Thursday, September 30, 2010

Making Waves

Dream image: A low wave.

Interpretation: Water represents the unconscious, so this dream tells me that some unconscious material has come to the surface (consciousness), but not in a way that’s intrusive, scary, or even very noticeable. Looking at past dreams with similar imagery, I contrast this with a series of tsunami dreams I once had. My unconscious doesn’t think it has to shout as loud as it once did to get my attention.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Notice: A Santa Cruz, CA Workshop

Marsha Hudson has several spots left in her Santa Cruz dream workshop, scheduled for October 2. This workshop is designed for people who would like to deepen the connection between their dreams and their creative expression. In addition to the projective method of dream interpretation (that is, each member of the group comments on the presented dream as if it were her own), Marsha uses drawing, writing, moving, singing, and theater to go into the dream more deeply. Marsha says, “I love facilitating this workshop because it becomes so wonderfully meditative and nourishing.”

Marsha Hudson, Ph.D. is a certified dream work facilitator, social activist, and writer. She has studied projective dream work with Jeremy Taylor and is a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. Dr. Hudson holds a doctorate in comparative literature from UC Berkeley and is co-editor of The Berkeley Literary Women's Revolution: Essays from Marsha's Salon (MacFarland, 2005.)

The one-day seminar costs $75.00 and is limited to 10 participants.  For more information: telephone: 831-425-8167 or e-mail: email And if you attend, tell me and my readers about the experience: make a comment at the end of this post. (You’ll be able to find it in the Archive.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Dreamer: The Light and the Dark

This dream was donated by BostonBabe, who provides us with both a context and an interpretation for her dream. She has asked for my comments as well, so I’ll add them at the end of the post.

The Context: Nine months ago, I left my corporate job to devote time to my own creative work. Eight days ago, I held an open house in my home to show my recent work, the first public viewing of my art in five years. Two days ago, I spent the afternoon with an artist and his wife (a former colleague). I was introduced to artist friends of theirs, saw the husband’s recent work, and was given some guidance on the business of art. That night, I had some disturbing dreams.

Three Dream Fragments:
  1. A piece entitled Floor Lamp, the first piece in my show--to the left as you enter the gallery--lies in disarray. It has fallen off its shelf and lies on its side on the floor, damaged. The art books that were carefully arranged in a pyramiding stack under the shelf are also in disarray scattered about the floor. Needless to say, this was upsetting.
  2. Out of necessity, I have gathered up some essential belongings and am holed up in the back seat of my car, which is parked outside my house. My house is isolated on a dark, lonely street. As I look towards the end of the road (to the right as you face the house), I see the entrance to a dark woods. I am frightened.
  3. This dream is the most fragmentary: A man is dying very, very slowly.  Not painfully, or sadly, but in a very slow process. 
 BostonBabe’s Interpretation: On one level, the danger captured in these fragments is from my inner critic, who goes back to my father.  I think the stubborn persistence of the inner critic in my psyche is captured in dream  Fragment 3. The destruction in dream Fragment 1 may be my inner critic's response to the "audacity" of claiming to create work that is founded on centuries of art history (represented by the piled up art books) -- the "audacity" of claiming my place as an artist. As for dream Fragment 2, I think I am concerned, not only about managing my inner critic, but also about the couple I visited right before the dreams -- can I trust them? Do they have my best interests at heart? Do I need to protect my self? Will I lose control of my life? Anxiety about becoming more visible to the "serious" art community may have influenced this fragment, as well my concern to protect my creative core.

Carla:  Since interpretations of others’ dreams—as well as of their words or deeds, for that matter—are projections, I will take BostonBabe’s dream on as my own in these comments. My take on it may or may not be true for BB.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spiraling roots

Dream image: A plant, with its roots spiraling down into the earth.

Interpretation: This dream was inspired by a similar one I heard at a dream group meeting the evening before and also by a painting that I had been working on of Pomona, who represents the fruits of the earth. The dream expresses how I feel about our deeply important connection to the earth.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Bossy Woman

The Dream: A stout and bossy woman, in an office, is talking too loud. She is promoting some sort of “help” she pedals to groups. At first it sounds interesting, and I wonder if she might be a good speaker for a women’s group I belong to. I try--again and again--to ask if she would like to do this, but she won’t let me get a word in. Her over-loud voice is embarrassing, and her bossy manner and unwillingness to listen, annoying. Finally I just want her to go away. She exits to the left.

