Skip to main content

Full text of "290-ally-work-with-jungian-analyst-jeff-raff-phd & TRANSCRIPT"

See other formats

Transcribed from 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 22"** December, 2011 

“Ally Work” 

Dr, David Van Nuys Ph.D,, aka ‘Dr, Dave’ interviews Jeffrey Raff, PhD 

(Transcribed from by Gloria Oelman) 


My guest today is Jungian Analyst Dr. Jeffrey Raff and weTl be discussing a variant 
of active imagination which Dr. Raff calls ‘ally work.’ Dr. Raff is co-founder of the 
C.G. Jung Institute of Denver and a senior Jungian Analyst who has been in private 
practice in Denver since 1976. Trained in Zurich in the early 1970's Dr. Raff is the 
author of four books, including Jung and the Alchemical Imagination, The Wedding of 
Sophia, and The Practice of Ally Work. For more information about Dr. Raff consult 
our show notes at 

Now here’s the interview. 

Dr, Dave: Dr. Jeffrey Raff, welcome to Shrink Rap Radio. 

Jeffrey Raff: Well, thank you for having me. 

Dr, Dave: I was referred to you by your fellow Jungian Analyst Monika Wikman, 
who I've interviewed a couple of times and my last interview with her was about 
active imagination and I asked her who was doing good work in that area and yours is 
the name that she gave me. 

Jeffrey Raff: Ah, that’s nice. 

Dr, Dave: Yeah, so as a result I've been reading your fascinating book on the 
practice of ally work, so maybe we should start by my asking you ‘how did you 
initially get into this ally work?’ because it’s not a term or a concept that I recall 
encountering per se in Jungian literature. So Tm wondering when and how did you 
first get into it? 

Jeffrey Raff: Well it actually goes back to the late sixties, early seventies, I had 
myself some spontaneous experiences which I really, at that time, didn’t know how to 
understand or explain to myself. So that started me reading and looking around and 
seeing if I could find someone to help me understand that and the searching took me 
finally to Zurich where I got into analysis and into training in 1971 and at that time 
Casteneda’s books were very popular. 

Dr, Dave: Exactly. That was my first association to it. The Teachings of Don Juan 
and the subsequent ones. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yes, the first four books in particular I found really incredible and of 
course he writes quite a bit about the ally and looking at that material, led me into 
shamanism where the concept of the ally is also very well known. So I kind of stole 
the term, I borrowed the term from both Castenada and shamanism in general to 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally WorksNiih Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 1 of 13 

Transcribed from 

describe the kind of experience that I was having. So, you’re right, there isn’t really 
the eoneept of the ally in Jungian literature - not the way that I've been using it. The 
elosest similarity would be what Jung ealled the Self and there are some similarities 
and also some differenees there. 

Dr. Dave: Well, also in Jung’s Red Book there is Philemon, the imaginal figure that 
he interaets with. Do you think even though he didn’t use the term ‘ally’ I'm 
wondering if Philemon would be an example of what you mean by an ally. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yes, absolutely. Jung’s deseription. . . of eourse we’ve just had The 
Red Book a few years ago. Before that, I had to go through Memories, Dreams, 
Reflections in whieh he talks about his relationship to Philemon and it struck me then 
that this was very mueh what I was ealling an ally figure. And The Red 5ooA: just 
goes into mueh greater depth showing that. 

Dr, Dave: Yeah, that must have been very gratifying to you when The Red Book 
came out beeause even your book here on the praetiee of ally work predates the 
release of The Red Book and so The Red Book really gives a lot of substanee to what 
you’re talking about in your book. That must have felt really good. 

Jeffrey Raff: It did. I had a hunch that’s what he was talking about but it really 
wasn’t until we eould get the aetual Red Book and look at it that it beeame elear that 
it’s very, very similar. 

Dr, Dave: Yes. So Tm trying to reeall, it’s been a long time sinee I read the 
Castenada books but Castenada is a young student of anthropology, I think he’s in 
graduate sehool perhaps at the time and reported that he. . . and I have to say that 
book had a. . . I think you and I must be of a similar generation and it had a big impaet 
on a lot of people in our generation. 

Jeffrey Raff: Oh, yeah. Very mueh. 

Dr, Dave: It was very inspiring and probably our audience is a lot younger by and 
large so that’s why Tm reprising it a little bit here. So this young anthropology 
student goes to Mexieo and eneounters a Yaequi Indian wise man, soreerer, magieian, 
shaman - whatever word we want to use - and one of the things he tells him is that he 
needs to be open to, to eultivate, an ally, which is a kind of. . . later you use the term 
spirit guide, so it’s a kind of spirit guide. Have I eharaeterized it aeeurately? 

