A mythological journey

 

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A while back my wife and I had been traveling along the coast of and in the waters of the Adriatic, Ionian, and Aegean Seas, the places where Homer penned his stories of the ultimate heroes of the Archaic to Classical eras of ancient Greece and Rome.

While traveling along the Dalmatian Coast one cannot help but to step into the ancient worlds full of myth and fantasy. Myth is the secret opening to the psyche through which the universe pours its wonder and wisdom. Myths are the productions of the psyche.

This psyche of which I speak represents the totality of the human mind, both the conscious and the vast unconscious. In classical mythology it is the personification of the soul, or inner animating spirit and in science the psychological structure of a human being, the center of thought, motivation, and feeling. But in myth, Psyche was a beautiful girl loved by Cupid (Roman) or Eros (Greek) and made immortal by Jupiter (Roman), Zeus (Greek), the King of the gods.

Though myths come wearing many costumes, they represent the one true being. It is said by some researchers e.g. Joseph Campbell, that all of humankinds “religions, philosophies, arts…prime discoveries in science and technology, the very dreams that blister sleep” come from the “magic ring of myth” *.

Myths today are mostly thought to be quaint little fables that the ancients made up to explain their world and that disappeared once science took over. But in science the essence of humankind has been reduced to chemical and mechanical interactions and social conditioning and meaning is only in what can be observed and reproduced scientifically– life is only about procreation and survival whereas the ancients envisioned a much greater significance for humankind whose essence was of the universe and where meaning was to be found in every thing and act.

In today’s modern world there is an almost desperate search for meaning, i.e. something that says we are more than just our parts, our bodies, status, or our fashion statements.

We long to be the hero in our own myth, to slay dragons, earn acknowledgment and win the Golden Fleece, find the Holy Grail, be wooed by the White Knight or win the hand of the most beautiful princess of the land or be dubbed an immortal** by the god of gods.

To the ancients the myths that sustained them were a reality i.e. the gods lived amongst them and everyone accepted this. Today all we have is our unrecognized inner myth or pantheon of dreams.

 

“It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those that tend to tie it back. In fact, it may very well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows the decline among us of such effective spiritual aid.”

 –Joseph Campbell

 

Campbell goes on to say, “dream is personalized myth, myth is depersonalized dream; both myth and dream are symbolic in the same general way of the dynamics of the psyche. But in the dream the forms are quirked by the peculiar troubles of the dreamer, whereas in myth the problem and solutions shown are directly valid for all mankind.”

We can learn about ourselves through an understanding of not only the ancient myths but those that we have created for ourselves both in our waking and sleeping dreams– we are already the hero of our own myth and much of the story is shared by others– we don’t have to take this journey alone.

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*Campbell, Joseph, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Meridian Books, 1956

**everlasting life; the hereafter; eternal life

A “Hidden Music” dream

 

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

 This is a quote oft attributable to Frederick Nietzsche that I ran across while searching for aphorisms. It stuck with me all week mainly because it seemed to be speaking directly to me.

Two other quotes that seemed to apply came to mind as well, though I don’t recall from where I first saw them and Google didn’t help at all. My apologies to those who first spoke them.

 

“People who don’t understand things tend to reject them.”

 And

 “Let your heart lead and your mind follow”.

(I can imagine the corollary to that might be “let your mind lead and heart will get lost in the dust”.)

 

Not all that long ago I had a dream that seemed to reinforce this notion of some inner voice, or song that few others can hear. The dream seemed to be an extension of the dream I had even earlier that I had labeled The Blue Fresco. This dream could also be interpreted as what I’m now calling a “Hidden Music” dream.

It’s only when I’m quiet, when I’ve stilled the incessant chatter of my ego-voice that I can hear the music. When ruled by pride, fear, desire, worry, anger, distrust, greed, or when I imagine myself better than others I cannot hear the music. When I judge others or myself, I cannot hear the music. When I surround myself with distractions (TV, Facebook, Twitter, video games) I cannot hear the music.

