Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Saint Me

The Dream:
I am looking at old photos of myself. I see one with my daughter, from when she was 3 or 4. I am surprised at how pretty I am. I now realize, but didn't in the dream, that the face I'm admiring, while similar to mine, is not me. Nevertheless, in the dream it is a revelation that I am prettier (or was) than I thought. I know I'm now older, but I think that maybe if I put a little effort into it I wouldn't look too bad.

I see a picture of myself in a group. I emanate a kind of illumination, like a saint.

Interpretation: The dream is concerned with what Jung called the “persona”, the side of ourselves we put on in public, at work, in social situations. This face is not mine. The dream is about appearances: a part of me thinks I need to try a little harder to keep up an image that will be well received. The second part of the dream tells me that another part of me thinks I'm more than good enough, as good as a saint, and that my role is to enlighten others; no doubt they need to be told how good I am! These images tell me my self-image is off balance: time for a reality check.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

How a Dream Turned into a Painting

Carla: Elaine Drew links one of her paintings directly to a dream. In this post she'll show us the path that took her there.

Elaine Drew
: The inspiration for this piece, called Journey was a dream in which I was to about to be sacrificed in a primitive religious rite. (That scene is represented in the 3rd panel of this 4 panel painting.) What, I wondered, was that all about?

Because the dream seemed to embody a spiritual quest of some sort, I organized the artwork along the lines of a medieval predella, a small strip of narrative scenes that appear at the bottom of an altarpiece. This organization reflected my asking myself what was at the bottom of the dream?

This led me to think that consciousness, the great gift that makes us human, might be a double-edged sword. That is the theme of the second panel. Here the figure carries consciousness like both a precious gift and a burden.

So, in the first image we enter life, unconscious, enclosed in a particular culture and point of view. Our first task is to break out of our shells, hit the road, and experience life in all its complexities. As we do this, in the second panel, we attain consciousness, and this includes the awareness of our own mortality. In the third panel we face the threat that this hard earned consciousness will be obliterated.

Wait a minute! I thought. I've been told that dreams come to us to tell us things we don't know. My piece needed a 4th panel, one that would get me past the limits of my current understanding.

It took a while, and some of the false starts most of us are familiar with when we try to solve a problem. Finally, as you can see in the 4th panel, the idea of the renewed self emerges into a built environment. And then the meaning of the piece became clearer to me: while I will probably never understand the mystery of life on earth, I can understand the process of death and resurrection that often plays a part during our lives. We are asked to sacrifice, and at times it feels like too much. Or we find our hopes or ideas dead in the water. But then a kind of natural salvation kicks in. We re-emerge with an expanded consciousness. It engulfs us, and we see the world through it. We are now in the world we built, no longer wandering in a barren wilderness. The sacrifice is behind us.

So, the Journey begins again. The painting is about life, about change, about learning as we go, and about the hope for an ultimate understanding that makes sense of it all.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Paw of Condolence

This dream springs from the same  space in the unconscious that creates religion. Do our loved ones go to “another place” when they die? This dream says yes. Whether or not that's right in any objective sense is unknown and unknowable; nevertheless, it is consoling.
The Dream: I am a young teenager, staying at the seaside with my family. I look out from the screened porch, on the second story of the old-fashioned beach house. I see my younger brother Greg out in the ocean, clinging to a railing. I call to him, “Stay there! I'm coming!” I quickly change into a swimsuit and run downstairs and into the sea.

By the time I reach the railing he's gone. I search frantically, unable to find him, then head back to the beach house for some help. I go upstairs and find my sister in law, who is about my age. As we start to head down the stairs, two pet lions are ascending, obscured by a cat flap. I hear the first one before I see him. He says, “He's gone to another place.” I'm frightened when I hear this, thinking it confirms my fear that my brother is dead. I'm also surprised that the lion has spoken. The lion emerges through the cat door and repeats, “He's gone to another place.” He looks at me empathetically, as if he is sorry for my loss. He holds out a paw, gently, claws retracted, to shake hands.

I look out at the sea, its waves forming a beautiful pattern, white caps going on and on in v-shape formations. It's beautiful but hazardous. I don't think Greg could have survived its power.

