The Alchemists Dream

 

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Alchemist by- David Teniers the Younger, ca. 1650

BANG! The sound of a huge door slamming and shaking the whole house woke me out of a deep sleep. “Oh s#@% it’s an earthquake.” I said half to myself and half to my wife who lay next to me. As I leaped to my feet getting ready to dive for whatever safety I could find I looked back toward the bed only to find that it was no longer there. “What the hell?” I muttered. “Fran?” I yelled out as though ready to accuse her of having somehow taken our bed while I slept. It was then that I stopped dead and stared-out across the empty room and realized that she too wasn’t there.

“Fran?” I piteously whispered and became conscious of a different kind of fear starting to crawl up my spine and causing my mind to swim. “Where the hell am I?” I pleaded. “Ah, it’s dream.” I thought. Though it felt more real than usual, I convinced myself that it was actually just a dream. “Whew, yes that’s what it is. Time to wake up…” But my usual technique for pulling me out of a dream wasn’t working.

Slowly I made my way for the bedroom door hoping that it was actually there in the dream…one never knew about these things until it was all over. Stubbing my toe in the dark I felt the cursed pain burn through my foot. “This bloody dream is too real!” I thought. But there was the door so I cautiously reached for the knob and carefully pulled the door open just enough so that I could peer down the hall.

Instead of the narrow hall that lead from our bedroom to the front rooms of our house I was now staring at a landing with a wooden railing at its far edge. Two steps more and I found myself staring down into a cavernous expanse of books, and shelves, carved columns, and giant reading tables with the amber glow of lamps pouring light across their tops. As I tried to take the scene in I saw that I was standing on a second tier of several aisles of bookshelves radiating outward toward some unseen perimeter. A railed wooden catwalk circumnavigated the gigantic room that was topped by a high vaulted ceiling and accessed all the aisles. The ceiling upon closer inspection looked very much like the inside of a gigantic wine cask.

“I’ve seen this room before. But where?” I muttered to myself. As I pondered this question I made my way toward the left hand side of the library and found myself drawn toward a particular aisle. No longer in fear but experiencing extreme curiosity I walked slowly toward the far end of the catwalk peering down each aisle as I went. Oddly enough at about what I imagined to be the center of each aisle darkness fell and made it impossible to see its end.

A few steps more I found myself standing before the aisle that had seemingly drawn me to it and without a moment’s hesitation for cautions sake I walked forward. It was as though I were pushing through a heavy veil, unseen and not really felt but experienced. Once through I made my way down the aisle and turning to my right stopped before a row of large heavily clad books that crowded most of the shelf at eye level. Reaching for the largest and most ornate my hand seemed to be stopped at mid reach and then it moved slowly to the left as though it had a mind of its own and as if it were scanning the books for just the right one when it came to rest just inches from the plainest book on the shelf. “This must be the one.” I muttered sarcastically. Having regained control over my hand again I reached forward for the smallest book in the row. It was a cloth-bound book and wasn’t much more than 6×8 or much thicker than a short story. “I wonder what’s all this mystery about?” I said to myself and feeling somewhat disappointed that the book hadn’t been one of the large leather bound volumes that surely held the answers to some age-old questions of the universe. “Ah well, it’s a dream after all so lets see where this takes me.” Holding the book at an angle so that the overhead light could help me see it better I rubbed my hand across its surface. It felt warm and inviting so I accepted its invitation and opened it.

The world seemed to swirl as though I’d entered some kind of vortex. I held fastly to the book, as it seemed the only solid object around. Soon enough the spinning stopped which was a good thing because I was just beginning to feel my stomach coming into my mouth. “God how I hate nausea!” I spat as I tried to get my bearings.

I looked around me and saw a much smaller room than the one I left and it was dark save a candelabra of burning candles standing on a large table filled with copper condenser coils, beakers, retorts and other laboratory paraphernalia. In the middle of it all sat a man middle-aged in appearance and hunched over a book not unlike that which I still held tightly to. With what seemed to be a turkey quill he was busily jotting something into the book. With every stroke of his pen I could feel the book I was holding move in my hand.

