Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guest Dreamer: Sacred Marriage

Thanks to Susanne van Doorn for this evocative dream and the lovely photograph that illustrates it. You can read her thoughts on this dream at Susanne's Dream Blog.  In this post I'll comment on her dream as if it were one of my own.

Susanne' s Dream: I am guarding a couple that wants to be married. We are on the road, on our bikes, me and some friends. I know L. from high school; he is my male-companion in making sure the couple can get to their ceremony on time. L. was a man when the rest in high school were boys. I know with him as a guardian-companion we can make this work; we will get the couple to the altar on time.

We stop at a crossing and hold up our hands to stop the other traffic to have a safe passage. I am looking at the carriage were the couple is in and the bride, a girl with brown churlish hair, is preparing her wedding bouquet. She arranges black and red tulips and is lacing a red band onto the bouquet, carefully lacing it. I look at her with a feeling of love and guidance in my heart and I wake up knowing we are going to make it happen.

Carla's thoughts:
In my version of Susanne's dream the couple that wants to marry are previously divergent parts of me that are now ready to unite—this is what Jung would call a conjunctio, often symbolized by a marriage. What might these parts be? L, my companion and helper in the dream, stands for a mature and capable part of me. In the dream I need this part in order to be effective, and that acknowledgment is the first step in our unification. Because his strength gives me a feeling of security I can rely on my Psyche to deal with life's difficulties.

Who is the bride? She is described as having “churlish” brown hair. While churlish might be a typo for “curly”, I have to look at the word I wrote down (as the dreamer), not what I might have meant to write. Churlish means “rude in a mean-spirited and surly way.” If hair, because it's coming out of our heads, symbolizes thought, and brown is slang for anger (I was “browned off”), I might be dealing with some hostile feelings that I don't want to face. The other colors hint at the topic that has evoked this reaction. I'm lacing together a bouquet of red and black flowers. For me red is life and passion, black is death and nothingness. Flowers are important in both life and death rituals, weddings and funerals. As the bride I lace these two conflicting states of being together—life and death. The red band (life) that I put around my bouquet holds the opposites together and tells me that they are part of the same thing. This is another conjunctio! Seeing this unity in the dream gives me the insight to get past my anger about death, something that I previously responded to with the surly attitude of an adolescent. Once this immature part united with my mature and strong self, represented by L, my reaction to death was no longer churlish. Now I have the understanding of a strong woman, one who can love and guide others as well as help myself along the path; L and I have made it safe for my individuation to continue.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Taking the Wrong Vehicle to Escape

The Unconscious experiences the vulnerability of women in this dream.
The Dream: Three couples are sharing a vacation rental. One of the husbands is charming and well-regarded, a very popular guy who is the mayor of his town. His attractive Asian / Indian wife bustles about attending the needs of the family. I'm cleaning up in the kitchen. It soon becomes apparent to me that the man is a pedophile who molests young boys, and that his wife is complicit in covering this up.

I'm on my way to the shopping center in a white rental car, and the man gets in with me. He's all charm, as usual. We park in a large garage and walk toward the supermarket, crossing a large parking lot. He makes a pass, and when I resist he gets ugly. He shows me a small closet near the market with its own door and tells me he intends to rent it and use it to seduce young boys. He grabs me—he's very strong—and I know he's planning to rape me. I tell him, in all sincerity, that my husband will kill him, but he couldn't care less about my threats. I holler for people to call the police. One woman says,“What are you making such a fuss about?—just go along with it!”

My shouting distracts him, and I manage to escape. When I run back to the garage I have a new problem: I am unable to find the car.  I don't even remember what it looks like. I am very frightened that the man will find me. It occurs to me that if I press one of the buttons on the key chain it will cause the car to beep. Sure enough, it works; I find a car, a long black station wagon. The seat seems to be in the right position, so even though I'm not sure this is the right car I take off. I become more and more concerned that it isn't my car: I notice the rear view mirror is not correctly aligned.

As I drive on one of the ramps I notice, barely, a woman in a wheel chair in front of my car. Despite my best effort to stop I can't, and I hit her. I jump out of the car, apologizing profusely. Luckily she was not injured.

I wonder if the police will stop me for stealing the car. Would they believe my story?—probably not. When I was in the altercation with the man I realized that most likely no one would believe it, and he would get away with all his crimes.

I go to a place in the garage where there's an office; a superintendent of something or other sits at a desk. A young woman with dark hair, foreign looking with a tear-stained face, has just reported her car stolen. She is the owner of the car I've taken. Realizing this I apologize, again profusely, and feel I can clear this up for her. I'm relieved to be able to do the right thing.

