Archetype of the Lover

At a straightforward level, the dreamt of lover is an expression of all the emotional longing, sexual need and unexpressed sensual desires we have. The lover is an enactment in the virtual reality of our dreams of the enjoyment or pain we feel, or the perhaps secret desires we have, the unmet needs, the fears and pains we meet in connection with intimacy.

As an archetypal image, it holds in it all the massive physical, racial and cultural forces that attract and bind two people together or tear them apart; all the degrees and levels of maturity in love; and also all the attraction and difficulties we face in meeting our own growth as a person. See Growing up to Love.

Because the image connects with all our personal and transpersonal experience of love, it may well hold in it the trauma of childhood abuse, which may work out in a series of dreams or fantasies regarding the lover.

In Dante’s Paridiso, Beatrice, the beloved, is the goal Dante reaches when he manages the journey through hell and purgatory into heaven. These hells and heavens we each carry within us in the form of fears such as losing the person we love; habitual attitudes such as that of feeling our partner is out to trick us; chips on our shoulder such as conflict with the society we live in or the authority figures we confront, and genuine childhood or birth traumas. Stanislav Grof reports many experiences of hell were met by people uncovering birth trauma in therapy. It may well be the need for love and intimacy that not only calls us to the journey of personal change and facing our inner hells, but also carries in it some of the strength and wisdom to help us meet the turmoil this can bring. This call and its innate strength are both invested in the image of the lover.

Because of this side of the beloved, one needs to remember that the lover can be understood as anima or animus figures.

Love, and therefore this archetype, also include one of the most fundamental of processes, that of hunger, absorption and growth or rejection. Whatever you love, whether a person, a book, a car, an animal or a flower, you take something powerful into yourself of it that changes you. The experience adds to what you already are. In so doing it enlarges who you are, what you can understand or express. It gives you a wealth of experience you did not previously have. Like food, you either absorb it or are poisoned by it. You either grow or are ill – perhaps even a mixture of both. See: affair; last example in adolescent; anima or animus; example in abscess under body; examples in penis; lover; sex and dreams.

The archetype is fundamental in nature, and not simply generated by human activities. Nature itself displays love in the various levels of its expression. The sun pouring out its energy as it dies, penetrating and fertilising or energising the processes of the earth and bringing forth life is a form of love. The self giving and union of sperm and ovum are an expression of what, in our experience of self awareness, we call love. The opening of the sexual organs of a plant – what we call a flower – is an expression again of what humans call love. If a woman displayed herself in that way to a man we would say she was in love. All of these fundamental drives, urges and body transformations are part of the archetypal power of love. See Dimensions of Love.

But love is a river that transcends its natural or cultural boundaries. We all have links of sympathy, and we can think of these links with other people as a type of landscape. We each build and exist within this landscape of our own affections and tendencies. This landscape is within the strong wall of social and cultural customs and norms. But occasionally a leap is taken over that wall, beyond that landscape. She-wolves have been known to suckle and rear human children. Did the wolf leap beyond her own landscape to do this? Did her love and caring build the bridge from her landscape to the being of the child? Sex itself may form a link with another being through which we take in something of another landscape, another person, another living creature. Through it we may form links with somebody very different to ourselves. A human being may care for another in a way that takes them beyond the usual limitations of their family, sexual needs, financial gain, and cultural links. Love exists between humans and animals, humans and divine beings, humans as the beauty of the earth and life on it.

Example: Now there was an opening and a flow of intuitive knowledge about the structure of life and consciousness. I said, “This is dynamite! This is what the dream world offers. It is about connection. It is about cutting through the crap to see what in fact we offer each other in a relationship. My lover offers me that buzzing pleasure, that stimulus that occurs between the sexes. It is a connection that keeps parts of my being alive, feeling, reaching out. I offer the same thing to her – energy exchange.”

What I saw here was that any connection between a man and woman where there is attraction stimulates those processes in us that would easily lead towards reproduction – sex as it is usually called. But we live in such a complex social system that often this cannot happen and it becomes frustration. But if we handle it correctly it can be a form of mutual stimulation to keep that energy flowing and alive. We can be creative.

In the end the lover is a shape shifter who is male and female, animal and the fecundity of nature, the baby in our arms and the unseen presence we feel as our love expands beyond the boundaries of our senses.

Useful Questions and Hints:

What can I learn from the way I am relating to my dream lover?

Are there problems, difficulties or angers and resentments in the way of my union with the lover? If so what are they?

Honestly, what is my track record in loving? Dare I really look at myself and say how I have destroyed or enhanced love with a partner?

See Beware of LoveLife’s Little SecretsTechniques for Exploring your Dreams


-Neena 2014-05-11 16:26:09

I web-search, “dreams of Native American Man” and picked your website to help me cypher last night’s dream: “I went to a Native American Village. A man I knew was sitting outside a structure. I sat on the porch with him. “I sent you a gift.” he said. “I didn’t get it.” I replied. “I sent you a gift of corn.” he told me. “But I didn’t get it.” I repeated. He seemed irritated and then I realized the gift of corn was symbolic of the gift of love.”

    -Tony Crisp 2014-05-12 10:15:18

    Neena – A lovely dream, and an indication that for many ancient cultures they always thought in symbols.


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