Monday, December 30, 2013

Time to Get Rid of Tired Old Ideas

The Dream:
My uncle S is a very old, decrepit man. He walks bent over and is housebound, yet his spirit is domineering, his voice is strong, and he's calling the shots. My daughter, about 5 years old, needs a home and I've “placed” her with him. She comes to me saying he's kicked her out; he has someone older, an adolescent girl who can do chores. I wonder if he has a dirty old man's interest in an attractive teenager.

I realize I need to find a new home for my child, but resent this intrusion into my work-a-day world. I have so many projects—now this! But I soon realize what my true priority should be: taking care of my child.

Interpretation: This uncle represents the stern, unattractive  side of my animus, my own internalized patriarch. Forty years of feminism have weakened him, but his voice remains strong, and he has made no place for the feminine except as a convenience (a doer of chores) or a sex object. Of course I'm everything in my dream, so neither have I! At first I am too preoccupied by the busyness of contemporary life to pay much attention, but the dream tells me that this should be a priority. I need to care for the vulnerable (young child) part of myself, my inner femininity, and the first step will be to stand up to my own faulty conceptions of masculinity and femininity.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Wish For You

Here's the gift I'd give you if I could: the joy of discovering, developing and sharing your own special talent. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


In this dream the goddess, mourned in the last dream, has re-emerged.
The Dream: A woman in archaic costume is transfigured into a goddess. I see this happen, and I see the changes that take place on her face. For a moment I see reflected in her face a naked power. She composes herself and holds herself erect and majestic. Others doubt, and will doubt, her godhood. She, however, is completely assured.

It's the time of year that I expect a god to be born, and this dream reflects that expectation. The dream tells me I don't have to accept a fixed idea about who or what a god may be; gods will appear in ways that astonish.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Death of the Goddess

The Dream: I am on a farm. It is an enclosed space with a rustic wood fence. It is meant to be a retreat from the world, where a person can be free. I call out, “I'm free . . . .” as I hover near the edge of the property. I don't feel free. I go up a small hill near the fence with a feeling of resignation.

In the distance, toward the center of the property, I see a black bird fall to the earth. I am hoping the bird has dived for food and that I'll see it flying upward with its catch. In my heart I know the bird has been shot. I have a sinking feeling.

Interpretation: Birds are an ancient symbol for the goddesses of early European cultures. In our culture, the divine feminine (the black bird) has died, leaving me bereft of a god I can identify with. I am resigned to the loss.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My New Pet

The Dream:
I have a new pet. She has landed on my lap and is happy to sit there and be petted. She is very content to sit quietly, and it seems this is her only activity. I think this will be the perfect pet, not at all demanding.

Then practicality intervenes. She will no doubt poop, but I get around that difficulty by thinking she'll probably use something like a litter box. Will I need to take her to the vet? That could be expensive. And then she'll die—how will I handle that? I know that some people eat this sort of animal, but eating one that died of old age—and that was one's pet—strikes me as creepy.

I had this dream during a visit to Yellowstone after a day viewing wildlife along the Hayden Valley. At one venue a bison carcass was being eaten by birds and wolves. People we chatted with said grizzlies had been feasting earlier in the day. The animal in this dream embodies my own life force. She may be very tame, happy, and undemanding right now, but I can see that problems, rooted in the physical realities of life and death, will inevitably occur in the future.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Become an Icon

The Dream: I decide to paint a portrait of myself. As it progresses I decide the background should be gold, and then go even further and put a halo around my head.

Interpretation: Hahaha. Not sure what to make of this one—but I suppose my self image has improved, maybe a little too much.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Too Many Fingers in the Pie

The Dream: I'm wandering, perhaps lost. I become aware of my daughter's fiancé, an older lawyer who is working as an accountant. He has many extra fingers on one hand. He asks some questions, and I realize how sharp he is. He's very incisive in his questioning, and understands the possible ramifications of things almost intuitively. He seems like a good match for my daughter, who is very focused on work.

The dream is pointing out (with all those fingers!) that I'm overly focused on work and obligation. The questioning part of myself (the lawyer) is trying to figure out (keep account of) what's important. If he succeeds, perhaps he'll get my daughter (my inner child) to take a break.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Guest Dreamer: Rebecca: In Your Face

The Dream: I had been told that there were a bunch of horses in England. So much so that the smell of them penetrated the air. That fact didn’t bother me, and I wanted to go anyway. I ended up over there, and was with two horses in a pasture, eating from the same stack of hay. The face of the horse on the left (when looking from the front) was about twice the size, maybe could be a little more, of a regular horse. (The horse was regular size, but I’m thinking the face was that size to make a point, which I knew this while dreaming.) As the horses started eating, the horse on the left started getting after the other, so it could eat the hay by itself. This didn’t bother the other horse. As the horse on the left would nudge, I would tell it (don’t know the sex) to share. After saying this a couple times, the horse calmed down.

Carla's thoughts: As usual, I'll interpret Rebecca's dream as if it were my own. She will be the judge of whether or not my thoughts are relevant for her, and I hope she'll let us know how she sees her dream.

For me, horses are symbolic of my instincts or drives, my inner animal. Tony Crisp points out that the drives a horse symbolizes are those “that have to some extent become 'tamed' or directed.” Smell, our most basic sense, tells me that I'm dealing with something primitive, and the fact that these horses are in a foreign county says that I might be encountering something new, unfamiliar, or “foreign” in my life. In any case, the core feelings that smell represents are so strong that their odor has penetrated the air; you could say that these feelings have created an atmosphere!

The foreign land holding my horses (Hold your horses!) is England. What associations do I have with England or the British people, and how might this influence my dream's meaning? The British are known for their “stiff upper lip,” for being strong in the face of adversity and deprivation, for tolerating these without complaint and, in general, for behaving properly. Have my feelings, my drives, my instincts, been shipped over to this land to be tightly controlled?

I am becoming conscious that I have acquiesced to social pressure to “behave.” The left symbolizes feelings and instincts, again emphasizing their importance in this dream. The left horse's face has enlarged. A part of my instinctive energy or libido or desire has become a large thing for me to face. The left horse demands a bigger share of what it likes, the thing that nourishes it (its food). I intervene to stop this part of myself from taking what it wants. Interestingly, the “greedy” behavior doesn't bother the second horse, the one that I felt was being deprived. The right horse doesn't seem to mind the left horse getting something extra, but a part of me is not comfortable with it. I, as the dream ego, keep trying to get my left horse to behave, and it finally gives in to my repeated demands. The dream is telling me that I am too quick to intervene to stop my desires, and that they are not hurting anyone. I think my dream wants me to relax and enjoy life.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Out the Window

The Dream: A glamorous if superficial-looking woman has something I don't have, and I'm not happy about it. By way of explanation Clark says, “She's attractive.” I am immediately hit by the implication “And I'm not?” I'm very angry at my husband for 1) thinking this blond woman is so attractive and 2) not getting that he has insulted me.

There is an unusually tall bed near a window. As Clark climbs up a short ladder to reach the bed I goose him. He loses his footing, shoots up into the air and goes out the second story window. I am shocked, thinking he'll be killed. When I look out the window I see he's managed to grasp onto a nearby steel grid. The seat of a bicycle is not far from his foot, and it looks as if he'll be able to use it to push himself to safety. When I see he's safe the situation strikes me as humorous, and I laugh.

