I once heard a young college student recall his surprise when he went to visit a friend’s parents who had moved to Florida. The family had lived in North Carolina in a beautiful, while modest, home, and they had attended a very conservative church near a metropolitan community. The young man described walking with his friend to the front door of a double-wide trailer on a warm, sunny afternoon in Florida. When his friend’s parents opened the door, to the young man’s shock, his friend’s parents were both naked — they had become avowed nudists!
The experience of the image of nakedness in our dreams can be equally surprising, shocking, or disturbing. Particularly is this so if the person in the dream is oneself. And maybe even moreso if there is another person with whom I am enjoying said nakedness — another who may not be a husband, wife, or partner!
So, what is this symbolic nakedness about? What does it mean to be naked symbolically, or to be with another together and naked — especially with an unknown other.
At the level of pure image and experience, it can be thrilling to be in the presence of another who accepts us and receives us wholly in the flesh: no barriers, nothing to hide. We are unconditionally present in body, mind, heart, and soul.
At the level of psyche, nakedness can represent the unconditional acceptance of oneself, one’s emotions, desires, dreams, and possibilities. We are, in nakedness, as we were at birth — mysteries awaiting our unique emergings into unknown possibilities. We await the clothing of our lives, the shape of our destinies, and the gradual unfolding of our journeys. To return to this state of being unclothed may symbolically represent a psychic “re-turning” to the mysterious possibilities inherent in the exposure of one’s ego to the unlimited possibilities contained within one’s own unconscious depths, the psychic space where all opposites exist together.
So maybe to be naked or unclothed is the soul’s way of inviting us into that sacred space of letting go of the ego’s constricting influence on our lives — that sacred space where our own Divine souls are inviting us to become exposed to, or to rejoice in something new, joyful, and creative? Are there restrictions in our current lives that need loosening or removing in the service of freedom and growth? But not freedom and personal growth alone, for the soul seeks to take shape in service to the worlds in which we live — in service to our communities, relationships, families, and our places of work.These places are the worlds where God’s mystery is served best. When we remove the confining limitations of ego, we free ourselves creatively and powerfully for the discovery and manifestation of new possibilities.
(cf. The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images, Taschen)
It’s an image that shows up in my dreams at times when, without realizing it, I’ve reached a point where I feel strong and free to express my deepest self. Doesn’t happen often, but it’s most welcome!
Same here, Kay. It seems that these “conjunctios” are mirror reflections of joy I am experiencing in my outer life.
well written. introduces something i had not thought about. it seems we spend our lives until 40 building the ego up and later learning to free ourselves from all the false restrictions. Ah dreams….
Amen to that! When I arrived in Davidson in 1997, I thought I had arrived (ego); but then I spent more time in the doctor’s office that year addressing one needling symptom after another (soul)….And it was then, that my life began a series of twists and turns I never would have “dreamed” of.
esse quam videri – our NC fathers really got it right. Thanks for taking the risk to publicly help us explore ways to free some old confining stereotypes.
Thanks, Mark. It does actually feel risky to me to be vulnerable to what wants to be said. And, at the same time, it feels wonderfully rewarding to give voice to what we all think, feel, and wrestle with. My experience is that we all have stories that want to be told, but often we lack safe and sacred spaces where we can risk being heard, understood, and accepted.