Interpretation: In my last posted dream it looked as though I were reconciling conflicting parts: the stay-at-home femininity of my youth with the woman-active-in-the-world of my adulthood. But just as I thought progress was being made a shadow figure emerges to let me know that I haven’t finished. And she wants to be heard! (She's very loud.) Jung says shadow figures contain parts of ourselves that we dislike and don’t want to acknowledge. I push this bossy, embarrassing creature back down into the unconscious (she exits to the left). Want to bet she’ll be back?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Exposed: Part 3

The Dream: I go into the subway. I order some tokens and need to go to the left of the counter to pick them up. I pick up a pile containing far more than I paid for and wonder if I should return the extras. As in the last dream segment, I decide not to “do the right thing.”

I see my Aunt Mary, dressed as a gypsy, collecting money for the poor. I give her some change but take back one of my tokens that inadvertently fell into her basket. I ask her for the key to her apartment so I can put on some clothes. She gives it to me, saying Uncle Mike will be there.

Interpretation: My unconscious (the subway) is activated to solve the problem put forth in the earlier segments of this dream: what is my role as a woman in today's complex society?  How do I bring together the role of women modeled by my mother and reinforced by my 50s childhood with the enormous societal change realized by the women of my generation? I “go to the left” or, in dream terms, I don’t try to resolve this rationally. Dreams allow –even insist on – paradox. I don’t have to reject my mother’s path to follow my own.  I accept the “tokens” offered by the “left” (unconscious), with its sly suggestion that I am not doing the “right” thing.

I see my aunt (my mother’s sister: that is, my mother) in a new way. (She gets some change.) At the same time I hang on to the “token” of my new self. She gives me the key (her acceptance) to recovering my sense of worth, symbolized by the clothes I will put on in her apartment. And an animus figure, my uncle, will be waiting for me there, signaling that my psyche will be better balanced between feminine and masculine.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Exposed: Part 2

The Dream: I see what I perceive to be a public monument, although it is only a rectangular concrete box, sitting in a tree. I lean against the box, dislodging it so that it falls out of the tree onto the ground next to a bicycle. I check the bike, and it doesn’t seem to have been damaged. I think I should report this to someone, but instead slink guiltily away not taking the blame for what I’ve done.

Interpretation: My interaction with the public monument tells me that I am ill at ease in the social arena. First of all, I see it as monumental, a synonym for massive and weighty. It’s concrete into the bargain. Oddly, it’s sitting in a tree, a symbol of growth. It falls out of the tree, endangering the bike, a mode of transportation – my means of getting away. By leaning against the tree and dislodging the monument I have sabotaged my means of escape – but wait – the bike is not damaged.  And yet I can’t escape on it; I feel too guilty.

Why the guilt? I don’t want to accept the limitations placed on my life by the society I live in. When I dislodge these (the massive public monument) I am faced with a conundrum which leaves me unable to go forward. If I reject these limitations, I am a traitor: I reject my mother’s life and, by association, my mother.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Exposed: Part 1

The Dream: I am wandering the streets of Brooklyn, wearing no trousers. I often adjust my sweater, pulling it down. It almost covers me. No one seems to notice, but I feel very self conscious.

Interpretation: I explore the place of my mother’s birth; I experience the self-consciousness and discomfort she endured as the child of a poor, widowed, non-English speaking immigrant from Eastern Europe. I adjust the clothes I am wearing, pulling down my sweater to cover my shame. The dream tells me that no one seems to notice I’m half naked: what is so embarrassing to me is actually unimportant to others. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Things are Not What They Seem

Often it’s a lot of work to get to the truth of a dream. In this one, my initial reaction was far from what I later concluded.

The Dream: An evil and powerful woman -- ambitious and driven, caring only about her own advancement -- is trying to kill me in an exotic way. I am the captain of a small crew, and we are going to be shot into space. Then I will be murdered—remotely by her. The crew knows nothing of her plot and is not involved. I am frantically trying to stave off this event, which seems to be moving forward inexorably.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Working with Your Dreams: Take a Class

If you’ve been recording your dreams for a while and want to get some insight into what your dreams can teach you, you might consider taking a class. Community colleges, churches, and adult education centers sometimes offer classes on working with your dreams. What might you learn from doing this?  Of course each class will be different, but to give you the flavor of a class I’m going to use as an example a San Francisco Bay Area dream class taught by Lisa Rigge.* 

This class covers techniques for remembering and recording dreams, and puts dreams into an historical context—for example, what role have they played on the world stage? Students become familiar with common dream symbols, learn to identify dream themes, and learn techniques and exercises to better understand dreams, such as mapping dreams and learning what questions to ask of them.  In order to expand on what they’ve learned from the initial exercises, students take a dream forward through what Jung called “active imagination” techniques. One of these has the dreamer dialogue with characters or images in the dream. Others uses artistic devices—such as drawing, poetry, and creating a mandala—to further explore dream messages. To sum it up, the class introduces and explores ways of getting to know your dreams.

