Rainbows, Thunderstorms, and Jung

The soul is drawn to nature’s beauty for a many reasons; to learn, to pray, to find inspiration, and to reflect.  Upon reflection of nature’s displays, we can learn great lessons.  Nature seems to have important symbolic messages for our soul.  Carl Jung viewed the psyche as a component of nature.  That is one important reason why working with products of the psyche, like dreams, and fantasies, is no different than working with and learning from nature. 

Prior to my career as a psychologist, I worked in the biological sciences.  One of the reasons that I was drawn to Jungian psychology is the view inherent in a Jungian world view, that the products of the psyche are no different than natural phenomenon in the outer world. Driving across the high desert of Nevada reminded me of this when seeing the natural beauty there, and inspired me to write about the connection between Jungian psychology and nature.

In the high desert of Nevada, I saw a magnificent rainbow losing itself on its ascent into a wall of rolling thunderheads, only to reappear later on the other side of the horizon.  Dreams display a similar beauty. Dreams use images in a precise manner to import something meaningful about an individual’s current phase of life. 

If we were to look at the Nevada rainbow like we would a dream, we would see an image (the rainbow) in its ascent and trajectory through the sky entering a dark, unknown terrain (the thunderhead), only to come out on the other side in its radiant color, and even brighter than before.  Seeing nature in a symbolic sense has been hard-wired into the human race since the beginning of time, when we had a much more intimate connection to nature compared to what most of us have now.  It is therefore not much of a stretch to see our dreams as a way to reconnect to this vital and life-giving role that nature served for us before.

Like the rainbow entering a dark thunderhead, we all have had, or will have, such dark periods in our lives.  Primitive people knew this and learned from nature.  In such a sight as the Nevada rainbow, they may have seen and integrated, at least unconsciously, that there can be a way through difficult and dark times.  Even now we can learn from nature; even if we don’t have a regular chance to observe nature’s outer beauty.  We can and must learn to look inside at the beauty and truth of our psyche and soul (inner nature) and  let nature influence our lives once again.

© 2011, Dr. Jeff Howlin. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to Rainbows, Thunderstorms, and Jung

  1. Charlotte Houseman says:

    I am forwarding this commentary to my daughter, an artist in Arizona, who sees the desert in terms of the rainbow. She is an art therapist, influenced by the works of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. Her interest is Art and Healing, involving all healing phenomena from ancient world religions as well as current rituals. Her MA is in Expressive Arts Therapy. I think you would love her art which can be found at “Rachel Houseman artist” or on Facebook. Just look and enjoy. Char H.

    • Dr. Howlin says:

      Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks so much for your comments and for stopping by my site. I appreciate the introduction to your daughter’s work and you are right, I love it. I also lived in the desert in Prescott, AZ, for a couple of years and I am familiar with some of the landscapes that you daughter painted.

      Jeff Howlin

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