright to leave the unknowable unnameable. Cliche certainly doesn’t work, nor does archetype. My dreams invite me to go deeper and truly participate consciously in the unfolding of my own experience and my own power. I don’t find it’s as easy as saying ‘that is it’s correct use’, it’s not a thing to be named for me. It belittles my experience when given a title like that. Many others feel comfortable using archetype, that’s fine, but it’s not ‘correct’ for me.

  3. I live in New Zealand (born in Canada) and my Uncle lives on Salt Spring Island. We are visiting him next year. I would love to catch up with you. I have only just started receiving your posts but feel a connection.


  4. Hi,

    I really love this post. I am huge depth psychology geek, so it spoke to me. I recently blogged about a symbolic dream. You might enjoy my post:

    I also love everything written by James Hillman and Robert A. Johnson on dream work and fairy tales. Amazing. Thanks for writing this. — Shavawn

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