Interpretation: As the scene opens I'm irritated at my other half (my Animus), the carrier of my own internalized patriarchal values. When he goes out the window, however, the situation becomes alarming. The bike seat, similar in shape to the phallus, becomes the “vehicle” that reintegrates this part of my psyche. The trickster, prompting the humorous goose, has intervened to show me that I don't want to get rid of the masculine altogether (as in kill), but I do want to enjoy the temporary ascendancy that comes from being able to laugh at him, in other words, not take him too seriously.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guest Dreamer: Joan Gelfand on Writing “The Ferlinghetti School Of Poetics”

That dreams can lead to discoveries, both pragmatic and artistic, is well documented. Today's guest dreamer, poet Joan Gelfand, shows us this process in action: for her, a series of dreams germinated a critically acclaimed poem. Following the text of her poem she talks about the dreams and how she put the pieces together.

The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics
“All that we see, or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” Edgar Allen Poe

I: The dream within the dream within the dream
What is it, Ferlinghetti,
Taking star turns in my dreams?
Strolling in front of cars
Haunting alleyways, stairways,
Bars? Beating moth like flitting through
San Francisco’s sex fraught avenues? In North Beach
Where XXX marks art and
Nasty commerce collide, intersect Columbus,
Telegraph Hill, Jack Kerouac Way.
You are fog whispering in from the sea
On another sunny day.

“There’s a breathless hush on the freeway tonight,
Beyond the ledges of concrete/Restaurants fall into dreams
With candlelight couples/Lost Alexandria still burns.” *

Ferlinghetti’s words sink, weighted
On the business end of an invisible fishing line,
Dredging last nights’ dream to surface, gasping for air
Shivering like some catfish
Eyes bulging, wet lake water dripping off its scales.
The knife of memory slices open
That dream, finds me on haunted streets,
Instructing small boy:
You gotta go to the Ferlinghetti school. It’s totally rad
and completely cool.” 
II: Ferlinghetti Makes an Appearance
Phantom audience shouts: “Higher! Higher!”
Egg the poets on – after all, they’re not on the wire.
Higher? We spin the memory wheel until there’s my father
Strolling through his own Coney Island
And there he is again winning a goldfish
The clerk hands it over fish circling in plastic bag
Big Daddy pretends
It’s all for the kids.
He needed to win like that fish needed water.

III: The Poet Reconsiders
Is the skill of life just keeping on
All the gears oiled, the doors open?
Even if the past keeps drowning and the knifed open
Dream fish still swims around?

In dream theater Ferlinghetti arrives.
Was it the Regal, the Royal or the Metreon?
I rise to make room for he who started everything
Got the wheel of poetry turning, broke
Open language, letters. Vaporized
While he drifts
Haunting my dreams.

*From “Wild Dreams of A New Beginning” by L. Ferlinghetti

Joan on her poetic process: It wasn’t clear to me that a poem was trying until I had the last dream of Lawrence Ferlinghetti walking into a movie theater. The phrase that did emerge from an earlier dream, “instructing a small boy: You gotta go to the Ferlinghetti School! It’s completely rad and totally cool” stuck in my mind. But until the third dream of the movie theater, the phrase hadn’t seemed like enough to build a poem upon.

In building/crafting poems from dreams, I would say that paying attention to dreams isn’t always what it seems – not when it comes to shaping a dream fragment or image into a cohesive work. As you can see in this example, one image was enough to hang onto, but not enough for a whole poem.

When I finally sat down, on a sunny Sunday morning to take the snippets and try to work them into something I started by shaping the significant dream images into 3 separate segments. The three segments ended up being the set up, the evocation of the past, and the role of Ferlinghetti on the poetry scene in SF today.

When I finished the poem, I wasn’t sure if it was any good or not. But I did know that it contained enough SF energy and imagery to submit for Poets 11, a city wide contest judged by the brilliant Jack Hirshman, Poet Laureate Emeritus of the City of San Francisco.

I won.

The poem has gone on to be published five times! The first was the Poets 11 Anthology (2010), The DuPage Valley Review, Sparring with Beatnik Ghosts and the International literary journal “Levure Litteraire.” It’s next debut will be in my forthcoming book, “The Long Blue Room,” due out in February from Benicia Literary Arts.

For more information about my work, my coaching services and my books, see:

And, as always, Keep Dreaming!    Joan

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spill Your Guts

The Dream: S tells the story of a lizard-like creature she tried to kill. Its intestines (guts) came out, but it didn't die. Now she is faced with having to care for the creature for the rest of its--or her-- life, and this care giving will be intense, involving unpleasant chores such as changing diapers. Her only other option is to do a mercy killing. I am aghast at the poor miserable beast and its condition, and think that I would kill it to get its suffering over with and also to put an end to the awful situation.

Interpretation: In waking life S is hypersensitive and seems to have difficulty negotiating the hard, cruel world. Although I don't know her well, she appears to be someone who has been badly hurt. The lizard stands for both the S part of myself, and for what I anticipate will happen if I spill my guts (show my vulnerability). As the dream ego I display my own intolerance to allowing myself to do it: I find the creature disgusting. There's an interesting play on words here that hints at another aspect of the problem. The poor creature is gutless (cowardly) and needs its diapers changed. This primitive (lizard) part of me goes way back, and the dream is telling me to get a backbone.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fretwork Woman

The Dream:
My artist friend P wants to get together but I keep putting her off. After a while I can tell she doesn't believe my excuses, and it's true they are a lack of enthusiasm rather than anything concrete. I just don't feel like getting together. I see an image of a very tall female figure made of interconnected open shapes, a figure made of fretwork.

My friend P represents my inner artist. She is upset and hurt that I don't want to engage with her. I'm feeling too low for creative play. The dream tells me to stop fretting before that's all that's left of me.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More Possibilities than I Thought

The Dream: I have grown my hair out, and it lies fine and lanky below my shoulders. It's a boring gray/brown color, and although I look youngish I think that the long, fine, dull hair ages me. Then it occurs to me that I can change it. I can curl my hair to give it body. Then I see myself with vibrantly colored red/gold/brown hair, thick and luxuriant, styled with an upward flip at the ends.

Going with the idea that my hair, coming out of my head, is a symbol for my thoughts, the dream shows me changing my dull, lackluster thinking for something new and exciting. The dream message? There's a change I can make, and I'll be glad I did.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Through a Screen Darkly

The Dream: I am at my childhood home. All is dark. I go to the front door; expecting it to be shut and locked. The screen door is shut, but the heavy door behind it is open. Inside all is dark, and I'm not expecting anyone to be there. I call out, alarmed. “Is anyone there? Who's inside?” I get no answer and walk over to the porch by the side of the house, thinking I might have better luck reaching someone through the back door.

I try to get past the screen that separates the dead and the living. I'm in the dark and get no answers. I'm not expecting anyone to be there, yet the evidence of the open door tells me that someone might be inside. The dream hints that “inside” ourselves is the place to find those we love who are no longer with us, but I don't have that realization during the dream. Instead I'm left feeling concerned, uneasy, worried. Has the home been breached by intruders? Is anyone there? The mystery might be solved when I go to the back door, in other words, when I approach the problem from a different vantage point, a different point of view.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ready to Die

The Dream:
The dream was of an image of four squares lined up in a row. I felt that I had achieved what had been necessary, and I was now ready to die.

