Listen to the Sophia her wisdom will save you

 

 

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Sophia–The divine feminine or the female aspect of God. If God is a wholeness then he is not just masculine in nature. If we wish to be whole ourselves then we also need to embrace our opposites.

I’ve been visited by the image of the Sophia again. What do I mean by that? There is an aspect of compassion and caring and nurturing in all of us male or female that reflects a deeper wisdom than is expressed by the every day ego-self of fear, greed, anger, aggression, self-interest, and hatred. This wisdom comes from that part of our psychology that some call the Sophia, the feminine aspect in us all. Sophia is the feminine counterpart to a patriarchal God. It’s the expression of love not only for ourselves and a limited number of people around us but for our neighbors near and far here or in another part of the world.

Sophia is that part of us that urges unification and wholeness and is the mother of and to us all. She has shown up in my life in the form of my mother and grandmothers, my wife, daughters and granddaughters. She has shown up in my dreams to help lead me toward a new way of being and is showing up everywhere in the #MeToo movement and in politics as politicians and political operatives.

What they all have in common is the desire to stand up to the bullying of the overly aggressive masculine aspect that all too often thinks only in the binary language of win or lose, dominate or be dominated, control or be controlled, and deal-closers and patsies. The Sophia aspects also encourage the desire for inclusiveness and the integration of all voices and ideas. In a rabidly divided world the power of the Sophia is sorely needed for without her we will surely fall into another abyss of our own making. The abyss of which I speak is the dark night of our soul a soul that cannot be salvaged or enlivened through the building of walls or by demeaning others. These are the actions of fearful people consumed by their small and frightened minds. Actions within a context of fear cannot build new ideas or new ways of being because fear separates and doesn’t unite it isolates us from others and also from our deeper more meaningful selves.

Fear causes us to crawl back into our box and causes all our creative energy to be used toward self-protection. But the energy used to build the walls of our box to keep that which we fear at bay eventually becomes less than the creative energy to grow and be free of the box’s limits and that’s when the Sophia comes into our lives to show us the way to a greater and more balanced way of being.

Listen to all her forms because they are urging us into a new world a new world in how we think of ourselves and how we can be with each other. It’s a world that transcends the traditional world of us/them or we/they and is so much more powerful and richer than the world we’ve created thus far.

To hold tight to the traditional world is death let it go and live what we were intended to live.

Dreams are emotional in nature

 

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The Artist’s Dream by John Fitzgerald (1857) 

Okay, time to get a little ‘academic’ here, yes I know that I’m about to lose half my audience with that word, but read on for I’m about to talk about the ‘emotional’ side of dreams and dream recall.

According to Rosenberg (1998) emotions can be thought of on both state and trait levels that is on the ‘state’ level emotions are temporary and frequently related to what’s happening in and around a moment or period of time whereas at the trait level we’re talking about individual differences such as with mood tendencies i.e. how one generally reacts to emotional stimuli.

Our dreams are generally emotional in nature and interact with emotional oscillations in our waking state and both state and trait emotions affect our dream content and narratives. This is why I encourage those who send their dreams to me for analysis to include the emotional content of the dream as well as what is happening in their waking world circumstances.

Interestingly those people who’s typical response to emotional material is to repress it or deny its existence or that it has any effect on them are those that have trouble recalling their dreams. This may be due to the fact that the personality tendency to repress during wakefulness shows up in their ability to recall e.g. some part of the overall psyche of the individual inhibits the recall because of its emotional content (Kai & Yu, 2013). These so-called repressors also tend to disavow negative social experiences and negative emotions in general.

Research done by Wegner, Wenzlaff, and Kozak (2004) also suggested that thoughts suppressed prior to sleeping and dreaming would tend to show up in one’s dreams. This idea that suppressed material relegated to the unconscious would revisited us in our dreams has been a theme in many of my writings on the subject over the years. Kohler and Prinzleves (2007) also suggested that “dream memories that elicit more unpleasant feelings and stronger skin conductance responses (as one might find in a lie detector test) are more likely to be forgotten.” This might explain why some can’t recall their dreams especially when they have a high emotional content.”

Though emotional repression tends to protect from immediate emotional disturbance, research shows that those with a repressive or denial coping style tend to have higher anxiety traits than those who don’t i.e. than those who tend to deal more directly with their emotions (Weinberger et al, 1979).