My sister in law and I go to the deep beach, filled with tourists sunbathing and swimming. We search and search, to no avail. How will I tell Mother? I wonder, feeling her grief as I think about it. How will I tell my other brother? The words I choose echo the ones he used to tell me about Greg's death when it happened several years ago: “The worst thing you can imagine has happened.”

Interpretation: I had this dream near the anniversary of the deaths of both my brother and my mother. Two feelings are intertwined, grief with the hope inherent in the lion's godlike message. In one of C.S. Lewis' famous books, the lion represented Christ as the symbolic sacrifice that defeats death.  For me, the lion symbolizes the inevitable sad way of things in the natural world. He tells me that Greg has gone to another place. By stepping outside his own natural role as a mute and savage beast, the empathetic lion implies that there's something we don't know. As I experience the fearsome beauty of the sea, I know that this mysterious life force is incomprehensible. Yet there is solace in realizing the possibility of a dimension beyond those I know: this other place the lion speaks of.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Going Round in Circles

Do you think that this dream's meaning is obvious? I did, too, at first.
Dream Image: People are sitting in large concrete bowls that are moving in circles, like the mad teacup ride at Disneyland.

: Okay, I get that I'm going around in circles, and maybe a little nuts. But what I didn't get was that I think it's fun, like a ride at an amusement park.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I'm Not in the Picture

Sure enough, Janet's last dream was followed by another focused on identity—or, this time, its lack.
The Dream:I'm in an art school. A young man has been selected to do a nude portrait, and I have been selected to be his model. We work in a large urban studio. I am not embarrassed about posing nude; I wear only a pair of 50s style pointed-rim glasses that are very striking in black.

The next morning, before the painter gets to the studio, I decide to check out his progress. He has painted in the cityscape behind me in a purposely crude, modernist style, and one awkward tree is depicted. The colors are strong and unnatural. I am nowhere to be seen.

Janet's Interpretation: Looking at this dream from the point of view of identity helped me to unravel its meaning. My partner convinced me to move from a large urban area to his small hometown in the Mid-West. I hadn't realized what a struggle that would be. I feel friendless and alone; without the anchors of my friends and job I am not sure who I am anymore. The world I was a part of is going on without me, so I guess it's true that I'm not in the picture! I hope that the little bit of greenery that the tree provides is pointing to some new growth that will help me with this transition.

Carla: The black-rimmed glasses might be trying to make a point! Perhaps you are seeing things as darker (bleaker) than they are. New growth is often awkward, but your dream has come to tell you that you can do it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

What to Wear?

The work we do in our dreams helps to establish our sense of self. In Janet's dream, clothes symbolize an identity in flux.
The Dream:  I am at a pre-wedding event for a Bride. I ask her what we should wear on the day. She says it will be casual; then she says there will be a range. I try to figure out what that means. “Sort of like dinner dress?” I suggest. “Like going to dinner in New York? Or Paris?” As I add the reference t o Paris I wonder if I sound cool or pretentious. I had surprised myself by saying it.

I become separated from the group and wander into what I think is the right party. I soon become aware that I don't recognize anyone, and I start to feel uncomfortable. This was not the wedding I was supposed to attend. Racks of used clothes appear, filling the room. What are we supposed to do with them?

I look in various rooms for the wedding I meant to attend. I look at the plaques on the doors, searching for the Bride's name. Then I realize I don't know her name. Maybe it's Carol. I have no idea what her last name is.

Carla's thoughts: A pattern company once had the slogan: “Make the clothes that make the woman.” Clothes here are a symbol of creating identity. Because the symbol is based on something that is external (clothing) we can see that the part of identity the dream deals with is the one that interacts with the outside world, or the persona. The dreamer wants to know how to interact with the milieu she's in, what is appropriate for her situation.

As the dream progresses she finds she is lost. In the dream world a wedding symbolizes a union, or a transformative reconciliation of opposites. Janet is having some difficulties with this on-going growth process. First she finds herself at the wrong wedding, where racks of old clothes (identities) appear. She looks for the proper wedding, (the union of the self she has been and the self she is becoming), but at this point she hasn't found it.
The bride's name (identity) is a mystery to her.

As Janet works on her dream, she should ask herself if she knows any Carols, and if so, how she feels about them. This might be a clue to the resolution of her conundrum. She will want to be on the look-out for future identity dreams; this one tells her that her quest is not over.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Gaping Wound

If you've been reading this column for a while you might enjoy trying your hand at interpreting this dream. Read the dream, come up with your own thoughts, then read what the dreamer told me she thought it meant.

