JEAN’S PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY
Jean Raffa is a former teacher, television producer, and college professor who, in mid life, gave up these careers to write full time. A student of Jungian psychology, Jean writes about psychological and spiritual issues, and about empowering the feminine principle in all of us. When she is not writing, she travels about the country speaking and leading workshops about her books. She is currently finishing a book about creating partnership between masculinity and femininity. Aside from her books, The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul, Jean has written a book about television literacy, many meditations for The Home Altar, and several articles for professional journals. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World. Here is Jean’s story about her interest in dreams, as she wrote it for us:
The first dream I remember was a “big” one. I was ten years old, and I dreamed that my hero, the Lone Ranger, shot me. I woke up screaming and sobbing. Something in me said, “This is a big dream. I am ten years old and I will never forget this terrible dream,” and I never did. About ten years ago I joined a Jungian Centerpoint group ( a formal group that meets on a weekly basis for four years to study the psychology of Carl Jung) and when I was telling the group my dream I could hardly hold back my tears. Suddenly I knew that the dream held some important information for me, and I decided it was time to find out what it was. I have been committed to dreamwork every since. This morning, (August 18, 1999) I recorded dream #3599.
Of all the work I have done to try to understand myself and achieve my fullest potential, dreamwork has been by far the most effective. I am continually awed by the creativity and wisdom of the unconscious, and getting in touch with it via my dreams has been the avenue for releasing my creativity and allowing it to manifest in my writing. Dreamwork and writing are two of my greatest passions, and I can’t believe my luck in being able to combine both of these things in a creative way into my book, Dream Theatres of the Soul. The neat thing about having passions like these is that I never have to retire or give them up! I guess I’ll still be writing and analyzing my dreams when I’m 90 if I’m still around!
Ten was a big year for me. That was also when I started my first novel. I was on page 30 when I suddenly realized I didn’t have the slightest idea where I was going with it. In an instant, the sublimely innocent confidence that had supported me through the first 29 pages simply vanished and I found myself asking, “Who do you think you are, a mere ten year old twerp of a girl, to think you could possibly write a novel?” Everything I had written seemed like rubbish. Acutely embarrassed at my ineptitude, I tore my 30 pages in half and heaved them in the kitchen trash can. Later that day my dear old grandfather came to me with the torn manuscript and asked me if I was sure I wanted to toss it. “Yes, I’m sure,” I replied. “It’s no good and I don’t know how to make it better.”
It took me 35 years to get up the courage to write from my heart again. In the time in between I got married, had two children, earned a doctorate degree, and served on the faculties of three universities. I did write several articles and a book based on my doctoral dissertation, but that wasn’t the same thing. That kind of writing was safe because I was reporting on the ideas of other people and revealing or risking very little of myself. But my dreamwork changed all that. My dreams began to suggest that I didn’t really like college teaching. Then, when I got up the nerve to quit, they started making references to writers and writing. There is no doubt in my mind: if I had never discovered dreamwork, I would not have discovered my true creativity, nor would I have been able to manifest it in writing.
The subject of all my work is the journey to psychospiritual wholeness. I wrote The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth during the year of 1990, the most blissfully satisfying year of my life. Throughout that time I was constantly dreaming of ideas and images that, upon reflection, I realized I needed to include in my book. And so I did. Much of that book was directly inspired by dreams. I was even inspired by a dream to look for a publisher in California. Without my growing confidence in the guidance from my unconscious self I don’t think I would have had the courage to follow this book all the way through to publication. As it turned out, a California publisher called me four days after I sent her a few chapters and said something like this, “Send me the rest of your manuscript and promise me you won’t sell it to anyone else until you hear from me. You’ve written my story!” Apparently I had written the story of many other people too: Bridge is in its second printing now and still going strong. And guess what. Its subject – about what it’s like for a woman to try to become individuated in a world that only values masculine heros – was given to me in that first big dream I had when I was ten! Now I know why the Lone Ranger shot me: to wake me up and give me my life’s theme.
After Bridge was published, it was only natural to write a book about dreams, and so Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dreamwork was born in 1994. It has been endorsed by Jungian analysts Robert Johnson, John Sanford, and Marion Woodman, and is used in many classes and groups as an aid to dreamwork. As a result, it is also in its second printing.
As a free-lance writer with two grown children, my time is my own now. When my economist husband is free, we love to travel. A few years ago we studied at a two-week intensive at the Jung Institute in Zurich – a thrilling experience for me! I continue to write and do dreamwork. I can’t imagine my life without either one. I also teach from time to time, but now I teach about my passions, not someone else’s. I am very grateful. My life is a dream; my dreams are my life. Nowadays I’m not sure I can tell the difference any more. What a marvelous adventure it all is.
Copyright 2012 – Jean Benedict Raffa, Ed. D.