My experience in the interpretation of people’s dreams has shown across the thousands of dreams that I have worked with that females tend to share more of the emotional content of a dream as well as their waking life emotional content that may affect their dreams. This gender difference has been generally supported by studies that show that women tend to share dreams more often than men (see Schredl & Shwainski, 2010 overview) and have a higher dream recall than men. Women tend to recall and share nightmare material more than men as well. This of course would be consistent with the general tendency of people exhibiting the feminine orientation toward the social-emotional versus the masculine attribute of being action oriented. These gender differences might also explain why most of the dream groups I’ve been associated with as a participant or tangentially as an observer or researcher have been overwhelmingly female.

Dream recall can also be affected by one’s attitude to dreams i.e. the willingness to express one’s dreams affects recall (Schredl et al, 2013).

None of this of course suggests a direct relationship to why people in general tend not recall their dreams. I think that most of us could increase our dream recall with greater focus, attention, and interest in the usefulness of our dreams to problem solving, self-understanding, and self-development. But that’s a subject for a later day.

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Kai, C., Yu, Ching, (2013). Superego and the repression of affective and dream experiences. Dreaming, 23, 4, 266-276.

Kohler, T. & Prinzleve, M. (2007) “Is forgetting dreams due to repression?” Swiss Journal of Psychology, 66, 33-40.

Rosenberg, E.L. (1998). Levels of analysis and the organization of affect. Review of General Psychology, 2, 247-270.

Schredl, M. , Kim, E., Labudek, S and Schadler, A. (2013). Gender, Sex role orientation, and dreaming, Dreaming, 23, 4, 277-286.

Schredl, M. & Schwainski, J.A. (2010) Frequency of dream sharing: The effects of gender and personality. The American Journal of Psychology, 123, 93-101.

Wegner, D.M., Wenzlaff, R.M. and Kozak, M. (2004) Dream rebound: The return of repressed thoughts in dreams. Psychological Science, 15, 232-236.

Winberger, D.A. ,Schwartz, G.E. & Davidson, R.J. (1979). Low anxious, high anxious, and repressive coping styles: Psychometric patterns and behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 369-380.

 

Significance and magic of Sigils

 

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A dream dictionary is basically a book of symbols to aide a dreamer in interpreting a dream. I say “aide” because symbolic meaning is fundamentally unique to the dreamer i.e. the dreamer projects subjective meaning onto the dream images.

A dictionary can help with meaning, but it is not the ultimate meaning because as with any dictionary the author of the material attaches various emotions, memories, and cultural significance to a word in such a way that every word takes on several layers of meaning beyond that which is included in the dictionary. So the symbols in a dictionary can help, but they can’t ultimately define for the individual exact meaning.

Not too long ago I came across a number of dreams that included symbolic drawings that defied definitive meaning, so I decided to experiment with these “dream sigils” to see what they could reveal.

What’s a sigil? Essentially, they are symbols of ones “intentions” and in the process of creating a sigil the “will” of the person creating it is infused into the drawing thus reinforcing the intention. It is a “thought form” designed to giving “being” to an idea.

Before going any further, intentionality should be distinguished from intention because in intentionality the thought creates a reality within itself–a representation of something that has objective existence vs. intention that is the purpose or anticipated outcome of some action.

A sigil can be both in that it can represent an objective reality while it also can be used for some specific outcome.

In the mystic tradition of the Tibetan Buddhists it was thought that one could bring an object or being into reality through sheer will i.e. a materialized thought (the Tulpa). These thoughts could summon into existence a demon, or object of desire if delivered into reality in the appropriate manner.

For modern use the sigil may be similar in purpose to a mandala that may focus the mind, or in the development of a trance state. Some Buddhists suggest that certain deities live within a mandala and can be communicated with when focused upon.

This idea is not altogether unlike the reanimation technique used with dream material as a means of broadening the work and meaning of a specific dream. The dream itself becomes the mandala whose meandering designs pull the dreamers consciousness into its center. Carl Jung labeled the technique Active Imagining where the images of the dream can be brought back to life and interacted with within the context of the therapy session.

As with all things brought to consciousness their reality is pretty much a function of the material projected upon them by the observer. Thus in the creation of a sigil one can observe the associations that present themselves during the process.

 

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Spirit Sigil

For example, note the sigil on the left that I created for the word “Spirit”. In this representation I removed the vowels and left the remaining unduplicated consonants “SPRT”. The drawing took no time at all to produce, seeming to flow from the pen without much thinking on the part of the brain. I felt excitement laced with a happy feeling and a sense of success while producing it. The result exhibited a bold strength combined with a sense of purpose and confidence. For me, when I’m in touch with the Spirit, everything just flows.

Energized by this success I tried another and chose the word “Dreams” (what else?). Eliminating the “e” and the “a” and combining the DRMS I started to draw, but after several iterations I became frustrated, yet determined and wondering why there was such a difference. Then I realized that for the last two nights my dreams had been confusing and frustrating with me failing to get ahold of enough material to extract any meaning. This sigil also reflected the chaos and vulnerability experienced in my former nights dreams.

