Denise Grobbelaar:


Jungian Analyst, Psychotherapist & Clinical Psychologist.

One would do very well to treat every dream as though it were a totally unknown object. Look at it from all sides, take it in your hand, carry it about with you, let your imagination play around with it.

Carl Gustav Jung - CW 10 ¶ 320

My work is deeply rooted in the exploration of images with a particular emphasis on the enigmatic realms of dreams, waking dreaming, active imagination, and visionary experiences. Explore the depths of your inner world and unlock the potential for profound change and self-realization through the power of working with imagery. Engaging with images encompasses a diverse spectrum of applications, whether it involves role-playing to explore specific or alternative scenarios, envisioning future aspirations, or initiating a profound dialogue with the unconscious or various aspects of one's inner self. It enables us to confront unresolved issues, confront deep-seated fears, and cultivate a more profound connection to our authentic selves.

These practices are powerful tools for enhancing creativity and problem-solving. They encourage us to think outside the box, break free from conventional thought patterns, and tap into our innate creative potential. By integrating the insights gained from our inner explorations, we can approach challenges and projects with fresh perspectives and innovative solutions.

The symbolic language of images is often a rich source of meaning and insight. By deciphering these symbols, we unveil the hidden stories, truths and motivations that underlie our waking reality. This process allows us to tap into the innate wisdom of the unconscious and apply it to our everyday challenges and decisions. Harnessing the power of symbolism in service of self-exploration and personal growth is a valuable tool in our journey of individuation.

Ultimately, working with images is about embracing transformation and achieving a sense of wholeness. It allows us to integrate the various facets of our personality, reconcile inner conflicts, and move toward a more balanced and fulfilling life. This, in turn, can lead to enhanced self-awareness, increased resilience, and improved mental and emotional well-being. By incorporating these transformative practices into your journey, you'll embark on a path of self-discovery, creativity, and personal growth that can enrich your life on multiple levels.

The dream is a spontaneous self-portrayal, in a symbolic form, of the actual situation in the unconscious.

Carl Gustav Jung - CW 8 ¶ 505


Dreams, as portals to the unconscious mind, reveal a tapestry of thoughts, emotions, and memories that often elude our waking awareness. They serve as bridges between our conscious and unconscious selves, providing a unique opportunity to access hidden aspects of our psyche.

Engaging with dreams and delving into the realm of dream work offers invaluable insight into the tapestry of our lives, unearthing profound meanings and revealing the innermost facets of our personalities. Dreams hold the potential to spark inspiration, foster creativity, facilitate healing, offer guidance, forge connections to our deeper selves, and serve as a conduit to heightened consciousness, wisdom, and wholeness. We can draw profound guidance from our dreams as we decipher these dreamscapes, enriching our earthly journey as human beings.

Deciphering the unique and metaphorical language of dreams is challenging. Dreamwork is a collaborative endeavour, a co-construction of meaning. While we explore themes and symbolism, we must approach these interpretations with a great degree of flexibility and with a recognition there can be multiple viewpoints. Our first step is always to consider personal associations as the foundational cornerstone for constructing a distinct narrative. Only after establishing this personal connection, does it become meaningful to delve into the diverse possibilities of the dream's narrative by incorporating elements of mythology, art, and relevant imagery.

From my perspective, the figures, animals, or objects encountered in a dream can symbolize different aspects of oneself, often referred to as self-states or instincts. A dream can be seen as a dialogue between these diverse self-states, some of which may represent aspects of ourselves such as an inner child figure or embody internalized external figures, societal and cultural beliefs, or ancestral burdens, such as intergenerational trauma. My inspiration in this perspective draws from the work of the archetypal psychologist James Hillman, who emphasized the concept of the soul as a simultaneous multiplicity of autonomous states. A dream may be an invitation to our exiled and orphaned selves, welcoming them back into the fold of belonging and wholeness.

Dreams have been called ‘the royal road to the unconscious’. In Freud's narrow interpretation, dreams are repositories of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that reside beyond our conscious awareness, with much of the unconscious content being distressing or unacceptable, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. In contrast, Carl Jung adopted a more encompassing view, viewing the unconscious as the wellspring of creativity and a source of wholeness, in addition to the personal unconscious being a kind personal library of our unlived lives.

Drawing from a range of influential sources, my approach to working with dreams is shaped by a deep understanding of the profound role they play in our inner worlds. Incorporating insights from Robert Bosnak’s Embodied Imagination, I work within the fundamental belief that all psychological states find their expression in the body. From this vantage point, each image is a living landscape, autonomous, and embodying its own unique intelligence. Taking inspiration from author and dream teacher, Robert Moss, I view dreams as gateways to the imaginal realm – a higher reality that exists at the crossroads of time and eternity. Dreaming awakens us to profound dimensions of existence, which are occasionally glimpsed in moments of synchronicity. Dreamwork is an exploration of deeper realities that enrich our lives and expand our understanding of the world.

