As an INFP and a creative person, I often feel held back by my mind’s frantic grasping at things when what I need is to connect with the messy, spiral creative process and experience things as they are. This week, I would like to share a passage from Marion Woodman’s introduction to Jill Mellick’s lovely book on dream work, The Natural Artistry of Dreams.
In it, Woodman talks about what metaphor and organic images really are. They are not things we think up rationally, but rather experiences that happen to us, a full-bodied way of knowing things.
“Metaphor is the literal language of the soul. Poets do not try “to think up metaphors.” They are not interested in making up riddles for the rest of us to figure out. They think in metaphors. In his poem “The Tyger,” for example, William Blake poses an immense theological question in one simple line: “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
Organic images are destroyed if we subject them to linear thinking. How often we judge them as “bizarre” or “weird.” They need to be allowed to grow like plants in a spiraling movement. They carry emotional and imaginative energy as well as intellectual meaning, and as they spiral they are illumined with nuances of feeling.”
Organic images are destroyed if we subject them to linear thinking. This is true for both working with our dreams as well as our creative life as INFP writers and artistes. In the dreamworld, images sometimes denote something completely different than our first literal interpretation. For example: Often times, death in dreams can be a good thing. It can mean that something old in us is dying and something new is being born.
Dreams as well as any creative process gives us access to these kind of organic images, images that speak poetically, that are suffused with meaning, color and richness. Tearing down or analyzing these images pins them down, suffocates them. Instead of analyzing and interpreting them too closely, these images can be experiences that join us to the world around us. Reflecting on them, without closing down their meaning, can help join us to our bigger selves.
What about you? Where might you be interpreting something too literally? How can you stay with the experience and reflect on it without having to be sure that this one meaning is the meaning?