#344 – Archetypal Phenomena Surrounding Death with Monika Wikman, PhD


Monica Wikman, Ph.D was my guest on episode #286 on Jungian Active Imagination and #235 – Using Alchemical Archetypes in Jungian Analysis. She is a Jungian Analyst and author of Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness (2005) and various articles in Jungian psychology journals. Monika obtained her BA from UC San Diego and her doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego, where her research took her deep into the study of dreams of people with terminal cancer. After teaching graduate students at California State University, Los Angeles, she graduated as a diplomat from the Jung-Von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich. She lectures internationally on mythology and symbolism, dreams and wellness, alchemy and creativity. In private practice as a Jungian Analyst and astrologer, she lives along a creek and under starry skies in Tesuque, New Mexico with horses, dogs, and friends.

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  1. gloria
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful interview – I listened to it 3 times back-to-back and then feasted on the wisdom as I did the transcript – highly recommended for deepening one’s understanding of a particularly compelling interview. I found so many resonances with my own experiences with dreams, especially Monika’s statement about the absolute necessity of dreams as a portal to and connection with, the non-physical reality. I, too, do not know where I would be without the dream portal although I was 47 before I became aware of their unparalleled healing power and guidance.

    When my husband, Roger, was dying of pancreatic cancer at that time, one day he and a friend, Nigel, had a discussion about the possibility, or not, of life after death. Nigel said he doubted it because his mother and sister, who were both deceased, had been devout spiritualists all their lives and if they had survived in some form, he felt sure they would have contacted him and he’d never heard anything. Roger said jokingly, ‘well, if I survive, I’ll find a way of getting through to you’ and they both had a good chuckle.

    About two weeks after my husband’s death, Nigel came to my house for a visit and told me about a dream he’d had. The dream was that Nigel was lying in bed – his own bed in his own house – and Roger came through the wall alongside the bed. Nigel said to him ‘hey, Roger you said you would let me know if you survived death.’ Roger said to him ‘this is how it’s done – in dreams.’

    Now, as far as I know Roger had no dream recall and up until that time, although I had remembered the occasional particularly vivid dream, neither did I. But almost from the instant he died, my dream life began to open up in ways that I had never experienced before.

    About 5 years after this, my dream life really exploded during a very difficult period in my life and I can honestly say, as Monika does in the interview ‘If I didn’t have the dream path, I don’t know what would have happened to me.’

    I have had many dream visitations since that time – including pets – and one thing I have noticed consistently is that, like the one of my friend, they are invariably in very ordinary settings, often in my own house or familiar landmarks. They usually lack the fantasy scenarios or weirdness that often occur in dreams. Frequently too, no words are spoken by the ‘visitor’ but a non-verbal understanding is transmitted. I think this is probably the ‘felt sense’ that Monika refers to.

    Interestingly, I asked Nigel about the dream he’d had of Roger a few years later and he didn’t remember it. Which to me illustrates a very important point – dreams have to be worked with and taken seriously if their value is to be realized.

  2. Posted April 7, 2013 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Gloria, hello and so many thanks for transcribing this podcast interview with Dr. Dave.
    Your own experiences of the thin veil between the worlds are very moving and I appreciate you sharing them here so others can take them in as well. These areas of our lives lived at the borders between worlds bring such poignant experiences of the soul beyond the time space continuum.
    Opening our minds, suspending belief and dis-belief and allowing the phenomenon of the psyche to be just as it is takes us past the devils of the intellect into a deeper richer more ancient strata of consciousness, the spirit of the depths as Jung calls it.
    I imagine you find a deep drink of living water via these experiences; they help grief find its way into healing and stretch the map of the many worlds inside the recipient.
    I too am partial to dreams and felt visions of animal companions who pass on leaving us connecting with them in dreams and subtle body experiences.
    Thank you again for your work on the transcript and the sharing of your own experiences.
    Monika Wikman

  3. gloria
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Monika. I would like to add that at the time of my husband’s death, I was convinced I was an atheist, although I no longer believe such an entity exists. There was nothing in me that I would have called spiritual, or even intuitive. My naïveté is astonishing to me now.

    I would like to take the opportunity to share one more personal anecdote to illustrate the value of dreams. Five years after my husband died I remarried and 21 months later the marriage ended when my new husband became involved with someone else. The situation left me feeling bereft and my confidence in my ability to make good judgments was shattered. Right when I was feeling at my lowest, I remembered a dream I’d had some time before we married and knew absolutely it had been warning me against doing so.

    In the dream, I was in my partner’s bed in his house (as I was in real life) and a little spider was in the bed, biting me all over as if trying to get my attention. When that didn’t work, it went round and round my body winding me up in its web. I got out of bed (in the dream) and lifted my arms away from my body breaking the web, as if to say ‘see how futile your efforts at tying me up are?’ The little spider looked exasperated and I just laughed at its frustration.

    I didn’t know anything about interpreting dreams at the time although I had developed a kind of feel for what they generally meant but this one had me completely flummoxed. The thing is, I had a real knowing that it was important and even had an online interpretation done and discussed it with a therapist I was seeing at the time but couldn’t crack it. I can say now that I needed to go through the experience of the break up but I have to wonder if, had I known what I know now about dream interpretation, would I have heeded its warning? I have to confess that I probably wouldn’t have, as there were many outer life indicators to indicate that I was making a mistake that I blithely ignored too.

    The good news is that it was the break up that spurred me into taking dreams very seriously and doing a great deal of study and workshops with teachers of various stripes and it has paid huge dividends. In fact, I can think of three occasions off the top of my head where dreams have saved me from becoming involved in situations that were not in my best interests. The real bonus is that it spills over into a greater intuitive sense in waking life and if I am faced with a seemingly irresolvable problem, I automatically approach it as if it were a dream.

    I won’t go into any details about the spider dream but in case it is of value to someone, I consequently learned that spiders are a classic symbol of intuition (inner knowing) because they extrude the material for their webs from within their bodies. Of course, each individual needs to consider their own personal associations with spiders, so this is not a one size fits all but it certainly was the case in this dream.

  4. Philemon
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink


    This was a FANTASTIC interview. THANK YOU Dr. Dave and Monika for the opportunity to access these ideas! So much to ponder here!

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