It is only when I seek the sound of silence that I can hear the music of the spirit. It is from this deep venue that my soul waits to be expressed by as Rumi said, “It’s most beautiful face”. To dwell in this place is to dance to the music that few will ever hear, not that they cannot but that they will not and herein lies the cause of our deafness, the “Will” of will not, the be-all and know-all of the human consciousness that hides the beauty of what we all are beneath its suffocating self-centeredness.

It is this self-centeredness of the will that has us search the world for some treasure when the treasure is in us all the time. It’s what Lao Tzu called the Tao, “the origin of all things” the heart of all our being, the essence of what we are. It’s what lies between each of our words and the thoughts that create them. It’s what is beyond our personal and collective motives.

When we become self-centered the music cannot be heard. As Lao Tzu said “the quest for outer acquisition closes the door on the Tao” and it is the needy self-centered ego-self that is always projecting outside itself its unreality because it knows that it is hollow and empty within. No matter how hard it tries, no matter how many self-help programs it takes it cannot fill the void of itself for here there is no music within the void. It is not in the personally created ego that we can find the music of our true self.

As with that dream of several years back (The Blue Fresco) one needs to leave the empty world behind it and follow the intuition of the child into the mountains beyond where the music lies. Therein lies the connection with the spirit, the real self.

A world out of balance

 

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The archetypal union of the masculine and feminine aspects of all humans.

In earlier blogs I have discussed the role of the archetypical symbols inherent in dreams. Carl Jung believed that an inherent dichotomy or dualist quality exists with human beings, if not all reality and that to lean too much one way or the other, that is to allow one aspect to dominate its opposite aspect, will create a destructive imbalance.

In short, Jung believed that what was needed in the world was balance between these dualist opposites. Because the world is dualistic, meaning for every A there’s a B, Masculine/feminine, up/down, conscious/unconscious, spirit/body, soul/ego, light/dark, or intuition/knowledge, or liberal/conservative. Existence of one suggests the existence of its opposite i.e. they generate each other and cannot exist alone.

One of Jung’s favorite oppositions was the masculine/feminine (most likely one of yours as well). He used two mythical figures to describe these traits, Eros for the feminine and Logos for the masculine. Eros represents the intuitive, feeling (including mood), relationship, caring and playfulness. Logos represents logic, progress, reason, knowledge, and order. The world has for sometime been overwhelmed by a masculine dominated ego that has looked upon the emotional feminine as representing chaos and therefore the need for controlling it.

However, within each man is a feminine aspect that allows him to express the characteristics of caring, inclusiveness, thoughtfulness, emotional attachment and intuition. The more “masculine” (controlled by his masculine traits) a man becomes, and the more he represses his Eros qualities, the more likely that he will become unbalanced and fall prey to a lack of objectivity, literally losing touch with the “reality” he holds so dear. Hurt easily turns to anger and resentment because he can no longer see the reality. Contentment and security weakens and the overly masculine male begins to control his external world in ever increasingly violent ways. He is also cut off from meaning and is then forced to look for it in very bizarre ways e.g. through over-control, domination, drinking, lying, drugs, fighting, hyper-sexuality, and/or indulging in risky behaviors.

Women who are cut off from their masculinity frequently connect with men who show enough masculinity to compensate for their loss and will put up with a lot of abuse so as to not lose this compensating link with what they lack. This lack also may reinforce a woman’s greater attachment to family and home and suppress the urge to go outside the home to get her needs met, thus imprisoning her.

On the collective (national, worldwide) level*, this imbalance seems to create an environment where men are dominant and women submissive. But both are unsatisfied in the arrangement. When unsatisfied (unbalanced), the male usually ups the masculine gradient for he knows little else and because, for him, the inner world either doesn’t exist, or is to be feared, so he tries to master his lack of satisfaction by controlling the outer world, through force and manipulation. The female does the same often through passive force and manipulation.

So we’re all running around in a world searching for satisfaction, i.e. happiness, in all the wrong places and desperately trying to gain it through manipulation of the world around us. This is what happens when you leave everything up to the ego by detaching yourself from the spirit/soul. This is what happens when you cut yourself off from your opposite aspects. This is what happens when you treat half of yourself unequally.

