Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Men in Hats

Dream Image: A panel with three heads in 16th c. hats.

Interpretation: The hats represent the different roles I play; the date (16th c) tells me that these roles were defined for me sometime in the past, perhaps when I was 16. The green background, alluding to growth, says it’s time to grow past these old ways of being in the world: it’s time for a change, and I need to remember that change starts with a rearrangement of my fixed ideas, in other words, in the head beneath the hat.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Time and Eternity

Can color and texture hold a dream's meaning? Read on.

The Dream: My child is wearing a red crocheted dress over a lavender and purple silky skirt; in some way these pieces don’t go together. The child is very pleased with herself for selecting this outfit and doesn’t seem to realize the pieces clash.

Interpretation: The meaning of this dream lies in its colors and textures. The color red is associated with life (childbirth, menstruation) and death (flowing blood). A crocheted texture is rough and bumpy. Taken together, the red color and uneven texture of the crocheted dress symbolize the rough road of our lives in time.  Meanwhile, underneath, is a silky smooth violet garment. According to Tony Crisp’s Dream Dictionary, violet often “appears in dreams containing a deep sense of one’s eternal nature . . . .” My intuitive (child) awareness can accept these two apparently contradictory modes of being: temporal and eternal. (She doesn’t realize they clash.) On the other hand my reason (the adult) can’t accept the dichotomy, pointing out that the pieces “don’t go together.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Sea

The Dream: I’m on a beautiful beach in Maui. The waves are delightful and the water temperature perfect. The scene switches and I’m in law enforcement, riding in a van looking for perps. I drive an old battered van, its front window shattered by a bullet, yet I’m full of confidence.

I want to go back to the beach. To get there I have to go through a door, as if the beach is in a room. It’s my last day on Maui, and I want to enjoy it. As I experience the lovely sea I think that now Clark will understand why I like the beaches on the East Coast—the water there is similar, warm and pleasant.

Interpretation: The conflict here seems pretty clear: my sensual pleasure-oriented part versus the rule-following enforcer. The relatively bad shape of the enforcer’s van, and the fact that the window (my point of view) has been shattered, hints that this part of me is losing ground, that in some way how I see things has changed.  And sure enough, I go back to the beach.

To get to the beach I go through a door, symbolizing a transformation and emphasizing that something has changed. I choose enjoyment and the renewal or rebirth that the sea represents. The reference to the East speaks metaphorically of an illumination—the sun rises in the east, the Wise Men came from the East, and so on.  The dream is telling me that not only have I changed, but that I will soon realize it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

There is No Safe Way

The Dream: Clark and I go into a Safeway grocery store. Clark decides he will shoplift the day’s groceries. I’m very uncomfortable with this idea, but he’s determined. The next thing I know he’s disappeared, and I’m afraid he’s done the deed. I don’t see how he can possibly get away with it: there are security cameras everywhere.

The next time I see Clark he is in the hallway near the employee lounge area, using push pins to post clues about how he managed to shoplift right under the store’s surveillance cameras. He’s feeling very smug and clever but I explain that his prints will be all over the push-pins, and he’ll be caught. He finally agrees and removes the clues.

We leave the store and go to the parking lot. I drive. Police question us, and I explain that Clark is the most honest person I’ve ever met. They don’t pursue their inquiries, and I drive off after having a little difficulty starting the car. As I drive down a hill I notice flooding near the bottom, getting progressively deeper. Clark criticizes my driving, and I turn the car around and head for higher ground. There’s a round-about at the top of the hill, put in place to make the turn easier for boats.  A boat on a trailer goes down the hill as we go up.

In the next scene we are in a cave. The earthen walls are rich red sienna, and so is the calf-deep mud we are wading in. This is unpleasant, but soon gets much worse as I fall into a hole I hadn’t seen under the mud. Submerged up to my chin, I holler for Clark; I expect him to rescue me. He ignores me. I have an expensive camera with me, and I’m sure it’s been ruined. I extricate myself, unaided, from the hole, and my new concern is for the camera. I hear a story about a man whose camera suffered similar abuse: he gave it away, thinking it was broken. The new recipients were two young boys and, to my surprise, they were able to make good use of it.

Interpretation: In this dream my psyche is looking for safety (the Safeway) and is reduced to stealing to get it, clearly not feeling entitled to have what it so desperately wants (food, sustenance). And what is it facing that has caused such alarm? The recent death of two close friends has forced me to face my fears about my own death. I realize I can’t get away with cheating death, as I explain to Clark (my other half) who thinks he can. (He is  planning to steal food, that is, life).

