Friday, July 30, 2010

The Fortune Tellers

Dreams do their job whether or nor we’re aware of it, and whether or not we remember them. It’s interesting to watch this mysterious and powerful psychic force at work in those dreams we do remember. The next three posts are good examples.

The Dream: I am in a group of four. The others in the group are my younger brother and two children. We are performing some sort of ritual which the local people think will foretell their future. We feel like charlatans; our scientific backgrounds tell us this is hokum, but the people are lined up as far as the eye can see, awaiting our pronouncements. We look at one another knowingly and hopelessly. We can’t get out of it, so we proceed.

There are some odd implements involved in our process. One is a long pipe, red with rust. Another is a nondescript, passive, slightly plump brown-haired girl. She uses the pipe as a catapult, and we foretell events depending on where she lands.

Interpretation: A younger brother and children are both symbols of vulnerability, emphasizing its importance in this dream. The two children also suggest the possibility of growth. Four is a significant number for Jung, who sees it as representing a kind of completeness, as in the four corners that make a square, the four directions (North, East, South, and West) or the four seasons.  So what do I have so far? Some phase of my life is complete (the number four). I am vulnerable, and it’s time for me to grow. I’m being asked to do the impossible: foretell the future, and there is considerable social pressure that I do so, even though I know I can’t. The rusty pipe (pipes connect things; rusty implies old) tells me that this is a conundrum from the past, perhaps the feelings of a child who thinks she can’t fulfill parental expectations. There’s some hope I’ll grow past this feeling of inadequacy by jumping (catapulting) beyond it. But how it turns out will depend on where I land.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gradient Mesh

Contemporary dream researchers tell us that dreams are an essential part of learning; this dream seems to back up the idea.

The Dream: I am using Adobe Illustrator’s gradient mesh tool, over and over.

  During the day I had been working on a complicated illustration of an azalea and for the first time had intensively used Illustrator’s gradient mesh--a very powerful tool, but tricky to get to know. The dream, in which I  practice endlessly, supports the theory that one of the reasons we dream is to perfect waking life skills.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Snake

The Dream: Later that night, after the dream of the malicious masks (last post), I dreamed of a snake.

Interpretation: In our culture the snake has connotations both negative (the Garden of Eden provocateur) and positive (the doctor’s caduceus, a healing symbol). By its ambiguity this image warns me that good and evil can and do co-exist: as Solzhenitsyn says, if you want to rid the world of evil you must rip out half your own heart.

Jung has a different take: “The idea of transformation and renewal by means of a serpent is a well-substantiated archetype. It is the healing serpent, representing the god. . . . Probably the most significant development of serpent symbolism as regards renewal of personality is to be found in Kundalini yoga.”*

*Carl Gustav Jung, Dreams, Translated by R.F.C. Hull, (Princeton: Bollingen Paperback Edition, 1974),  218.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Malicious Masks

The Dream: An image of malicious mask-faces.

I wondered why I had this disturbing dream vision, and then I remembered that I’m reading Orlando Figes’ Natasha’s Dance; A Cultural History of Russia. I’m on the chapter dealing with the Soviet purges of artists. The secret police are everywhere; a poet might read a piece critical of the regime to “friends” only to find out she has been informed on. Figes quotes Osip Mandelstram: “Poetry is respected only in this country. There’s no place where more people are killed for it.”* And from a poem by Anna Akhmatova: “This is when the ones who smiled / Were the dead . . . .”**

*Orlando Figes, Natasha’s Dance; A Cultural History of Russia (New York: Picador, 2002), 482.
**Ibid., 487.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The Dream: A young man, his body a box. He levitates. Surrounding him, especially his head, are spirals. This image takes the form of a wire frame, like a Calder mobile.

Interpretation: The young man in this dream is someone I met recently who is a fundamentalist. The symbols tell me how I view these beliefs. The man’s body is a box (he’s boxed into a set of beliefs.) He levitates (his feet are definitely not on the ground—implying both that I don’t think he’s sensible and, at the same time, that I see his ability to believe as something on a higher plane).   The spirals are a very ancient symbol for life and the universe, but could also be construed as thoughts going round in circles. I can see through the wire frame; it has no depth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Conflict with My Other Half

The Dream:
Clark and I have a disagreement stemming from the fact that one of us is precise and perfectionist; the other more spontaneous, sloppy, and expressive.

Interpretation: My husband Clark often symbolizes “my other half.” In this dream I see one of my core inner conflicts: the part of me that most values precision, skill and control battles the part that needs freedom and emotion.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


The Dream:
Something noxious is leaving my body on the out-breath.

Interpretation: Breathing out (expressing) toxins (repressed painful memories) should prove salutary. Maybe now my feet, stuck in the previous dream, will be freed and I’ll be able to step forward.

Friday, July 16, 2010


The Dream: An image of feet, stuck.

