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Golden Fleece might symbolically represent. Jason was perplexed and had no answer to Dr. Franz’s questions. Dr. Franz asked him to think about the story in between therapy sessions.
During this period of time Jason continued to struggle with conflicted emotions. Memories from the war were especially difficult. He was, at times, overwhelmed with intrusive mental images of Vietnamese men, women and children that were moaning and dying. In Jason’s mind there were unending scenes of fiery landscapes, charred corpses and unimaginable suffering. Jason could hear the sounds of gunshots, bombs and crying people, as if they were immediately real and happening in this very moment. His knee jerk reaction to these difficult feelings was to push them down as quickly as they arose. This was a learned response from very early in his life. This, combined with his long history of using alcohol to cope with all types of difficulties, had placed him in the untenable position of being powerless to move forward in his life. However, he had great hope that therapy with Dr. Franz would intervene, and he would learn a new way of living.
He thought about the story of the Golden Fleece for many weeks, but remained puzzled about the meaning of it all. Certainly, it seemed that Dr. Franz was drawing upon the ancient mythical story of Jason the hero in search of the Golden Fleece, because he was also named Jason. Similar to Jason the ancient hero, he had endured a long and harrowing journey, fraught with many hardships. Try as he may, that was as far as he could get with understanding how a mythical story from antiquity could possibly relate to his present life. He was encouraged by Dr. Franz to work on understanding the riddle of finding the Golden Fleece. He went to bed one night pondering the story of an ancient warrior that had gone on a very difficult journey, overcoming many hardships, on a quest for the beautiful Golden Fleece.
Early the next morning, he awakened suddenly from a deep sleep, remembering scenes of his dream world, enacted from the depths of unconscious memory. In the dream, Jason was wearing the rustic robes of a warrior, and he was equipped with helmet, shield and sword. His loins were girded for battle. He was struggling to ascend a steep mountain beset with many obstacles. The rocky slopes gave no sure foothold and the path before him was beset with treacherous ravines. Writhing snakes were about his feet, and the winding path was plagued with dark and frightening shadows. Within the shadows were very troubling forms and faces. In one shadow, he saw the image of his father, who seemed distant and unreachable. Farther up the rocky path he saw the face of his mother, who shrieked at him like a witch in a drunken rage. Behind another shadow there were impish looking creatures inviting him to drink copious amounts of alcohol. A few more steps and he was beset with dancing skeletons, which reached out to grab Jason’s robe, as their intention was to pull Jason into their realm of soulless depravity. Jason struggled forward despite the unending obstacles. Farther along, as each step up the mountain path became more arduous, in the shadowy mists he saw the image of Luke, lying slain and lifeless on the battlefield of war. This image was particularly difficult for Jason to behold. He wanted to turn and run away.
Jason wanted to quit climbing this frightening path, but something deep within him seemed to be urging him onward, despite the terrifying obstacles. Near the summit of the mountain he came face to face with a monstrous giant. Dark looking and horrible to behold, the animal beast stood taller than Jason and was swinging a long sword. The barbaric giant was intent on destroying Jason at that very moment. Instinctively, matching strength and endurance, he engaged the giant before him in a courageous battle of survival. An epic battle ensued with Jason pitted against the dreadful beast, each wielding a strong sword intent on destroying the other. Blow after crashing blow, the battle waged on for what seemed like hours. The crashing of shields and swords made a deafening noise, louder than thunder erupting from the heavens above. Jason’s will wavered for one moment, and at that instant the giant’s sword grazed his right shoulder, drawing a rivulet of scarlet blood. Still, the battle for life or death raged on and on, appearing to have no end.