“I’ll be with you in a moment young man. Sit, sit anywhere you like.” He said while waving his quill about randomly toward a clump of wooden boxes. Being that the only chair in the room was currently occupied I found an uncluttered box and gingerly sat down. After a few moments he stopped writing, laid down his quill and looked toward my direction and peered intently trying to pierce the gloom that filled the room just beyond the reach of the candlelight.

“Welcome!” He said heartily and with the biggest of smiles. His manner in that one word seemed to calm my nerves.

“You’re a dream aren’t you?” were the first words out of my mouth. It seemed almost rude not to acknowledge his presence or to thank him for sharing his space but even though the room was no longer physically spinning my mind had yet to stop swirling and I needed to add some gravity to it.

“How do you know I’m not dreaming you instead of you I?” He said sort of nonchalantly.

“Well I really don’t I guess.”

“Or more curiously, how do you know that you aren’t dreaming me dreaming you?”

“I guess I don’t.” I said while scratching my head and feeling even less grounded before starting this conversation.

“Of course you don’t and probably never will which is actually a pretty good thing or you’d cease.” He said matter-of-factly.

“Cease?” That didn’t sound so good and my guard went up as I looked furtively from side to side for any unseen threat.

“We haven’t got time for that right now.” He said as he scooted his chair away from the table and turned it to face me. Reaching toward the candelabra he made a twisting gesture with his hand and the room seemed to fill with light. “Ah that’s better. We can see each other now.” He said triumphantly.

“So you’re the fifth this month.”

“The fifth?”

“Yes. I had one visitor…let me see…” he paused to sort out his thoughts. “I had one who said he was from the distant past, another from the near past, one from my future and…when did you say you’re from?”

“The 21st century.” I said proudly.

“Ah yes and one from your future.”

“My future?” I asked dumbfounded.

“Yes of course. Do you think time only flows in one direction? You obviously have much to learn.”

“Well given that this is just a dream I guess time can do whatever or whenever it wants.” I said chuckling to myself.

“You still haven’t got it. This is no more or less a dream than what you’ve been living. This is just as real as what you’ve been calling reality.”

And then I woke up.

 

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Positive and negative dreams…REM and non-REM

 

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The Nightmare by- John Henry Fuseli (1780)

I’ve talked about REM sleep and dreams before, ad nauseam. But research has shown that we don’t just dream during REM, we also dream during non-REM (with its four stages leading up to (and from) REM with non-REM out performing REM by over 2.5:1). And it turns out that there’s a qualitative difference between the types of dreams!

Those who are awakened during a non-REM episode report generally positive dreams while those who are awakened from REM report mostly negative. What’s that about?

Well, during REM sleep the Amygdala (located deep within the medial temporal lobes of our brain) that deals with unpleasant emotions, aggression, and fear and modulates REM sleep, hence the negative vibes. Along that note, it’s interesting that people with depression jump into REM quickly by bypassing the non-REM stages–the positive stages. A dysfunctional Amygdala is also implicated. This rapid entering into REM and depletion of overall nonREM is a marker for depression and often precedes a depressive episode*.

Nightmares are also experienced during REM and are affected by a dysfunctional sleep cycle in that people with depression and/or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) tend to have a lot of them. There’s a movement afoot in the Psychiatric field to find ways of diminishing nightmares in those with chronic depression and PTSD. But nightmares are similar to ancestral dreams and may very well be rehearsals in the struggle to survive. They may be the brain’s way of aiding an individual to confront their fears and tensions head-on. Drugs may in the short term provide a respite for the insomnia of the depressed caused by nightmares, but if used over the long term what may they be doing to the process that nature uses to resolve and deal with fear? Do we really understand the functions of sleep and dreaming well enough to be interfering in this way? Might not it be better to develop a different way of therapeutically dealing with the darkness other than the popping of a pill to suppress it?