I felt ready to die in the sense of being “prepared.” I had done the necessary thing and could now move on. When I awakened the dream message left me feeling uneasy until I played with the idea of death in a dream as being the death of no longer needed aspects of the Psyche: in other words, I began to see this death as preliminary to a rebirth. The four squares of the dream remind me of Jung's diagram of the Psyche, with its four functions, and his interpretation of the square as symbolic of a centered Self.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guest Dreamer: Solo Visit

Hunky's dream is about art, which symbolizes her most authentic self.

Hunky's Dream: I’m walking along San Pablo, near Ashby, in Oakland, heading north. There is an obvious entrance way I am curious about, so I enter. In a short distance I am underground. Is this an underground shopping center? I keep walking.

I’m now in a space as big as a football field. Throughout the space are areas where artists work. There are no separations between them--no walls, just spaces that flow into each other but reflect the uniqueness of each artist/craftsman. Sparsely located throughout the space is contemporary-looking work--some pieces small, some pieces large, all of them hold my attention and appreciation. I like being in this open space. I am particularly taken with a large, circular wood construction that the artist uses to produce his work. It is a beautiful piece of sculpture in itself. I’m impressed with the overall beauty of the place I’m in. It’s quiet in here. It’s a little odd that there are no artists in sight but this doesn’t bother me. To be social would interfere with the visual experience I am enjoying.

I walk up an organically shaped ramp to get to the outdoors. There are no right angles on the ramp, all soft curves. I look closely at the surface I am walking on barefoot. Embedded in the ramp material are tiny pieces of metal, copper and silver. They poke at the soles of my feet, but they do not hurt me.

On the rooftop the surface is covered with a material as dark as asphalt. The material must be as soft as sandstone, though, because all of it has been altered in some way. What I’m walking on has been altered by means of scraping away or building up. An undulating attractive surface was created.

A woman (about 60) greets me and offers to show me around. She is the only person I’ve seen since entering from the street. We visit artist’s areas. As it was when I was in the basement, the artists are not here either. At one place, an artist has created unique pieces of furniture, all of which has an animal as part of it. I see a wooden chair with a life-sized cat carved as part of the arm of the chair. The cat is the arm of the chair but it is definitely a cat as well. On the arm of a sofa is a soft animal form made of the same material as the rest of the sofa. These animals are cleverly integrated as part of the furniture. All the animal forms are compatible with, or the same materials as the furniture.

The woman tells me she is an artist but works here for other artists. I notice she is standing on the edge of the surface here on the rooftop. She is standing on the balls of her feet, like a diver who is preparing to do a back dive.

Then she shows me a large unfinished part of a connected rooftop area and tells me that her boss (an artist) wants to expand his area there. I mention that it must be strong to handle the weight. She says it is.

We approach this person who is her boss. He and she exchange pleasantries. Then the woman asks him if she can use his toilet. He doesn’t seem to be willing to allow it. I figure it must be a tricky and difficult task to install plumbing on this rooftop that has such a surface such as this one. But he tells her she can use the toilet.

As I wait, I hear the sounds of expulsion. I’m not embarrassed. The sounds are loud and powerful.

Carla's Thoughts: As usual, I will respond to Hunky's dream as if it were my own; I invite her to add to our understanding of her dream by leaving us her thoughts as well.

My natural curiosity, something I associate with my playful, creative inner child, has led me to an entrance to the underground (my unconscious). That I at first think I might be encountering a shopping center tells me that this area contains things I might buy (accept), or—by the same token—that I might not. But I pass by this initial response, and, as I do, the space opens up. In fact it becomes huge. Here I am given a vision of my artistic possibilities (my potential). I see no artists here because all of them are me, and we never see ourselves. The contemporary work symbolizes the things my psyche is currently working on. The circular construction represents the many facets of myself working together; this construction is me. In a place of beauty and serenity I am at peace with, and can appreciate, who I am.

As I walk up a ramp (go to a higher level by bringing some of this material into consciousness) my world becomes even more expansive: I am outdoors. This is a natural place, both because it is outdoors and because there are no sharp angles. My soul (sole) is poked, prodded, but this is not painful. On the rooftop I encounter a material that represents my life experiences, some dark, but all altered by the sculpting, the scraping and building up, of things I've done. I appreciate my life; it's an undulating (moving, changing like a river) and attractive achievement.

Then I encounter my anima (the 60 year old woman). She shows me forms (the animal / furniture combinations) that point me to the realization that I can be relaxed (as if on a sofa) with my physical self (the animal). Yes, we are physical beings and subject to all the woes of the flesh, including our own deaths, but my soul tells me I will find my own way of putting these apparently opposing forces, the animate and the inanimate, together in a way that will be comfortable. This part of me is on dangerous ground, standing on edge, maybe about to go over—but she doesn't. She shows me the unfinished business I have yet to complete, and she assures me that I can handle it, heavy though the task may be.

The boss, a controlling part of myself that is very demanding and wants to expand his domain, reluctantly allows my soul to express herself. She does so with gusto, and I affirm her action.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Tree of Life

The Dream: An image of a tree that bears many different kinds of fruit, for example, pomegranates, plums, cherries.

Interpretation: As if to compensate for the petrified wood (life turned to stone) of my dream from a few nights ago called "Oblivion", the wood in this tree is teaming with life. The image symbolizes the unfathomable mystery and complexity of life and consciousness, signaling that a healing process is underway.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Can I Nourish the Group?

The Dream: I am with a niece and some of her friends. They begin to talk about what a good cook my niece's mother is. “Don't they think I'm a good cook?” I wonder. I also praise my niece's mother, sincerely, for being very capable and helpful in an unassuming way. I think about my having cooked a meal for the group when we were last together, and I wonder if I made a bit of a fool of myself, offering to cook when someone else had superior skill.

Interpretation: My insecurity about what I have to offer is on display in this dream. In the dream it might have been a mistake, hubris, even to offer to cook. Not only am I concerned about how I will be judged, I'm concerned about having put myself and my inadequacies forward. It's hard to believe that at this stage of life I am still oppressed by feelings of inadequacy—but there it is. Having recognized the feelings, maybe I can start to get past them.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Open Your Eyes

The Dream:
I am in a truck. We are parked near the entrance to a gas station. A man in a red convertible pulls up, trying to enter, but we are blocking his way. As the backseat passenger I say, “Sorry, we can't move.” The driver is doing something outside at the pump. Then I realize I'm in the driver's seat, but I can't open my eyes. The vehicle begins to inch forward, and I'm panicking because I can't open my eyes or control the truck. I plead with Clark, sitting next to me, to help. He doesn't respond. I take my hands and pry open my eyes, with difficulty. I awaken.

Interpretation: The panicked pleading of this dream reminded me of a church service I attended  recently. I was struck by what seemed to me a kind of unctuous begging for some sort of help, for salvation, from the deity. It seemed that the idea behind the service was that if you asked enough times, desperately enough, maybe god would respond. In other words, I'm getting a lot of gas, hot air. So it's probably time for me to convert, to change from a backseat passenger to a driver. The dream tells me to open my eyes and take charge of where I'm going. It's time to find my own answers to the age old questions.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Something's Got A Hold of Me

The Dream:
I was startled awake by this nightmare. Clark and I are in bed, asleep. Our dog, Toffee, comes bounding in and jumps on the bed between us. He clamps his teeth onto my finger and won't let go. I scream again and again for Clark's help; he doesn't respond. Finally, screaming over and over, “Clark, you aren't paying attention to me!” I awaken, feeling very shaken.