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Dreams Sigil

The very act of creation was a projection of myself in relation to the symbols! In both cases my attention was brought to focus on my real world experiences with the concepts being represented. It had been my intention to use this process to gain insight to the meaning these words implied and indeed they did just that–the subjective intention was realized in the objective creation. Hooha!

Though my sigil may not have charmed something or brought a demon into existence it did objectify an inner demon (my tendency to easily frustrate) and enable me to broaden the experience of the former night’s dreams. And again, by bringing the demon shadow into the light of consciousness I was able to deal with it and thus banish it. Now that’s magic!

A modern day Narcissus

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Caravaggio– painted circa 1597–1599
In this painting he is gazing at his own distorted image in the water, a metaphor for what a true narcissist is doing with his own self-image.

While working on the Book of Dreams I came to an image where a dreamer once shared a dream about a bully in a schoolyard. This got me to thinking about bullies and narcissists. Both seem to think only of themselves and when they look as though they are thinking of others they are only play acting for, you guessed it, themselves.

A true narcissist is someone who gets gratification through vanity and ego admiration. In the DSM V it is considered a personality disorder. It was originally designated as megalomania.

If ones focus is predominately a self-focus with a strong lack of empathy, psychological awareness, a haughty, or arrogant, body language and hypersensitivity to insults real or imagined this might be designated as narcissistic.

People with this type of personality tend to exaggerate their achievements and importance and detest and demean those who do not admire them. They also seem to exhibit a kind of magical thinking that isn’t connected to any rational understanding of reality.

The bully part of their behavior comes from a lack of or incomplete boundaries with a sense of entitlement and willingness to exploit others regardless of their feelings or interests. They will say anything if they think that it will secure the admiration of others. Often when not recognized for being better than others they will fly into an abusive rage i.e. tantrum. Many are exhibitionistic.

We all have a little of this in us especially if we are feeling down on ourselves and many politicians seem to have a little more of this than the rest of us. But the self-interest of narcissism can also be healthy in a balanced individual. However, there are those who express this kind of behavior on a regular and often grandiose scale.

Normally people with this kind of personality are only a danger to themselves and maybe to those closest to them but once in a while they get themselves into a position of power that can negatively affect vast numbers of people. These people are all too often raised to the level of leadership and can cause much damage and havoc.

The true narcissist will do anything to achieve their distorted image of themselves. ANYTHING! Can you imagine desperately trying to have the world around and within you be the way it is not and can never be? How trapped, frightened, and out of control would you feel? What a nightmare! And if this were a dream we are all living in we would be caught up in this nightmare as well.

Though it wouldn’t be appropriate to make a formal diagnosis, you may have noticed that the current president of the United States presents many if not most of the diagnostic indicators of this kind of personality disorder. I shudder to think the damage such a personality will ultimately wreak upon not only the U.S. but also the world if they are not held in check. But isn’t that what the U.S. system does well and pride itself in i.e. it’s ability to keep its negative aspects checked and in balance? Let us pray that this is so.

Other famous narcissists include Saddam Hussein, Napoleon, Henry the VIII, Adolph Hitler, Heinrich Himmler of Gestapo fame, Rasputin, Joseph Stalin, Vlad the Impaler and so on. Not a very empowering or enlightened group.

The fact that such a personality has gained such traction in American politics is worrisome for it suggests that fear has become the all-consuming emotion of the electorate and where there is great fear there is little rationality. In fact, rational thinking is the first victim of a fear-based individual or society. There are those in this country who seem ready to throw away everything good for which they stood for the illusions and fantasies perpetrated by a psychologically dysfunctional individual.

Interestingly in the Greek Myth of Narcissus his followers would also do what was contrary to their best interests in order to support him or to curry his favor. And there are those who know better but who are giving up their right to vote or resist out of disgust, disappointment, and disillusionment and laying bare the field for this being’s success.

Some of the side effects of being around a true Narcissist who can cleverly distort the reality around them is a feeling of having been abused, brutalized, and asking if it is they who are crazy. Has the current political environment become so distorted that we have become a nation of fearful, self-indulgent and self-serving narcissists? We’ll see. But bringing back a balancing agent to our politics and our rhetoric is a first step in the national therapy our country needs for we have seen what happens to a society that is unable to heal itself and deal with its fears it becomes insular, delusional, domineering, dictatorial, and aggressive toward others and towards itself.