The Dream: I look down at my right leg and it has an ugly gash—the edges are ragged. Bugs crawl out of the wound. I am very upset and begin to hope it's a dream—I think it is—I don't feel the pain that such a nasty injury would cause. Finally I manage, to my relief, to awaken myself.

The Dreamer's Interpretation
: I've been going through a difficult time with my boyfriend, but I've been trying to ignore the problem. The dream got me to ask myself in what way I've been wounded, and how have I deadened myself (not felt the pain). Something is bugging me and needs to come out. I need to wake up and think about what's going on in my life.

Carla: Did you get it right? Guess what? It doesn't matter. The important thing is not whether or not you interpret the dream the same way the dreamer did. The important thing is what you'll learn from your own projections.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

When Things Don't Go Together

What does it mean if your dream has put some things together that surprise you, that, for example, strike you as incompatible? Dreams often do this, so their incongruities can be a good place to look for the key to the dream's meaning.

As an example, let's take a look at this dream that a fashion designer friend sent to me. She dreamed she was working on a heavy wool sweater with a frilly lace collar. She could have looked at this as inspiration, but her reaction was: “I would never do that!” Therefore, the garment her unconscious has created is showing her an internal conflict. But what is the conflict? How might she go about figuring it out?

She started by thinking about the different aspects of her dream creation. First, there is the sweater part. What color is it? It's red: for her that indicates anger or passion. How does she feel about the look of the sweater? She thought it was heavy and stolid.

Then on to the lace collar. What stands out about that? The collar struck her as incompatible with the sweater.

Finally, does she like this thing? Does her opinion of it change during the course of the dream?

Once she has asked herself these questions she could synopsize the results. “The sweater is red; I am angry. My anger has to do with something traditional, just like the body of the sweater. The frilly lace tells me it's rooted in femininity. I thought the whole idea of putting these two elements together was stupid at first, but after a while I concluded they worked together better than I thought they would.

"I was passed over for a promotion at work. A man got the job. Traditionally, men are promoted more than women. I was angry about that and didn't think I'd be able to work with the new designer. But the dream is telling me that this might work out better than I thought.”

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What Can we Learn from the Dream Ego?

The dream ego is the character that you play in your dreams. It's like you, but then it isn't. You might have heard, or even said, “I don't know why, but I was following this frog around (or sewing capes for giants, or going to Mars, or visiting a gangster . . . .) In other words, your dream ego often does things that are very far from anything you would do in waking life.

Aha—that's food for thought. To puzzle out the dream ego and its bizarre behavior, ask yourself some questions: What are the characteristics of the thing the dream ego is interacting with? What is it doing, what am I doing? What is the outcome of our interaction? Here's an example:

Characteristics: Take a look at the thing you're interacting with from the point of view that it symbolizes something that has meaning for you. For example, if I dream about following a frog around I'd think about frogs. Do they represent the natural world to me, or do I see them as aimless hoppers? Are they foot-loose and fancy free or merely without an anchor? As creatures that go through readily identifiable stages—egg, tadpole, etc. —do they represent changes I'm going through? Do I expect frogs to turn into princes?

Its Action: Is this creature or thing that I'm interacting with purposeful? If so, what is its purpose? In the case of the frog example, is it leading me somewhere or trying to get away from me? Does it have a reason for its action? If it doesn't, could I imagine one for it?

My action: What does my response to the thing say about my state of mind? Okay—I'm following this frog around. Am I being led by something irrational, perhaps? Or is it rather that I'm following a natural force?

Outcome: Do I get somewhere, following this frog? Did my dream ego react in the same way that waking life me would have reacted? How are we the same, how are we different? Am I happy or frustrated? Does anything surprise me?

Above all, dream work is a quest. If you're willing to take the time to look at your dreams you'll discover your own inner treasure, the philosopher's gold.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kiss of Death

This dream struck me as macabre, and I hesitated to foist it upon you, dear reader. But, as so often is the case, I discovered as I worked on the dream that it had a helpful message.
The Dream: I am kissing my husband. He looks old, like an aged Clint Eastwood. As I awakened I was thinking of a cafe, with all the patrons' faces showing their mortality, like a roomful of living skulls.