*Taught through the Las Positas Community Education Program in Livermore, California on two Saturdays, Oct. 23rd and Oct. 30th from 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. The class fee is $79.00. To register click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Woman in the Pit

The Dream:
An image of a circular pit, about the depth of the passé mid-20th century conversation pit. The inner façade of the pit is in the shape of a woman, and a snake circles in the middle.

Interpretation: This dream was inspired by a silent movie I had just seen: Woman of the World, staring Pola Negri. In the movie Pola plays a femme fatale, ensnaring all men who look at her. She is defined by her relationship to men. In my dream, the woman’s body forms an enclosing circle as she enfolds the phallic snake. This one dimensional version of womanhood was prevalent in the mid-20th century, a period of time the dream cleverly evokes with the conversation pit of that era. My unconscious tells me that being limited to one role (of the many we could play) is the pits.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The Dream:
A bridge. I am aware of part of it, which looks like part of a square. It has a rail on one side and is open on the other, and there is dark gray water underneath, far below. I’m afraid when I look down on the unprotected side, so I avert my eyes in order to have the courage to proceed. I am with a small group; we are filing across. We only see the section of the bridge I’ve illustrated.

Jeremy Taylor says that a bridge in a dream represents the difficult but doable task of living with unresolved paradox. The greatest paradox we live with is the knowledge that being (life) is bounded by non-being (death). I see this dream as part of a series building upon the last two dreams: here I explore what really frightens me about ill health: its logical conclusion, i.e., death. I am crossing this bridge – or working on my understanding of this irresolvable dilemma -- but even so I am not quite ready to see it: I avert my eyes, in order to have the courage to proceed.

The part of the bridge that I see makes three sides of a square. For Jung, a square or circle signified a complete person, one who has attained consciousness by integrating unconscious material. My square is clearly not complete.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Green Circle

The Dream: A circle in shades of green radiating from the center, from deep forest to yellowish.

This little dream gave me new insight into the meaning of the last dream I posted. In the previous dream I knew something was bothering me, but I wasn’t sure what it was. In the mysterious way of dreams, the paradox of the color green – a color of growth and health, and at the same time a color of putridity – brought the issue before me with clarity: it centered on my feelings about sickness and health. The ill health of some dear friends in the present stirred up feelings about the long illness my mother endured, and how I endured it with her. The quick fix of the previous dream alludes to my wish to quickly cure my friends, on the one hand, and on the other to prevent the horror of our earthly frailty from emerging into my consciousness.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Sink

The Dream: There’s a bathroom I want to remodel. It’s in my house, but situated in the same place as the bathroom in my childhood home. I want to redo the tile, and I notice the sink might need to be replaced. Once I focus my attention on it, I see that it is very tiny and has been moved forward from the place where a more traditional sink once stood. There is a mark on the wall that indicates its original placement; the paint has peeled away, exposing an earlier color.

The tiny new sink is in the center of the room and functions more as a planter than a sink. It is decorative, filled with foliage. I think it is far too small for any practical function, and I suspect that the previous owners have installed it as a “quick fix” to make the bathroom more appealing to buyers.

Interpretation: I’m in a private place, a bathroom, which tells me that I’m dealing with a personal, private issue that I’d like to change. (I want to remodel.) Yet the attempt gives me a sinking feeling.  Although the current sink (problem) is small, it has left its mark (the traces of the original) and moved away from the wall (block) to a central spot in the room (my psyche). The new growth arising in this unlikely place (the foliage) hints that the problem is unraveling, much as the ferns do. That the growth is associated with water (the sink again) suggests it is taking place at an unconscious level.

But, as usual with dreams—they both giveth and taketh away with their paradoxical implications. The growth is taking place in a very tiny new sink: it’s a small start, nothing to get too excited about. It might even be superficial: a quick fix that will satisfy the buyers (the parts of my psyche that really don’t want to be bothered). 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Difficulties of Leadership

The Dream: We are going up a mountain in a rural setting; the landscape is fresh and beautiful, damp and fragrant like a primeval forest. I am on horseback, leading an expedition. My horse pulls some colorful, old-fashioned vehicles that look like circus cars. I am concerned that the cars might fall off the side of the mountain when I go around its sharp curves.

We get to a black tunnel which we must transgress before getting to the top, our destination. I see nothing in the pitch black. My left eye feels clogged: I can’t keep it open.  I am very sleepy. In order not to lose my followers over the edge I try to stick to what I “feel” is the inside track.