Dear Dream Tending Community,
Relationships are complex. Many times, they are deeply rewarding. On occasion they challenge you with some of the most painful times of your life. Sustaining the love that brought you together with your partner is a yearning well worth tending. Dreams and imagination can offer support—the assistance of what the poets name “the Third Body.” This invisible lover is elusive to touch, but omnipresent just behind the veil. The habituated routines developed over years of managing life with your partner dim the pulse of this third presence. Activating imagination awakens the vitality of this other—the third illumined partner in your relationship.
In your marriage or partnership, be on the lookout for the emergence of this imaginal soul figure. It has been referred to cross-culturally in many ways. For some, it is the guardian angel of a relationship; for others it is personified as a mythic entity, like the Greek god Eros. This imaginal presence has a force and a character that exists betwixt and between the two of you. In fact, this entity might have been partially responsible for bringing the two of you together in the first place. It is the Third Body of your relationship.
Getting to know this imaginal presence opens your marriage or relationship to more than the personal, where conflicts like power struggles, communication breakdowns, and unmet expectations are too easily constellated. Many of these dysfunctions are not necessarily just a function of your being together. Often, they are leftovers from dysfunctional patterns developed early on in life. When you and your partner bring attention to the Third Body, you discover an innate genius, an imaginal intelligence of what exists uniquely between the two of you. The playing field widens, and creativity replaces rigidity.
Be on the lookout for the Third Body of your relationship. As it becomes visible, give it form. Make a sketch of what you see or feel. Find a physical object that in some way depicts its essence. When on vacation, bring this beloved of your relationship along with the two of you. Take it on one of your hikes or adventures. As a couple, offer it a gift, as you would with one another. As you care for the Third Body in your relationship, it, in turn, will care about the two of you. As your couple’s imagination awakens, Eros, the invisible lover, becomes present. Your life together deepens ever more fully and intimately.
Tending Tuesdays is about supporting one another in listening to dream and imagination in a different way. Together, let’s discover what is being asked of us now. Let’s listen to the stories embedded in the living images of dream and imagination and offer back to the world their generative sparks.
Until next Tuesday . . .
In the dreamtime,
Inside The Curious Mind
A poem that resonated with me this week…
The Third Body
“A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do not long
At this moment to be older, or younger, or born
In any other nation, or any other time, or any other place.
They are content to be where they are, talking or not talking.
Their breaths together feed someone whom we do not know.
The man sees the way his fingers move;
He sees her hands close around a book she hands to him.
They obey a third body that they share in common.
They have promised to love that body.
Age may come; parting may come; death will come!
A man and a woman sit near each other;
As they breathe they feed someone we do not know,
Someone we know of, whom we have never seen.”
by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words, 1999
Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the founder of Dream Tending, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences. He is a world-renowned professor of depth psychology, an imagination specialist, and an innovator. He has served as an organizational consultant to major companies and institutions, and as a depth psychological content advisor to Hollywood film makers. He has lectured extensively in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. He is affiliated with the Earth Charter International project through the United Nations, where he has spoken. Professor Aizenstat is the Chancellor Emeritus and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has collaborated with many notable masters in the field including Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and Robert Johnson.