I had Oedipus on my mind before falling asleep last night! My last coherent thought was: Freud got that all wrong!

In Greek myth Oedipus was a king of Thebes. The prophecy was that he would marry his mother and kill his father. I will copy a full version of the myth just below this article. Freud’s interpretation of this myth is that everyone harbours unconscious fantasies of ‘claiming/marrying/sleeping with’ their parent of the opposite sex.

However, last night ‘a flash of lightning’ passed through my sleepy brain: Freud got that all wrong, the real teaching of this myth is about something entirely different: the human journey in making conscious what has only been unconscious before.

To my mind C. G. Jung expressed this very well (though as far as I know he was talking in general, not about Oedipus):

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”  C. G. Jung

Recently I have had a lot of conversations with people about the following question: “Do we need to take responsibility for the things that do not originate with us?’

This applies, for instance, in ancestral healing work: in shamanic healing work I often discover that many of patterns that shape our lives and habits are ancestral in origin.

Example: if your ‘forefathers’ and “foremothers”) suffered great lack and shortage – you may have a compulsion to hoard.

If they  suffered great personal loss – you may be very controlling in relationships – and so unwittingly frighten off possible partners! And so forth…

We may not be conscious of these things. We may feel that what happened several centuries ago is “nothing to do with us”. Yet we are ‘fated’ to live these “ancestral scripts” until we make the choice to make these issues conscious and heal them.

We live in a time where our consciousness is very individual-orientated. We think we can close doors on things, walk away from the things we don’t like about our family of origin and “do it all differently (better obviously!)” and often it doesn’t work this way. I observe time after time how certain issues “catch up with us in mysterious ways”.

For me the myth about Oedipus tells us that the course of our lives will be shaped by events and patterns we are not (commonly) aware of, until we embark on a great spirit-led journey into the Unknown and use ancient sacred tools to allow these things to ‘come into awareness’.

I often say to clients and students that “anything that hurts, repeats, offends’ is really something unresolved begging for healing, floating into awareness so it can be healed”.

The moment we realize that, it becomes less personal. The moment we step away from choosing to believe that ‘we live in a bubble and have full control over all events in our life” (a belief that has often already been severely challenged by age 25, though my teenage sons still like to believe this!) we learn about surrendering to Spirit and opening up to healing. And healing generally reaches us through our wounds, the “cracks in our egoic container”.

With clients I often explain that forgiveness work needs to be done, even for acts we did not commit. This is not the very personal asking for forgiveness as we understand it in our culture (“I hurt you so now I ask you for forgiveness”) but a larger cosmic process of healing the Web of human connections, our larger “Human Family”. So we speak to issues that arise, we speak to ancestor who died with difficult lives and broken dreams, we admit that we cannot even comprehend the full scale of what happened – but we take full responsibility for healing these issues. Because we are alive today. Because we have access to the spiritual tools. Because WE CAN!!

My clients do extremely well with this. I am blown away every time again by their courage and love and open hearts. The immense gift of this work is that rather than feeling victimized (“I am the odd one out in my family, my relationships always seem to fail”) people come to realize that their soul has chosen to heal larger issues (“In my family I am the one with psychic awareness and healing gifts. This makes me a little different from others but it allows me to choose to HEAL the long-standing pattern of broken relationships in my family line!”). Very few people fail to see the beauty and Divine aspect of this.

So something that remained unconscious, during shamanic healing work becomes conscious. It is healed and no longer dominates our lives, or the lives of other in our family. Healing these things is a great act of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE as well.

Hawaiian H’oponopono has given us a powerful prayer for spiritual releasing/cleansing and transmutation. It was first used by a woman healer called Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona, Kahuna Lapa’au (now deceased) who was recognized as a Living Treasure of Hawaii in 1983.

 “Divine Creator, father, mother, son as one. If I or my family or my relatives or ancestors have offended you, your family, your relatives or ancestors in any thought, word, deed or action from the beginning of my creation to this present time, we ask your forgiveness. May this cleanse, purify and release any memories, blocks, energies and vibrations and transmute these unwanted energies into pure LIGHT. And it is done. Thank-you.”