REM dreams tend to be dark and sometimes unpleasant and the Western culture tends to avoid these emotions in that it is believed that it’s best to leave them alone. But what is the consequence of this avoidance over time? What is the consequence of suppressing the natural negative? Perhaps in some of us it takes the form of chronic depression, or chronically unresolved fears and anxieties, especially those fears and anxieties that seem to be unattached to any stimulus, what psychologists call “Free-floating.”

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Both REM and non-REM have what appear to be important, perhaps even vital, functions to our survival and learning. It turns out that non-REM is our internal trainer–it mirrors past experience in a time-compressed manner. It literally is helping you in the present to relate to the future from the past. The REM dream, however, expands time and takes you into the future in order to practice it and to test various scenarios. This may explain why some dreams seem to be about what’s happened during your waking life the day before, while others seem more distant, or unrelated to waking life events, perhaps more internal in nature.

Dreams in both forms seem to be nature’s way of preparing us for whatever comes next. Basically it’s an ancient survival tool, the content is different, but the mechanics are pretty much the same.

Dreams seem to reinforce learning, creativity, and survival skills, provide a window to your emotional self, and open a space for life preparation, i.e. practice. They do this by providing a totally different point-of-view to that of our waking life i.e. they are intuitive and visual in contrast to the waking life’s linear and logical. What seem to be intractable problems in one’s waking life can be overcome through the highly creative, free-associating content of dreams.

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*Bypassing non-REM sleep also interrupts the body’s healing/repair/rejuvenation/immunization cycle that further reinforces the depression.

A variation on my first meeting with the Spirit Guide of the Blue Fresco dream

 

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Sophia, the Blue Fresco

I’d like to reintroduce my spirit guide again who first showed up a few years ago in a dream. She’s visited in earlier dreams as a female cartoon character and as a she-wolf named Onoma, but I didn’t recognize her for what she was back then.

She? It is said by some depth psychologists that the soul of a woman is masculine and the soul of a man is feminine. Each represent the less dominant aspect of the dreamer, that which they tend to reject into their personal unconscious, but during the night when the persona and the conscious ego-self sleep, the souls come out to play.

I’ve referred to this dream before having labeled it The Blue Fresco*.

This is a variation of that dream:

I’m at a party of old friends, talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. As we leave, hugging and saying our goodbyes, I look down the street that is dimly lit with tall street lights casting their yellow glow into the night when a brighter glow takes over the darkness and I see plastered across the sky a bright blue fresco. A tall, thin figure, neither male nor female stands huge in the sky with its hands held invitingly out toward me. On closer inspection a tall, slender women wearing light blue gossamer robes comes down from the sky, landing briefly upon the ground and then leaping back into the night.

My wife runs back toward the house to fetch the grandchildren so as to share with them the sight. I worry that she’ll miss this if gone too long. Three other children run excitedly up the hill to get a better look at this painting upon the sky. I yell at them to turn around, but they don’t respond and keep on running. I turn around and walk alone toward the light. Everywhere is music, in the sky and in my head the music pervades. All fear disappears and I follow the invitation.

Interpretation:

Had I lived a few centuries earlier this would have been seen as a powerful spiritual message. For me this is hardly the kind of message I’m used to. Hell, I don’t even believe in this kind of symbolism! Nevertheless, it communicates.

The blue apparition is intuition–the spiritual–with the “angels” representing wisdom and the messengers of the awareness of a wider truth and the receptive, creative aspect of the self. They are heralding the potential for great achievement, the spirit, and the spiritual power within me. The children are the exuberant, growing self, uncontrolled by the external world. The music enhances the numinous, representing the play of forces within, and providing difficult realizations.

I walk on alone–this is how I imagine death, or the end, or transformation of an old way of being. The Christ-like, or holy, figure of the fresco represents the power of the inner influences of the powerful cosmic mystery of life unfolding. The figure is an archetype for the mystery that is my true self (all our true self) and quite likely the connection I have with all others–the roots of my being.