Dreams may be vessels carrying the enigmatic essence of life itself. Across sacred spiritual traditions, dreams are regarded as the nocturnal visions and the inner voice of both personal and universal truths. By embracing the healing essence of a dream, we open ourselves to its influence, fostering an environment where the Ineffable Mystery can draw near and reveal its secrets.

The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche, opening into the cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness may extend.

Carl Gustav Jung - CW 10 ¶ 144

Waking Dreaming

‘Waking dreaming’ refers to those moments or extended periods when the boundaries between conscious thought and dream-like experiences blur, allowing individuals to enter a kind of participation mystique with the world around us. It allows us to tap into the imaginative potential of our minds while fully awake, unlocking a wellspring of creativity, problem-solving, inspiration, and intuitive insight.

Waking dream states are at the convergence of meditative states, hypnogogic and hypnopompic states (during the transitional phase between wakefulness and sleep), or occur during a state of resonance invoked by a deep connection with nature. In the participation mystique of waking dreaming, there is a dissolution of the boundaries of subject-object separation, where one becomes deeply absorbed in a more expansive reality, while remaining connected to who we are. These experiences are rich in symbolism, fostering personal growth and insights and allow us to delve into the human psyche's collective and archetypal aspects, being part of something bigger than our ego personas. By cultivating mindfulness, awareness, presence, and openness you can tune into the subtleties of the ‘mindfield’ (1) which extends beyond the physicality of the brain, accessing the depths of your imagination.

This is the field of the vision quest, but waking dreaming is not confined to the realm of vision questing. Waking dream experiences are a fascinating and integral part of our daily lives, although they might not always be immediately recognized as such. They can take on various forms, often arising as intentional or focused daydreaming or manifesting as synchronicities. In essence, waking dream experiences are not isolated occurrences but a continuous and dynamic part of our lives. They invite us to look beyond the surface of our daily routines and explore the depths of our inner creativity and intuition, tapping into the profound connection between our conscious and unconscious minds, allowing the magic of our waking dreams to enrich our daily existence.

Intentional daydreaming is a conscious act of letting your mind wander freely, envisioning a future, different scenarios, or specific outcomes for yourselves. These daydreaming episodes are windows into our inner world, our needs, and longings. In this state, we often stumble upon fresh ideas, solutions to problems, unexpected bursts of inspiration, or a vision to draw us forward in life. This is where the waking dream experience begins to blur the lines between our conscious, everyday reality and the dreamlike realm of our inner thoughts, hopes and wishes for the life we long to live.

Synchronicities are the intriguing and seemingly meaningful coincidences that occur in our lives. These moments might involve a series of events, encounters, or situations that appear to be interconnected or aligned with our thoughts, desires, or intentions. Synchronicities are like breadcrumbs in the waking dream landscape, guiding us along a path that connects our inner world to external reality. They can be seen as the universe or our unconscious mind communicating with us. These experiences invite us to explore the idea that our inner thoughts and dreams can influence and even shape our daily reality in unexpected and often magical ways.

A vision quest, viewed as a form of waking dreaming, blurs the line between conscious and dream states without losing contact with reality. It's a deliberate journey where seekers tap into their inner wisdom and the collective unconscious, seeking insights and a sense of purpose. Nature often plays a pivotal role, providing an introspective and receptive environment. Altered states, akin to hypnagogic states, are induced through isolation, fasting and meditation, leading to vivid dreams and profound visionary experiences. The insights gained are integrated into daily life, enriching existence. This structured and intentional form of waking dreaming transcends ritual, offering a life-altering exploration of the inner world with enduring significance.

Waking dreaming blurs the boundaries between consciousness and dream states, offering access to multiple dimensions of being. It has the potential to unlock latent creativity, inspiration, and intuitive insight, ultimately enriching your existence with a sense of magic and endless possibility.

  • ‘mindfield’: Ian McCallum, an inspirational ecologist and Jungian analyst who has a profound love and passion for nature and the wilderness, refers to a brain-environment link in his book Ecological Intelligence and sees our environment as a dynamic extension of the psyche. In agreement with philosophers Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Karl Popper, he feels the human psyche exists not only within, but also “out there” (2005, 137). If we were receptive to and aware of this connection, it could engender a deep sense of belonging in our species. He explains that human beings exist within what he calls a “mindfield” of intelligence, information, and influence (not confined to the human sphere) that we could potentially access (85).

Active Imagination

Active Imagination is a powerful technique that serves as a bridge between the conscious mind and the enigmatic world of the unconscious. Active Imagination is a conscious act of letting the mind wander freely in an exploration of uncharted territories within one's psyche, transcending the boundaries of structured thought and logic. In its essence, this practice is not guided and allows individuals to tap into deep imagination.

