Who Knew? Dream Images and the Divine

journey conf logoLast weekend I attended a Moving toward Wholeness Conference at the St. Francis Springs Retreat Center near Greensboro, NC. Over four presentations Michael Conforti, PhD and Jungian Analyst engaged us with stories and urged us to “get the facts” about the images in dreams. He spoke of “The Art of Spiritual Navigation: 
Relating to the Reality of Psyche in an Authentic Spiritual Life.”

My first impression? This guy … he’s Italian! A sense of familiarity warmed me as Dr. Conforti’s Brooklyn dialect and phrases of Italian evoked thoughts of my father-in-law (Frances Vitetta born in Mamaroneck, NY). I tried to make room for this new combination…

Beloved Jungian concepts like archetypes, complexes and the Numinous being described by a “little Italian boy from Brooklyn”… Well, it was a new experience for me. Who knew? I married into the Vitetta family 26 years ago.

My husband, a collaborative family lawyer, says: “Dream work makes my brain hurt.” My father-in-law, a successful architect and business leader says: “If it’s not competitive, what good is it?” At the same time, you won’t find two men who care more about their families.

Throughout the weekend I tried to put my finger on it… What is the “archetype of the little Italian boy”? What is this palpable consistency shared by my father-in-law, my husband and this Jungian Analyst?

I am about 99% dreamer and a little short on the left-brain, Type-A skills I have come to know and love in the Vitetta family. I have learned so much and (as Dr. Conforti might say in his dialect): And I thank God for it everyday.  And I learned so much over the weekend.

caterpillar to chrysalisDr. Conforti told stories reminding us of the regularity and consistency in human experience; that there are patterns of development and patterns in Nature we ought recognize, value and honor. Science has revealed that patterns of human experience (like birth/beginnings, familial roles, developmental stages, work and death) reflect patterns in Nature.

He demonstrated why we should discern and honor the inherent, objective qualities of the images in dreams as distinct from our personal experience and emotions around the images. Doing so in dream work allows us to reach a depth where true Nature and connection to the Divine may be experienced. Honoring such experience leads us toward wholeness and Destiny.

Dr. Conforti spoke of his community of scientific and religious colleagues, The Assisi Institute he founded, and shared more than stories for sure. But the presence of the storytelling tradition was important in showing me what Frank, Michael and Guy have in common.

chrysalis to butterflyThe stories expressed love of family and love of the Italian traditions. They made clear his passion for creating, with integrity, humility, focus, hard work, and most importantly, with devotion to caring for others. This is how a “little Italian boy” transforms civic structures through Architecture, changes a corner of the legal system, or articulates an understanding of how dream images can lead us to the Divine. Who knew?    Maybe Somebody did.

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10 Responses to Who Knew? Dream Images and the Divine

  1. Gale Fralin says:

    Yes, you captured the spirit all right. What a journey indeed!

  2. Robin Miller says:


    This blog is fabulous. I’m actually a little weepy after reading it. I, too, am thankful every day for Frank and Guy – the two pillars of strength and love in our family. Thanks for sharing such an amazing weekend. Next time, perhaps I can go? 🙂

  3. Tzivia says:

    Hi Betsy,
    There must be something in the collective consciousness about this concept of the objective reality/independent nature of dream characters and images, as I’ve been experiencing and thinking a lot about this in regards to my dream life and the dreams of those I work with. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  4. Leslie F says:

    Well done, Bets! I was feeling my “little Italian Boy” friends in your descriptions and recognizing the archetype. Beautifully written.

    • Betsy says:

      Thanks Les! I just realized that I had comments here – all the notices went to spam! Live and Learn… It was fun to write! Love, b.

  5. Terese Shelton says:

    ” Betsy, this article impressed me, because it reflects your ever-diligent quest to learn from many accomplished experts. The article also shows how you think. And that you ask yourself good Jungian questions.

    I can imagine, however, that if Dr. Conforti, knew how many lives you are touching in your work, that he would be very grateful to professional DreamWork Practitioners.

    How wonderful that you continue to strive to learn all that you can about the collective unconscious, by interacting with Conforti and other thinkers at these conferences. So impressed with your drive to deepen your skills. Your skills grow and grow….and they have helped so many of us, whom you have taught the power of our Dreams. Keep learning and exploring and writing!”

    • Betsy says:

      Dear Terese ~ You are such a great supporter! I think Dr. Conforti does appreciate dream work practitioners and is doing more than his part to expand dream possibilities for all of us. One of the things I love about my work… there will always be more to learn 🙂 Thanks for encouraging and sharing with me, dream sister!

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