The stuff of dreams

2009-01-26 00:00

“IHAVE managed to fulfil some of my visions despite great difficulties. They called me mad when I organised the first Dusi in 1950 and the first World Wilderness Congress in 1977, and again when I said it was time to capture and translocate White Rhino to ensure their survival.

“But this new project seems huge — and maybe I’m crazy at my age to even start.” The events mentioned may give you a clue to who was speaking, but I doubt if many people would guess what the “huge project” is.

It is a dream centre, which Dr Ian and Ann Player are establishing on their farm Phuzamoya (drink the wind or spirit) in the Karkloof. Now 81, Player was introduced to dreams and their significance more than 30 years ago by his friend Sir Laurens van der Post. “In 1976, he gave me a copy of his book Jung and the Story of our Time, but I never bothered to read it. Then in 1978, I bought a paperback copy to read on a flight to the United States, thinking it would put me to sleep. I was riveted and the book led to a reading frenzy as I devoured anything I could lay my hands on about dreams and Jung. The dream centre coming to fruition now is the result of that.

“Van der Post said ‘honour the dream by writing it down’, so I started to write mine down and I’m now on my 57th volume. Although I only started to write down my dreams later in life, I have been dreaming all my life and can remember a particular dream from 1944. I was in Helwan in Egypt with the Sixth South African Army Division before going to Italy. My mother came to me in a dream and told me she was going to die and I should not be upset. Of course, I was very upset, but when I was called into the adjutant’s office in Italy later to be told that she had died, that very clear warning from my mother really helped.”

It was another dream that led Player back into active church attendance. While working as a game ranger in isolated places in KwaZulu-Natal, he had little time or need for the church and found God in nature. And then he dreamt of standing outside a small church somewhere in England. “There was a gum tree growing next to the church and I heard myself saying, ‘If the tree falls down the church will collapse, and if the church collapses, the tree will fall down.’ I realised that nature and church are one and need each other. My greatest disappointment as a practising Christian is the lack of attention the church pays to dreams. In my 75 years of church-going I have yet to hear a sermon on dreams. So far, I have been unable to get any priest to take dreams seriously.

“Many people say they never dream and those who do often say it’s just a lot of rubbish. Once you have had a dream interpreted you realise it is far from rubbish. It can be a life-changing experience. Almost weekly for 20 years, I consulted Dr Gloria Gearing, a medical doctor and Jungian analyst, who works at the Mariannhill Catholic Mission hospital. I still consult her by phone.

“My life has been dramatically affected by dreams. Warning dreams have saved my life and others have helped me in making decisions. They contain a deeper wisdom and can be helpful as signposts to guide us. They have also led me to explore and understand myself better, which is no easy task.”

It is Player’s belief in the value of dreams that has inspired the dream centre. He has used some of his savings to create a place where others will be able to come and learn more about Jungian dream analysis, and have their dreams interpreted. Player said the centre had developed “slowly and organically” and would continue to do so. Farm manager Ann Brown and Howick clinical psychologist Sheila Berry have helped to establish it. Brown, whose background is in hospitality, runs the centre, while Berry manages its programmes. Richard Brown does the building work required.

The centre will generate some income from paying guests and they are also hoping for funding from a U.S. source. In time it will become a project of the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation, which will also own the farm through a trust. Ntombela was Player’s friend and a fellow conservationist.

Ann said she had also always been interested in dreams and they had played a big part in her life. “I am happy to see the farm used in this way as it is such a wonderful place and we have always wanted to share it. Many people who come here comment on the healing power of the place, which I have felt for a long time.”

Ian said: “We are not hoping to change the world overnight but to make a contribution. If you honour your dreams, you honour God. In the Christian Bible there is more than adequate proof of the importance of dreams.”

Phuzamoya Dream Centre

The dream centre has accommodation for four guests in a cottage that used to be home to Magqubu Ntombela. A second cottage has been created for an analyst. The accommodation is self-catering, but breakfasts and dinners can be arranged. An organic vegetable garden has been established on the farm, which provides vegetables for visitors’ meals. The centre hosts visiting analysts from around the world to present programmes related to dreams and to offer analysis, mostly from a Jungian perspective.

Clinical psychologist Sheila Berry will host a dream circle once a month. She will offer input and analysis to help visitors learn about dreams and their significance, and how to interpret their own dreams. The centre will hold an opening event on Friday, starting with a walkabout at 4 pm and concluding at 7 pm with a talk by Jungian analyst Dr Gloria Gearing on the value of dreams in the modern world. Inquiries or to book accommodation phone Ann Brown at 033 330 4502 or 084 553 5561 or e-mail:

Carl Jung and dreams

Psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that dreams reflect the richness and complexity of both the individual and the collective unconscious. Dreams have their own language and dream images have their own logic. Thus he cautioned against blindly ascribing meaning to dream symbols without a clear understanding of people’s lives and the context in which a dream takes place.

Jung saw dreams as one of the ways the psyche tries to maintain balance as they often compensate for conscious attitudes and actions.

People or symbols that appear in dreams often represent archetypes that are largely hidden from our conscious minds. For example, the more we deny the shadow or the dark side in each of us, the more likely we are to project it on to someone or something else. In dreams, the shadow can take many forms from an old man or woman to a giant spider.

Analysing our dreams makes us aware of how these archetypes operate in our lives without our awareness. By becoming consciously aware of their influence in our lives, we begin to integrate these seemingly contrasting parts of our psyche and develop a more holistic self-understanding that allows us to operate more responsibly in our lives.

Jung believed that dreams contain truths, philosophical pronouncements, illusions, wild fantasies, memories, plans, irrational experiences and even visions.

The psyche has a conscious side as well as an unconscious side which we experience at night as dreamlike fantasy. Jung argued that just as we do not doubt the importance of our conscious experience, we ought not to underestimate the value of our unconscious lives.

— Wikipedia and Sheila Berry.

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