Interpretation: On the surface this dream seems to be saying that I feel neglected by my husband, and that could certainly be one of its meanings. But the level of terror I experienced in the dream hints at another meaning. I've been grabbed by the instinctive (my animal, the dog) and it won't relent. The rational (Clark, my animus) ignores the problem.

The dog in the dream, Toffee, died some years ago, and the terror the dream conjures seems consistent with a primal fear such as that of dying. What might have triggered this nightmare? Last night I was reading George Eliot's “Daniel Deronda.” In the book the character Gwendolyn responds with terror to a painting of a dead face and someone fleeing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Phantom of the Opera


The Dream:
I am with my mother in a subway. We are planning to meet my father and my daughter at a play. The subway we're on is due to make a special stop to accommodate opera goers. We are running a little late, and I'm getting anxious. The subway operator announces that we are going to skip the extra stop, and I'm relieved at this time saver. I had thought our meeting was at 8:30, but mother tells me it's not until 9:00. Again I'm relieved; we have a little more time to make it. 

“Oh, yes,” says my mother derisively, “you and your father will be getting nervous, but your daughter and I won't be concerned.”

Mother is an insulin-dependent diabetic. To add to my anxiety she announces she needs food (to avoid a life-threatening insulin shock). We get off the train and go in search of, but nothing seems right or appropriate. The few food stalls we find have the wrong sort of food.

Apparently we do find a place where, as I continue to worry about being late, an Italian woman serves me a bowl of soup as I sit/lie on a twin-size bed. The soup looks better than I had expected, with lots of julienned strips of vegetables like zucchini. I eat while still in the bed, and spill some. It makes a mark the color and consistency of pomegranate jelly. I point this out to the woman and tell her it can be cleaned up easily; I start scrubbing with pretty good success.

The Italian woman's husband comes in and the woman signals to him that outsiders are present. They speak in Italian. Soon they switch to a combination of English and Italian. Meanwhile I become aware that my mother is incapable of feeding herself. I sit down next to her at a small circular table and feed her.

Even with the best of mothers, and my mother was as good as it is humanly possible to be, some dregs of unhappiness will settle to the bottom of the mother/child relationship. In this dream, years after her death, I look at some of this murky sediment. The first thing that struck me about the dream was my mother's derisive comment. She did have this hateful way of criticizing me occasionally; rather than acknowledging that there might be a reason for my anxiety (or other negative feeling) the message was that I was wrong to feel it. The comparison to my father in the dream reflected a frequent jab as well: comparing me to my father was an indirect and implied rejection. She must have felt that she was the superior one; he was not the one to emulate. Here (on the subway) we see the subterranean conflicts of the mid-century marriage. We're running out of time. I do feel that, especially after my younger brother's death.

Despite Mother's superiority she needs to be taken care of. The diabetes of the dream was real, and it had us all running in circles. She was very brave about it in many, many ways, but the threat of insulin reactions , horrible to behold, was ever present and frequently happened. The need to get access to food could be, and often was, a problem. This created an on-going anxiety: another sort of running out of time.

I eat, forgetting the purpose of the stop for food was mother's need. Am I demonstrating my selfishness? I've certainly been accused of it, directly and indirectly, by Mother. The foreign language being spoken tells me that there is something I don't understand. When the language switches to a combination of English and Italian, I begin to get it, partially: I must feed (take care of) Mother. Now I have to ask myself, "Is what I've come to understand that I do feed mother, or that I should feed mother?" She has been dead for 8 years. Is it appropriate, at this point in my life, that I feed her? Or am I living with an unpleasant burden that I have created for myself by continuing to feed her? Time is running out, and if I want to skip the work (the opera) and get to the “play” I probably need to sort this out.

I Stink

The Dream: We are looking for a recipe for pecan pie. I remember that it is delicious, and that my mother made an excellent version. I look through lots of cookbooks, focusing on one with beautiful pictures rendered in a soft technique, with simple shading of basic shapes. I wonder if this could be computer generated, although it doesn't look it. Then the artist speaks: she tells me she does all her work by hand, the old-fashioned way.

I have retreated upstairs and am lying on a bed with the covers loosely over me. I fart very loudly a couple of times, hoping no one downstairs has heard. Clark comes up a minute or two later and lifts off the covers. “Whew!” he exclaims, and I'm embarrassed.

Interpretation: The day before I had this dream I got an email from an artist acquaintance cataloging her recent accomplishments. Her current gallery show has been well received and she has been reviewed by influential critics. Her success is well-deserved, but that doesn't mitigate my reaction to it: envy combined with a massive feeling of inadequacy. In other words, I stink. My unconscious uses an over the top, humorous image to show me there might be some hyperbole in these feelings.

The “old-fashioned” techniques the dream artist uses refer to the classical but dated art that I prefer and cling to. The pecan pie is something delicious from the past that I'd like to recreate. Who knows? I might yet find the recipe if I keep looking.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


The Dream: This dream was like thinking, only thinking while asleep. In the dream I thought that when you die, that's it. No afterlife, no spirit living on. It's over. Then I thought that all that is left of my dearly loved brother is the little pile of ashes that we deposited in the Petrified Forest.

Interpretation: My brother's ashes were taken to the Petrified Forest because he had once expressed a wish to be fossilized when he died, and this was the closest thing his son could think of. Upon awakening I felt that this dream probably—I hate to admit it—reflects what I believe happens when we die. This is cold comfort indeed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Guest Dreamer: I Fly Too High

Bhilal 's dream, while very short, is long on archetypes.
The Dream: I'm flying and doing very well at it learning how to navigate but abruptly I feel a fear of going too high and losing control so I come down. I land on top of a white building. I examine looking for a way to get down...can't find one and I realize I can no longer fly in order to get down.

Carla's thoughts: I'll respond to Bhilal 's dream as if it were my own. As the dream opens I'm flying. I'm above it all and doing well, learning how to navigate the things in my life that need to be dealt with. But soon I see the answer is not to try to get around them. My dream tells me I need to come back down to earth, in other words, deal with my situation realistically. As I soar I feel myself losing control (I can't escape), so I decide to land, finding myself on a white building. The color white hints that the grounded part of myself (the building that is a bridge between me and the earth) will lead me to my true path (enlightenment).

There's another aspect to building: what's being built is something I'm creating, something that's in the process of becoming. For the moment I'm stuck, and that realization might be what I need in order to move on. Something has changed. Something that once was appropriate, something that once worked for me (flying) no longer does. The task the dream sets me is to figure out a new way to come safely back down to earth.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

No Release

The Dream: I am dressing for an event, feeling rushed. There are several women with me, and one is an artist friend. I put on a pair of black silk trousers, wide-legged. I'm wearing a white blouse. I add a black sweater/jacket, not quite as out-dated as the trousers. My friend tells me this looks fine, and while I know it's lacking in style and out-dated I decide there's no time to come up with anything better.

I have to go to the bathroom. I'm in a public toilet stall and try to pee, but find I can't. I give up, feeling uncomfortable.