 

You can’t find happiness through domination and control, or their

         opposites: avoid-domination and avoid-control!

 

Happiness has the greatest success of being found through a personality that has discovered its opposite and has learned to integrate it into a whole and then project this wholeness into its relationships with others.

My book The Archipelago of Dreams: The Island of the Dream Healer is a story about the imbalance in mankind and how one man finds an entry into the mysterious world of the Dream. Forced to let go of his Being he enters the Otherworld of the Spirit where at the potential cost of his life he will be challenged to right the imbalance and set a new course for mankind.

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*I’ve also explored this social imbalance in a May 2017 blog entry Causes-of-world-unrest-thinking-that-only-your-point-of-view-is-the-right-one

Two poems felt while listening to a flute meditation

 

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Dream Journey

Sailing into the night beneath the big dipper’s spout

a dragon and a dove fly within each other’s wake

and I tack north till dawn comes starboard.

The Coming

Silver streaks across white cotton skies.

A hill’s edge turns black silhouette and the shadows become arbored spires reaching out to the rising light.

A cock crows, a crow calls to hidden brothers and then the quiet.

Not a leaf twitches.

All are holding their breath awaiting the coming of the light.

It will come, it always does, a holy thing giving of itself freely.

Not a thing out there but a glowing deep within every cell of our being.

With us at birth and at the closing of our days.

Neverland, the border land between sleep and wakefulness

 

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“Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” was Peter Pan’s answer to Wendy when asked where Neverland was located. It was also Captain Kirks answer to helmsman Checkov when asked “Where to Captain?” in Star Trek VI. In both cases it referred to a mystical place between realities, an ‘unknown country’.

Neverland is also my name for that borderland called the daydream where we are neither in sleep or in wakefulness but certainly lost to both worlds. It is a place at the margins of reality a place that some call fantasy.

Now, a certain amount of fantasy is healthy to a balanced psyche. It can be healing to ones sense of self and help one to recuperate from the traumas of the everyday. This fantasy world often serves the artist, poet, writer, musician, lyricist, inventor, and scientist or just about everyone else. It is where the energy of creativity is born. I suggest that it is the semi-lucid place where the conscious meets the unconscious to where the soul speaks to us most clearly and where its power is felt most keenly.

But the traveler who hikes to realities edge must be careful where he or she steps and to visit too long or too often can lead to entrapment and skew the balance of the psyche i.e. it can separate one permanently from the upper kingdom and thus alienate them forever from friends and family. This was the very real threat that Robert experienced in the Archipelago of Dreams.  It is in our daydreams that all sorts of realities can be explored. In this place the soul is freed from the restrictions of the body and its limits with time, place and idea. Here there is a clarity of mind that can begin to form and inform. No longer restricted by time the future can come into focus. Traveling into the past often affects what’s happening in the present. One typically forgets what they are doing when they travel deeper into Neverland.

In the upper realms when one is tasking the mind narrows its engagement to deal only with the analytic task at hand and compassion suffers terribly. But in the Neverland of the daydream both the analytic and empathetic modes function and cycle through different modes and leading perhaps to a broader understanding. In the daydreaming mind various associations not seen when awake can bring forth understandings that the awake mind has grappled with without success. This also happens during dreaming but it tends to be more random.

Basically we are a daydreaming species. A recent Harvard study suggested that we humans tend to daydream up to 47% of the time we’re awake. But this is not useless idle time because studies have shown that unusual associations and pairings, counterfactuals if you ill, take place during a visit to Neverland. From our unrestricted depths well up all kinds of strange new thoughts that often turn out to be quite useful where new possibilities surfaced beyond what people are already exposed to in their waking lives (according to Baird and Schooler, Psychological Science, 2012). It is suggest here that more creative solutions result when the mind is allowed to wander into Neverland i.e. in general the better one is at wandering through the borderlands of consciousness, the more creative they tend to be.

