Sunday, January 29, 2012

Written on the Body

This dream is a good example of how dreams play with images.
The Dream Image: A gash in something that looks like flesh. It’s filled with letters.

Interpretation: The simple vulva shape of the “gash” makes me think this image refers to femininity with its attendant social “castration” (the red gash) that Freud documented. As a woman I feel that what he sees as penis envy has nothing to do with the organ, but everything to do with the limited possibilities woman were afforded before the 1970s. At the same time the letters are a sly wink at DNA, the mysterious sequence that determines who we are. From this point of view the dream says that femininity is at the very core of my being. But wait: this feminine symbol is filled with mail (male): the introduction of the male into the female is at the basis of creation and represents completeness. To limit myself to the feminine is not to see myself in my full potentiality.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Dreamer: The Flying Dinosaur

In this guest dream, Firequeen faces grief at the loss of her husband. Death appears as a swift raptor, a cheetah that cheats her of her beloved. The dream triggers a powerful transformation: By facing her pain in the dream, healing can begin.

Firequeen’s Dream: Weird dream last night. I was standing in my house with Wolfram, it was not this house but the room we were in was this one (office). We were standing at the window and we saw a flying dinosaur - about the size of a pelican - the name given me in the dream was velociraptor, but I just looked that up and it doesn't have wings. This had a big head and a very long sharp beak. Wolfram was intrigued with it and began making faces at it and waving his arms to annoy it (he was like that) and it turned and flew towards us. This did not make him give up. It flew straight at the window and its beak pierced the glass, making a hole. It made about three of these holes. Then it saw a small bird sitting on a bush and it speared the poor bird with its beak. Then it sat back on its haunches - it had turned into a cheetah-like creature and was holding the bird in its paws and had a grinning mouth full of teeth. It seemed able to change back and forth between these two creatures at will. I felt it was extremely dangerous and could get in the house through the holes it had made, so I persuaded Wolfram we should leave the room and shut the room door behind us.

Then we went to the door of the house and I saw the house was in a field with open space around. People were coming towards the house and I was supposed to have made food for them, but hadn't. Then Libby came and she was carrying trays of beautiful food and cakes, which she had made for us and the people. There was more but I only remember fragments - Adrian, a friend I haven't seen for a long time, was holding a pane of glass and saying he was going to repair the window.  I felt I had to warn all these people about the velociraptor, but I could not get them to listen. I kept lining them up outside the house and saying they had to listen to me before they went in. But they were too busy talking to each other. If any of them did listen, they dismissed it as imagination.

Firequeen’s afterthought: Some days afterwards, I was thinking about this dream, and how Wolfram is so often with me in dreams, and I felt sure that he is always there, even when I don’t know it, and then I received the message that this is so, and it is because we are now merged. We don’t have to wait until after my death. And maybe this was why he ‘wasn’t there’ on the holiday this year, when he had been so vividly present the year before - because he had been present in me.

Carla’s interpretation: The dreamer has shared some facts from her life that I take into account as I interpret her dream as if it were my own. I am standing in my house (my self) with my husband Wolfram, who in waking life died unexpectedly in 2006. We are in the office, which is the dream’s way of telling me that I have some work to do. The window I look through represents my view of things, and the creature that I see tells me what I need to work on. I see a dinosaur, which has mythic elements for me, reminding me of a fairytale dragon (something to be conquered), but this dinosaur is very particular—it’s a velociraptor, a word that literally means swift seizer.  My husband was swiftly seized by death, and the dream is helping me deal with my feelings around this tragedy. The dinosaur breaks the glass: my husband’s death has been a shattering experience. My soul (the bird) is held in this fearsome event, and I feel cheated (the Cheetah). I have tried not to look at this painful reality. (I persuade Wolfram we should leave the room and shut the door behind us.)

Yet having experienced the pain and fear of my loss in the dream space, I begin to heal. I go to the door (a threshold, the demarcation between one state and another), leaving the painful part of my inner world to enter the open space of a field. My world view is opening up. Because of my suffering I hadn’t been able to nourish my friendships (make food for my friends), but my friend Libby (the part of me that is now ready to interact and give to others) has provided enough for all. The Adrian part of me (a part that has been gone for a while) will repair my shattered heart (the glass pane “pain”).

My dream shows me how I have progressed through my grief, but also warns me not to forget the life lessons I have learned, even though there are parts of me that don’t want to know as well as people in waking life who refuse to accept the difficulty of dealing with death (the people who ignore my warnings about the swift seizer). As I can see from my thoughts a few days later, my spiritual beliefs were activated by the dream and console me with the realization that my love and I have merged: he lives on through me—in real time. Wolfram is not lost to me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Preparing the Spirit for Rebirth

The Dream: I press a bird against a spinning spindle that pulverizes it. The bird does not resist, but looks at me mournfully. I feel terrible doing this, slowly killing this lovely defenseless creature. When it is pulverized I am to eat the little mortarized bits. I steel myself for this task, and also wonder how I will retrieve the pulverized bird from the wood chips at the bottom of the spindle so I can eat them.