Interpretation: As what Jung called my animus, my husband stands for the part of me that goes forth with energy and purpose into the world. As time goes on, this part of me diminishes; will it die? And what about my absolute mortality, the one we all share? In a sense we are all living skulls. These ideas felt very negative and off-putting, to say the least.

But as I worked on the illustration, one part of me was thinking of the idiotic things we humans waste our time on, and I began to have the realization that a sense of mortality might encourage me to look at my life's purpose and to focus on what's important. A little prayer popped into my head,
 Thank you for my time on Earth. Help me to use it wisely.
 This prayer felt like a gift.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Walk Through the Past

Sometimes it seems as if a dream evokes our distant past, when our potential lay buried deep within our ancestors. The Dream: I am walking through a European city and see sections of town that have facades from prehistoric times. I'm intrigued by this and sorry we don't have this sort of antiquity in America. Then I think, “Perhaps we do.”

Interpretation: This dream was triggered by a talk with a friend about ancient goddesses. The dream got me to thinking about our links to the past. For women, mitochondrial DNA from our mothers stretches back unchanged into distant antiquity and provides a link with our ancestors who, through us, live in modernity.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It's All in My Head

Sometimes it seems as if the unconscious is our private cheering squad, trying to tell us the things we need to know. It helps a lot if we learn to pay attention.
The Dream: A man tells me that his shrink thinks his sexual difficulties are all psychological. He resists the idea, but I say, “Maybe they are.”

Interpretation: I thought this little dream was meaningless until I applied it to my life situation. In this case, sex (libido, the life force) stands in for life. My life at the moment feels very tense due to my anxiety over some medical tests and the 10 people that are coming to dinner later. But actually—nothing is wrong at the moment except my own anxiety. All my worries are in my head, and they are making my enjoyment of life impossible.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Short Course on Dream Interpretation

The more I've worked with dreams the more I've come to believe that what we have to learn from them is highly personal. Images that mean one thing to me will mean something entirely different to you. What I'd like to offer you today is a way to look at dreams that will help you uncover their meaning for yourself. There's no getting around it--you have to do the heavy lifting. To help you do that, here's a list to consider as you work to unravel your dream: triggers, characters, images, action, conflict and resolution.

The triggers: The first thing to look at is what is going on in your life at the time of the dream. Some event, or something that you saw, heard, or read, has triggered this dream. A dream is often about how you feel about the people and events swirling around outside you. Sometimes these churn up feelings from long ago or unresolved personal problems. Once you figure out what might have triggered the dream, think about how you feel about the issue. Your dream might offer a new way to see it. If you can't nail down the trigger, don't despair. Move on to the characters.

The characters
: Look at the dream from the point of view that all the characters are a part of you. The conflict that they are having is not a conflict between you and the people who appear in the dream, but between conflicting parts of the complicated person that you are. Ask yourself what the players in your dream represent. Make a list of their most obvious characteristics, and do this for the dream ego (you, in the dream) as well.

The images: Look at any images in the dream. What does each one mean to you? Write down the images and list your reactions to them.

The action: Look at the action in the dream. What are you doing? How do you feel about it? Is it something you enjoy, or does it make you unhappy or uncomfortable in some way? Is it something you normally do? Does it have symbolic value? For example, if I am planting a garden I might think of it as creating new growth for myself. Then I'd ask myself if I am doing that in waking life. If not, what is stopping me? Does it have anything to do with the characteristics that I share with my dream adversary?

The conflict
: What is your dream adversary doing? If his action destroys your action (he's messing up your carefully planted garden, for example), then you have the privilege of looking directly at an inner, unconscious conflict. That's progress!

The resolution: Finally, what does the conflict represent? What is one character (one aspect of you) trying to get another to do or to stop doing? How do you feel about it? And how does it turn out? Has the dream conflict been resolved? Or has it been put on hold?

Whether or not you feel you've resolved the dream's meaning or issue, going through this process will help you get to know that most mysterious being, yourself.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Make A Choice and Pay The Price

If you look at conflict between the characters in your dream you will be able to home in on the difficulty the dream is attempting to resolve.
The Dream: My daughter is going for a treatment of antibiotics at a new age facility. I get preachy and tell her that if she needs antibiotics she should see a doctor, not go to the sort of squiggly-headed pseudo-scientific place she's chosen. I point out that if she's taking antibiotics unnecessarily they might not work when she really needs them.