Look for the light of your inner candle and be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

 

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Look for that place between your naval and your solar plexus and you’ll find where the soul of the child resides. It is here that you’ll find the Self you have hidden from your ego self. It is here where the light still burns.

 

Look for the light of your inner candle and be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

I read somewhere that every human being contains within his or her self the whole universe that the All is in each person and the All is each. But there’s always a “but” attached to these aphorisms. In this case the but takes the form of “but” the awareness or experience of this reality cannot arise when our minds are chained to anything such as a belief, tradition, sacred text, the body or its senses and ego i.e. mind stuff and mind stuff closes off the receptive heart.

As long as there is a craving for separateness, a desire for the individual, we are stuck in the illusion and its companion ignorance. It is only in the most central part of the soul, the heart of the mandala that the wordless, imageless, ageless, and soundless expression of Self resides. It cannot be perceived or understood through any of the bodily senses or the mind that these body things feed into and yet every one of us knows it’s there.

We know it when we stop looking and we know it when we give up becoming and just be. All other reality is just relative because it is of the personal ego. The reality of which I speak is that of the eternal ground of our being and as said cannot be found through the body but only through its transcendence. As long as you and I pretend to be what we are not we cut ourselves off from the reality of what we are.

And yet… there are those who through no energy issued from themselves have been graced the experience of the divine and forever changed by it.

What they saw was that they were bigger than their images of themselves but they were never bigger than they were. There is no pretense of being ‘more’ when one has dissolved into the ground of their being for they are merely what they are and no one can be bigger than that.

But how do we be what we really are when we don’t know what that is?

And there’s the rub but first one might entertain the notion of giving themselves away that is to give up the image and idea of a separate self from the bigger Self that holds the secret of who and what we are. Giving up that self that thinks it knows what it’s doing and what it thinks it should be allows the bigger Self to be heard. To hold on to that little self is to place a barrier to seeing and hearing the bigger Self and acts as a chain that holds us bound to the earth and unable to fly.

The shaman Don Juan summed it up for Carlos Castaneda when he said, “To seek freedom is the only driving force I know. Freedom to fly off into that infinity out there. Freedom to dissolve; to lift off; to be like the flame of a candle, which, in spite of being up against the light of a billion stars, remains intact, because it never pretended to be more than what it is: a mere candle.”

Look for the light of your candle.

Be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

Of Two Minds

 

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“I’m of two minds” is a phrase often heard when someone has not made up their mind about something or believe that something is neither this or that but perhaps a melding of both. But this phrase also describes perfectly the relationship between dreams and waking life.

We know today that the brain functions in a unified way but that its two hemispheres have somewhat different inputs to that functioning. Various modern technologies have shown us that dreaming often takes place in the right hemisphere of the brain, though there are inputs from the left. During REM sleep the rational left hemisphere becomes less dominant and the more metaphorical right side of the brain comes to the forefront.

During wakefulness the left side is involved in language presentation and interpretation while the right brain is more involved in the emotional interpretation of sensory input and the right brain also has language input through the emotions evoked by words e.g. intonation (pitch, rhythm and tone)1.

The left side tends to be linear and concrete in its interpretation of sensory input while the right tends2 to be as I said earlier to be more metaphorical and thus uses images of everyday objects in a different way that often leads to a different perspective on things and provides new and perhaps heretofore unknown information.

Training the brain to interpret sensory information in only one way, such as what we do in our schools, can actually limit the brain’s overall functioning and thus its ultimate usefulness. The logical and often concrete thinking process of the left brain frequently ignores the personal meaning and importance of objects, words and experiences of the individual, the right brain information that often affects our decisions in our waking life, though unconsciously for we tend to be ignorant of their existence in a left-brain dominant world.

Attention to dreams and the openness to their contribution can be transformational to the individual and produce incredible results toward the success of everyday living.

As a diagnostician my work with children in a therapeutic setting literally took off when I started adding their dream material to the mix of standardized psychological testing in my tool-kit. My understanding of what was affecting the kids from their personal perspective of their world took on a whole new dimension that was quite useful in their therapeutic intervention.

Training kids at an early level to be conscious of all the available inputs to their experience and understanding of the world they live in ought to be part of any educational curriculum i.e. there is more internal wisdom in each of us than can be found in a dictionary or on-line encyclopedia or Google search. Standard educational approaches are needed and most useful but sorely limited when an entire resource uniquely individual is ignored.

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1This is not necessarily true for all languages in that some do not use pitch to distinguish words.

2I use “tend” because neither side of the brain is all of one way of functioning.

