Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Saint Me


The Dream:
I am looking at old photos of myself. I see one with my daughter, from when she was 3 or 4. I am surprised at how pretty I am. I now realize, but didn't in the dream, that the face I'm admiring, while similar to mine, is not me. Nevertheless, in the dream it is a revelation that I am prettier (or was) than I thought. I know I'm now older, but I think that maybe if I put a little effort into it I wouldn't look too bad.

I see a picture of myself in a group. I emanate a kind of illumination, like a saint.

Interpretation: The dream is concerned with what Jung called the “persona”, the side of ourselves we put on in public, at work, in social situations. This face is not mine. The dream is about appearances: a part of me thinks I need to try a little harder to keep up an image that will be well received. The second part of the dream tells me that another part of me thinks I'm more than good enough, as good as a saint, and that my role is to enlighten others; no doubt they need to be told how good I am! These images tell me my self-image is off balance: time for a reality check.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

How a Dream Turned into a Painting


Carla: Elaine Drew links one of her paintings directly to a dream. In this post she'll show us the path that took her there.

Elaine Drew
: The inspiration for this piece, called Journey was a dream in which I was to about to be sacrificed in a primitive religious rite. (That scene is represented in the 3rd panel of this 4 panel painting.) What, I wondered, was that all about?

Because the dream seemed to embody a spiritual quest of some sort, I organized the artwork along the lines of a medieval predella, a small strip of narrative scenes that appear at the bottom of an altarpiece. This organization reflected my asking myself what was at the bottom of the dream?

This led me to think that consciousness, the great gift that makes us human, might be a double-edged sword. That is the theme of the second panel. Here the figure carries consciousness like both a precious gift and a burden.

So, in the first image we enter life, unconscious, enclosed in a particular culture and point of view. Our first task is to break out of our shells, hit the road, and experience life in all its complexities. As we do this, in the second panel, we attain consciousness, and this includes the awareness of our own mortality. In the third panel we face the threat that this hard earned consciousness will be obliterated.

Wait a minute! I thought. I've been told that dreams come to us to tell us things we don't know. My piece needed a 4th panel, one that would get me past the limits of my current understanding.

It took a while, and some of the false starts most of us are familiar with when we try to solve a problem. Finally, as you can see in the 4th panel, the idea of the renewed self emerges into a built environment. And then the meaning of the piece became clearer to me: while I will probably never understand the mystery of life on earth, I can understand the process of death and resurrection that often plays a part during our lives. We are asked to sacrifice, and at times it feels like too much. Or we find our hopes or ideas dead in the water. But then a kind of natural salvation kicks in. We re-emerge with an expanded consciousness. It engulfs us, and we see the world through it. We are now in the world we built, no longer wandering in a barren wilderness. The sacrifice is behind us.

So, the Journey begins again. The painting is about life, about change, about learning as we go, and about the hope for an ultimate understanding that makes sense of it all.





Monday, November 21, 2016

The Paw of Condolence


This dream springs from the same  space in the unconscious that creates religion. Do our loved ones go to “another place” when they die? This dream says yes. Whether or not that's right in any objective sense is unknown and unknowable; nevertheless, it is consoling.
The Dream: I am a young teenager, staying at the seaside with my family. I look out from the screened porch, on the second story of the old-fashioned beach house. I see my younger brother Greg out in the ocean, clinging to a railing. I call to him, “Stay there! I'm coming!” I quickly change into a swimsuit and run downstairs and into the sea.

By the time I reach the railing he's gone. I search frantically, unable to find him, then head back to the beach house for some help. I go upstairs and find my sister in law, who is about my age. As we start to head down the stairs, two pet lions are ascending, obscured by a cat flap. I hear the first one before I see him. He says, “He's gone to another place.” I'm frightened when I hear this, thinking it confirms my fear that my brother is dead. I'm also surprised that the lion has spoken. The lion emerges through the cat door and repeats, “He's gone to another place.” He looks at me empathetically, as if he is sorry for my loss. He holds out a paw, gently, claws retracted, to shake hands.

I look out at the sea, its waves forming a beautiful pattern, white caps going on and on in v-shape formations. It's beautiful but hazardous. I don't think Greg could have survived its power.

My sister in law and I go to the deep beach, filled with tourists sunbathing and swimming. We search and search, to no avail. How will I tell Mother? I wonder, feeling her grief as I think about it. How will I tell my other brother? The words I choose echo the ones he used to tell me about Greg's death when it happened several years ago: “The worst thing you can imagine has happened.”