I become aware that she has made this choice because she thinks she can sneak in without paying, whereas if she went to a doctor she would have to come up with a co-pay. I'm surprised she would do such a thing.

Despite my reservations about the place, I go to the facility myself, into a dressing room that is a converted parking lot. A male attendant scolds me for not getting into the queue for one of the two private, curtained dressing rooms. I hadn't been aware of the queue, but when I realize there are only two private changing rooms I start to pull off my clothes where I am, thinking it would be ridiculous to wait and who cares? The rough, tough security guard is embarrassed and looks away awkwardly.

I undergo some sort of treatment at this spa, pay for it, and leave. Later a bill comes for my daughter's treatment. It's over $600.00. She won't like it, but she can afford to pay. I know she'll be upset about the amount and surprised to learn that she didn't get away with anything after all.

Interpretation: My inner child is stubbornly trying to get away with something. From my “mature” point of view this child part of me ignores the facts and chooses an ineffective treatment for my problem. And yet the older, wiser, and objecting dream ego chooses to go to the same place for treatment. Through the dream I become aware that I don't want to pay the price my cure requires.  It's as if the dream wants to show me that there are ways to grow even in situations that aren't ideal.

The healing process begins as I expose my vulnerability (undress) without discomfort.   When told I must wait my turn for a private “changing” room I change publicly, without shame. This takes place in a partially converted parking lot, and the part of me that protects my security looks away. These two things signal that the “change” is to a “parked” and closely guarded part of myself.

Finally I accept that there is a high price for my child's attempt to freeload, but I know that my child, now grown, can afford it. I won't like it, but it's a price I am able to pay. It's as if one part of my psyche is dragging another along into a more mature awareness or resolution.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Longing for Union with God

It's not unusual for spiritual longings to appear in dreams as carnal desire.
The Dream: This dream featured a Christ-like figure that I would like to have sex with, but he is too otherworldly for that sort of thing.

Interpretation: This dream was inspired by a story I heard commemorating the huge Alaskan earthquake 50 years ago that destroyed just about everything, except for a wood frame Russian Orthodox Church. My spirit (soul) would love to unite with this religion, but it's too far from my “world” of science and logic, not to mention feminism, for this to happen.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Synthesis

When a dream character's behavior seems baffling, it's a good idea to look at the person and ask yourself what part of you they might represent. Often you'll discover they represent those parts you don't acknowledge.
The Dream: I am visiting my friend Janet. I have some children but they are in the background, not the focus of attention. Janet dislikes children, and I know it. I'm using her sink. I notice for the first time that it is a very tall pipe that drips into a bathtub. The water turns on and off via a pull chain. I am surprised to see, in her modernist apartment, that she has a bathtub in what was once a kitchen and that she now uses this space as her living room. When I see it I become nostalgic for an apartment I left long ago that had a tub in the kitchen. I notice that the center of the room has an island with gas and water hook-ups for a kitchen, exposed, with no attempt at aesthetics.

The room is airy and spacious, with a large sofa off to the side. I suggest to Janet that she make this large room back into a kitchen and use the one off to the right, the current kitchen, for her sitting room.

The children, now dogs, come running through and spit up on Janet's throw pillows. She thinks it's a big job to remove the pillow cases for laundering. I am surprised that she is making such a fuss over such a small job. I start to help her and do it quickly and easily, thinking that she has no house-wife skills. I feel superior that I do.

Interpretation: Janet, a very intellectual and independent friend, represents those parts of me. In waking life as in the dream she has no patience for the maternal. She can't manage the unpredictable, messy parts of life. With her as my proxy, I reject the instinctual (the dogs) and the not-yet-formed (children) parts of myself. In the dream I suggest she move her creative center, as symbolized by the kitchen, to a larger space, once that is both plumbed to do the job and has a comfortable place to rest (the sofa). My way to grow is to use the skills I'm so proud of in the dream to move my psychic home to a new contemporary space.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What's Cooking?

If you find your dream baffling, here's an idea. Ask questions. Make a list of the questions that your dream evokes, and let one lead to another. Then spend some time thinking about them. You'll learn something as you go through the process. Today's dream is an example.
The Dream: I have a little creature, supposedly a pig, but with the attributes of a toddler. It's very sweet and acquiescent, but is meant to be dinner. I have put her on a tray and am about to put her in the oven (alive). I get more and more upset at the thought, and finally I say to my husband, “I can't do it!” I am distraught, and he says it's okay not to cook the creature.

