Paranormal Perceptions ~ Musings on the Paranormal Genre
The Paranormal Perceptions series was created to gather some of the most interesting authors that are using paranormal elements in their stories. Every author has their own perceptions and provides their own insight on all things paranormal, ranging from urban legends and paranormal research, to myths and inspirations. This week on the guest series is author of A Time for Everything, author Ann Gimpel (@AnnGimpel).
I believe in paranormal phenomena. I actually believe it’s a prerequisite for anyone writing fiction with paranormal elements.
Let me kick this off by sharing one of my experiences. About twenty years ago, I was living in Shingletown, California, a small community a few miles east of Redding. I took a shortcut one morning on back mountain roads to drive to Burney where I was scheduled to do a radio broadcast. Coming down Highway 44, the steering wheel of my Volkswagen Rabbit ripped its way to the stops. My car spun a few times and slammed into a snow bank leaving me shaken. I looked at the clock: 7:58 A.M. I hadn’t been speeding. The pavement was bare and dry. I was worried I’d developed a mechanical problem in the steering mechanism, but when I fired up the car and drove the rest of the way to my destination, it didn’t misbehave. I found out later that day a very, very close friend of mine—basically the brother I never had—died at exactly 7:56 that morning. I figured Don was trying to take me with him.
I’ve had other experiences over the years that defy rational explanations. I’ve also had many, many patients over my long years as a therapist relate fantastic events. One of the reasons I was drawn to Jungian dream work is its emphasis on the paranormal. It’s not widely known, but Jung was a mystic. Before he’d accept a patient, he insisted they have their astrological chart done. He’d look at his chart next to theirs (synastry) and decide whether he could work with them.
Dreams speak to us in symbols. But it goes far deeper than that. Symbols have archetypal value; they’re also unique to the dreamer. So, for example, snakes in my dreams might mean something entirely different than snakes in yours. This is why “kitchen table” dream books that list symbols and their meanings are almost less than useless.
I had a bad climbing fall once. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured beyond contusions that started with my forehead, extended to a very black eye, and covered one arm and both legs. It took a couple of months for the bruising to totally resolve. At one point, I dreamed I was standing by myself in the middle of an empty plain. It was twilight. A phalanx of snakes slithered toward me from every direction. They crawled up my body and wound around it. In the morning, I felt like I’d turned a corner and was well on the way to having my body mend. In my dream, snakes were a positive factor. In many of my clients’ dreams, they’ve been portents of disaster. That’s what I mean by symbolism in dreams being unique to the dreamer. Interestingly, when I told my own analyst the dream, he clucked at me, went to a closet, and drew out a painting. It was an almost exact depiction of my dream, except instead of snakes, it was sea serpents swimming toward the central figure. One of his other patients had painted it years before. That would be a good launching point for a discussion of the Collective Unconscious, but this blog post isn’t the place for that.
If you pay attention to your dreams, over time you learn the language unique to your psyche. Years ago, Marie Louise Von Franz and Fraser Boa made a movie called the Way of the Dream. It’s available in DVD (4 of them) and some clips are even available on You Tube. If you’re truly interested in Jungian dream work, this is a must see. It’s clearly dated since it was made in 1995, but Von Franz was Jung’s primary disciple. She joined Jung an analysand when she was 18 and never left. Oh, she attended college and graduate school, but she lived all her life at Bollingen, Jung’s retreat in Switzerland.
About the Author
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Two novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, and its sequel, Psyche’s Search, have been published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing, a small press. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.
@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)