Amplification: The Dance

By the time of the third dream my patient had lived through the deaths of her mother and father and that of several close friends and had also begun to relate seriously to that fact, more apparent after the age of fifty, the sense of her own mortality. Therefore some of these images of death as dance and dancer became very meaningful for her. Their importance is hinted at in her own dream in the image of 'a ruined sanctuary, perhaps something like a very early church, domes and small'. In this sacred setting the dance goes on with its vivid image of a woman both deeply connected to her instinctual nature and wholly civilised as well. The setting of the ruined sanctuary implies the impermanence of temporal structures and the passage of temporal life, but the dance goes on, and even more, this is a wedding dance and the figure waits for the veiled bridegroom.
In early Christian times dancing was apparently a natural part of sacred life. From the Gnostic tradition we have a description of a round dance performed the night before the crucifixion with Jesus at the centre surrounded by his disciples. Jung says, 'This close relationship is represented by the circle and the central point: the two parts are indispensable to each other and equivalent. ...

At all events, the aim and effect of the solemn round dance is to impress upon the mind the image of the circle and the centre and the relation of each point along the periphery to that centre. Psychologically this arrangement is equivalent to a mandala and is thus a symbol of the self, the point of reference not only of the individual ego but of all those who are of like mind or who are bound together by fate (Jung 8, para. 419).