She turns into a little girl, and I tell her that I will take her home. In time it occurs to me that it might have been her own parents who sold her for food. In any case, she says she doesn't want to go home, she wants to stay with me. As time goes on she turns into a little horror and her sister appears. I don't remember what they did, but their behavior is so bad I begin to wish I'd put her into the oven after all.

: This dream was triggered by an article in The American Scholar about raising sentient beings (animals) for food. The cover featured a cute pink pig; the dream creature, before she turned into a little girl, was pink.

The odd thing about the dream is the creature's change from a sweet, passive acquiescent little thing to an impossible to control little monster. Are these the unacknowledged feelings I had toward my own children as they grew? Or is the horrid little girl my own willful “animal,” the force that I couldn't bear to have baked out of me, but have no idea what to do with? Or perhaps her behavior is a reaction to her position in society, a helpless girl at the mercy of others?

My conclusion from these questions? In the process of being “civilized” the little animal we are at birth (the child) reacts with uncontrollable bad behavior, inwardly if not outwardly: the beast in Beauty and the Beast: the not-yet-tamed outlier within. At this (rather late) stage of life I must acknowledge her. Once I do, she will sustain me; she'll become the "food" of a richer self.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Life and Death

Today's sample dream deals with the dreamer's search for her spiritual self.
The Dream: I'm with my husband Clark, and we are going to do some diving near an old-fashioned bridge in search of an answer to a naturalist's question. We are studying a butterfly. We are en route to the venue when Clark stops abruptly near a pond. He jumps out of the car with a butterfly net and catches a couple of very beautiful red and black butterflies, mating. These aren't the butterflies we were meant to study, and while I am thrilled to have an opportunity to see them close up I say, “You know we'll have to return them to the spot where we picked them up?” They will need a very specific habitat to survive. I'm concerned that those who see us will think we are harming the creatures; I want them to understand our higher, scientific purpose.

Interpretation: In this dream, I dive into the Unconscious (the water). The bridge tells me that the dream is dealing with a transitional state, I'm going to a new place. The naturalist and the butterfly are a tip off that this dream is about understanding my physical being (what the naturalist studies) and its relationship to my spiritual being (the butterfly, an ancient symbol of the soul). We have found two of these creatures, and they are mating. Finding two emphasizes the symbol's importance, and mating implies a rebirth or regeneration.

When I find my soul,  it's not the one I expected, and it isn't where I expected it to be. The dream tells me I need to carefully handle this newly discovered part of myself.  (It needs a very specific habitat to survive.) What about my fear of social sanction?  I might want to see what's going on rationally (my scientific purpose), but I doubt that will yield an answer that others will find convincing. I understand that it's imperative for me to return what I've found to its natural habitat. Is that on this earth, I wonder?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Can't Complain

Here's another way to approach your dream content. As you go over the dream, look at the things that are frustrating. Write down your reaction to each as you go. I'll demonstrate the method by indicating each frustration as I report the dream.
The Dream: I'm staying outside New York City in a run-down, less expensive area. (1. I can't afford a better place, closer to where I want to go.) I have parked my convertible, roof down, in a lot. The next morning I hurry past the lot to get a bus for the art museum, mentally timing how long it will take to get there, not long, I think. (2. I'm feeling time pressure.) Then I notice the locked glove compartment of my car has been pried open and its contents stolen. (3. Something has been taken from me.) I wonder if my husband will blame me for leaving the top down, but I don't think that putting it up would have stopped the perps; they would have cut through it. (4. Will others—do I—think this is my own fault?)

I try to locate the lot owners. To do so I walk around the outskirts of the lot. (5. Where are the people who should be available to help me?) The lot is part of a surprisingly upscale, mall-like area with restaurants and shops. I finally locate their classy desk, and there are others grouped around it, also ready to lodge complaints (6. There's a lot of dissatisfaction here.)

After a while I notice a sign on the desk saying the employee will return in 15 minutes. I wish I had seen it earlier so I could have timed my wait (7. I've been wasting my time.)