Interpretation: I'm dressed in the traditional mourning colors, black and white. I look for a release (going to the toilet) that doesn't come. The clothes are out-dated; this tells me that the grief I'm experiencing is not only current, but from the past as well. My inner artist (the friend) thinks these clothes are appropriate; perhaps she is more in touch with the old pain that needs expression.

I'm in a toilet stall; indeed,being unable to find the needed release has stalled me. I will feel uncomfortable until I can let it out.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

An Unnatural Split

The Dream: This vaguely remembered dream featured a park with a small adjacent area that held a parking lot and a public toilet. My companion and I are working to get the park commission to incorporate this area into the park.

Scene switch to sex. I feel I should be more sexually engaged, more responsive and demonstrative.

The park area represents an idealistic, unsullied nature: pure spirit without body. But what about the split off parking lot? It's in the shape of the pubis and contains a toilet. That evokes the passage from Yeat's Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop in which she says that “Love has pitched his mansion in / The place of excrement.” * This fastidious splitting off of the physical from the spiritual means that my libido, or life force, is not joined to my soul. My inner psychic forces are working to marry the two (they should have sex), and if they don't succeed I'll be parked in the Park, living a half life in an unrealistic place that represents a nature without worms or flies, a place that doesn't exist. Again from Crazy Jane: “For nothing can be sole or whole / That has not be rent.”*

*For the rest of the poem as well as an interesting discussion of its meaning, one that is relevant to this dream, see Poetry .

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Unexpected Outcomes

The Dream: There's a German who works very methodically, but in the end his work appears chaotic. A Mexican works in a chaotic, disorganized way, but his work emerges clean and clear.

Interpretation: Things do not proceed according to stereotypes. I have expectations of myself, of the way I work and what will come of it. They need to be reexamined. I can't rely on my inner German to solve things with his methodical approach, but need to trust my inner Mexican's intuitive approach. The process might look messy, but it wins out in the end. I expect that ultimately I need them both, and my task is to teach them how to get along.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Bitter Pill

The Dream: I am having stomach trouble and take some pills to alleviate it. Without reading the directions I decide that if one is good, five are better, so I take a handful. Then I read the packet's label that warns to take no more than one. I quickly spit out the oblong white pills. Most are whole, some are in pieces as if partially chewed. I hope that what I ingested will have mounted to no more than one pill.

I am swallowing the bitter pill of my brother's sudden death, an event that is so very hard to accept, to take in. It's too much to swallow, and dangerous to do so. The stomach pain symbolizes my emotional pain.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Present Presents Problems

The Dream: I'm with a group of people in a foreign country. Someone is giving away her things. A large group of old glass items comes up; they are dusty and wrapped in tissue. The disburser looks in my direction as she describes the lot, and I wonder if these objects are for me. How should I respond? Should I gush a bit, so she will know I'm grateful? I like these pieces; they are lovely and might be antiques, but at the same time they present some problems: I have no place to put them; the items are too much for me to carry; they would be expensive to ship, and they are fragile and could break. To top it off, I'm not sure if they are meant for me, and I know I'll feel like a fool if I act as though they are being given to me and then realize they aren't. As it turns out, the disburser has been looking in my direction because the objects are being given to the woman sitting behind me.

Interpretation: I'm in new territory (a foreign country) with the dilemma my dream presents (that potential gift). It must be something that's currently happening (the present), yet it hearkens back to something old (antique) and obscure (it's dusty, wrapped in tissue). As my unconscious attempts to unload these things she no longer wants, I struggle to come to terms with them. (How should I respond?) Once I've gone over all the reasons why I can't deal with this “gift” I side step the problem by denying it altogether. It really wasn't meant for me.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Dreamer: Uninvited Guest

Today's guest dreamer, Myamystic, is looking for the key that will unlock her dream. It's found by looking beyond the waking life people who populate her dream to figure out which part of her the characters represent.
The Dream: My dream kicks off with me visiting my boyfriend in Mumbai. I enter the house with a key, I don’t know how I got it. The house is in total darkness and empty. I then realise that I am in his parent’s house and am about to leave when the parents return . . . . The mother gets all worked and questions me.

I apologise and leave with my bags.

Carla's thoughts: It's certainly possible that a dream like this is about Myamystic's feelings about her boyfriend's parents, or about how she feels society judges her relationship. She will know if that is the case. It's also possible that the dream is about her own feelings, and in this analysis I'll explore the dream from that point of view. As usual, I'll talk about Myamystic's dream as if it were my own.

In this dream I'm working through my feelings about intimacy. How do I feel about this relationship? How do I think it will go? The key represents a new insight. The "uninvited guest" of my dream title refers to these unconscious thoughts intruding into consciousness. I've been in the dark about my own feelings when it comes to closeness and trust: I am exploring unknown territory here, and that's why the dream is set in someone else's house.

I am in his parent’s house. All the people in a dream have been created by the dreamer and have more to do with her than with the waking life people they represent. So I will look at what I have in common with the dream mother. Like her, am I worked up, suspicious? Do I feel that someone has invaded my space just as the dream ego has invaded this woman's house? Perhaps I'd like an explanation for things about my boyfriend that I don't understand, or about feelings I have that I've pushed away.

That I apologize tells me I might be wrong here. There's something I haven't seen (I've been in the dark). The luggage I take away represents my emotional baggage, things from the past that I'm still lugging around. I think my dream wants me to look at these things in a new way in hopes that it will be the key to my avoiding an empty house (loneliness).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Guest Dreamer: Coming Up

In Elizabeth's dream a lot has come up; let's take a look at it.

The Dream: I was in a large house (not my own, but I felt comfortable there), on a lake or sea (I'm not sure which-but it was large, calm, but vast). I was with several couples, whom I knew in the dream and felt at ease with but can't put names on most after awakening. I was there with a young, prepubescent boy, and in the dream I felt obligation to have an intimate/sexual relationship of sorts with this boy. I felt it was not right, and I remember thinking it would have to wait until he had matured, if ever. This young boy brought me a condom, the condom was different than one I'd ever seen, it was large and reusable, similar in ways to a female condom. I felt absolute in my decision to not be with him when he asked how it worked, even though I myself was unsure. I took the condom and walked out onto the deck, and hid it under a computer desk there. The group was outside quickly after, and a few of them were going out on the water to go fishing. The next thing I remember in the dream is a woman "swimming" back towards the dock (this woman I believed to be a very good friend's mother, someone I've known for 16 years-extremely wealthy family, I feel close to them, but distant in some ways as I've gotten older). Except, she wasn't exactly swimming, she was kind of shooting through the water at warp speed and popped up at the deck I was standing on. Following behind her were thousands or more fish, dead fish, floating on the top of the water and drawn to the deck almost as if by a magnet attached to this woman. I asked how they had fished, and somehow (I don't remember who told me or if I just knew) understood that they had used a method of fishing that was controversial, possibly illegal. It was a weapon that exploded under water but sent out shrapnel to catch all the fish in a several mile radius.