Often religion serves the purpose of gaining some sense of control over the uncontrollable. I’m being invited to release that attempt to control and embrace walking into the unknown alone– to walk this personal road in vulnerability. For me, this dream requires that I give up my knowing and transcend my personal beliefs about what is real and surrender to something bigger than that.

 “The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.”

                                                      –C.G. Jung 

                                                                  

Some say that a dream figure such as the Blue Fresco is an archetypal figure (a type of symbolic image that shows up across all cultures) of the Great Mother.

The Great Mother figure may visit in many forms, such as the Virgin Mary, a Greek goddess, Sophia, the Earth, or even the dreamer’s mother**. Often these holy people inform and even direct our decisions in life.

Sometimes the Great Mother may come to us to suggest that we cut the dependency between she and us. A man needs to do this in order to become an equal with the feminine power. If he does not do this successfully he may then be into resistance of the feminine and try to dominate it psychologically and in his waking life. Both males and females need to accept the mother as being human in nature. By doing so they then are more able to accept themselves.

When I shared this dream with others one of my colleagues exclaimed that the figure was the Sophia, a Wisdom Goddess figure. From that point on the blue fresco became Sophia. Since then she has visited me in her darker forms and in her animal forms. I’ll share those visits in future posts.

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https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/soul-healing/   https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/the-moon-sun-stars-and-planets-in-our-dreams/

**You can add to that list others such as Isis, Athena, Diana, Venus, Qwan Yin, Hecate and Demeter.

Be gentle with a dream

 

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After a dream is caught and you wander through its mysteries, be gentle with it for it is most fragile.

Be careful as you tread the hidden forests of your dreams. They are the unprotected essence of who and what we are. They are the messengers of our souls and our deeper selves. They harbor all our worries and fears, dislikes and rejected aspects, our hopes and our desires laid bare. They are born of the irrational, the imaginal, and the intuitive– a world of being as real and as informative as the rational world of science.

Both the outer mask that we present to the world and the mask turned inward so that we don’t look too deeply at the mysterious inner self are stripped away during our sleep allowing us to see our most beautiful face and darkest shadows. Through our dreams we get a glimpse of what God sees in each and every one of us without judgment or condemnation. Dreams are a grace unearned and a gift to those who will learn to accept them.

Treat them with care, respect, and compassion for they reveal the best of us and the worst of us. They represent our guide through life and the equilibrium and balance that all living creatures need to survive what is often a chaotic world. Our dreams are our inner savior.

They reveal a truth about our emotional state of mind, physical, and psychological health and our sense of the spiritual. They are our deepest connection with every thing, each other and with God or the universal spirit.

They create a nightly map to the experience of being human and if read properly can guide us to worlds not dreamed of through the conscious mind.

And they do all this uniquely for the dreamer who has them. Interpreters can hold our hands briefly and point to the way of the psyche but the individual needs to walk this path alone, it is about their story and life narrative and only they can know their true meaning.

 

Me, myself, and I: Another trinity of the psyche

 

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Me, me, me, what I want, what I feel, what I think, how things effect me, my judgments, my expectations, what I see, my point-of-view, my body, my money, my, my, my.

This is all of the ego, that part of us that’s convinced that that’s all that we are, that if there is anything else it’s just fantasy or imagination i.e. not real, or the ghost in the machine.

I usually think that what I am is this person called Bob, with a body that looks a certain way, can do certain things, and has memories and feelings, urges, desires, values, judgments, and rigid points-of-view (one of them being that I have no rigid points-of-view). I wear a mask of the “Good guy” out in public but have an inner voice that reminds me of why that isn’t always true.