Jeffrey Raff: In the first book The Teachings of Don Juan the ally is actually used to 
refer to the experience with hallucinogenies. Peyote for example would be kind of an 
ally. Don Juan talks about the little smoke and drug related information of that sort 
but in the later books he divorees the eoneept of the ally from the hallueinogenies and 
begins to talk mueh more about a very powerful spirit guide who, on its arrival, gives 
you not only information but power, who performs soreery and that kind of thing. So 
it beeame a very important figure in the books that Castenada wrote. 

Dr, Dave: Indeed. Now you point out that this work is in the ‘imaginal’ versus the 
‘imaginary’ realm and I think for many people this may not be an easy distinetion. 

It’s a little bit subtle and sometimes I lose my grip on it as well, I think. Maybe you 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 2 of 13 

Transcribed from 

can take us through the differenee. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah. Primarily the differenee is emphasized beeause in our culture 
the imagination is looked at as something unreal and not to be paid too mueh attention 
to other than if you’re engaged in some kind of a fun aetivity or something. I think 
that’s slowly beginning to ehange but eertainly when I was writing, the idea was to try 
and distinguish what I mean by the imaginal, from imaginary. Imaginary would have 
that quality of being a kind of fantasy and not particularly real in an experiential way. 
It’s something that, kind of seeing pictures in your mind and having a fantasy of some 
kind but the imaginal is eoneeived to be an aetual real realm. This is an idea that is 
beginning to gain ground largely due to the work of Hillman and Henry Corbin who 
wrote a lot on the Sufis and their eoncept of the imaginal, whieh had a big infiuenee 
on me later on too. So the imaginal is eoneeived of as being a realm of experienee 
that is not the same as the external mundane world but is neither simply an imaginary 
spaee, it’s a real spaee that we experienee though a speeial mode of pereeption. It 
gets a little eonfusing but the mode of pereeiving that we use is the imagination and 
that allows us to experienee the imaginal. Now the use of the word imagination in 
this sense is what Jung meant by the term ‘aetive imagination’ whieh was, for him, a 
teehnique of experieneing the world of dreams and inner figures while awake. So, 
one wouldn’t have to go to sleep to dream, one eould do it very eonsciously which 
makes a very big differenee. But those experienees whieh stretch across a wide 
speetrum but we eoneeive of them to be real experienees, nothing unreal or, in quotes, 
‘imaginary’ about them, so I try to use the term imaginal to emphasize that we’re 
talking about very real and often very profound experienees. 

Dr. Dave: Well, you’re talking about eomplex ideas here and I have to eompliment 
you on writing about them very elearly in your book. The book just eomes aeross as 
very elear and not a lot of intelleetual obfuseation and so I really appreeiated that. 

And as I was listening to you just now, something that eame to mind that didn’t eome 
to mind when I was reading the book but comes now, is the movies The Matrix in 
whieh and I don’t know if this eomes into the underlying metaphysies or not but the 
notion that I know is in some branches of Buddhism as practiced in India, the idea 
that what we think of as objeetive reality is an illusion and that maybe all of this is 
swimming inside of a some kind of other kind of soup, in whieh all of this is illusion 
and kind of matrix-like in a way. 

Jeffrey Raff: Right. Well the differenee would be from the Jungian perspective the 
ideas that both realities are real - if you only emphasize of one to the detriment of the 
other you’re very one-sided aetually. So the idea is that we wouldn’t say your 
ordinary realm of experienees is illusionary but it’s not the only realm of experienee 
and what we’d normally consider to be illusionary, like the imaginal, is just as real. 
And one of the faseinating things in doing this work is to try and experienee and 
understand how those two realities overlap, how they interaet with eaeh other and 
we’re just beginning, I think, to try and understand that. 

Dr. Dave: Okay. Now, as you deseribed, the praetiee has its roots in shamanism, 
whieh you’ve mentioned and alehemy and Kabbalah and Gnostieism. Maybe you ean 
give us a little bit of the flavor of eaeh of those and I know they’re big topies. . . 

Jeffrey Raff: Yes, they are. 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 3 of 13 

Transcribed from 

Dr, Dave: So it’s a kind of a difficult task that I'm setting for you here. The 
shamanism part I definitely understand both from reading books like the Don Juan 
series and also one of my students went on to go very deeply into shamanism and has 
ereated an institute where he takes people to Peru and other plaees in the Amazonia 
and does shamanic trainings and has really turned it into a very sueeessful business. 
And I went to a eouple of his workshops and I’m kind of a tough nut to eraek, I don’t 
enter into this imaginal realm easily or dramatieally but I did have an experienee 
during one of the exereises there in particular where I really got a good taste of what 
that eould be like and I eould see that if I were devote more time and energy to it 
where I just had this fleeting image that I was bodily pieked up by an eagle and it was 
flying with my little self. It was like a giant eagle and I eould see this green valley 
and it was very vivid but just very brief 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah. That’s a good example. That would definitely be what we mean 
by imaginal experienee and you’re right, it takes a lot of praetiee. It takes a lot of 
work, whieh is why I decided to write the book the way that I did. It was really 
designed to offer people who might not otherwise have aceess, some kind of exereises 
to develop their skill in partieular with the ally. But the traditions that you mention, 
the reason that I was interested in them, is they all, along with a few others, they all 
eompose what’s today ealled the esoteric tradition, which is a tradition very, very 
aneient in the West but one that’s always been a little bit underground, a little bit not 
quite the aeeepted spiritual direetion and teaehings. And they have a lot in eommon 
beeause I think to a great extent they eome from the same original souree which 
probably is shamanic in origin. I suspect shamanism is one of the oldest forms of the 

