Phallic Symbols in dreams and their meanings

When Carl Gustav Jung was between three and four he had a dream which remained with him throughout his life.The vicarage in which the family lived stood near the Laufen castle, and there was a large meadow stretching back from the vicarage’s farm.

The child found himself in the meadow where he found a rectangular, stone-lined hole in the ground. Having never seen it before, he curiously peered down into it.

There was a stairway leading down by which he hesitantly and fearfully descended. At the bottom was a doorway having a rounded arch and closed by a green curtain.

It was a big, heavy curtain of worked stuff like brocade, and it looked very sumptuous. Curious to see what was behind it he pulled the curtain aside. He saw before him a dimly lit rectangular chamber about thirty feet long. The ceiling was arched of hewn stone.

The floor was composed of flagstones with a central red carpet running from the entrance to a low platform on which stood a wonderfully rich golden throne. He was not certain but perhaps a red cushion was on the seat.

It was a rich throne, like a king’s throne in a fairy tale. Something was standing on it which he thought was a tree trunk about twelve to fifteen feet high and one and a half to two feet thick. It was a huge thing reaching almost to the ceiling.

But it was made of a curious composition: it was made of skin and naked flesh, and on top there was something like a rounded head with no face and no hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward.

It was fairly light in the room, although there appeared to be no windows and no apparent source of the light. Above the head, however, was an aura of brightness.

The thing remained motionless but the child felt that at any moment it might crawl off of the throne like a worm and creel toward him. He was paralyzed with terror.

At that moment he heard his mother’s voice calling from outside, «Yes, just look at him. That is the man-eater!» That intensified his terror even more and he awoke scared to death. For nights afterwards he was afraid to go to sleep for fear of having a similar dream.

It was only much later he realized he had dreamed of a phallus, and decades later he recognized that it had been a ritual phallus. He could never make out whether his mother meant «That is the man-eater» or «That is the man-eater.»

In the first case she would have meant that not the Lord Jesus or the Jesuit was the devourer of little children, but the phallus; in the second case that the «man-eater» in general was symbolized by the phallus, so the dark Lord Jesus, the Jesuit, and the phallus were identical.

According to Jung various parts of the dream had significance. The abstract significance of the phallus is shown by the fact that it was enthroned by itself, «ithyphallically» or «upright.» It was a subterranean God, not to be named.

The hole symbolized a grave, the curtain the green covering of the Earth, the curtain further represented the mystery of the Earth, this also incorporated everything within the underground temple. As to the knowledge pertaining to others parts or aspects of the dream Jung is uncertain as to when and where he acquired it.

For example, he might have seen the red carpet in the citadel of Sschaffhausen. Neither does he recollect the phallus, nor the eye, but the light above it indicates the etymology of phallus (shining, bright).

Jung’s personal interpretation of the dream though years later indicates his recognition that even at an early age his mind, conscious/unconscious, was varying from a normalcy of thinking especially concerning Christianity.

Already he was thinking in terms of the natural world. The greenery and mystery of the Earth have already been mentioned as being symbolized in the dream.

These are fertility aspects of the Earth. Since as a child he probably was not familiar with the female sex organ but familiar with the penis this was the reason the phallus was very prevalent in the dream.

His mother reference to the «man-eater» could represent the Christian anti-sexual attitude and the child’s growing mistrust of Lord Jesus and the Jesuit.

It was with this type of mind that Jung was able to examine things of occult with ease. As a boy, surely such a mind made him lonely.

Some have speculated that the phallic appearance in the dream indicated the boy masturbated, an action certainly condemned in a vicar’s household. But, evidence indicates this is such a boy who would masturbate, lonely, often left to himself.

One source said this is also indicated by the fact that as a clinician Jung speaks of female masturbation, but never male. This is not true, this author remembers reading a work, name cannot be recalled, where Jung was working with a young boy.

The boy said he masturbated but it frightened him to do it at night. Jung kindly suggested that he do it during the day. A.G.H.




Hayman, Ronald. A Life of Jung. New York. W. W. Norton & Co. 1999
Jung, C. J. Memories, Dreams, and Reflections. New York, Vintage Books. 1985