The next thing I remember in the dream was a barge of junk that had been uprooted from the deep sea in the fishing process. At the top of the clump of objects floating in the water were several old, classic cars. As the barge of junk approached the deck, everything was becoming coated in this whiteness. Almost like spray foam that insulates windows, but it was covering everything. As I noticed this whiteness covering the barge of things, I was walking across it. It had formed a sort of large boat. As I was walking across it, I met my father (my waking life father), and we were looking at the old cars, walking from each one to another. I remember thinking I'd like to preserve one for him, possibly with paper-mache. As I walked back onto the deck, I approached a man from the group holding a paper. I asked what it was, and he told me it was a map that he'd commissioned to be made, but it was a secret. He showed me the map, and explained that there were 3 hidden rooms under the sea, and he'd had enough information to work with a mapmaker to find the coordinates. The map had to be a secret, because he would have been in trouble with everyone else if they'd known he'd done this. Suddenly, the man was no longer there and I was holding the map. As I noticed all the other people around, I quickly went to hide the map under the same computer desk on the deck as before, except it was also now covered in the white foam like the barge of sea junk. I hid the map next to the condom I'd earlier hid there. And that is when I remember awaking in my bed, and I grabbed the journal feeling an urgent need to write it down, that there was significance to it. When I re-read what I'd written, I only remembered half, and I barely remember writing it. It felt as though I was in a half-waking space...

Carla's thoughts: As usual with guest dreams, I will think about Elizabeth's dream as if it were my own and hope that it will inspire her to look at the images carefully to ferret out their meaning for her. Only the dreamer can figure out what her dream means, and that's because the images in a dream can mean completely different things to different people. I'm afraid there's no getting around the hard work of figuring out your own dreams.

In my version of Elizabeth's dream, the house represents my Self, the totality of who I am. While I am comfortable in this Self, I don't feel it belongs to me. In other words, I have yet to get in touch with my authentic core. This dream is placing me on course to make that discovery.

The sea is a birth metaphor: my rebirth will take place here. However, as with most of the images in this dream, the sea has contradictory meanings. Yes, it is the place of my rebirth, but it is also the place that obscures the feelings and experiences that make that rebirth a difficult one.

The young boy represents a part of myself that I'm deeply ambivalent about. I feel obligated to integrate, or unite with (have sex with) this aspect of myself, but at the same time this assimilation is distasteful to me (I don't feel it's the right thing to do), and I'm not ready for it (he's not mature.) A condom is something that prevents the union of sperm and egg, and here it symbolizes the barrier to finding out what my union with this young part of myself would bring to fruition. I temporarily avoid the problem by going outside (At least I'm in the process of airing the issue) and placing the impediment (the condom) in my subconscious (under the computer, or thinking function).

The other people in this dream represent various aspects of myself. At times they are the parts that hold the views of a disapproving society, but some are ready to fish around for what's going on in my depths. A pivotal role is played by the woman who swims back to the dock. With her the ambivalence surfaces again: she is someone I am both close to and distant from. This tells me that the information she symbolizes is getting close to consciousness even though I might want to keep it at a distance. Her wealth symbolizes the immensity of my potential.

This process is moving too quickly for my comfort. (She shoots through the water.) She comes from below the surface, and what she brings up is scary and distasteful. Water represents the flow of emotion, and dead fish, according to Tony Crisp, can symbolize the “ non-expression of basic urges.” The magnetic quality of this woman emphasizes the duality of attraction and repulsion, the same ambivalence that we saw earlier with my feelings about my potential sexual union with the young boy. Again I see that something isn't right: the fish (the basic instincts) have been caught in a way that is not only controversial but possibly illegal.

What was murky is bubbling up into enlightenment (the foam with its white color). The underwater explosion that results in foamy whiteness is also evocative of a male orgasm. Cars represent our “drives.” The classic cars take me back to the past, perhaps to a time of my life when one of those drives, the one that results in a male orgasm, would have seemed to me an overwhelming thing that covers (obscures?) everything. I meet my father (the holder of the society's values) and we walk around looking at the cars (drives). Why do I want to give him a paper mache car? Am I trying to make sex drives less substantial, transforming them from the steel of a classic car to the kind of paper children use in craft projects? This hints that the child part of myself does not want to accept adult sexuality. Or perhaps it doesn't want to accept its own (the child's) awareness of that sexuality.

Then I meet the man with the secret map. He is the part of me that is sorting out these old secrets of my Psyche. There are 3 hidden rooms under the sea (in my unconscious). Again we have the unacceptable, the thing I think I'm not supposed to acknowledge. (The mapmaker would be in trouble if it were known he was giving me the route to this secret world.) The map, now covered in the white foam, is stored next to the condom. The various things that I've deemed unacceptable have been dredged up from my depths and are now in one place. I can take them out and look at them when I am ready to: I'm the one who's put them here. These things, hidden right under the computer desk (consciousness) are now very close to the surface. At some point I'll be comfortable taking them out into the fresh air of the deck.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Little Dog

The Dream:
I'm in the back seat of a car. Someone has gotten a new puppy. I pick it up; it is fluffy and looks like a Wheaten Terrier, except that it's black and white like a Border Collie. It is very sweet and adorable and I fall in love with it, realizing this is not in line with my usual coolness toward dogs.

I'm not in the driver's seat (I've lost some control), and this has enabled me to have a more comfortable and accepting relationship with my instincts (my inner animal: the little dog). These instincts might still seem black and white to my conscious self, but at least they've they've taken on a friendly aspect, and I like them.The motherly "herder" and the playful terrier have been combined, signalling  that some psychic integration has taken place.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Still A Beginner

The Dream: I am waiting and waiting for a fellow to go skiing with. It is getting onto 4:00, about the time I would like to stop skiing for the day. At one point I think “Why did I wait for him? I should have just gone on by myself.” I think about what an inept skier I am, and how this fellow probably doesn't realize that and will be annoyed when he discovers it. I know it's a very long, but beautiful, lift ride up to the ski area. “By the time we get there,” I think, “it will be getting dark.”

Interpretation: In this attempt to do something that looks beautiful but that I seem to have difficulty grasping I see my struggle to create a meaningful life. I feel I'm running out of time. In feeling that others are impatient with my inadequacy I project my own harsh self-judgment onto them.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guest Dreamer: The Game with the Strange Object

By the end of this dream the dreamer is a new woman. Today's guest dreamer is Kayla, who has started her own dream website that aims to connect readers to dream resources. As usual with guest dreamer posts, I will respond to Kayla's dream as if it were my own.

The Dream: I was in a crowded, but open space, like a gymnasium. I entered the space, where long foldable tables were set up in rows. I spotted my friend M, who works as a psychologist, at one of the tables. Individuals were milling around, talking, there was general buzz of conversation in the air. I noticed that people were taking places at the tables, so I hurried to get a place next to my friend M. I joined her by going under the table, as I wanted to hurry and get a spot. Because the tables were situated in long rows, I would have had to walk all the way around. I took a spot to her right and noticed that on the table, various objects were arranged. Sort of like a big yard sale, except they were not piled on top of each other, but arranged a certain number to each table, one in front of each place.

I noticed there were shoes, handbags and various other objects. I was looking at the table when a voice came over the loud speaker. I did not know what I was supposed to do, and I do not remember the words, but I noticed that when the voice came on, individuals all reached to grab or claim one item on the table. So, I reached to the right and claimed a strange object. It was a ring of printed cardboard or maybe thin plastic, that had some sort of print on it - and then there were paper/cardboard/thin plastic little people and objects that went with it. The cardboard ring was supposed to be a stylized world / globe, and the paper people/objects could be moved on different places on it - maybe with velcro? It was some sort of decoration and I thought I might put it on the refrigerator. The people/objects were stylized like the old fashioned pen and ink drawings / etchings (I am not sure exactly how the prints were created). See picture.

