Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Enchantment is the oldest form of medicine: Jung heals with a song

Jung agreed to see a woman who had “incurable” insomnia that had resisted all previous treatment. In her presence, he found himself remembering a lullaby his mother had crooned to him in childhood. He started humming it aloud.

The song was about a girl on a little boat on a  river, full of gleaming fish. It evokes the rhythms of wind and water. Jung’s patient was enchanted. From that night on, her insomnia was gone. Her regular doctor wanted to know Jung’s secret.


“How was I to explain to him that I had simply listened to something within myself?,” Jung reminisced, late in life, in the presence of his assistant Aniela Jaffe. “I had been quite at sea. How was I to tell him that I had sung her a lullaby with my mother’s voice? Enchantment like that is the oldest form of medicine.”

Once again, we see that Jung’s practice was that of a true shaman of the west.

Child and Boat by Edmund Tarbell (1899)

  • Laurel Massé

    Robert, thank you for sharing this. I’ve seen lullaby enchantment countless times. It is why, though one can overtly practice healing sound, and follow the codifications of healing song that have developed (this note for that chakra, for instance), I believe that any song can work magic. Healing can come at a jazz or folk club as readily as at a healing sound workshop. Everything is in the healer’s intention to be available to that which is needed. In my personal vocabulary, that’s prayer, opening to the presence of the Holy Spirit (other paths use other names for it, all valid). Sometimes the most effective work of calming the clamor of emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical dissonances – and they are all intertwined – is done gently and covertly, in front of an audience that is “just” listening to good songs, well-sung.

    I love the art you chose to accompany the story.

    Blessings, Laurel

    • Robert Moss

      Laurel – Thanks for these beautiful, singing comments. I agree with you that any song can work magic. And the greatest magic, perhaps, is when a new song bursts through us.

  • Wanda Burch

    Music is so important in my life and was a major component of my healing from an illness. I participate as a presenter in arts and healing workshops – music is a vital element of those workshops. I am reminded of a musician in the Sacandaga lakes area of upstate New York who uses music with her hospice patients to provide healing for their last years and often to provide a place of comfort for those who find sleep hard to come by. My favorite story is one of an elderly deaf woman who could not sleep. The musician brought a small harp to her bed and placed the harp gently beside the woman’s body and placed the woman’s hands on the edge of the harp. She played deep chords of a melodic song, much like a lullaby. The chords resonated deep inside her body, and she smiled, nodded, and slept that night. She asked again and again for the harp to return. She could “hear” the music for the first time in her life.

    • Robert Moss

      Wanda – Thank you for your own work in the arts of healing and the healing arts, and this lovely story of the harp and the deaf woman.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Irene

    In French culture, when you are formally introduced to someone, meeting them for the first time, the automatic response to, “This is Monsieur Renard”, for example, is : “Enchanté.” Thanks for giving this word, once learned, formal and lifeless for me, a very special “ressonance”

    • Robert Moss

      Enchanté! In English, and in other languages, “enchanted” has kept its magic and sometimes has the thrill of the uncanny.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nina

    Thank you a lot for the enchanting post and comments as well.
    Music is probably the first universal language of our soul from which all other languages originate.
    It´s always fascinating to listen to professional musicians when they speak about music because some of them are able to express not only through their music but also in words subtle ideas supporting soul healing.
    The most recent person I watched speaking about his life as a musician was Russian violist Yuri Bashmet. I got an inkling to turn TV on and he was there talking about receiving his first valuable playing instrument. For some time his professor tried to gain a really first-class violin for his extraordinary talented student. The day before his instrument was delivered, Bashmet had a dream. In a nutshell: He is playing a new violin on the stage and sound is absolutely wonderful. Then a woman appears in the dream and whispers to him how beautiful his play is.
    He says that since that dream he has always aimed to create the same heavenly sound he was once able to make on the dreamstage. In a real life he could get close but he has never achieved the same celestial beauty. Well, this confession is given by one of the most inspired and inspiring viola players and conductors in the world. In reality his play is splendid and in an enchanting way helps listener´s own soul´s music thrive and heal. In some way his endurance to attain something nearly unattainable on earth reminds me of a medicinman who is deeply wounded but through his vulnerability he can bring lots of blessings to all.
    Best of all to everybody.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Augusta

    Ahhhh, as a musician myself I adore this discussion :-))

    And I LOVE the link with the French ‘Enchante’….one of my favorites :-))

    Working with 90 children ages 2-6 I am always in a healing and life-enhancing, self-confidence- strengthening world :-)) magic…
    Thank you

    • Robert Moss

      Augusta – Grand to hear the music of your voice. I bet you sing some happy songs with those children!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Peter Merrington, Cape Town, ZA

    Bravo. Absolutely. Thank you for this anecdote from Jung’s life.

    Sound, voice, music, are sacred. They are presence, and hence sacred. So is true listening. And transformations happen in the twinkle of an eye.

    I’ve taught English and Classics at varsity for years, and have resigned my full time post. I am committed to the Orphic qualities of poetry and song and I can’t mark any more sad bad essays chasing after po-mo scepticism. Others will do that instead.

    For me, I follow the songlines. I’m not musical in the accepted sense, and hence for me it is the shaping power of language. But it’s wonderful to listen to healing music. I have a CD of neo-African lullabies which are quite extraordinary.

    Thank you for your work.

    • Robert Moss

      Peter – Good to hear from you. May your own songlines lead you to creative joy.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nina

    Bashmet ia a viola player, violist, not violinist.
    Mea culpa… I used the word violin instead of viola in my comment and I didn´t take any notice.
    Your “little note” about Steinhardt´s dreams is remarkable. For every profession it´s very rewarding to be so deeply inspired and guided by dreams.
    Best wishes and lots of inspiration for your writings.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nigel

    Thank you so much for these inspiring dreams of violists and violinists. My Mum is a viola player and I am a violin player (who just bought a viola) so all of these have special meaning for me. In case you may be interested, the instruments are complimentary: three of the strings are in common on the instruments (G, D, A), but the viola has a bottom C string and the violin has a high E string. The bottom notes on the viola (which is also a slightly larger instrument) are especially warm and resonant while the top notes on the violin have a distinctive bright shining quality.

    Warmest regards and thanks again for sharing these stories.

    • Robert Moss

      Thanks so much, Nigel!

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    The bottom notes on the viola (which is also a slightly larger instrument) are especially warm and resonant while the top notes on the violin have a distinctive bright shining quality.

    Read more:

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