Most waiting around the desk are men, and all are congenial. We're making the best of it. I figure there are these four ahead of me and I try to estimate how long it will be before I can lodge my complaint if each takes X amount of time. (8. Time is slipping away from me.) Off to my right I notice a room full of college desks filled with people, and that there was some sort of sign-in sheet on the large desk. Oh no! All these others are ahead of me (9. It's worse than I thought.) I'll never be able to get on with what I had intended to do today.

Interpretation: As I noted the frustrations, the dream's meaning became clear. I'm not close to where I want to go on my life's journey. I'm in a difficult place. I underestimated how long it would take me to get where I had intended to go. I feel that something's been taken from me, and I suspect it's my own fault. It's not at all likely that anyone else is going to help me. I'd say the dream's message is that if I need help I'd better get it from myself and stop expecting someone else to solve my problem, no matter whose fault it is. And the worst part? There's no one to hear my complaint!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hanging on for Dear Life

If a chat with a friend influences your dream, try to figure out what part of you she represents.
The Dream: I'm walking along the edge of a rocky path overlooking a deep abyss. I lose my footing in the loose rocks and dangle above the bottom of a deep pit.

Interpretation: In this nightmare there was no one around to help. The rocky path indicates that I'm struggling with something. I lose my footing: clearly I'm off-balance. If this were someone else's dream I would think they were depressed, and yet I'm not aware of feeling unhappy. A severely troubled friend had told me about a similar dream the day before; does she represent the troubled part of me? Some part of me identifies with her depression very strongly, and my unconscious is telling me it's time to become aware of that, and to take a look at the issues that might have created the pit I'm in danger of falling into.

Friday, January 29, 2016

What's Right With Me?

Dreams often point out what is wrong in our lives, but they also can point out what’s right. In a world in which we are often encouraged not to think too well of ourselves, our dreams can let us know it’s okay to celebrate what’s good about us.

The Dream: I’m in a class. There is a beautiful girl sitting next to me. She is young and has curly, light brown hair. She is very petite, but well built. I wonder if she is rich. I know she lives in the city, but I wonder how she lives. Is she part of a rich family or married well? She puts on dark glasses and looks even more glamorous.

Interpretation: This dream seems to be a little gift, some encouragement. Many dream experts tell us that the people who populate our dreams are different aspects of ourselves. So with this dream I can ask, “What part of me is beautiful, self-confident, living in the world she loves, sexy, a little mysterious, well-cared for and full of potential?” Of course I don’t get off Scot free: since I’m in a class the dream is also telling me I still have something to learn.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

D is for Dreams

Here's a little project for those of you who keep a dream journal: make a frontispiece. It's another way to explore your own inner reality. Here's how to go about it.

  • First is the planning stage, although it's pretty minimal here because the aim of this project is to let unconscious ideas come forth, rather than to impose our conscious ideas. So the plan has only two components. 1) We define the format: square, round, rectangular—whatever shape appeals. 2) And then we put something into that space, filling most of it. In the example here, I used the letter D, for dreams, but it's important for you to use whatever appeals to you: it could be the shape of a firetruck, a stone, a pool--whatever.
  • Now play with the object you have put into the space, seeing what it suggests to you. As I played with the letter D a cave emerged, then a couple of creatures I thought of as threshold guardians. Once your concept comes together for you, play with your favorite rendering technique or, even better, try out something new.

Congratulations! You've produced a work that has come straight out of your unconscious, just like a dream. You can take the project a little further by writing a sentence or two about your creation. Here's what I said about mine.
The scary things, partially dead and buried, that emerge from the Unconscious are the source of new life, health, and healing of the spirit.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Sleeping Foreigner

Dreams can serve to nudge us along and attempt to get us back on the right path when we falter. It might seem contradictory, but this dream is issuing a wake-up call.
The Dream: An attractive young woman, someone close to me, is sleeping too much. She resembles the Polish cleaning woman in the PBS mystery Father Brown. I go into her bedroom and try to awaken her with a gentle hug and kiss, as my father would awaken me. She doesn't seem unhappy but doesn't want to get up, either. I'm concerned that all this day-time sleeping might mean she's depressed.