Interpretation: Some horrific current events triggered this dream. In the news was a woman executed by the Taliban—her husband delivering the fatal blow. Her crime? She had been abducted and raped. A football player on my local team had been accused of sexual assault, and NPR featured a program on rape. “How would I deal with such a situation?” my unconscious asked.

In the dream I am acutely aware that I have no physical defense, and my attempted verbal defense is useless as well. I experience the awful feeling of being over-powered. Luckily, I mange to flee.

The dream made me aware of the age-old difficulty that women have had in being believed when they report sexual predation. I realize that it is more than likely that no one would listen to me, sympathize, or even believe me. With that dream experience I think I came close to what victims of sexual assault feel. The man's reputation was such that he would not be questioned or suspected. There have been many accounts in the news lately of trusted figures who got away with atrocities for years: a beloved BBC host, Catholic priests, golf coaches, others like Sandusky, and so on. In the dream the man's position helps him to cover up his crimes; his own wife is an enabler. Society's point of view is reflected in the woman in the parking lost who tells me to get over it.

I do escape, but in doing so I come very close to harming other women. My car, once white, is now black and hearse like. I drive into one woman in a wheelchair and steal another's car. The metaphor is that although in waking life I've managed to “escape” these horrors, by turning a blind eye I hurt other, vulnerable women. I apologize for this in the dream, and hope to make things right. In reality, I wonder, what can do?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Repetitive Pattern

The Dream: I am working on a sweater, a complicated design with a scalloped border. One of the scallops doesn't match the others. This anomalous scallop really bothers me; it's ruining the perfection of the garment. I look for an artist I know to tell me what to do about it.
Interpretation: What is my bothersome repetitive pattern than isn't working out?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Case From Long Ago

The Dream:
A delicate-featured professor with a bald pate like a tonsured monk is killing young women. Another woman and I become aware of it. The victims never suspect him—such a refined man, and a professor! They feel comfortable being alone with him, and then he kills them.

The man acts as if these killings are a personal tragedy for him, and at one point I see my friend embracing him and weeping, as if commiserating. My reaction, on the other hand, has been to be cool and withdrawn. I wonder if my friend's reaction is a ruse to keep the man from realizing her suspicions: a wise strategy, I decide. I resolve to go along with his phony emotions as well.

The man's packed suitcase is on the bed. The pink case is small, carry-aboard size, and hard sided, as cases used to be. As my friend watches I rifle through it, taking out the items, feeling as if I won't get away with this snooping. There are several sweaters and other items, probably trousers. I try to repack it as it was when I opened the case, but am unable to do so. This increases my anxiety that the man will figure out I've gone through his things.

We are in a bathroom. I'm in the tub, and my friend and I are chatting, exchanging information. The door knob turns; I thought it was locked, but soon discover it isn't as the man enters. I try to cover myself with a towel. I think my friend should have locked the door, and I'm frightened as well as embarrassed.

The man wants to indulge in his self-pity. He looks very doleful and tells us that as if he hadn't been through enough, someone has killed his dog. We both affect sympathy, still feeling it's best to hide our true feelings.

When he leaves I say to my friend, “I think I know how he disposes of the bodies.” I show her the tub drain; it's been chiseled away at the edges to make the hole bigger.

Interpretation: Some past dream images come together here: previous dreams contained a serial killer and a professor with a bald head. Clearly, the case has been re-opened, and I'm in the process of rearranging the contents of this particular complex. Something new has surfaced about these two characters, however, besides the fact that they've been combined into one. Now the man is effeminate, and at times it seems I'm complicit in his crime: one part of me (my woman friend) both embraces him and leaves the door open for him. This tells me my feminine side works with this unevolved masculine side of me to kill many parts of myself, to put them down the drain where they'll never be seen or heard again.

So—I have to ask myself, what's gone down the drain? What's draining me? Can I ever get rid of these self-imposed (at this point) limitations that are killing me? As I reopen the case I'm frightened but I don't discover much; all is very tidy. On the other hand, I'm not able to put things back as they were, and while this makes me uncomfortable it might be a good thing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Can't Hit Them When They're Down

The Dream: My friend Martha has let me know, without directly saying so, that she is very angry with her husband George who suffers from a debilitating disease. It's an anger too deep for words, and she expresses it by holding a baseball bat in one hand and tapping it against the other.

I'm in the house; my mother is with me, as are others. It's a party of sorts. I have a drink, and my mother makes a “joke” about not saying anything about my reaching for a drink for fear I'd whack her with a baseball bat.