Abruptly, Jason realized that he has been wounded and blood was coursing down his right arm. The sight of his own blood strengthened his resolve, and in the midst of the dream, Jason stood very still and asked himself, “What is this goliath intent on killing me this day?” The giant stood before him with the long sword raised high into the air, as if ready to yield the final blow to Jason’s brow. He looked without fear into the monster’s eyes and was amazed by what he saw. In disbelief, Jason stood motionless, transfixed by gazing deeply into the eyes of the frightening giant, which began to reveal an uncanny likeness to himself. With no clear answer in mind, he asked himself, “What is this horrific beast standing before me, looking as if it is a mirror image of my own likeness?” Though panting with fear and near exhaustion, Jason took a deep breath and stared deeply into the monster’s eyes. Suddenly, a curious thing happened. The animal beast became powerless. He was no longer able to yield his terrifying sword when held within the calm discernment of Jason’s gaze. The giant’s sword dropped from his hands, shattering into a thousand pieces as it struck the rocks at Jason’s feet.
At that moment, Jason was fearless and calmly gazed upon the hideous brute. The goliath that was once intent on killing him was now seen for what it really was; an apparition of Jason’s fears. Gradually, the monster began to weaken. In his dream world the most amazing thing happened, the gigantic beast began to fade and disappear before the presence of Jason’s calm regard. In a moment of pure wonder, as the horrible giant disappeared into nothingness, a Golden Fleece appeared in the space where the monster had stood, finally dropping to the ground at Jason’s feet as the horrible apparition vanished from view. There lay the precious Golden Fleece, resplendent in all its glorious beauty. Jason reached forward and grasped the Golden Fleece with both hands. He flung the beautiful Golden Fleece over his shoulders, wearing it as a robe of valor and victory. The robe radiated a golden countenance, which now accompanied him as a light of peace, protection and wisdom.
At that moment he was overwhelmed by a wave of compassion, both for the hideous monster and for himself. He had seen the animal beast for what he really was, a vision of a looming giant, manifesting as a terrible creature that existed outside himself. In truth, the menacing enemy was a projection of unwanted parts of his own psyche. Victory over the murderous beast, by acceptance of it as part of his whole person, was an unexpected realization. Jason would have never believed this was possible, except that it was the reality of his own experience. Once again, he had become the victorious warrior, but on a different battlefield.
At the next therapy session with his psychiatrist, he described the amazing dream. Dr. Franz was delighted to hear the potent story from Jason’s unconscious dream world. Jason was rather proud of himself for being able to tell the dream story to his psychiatrist, knowing that it was like handing him a great prize. Dr. Franz was nearly speechless upon hearing his patient calmly reveal the immense tension within the dream, and its resolution by slaying the giant beast. Even more exciting for Dr. Franz was the patient’s nascent understanding of the dream’s symbolism.
The colossal giant threatening to kill Jason had been seen as having a keen likeness to Jason himself. And when Jason calmly faced the beast it became powerless. The beast within, which he had struggled with for so long, had never been real. It was a phantom created from the dispossessed pieces of his personal psyche. Jason could now see that the more he pushed down the painful emotions within himself, the more powerful the inner monster had become. He had also learned that if the inner beast was not feared, but rather accepted and understood, it had no power over him. By calmly facing the monstrous brute with the eye of discernment and empathy, he had effectively slain the animal beast within.
Dr. Franz took the interpretation of the dream one step further. He asked Jason, “And what is the symbolic meaning of the Golden Fleece, which suddenly lay at your feet after you had slain the mighty giant?” Jason paused. He took a deep breath and said, “It is a g
reat prize and I want to give it to you, as a gift for helping me so much.” It warmed Dr. Franz’s heart to hear these words, but he knew one more step was needed. So he asked, “What symbolism could be here, that a threatening giant is slain and magically becomes the Golden Fleece lying at your feet, especially considering that you have seen the true nature of the beast.” Jason startled a bit and caught his breath. Could this be true? The Golden Fleece is “I,” when I am whole and undivided. The very notion of this was startling. By conquering the beast within, Jason had regained the very core of his own being. Realizing this as truth, tears began to flow. Jason wept for himself in a way that was unfamiliar, and at the same time curiously healing. After the river of tears had washed clean the windows of his soul, he felt whole and strong again. He felt a little taller and more at ease with himself. What had once been overwhelming was now transformed into an inner realization of his native strength and ability. And it felt like he was still wearing the inner countenance of the radiant Golden Fleece,