In closing I share this excerpt from Edgar Allen Poe’s Marginalia (Part V,” Graham’s Magazine, March 1846):

“There is, however, a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy, which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language. I use the word fancies at random, and merely because I must use some word; but the idea commonly attached to the term is not even remotely applicable to the shadows of shadows in question. They seem to me rather psychal than intellectual.

 They arise in the soul (alas, how rarely!) only at its epochs of most intense tranquility–when the bodily and mental health are in perfection– and at those mere points of time where the confines of the waking world blend with those of the world of dreams. I am aware of these “fancies” only when I am upon the very brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so. I have satisfied myself that this condition exists but for an inappreciable point of time–yet it is crowded with these ‘shadows of shadows’, and for absolute thought there is demanded time’s endurance.”

 

 

 

Gaia’s dream

 

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Starry Night Alex Ruiz

Not so long ago I wandered out to the front of the house one morning and looked up at the five am sky and saw the most beautiful site of the old crescent moon smiling down upon me. Standing awestruck for what seemed a very long time and moved nearly to tears I knew that I had to capture the vision in some meaningful way, so I ran back into the house and gathered my pen and journal and began to write…

 

Diamonds and glitter scattered across a Cheshire Cat moon in a sky not yet blue, but no longer black.

 Cold and a shiver I pull up my jacket, a night I remember so many lives back.

 As I lowered my gaze from the heavens to the world’s edgy line where dark silhouettes dawn,

 A glow of first light urged the Nightpainter to lay down her brush toward another day drawn.

 The Daypainter’s brush traced across mountain and valley and river and dale, warming all touched by this wondrous light.

 Revealing a pallet of a great artist’s canvas making the night’s mare but a half recalled fright.

 And out on the meadow full buttercupped and daisied, were beeflittered poppies all pretty and fine

 Life shivered and shook and began to dance crazy and then greeted me for the 10 billionth time.

 

Dreamwork

 

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Author’s dream journal

Some time ago I met a couple of really serious Dreamers. One had collected nearly 17,000 dreams over the years, while the other sported maybe half that. My measly 3 to 3.5 thousand paled in comparison. What of course was interesting to me was how both have used their dreams to monitor not only their life and what was going on in it but also the progress, or lack thereof, they were making in their personal development. The way one of them described the process it was a little like having their own personal therapeutic secretary traveling around with them. Which would be even better from my perspective if the secretary were to write down the dreams as well–I hate doing that!

 

I’ve never been that focused in my own dream work in that I would often pick and choose which dreams I was going to spend the time interpreting, or even bothering to write down. I also, for the most part, treated most of my dreams as separate entities and only occasionally looked for themes over time, or themes relevant to some identified personal work.

Up to that moment I guess I had been more a dabbler in the personal therapeutic world of dreams what with spending more time assuaging my curiosity about my dreams and the part of myself that they pointed to and having long since decided that the persona I’d at one time was convinced I was, was not as interesting as what seemed to be hidden beneath it.

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Example of a page from journal

Not that my persona was perfect and didn’t need work, mind you. Besides asking anyone who has ever met me for more than ten minutes, I’m pretty sure I could provide a list of personality material that could be worked on that would definitely make me more effective and if you asked my wife, easier to live with. And I have worked on some of it with varying degrees of success. But as my wife has said on occasion, she needs to ground me for I have a tendency to get lost in other realms of reality that more often than not interest me more than the reality I find myself in.

Though I struggle with being brought, sometimes kicking and flailing, into dealing with the world I’m in, things and people in my life that assist in this process, sometimes unwillingly, unconsciously, or unknowingly are held very dear. This is also the promise of following my dreams.

Dreams as portals to the divine

 

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I’ve said this for quite some time that we are made up of divine stuff, though I’ll admit that I rarely experience the energy of this “source-being” save with one fairly consistent exception in my dreams.

In my dreams I often find myself square in the middle of my soul-self.

It has been my attention to my dreams that has partially awakened me from the sleep of my so-called waking world. Yes, we are asleep as we walk through our waking dream. The images of our every day are just as illusory as those of our sleeping dream though mostly we aren’t as yet lucid enough to notice.