Part of the spiritual journey involves breaking ourselves down in preparation for a new soul (psyche). In this dream the bird represents the soul or spirit. What slowly destroys me is my time on the earth, spinning on its axis like the pulverizing spindle. For me, as for the bird, resistance is futile. My eating the broken down bits symbolizes taking back in the transformed parts of myself, a kind of rebirth.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Love and Death

Sometimes dreams very simply and clearly encapsulate the central issue of a life situation.

The Dream:
I am in a forest. To my left are four trees, whose leaves have turned beautiful fall shades. I move up a mountain in some mysterious way, as if on an invisible conveyor belt. The forest surrounding these four trees is deep conifer green. Out of an intense, palpable loneliness I pray to god for love. The god tells me that great love involves great pain and asks, “Can you handle it?” I say I can.

In waking life a close friend’s husband is dying, and as I watch her suffer I ask myself, in a dream, if this can be avoided. The dream tells me it cannot.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yet Another Brown Baby

What does it mean when famous people appear in our dreams? To figure this out we need to take a look at which aspects of ourselves they represent.

The Dream: Obama is having an affair, and a brown baby is the result. I go to see the baby with some trepidation. I am a relative, perhaps the grandmother. Obama’s paramour has short curly brown hair and a soft and acquiescent feminine affect. She is a woman who stays in the background; she lacks assertiveness. She’s a shadowy, if central, player.

I am disappointed in Obama for being unfaithful to Michelle, but he says he “needs a rest.” I can see his current lover would be just that, and that Michelle’s relentlessly high standards could be hard to live with. I begin to understand, and accept, his behavior, but I think the baby will nevertheless be an embarrassment.

Then I meet the baby and am completely charmed. He is a beautiful shade of brown with an egg-shaped, slightly conical head. He wears red glasses and—just like the baby in the last dream—is preternaturally smart. I am very drawn to him and want to hold him.

Interpretation: In the dream Obama represents my ego, the central organizing force of my personality. His paramour is my shadow feminine side (She’s a shadowy, if central, player). I need a rest from the demanding part of my personality (Michelle); this is the part that drives me to work too hard and never seems satisfied with my accomplishments. My weaker, intuitive side (the shadow feminine) has produced something that feels illegitimate (the baby born out of wedlock). This makes me uneasy, and there’s a strong hint that what makes me uneasy is my fear of social opprobrium. But the reality of the baby changes everything; this new life that is being born in my psyche is something important and elemental (brown like the earth). This is something to embrace.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

So Ugly She’s Cute

The Dream: My college friend Mary has a baby who’s so ugly that she’s cute. She is brown with straight golden-brown hair cut in long bangs, and she wears glasses. The baby is very young, only a few months old. She nurses with delight at Mary’s large breast. It soon becomes clear that the baby is very precocious. She can sit and talk; we can tell she is extremely intelligent. Mary is thrilled with her baby.

I think the newly arrived brown babies (this is the second one recently) are linked to a more authentic artistic self emerging as I work on my illustrated dream journals. Not all will find these drawings “beautiful,” yet I find them immensely appealing: so ugly they are beautiful. In waking life Mary is someone who has expressed her own artistic proclivities through others: she married a writer and has many friends in the arts. In the dream the Mary part of me—not quite brave enough to be an artist—has given birth to someone who might manage it. Mary nourishes the baby and is thrilled with her arrival: both good signs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


The Dream: A pale teenager with long straight blonde hair is in a theater production and is not happy with the way things are going. I tell her to say cheering things to herself and to pretend to enjoy it. I give her some examples, and I say, “You are an actress—Act!

I feel that some aspect of my life has become a production, and I’m not happy about it. The dream points out that the part of me that isn’t handling the situation well is my inner teenager, and it suggests that I invoke some adult coping skills. One of these apparently is the “power of positive thinking.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two Faces

The first post of the New Year seems a good time to talk about why we bother to look at our dreams. What’s to be gained? Your dreams tell you who you are. Your dreams teach you to accept yourself. They point out where you’re uneasy, uncomfortable, ashamed, guarded, envious, angry, hurt; sometimes a dream will show you that these feelings are rooted in something that, as an adult, you wouldn’t think twice about. You begin to learn what’s driving you and, once you know, you are in a better position to decide if it’s something you want in the driver’s seat. Like any spiritual practice, this self-knowledge doesn’t appear over-night. (But it does appear over many nights!) It takes time and attention, and the willingness to be honest with yourself, to take the time to write down your dreams and to look at them carefully. It might strike some as self-indulgent, but ultimately it is not only a gift to yourself but also a gift to those around you. As you become more aware of your authentic self, and more accepting of yourself in all your complexity, you will notice that you are more compassionate and more accepting of others.

The point of this blog is to give you an example of how one person looks at her dreams. My hope is that it will guide you to a way to look at your own. Serious dream workers do not suggest that dreams have one fixed meaning or that we can come up with a single interpretation and say “that’s it!” There are always other possibilities. You will know that you’re on the right path with an interpretation if you react with an “aha!” to a particular insight.

I chose the image Two Faces for this post to demonstrate the conflicting parts that make up us humans: the good side, the bad side, not to mention gradations of all sorts in between. For the New Year I wish you success in discovering all parts of yourself. Welcome them to your conscious world.