Dr. Dave: Yes, I’ve read that elsewhere too, other people have either to some extent 
doeumented it or speculated in the same way. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah and shamanism is about healing very often. It’s about 
exploration of the imaginal realm. It ean be about soreery but one of the fundamental 
things in shamanism is the ability to interact with spirits and it’s the interaction with 
spirits that allows one to heal or to know where the tribe needs to go, or where the 
hunting is good and those kinds of things. So Eliade, who wrote a great deal on 
shamanism, ealls the shaman the master of ecstasy and by that he meant that the 
shaman has the ability to go into tranee state, or eestatie states of some kind and then 
have an interaetion with the spirits and one of the most important spirits that they 
would interaet with would be their own personal ally who would then proteet them 
and take them to other spirits and be their eompanion. 

Dr. Dave: I have the impression that this ally often took the form of an animal. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yes, quite frequently. It eould appear as a human being and in fact in 
some of the shamanie traditions the shaman would aetually marry his or her ally and 
they would live together in a hut outside the village and he or she might have a human 
wife as well that lived within the village. So the ally was eoneeived of as a spirit that 
eould take many forms and that one would frequently engage in a relationship of love 
and living together in a very real sense. So that always faseinated me - that partieular 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 4 of 13 

Transcribed from 

Dr. Dave: Yeah, that is faseinating. I hadn’t heard that part before. Well, you draw 
upon alehemy a lot in the book and the impression of alehemy that most of us have 
reeeived through, quotes, the dominant culture, is one of false science, or proto- 
seienee, the early beginnings of what we know as ehemistry but there’s a whole other 
way of looking at it. Tell us a bit about alehemy. 

Jeffrey Raff: It’s a very eomplex topie and alehemy is really the reason that I fell in 
love with Jung and his works because he’s written three massive volumes on alchemy 
from the psyehologieal perspeetive. But alehemy has always had two main traditions 
- one is the physieal side of it and the other is the spiritual side of it. And the 
alehemists’ real goal - and again there’s what we call pseudo alehemists and real 
alchemists - the pseudo alchemist was trying really to create gold, physieal gold. 
That’s what we think mostly of alehemy, that these are people who are kind of mad in 
some way, and they’re in their laboratories trying to ereate gold to give to the king 
and they got into a lot of trouble beeause they eouldn’t really do it. But there were 
other alehemists who believed that gold was a symbol and was a symbol of what we 
would eall enlightenment and that if you eould ereate this symbolie gold, you would 
experienee not only enlightenment for yourself but you would have a tremendous 
effect on material reality and bring what they eonsidered to be redemption into the 
world. And that I would guess, the alehemy that we ean doeument goes baek almost 
three thousand years from the West, so it’s a very old tradition that went through a lot 
of forms. But one of the keys in the spiritual alehemy is that the imagination was the 
main way that you would experienee the gold and for the alchemists a thousand years 
ago there wouldn’t be any difference between imaginal gold and physieal gold. They 
believed that if you ean aetually experienee, really experienee, the ereation of gold 
within your own soul, you eould make physieal gold too. At that point many of them 
didn’t want to, or that beeame less of a goal for them. But the way that one did the 
alehemical proeesses, you know, mixing all their little ehemieals, they understood 
every ehemieal proeess symbolieally and not only symbolieally but imaginally, 
meaning that the alehemy had to be experieneed by the alehemist. Not in the physieal 
world but in this imaginal world for it to be real. 

Dr. Dave: One of the key eoneepts of alehemy that you dwell upon a bit in the book 
is the Philosopher’s Stone. How does the Philosopher’s Stone relate to. . . in a way 
stones seems like a strange image - how does that relate maybe to the gold that you 
were talking about? 