Dreams are normal occurrences, we all have them whether we recall them or not, and if remembered and worked with appropriately they can provide an expanded way of perceiving. They are quite literally a way for the soul to speak to us and given how much of our life is spent giving the loud voice of our ego-self the podium of our existence it is one of a very limited number of portals into the divine.1

It’s one of the best ways of connecting us with our true self.

It’s only our ego-self, the self that we imagine us to be e.g. the self seen in the mirror either the one we stand before or that we see in the mirror of our mind, that thinks it can fulfill itself, its hopes, dreams, and desires. It’s the part of our nature that desperately wants to make a difference but no matter how much money is gained, or fame that is acquired, or number of degrees, awards, and recognitions bestowed upon us we never fully experience making a real difference not for any sustainable period of time at least .

Why is that? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because “making a difference” is an illusion created by the illusion of the ego-self; an illusion of an illusion if you will. While “asleep” all images are but illusions. While asleep in our every day we are out of touch with our soul, isn’t that so? Just look and see. Are you really in touch with your essence or just in touch with your mind’s image– your idea– of it? I’ll bet that if you are in touch with anything it is just your familial, societal or cultural images and hardly the authentic soul of yourself.

But when you are really in touch with your authentic self you become a magnet to your deepest desires and regardless of the outcomes of life, or how it looks to others, there is a profound, effortless, and deep quiet that you are in touch with and you are able to hear your intuitive voice and start to fulfill your innate potential.

“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

George Bernard Shaw 

 

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1The other portals include art (in all its forms), meditation, and deep prayer and though controversial– psychedelics; actually entering these portals are facilitated by anything that suspends the chatter of the mind e.g. I have had this happen during a strenuous long distance run, as a consequence of extreme fatigue, and as a result of extended fasting.

The Spirit: The hub of the Four Elements wheel

 

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Deep within all of us is a universal thought-form that influences virtually everything we do, believe or think we know. This form, feeling, or image is expressed in a myriad of ways at our most unconscious level. These universal forms are called “archetypes” and reside in an ethereal realm called the Collective Unconscious. They are most often accessed through our dreams or other trance states such as meditation. But the images are expressed in more than just our dreams, we can see them in our myths, our fairy tales, and fictional stories and they shape the relationships that matter in our lives.

From this universal center of the human psyche comes an image of the Spirit, it is the opposite of matter and may visit the dreamer as a wise old man or woman who can guide us through the spiritual world and /or through problem issues in the waking world. Collectively these are known as Spirit Guides. In the world of the Shaman these may come as a “Spirit Spouse” who assists in the shamanic work through dreams, ritual, and/or trance.

The ancient Egyptian Magus Hermes Trismegistus believed all beings possess the potential to access the infinite wisdom of the Spirit that the individual has the ability to know the whole by becoming like the whole. One does this by aligning themselves with the divine source of their being.

The Spirit can come to us in the form of a loved one who has died, a ghost or with the impression of the infinite that is called a “numinous” feeling, with the sense of something divine, something entirely different from all that we experience in our usual waking life.

At its very root the Spirit is our connection with nature, what Carl Jung the Swiss Psychiatrist and dream analyst called, “The nourishing soil of the soul”. I believe that our dissociation with nature has left us disconnected from our experience of Spirit i.e. of the divine. Nature is part of the soul of our existence and to pollute it and destroy it to make way for more hamburgers (destruction of the rain forests so as to grow more beef), oil drilling platforms and pipelines, cars, parking lots and shopping malls is to destroy or sicken part of our own soul.

As Jung once said, “Nature is not matter only, she is also Spirit”. I think that when we make our wallets more important, when we make our material objects more important, when we make ourselves more important we rob the Earth of its Spirit and from ourselves as well.

Spirit images in our dreams also remind us of death, endings, transformation, and letting go, what needs to happen in order to grow beyond our own self-imposed limits and what is absolutely necessary to evolve sustainably.

The Spirit or soul of the Earth and of humankind is the hub of the wheel of the Four Elements that I’ve been writing about this month. It is the center from which all else radiates.

