Today' guest dreamer is Robin Whitmore, who also records and illustrates his dreams at Robin's Dream Diary. I'll respond to his dream as if it were my own. The dreamer always gets the last word, so please look at the comments following the dream for Robin's take.
Robin's Dream: I am in a huge builders merchants' yard. Workmen are milling around, busy on an important task - something has to be found out, uncovered. I pick up a plastic bag with plumbing connections in it."Leave them alone," I am told, "don't want you meddling with that." I just seem to be in the way.
Then I find a stack of old papers, all in handwriting that is not easy to decipher. It goes back years. I am convinced this has the answer to everything the men are searching for and I say to one of them,"Let me look through these, I am sure I will find the truth here." The men are a bit dismissive, they don't share my conviction but they are happy for me to take this dusty heap away. As I start to look through it my heart sinks, there is so much there and it's really hard to read, I'll never get anywhere.
Slowly I begin to sift through the paperwork, writing down each tiny detail. A woman (about 30-35 with long straight hair) sits with me. "Let's work out what this is all about. Someone's life is at stake- its about someone's life, a record." (I see an image of Beachy Head cliffs.) The documents seem to be about this woman.
Now I find pictures and objects within this pile of papers- there are three knitting needles, maybe 2'6"long, and they are covered in knitted wool in soft,"feminine" pastel shades of flame. The needles remind me of bullfighting spikes or spears or something to do with electricity like lightning rods.
"This was the beginning - one of many projects that never led anywhere." The woman laughs and admits it was another fruitless project. (Am I slightly contemptuous of her? Do I think she doesn't have it in her to create anything deep, anything meaningful?)
There are receipts in this collection. She must have been working, she must have earnt this - sums like £320 and another for a bit less. Modest sums. "Is there a date?" I ask the woman. We look and I arrange them in order.
The pictures I find are black and white newspaper cuttings collaged together and now a heap of old sepia family photos that I drop on the stone floor. I try to pick them up in order but muddle them a bit - never mind, I should be able to sort them out.
I am annoyed that I wake up before the puzzle is solved. There are pages of this novel, for that is what it is, that are maybe in german or russian. (So many times I start a book only to give up because the language is too hard.) This will be difficult language to decode but I know I can and must do it.
Carla's thoughts: This is a very complex dream, and I'm not going to pretend that I can unravel it without help from the dreamer. I have no way of knowing the allusions to Robin's waking life that play out in this dream, so I will leave it to him to decipher those. Nevertheless, I hope my reactions will help Robin look at his dream with fresh eyes. For me (taking on the dreamer's masculine sex as I look at his dream), the dream is about coming to terms with my anima, a Jungian term for the woman who lives in every man.
The first paragraph of the dream sets the stage: I am working on uncovering a long forgotten aspect of myself. What is to emerge is connected to an unconscious process (the plumbing connections) that I have not recognized as authentic; these deep (we plumb the depths, after all) connections are covered in plastic, a material almost synonymous with phoney. The workmen have an ambivalent role. On the one hand, these manly men (and what's more masculine than a workman in a builder's yard?) are the masculine force in search of its feminine counterpart, and they don't want me to stand in their way. On the other hand, by not allowing me to help, they are obstructing the process. It's not unusual for dreams to have things two different ways simultaneously; after all, if there were no inner conflict we probably wouldn't be having the dream.
The second paragraph introduces a mini resolution, a first step on my way to a kind of internal integration: the men who didn't want me looking into things a moment ago are now ready to accept my help, and I know that I've been given access to the materials that will allow me to uncover the truth. I find out that something buried in the past is responsible for repressing what the the dream is trying to free. Did I keep a handwritten (or drawn) journal at some point in my youth? If so, the dream might be trying to get me to take a look at this time, a period when psychic events occurred that I am still having trouble understanding (the old papers that are hard to read, hard to decipher).
I need to think about the woman who is 30 to 35 years old. Who or what does she represent? Does the woman's long straight hair belong to an actual person or does it stand in for abstract qualities? For example, hair, coming out of the head as it does, can symbolize thoughts. Does this character's straight hair represent straight (and narrow) thoughts? In that case, since every part of my dream reflects some part of me, I am looking at my own straight and narrow thoughts. The woman symbolizes my own inner woman, and the dream is about my attempt to integrate her into my psyche. (Is the dreamer 30 to 35 at the time of this dream?) The men who are dismissive reflect a typical masculine reaction to women, and the dream makes it clear that I share these feelings. Did I let this cultural bias divorce me from my anima who is, in Jungian terms, the source of my spiritual self? In the past Beachy Head cliffs was known for its high number of suicides. By introducing this image my dream is pointing out—rather melodramatically in the way of dreams--how my anima feels about the issue: ("Let's work out what this is all about. Someone's life is at stake- its about someone's life, a record.") The life that is at stake is the inner life of an important part of me.
The knitting needles present a conjunctio, a marriage of opposites: a positive development in this conjoining of the masculine and feminine within my pysche. Knitting needles are associated with a feminine activity, and their function as a feminine symbol is reinforced by their feminine colored covering in the dream. At the same time, the dreamer tells us that “the needles remind me of bullfighting spikes or spears or something to do with electricity like lightning rods,” all very masculine symbols. Put together, these divergent symbols and the flame (enlightenment) that covers them represent the spiritual truth I've been searching for. The project that never led anywhere was my attempt to integrate these two seemingly irreconcilable aspects of myself.
The contempt that I express toward this anima figure encapsulates my dilemma: As an artist, I need to be on excellent terms with my anima! If Jung is right, then she represents the wellspring (there are those plumbing connections again) of my creativity. And yet—that is what I don't trust her to do. I question whether she can “create anything deep, anything meaningful?”
That she has earned some money signifies that I have begun to give her some of the credit that is her due. Not too much; the sums are modest. But at least I've been able to move from seeing everything in black and white to a more nuanced sepia. I'm still confused (I've muddled the picture) and frustrated by the novel (new) and incomprehensible (in a foreign language) puzzle, but I think I'll be able to sort it out. I've made an important beginning with this dream.