Jeffrey Raff: Well the Philosopher’s Stone is eonsidered the real primary objeetive 
of alchemy and it aetually transcends the quest for gold because the idea in alehemy is 
if you ean ereate the Philosopher’s Stone then that stone will transform anything you 
want it to into gold, so if you have the Philosopher’s Stone you ean make as mueh 
gold as you want. But it had other uses too, it was eonsidered to be the healing elixir 
so if you had the stone you eould heal diseases and you would have aeeess to the 
spirit world. Again they put a lot of emphasis on interaction with spirits, so the 
Philosopher’s Stone is a great mystery, there is really no eoneeptual way to translate 
it. It is, I eonsider, the ultimate form of it, to be what I eall in my writings a ‘baby 
God.’ It is the ineamation of the divine within the material world and in that sense the 
faet that it is an ineamation of the divinity that I relate it to the ally whieh I eonsider 
to be also an ineamation of the divinity. So it’s a stone but it’s not. It’s a paradox in 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 5 of 13 

Transcribed from 

all the images, it’s eonsidered to be hard and rigid like a stone but it flows like water 
simultaneously so there’s nothing that you ean say about Philosopher’s Stone that you 
wouldn’t have to inelude its opposite. So in that sense it eertainly seems to be a 
divine figure and in alehemieal imagery in the emblems that they painted and drew in 
their little workbooks the Philosopher’s Stone is very often depieted as a youth, an 
adoleseent boy often really is a divine being. 

Dr, Dave: Hmm, hmm. And at times you refer to spirit guides, in faet the sub title of 
the book is Meeting and Partnering with Your Spirit Guide in the Imaginal World and 
the term spirit guide would seem to open up a whole sort of New Age assoeiation. I 
wonder if that’s anything that you’ve struggled with, or if you ean eomment on that? 

Jeffrey Raff: Ah, yeah, definitely. I personally wouldn’t use the term spirit guide 
that frequently but you know this was kind of a publieation deeision beeause it was 
thought that spirit guide would be a term that would be most understandable on the 
faee of it and mostly because of New Age material. I think the problem with New 
Age thinking often is that it’s very simplistic and it makes these things sound very 
easy and you know if you think good thoughts and you do good things, then good 
things will happen to you and you are the master of your own destiny, things of that 
sort, with which I disagree very much. So I go to some pains to try to distinguish the 
ally from angels or the kind of New Agey spirit guide image. I think it was in the 
book ealled Healing the Wounded God that I have a ehapter on angels and I try to 
dispense with some of the New Age stuff, I got so virulent about it my publisher had 
to tell me to eool it, be a little nicer. 

Dr. Dave: Yeah. You know this whole thing about entities and the imaginal world 
brought up a whole buneh of assoeiations for me and lead to questions that I want to 
ask. There are other people who have written about hierarehies of entities and one 
that eomes to mind is Emanuel Swedenborg, Swedish mystic. I'm not sure of the 
period in whieh he lived - would it be around the sixteen hundreds, do you know? 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah, I believe so. 

Dr. Dave: Yeah, somewhere kind of in that realm and he’s deseribed as both a 
sueeessful politieian, I think and philosopher and seientist of that time but he also 
either cultivated or had a gift for, Tm not sure whieh, for going into interior, maybe 
almost like hypnogogie spaees and where he eneountered a whole ehain of beings, or 
entities or hierarehy from very high ones to very low ones. And then Tm thinking of 
the neuroseientist John Lilly who passed away some years ago and the entities that 
appeared to him when taking LSD in a sensory deprivation flotation tank, was perhaps 
an extreme way to go after this but he had an experienee certainly that in some ways 
seemed reminiseent of Swedenborg. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah and some of these traditions that I was talking about have this 
idea of the hierarehies of beings as well. Kabbalah very mueh so, the whole 
experienee for some of the mysties in Kabbalah is to have eneounters with divine 
entities at a ever higher level, you kind of elimb up that world tree that’s so eentral to 
Kabbalah. You slowly climb up by experiencing these entities and there’s definitely a 
hierarchy to experience them through. The Sufis also have a great tradition of all of 
these spiritual entities that one ean experienee. 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally Work with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 6 of 13 

Transcribed from 

Dr. Dave: So I guess one of the questions that immediately comes up is, if there are 
very high ones, there are also going to be very low, perhaps diabolie entities, is there a 
danger in this work of hooking up with the wrong kind of entity? 

Jeffrey Raff: There is. In my experienee it’s not a frequent thing but it ean happen 
and one of the things that it try to emphasize in the book on ally work is to trust your 
feelings, to develop what I call the felt sense so that you ean feel if an entity is 
dangerous or threatening or hostile and I give a few other eriteria to try to use, for 
example if it’s eritieal, or if it makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s an entity not to 
be trusted. 

Dr. Dave: I was struek by your use of the term the felt sense beeause another author 
who’s used that term and it’s the only other plaee I reeall eneountering it, was Jim 
Bugental, now deeeased, humanistie existential psyeho therapist. Were you at all 
familiar with his work? 

Jeffrey Raff: No, I don’t think I've ever heard of him. 