As you can see this cleansing prayer has three main components: repentance, forgiveness and transmutation.

Contemporary Hawaiian spiritual teacher Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len also  teaches another an abbreviated version and tool for spiritual cleansing.  It is called The Four Phrases and it goes like this:

I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.
I love you.

 So…. if you ask me…. the myth of Oedipus teaches us that to ‘claim our Divine Birthright’ (meaning living our lives to the highest potential and healing larger patterns through healing ourselves), represented (in my mind) by Oedipus being a ‘king’ we cannot live our life “unconsciously” (because then patterns/stories/issues we are not even aware of will “seek expression through us” and we will experience this as a ‘tough fate”) so we must embark on a great mystical “hero quest” of ‘facing the dragons’ as it were, of using our own consciousness and spiritual tools as a container for healing.

So sorry Mr Sigmund Freud, I don’t buy your theory of the Oedipus Complex! I am a mother of three sons – no thanks!!

I am with Carl Jung on this one and I will repeat what he said:

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”  C. G. Jung

And  just below this article you will find some background information for the material discussed here, including a summary of the Oedipus Myth!

 Imelda Almqvist

Life Force TV Interview about shamanism with Imelda Almqvist



Imelda Almqvist is a Dutch shamanic practitioner, teacher and painter based in London, UK

  1. Oedipus complex, in psychoanalytic theory, a desire for sexual involvement with the parent of the opposite sex and a concomitant sense of rivalry with the parent of the same sex; a crucial stage in the normal developmental process. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his Interpretation of Dreams (1899).2 Nov 2014


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 Oedipus (US /ˈɛdɨpəs/ or UK /ˈdɨpəs/; Ancient Greek: Οἰδίπους Oidípous meaning “swollen foot”) was a mythical Greek king of Thebes, the son and killer of Laius, son and consort of Jocasta, and father and sibling of Polynices, Eteocles, Antigone, and Ismene. A tragic hero in Greek mythology, Oedipus accidentally fulfilled the prophecy, despite his efforts not to, that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family. When the truth was discovered, his wife-mother hanged herself, and Oedipus gouged out his own eyes. They had four children together. The story of Oedipus is the subject of Sophocles‘s tragedy Oedipus the King, which was followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone. Together, these plays make up Sophocles’s three Theban plays. Oedipus represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: the flawed nature of humanity and an individual’s role in the course of destiny in a harsh universe.

In the most well-known version of the myth of what happened after Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta, Laius wished to thwart a prophecy. Thus, he fastened the infant’s feet together with a large pin and left him to die on a mountainside. The baby was found on Kithairon by shepherds and raised by King Polybus and Queen Merope in the city of Corinth. Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy, but believing he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope, he left Corinth. Heading to Thebes, Oedipus met an older man in a chariot coming the other way on a narrow road. The two quarreled over who should give way, which resulted in Oedipus killing the stranger and continuing on to Thebes. He found that the king of the city (Laius) had been recently killed and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx. Oedipus answered the monster’s riddle correctly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king and the hand in marriage of the king’s widow, his mother, Jocasta.

Oedipus and Jocasta had two sons (Eteocles and Polynices) and two daughters (Antigone and Ismene). In his search to determine who killed Laius (and thus end a plague on Thebes), Oedipus discovered it was he who had killed the late king (his father). Jocasta, upon realizing that she had married her own son and Laius’s murderer, hanged herself. Oedipus then seized two pins from her dress and blinded himself with them. Oedipus was driven into exile, accompanied by Antigone and Ismene. After years of wandering, he arrived in Athens, where he found refuge in a grove of trees called Colonus. By this time, warring factions in Thebes wished him to return to that city, believing that his body would bring it luck. However, Oedipus died at Colonus, and the presence of his grave there was said to bring good fortune to Athens.

The legend of Oedipus has been retold in many versions, and was used by Sigmund Freud to name and give mythic precedent to the Oedipus complex.