In a Dream: The Divine Feminine– The Sophia, Shekinah, Magdalene, Virgin Mary

 

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Shekinah.– Found on– http://shekinah.elysiumgates.com/

I had an interesting, nay mysterious, dream this week. At a church study group the other night was the final discussion of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene whom for me is someone who represents the feminine aspect of the Gospels of Jesus and a Gnostic balance to the masculine depiction of God. That night I had the following dream: I heard a chant repeated over and over until I awoke that went like this– “Mahdi Mahdi Mahdi padhi am (um)

At first I thought it to be Hindi because of my interest in Hindu chants and a recent class I presented on the power of chanting however, it turned out to be Arabic (I know nothing of Arabic). Roughly translated it means the “Mahdi (the Guided one or messianic successor to Mohammad), ‘read on’, and ‘the mother’.” So I looked up the Mahdi associated with women in general and mothers specifically. In the Quran it is said that a successor to Mohammad named the Mahdi will among other things restore women to their equal place among men. This is a particularly poignant message in this era of #MeToo and the evolving worldwide awareness of feminine power and the need for equality.

I reached out to a female friend and Depth Psychologist and shared the dream and she encouraged me to look where the inner feminine was attempting expression in myself.

It was then that I suspected the chant could also have been a form of “Om Mani Padme Hum” that refers to blessings for the embodiment of compassion in a Tibetan chant (a chant I have often used in my own meditations). So this dream could be speaking to my lack of compassion towards certain types of people who don’t meet my expectations for appropriate behavior (that was part of the discussion at the church study that centered around the ability to forgive and promote unconditional love as representing part of the Magdalene persona).

I knew it was significant because even in the dream I could see it was important though some of the repeating chant was I trying to commit it to memory as I awoke. It also had the quality of the numinous, not strongly but insistent.

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Sophia

The Sophia (a feminine wisdom image) has visited me often over the years as a spirit guide (a soul image) in the form of a woman looking very much like Mary Mother of Jesus (it was a therapist in Santa Barbara who pointed out that my journal drawing of her was the Sophia), as a Black Madonna, and also as a white she-wolf named Onoma. As a preteen (10 through 12) she showed up in visions that I now believe to have been hypnogogic in nature as Wonder Woman in her transparent airplane swooping down in the street before me as I lay out on our front lawn on lazy summer evenings and offering a ride though I’ll admit that this character could also have reflected nothing more than a prepubescent boy’s fantasy of a really “hot” female character.

However, all my feminine spirit guides seem to show up when I am most open to transition– when I’m ready to let go of something e.g. a way of being, thinking or behaving. They all seem to offer me a hand i.e. an invitation and a way of letting go and moving on. All of these feminine images appear archetypal of the Great Mother or the Divine Feminine.

Interestingly there’s always “music” as background in these dreams, in this case the chant was the music. The “music” for me seems to be the intuition of the child when everything is in harmony with everything else and what the Mother invites me to follow. That “intuition” has always seemed to say, “Walk away. This here is not for you. This is not why you’re here”.

My second level of interpretation of the chant I heard i.e. “Om Mani Padme Hum” speaks to compassion and it is here where I may be invited to grow and to express the feminine in myself. I can suffer with those I deem innocent or most like me but don’t readily see the suffering of those I deem evil or most unlike me (notwithstanding my own darker qualities reflected in them).

It may be the feminine quality of compassion I need to expand upon but how to do that through the ego me, the me that protects from the hurt and suffering? Compassion means to suffer with another and yet that is the very thing I fear i.e. that suffering that I so readily defend against.

Given my penchant for merciless self-criticism the dream could also be encouraging compassion for myself a compassion that sometimes I seem to be in short supply of.

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The Divine Marriage

So why does she keep showing up? Well, I suspect it’s because my psyche is still in the process of integrating her with the masculine so as to regain the wholeness of the spiritual birthright. She is the balance to every man’s psyche as is the masculine the balance to every woman’s. I wonder what that looks like, “wholeness” I mean.

Metaphor in the sky: Stars, planets, and the Moon can talk to us in our dreams

 

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I bought myself a new Moon Calendar for 2019. I stick this on the refrigerator both as a means of tracking the moon’s phases but also to add a little of the mysterious and anticipation to the every day.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Moon as it waxes and wanes across the sky. It shows up in my dreams and I’ve even marked special occasions and special people in my life with phases of the Moon. But the Moon has even more meaning than meets the eye.

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In the photo at left is Selene the Greek Moon goddess and guardian of the night. She was, according to legend, daughter of Hyperion–the lord of light– and sibling of Eos the goddess of the dawn. She’s also known as Luna, a Roman Titan.

