Sunday, August 21, 2011

Guest Dreamer: The Strange Case of the Blood Red Haematite and The Philosophers Stone

One of the mysterious things about dreams is how they help us to get to know ourselves. Openfoot’s training and education emphasized the scientific and rational—which is a good thing. On the other hand, it put him at a distance from his intuitive, feeling side—not such a good thing. In this dream he resolves these two often conflicting ways of perceiving the world. Openfoot, who has his own dream website, will tell us his interpretation of the dream, and I’ll add some comments afterward.

The Dream:
I am in a long thin room, a lecture theatre perhaps or the gallery of a museum. It is furnished in a nineteenth century style. There is a lot of wooden panelling and wooden framed, glazed display cases. A group of men, of whom I am one, is in the room. We seem to be wearing period costume although it is perhaps a couple of hundred years older than the furniture and decoration in the room. I get the feeling that a meeting has just ended and we remain discussing the substance of the meeting in an informal way and just socialising.

Attention turns to a geological specimen. The Chairman of the meeting shows it to me in a way that suggests that it’s a challenge. As he hands it to me it looks like a large irregular lump of dark red hematite. He warns me to be careful, it’s heavy.

I take the specimen. All preconceptions are shattered. It’s not heavy; it’s very light! So it can’t be haematite. I remark to the Chairman, “What are you on about. This isn’t heavy it’s light.”
“Rubbish, it’s very heavy” he says.
“No it’s not! Do you have some gold or lead about the place? I’ll show you what heavy is.”
He doesn’t have any gold or lead.

At the other end of the room I continue to discuss this strange phenomenon with a group of three of four men. I hold forth. “This guy is talking rubbish. This specimen is NOT heavy. Look I can throw it about, juggle with it, flip it. It’s NOT heavy”.

One of the men suggests that he sees how it feels to him. I pass it over; it’s heavy! So much so that he can barely hold it. He has to use both hands with the specimen held close to his chest for any sort of comfort. This is all very strange.

We carry the experiment further. I move to him and clasp his hands in mine to help him take the weight….. and yes I can feel that it is heavy when he’s holding it. The more of the weight I take the lighter it becomes! Not just appears to become.

I take the specimen back and confirm that it is now very light again. I toss it about to confirm this. I roll it over with fingers of one hand. What! It’s too big to be able to do this. Closer examination reveals more amazing facts. The more I manipulate the stone the smaller it becomes. It now has the appearance of a semi-precious stone, deep red in colour, mottled orange and black. When I am rolling it it quickly shrinks down to the size of a small coin. Incredible! As I slow the rate of tumbling it grows in size again and starts to become slightly heavier. At its smallest it hardly weighs anything at all.

I move to place the specimen on a sheet of glass resting on a cupboard; its now about the size and shape of a sea-urchin. I’m surprised that the base has become flat, so that it matches the surface on which it is resting to a high degree. As my certainty about its current shape and nature increases it starts to become heavy again. Another aspect of this amazing specimen has emerged. When I think about its nature and shape it becomes heavy.

We turn away from the specimen to discuss these strange phenomena. “What sort of magic is this”? asks one of my companions. I reply that whatever sort it is it has to be natural, there is a natural explanation. This remark is somehow misinterpreted and someone voices the opinion that obviously everything, including magic, is natural. I insist that this isn’t the case and what I mean is that the phenomenon is open to a logical natural explanation rather than a supernatural one.

Looking through the door of the room, to the outside, a ghost like figure emerges from the grey swirling mist. He appears dressed as a seventeenth century soldier. The ghost draws closer and can now been seen at full size outside the main window. I get the impression that it is the ghost of the man who handed me the specimen. We are all very disturbed. I command it to go away, to be gone. To my surprise my voice emerges deep and authoritative.

I wake up to find myself talking in my sleep. Confusion as to whether my command was actually spoken in my sleep, while awakening, or just dreamt.