Interpretation: There's a part of myself that feels foreign. There are some family associations here: one of my grandmothers was from Austria Hungary, now in Poland. After her husband died in The Spanish flu epidemic, this brave woman who lived in Brooklyn and spoke little English worked as a cleaning woman to support her three children. She avoided remarriage; having experienced being a step-child in her own youth she didn't want her children to endure the kind of unequal treatment she associated with that situation.

In the dream I experience life from this point of view: as one who is foreign, poorly equipped to cope with the world, and saddled with responsibilities. How did my grandmother respond? She prevailed. How do I respond? I go to sleep. I don't want to engage with a difficult reality. I am comfortable hiding out in bed, happy in my retreat, and wary about confronting my difficulty.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Bear on a Fixed Track

You can learn a lot about your dream by taking the time to look at the words, especially plays on words or double meanings. The following dream is a good example.
The Dream: I have a stuffed bear that navigates the world on a track. I'm with it in the back garden, then watch as it goes through the back door of my house, on its track, and out through the front. It's not capable of locking the doors so I do that. I watch the bear roll down the street and wonder what the neighbors think of it.

I'm planning to rendezvous with my bear at a museum I used to enjoy. To get there I have to scale down what looks like an artifact of the ancient past: a steep, carved palisade. Part of its side begins to detach as I descend. Two things worry me. I don't want to deface this ancient carving, and yet I'm afraid that if I try to fix it, to make it right, I'll lose my footing and fall into the pit.

When I get to the museum it is rundown and in disrepair. Not much is left that is interesting. I'm disappointed; this place is not what it was. There's one bright spot: I recognize a stained glass window that I still like.

Interpretation: To start, let's take a look at the word “bear.” Am I as grumpy as a bear? Is there something I can't bear? Am I feeling discouraged, in the dumps (bearish)? Am I closed-minded, fixed and unswerving in my fixed track? One thing seems obvious, the state of mind this dream is dealing with is rooted in the past. You'll notice the references to the back garden, the back door, the palisade that's an artifact of the past, and the museum, a place that houses old things. And since my bear is stuffed, I'm guessing that what's got me down and grouchy is some stuff from way back.

The dream gives me an opportunity to work through some unresolved past issues. The meeting with my bear takes me to a place where I can look at my old stuff (in the museum) and realize it's not interesting anymore. My fears are unnecessary: I don't lose my footing or fall into the pit along the way. If the carved sides along my descent are disintegrating, I accept that I can't fix them. And there is even a bright spot: I find something to love and cherish, a stained glass window. It lets in a transformed and colorful light.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Pushed into a Pit

Your dream will give you some clues about the origin of the issue it deals with. Can you spot what they are in this dream?
The Dream: A difficult aunt who I remember well from my childhood is in charge of two little girls. I expect that when I find them the girls will be crying, since that the effect Aunt A usually had on people. But no, they seem fine.

I'm at a snobby art event in a magnificent old museum. Several pieces of art that I own, and one or two that I painted, are hung in a very long gallery where a crowd is lined up to enter. Inside, the elaborately carved wooden steps and walls make the exhibit look like a medieval recreation.

I hear some admiration aimed in my direction but am disappointed to realize it's directed toward the pieces I own, not the ones I created. As we wind our way around the attractive labyrinth, a woman gets into an altercation with another and pushes her down, off the steps, into a side pit.

Interpretation: The dream tells me that my issue is rooted way back in childhood with several clues. Not only are there some little girls, there are two of them. There are also two kinds of my art on display: one or two (two yet again) that I painted and some that I own. Two women have an altercation. So this issue probably first surfaced during the pre-verbal part of my life, around the time I was two years old.

The medieval decor puts the issue in the distant past (of my life), and the carved wood evokes a pattern being imposed on a malleable surface. The dream dwells on images—paintings--because the child's self-image is being created at this time.

Aunt A was a childhood difficulty, but probably not the cause of this issue since the two little girls are okay with her. So perhaps some of her traits, shared by my parents, are the core of the problem. Both parents had very high expectations—and of course that is a good thing, overall, but I might have gotten the impression at an early age that I would not be able to achieve what they expected. The self I was in the process of creating (in the dream the images I painted) was not what was liked. What was liked were the images I had bought (the imposed persona).

I wander through this labyrinth of created and imposed selves, the various “pieces” of myself, thinking I'm in an attractive place until an abrupt altercation changes the mood. One “self” pushes another into a pit. One of the selves has been pushed aside. I wonder which one?