Dr. Dave: Yeah. Beautiful writer. I would highly reeommend him. Another thing 
that eame to mind - beeause you talk about how you can form a relationship with the 
ally and the ally will be your supporter - so linking that with the chain of beings that 
we were talking about - what about the idea of a guardian angel? Tm not sure where 
that idea eame from but it seems to have some relationship to your idea of the ally. 

Jeffrey Raff: Well, again, the ally is a eomplex entity. It ean funetion as a guardian 
angel. The guardian angel is thought to be. . . I think it goes baek originally to the 
early Judaie tradition and then it was developed in Christianity and might even go 
baek to Persian thought around the same time as it appeared in Judaism. But it was 
eoneeived of as this entity whose primary goal was to take eare of you, to look over 
you, wateh over you, espeeially if you were righteous and you did the right things and 
so on. The ally can be thought of in those terms but that’s not the only thing that it is. 
For example one of the differenees that I speak of with the ally from other entities, is 
that you ean develop a real deep union with it. You ean enter into a relationship with 
it that ean go on for years and years in whieh both you and the ally are transforming. 
You’re both engaging with eaeh other in sueh a way that eaeh is growing in it’s own 
way. And you don’t see that normally with these other entities, you don’t see a union 
of love and marriage that allows both partners to transform and to help transform eaeh 

Dr. Dave: Yeah, that was one of the fascinating things about it as you describe it in 
the book, is the idea that the ally ean nurture you but that you also have some 
responsibility to nurture and grow the ally. 

Jeffrey Raff: Right. Yeah and this eomes from two main sources - Jung’s idea of 
individuation in whieh the human being is trying to develop a total personality that 
ineludes both eonseious and uneonseious, that includes inner and outer and so on. He 
suggests in some of his more eontroversial writings that God too has to grow and 
individuate. The idea we have of a perfeet and perfeeted being is not entirely correct, 
that the whole universe is evolving and so the idea of the ally as being your personal 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 7 of 13 

Transcribed from 

face of God, the entity through which you can experience the divine most profoundly, 
suggests that the ally also is individuating, is growing. That it is not in a state of 
perfeetion but is also trying to develop and transform in eertain ways. 

Dr, Dave: Tm thinking of Greek mythology now, eertainly the gods weren’t perfect 
beings there. 

Jeffrey Raff: They were a little too imperfect, I think (laughter). 

Dr. Dave: They definitely had room for some growth. 

Jeffrey Raff: And you eouldn’t quite trust them. You really don’t see too many 
legends and stories of forming a bond with one of the gods or goddesses and then kind 
of entering into a relationship with it. They represented more of what I would eall the 
demonie quality of the spirit, whieh is when you really don’t have a personal 
relationship to it and you have no idea what it’s going to do. That’s another danger in 
this work is that you may eneounter entities that are not hostile but they’re not 
particularly beneficial either. They just are what they are, they’re like a foree of 
nature and if you eneounter those it’s mueh harder to build a relationship and get to a 
place where you can actually trust them in the same way that you ean with an ally. 

Dr. Dave: Tm thinking here about ehanneling and people who have, quotes, 
ehanneled books - books of wisdom, some of them quite large and extensive and 
eomplex. Tm thinking that that must have some relationship to this imaginal world 
and imaginal beings that we’re talking about here. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah, I think it does. When I was in graduate sehool getting my PhD I 
wrote a researeh paper on automatie writing. 

Dr. Dave: I have that written in my notes here too as a plaee to... Go ahead. 

Jeffrey Raff: Whieh aetually wreeked my reputation in the sehool. I was from that 
moment on rather suspeet and then when I got into Jung, I was even more suspeet. I 
aetually had to leave that school eventually but I was struek in the automatie writing 
that you find themes that are almost universal and it does, from the deseription that 
the practitioner gives, you do get the sense that they are engaged with an entity of 
some kind that is speaking to them through the writing proeess. It’s one of the 
reasons in the book on the ally work also I did emphasize writing exereises and I think 
part of the reason for that was beeause the idea of automatie writing had a big impaet 
on me. And tranee states, mediums, eertainly seemed to be a form of engaging the 
imaginal and the spirit. Mediumistic techniques go baek to shamanism too, so they 
have a very long tradition. One of the primary differenees between aetive imagination 
work and mediumistie work is that we don’t reeommend going into any kind of tranee 
or use of any hallucinogenics. The goal is really to be as conseious as you would be 
in your normal life but in a kind of altered state in which the imaginal beeomes more 
aeeessible to you. 

Dr, Dave: Given the history of being an outcast in school for your interest in 
automatic writing and in Jung, I'm wondering how this book, these ideas of working 
with the ally have been reeeived in the Jungian world. Are you an outeast yet again or 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 8 of 13 

Transcribed from 

have you found a home? 