Martha and George show up. Martha is seething at George. I tell her the comment my mother made, thinking it's a hilarious joke. Martha talks about anger toward the ill and helpless, pointing out that it is very difficult to express. At this point she is so angry at George that I wonder if she will leave him, and part of me would be happy to see her free of him and all the obligation that caring for him entails.

Interpretation: At first I thought this dream was about unexpressed anger toward my husband, but when I asked myself who in my life had been ill for a very long time—and who did I resent because I couldn't express this anger and frustration—I came up with a very different answer. I couldn't leave my ill mother or mother-in-law (be free of their needs and influence) while they lived, but the dream points out that it's okay to be relieved to be free from those obligations now.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Female Rituals

The Dream: I am at an elegant women's clothing shop, wearing an attractive black dress that I bought there. I tell the saleswoman that while I like this dress, it's too large. She looks for a smaller one, but not finding it comes back with a summery white and blue dress. I think this one will be too small, but I try it on and it fits, except that it's a little constricting in the underarm area. I think I might buy this dress as well as keep the one I had been planning to exchange.

Then I'm in my doctor's office. I'm asked to get my file. Do I remember how to retrieve these old-fashioned files—the ones stored in cabinets? I find I have no trouble and pull out a thick file with my name on it. I want to know what they've written about me. Am I allowed to look? I decide it is my right, and on top it says I'm pregnant. I'm surprised and mention it to the doctor. I tell him that I'm concerned because I've had no symptoms of pregnancy, no fatigue or morning sickness. Does this mean the baby won't be healthy, might not come to term? Then I remember I do have a slight upset stomach, but I'm not sure that qualifies as a sign of a healthy pregnancy.

Interpretation: I had been reading a book by Danica Anderson about the South Slavs and their ancient rituals and religion centered around women and birth. In the dream I perform the contemporary urban female rituals of shopping and going to the doctor. In my dream a potential birth is medicalized, no longer a woman-centered event. As a contemporary woman I go to an office and a doctor for childbirth and put my life story (the file) in the hands of impersonal medical technicians. No wonder one of the dresses I've bought is black and doesn't fit, and the other feels constricting. Can what is born of this situation possibly be healthy and survive?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Guest Dreamer: Hand or Foot?

After reading Who Did I Leave Behind, about the loss of a loved one, Bhilal sent me this dream.

Background: I found my friend, Robbie, that I had searched for for a long time, I found her obituary. I don't know if I'm grieving for my friend , Robbie or celebrating finding her, a combination of both I imagine... but I had to see her picture again and I feel the presence of so many of my friends and relatives that have passed away and it is a warm feeling love and caring...I guess it is not my love or their love because love is not possessed.

The Dream:
Robbie would dream of coats of arms , families etc. because she had been adopted and didn't know her family and craved to belong..I went into a sleep that resulted in my being involved in enslavement. I had to find a password or gesture to release me. I was lost in an oriental commerce system..each window or door had to be stamped or marked paid or they would arrest you and enslave you ... I became a giant but was still lost couldn't find a direction.. the member? of different races of the orientals helped me shrink again and presented me either formed hand images or feet images to select from...a nightmare, a hell between worlds.

Carla's thoughts:
I'll react to Bhilal's dream as if it were my own. She will be the judge of whether or not my thoughts are relevant for her. My dream has put me in a place where something foreign to me (oriental commerce) is controlling me. Since this dream followed my search for my dead friend and came at a time when I was thinking about others I've lost, the foreign thing that confronts me is my helplessness in the face of mortality. Windows and doors enable us to see beyond where we are and to go from one place to another—mine present difficulties. This tells me I haven't come up with my own spiritual truth, something I can see through the window of my soul, that will enable me to pass from the earthly realm (go out the door) comfortably. I am expected to pay for access to my windows and doors; what is demanded of me? If I don't mark each window and door as “paid” I will be arrested (stopped) and enslaved (not able to go where I wish). There is something I need to discover (the password or gesture) that will release me from this horrible situation.

I become a giant (there's more to me than I thought), but I'm not in touch with my entire capacity yet, so I am still lost. The part of myself that I feel no affinity for, the foreign part, shrinks me back down to the size it's comfortable with. I'm given a choice: hands or feet. Hands allow me to “handle” my reality, and feet give me freedom of movement. Being forced to choose creates a nightmare. Perhaps if I can stop myself from running away (feet) and begin to handle (hands) the realities that I find difficult to accept I will no longer be enslaved by my grief.