I remember the largest piece was a woman who was printed in this old-fashioned wood block print. I realized that the "game" was essentially this: everyone took his/her place at the table, the cue was given, everybody rushed to claim the object he/she wanted on the table, and then they took the object over to the cash register to pay for it. I felt pleased with the object I had gotten, even though it was chance I had gotten it, as I realized the rules of the game too late and had to grab what was left. I liked it, though, and went towards the line at the other side of the gymnasium to pay for it.

Carla's thoughts: The gym is a venue for activities that require practice: I am working to perfect a skill. The tables (Has something been tabled, i.e., stifled?) have aspects of a barrier: they are set up in rows, and I would have a difficult time getting around them. Yet the tables can be folded, which hints that the barrier they represent contains its own solution. In order to understand the significance of my friend M, the one I'm eager to be near, I have to think about her qualities so I can figure out what part of me she stands for in my dream. Since I want to be close to her, these are the qualities I want to encourage in myself. I join this friend by going under the table. Is there something shady about my action, for example, as in the expression “doing business under the table” to avoid paying tax? Does my under-the-table dive reflect my desire to take short-cuts in order to avoid the taxing effort that attaining my skills in the gymnasium requires? When I take my place on M's right I signal my willingness to allow this issue to come to the conscious level. 

Yard sales are generally held to get rid of items that are no longer useful. In my dream I've put these things into an organized framework where I can take a look at them. Shoes (walk a mile in my shoes) can represent my situation, and handbags, the holders of credit cards and I.D.'s, are closely linked to my sense of identity. I have tabled aspects of myself, and, as I contemplate my own complexity there's a free-for-all as I reclaim the parts I want to keep. I reach to the right, bringing a new realization to consciousness. I'm not used to it yet, so it seems strange at first. I see a globe and the people on it. There is an artificiality about this world. It's cardboard (not too substantial) or plastic (phony?) and the people are not truly a part of it; they are only attached with velcro. They aren't completely fleshed out: they lack color, and they are rendered in an old-fashioned style. This world and the people in it represent a part of my life that I have outgrown.

The largest piece to claim my attention is a woman. I haven't been willing to acknowledge her previously. (She's a wood block print.) The new woman that I am has emerged from the small out-dated world I once inhabited. I have grown, I now understand the “game.” I am pleased with my new ability to decipher the rules. I'm no longer going under the table to avoid paying what I should. I cross the gymnasium (the place where I've acquired my skill), and I accept responsibility for the new woman I am. (I'm willing to pay for it.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bird in the Hand

The Dream: I'm near a train station in the suburbs when I see something under a chair: it looks like a bird entangled in one of the chair legs. I can't tell if its a real bird or a stuffed toy. In some way the thing is off-putting and part of me wants to leave it where it is—but another part is intrigued.

I touch its soft fluffy feathers and realize it's a small purse in the shape of a bird atop a round bag. I am not sure what to do with this—whether to keep it or try to return it. I look inside and see a collection of children's silverware, little forks and spoons in a pattern very similar to my mother's silver. Suddenly I feel a desire, so strong it's physical, to keep this bag and its contents.

I go through the bag, struggling with myself. As I look at the things inside I realize it's a gift for a new mother. Besides the children's silverware, there's a CD that teaches relaxation techniques. I find a turquoise blue card with a name and address. Now that I have the name of the rightful owner I have a new quandary: clearly I should return these things, but is this the name of the sender or the recipient? If it's the recipient and I call, I will ruin the surprise. Once I decide the name and address most likely belong to the gift giver I attempt to make the call, but then I'm not sure I can make out the phone number.

Interpretation: I'm repulsed and attracted by something that I don't want to look at—but once I do I don't want to let it go. The dream is full of conflict. The object is a bird, an ancient symbol of spirit, yet it is also a purse, something that stores earthly treasure. The treasure it contains is associated with both the mother—it's her silver pattern—and the child (the child-sized utensils). Even the turquoise (blue-green) card points in two ways: blue for sadness, green for new growth. The dream is telling me that I'll achieve some new growth once I face my sadness. The mother / child symbols point to this sadness being connected to my inner child trying to come to terms with the loss of her mother. Having seen inside the bag (gained some knowledge of my inner workings through carefully observing my dreams) I very much want to hold on to what I've learned, and yet I feel anxious about my ability to do so (I can't make the call).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Entangled in a Mask

The Dream: Clark and I are surprised to find an extra, unattractive room, and we don't think we have a use for it except perhaps for storage. Then I notice it's full of my old clothes. I pull out several items, excited to have found these old things: it's a sort of rediscovery. I am about to discard many of these items when I come across a skirt that attracts me: it's dated, with a fitted waist, a full skirt, and a ruffled edge. Nevertheless there is something appealing about it. It doesn't hang well, and I discover that's because it's entangled with a mask.

A newly discovered room (part of my psyche) is not so attractive at present, especially to my integrated self (anima: dream ego; and animus: Clark). It seems to us the room is useless except for storage. Yet when I start to discard my old clothes (outdated concepts) I discover there's something appealing about them. What are these old ideas? Perhaps they, like the ruffled skirt, are part and parcel of outdated ideas of femininity. They no longer hang well, and the reason they don't is because they've become entangled in a mask; in other words, they are not true, but part of a socially imposed persona.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

House for Sale

The Dream:
We go through a house that's for sale finding rooms with striking, very bold wall papers: large scale, abstract, very colorful florals. The papers overwhelm the rooms; but there's something so beautiful about them that I think I would try to work with them if I bought the place.

Interpretation: The house for sale implies a change. I am trying to deal with something overwhelming that's both beautiful and problematical. If I buy the place (accept the challenge) it will mean I can't settle for the easy, quiet, comfortable route.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Interview with Lisa Rigge

As part of an on-going series of interviews with dream workers, today's post will focus on Lisa Rigge's work with dream collage. She leads a drop-in workshop at the Bothwell Art Center in Livermore, CA (monthly on the second Monday, 12:30 to 3:30 pm). Today's illustration has been provided by one of her students.

DD: When did you first become interested in furthering you understanding of dreams by creating collages? Was there anything in particular that inspired you to use this particular medium?
Lisa: I became interested in dreams and collage at the first International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) conference I attended around 2006. I was drawn to this nonverbal aspect of dream work because projective dream work had become too much of an intellectual endeavor for me. I needed something that would enable me to experience and process my own dreams.

DD: Are students with no art background comfortable working with this method? How do you suggest they start?
Lisa: Any one can come to these workshops. All they need to know to begin is how to cut out a picture with a pair of scissors and glue it to a piece of paper. They need to be willing to trust this process - that they will gain insights about their dreams through making and dialoging with their collages. To get students started I usually have a handout about an aspect of dreaming that they can use as an idea or guide to begin working.