Jeffrey Raff: Neither, quite. They’re somewhat eontroversial. There’s definitely a 
whole sehool of Jungian thought that embraces the idea and then there’s a school that 
is much more conservative and doesn’t quite like the idea and would rather have all of 
these things diseussed mueh more from a symbolie, rather than an experiential kind of 
position. In other words the ally would be an experienee of an inner psyehologieal 
state rather than an entity. But I think if you do look at The Red Book it is very elear 
that Jung experienced these things as entities, as, I think, a cornerstone of his thinking 
about aetive imagination. So I ean’t quite totally relax at home in the Jungian world 
but eertainly there is a good deal of reeeptivity. 

Dr, Dave: Yeah, Tm not surprised by either of those, you know, we’re all totally 
human and that sounds like the human speetrum there at work. I think often the way 
that people often experienee divinity, or entities maybe is shaped both by eulture and 
by whatever religious framework they work within. So for example and I think this 
might be relevant here, my grandmother who was a Pentecostal evangelist, she said 
that Jesus appeared to her twiee and spoke to her and gave her instruetions and she 
was never in a mental hospital, always funetioned at a very high level and there are 
other people like that as well. So do you think that experience that she reported 
somehow is a subset of what you’re writing about? 

Jeffrey Raff: Oh, yeah, I think so. It’s interesting, we tend to have to say, you know, 
we’re not erazy, we weren’t in a mental hospital, we didn’t. . . because our view in the 
eulture of the imaginal is that it’s pretty erazy to have experiences like this and that’s 
really too bad. But in terms of the traditions it very mueh seems to be the ease, up to 
a point, that the imaginal will speak to you in the language that you’re most 
comfortable with. So, if you’re a Christian it wouldn’t be at all surprising that you 
would have an experienee of Christ. If you were a Muslim you might have an 
experienee of an entity ealled Kabir, or Allah, or Mohammed might eome to you - 
something of that sort. And it makes good sense if you’re a good Christian and you 
have an entity eome to you that’s not particularly Christian, you would be a whole lot 
more nervous about engaging with it. Of eourse in an earlier tradition of Christianity 
we’d label those things demonie and not to be trusted. So it seems to be the language 
of the imaginal is tailored to the individual having the experienee. And I’d say up to a 
point beeause after you reach a certain depth you could be asked to grow past a 
partieular tradition or eoneept, espeeially if that’s too narrow for the kind of 
experienee that you might be heading towards. I had a elient who was a very devout 
Christian and very religious, whose dreams began. . . one dream she had was that God 
was eoming for her and she rushed out of the house in great expeetation and was 
horrified to see that God was a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Not exaetly what she had 
expeeted and it’s images of that kind will eome when the inner guide is asking you to 
go beyond what you already know and embraee the unknown parts of the divinity. 

And that’s a very profound plaee and a very difficult place. 

Dr. Dave: You mentioned that in Christianity people would diseount these kinds of 
experienees as perhaps being demonie and so they should be ignored and Tm also 
thinking that in Zen Buddhism the belief is, ‘hey, don’t pay attention to that stuff- 
that’s a distraetion, don’t go there.’ 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 9 of 13 

Transcribed from 

Jeffrey Raff: Yes, I think that’s true. I aetually met a Zen teaeher onee who told me 
that that’s what they wrote but they aetually had a tradition of aetive imagination 
whieh was kind of a faseinating thing and Tibetan Buddhism is a very rieh tradition of 
aetive imagination and entities and they very mueh pay attention to those. But the 
more elassic forms of Buddhism, that’s right, there’s a big differenee between the 
approaeh toward the imaginal and a kind of pure meditational state in whieh you try 
to bloek out anything that distraets you from that quiet spaee. 

Dr, Dave: Yes, yes. Now we mentioned before your idea that the ally needs our love 
and support in order to develop and so I was interested that you mentioned Sufism 
beeause I put that in my notes. I didn’t eneounter it in the book, it’s probably there 
but I didn’t see it, but it put me in mind of the idea in Sufism of eestatie love, sueh as 
that expressed by Rumi and Hafiz and others. 

Jeffrey Raff: Very mueh so. The Sufis have a tradition - one of the Sufi traditions 
speaks of the friend and the friend is almost exaetly the way that I describe the ally. 

It’s not only your personal divinity it ean eome as your own personal Holy Spirit who 
will give you your own unique revelation. In the sehool of Sufism put a great deal of 
emphasis on the faet that we all have our own image of God and we all have our own 
ability to have revelation and your revelation will be a lot different than mine. That’s 
one of the speeial qualities of it. So that tradition has a very long history of dealing 
with what I would eall the ally, probably going baek to the Persian original 
indigenous religions there as well. 

Dr, Dave: So kind of where the rubber meets the road in a way, is what is the value 
of ally work? What ean the ally give us? 