A character in the Archipelago of Dreams, Eo is named after the Celtic goddess for rebirth. She is cast as a Phoenix bush– that which burns, but does not die, becoming reborn anew. In the book she plays a role as a healer of souls and guides Robert in the processes of healing. A star in the East also shows up in the Archipelago of Dreams and represents the deeper self of the book’s hero.

An eclipse of the Moon can suggest that ones feminine side is being overshadowed, or that some hidden aspect is about to be revealed. The moon eclipsing the Sun could very well be a union of the feminine and masculine aspects of ones self. The new light peeking from behind the Moon as the eclipse passes could be a new light, knowledge, or a new perspective.

The moon is often a symbol for the Priestess, or Goddess who may in a man’s dream be about second-sight, or insight, the intuitive, and a messenger guide (this was so for me in the dream, The Blue Fresco) from the unconscious mind.

The full Moon may represents wholeness while the crescent can represent transformation (Shiva in Hinduism is the god of transformation and is represented by the crescent), openness and resurrection (as with the middle eastern crescent of Islam). A waning Moon, can symbolize letting go, whereas the waxing Moon can be about growing insight and awareness.

Sometimes there can be a month when there is no full moon. This is known amongst Astrologists as a “Black Moon” month. For me if this were to present itself in a dream it might signify that something is missing in my life or that I’m not feeling whole and complete or that my inner light is somewhat diminished i.e. that I’m not reflecting the full light of God or the Spirit.

A red Moon can be about violence, disaster and strife, while a blue Moon can represent rarity. The moon also represents the receptive and wisdom. The Virgin Mary and Sophia were likened to The Moon of the Church, the reflector of the light of the Christ (often symbolized by the Sun).

The full Moon in the book The Archipelago of Dreams represented wholeness and completion and a goddess messenger for success. Viewing it helped the hero, Robert, to calm himself and get to sleep before battling the shadows of the Dark Lords.

angels-stars.jpgStars in ones dream can represent knowledge (universal and self) and the divine. Sometimes a star can be like an angel, a messenger from the divine spirit. In some Native American tribes the stars in the sky are the campfires of dead ancestors with their spirits forever looking down upon you. Here too the star played a prominent role in Robert’s transformation while in the Archipelago of Dreams.

 

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Photo by Greg Hogan

The morning star (Venus the goddess of persuasive feminine charm and for the Romans, the mother of them all) heralds the rise of the Sun (the Moon’s male counterpart). This was a good sign for a new beginning and for enlightenment. However, some early Christians saw the same symbol in opposition when they determined that this star represented the devil Lucifer that means “Morning Star” in Latin. Interestingly enough the archetypal image of the devil usually refers to a dark and unwanted side of our own nature that can only be dealt with in the direct light of day e.g. through conscious awareness.

 

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The five-pointed star called a pentacle shows up in many Christian churches as a symbol to ward off evil, though in opposition, or inverted, the star represents evil. The European Roma call it the Star of Knowledge. When an apple is cut in half across the core a pentacle becomes evident–no wonder the apple gets such a bad rap.

The six-pointed Star of David can signify the union of Heaven and Earth–body and spirit.

Shooting stars are often seen as a divine sign, or as a messenger from God, hence the ancient ritual of asking (praying) for some intervention as it shoots across the sky.

Generally, stars in ones dream can represent success i.e. fame and fortune, aspirations and high ideals.  Or you could be putting your fortunes into the hands of the stars e.g. luck. A star can also refer to the dreamer, the star of his or her own life.

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Planets in dreams may be about creativity, exploration and adventure. Each planet has its own particular meaning e.g. Jupiter may be about success and extravagance, while Venus may represent desire, beauty and feminine power, whereas Mars may be energy, drive, passion, and masculine power.

The Zodiac is a system of explaining the universe through the movements of the stars, around the ecliptic path of the Sun, Moon and planets. To see the zodiac in your dreams is to see a representation of the various traits and aspects that one uses to connect with their universe. For those who are familiar with the signs, a particular sign may point to a particular trait or aspect in the dreamer. The zodiac can also be a metaphor for the passage of time, or the mysteries of life as well as being a metaphor for destiny e.g. something over which you have little or no control.

Flowers have a special place in our dreams

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My last blog of the year is on flowers and their meaning in dreams.

 

 

OPHELIA:

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. There’s fennel for you, and columbines—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference—There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. “

–In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

On a walk with my wife early this summer I was admiring all the gardens along our route, not just the quality of the landscaping but the profusion of flowers as well. While bending down to take in the fragrance of a rose I recalled an earlier dream where a rose played a prominent part. This got me to thinking about flowers in general and the special place they have in all our lives and dreams.