Everything that I see or think is tainted with what this “ego-me” believes is true i.e. what “I” think is true. Oh, I know that it’s just a projection of my unexplored and poorly understood psyche and that I have no idea if the world I see is true, in part if at all. But typically I ignore that piece of knowledge because ego-me wants to be right. Actually ego-me “needs” to be right because being right means that it gets to survive just the way it is and as everyone knows deep in their tiny ego-me hearts being wrong is a horrible, bad, unsavory thing to be avoided at all costs– that is if admitting to being wrong doesn’t actually make you right about being wrong, then you’ll admit to be wrong!

It’s true, when we say “I” we are referring to this image of self that we created both inside and out and if any part becomes threatened we will defend its integrity at any cost i.e. by rejecting the offender by banishing it, demeaning it, bedeviling it, ignoring it, or if particularly immature, we’ll even kill it.

But what is this that we are defending, is it real or just something we made up and what do I mean by “we”? When I use the word “we” I’m not necessarily referring to a collective but to what it is inside of us that made this ego up in the first place.

Now this might come as a surprise to most people who believe that there may be more than one “me” inside us, that there is a me that created the ego-me, that there’s a me listening to all the talking and thinking and feeling and believing of the ego-me. I mean, who’s listening to all that continuous chatter going on inside our minds?

Who was it that was there before and just after we were born– before we started adding meaning and memories and feelings and judgments to everything? It’s still there because who else are we talking to inside our head?

Am I suggesting that we are not our ego-selves, that we are something else entirely?

Yes and no. I say this because the ego-self is actually part of the whole called the “self”, there’s also a much, much bigger motivating and animating self that energizes the whole and both are needed to maintain the continuance of our being. Mostly they act somewhat in unison though I admit that the ego-self frequently goes off on ventures that are often self-defeating. But the core-self i.e. for the lack of any other word, the “soul” can often bring it back before too much damage is done.

But existence is a constant dance of polarization that often causes our being to struggle to remain upright and sometimes even causing us to stumble. When in harmony life often looks like two steps forward and one step backward as the dance progresses but when one side of the dance tries to control too much of the flow, then disharmony ensues and the dancers become awkward and stumble. This is what happens in relationships between individuals, between philosophies, religions, and nations. This is what is happening in the world today i.e. the ego-self has (once again) become too dominant and is causing us all to trip.

We are not just our egos (as I’ve defined them), we are much more than that and we need to understand that our small and limited, selves can’t always lead the dance, sometimes we need to listen to our partner and allow them to help us back on course.

And by “partner” I’m not just referring to the “two in one” of our self because the truth is that we are each other’s partner, every one of us, and if we want to keep this dance going, then perhaps we better start treating each other that way.

Tarot cards in dreams.

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Tarot cards sometimes show up in dreams. Two such dreams were submitted for interpretation a couple of years ago and though its been sometime since I interpreted them I thought I would share some of the meaning of these cards and a few extra that have shown from time to time over the years.

Part of my interpretive source comes from the book Tarot ReVisioned by Leigh J. McCloskey, Olander Press Ltd., 2003.

Interestingly these cards reflect what G.G. Jung would have called ‘archetypes’ in that their image represents similar meaning across all cultures of the world– some of our dream material seems to be hardwired into our brains and rise from the collective unconscious of the human psyche into our dreams.

For me Tarot is another example of how the human psyche projects itself into the symbolism of our lives. I believe that a gifted reader can tap into the querent, the person for whom the reading is being done, much as a few rare people can psychically ‘read’ another person’s thoughts and emotions during other forms of psychic endeavors. As with a dream interpreter the reader’s visions and suggestions should always be filtered through ones own inner wisdom and sensibility i.e. if it resonates, use it to explore further if not, let it go.

Because the article is longer than usual, I’ll be splitting the represented cards between today and tomorrow. Today I’ll be looking at the Fool, Magus, and Empress while tomorrow I’ll look at the Emperor, Temperance and Death.