Jeffrey Raff: Well if you ean imagine that we live in two worlds simultaneously, that 
the outer world is only one world that we aetually inhabit and the other world is 
almost totally unknown to most people, it’s almost totally uneonseious but has a 
tremendous effeet on us in fact. Again this question of how the worlds interaet is a 
great question but it does seem possible that what happens in the interior spaee, 
whether we’re eonscious of it or not, determines what’s going to happen in the 
external spaee. 

Dr, Dave: That of eourse makes me wonder what’s the relationship between this 
imaginal world that we’re talking about in whieh the ally and other entities exist and 
dreaming - noetumal dreams? 

Jeffrey Raff: Hmm, hmm. Yeah, I think we would have to be able to see in the 
imaginal space a whole lot of different territories. When I say the imaginal I’m 
probably speaking of a whole lot of sub-sets and things that we would need to 
differentiate. Dreaming would be one of them. There are different levels of dreaming 
- if you have an ordinary every day dream about an entity, it’s probably a 
psychologieal state that you’re dreaming about but there are dreams that you can have 
in whieh you feel an ineredible numinosity and power of a being in your dream and 
those feel different. 

Dr, Dave: Yeah. Jung talks about big dreams and I’ve had maybe just a few big 
dreams. One eomes to mind in whieh maybe there was a sort of entity there and I 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 10 of 13 

Transcribed from 

know when I wake up from those dreams, there’s no temptation at all to want to 
analyze it or tease it apart. It just feels like a gift. 

Jeffrey Raff: Exactly. It feels like the experience that it was. There isn’t any reason 
to interpret it. 

Dr. Dave: Yeah. There was just a kind of bliss that was present there. 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah and so those dreams take us mueh eloser to the deeper layers of 
the imaginal spaee. Probably all dreams are influeneed by them to some degree or 
another. I just wanted to go baek to your other question about what is the value of it. 
In alehemy the idea of ereation is that it’s an imperfeet thing. It’s a proeess, 
something in evolution and it’s the task of the alchemist to bring the light into the 
darkness of our world to help that evolution move in a better direetion than it would 
normally do. The alehemists, even the Christian alehemists, believe that Christ’s 
death on the eross was only the first step of redemption, that we’re all responsible for 
helping redeem the world. And as I said it’s also helping to redeem God, whieh if 
God is not this perfeeted being but is an evolutionary proeess also, then it’s partly our 
responsibility to help that evolutionary proeess and the ally is the key to doing that 
kind of work. It’s the key to beeoming more eonseious of both worlds ourselves. It 
helps us to individuate. I think our relationship to the ally aetually speeds up the 
proeess and at the same time it helps the universe in it’s own evolutionary proeess. 

Dr, Dave: If it’s not too personal a question, ean you share how the ally has 
supported you in your life, or any kind of breakthrough, or insight, or translation from 
that imaginal spaee into this other spaee that we normally live in? Has it impaeted 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah, I first had an experienee of the ally when I was twenty one, 
whieh was in 1967 and just the faet of having that experienee ehanged my life - 
moved me out of the direetion that I was in into taking up psyehology and studying 
these spiritual traditions. It helped me through severe illness, giving me the ability to 
deal with that at a mueh deeper level than I would have been able to, helped me in my 
own relationships. There was a time, even in my marriage, that was very diffieult 
early on. I'm not sure what I would have done but the ally really eneouraged me to 
stiek it out, work through the relationship, whieh was a very, very positive thing to do. 
So it can bring information, it can actually. . . like you were talking about your dream, 
you have experienees that you don’t need to interpret, or even try to understand, 
they’re just profoundly numinous and those kind of experienees transform you. They 
help you individuate and go onto these deeper spaees, develop your own 
conseiousness. And I believe we’re born to individuate, the reason that we’re here is 
to beeome who we really are and to beeome as eonseious as we ean be and the ally 
really helps with both of those things. 

Dr, Dave: Wow. And you emphasis that everyone has an ally whieh is a 
wonderfully eomforting thought, that everyone ean eontaet and develop a relationship 
with their ally but you also very strongly indieate that it takes a strong eommitment, 
that it’s something that you have to be willing to devote eonsiderable time and energy 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 11 of 13 

Transcribed from 

Jeffrey Raff: Yes, I think that’s right. Its like any relationship, you know, if you’re 
going to eommit to a relationship that you want to see develop and last for your whole 
lifetime then it takes a whole lot of work, whether that’s in a marriage or in an ally 
kind of relationship. 

Dr. Dave: And there are resistanees that arise if you’re trying to undertake that 

Jeffrey Raff: Yeah, there are a lot of resistanees. That’s one thing we ean eount it. 

Dr. Dave: The main one that I think you mentioned that I eould immediately relate to 
would be the little voice that’ll eome up in your head and say ‘oh, c’mon, this is a 
buneh of nonsense.’ 