 

“And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheeled universe,

And any man or woman shall stand cool and supercilious before a million universes”

Walt Whitman, leaves of grass

 

To me this suggests that there’s no object so insignificant that it can’t have the whole universe revolving around it. It is our very divinity that we are giving up when we focus exclusively on the material to the detriment of Spirit.

 

“Air moves us, fire transforms us, water shapes us, earth heals us
. And the balance of the wheel goes round and round
. And the balance of the wheel goes round.”

–

By Cathleen Sheil, Moonsea and Prune of Reclaiming

 

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WATER: THE FOURTH IN THE FOUR ELEMENTS DREAM SYMBOLS

 

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Water in dreams is an incredibly important symbolic
   look into the
        very depths of our being. Found on Deviant Art

“Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

 

The very deep did rot – Oh Christ!

That ever this should be.

Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs,

Upon the slimy sea.”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner–Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

 

Most of the Earth’s water (96.5%) can be found in its oceans and seas. Our lakes, icecaps, glaciers, groundwater and rivers only make up 3.44% of the total. Seventy percent of the Earth’ surface is covered by water. That’s roughly 326 million trillion gallons of the stuff in all its forms i.e. liquid, solid and gaseous with only 2 percent of that being drinkable. Our bodies are mostly water as well (65%).

Water in dreams comes to visit us through floods, rising tides, relentless rain, storms and stormy seas, tidal waves and tsunamis, rivers, lakes, oceans, puddles and pools.

We sink into it, are drowned or are drowning or crawl upon barren lands where not a drop can be found. It comes to us as a becalmed sea, a busy port, or as a trickle formed into a raging river.

Being at the beach can be about standing between two ways of being, or two worlds. It is also a metaphor for intuition and the opening to ones emotions. Longing to get to the other side of a great body of water can be about our barriers, limits, ambitions and goals while tides can be about the ups and downs, ins and outs of our life.

Water gives us both life and death as in the biblical story of Moses parting the Red Sea so as to save the Hebrew slaves while drowning the Pharos army. It both refreshes and renews but can just as easily overwhelm and drown.

As with the Ancient Mariner one can find themselves far out to sea with water all around but none to drink and feeling parched and unnourished.

It comes to us as a message of emotional overwhelm or a release of tension and sadness. It cleanses us of our past and that which has made us dirty. It washes away guilt or drowns us in it. We can find ourselves in hot water where difficult situations reign and in too deep and over our head.

We wade through it, muddy it, watch it course by under the bridge and we always seem to be struggling to keep our head above it and though trying to navigate as best we can we try to not be swept away by it.

Water in dreams is our primary metaphor for our moods, emotions and the flow of our feeling energies. How we deal with the water gives insight to how we are dealing with our emotional selves. We can find ourselves hanging on to the edge of a rushing river resisting its onward rush to some unknown future or letting go and going with the flow. We can also find ourselves moving along the surface as though we were a leaf being taken wherever the river thinks important without any volition or participation on our part.

Dreaming of floods, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes and great storms? You may be overwhelmed with emotional situations, fears and anxieties whereas calm seas and placid pools would symbolize the opposite.

In deep oceans, lakes, or seas it speaks from our deeper selves, the source of our being. We can be seen swimming down into its depths and bringing up things from below as a metaphor for active developing consciousness of something kept hidden in the depths, something unconscious and coming into the light.

How we swim can reflect how we are meeting our needs. Water often is a symbol for the state of our being– emotional, psychological, spiritual, sexual, relational.

Often there are monsters from the deep that can be found here and speak to the shadowy denizens of our own unconscious mind i.e. our unmet needs or unrecognized aspects, but so too fish swim from below and bring wisdom to a troubled mind.

Water has been used metaphorically as a means of cleansing the soul so that the spirit of God may enter or as a symbol of death and resurrection aka a rebirth into something new, of washing away one state of being to make room for another.

Well that’s it! Or is it? No, there is a hidden fifth element that binds them all together. It’s the most mysterious of them all and not really an element at all. I’ll share this final aspect of our dream selves in the next Blog.