Christmas archetypes – the dark intruder and the wondrous baby

I think of them as the nameless or faceless one – archetypal images which carry the pure power of a universal human experience. In pantheistic cultures they may be represented by gods and goddesses. In our secular world, we encounter them most directly in dreams.

A few weeks ago, I had a series of nightmares about an intruder in my house. I never saw his face because fear woke me up, but rather than feeling disturbed, I felt attentive, because like the Death card in tarot or the Tower, the dark intruder is a messenger of change.

Major changes are always unsettling and being unsettled is always unwelcome. Even if we’re actively seeking new ways of being and want to move forward into new areas of experience, there will still be resistance because change involves letting go of the familiar, and the outcome is never certain. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.

These dark intruder dreams were swiftly followed by a series of dreams about babies. Like the dark intruder, the archetypal baby provokes a powerful emotional response, but rather than fear and anxiety, it’s an outpouring of love, hope and happiness.

It occurred to me to wonder whether baby dreams often follow dark intruders; they kind of should, because they are both aspects of change, the one full of initial fears and the other moving forward into joyfully anticipation.

Our major Christmas archetypes are Santa Claus, the intruder who brings gifts, and the Christian symbol of the wondrous baby who brings redemption, light after darkness at the turning of the year.


Happy Christmas everyone, and may all your challenges in 2014 bring blessed new beginnings.

One thought on “Christmas archetypes – the dark intruder and the wondrous baby”

  1. Thanks for this Jen – it was quite thought-provoking. I can’t really remember ever having a ‘baby’ dream shortly after an intruder one, but will watch out for that in future. I kind of see the correlation but to me the Santa Claus figure doesn’t quite match the dark intruder encountered in dreams. I think this is because gift-bearing Santa is expected and welcomed into our homes/life, whereas the shadowy intruder appears unexpectedly and alarmingly. The element of surprise is his/her way of awakening us to their presence (oft times literally). I’ve found that it is only by consciously working with, and familiarising myself with this shadow figure that I can then recognise what he/she is offering me in terms of gifts.
    I hope your Christmas was enjoyable and best wishes for 2014.

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