Active Imagination is a conscious and direct dialogue with the unconscious. By actively engaging with figures or symbolic aspects, one explores the narrative of inner experiences. Active imagination is a waking state technique where one consciously interacts with inner thoughts, emotions, and imagery. It's a deliberate effort to bring unconscious elements into conscious awareness, used for self-exploration and understanding one's inner world, core beliefs and conflicting inner worldviews. Active Imagination is powerful technique that can be used to engage in a dialogue with various parts or aspects of ourselves, different inner personas, or archetypal figures within the psyche. It can be used to envision different outcomes to nightmares to bring alleviation to suffering. It enables individuals to actively interact with dream symbols and figures, giving life to the narratives that reside within their inner experiences. This process, conducted in a waking state, facilitates a deep exploration of inner thoughts and imagery.

Active Imagination, a term coined by Carl Jung, stands as a cornerstone of his psychological framework, frequently linked to his personal and transformative odyssey chronicled in the Red Book. Through this method, Jung engaged in a direct dialogue with the various figures and symbols encountered in dreams or waking dreams, holding conversations with them as if they were sentient beings. These dialogues unveiled deeper layers of meaning and insight, unlocking profound messages from his own unconscious.

Active Imagination, as a method, provides a unique opportunity to unearth the wisdom concealed in the unconscious, integrating hidden aspects of the self into conscious awareness and nurturing a more harmonious sense of self. It can yield profound insights, unearth hidden talents, and address unresolved issues, catalysing a transformative journey of self-discovery and personal growth. Through this approach, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their inner world, uncover shadow aspects of their personality, and establish a conscious and meaningful connection with their multidimensional self.

In the realm of psychological exploration, Active Imagination stands as a profound method for delving into the enigmatic recesses of the human mind. By tapping into the power of one's imagination and engaging in direct conversations with the unconscious, it offers a pathway to self-discovery, personal growth, and a harmonious integration of various aspects of the self. Just as it was a transformative tool for Carl Jung, it continues to be a source of empowerment, self-enrichment and transformation for individuals on their journeys of inner exploration.

Visionary Experiences

A profound landscape where dreams, myths, and symbols converge exists in the realm of human consciousness. “Visionary experiences” refers to altered states of consciousness characterized by vivid and profound sensory perceptions, insights, and a sense of connection to the spiritual or metaphysical realms. These visionary experiences, deeply woven into the fabric of human existence, offer windows into the inner sanctum of the mind. From a Jungian perspective, these experiences are gateways to self-discovery, personal transformation, and a deeper connection to the collective unconscious. Visionary experiences, whether induced by plant medicine or achieved by other means, are often seen as a pathway to access the deeper layers of the unconscious, whether the individual or the archetypal and symbolic elements of the psyche.

Carl Jung believed that the unconscious is not a chaotic abyss but a source of wisdom and guidance, offering insights into our personal and collective psyche. For Jung, the visionary experience is a journey into the unconscious—a realm teeming with symbols, archetypes, and the collective memories of humanity. Archetypes are universal patterns reflected in symbols and themes that appear in myths, dreams, and art across different cultures and times. They represent fundamental human experiences and emotions. When we encounter archetypal presences in our visions, they resonate with deep, shared aspects of our humanity. These transcendent forces can serve as guiding lights, offering insights, and often reflecting the psychological journey of individuation—the process of becoming one's true self.

In the Jungian perspective, visionary experiences can be instrumental in the process of individuation, helping individuals explore the shadow, thereby integrating repressed aspects of the self, and achieving a sense of wholeness. "By engaging with these shadow elements in our visions, we acknowledge their existence and potential influence. This provides a unique opportunity to confront and integrate the shadow, which represents the darker, often repressed aspects of the self, as well as unknown potential." This integration leads to personal growth, self-awareness, and a more balanced psyche. However, a word of caution: the dark side of the psyche can be terrifying and is best approached with an experienced guide.

Visionary experiences are often viewed as alchemical processes. Much like the ancient practice of alchemy, where base metals are transformed into gold, the raw material of the unconscious can be transmuted into psychological and spiritual riches. The visionary journey becomes a crucible where the self undergoes profound transformation, turning the lead of the psyche into the gold of self-realization.

Visionary experiences hold true value when seamlessly integrated into our personal and day-to-day existence. The insights gained from these profound encounters with the unconscious realms, as emphasized in Jungian philosophy, become transformative when applied to our practical lives. It is not merely about the moment of revelation;but the significance rather lies in how these revelations inform our understanding of ourselves and guide our actions in the tangible world. The process of integration involves weaving the lessons learned from visionary experiences into the fabric of our daily routines, relationships, and decision-making. In doing so, we bridge the gap between the transcendent and the mundane, fostering personal growth, self-awareness, and a harmonious alignment between the inner, visionary landscapes and the external realities of our lives.

Embarking on a visionary journey can be a profound and transformative experience. If you've recently had a visionary encounter and seek guidance on integrating its insights into your daily life, I'm here to assist you on your path of self-discovery and growth. Together, we can explore the symbolism and meaning behind your visions, working towards a harmonious integration of these profound experiences into your personal and day-to-day living. Through a collaborative and supportive approach, I aim to help you unlock the wisdom embedded in your visionary encounters, fostering a deeper understanding of yourself and facilitating positive change in your life. Let's embark on this transformative journey together, turning your visions into catalysts for personal evolution and a more fulfilling existence.