Open foot’s Commentary: I'm clearly at odds with my fellow committee members. They are all Newtonians. Real, solid, material objects have fixed objective properties, but I’m having none of that. When the specimen is in my hands it undergoes a transmutation and its properties become variable. It adapts to its circumstances and environment. If I don't think about it too much it might even disappear! It’s all a matter of what perspective you take, the way you view the phenomena that arise. Openfoot's mind has now achieved a good degree of flexibility and freedom. A new centre, a new focus of awareness has been achieved. The old one lingers as a memory and is clearly told where to go!

Carla’s comments:
I see the dream in much the same way that Openfoot does. In case you would like to know how I got there, I’m posting my reactions to the dream, paragraph by paragraph. As usual, my comments are projections, which means they are true for me but may or may not be true for Openfoot.

The fact that I find myself in a lecture room tells me I have something to learn; that the room also evokes a museum tells me I’m dealing with some old stuff (old issues). I’m surrounded by wood paneling; this image of a linear structure hints that I might need to take a look at something in myself that is rigid. The group of men represent various aspects of me. Our period costume tells me, again, that I’m looking at something from the past.

The geological specimen represents the difficulty I’m dealing with in the dream. The fact that it’s stone tells me that this is going to be hard. The Chairman makes this very clear when he suggests that this will be a challenge. This might be a good place for me to ask myself about the problem I’m facing. What is it?  That it is symbolized by stone again suggests that it involves inflexibility, echoing the image of the wood paneling of the first paragraph. Yet its color, a dark red, is often linked to anger or passion; the word hematite comes from the Latin for blood-like stone. Hematite, this blood-red stone, is the perfect symbol of my two divergent parts that need to come together: intellect (what I think) and passion (what I feel). 

Once the two parts of my nature are symbolically combined in the image of hematite, a transformation begins. The stone’s initial heaviness is what we expect when we face a weighty problem. But suddenly the stone isn’t heavy; it’s light. I disagree with the Chairman, who represents my in-charge consciousness, my waking life ego. I begin to realize that I, the unconscious dream ego, have a different way of looking at things. The various parts of my psyche “weigh in” on the problem as we experiment to determine where reality lies: Is the stone heavy or is it light?

As I “handle” the problem it becomes smaller. Then, my inflexible stone part miraculously transforms into a living creature, a sea urchin. It takes on qualities of the unconscious (water, sea). Like water it can mold itself to the surface it rests on. Like intuition, the thing refuses to be quantified. The dream is showing me the progress I’m making in my own personal transformation toward a more fully dimensional person. The dream also points out that what I’ve learned is experiential, and not something that can be easily explained logically or rationally. If I subject what I’ve intuitively learned to too much thought it again becomes heavy.

Nevertheless, I defend my new realization that what has occurred is natural, not magical, and its having a logical explanation is possible. It is part of the evolution of my consciousness, which is a natural part of life.

When I look outside (myself) the ghost of my old way of thinking appears. He’s a soldier and will no doubt fight to get me back into the rigidity (the stone) he initially handed me. I’m strong enough to fend him off with my newly found authoritative voice.


Anonymous said...

What a great dream! All that I can add is that Alchemical Transformation is at play with the reference to gold and lead. After all, the alchemists tried to turn lead into gold. But on the spiritual level, which is what the alchemists were really after, is being played out in this heavy and magical dream - is transformation not heavy and magical in itself? Also, one representation of the Self in dreams, according to Jung, is a precious stone. What a powerful dream and powerful projections! Thanks for sharing this! Emily

Openfoot said...

Thank you Carla! I really enjoyed reading your perspective's on my dream. I wouldn't wish to take issue with anything that you've written in your comments, it struck all the right chords for me. As you will appreciate dreams are multi-layered in their symbolism and I thought I might just comment further on the sea-urchin motif. The study of fossil sea-urchins was part of my geological training. They are beautiful objects and possess a compelling pentameral (fivefold) symmetry. You will find this same symmetry in the Openfoot logo ( and the five pointed star has always been a powerful expression of human wholeness for me. The pentameral symmetry of the Openfoot logo also brings to my mind the image of the outstretched Vitruvian Man - reaching to, and measuring, the limits of the square and circle.

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