If my feet are on the ground I’m practical and level-headed, but these feet are in the ground, or “grounded.” A grounded child isn’t permitted outside her room. My sphere of operation is restricted: I’m stuck.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Spy

The Dream:
A fragmentary dream in which some sort of spying predominates. I had the feeling on awakening that this motif has surfaced in other, forgotten, dreams.

Interpretation: Recent dreams have focused on going deeper into the mysterious turf of the unconscious. To spy is to see (I spy with my little I). A spy observes surreptitiously, looking into secrets.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Touch, not Sight

The Dream: Coming down a steep staircase I close my eyes and run my hands along the surrounding walls, which function as a banister might. I navigate by touch, not sight. I feel that Clark is guiding me, and I can just about conquer my fear by not looking.

Interpretation: In order to experience the deeper levels of my psyche (get to the bottom of the staircase) I must rely on feeling (touch) not intellect (sight). Here Clark represents what Jung calls my animus, the part of a woman that copes with the outside (male-dominated) world. I'm up against the wall, so to speak. Will I get past the ban(ister)?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Down the Steep Stairs

Although no man is an island, sometimes it feels that way. Dreams can help us find, and understand, our niche.

The Dream: I live in an apartment in a city, and I’m preparing to go to a zumba class. I’m looking through a box in the closet and find a second pair of zumba shoes that I had forgotten I have. I decide to wear these, along with a two-layer aerobic outfit. I know I"ll be too hot dressed this way; nevertheless I put on the layers. The layer closest to my body is a turtle-neck jumpsuit; over this, a decorative lace dress. Though I like my high-heel zumba shoes better, I want to wear the newly discovered low-heels.

As I exit the apartment building there's an unexpected hurdle. I am on the fourth or fifth floor, and the only way to street level is down a very steep and precarious staircase. It’s made of broken

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Out in the Cold

The Dream: Communal singing has begun, and Clark and I join in. A young attractive woman with short curly hair asks us if we will join the church choir in our new area. She says it’s fantastic and everyone either belongs to it or joins in the singing at the services. I see a very large choir at the front of a church where the altar would normally be. The choir is joyous and full of life. I think that with Clark’s distaste for religion it isn’t likely we’ll be joining this group.

We leave the hall and are walking outside. It is summer, but there is slushy snow on the ground, and a light snow is falling. I am comfortable as we walk through the chilly air, but I notice Clark has no gloves; his hands are bare. “You have to learn how to dress for the cold,” I tell him.

Interpretation: Again I deal with isolation. The seduction of belonging is clear; the group makes beautiful music. But my other half, as represented by my husband Clark, cannot pay the price required to join in. Again the intellect is the culprit: I cannot pretend to believe what is so demonstrably not true. I tell this part of myself that since it’s going to be out in the cold, so to speak, it better learn how to dress for it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

An Old Hang Up

The Dream: A woman, the same one as in Sunday’s post, is making a mess out of the hangers in an empty coat closet, where she sits awkwardly hunched.

Interpretation: Both hangers (for airplanes) and closets are places were things are stored. In this dream, as in the last, I am confronting old repressed feelings of isolation and awkwardness.

Note: The notes in blue above on the illustration were gleaned from Tony Crisp’s Dream Dictionary (New York: Dell Publishing, Random House Inc., 2002).

Sunday, July 4, 2010


The Dream: I am happily chatting with people at a party. I notice a woman sitting alone and think I should speak with her, although my first impulse is to overlook her.  She is at a small table for two in a cafeteria. She is having trouble with her surroundings: her tray sits askew on the table; the extra seat leans on the table at an awkward angle.

I introduce myself and ask her why she is here. She is youngish, early 30s, and has long straight mousy brown hair and bangs that frame a round, nondescript face. She says she’s been sent “to keep an eye on” this group. I burst out laughing, because the group of “trouble makers” she is monitoring is composed of aging members of Phi Beta Kappa.

Interpretation: The isolated woman, on her own at a cafeteria table, reminds me of school lunch periods when not having someone to eat with was painful. My socially integrated adult confronts the isolated girl of my youth. I attempt to communicate with this awkward creature. Her suspicion of the Phi Beta Kappas tells me I believe my intellect is the reason for my social isolation. 

Note: The notes in blue above on the illustration were gleaned from Tony Crisp’s Dream Dictionary (New York: Dell Publishing, Random House Inc., 2002).

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Walled Fireplace

The Dream: I am making a work of art which will be displayed on a rectangular table with the work of some other artists. As we discuss the placement of the pieces the person in charge of the gallery tells me that there is a boarded up fireplace behind the table. She asks if I would like to have it opened so it could be used during the exhibit.

“No,” I say, and feeling I must offer an excuse for my decision I go on, “The soot from the fire would damage the artwork.”

During the time I had this dream I had a disruptive house guest. Here the fire represents “hearth and home,” which I want to keep tucked away, safe behind a protective wall.  My art represents me; the table what I share with others. Soot is something that is left behind at the end. (“Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.”) I don’t want the fall-out (soot) of this visit to damage me and my world.