Jeffrey Raff: Right. Yes, I think that’s a universal one. It’s that kind of inner 
skeptie and eritie that says that. . . no matter how profound the experienee you ean 
almost eount on the next day thinking ‘well is that really what happened or did I make 
that up?’ And that ean be a very diabolieal kind of resistanee in the sense that it sueks 
the life out of your work beeause you don’t trust yourself but it’s something that I 
think everybody who does this work really has to deal with. 

Dr. Dave: Yeah, I ean fully believe that. Well, it’s probably time for us to start 
winding down here so Tm wondering if there’s anything that you’d like to add that 
you haven’t had a chanee to toueh on here. 

Jeffrey Raff: Well, I would just emphasize what you just brought up, that I believe 
that there is an ally for every human being and that there is a eertain level of growth 
and transformation that ean oecur when the human being turns in the direetion of the 
ally and begins to do that work. And without it neither the ally nor the human being 
develops in a eertain sense. I don’t think this is the only way that one ean work with 
the imaginal, there are definitely other traditions but in terms of what the ally brings, 
it’s pretty unique and it’s not only about growth and power and transformation, it’s 
about a deep, deep sense of love and being loved, whieh is a tremendous comfort to 
know that you have that eompanion with you no matter what life brings to you. 

Dr. Dave: Yes. This has been a faseinating conversation and an inspiring one. Dr. 
Jeffrey Raff I want to thank you for being my guest today on Shrink Rap Radio. 

Jeffrey Raff: It’s my pleasure, I was happy to be here. 


I hope you enjoyed this eonversation with Jungian analyst Dr. Jeffrey Raff. As you 
heard me suggest. Dr. Raffs book on ally work is very clearly written. Most of the 
ehapters are devoted to a praetieal progression of exereises designed to assist the 
serious student along the path of dialoging with and then developing an ongoing 
relationship with their personal ally. One area I meant to bring into our diseussion 
was lueid dreaming - in faet Dr. Raff does eomment on lueid dreaming in the book. 
Let me read you a eouple of pages from the book and you’ll get a feel for his writing 
and the approaeh. So starting midway on P. 1 13 here goes: 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally IForA: with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 12 of 13 

Transcribed from 

Developing awareness while asleep is as difficult as developing it during daily 
activities. Being aware in your dream is known as lucid dreaming but I do not mean 
by this term what is often meant. Frequently there is associated with the notion of 
lucid dreaming the idea of controlling your dream but that is not the goal of this 
practice. You do not want to control your dream but only to be aware as it occurs. 
Moreover, in this practice, no matter what is happening in your dream, you want to 
reach out for the ally and turn your attention to it. For many years I had the 
experience of seeing my ally appear in the middle of a dream that had nothing to do 
with it. This became almost comical as if the ally appeared as a character in a play 
but in the wrong play. I realized however that it wanted my attention, so gradually I 
practiced remaining aware of what it was doing. In time I felt union with it in my 
sleep and in dreams of all kinds. This certainly does not happen every night but when 
it does it ’s a beautiful experience. As in my case it ’s easiest in sleep if the ally 
appears first. 

To develop the skill of being aware of your ally while dreaming ask the ally to appear 
in your dream. Ask it every night before going to sleep and when it does, try to 
remember its appearance in the morning. Next when it appears try to remain aware 
of it no matter what else is happening in the dream. Together you and the ally can 
develop a sense of union that will permeate and in time transform your experience of 
dreaming. During those periods when you have more time to yourself, practice 
shifting your awareness between the ally and some other activity such as reading. 
Read for a short time and shift your focus to the ally. Pay attention to the ally for a 
while and then return to your reading. Ask your ally to partner with you in 
developing your focus. Work together as a team to develop this skill. 

And then he has a little section on obstacles: 

The major obstacle during the day is the compelling fascination of daily events. 
Without practice your attention is usually so firmly placed on the world around you 
that you do not remember the ally. Work slowly and patiently to develop the ability to 
shift your awareness at will. The obstacles to connecting with the ally during sleep 
are all too apparent. Sleep is a deep state of unconsciousness in which awareness is 
dimmed greatly. Be patient and approach this effort in a playful way. Ask the ally to 
come into your dreams and try to become aware when dreaming. Lucid dreaming 
can be great fun but requires great effort. 

Okay so that gives you both his perspective on lucid dreaming in relation to ally work 
and also a feel for his writing. I’ll be sure to place a link to his 
book The Practice of Ally Work on the www. shrinkrapradio .com website. Dr. Raff 
regularly conducts workshops on ally work by the way. You can contact him for 
more information through his website, which you’ll find at 

Thanks to Dr. Jeff Raff for sharing his explorations into ally work with us. 

Shrink Rap Radio #290 

Ally Work with Jeffrey Raff PhD 

Page 13 of 13