Interpretation: I had this dream near the anniversary of the deaths of both my brother and my mother. Two feelings are intertwined, grief with the hope inherent in the lion's godlike message. In one of C.S. Lewis' famous books, the lion represented Christ as the symbolic sacrifice that defeats death.  For me, the lion symbolizes the inevitable sad way of things in the natural world. He tells me that Greg has gone to another place. By stepping outside his own natural role as a mute and savage beast, the empathetic lion implies that there's something we don't know. As I experience the fearsome beauty of the sea, I know that this mysterious life force is incomprehensible. Yet there is solace in realizing the possibility of a dimension beyond those I know: this other place the lion speaks of.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Going Round in Circles


Do you think that this dream's meaning is obvious? I did, too, at first.
Dream Image: People are sitting in large concrete bowls that are moving in circles, like the mad teacup ride at Disneyland.

Interpretation
: Okay, I get that I'm going around in circles, and maybe a little nuts. But what I didn't get was that I think it's fun, like a ride at an amusement park.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I'm Not in the Picture


Sure enough, Janet's last dream was followed by another focused on identity—or, this time, its lack.
The Dream:I'm in an art school. A young man has been selected to do a nude portrait, and I have been selected to be his model. We work in a large urban studio. I am not embarrassed about posing nude; I wear only a pair of 50s style pointed-rim glasses that are very striking in black.

The next morning, before the painter gets to the studio, I decide to check out his progress. He has painted in the cityscape behind me in a purposely crude, modernist style, and one awkward tree is depicted. The colors are strong and unnatural. I am nowhere to be seen.

Janet's Interpretation: Looking at this dream from the point of view of identity helped me to unravel its meaning. My partner convinced me to move from a large urban area to his small hometown in the Mid-West. I hadn't realized what a struggle that would be. I feel friendless and alone; without the anchors of my friends and job I am not sure who I am anymore. The world I was a part of is going on without me, so I guess it's true that I'm not in the picture! I hope that the little bit of greenery that the tree provides is pointing to some new growth that will help me with this transition.


Carla: The black-rimmed glasses might be trying to make a point! Perhaps you are seeing things as darker (bleaker) than they are. New growth is often awkward, but your dream has come to tell you that you can do it.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

What to Wear?


The work we do in our dreams helps to establish our sense of self. In Janet's dream, clothes symbolize an identity in flux.
The Dream:  I am at a pre-wedding event for a Bride. I ask her what we should wear on the day. She says it will be casual; then she says there will be a range. I try to figure out what that means. “Sort of like dinner dress?” I suggest. “Like going to dinner in New York? Or Paris?” As I add the reference t o Paris I wonder if I sound cool or pretentious. I had surprised myself by saying it.

I become separated from the group and wander into what I think is the right party. I soon become aware that I don't recognize anyone, and I start to feel uncomfortable. This was not the wedding I was supposed to attend. Racks of used clothes appear, filling the room. What are we supposed to do with them?

I look in various rooms for the wedding I meant to attend. I look at the plaques on the doors, searching for the Bride's name. Then I realize I don't know her name. Maybe it's Carol. I have no idea what her last name is.

Carla's thoughts: A pattern company once had the slogan: “Make the clothes that make the woman.” Clothes here are a symbol of creating identity. Because the symbol is based on something that is external (clothing) we can see that the part of identity the dream deals with is the one that interacts with the outside world, or the persona. The dreamer wants to know how to interact with the milieu she's in, what is appropriate for her situation.

As the dream progresses she finds she is lost. In the dream world a wedding symbolizes a union, or a transformative reconciliation of opposites. Janet is having some difficulties with this on-going growth process. First she finds herself at the wrong wedding, where racks of old clothes (identities) appear. She looks for the proper wedding, (the union of the self she has been and the self she is becoming), but at this point she hasn't found it.
The bride's name (identity) is a mystery to her.

As Janet works on her dream, she should ask herself if she knows any Carols, and if so, how she feels about them. This might be a clue to the resolution of her conundrum. She will want to be on the look-out for future identity dreams; this one tells her that her quest is not over.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Gaping Wound


If you've been reading this column for a while you might enjoy trying your hand at interpreting this dream. Read the dream, come up with your own thoughts, then read what the dreamer told me she thought it meant.

The Dream: I look down at my right leg and it has an ugly gash—the edges are ragged. Bugs crawl out of the wound. I am very upset and begin to hope it's a dream—I think it is—I don't feel the pain that such a nasty injury would cause. Finally I manage, to my relief, to awaken myself.

The Dreamer's Interpretation
: I've been going through a difficult time with my boyfriend, but I've been trying to ignore the problem. The dream got me to ask myself in what way I've been wounded, and how have I deadened myself (not felt the pain). Something is bugging me and needs to come out. I need to wake up and think about what's going on in my life.

Carla: Did you get it right? Guess what? It doesn't matter. The important thing is not whether or not you interpret the dream the same way the dreamer did. The important thing is what you'll learn from your own projections.