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Poinsettia-not actually a flower because the red flower-like top are leaves called bracts.

We adorn our church sanctuaries with flowers, brides carry a bouquet of flowers as they walk down the aisle and the space is often covered in flowers. The poinsettia shows up at Christmas, the lily makes an entrance at the Christian celebration of Easter, and the Lotus is divine, symbolic of creation. Gods and goddesses sit upon the Lotus that symbolizes purity and raising them above the common, muddy existence of desire and attachment.

Flowers are at our funerals, our graves, our love affairs, our weddings, on national and regional flags, significant celebrations, and we even name our children after them is it any wonder that they also show up in our dreams?

Though today flowers tend to be just pretty emblems of occasion they once had great social and spiritual meaning.

Though Roses may mean a declaration of love today, Marigolds once held that position. Basil is pretty much an aromatic herb for many of us, but for many Indians it is the symbol for the god Vishnu and can be found in a place of honor in their family gardens. Forget-me-nots are the flower of Pisces from the Zodiac, the Yellow Wattle is symbolic of Australia, Tulips are symbolic of Sagittarius and heralds of Spring, and Daisies perfectly symbolize young innocence.

 

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All mandalas have concentric circles to represent layers of consciousness as it moves from outer to inner i.e. from the world to the soul.

Carl Jung, the 20th century Swiss psychiatrist and guru of dreams saw the rose as representing the Mandala, a symbol of the unconscious self. He thought that dreams with roses were very spiritual in nature and that they were the equivalent of the lotus signifying transformation.

Across the millennia people have assigned mythical and religious meaning to flowers. For example, Lilies might represent the Trinity or the Virgin Mary, Easter, rebirth, or royalty (as in the fleur di lis).

The morning-glory is appropriately named, because the flower blooms in the morning and dies by the afternoon. Georgia O’Keeffe brought the calla lily to prominence with her series of close-up paintings of single calla lily flowers. She wanted the viewer to look closely at the fundamental form of the flower without any preconceived notions. Many of her paintings are considered by some to be spiritual in nature, though some see many of them as sexual so I’m not sure how successful she was at having people see her paintings without preconceived notions. However, the concept of “seeing” something with no preconceived notions is often the Eastern way of seeing a thing’s true nature.

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Calla Lily by.- Georgia O’Keeffe 

 

Continue reading Flowers have a special place in our dreams

A waking dream experience of a very, very bad day: what happens when one lives in the narrow world of expectations.

 

a_chair_in_an_empty_room_by_ondrejzapletal-dbfnsa5.jpgI couldn’t get a break today. But I should have “expected” it because I was in a bad mood from the start of when my feet hit the floor from a fitful nights sleep of very odd and incoherent dreams. At every turn of events I felt thwarted, frustrated, impatient, and intolerant. What…in my dream or in my waking life? Precisely!

In the morning my wife and I thought we’d take a pleasant bike ride to breakfast. But we kept taking different routes that lead away from each other, and when we eventually met up her cautiousness on the busy streets caused her to frequently dismount from her bike and walk, which according to my expectation made us late (not that we had reservations mind you). To add to my frustration a cross walk light chose that morning to malfunction. After three cycles of malfunction it dawned on us that it wasn’t going to light, so we walked across, keeping a wary eye on the traffic.

My frustration built up like an ungoverned steam engine until it needed to find something, or in this case someone, to vent on. I mumbled, fumed, blamed in my head, and struggled mightily not to take it out on the nearest person at hand, poor Fran. I had made the reality of the ride an unhappy burden in my imagination. Once again my imaginary expectations made a mess in the reality. Breakfast, however, was quite pleasant and I started to relax a little.

Later in the day, a granddaughter came over and we went out to Starbucks at the mall for treats and grandpa/granddaughter time, but I couldn’t find a parking space, “ah there’s one!” I’d say and I’d step on the gas arriving just as someone else would pull in to the empty space. Damn! I said in my head again and again as around and around we went until my patience wore thin and the veiled expletives became less shrouded, “There’s one, oh fu…, funny, how “fu…nny” I choked so as to not upset the innocence in the back seat as yet another car slipped in before I arrived and I took yet another round of frustration. “I can’t get a break today!” I exclaimed. “Poor grandpa! We could go to the one near our house.” She said helpfully, probably sensing that grandpa was not a happy rider on this not-so-merry-go-round.

Finally, on a side street a lone parking space appeared out of nowhere, far from our destination, “but it’ll have to do,” I thought resignedly. After a long wait in line at the coffee shop the clerk didn’t seem to understand my order, “A large non-fat hot chocolate.” I said wearily, but somehow she heard, “A chai latte, please.” I don’t even know what that is, but on discovering the mistake after waiting for several orders that had been taken after mine, they put the correction in the queue several more orders behind that. Then the difference in cost had to be worked out and that took several more minutes and signatures on a reimbursement chit only to receive a 30 cent refund and the wrong sized hot chocolate.

