As I was reading Marie-Lousie von Franz’s “C. G. Jung, his myth in our time“, I encountered the following idea:
The first dream which one can recall from childhood often sets forth in symbolic form, as Jung later remarked, the essence of an entire life, or of the first part of life. It reflects, so to speak, a piece of the “inner fate” into which the individual was born. (ibid., p.23)
She goes on for the rest of the chapter to detail Jung’s first dream, which is an encounter with a subterranean god-like being:
“The vicarage stood quite alone near Laufen castle, and there was a big meadow stretching back from the sexton’s farm. In the dream I was in this meadow. Suddenly I discovered a dark, rectangular, stone-lined hole in the ground. I had never seen it before. I ran forward curiously and peered down into it. Then I saw a stone stairway leading down. Hesitantly and fearfully, I descended. At the bottom was a doorway with a round arch, closed off by a green curtain. It was a big, heavy curtain of worked stuff like brocade, and it looked very sumptuous. Curious to see what might be hidden behind, I pushed it aside. I saw before me in the dim light a rectangular chamber about thirty feet long. The ceiling was arched and of hewn stone. The floor was laid with flagstones, and in the center a red carpet ran from the entrance to a low platform. On this platform stood a wonderfully rich golden throne…. Something was standing on it which I thought at first was a tree trunk twelve to fifteen feet high and about one and a half to two feet thick. It was a huge thing, reaching almost to the ceiling. But it was of a curious composition: it was made of skin and naked flesh and no hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward.
It was fairly light in the room, although there were no windows and no apparent source of light. Above the head, however, was an aura of brightness. The thing did not move, yet I had the feeling that it might at any moment crawl off the throne like a worm and creep toward me. I was paralyzed with terror. At that moment I heard from outside and above me my mother’s voice. She called out, “Yes, just look at him. That is the man-eater!” That intensified my terror still more, and I awoke sweating and scared to death” (ibid.)
After a long amplification of some of its elements, this dream, she concludes, announces a transformation happening in the collective psyche that was hinted at in alchemy. It’s “a new image of God and man, an image which brings the official Christian image of God and man into a new fullness and greater completeness. This new image of God appears in Jung’s first dream of the underground phallic god-king, awaiting in this hidden form its eventual resurrection. This secret stamped Jung’s whole life and it became his fate.” (ibid., p.35)