The flooding is unconscious material forcing itself upon me. I head for high ground, trying to get away, but the dream tells me I’m going in circles (the round-about). I escape the flood, only to be submerged in mud: the red clay symbolizes my mortal flesh, my earthly existence. I call for help from my animus, the part of me that deals with life in a rational, practical way—this part can’t help here. The camera represents my eye (I); that it’s expensive says I value the self I have created, and I fear its ruin (death). The camera records my experience and might be a way of leaving, or bequeathing, something of myself. In the dream the camera evolves from something that watches and judges (the store’s surveillance camera) to something valuable to me that will inevitably be ruined (my camera in the muddy cavern) until it is given to two young boys who make good use of it. The dream tells me that the job of my life at this point is to prepare a gift for others and to believe they will find it useful, whatever my doubts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wrestling with Heavy Issues

Something that has happened in the recent past usually triggers a particular dream. But there is always a reason that, of all the things that happen every day, our dreams focus on the particular thing they choose.

The Dream: A woman with dark curly hair is in a wrestling arena, lying on the floor of the rink as if in bed. She is supposed to be recounting her dreams for a panel of dream experts, but instead she is telling us about her life experiences. I don’t feel qualified to comment on these.

Interpretation: This dream was triggered by The Dr. Phil Show that had a segment on dreams shortly before I had this one. While I had commented on some posts about dreams that had been generated by the show on the program’s website, some people had written about serious personal problems, and I didn’t feel comfortable commenting on those. But to bring the dream’s meaning home to my life: the recent deaths of two friends have left me wrestling with some heavy issues. The sports arena is the symbolic venue for the struggle. My life experience, so far, hasn’t given me the means to work through these difficulties. But if I can get away from dealing with the problem rationally (through life experience) and give it over to the dream expert (my own inner wisdom) I might find a way to cope.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Running from Adam

The Dream: Clark and I, and Adam and his partner, are two teams of spies. Clark and I become suspicious of Adam and his “Operation,” and we want to get out of it. We try to flee undetected, but Adam soon figures out we’ve bailed and comes in pursuit. We are on the sidewalk, running from Adam, when Clark notices a Paramount Theater across the street, showing the Matrix. The theater is like the grand movie palaces of my youth. Clark says, “He thinks we’ll go see that movie.” In that case I think the theater is an excellent place to avoid, but to my surprise Clark leads me straight to it. “Why go here?!” I demand.

I don’t get an answer, but instead we wander into the dark bowels of the place, with its labyrinthine twists and turns beneath the main floor. Adam is in hot pursuit. At one turn we come to a market where artistic goods are sold. I admire some lovely glass pieces and try to decide which to buy. I am torn between a beautiful, very tall amber candlestick holder and a clear glass bowl with sparkly flecks.  I choose the bowl because the candlestick, while very lovely, has no practical use.  I don’t have room for something that is only decorative, but I can use the bowl to serve food to guests. I have something I am offering for sale at about the same price in this bazaar; I wonder if anyone will buy it. Adam is still after us; that anxiety looms over all.

Interpretation: Adam, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is the first human who knows he will experience mortality. In this dream, my mortality is in hot pursuit. We duck into the Paramount (of greatest importance) Theater to confront this fact of life. The film that’s playing, The Matrix, symbolizes the intricate web of life on earth.
In the middle of this, a bazaar (yes, life is bizarre!) appears, and the dream ego is temporarily diverted by pondering a very basic question: Is art utterly useless, as Oscar Wilde tells us, or should it have a practical purpose? The deeper meaning here is my hope that my life (my art) will have a purpose. I’m hoping that the piece I buy (the things I've chosen to do) can, indeed, be used to nourish others. This can only happen if others buy (accept) what I have to offer. This remains a hope, not yet a psychic reality, since fear of death still looms.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Inner Necessity

Sometimes it seems our biggest conflicts are with ourselves. By making us aware of these inner battles a dream can help us resolve them.

The Dream: A group of women are sitting in a configuration that resembles half a horseshoe. I sit near the bottom of the “U.” A woman sitting near the door wants to be an actress. I suggest that if she wants to get a part she go to the audition in character, in other words, play the part she is trying out for. She is very offended by my suggestion that she do something she sees as not true to herself. I react to her being offended by thinking that she’s stupid. Here I’ve come up with a practical and workable solution to her problem and she won’t do it.

