One of things I find so wonderful about Jungian thought is that there are seemingly endless ways to enter it. Some enter through the door of typology. Others, through dreams. Wolfgang Pauli entered it through physics. One of the ways I learned to enter it was through fairy tales and children’s literature.
My colleague Deb Stewart took a little idea of mine about my favorite Dr. Seuss book and turned it into a gorgeous, light-hearted essay entitled “What Goes on Down Below: The Collective Unconscious.” I quote from it below:
Like Marco, we can go fishing, a fitting image for psychotherapy. The process often starts with an exploration of the seemingly unpromising junk-filled pool of the personal unconscious. These are experiences we’ve repressed, suppressed, or simply forgotten–the dismaying feelings and memories represented by the old boots and tin cans of McElligot’s pool, close enough to the surface of consciousness to be readily hooked. But ego’s fishing line of intention also reaches deeper, and can be counted on to catch ideas, images and inspiration, especially through dreams.
Marco’s underground river, like psyche, eventually flows to the sea, symbolic of a deep and mysterious level of the unconscious common to all humankind. Jung said, “Just as the human body shows a common anatomy over and above all racial differences, so, too the human psyche possesses a common substratum transcending all differences in culture and consciousness. I have called this substratum the collective unconscious.”
You can find the essay in its entirety on the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts’ blog.