Experiencing the Otherworldly with my Kids
Dabbling in some Jungian psychology, I put this curious idea forward. If dreams, as Jung posits, allows one to tap into the collective unconscious and experience the world of instinct and archetypes, aren’t we all, in some odd way, experiencers of anomalistic phenomenon?
Driving down the highway only days ago with my two small children in the backseat, the philosophical genius of Raffi was playing in the car. My brain began to wander as my daughter began to sing along to “Wheels on the Bus.” I began to consider Jung and the notion of dreaming, as well as Dr. Dean Radin’s latest book concerning, what he calls, “Capital C” Consciousness. The theory that the human mind is connected to universal systems of knowledge is fairly standard in anomalistics and Fortean ideology, as well as countless religious and spiritual paradigms. As St. Paul writes in his letters, we are all part of the body of God.
I began to muse on the notion that something resides in this dream realm, this world in-between the gaps of consciousness and unconsciousness. Much like Henry Corbin’s mundus imaginalis, I considered the possibility that a Jungian archetype could possibly possess its own agency outside of my mind, and even physicality. My mind simply meandered through these various ideas with no real destination, I was merely wandering.
My son who is too young to talk, but grunts and yells with the vigour of an angry Wookie, shook me from my daydream. He was indicating to me that he did not like the current song being played. “Wheels on the Bus” was over, and the Raffi playlist was continuing into the deeper tracks. Just as I leaned over to press the “Skip” button, a curious line from “The Garden Song” caught my attention,
“Pullin' weeds and picking stones, we are made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own, as the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain, find my way in nature's chain
Tune my body and my brain, to the music from the land…”
Never having paid any mind to Raffi, the coincidence of my anomalistic thinking and the odd feeling of having the right song play just at the right time made me chuckle. Raffi, clearly a New Age philosopher and obvious Fortean, inspired me to formalize my thoughts in writing.
Are we made of “dreams and bones” as Raffi suggests? Am I a simultaneous blend of immaterial consciousness and material structures? Such ideas are problematic due to their general conflict with materialism, the backbone of modern scientific thinking. That being said, some of the more modern physical theories and hypotheses speculate that the material world may be a little less material than initially thought. The universe, according to theoretical physics, can be pretty spooky. While this isn’t hard evidence that Radin, Corbin, Jung or Raffi are “objectively” correct in their postulations, it is an interesting lean into that direction. I will lean along with them.
Moving beyond the idea that “the self” resides totally in the physical body, we can go down a certain path. Let us suppose that Jung’s collective unconscious actually has breadth and depth, much like Corbin’s mundus imaginalis. When we dream, we engage with this strange world.
If the dream world is our connection to some universal system of knowledge, and when we commune with the various symbols, ideas and beings in those dreams, have we actually moved beyond the limitations of the physical brain? When I dream about work, for example, am I actually in some imaginal version of work? Have I gone to another place which mimics my workplace for some unknown reason? Indeed, countless people claim having visions of strange and similar places, being told secrets or important information, only to have them “come true” or affect outcomes in their waking world. Little of this is physically or objectively provable as yet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
Moreover, many paranormal researchers argue that visions of UFOs, aliens and other strange beings are simply manifestations of this dream realm. Even Dr. John E. Mack once suggested that alien abductions are not necessarily physical events but happen in some mental and spiritual “outside the box” way. While I personally have no idea what is responsible for the countless stories of extraterrestrials, interdimensional beings, flying saucers, and even Nimitz-harassing Tic Tacs, have we all not experienced strange things before in our dreams?
I personally recall a dream where I had a conversation with my late grandfather. We were in his house, and I spent a good part of the dream world’s “afternoon” with him. Much like Jodi Foster in Contact meeting with a being that manifested as her father, we spoke of old times and the weather, and oddly enough, gardening.
If I asked the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, he would undoubtedly tell me that I spoke with a “ghost” which haunts my lived experience. In other words, a manifestation of previous and current experiences which govern not only me, but my linguistic, cultural and social place. I saw my ideologies appear before me. Jung would say that it was an archetype, a wise old mentor perhaps, and I was experiencing some kind of psychological crisis, and my mind used its own innate methods to begin cleaning house. Perhaps Radin would suggest that my mind tuned to some realm of Otherness, perhaps I “remote viewed” a place or time where my grandfather is still alive. Or, he would just say it was a memory or a plain old dream. It is difficult to speak for the living, as they may read your work and tell you that you are wrong. Raffi, I am confident, will never read my work, so I think I’m safe here; he’d probably say that my “body and brain tuned to the music of the land” or that the “Bananaphone” is actually a complex metaphysical system which links all cosmic reality to one thing that, at times, will “ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring…”
The broader implication for anomalistics, and indeed, UFO research, is that if dreams are our access point to some imaginal realm, are we all not contactees in some way? We have all seen monsters in our dreams. Many of us have dreamt about aliens, phantoms, strange lights and even God. Are we all experiencers of the anomalous?
The inherent issue then becomes, “if everyone is an experiencer, then no one is.” While a bit of a logical fallacy, we get stuck here. No one is special because everyone is. The abductee/contactee in traditional Ufology has no more knowledge or truth or access than anyone else. They, for all intents and purposes, are not different. What do we do?
Strangely, in this dark hour, we turn to materialism. We make claims suggesting that whatever we experienced was physical and real. It was structured. It was an object. It had a material presence; “I could reach out and touch it.” We get lost in old ideological materialist frameworks. We, as Mack would tell us, choose to become trapped inside “the box.” Ironically, the only way to maintain “being chosen” is to fall back upon the very paradigms which deny the anomalous claim, calling it a lie, a hoax or a delusion.
Perhaps whatever people are experiencing is both material and immaterial. They are “dreams and bones.” Could the ghosts, monsters, and aliens people see in their waking hours seep out of the dream world? Could our interactions with “Capital C” Consciousness turn our deepest desires, fears and anxieties into something physical? Many anomalists have argued that this may very well be the case. Would it then be possible for all of us, dreaming or awake, to experience these spectres? While it is one thing for shamans and priests who have tuned their minds to seeking answers in this bizarre realm, it is another for a random retired farmer to bump into an alien on some idle Tuesday afternoon.
The solution rests with Raffi, and one of his greatest proponents, my daughter. To her, there is no difference between real and imaginary. Everything, in her mind, is possible. UFOs, to her, exist and fly around as often as Boeing 737s. There are aliens on Jupiter, or so she tells me, and she has visited them on her rocket ship. While I know that someday her brain will be corrupted, and her innocence will be lost, she seems to completely dwell in “nature’s chain” with her mind clearly “tuned to music,” a music that I can no longer hear. To her, everyone and everything is special because that is the natural way of things. To her, the monsters in her closet are real; they are imagined and physical, the product of her dreams yet simultaneously moving her dresses out of the way so they have room to stand.
Moreover, and perhaps the most frightening, is that those monsters are real for me too. If Jung is correct, and our unconscious mind is collective, then whatever creatures dwell in her closet can also dwell in mine. Her monsters are my monsters. Perhaps this accounts for the clearly mythological scope of the alien grey. Does it manifest from this imaginal realm because it seems to reflect some collective fear or desire? Jung would tell us that dreams do have very real and objective meaning. Maybe it isn’t that only certain people have been abducted or have experienced alien contact; perhaps we all have.