Interpretation: This dream is about authenticity; two parts of my psyche are in conflict: the practical and the idealistic. The dream ego (the “I” in the dream) sits near the bottom of this inverted bell curve (the U shape of the horseshoe). Things are upside down here, not normal—even the bell curve is upside down. This might be a suggestion that I see “you” (U), in other words, forces outside myself, as being in charge. A part of me—the woman sitting near the door (the “she” in the dream), wants to be an actress (play a different role). Her proximity to the door tells me that she thinks that if she could play this role she could escape the situation she currently finds herself in. The dream ego suggests she go for it: play the part she wants. While she finds this offensive, and in some way not true to herself, the dream ego thinks that she is stopping herself from being what she wants to be in a willful and stupid way. This internal conflict is a pretty strong hint that I need to look at what I’m doing and what I want to be doing and see if I need to make some adjustments.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Empathy in an Artifact

The Dream: I’m in a foreign country. A woman is digging in a sandy spot, with water puddling in the hole as she digs. The location is a city square. It isn’t green, with trees and grass, but more like a European town square with packed sandy earth.  At one point I hear that we are in Mesopotamia, and at another that we are in a Mediterranean country.

I watch the woman dig; her action seems inappropriate, considering how she is dressed and her age: she’s middle class and middle aged. I become excited and say, “When I lived in England I wrote a novel, and I got the idea for it doing what you’re doing: I was digging with my children.” 

Clark says, “You can often find artifacts.” He begins to dig in or near the woman’s spot and in short order extracts a circular clay piece with what appears to be a primitive god in the center. I wonder if we can keep this interesting object or whether we are legally required to turn it in. I want it.

Later we are sitting at a table, the three of us. Clark is to my right; the woman to my left. When Clark passes the artifact to me I plan to slip it into my carrier bag. He hands it to me, but rather than the clay sculpture it is a picture of the artifact on shiny photographic paper, with a list of the god’s attributes to the right. There are four, and the 3rd one is “empathy.”

 “Empathy?” I think. “That’s an odd trait for a primitive god.”

Interpretation: Something is coming up from underneath. The puddling water tells me that unconscious material is coming to the surface. To start, let’s take a look at the geometric symbols in this dream: there’s the city “square,” the round clay artifact and the square table where we later sit. The square and the circle are both symbols of what Jung calls the Self, in other words, the combination my consciousness (what I’m aware of) and my unconscious (what I’m unaware of thinking or feeling). Dream are road maps, telling us where we are on the path to individuation, another Jungian term for the process of incorporating our unconscious material into our conscious awareness. 

The middle aged woman is me, digging into my dreams and bringing unconscious material to the surface. When I am joined by my husband Clark (my other half) and my children (the curious, experimental, engaged parts of myself) an artifact (a long-buried, but new to me, part of myself) quickly appears. This is something I want, even though I have some qualms about my right to have it.

Later, at the table (have the gifts from the unconscious been tabled?), I plot to steal the artifact. But I can’t do it. It turns into a representation of itself, becoming as ephemeral as the dream that engendered it.  But it does have a message for me, “Empathy.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

No Longer on a Higher Plane

Many dreams are about work. Whatever field you're in, chances are you face some conflicts. This dream is a good example of the way the unconscious identifies and attempts to resolve the issues.

The Dream: I am in an airplane going to Australia. There are very few people on the flight, and I’m surprised the effort has not been abandoned. The plane is huge, which emphasizes how few flyers there are. Clark and I sit about one quarter of the way back from a partition dividing the sections, and the other passengers are way back, about one quarter from the rear of the plane. The plane does not exactly take off, but flies very low through a city space like NYC. I wonder if we will ever gain a plane-like elevation. We cross bridges and fly/taxi along for miles and miles.

Then we are airborne, en route, and this is when I wonder about the practicality of this flight that has so few passengers. I discover I’ve neglected to pack my art supplies and feel a sense of loss at having forgotten something important. I think I could buy some in Australia, and at the same time I think I might like a vacation—no art making for a week or so. A rest might do me good.

Now I’m in an advertising office, or some sort of commercial art studio. The artists are busily painting at large easels. I don’t particularly care for what they are producing, but I find their process--the way they are producing it—exciting, and I want to try. It looks like fun! I want to play with their toys. I see a painting to the left instantly transform, coming together in a way that didn’t at first seem possible. I see a large painting with Michael Jackson in the foreground and the 3 Supremes behind him. It’s done in a pointillist style. I think I’ve done the same painting, only in mine Michael Jackson was naked.

Interpretation: This dream reveals my feelings about my work as an artist / illustrator. I start off on a lower level, and I stay there for so long that it doesn’t seem possible I’ll be elevated by the plane (art pun: picture plane) that I’m on. Once I (my skills, my career) finally do take off I discover I have no materials to work with. And there are so few passengers (people interested in my art) that I’m concerned about the practicality of the “effort.” I don’t have the “right stuff” to work on this level. Down on earth again I visit the commercial realm. Here I find a way to work—and it’s fun! On the other hand, I question the value of the product. The dream holds out some hope that this type of work can be transformed, as the paintings in the dream are. Since my artist (Michael Jackson) is exposed (naked) I might be able to produce some sort of meaningful, gutsy work in this down-to-earth commercial world, and have fun doing it.