A simple trip to the coffee shop started to feel as though it had taken most of the afternoon. Not wanting to prolong my self-induced agony I took the smaller cup, grunted a not so sincere, “thank you,” and numbly walked out the door and plopped into an outside chair to stare at the passers-by and sip my now cold hot chocolate.

For a moment I felt dead inside, kind of numb, then I forced my self to chuckle. This was definitely not my day! I mused. But my granddaughter was happy as a lark with her chocolate milk, a pumpkin scone and some other little girl to befriend on the nearby play-scape. I couldn’t help but smile and this tamed the weary beast inside me.

My older granddaughter called from her cellphone and asked me to pick her up at a friend’s house and to take her home. This of course was located several miles from our current position. “Where’s your Mom?” I croaked. “Out with Grandmother.” She said as though I were being just too stupid for asking. So I wrote down the directions on a slightly damp napkin (you ever try to do that?). Of course the directions of a thirteen year old were less than ideal and forced me to consult a map at every stop light while she amused herself in texting me every five minutes or so with a “Where are U?” This of course buoyed my spirits, NOT.

I finally picked her up and dropped her at her front door. Out she bolted and disappeared into the house, no goodbye, no thank you. I left the younger one with her mother who had barely escaped being knocked over by the thirteen year old bent on texting while running toward her room without once looking up, lost somewhere between narrow focus and complete obliviousness. “How do they do that?” I wondered silently. Also the six year old had in mind that she and I were going watch the Barbie at Princess Charm School video, but when Mommy showed up early there were tears of disappointment (hers, not mine)–yet another thwarted expectation.

Soon it was dinner and my wife was off playing bridge at the church so I thought I’d try a rib place I hadn’t been to before. Inside and sitting next to the window I looked out on the traffic moving down the Avenue. Something disturbing intruded– A rumble that I could feel in my chest and inside my head. The ground felt unstable here as it shook with each car that passed, the guy behind me made odd grunting noises, and the ribs smelled dead, uninviting. Nothing seemed in balance. Everything was off just a bit, nothing was quite right. Even the air felt as though it were heavier than usual and pressed down around me. Nothing seemed fully real. Perhaps, I pondered, it was the Paulo Coelho book I was reading? No, this had been going on all day, before I’d had a chance to even read the first page.

As though this day were partly within a dream, some aspect of me wasn’t fully here, but lost in some expectation, and I paid the price–perturbation, unbalance, alienation and a strong sense of separation all of which conspired to leave me rootless and not feeling quite welcome in the world. So, where was I? The truth is that I wasn’t fully there because I was mired in the way I “wanted it to be” rather than in the here and now of the way it was.

It seems to me that expectations, like my granddaughters cell phone texting, tend to narrow ones focus i.e. our vision of reality tends to narrow. It’s like sitting in the middle a room and looking out its one small window and assuming that everything within its frame is all that there is. I could get up from the chair and approach the window and stick my head outside which would of course expand that reality, but, no, I sit, fixed in my point-of-view, depending on the world to bring reality into that limited frame and disappointed when it isn’t what I wanted.

I used to tell my oldest daughter when she was much younger and talking about her image of God, “Be careful how you describe him, for if he is that leaf that just blew by and your image doesn’t include that, then you’ve missed him.”

I often complain that things aren’t the way I think they ought to be and then whine, sometimes bitterly, that someone ought to change the reality so as to better align with my expectations. No that’s not how I say it, it’s more like, “Why do they do that? They should do it like this.” Or some form of “I’m right, they’re wrong.” You’d be amazed at the lengths I’ll go to feel better about their being wrong.

For some people right now it may look as if I’ve wandered from expectancy into another restricting trait, point-of-view. But isn’t an expectation just another point-of-view and vice versa? Both require a vision of what is and a narrow vision at that. Both affect what is seen aka reality e.g. experienced and thus inform our actions, or how we feel about them.

In our waking life I think that many of us are standing in the room with the small, framed window. It isn’t until we enter the world of the dream that our frame widens, even disappears, and holds the potential of infinite possibilities. What would happen if we treated our waking lives in the same manner e.g. as a frame with infinite possibility? What would happen if we let go of what we think our life should be and embraced what it is?

What would happen if we were to get up off our tuchus and walk over to the window and stick our head out to get a broader and clearer view?

Well, there’s always tomorrow.