Demon in the Rose

Dimitri Halley interprets a poem, "Demon in the Rose," which appeared in a dream to a man suffering from several somatic conditions, and he explores the compensatory relation of the shadow to the conscious orientation of the self. 


This paper presents an interpretation of a poem apprehended in a dream called DEMON IN THE ROSE. A man suffering from several somatic conditions among others stomach and blood problems and infertility apprehended this poem in a dream. The poem features the compensatory relation of the shadow, the part of us we most hide, to the conscious orientation of self. The conscious orientation is the very way we hide (overcompensate) the shadow. I try too hard to convince the other, because I deeper down don't believe myself. Compensation can be manifested both in dreams and in the body. Compensation could be construed in terms of the physical and psychological symptoms as a message from the self to the lopsided conscious. Compensation, for instance in a dream or a symptom, is the very experience or attempt to coax the person into the strongly avoided shadow. If I'm too angry (high), I will put down the other, making them fearful. But toward extreme high levels of rage the shadow can take over and compensate my rage by making me fearful (low).


C. G. Jung suggested that the law of compensation regulates human experience. "It has been established for some time by experience that a certain one-sidedness of the conscious, in other words a disturbance of balance, brings about a compensation from the side of the unconscious. This compensation is accomplished by means of the constellation and stressing of material which is not infrequently simply complementary and which assumes archetypal forms of expression to the extent to which the fonction du réel, i.e., the correct relation the world is disturbed. When, for instance a woman develops a too masculine orientation…the unconscious compensates this relative one-sidedness by a symptomatic accentuation of certain feminine tendencies". (Jung, xi, 1971).

Ralph Waldo Emerson introduces his essay: Compensation (1984) with the following poem. Emerson's poem seems a fitting introduction to the poem that follows it, and that lies at the center of this paper.


"Man's the elm, and wealth the vine;
Stanch and strong the tendrils twine;
Though the frail ringlets thee deceive,
None from its stock that vine can reave.
Fear not, then, thou child infirm,
There's no god dare wrong a worm.
Laural crowns cleave to deserts,
And power to him who power exerts;
Hast not thy share? On winged feet,
Lo! It rushes thee to meet?
And all that Nature made thy own,
Floating in air or pent in stone,
Will rive the hills and swim the sea,
And, like thy shadow, follow thee."


The demon in the rose,
Devil in the earth.
The demon in the rose;
Flows through the rivers in our body,
And without in the desert.
In our dreams (of tonight),
We have to bear;
How this demon in the rose,
comes and goes,
within the bones,
and without in the desert.


The demon in the rose is the shadow or part of us we have exiled and banned from our conscious. But toward extreme degrees of suppression the shadow returns not only in our dreams and in the form of what we attract, but also in our body. The dream takes us into the side of our self we most resist, i.e., makes us touch the shadow.

A woman recurrently dreams that she is among a group of persons (her colleagues) and no matter how hard she tries, she can't get anyone's attention. No one is worrying with her. By day this woman does everything to get attention. A man that by day is always very bent on security and controlling things, at night in his dreams can't find his way back home. The dream actually puts us in a situation (simulation) we by day most avoid and overcompensate with our conscious attitude. In the dream we are actually being put in a simulation (training situation), aiding us to touch the shadow. When we pay no heed to the dreams the demon or shadow has no other recourse than to take form outside of the dreams.

An extreme activist doesn't tolerate loss or show weakness. He easily sees others as being corrupt and deficient and strongly rallies against them. Toward extreme states he develops a heart condition causing sudden exhaustion and loss of breath, incapacitating his obsession with winning.

A massage therapist develops a problem in her shoulder joints. First she blamed her husband, due to jealousy, for not wanting her to do this job. He would be afraid of her massages getting out of hand. She blamed her husband for what her shoulder now imposes on her. The side that feels tied down, she strongly covers up, toward extremes takes over. Now the somatic condition makes it impossible to go work, and ties her down.

An exhibitionistic woman feels deep down rejected and that others are ashamed of her, want to hide her and lock her up. She conceals this basic feeling, rooted in her childhood, with exhibitionistic behavior like seeking too much attention and special treatment. She was born with a visible handicap. As a child she often felt her parents wanted to hide her and felt embarrassed of her. Toward extreme degrees of wanting to be recognized she develops an arthritic condition in her body and joints (and deeper down in her blood), becoming later Lupus, which make her feel locked up, and actually so to speak "attempts to hide her". The shadow via her body attempts to decompensate her conscious overcompensation. First without she tacitly elicits her nemesis in her husband. She unconsciously seduces him into wanting to hide her by making him jealous. But toward extremes it is her body that is possessed by this demon.

Psychological and somatic conditions often are a psychosomatic language the shadow speaks in an effort to get itself heard to the unheeding conscious. If the lopsided conscious mind listens or gets the message of the unconscious, the symptoms become redundant.


This poem graphically represents how the part (opposite) of us we most avoid eventually reappears in our body (roams the earth) or constellates surrounding us in a situation. This suggests that the self (conceived as a field of tension between the conscious bright side and the shadow) is the central archetype organizing the field of energy underlying psyche and matter.


Jung. C.G in Harding, M.E. Women's Mysteries. New York, Pantheon (1971).

Emerson. R.W. Compensation (1841). Internet publication. (23 September, 2003).

© Dimitri Halley 2003

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