DD: Can you give an example of a student who discovered a new meaning in her dream after she worked on a collage?
Lisa: Yes. One of my student's offered to share her experience with us. She created the collage that accompanies this post. Here she is, in her own words:
My dream involved a 30 ft.bear approaching my house as I looked out through the screen door. The bear was not threatening and there was no fear or dread- I felt puzzled and a little bit lucky. For years I didn't question the dream, but I remembered it vividly. When I began piecing together collage elements for this in dream collage class, it became very clear to me that the bear was a symbol for our move to California. Making the collage gave me valuable insight and some needed closure.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Goldilocks Dilemma

The Dream: Clark and I are looking at a house. I'm confused about the price: at first it seems a good buy, then later I realize it's not quite affordable. The kitchen has a lowered cooking and prepping area; I surmise this is for a wheel-chair user, and I think this might be why the place hasn't sold. I wonder if I could use it with a wheeled office chair, and if it might actually be nice to be able to sit down while I cook. A young boy with a very small body and a very large head comes in. I figure out that the low cooking station is for him. Then I notice another stove—but it's too high: I wouldn't be able to reach it. Finally I see a normal height gas range with about 6 burners. This kitchen can accommodate every size cook. I am relieved.

Interpretation: I am looking for a new way of being: the new home I'm searching for is a metaphor for my need to transform (move) my inner life. At first I think it will be easy for me (a good buy), but then doubt sets in: perhaps this change is too difficult, will cost me too much (it's not affordable). Kitchens in dreams represent areas where transformation takes place, and this particular kitchen presents me with choices similar to those faced by Goldilocks: one area is too low; another too high; finally I see one that is just right. Although my initial reaction was to try to accommodate myself to an area created for a much smaller person, a better choice is there, waiting for me. Why am I relieved that the kitchen can accommodate every size cook? Because the best part of the dream's message is that what's most comfortable for me doesn't require other parts of myself, the parts that feel too big or too little, to have no role in creating the total person.We can all cook together and, unlike Goldilocks, I won't have to run away.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Miracle Child

It is often helpful to look at your individual dreams as part of a series. Sometimes you'll find a shade of meaning that you overlooked when thinking about the dream on its own.

The Dream: I am pregnant. I begin to fret about being in this condition at my age. I am single. I look at the apartment house I'm going to move into, and my new next-door-neighbor harshly judges me for being pregnant while unmarried. I think this is a little silly. As I fret about the pregnancy, some one points out I'll be 67 when the baby is born. My doctor is unconcerned about the health aspects for both mother and child.

Interpretation: In looking at this dream as part of a series, the theme running through the last three is that of a gift. In the first dream I'm given a gift of images. In the second I give a gift (the child) to another who needs it, and interestingly, the child I give away is one that I have adopted. In the 3rd the gift returns to me, in the form of my own not yet realized potential (the pregnancy). This dream implies that I need to go beyond the conscious choice symbolized by the 2nd dream's adoption and give birth to my own (authentic) child (self), who will be born of the unconscious. And if I'm a little anxious about the process, I have the doctor's word that all will turn out well.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Am I Giving Up?

The Dream: I have a baby. Another woman desperately wants one so I give it to her. I worry a little about what I've done, but when see how very tenderly the woman treats the infant I feel the child will be well cared for. Then another troublesome thought: The baby has been adopted. How will she bond with anyone after all these changes?

I feel that I should give away some part of myself that I treasure (the baby) to fulfill another's need. I trust the person to tenderly care for this part of me, yet I soon question whether I've neglected my responsibility by relinquishing it. This part has been adopted, implying that it is something I've consciously chosen. The unconscious warns that giving it away to another's care might hamper its development.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Don't Mask the Maroon

The Dream: A dream of abstract images. One is of a sequined, sparkling 3D mask in shiny maroon. The other translated a painting I am working on into abstract shapes.

Interpretation: This dream invites me to stay in touch with the earthiness of the feminine. My mask is maroon, the reddish brown color of menstrual blood yet sparkling, a hint that what women used to call “the curse” has its own inner energy. The painting that is abstracted is of Pomona, the goddess of fruit (fruitfulness, reproduction). In the dream I see these images as marvelous, a heads-up from the unconscious that my earthly, physical self is a wonderful thing. If I want to be complete (in 3D, fully dimensional) I need to live in all parts of myself, not only the spiritual and the intellectual.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Twins

This dream highlights an inner conflict that is resolved in a surprising way.
The Dream:
There are two women who are very different: one is brazen, free, and experimental; the other prim and conformist. These women operate undercover; they are spies for opposing sides. Their true identities are revealed when they whip off their disguises and it's clear they are identical twins. Their apparent differences have fooled everyone; in actuality they are very much together. The opposites they assumed were a part of their disguise.

Interpretation: The dream tells me about two sides of myself that appear to be at odds—different in every way and working for opposing forces. And yet, once their disguises are removed, it becomes clear there is no conflict here. That the true identities of the twins, once their outer trappings are removed, are the same—identical--tells me that what I consciously see as opposing traits are only so on a superficial level, at least at this point in my life. If I were once torn between polarities, that is no longer the case. My two halves are now very much together. I can be prim and brazen at the same time! The dream gives me the insight that qualities we think of as “opposites” can live in harmony, and that our inner core of being can be far more complex than I realized.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel?

This dream seems to say, "Hang in there! It will be okay."
The Dream: I'm driving through a long tunnel that turns out to be an enclosed bridge. Frosted glass windows, simple and contemporary in design, light its interior. I think the enclosure is never going to end, and then it does, opening through an arch onto a rural scene.

Interpretation: The tunnel evokes a birth canal, and the fact that it's a bridge reinforces the idea that I'm moving from one state of being to another. The frosted glass implies that while something is being illuminated, giving me a new understanding, what it is isn't perfectly clear at the moment. That the style of the window is contemporary tells me that what is happening now is instrumental in the transition, rather than something from the past. The passage seems to take a long time (I think it's never going to end), but the result, when it comes, is natural (the rural scene).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Mute Child

The Dream: I've picked up the phone. I know it is my daughter and that she's upset. She says nothing. “Alice?! Alice?!!” I say. I know the news will be bad, but perhaps not as bad as she thinks; I know she tends to be very emotional. She still says nothing, trying to collect her emotions so she can speak. I awaken in fear, as from a nightmare.

When I pick up the phone there is, in a sense, no one there. This dialog is with myself. My daughter represents my own inner child who is unable to express her strong feelings. The dream tells me that she is trying to collect (gather together) her emotions so that she can speak (express them). These emotions are overwhelming to me, so strong that they feel like a nightmare. I awaken before I can confront them. The dream does not resolve the emotional difficulty, but it does call me on it.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I'm Stalled

The Dream: Mother and I are in an area of Manhattan that we don't know. We need a toilet, find one, and go in. As I use one of the stalls I realize the one next to me is a shower. I think it's nice, and progressive, that the city provides a place where the indigent can bathe. A woman takes advantage of this, and soon I'm getting sprayed with water coming over the stall divider. This is not pleasant, but I'm temporarily stuck where I am.

When I finish using the toilet I leave the stall in search of my mother. I don't see her, and I wander in circles yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”

Interpretation: I'm stuck (in a stall) as I try to release some pent up emotion (relieve myself: go to the toilet). The water that splashes me represents unconscious material coming into consciousness, and while it isn't pleasant, I must endure it. The dream emphasizes the importance of this process by pointing out that the shower is for the indigent (someone in need). The little child within me cries for her mother as I get in touch with the well of grief I feel over her death.