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Tarot, the Fool: This card when seen in a dream can symbolize the archetype of awakening to self-knowledge. The Fool sometimes suggests that in all things spiritual one must always act as a beginner. It can also suggest that one may be blissfully ignorant of something (either they’re being foolish or fearless with some predicament). For Sufis the Fool is the voice of wisdom and humor and knows that it is madness to seek power and money as ends in themselves. He can also represent choice, that no one is ever really compelled, that there’s always a choice.

 

 

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Magus (or Magician): This guy is also known as the Magician. The connection between the spirit self, the unconscious psyche and the conscious self sort of a divine intermediary. In the creation story where the “everything” wants a means of knowing itself it needed to create an “other than itself” i.e. the world and us. Thus the Magus becomes the mirror to the spirit’s real self, to our real self.

The Magus is also the balancing point between intellect and inspiration i.e. between the external world an ones inner life. He teaches that true magic isn’t about trying to have power over the world.

In a dream he may suggest that some issue may be trickier than you thought, perhaps you need to look at something from another perspective? His presence in a dream might also mean that you may be trying to fool yourself. If the magician is causing trouble he may represent deception. Are you trying to control something or do you fear someone else’s attempts at control?

 

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Empress: Also known as the Great Mother, the Virgin Mary, Isis, Hecate, Qwan Yin, the Hindu goddess Kamala, and Gnosis. This card can sometimes represent Mother Nature. She can be seen as the sustaining nurturer, symbol of love (e.g. in her Venus form), and mother of ideas. She represents the potential of humankind.

She can be seen as a gateway to the light and the ultimate divine nature of humankind. She is also both wisdom and folly. She can represent the bridge or connection between the ineffable, what cannot be experienced in words, and the manifest, how the divine translates into the everyday. She is essentially the mother of creation.

I have seen a form of her in my dreams where she has appeared as Sophia showing and inviting me to take the path less traveled into a higher understanding, aka awareness, of reality.

In a dream she can represent power and honor and influence both in the positive and the negative. She can represent the influences our own mothers had, and in most cases continue to have, on our life and how we perceive it.

In a male’s dream she may represent a need for independence from ones own mother or a better or different interaction between his masculine and feminine personality selves/traits. Without a separation from his mother image a male might be always looking for her in all his relationships and only be projecting her image onto these relationships and never seeing the real person.

 

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Emperor: The masculine archetype of leadership, assertiveness, and courage. He is the doer of the potential of the Empress. He is the energy behind the creative imagination of the Empress. He reflects power but not force. To confuse the two becomes destructive, not creative. He is the applier of the love represented in the Empress. He directs and applies the energies of the Magus and the Empress, essentially the igniter of their energies into the world. He represents the divine reason to the boundless imagination of the two. Essentially he is the yang to the Empress’ Yin and suggests the need for balance and the proper exercise between the masculine and feminine traits.

In a dream and in his positive aspect he can symbolize the need for action, decisiveness, completion and balance, or the need for harmony. Consider that his negative form would represent the opposites of his positive qualities, force instead of power, imbalance or disharmony and destructiveness. He can represent the negative or positive father, even God or the devil. The Emperor can also be represented by a priest, or ones own father. Sometimes ones father traits or habits can be helpful or debilitative. He often reflects our inner expectations for ourselves for good or bad.

He can represent control by others or self-control. In a female’s dream he can represent her animus her own inner masculine positive or negative and the need for balance and the manifesting of some needed trait e.g. assertiveness or decisiveness.

 

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Temperance or Hermaphrodite: (the marriage of Hermese and Aphrodite) representing the conscious and unconscious, the masculine and feminine attributes, and the blending of opposites­ – it temporizes the headlong flight of the Fool. This union of opposite attributes can be seen in the Lovers card as well (notice that in this card a Temperance-like angel seems to be in the background). sometimes these images are speaking to the need for some kind of adjustment to a way of thinking. These cards can also speak to a way of bringing harmony to ones contrary thoughts. They can also be seen as a symbol of the need to unite the conscious and spiritual selves. Ultimately a dream with either or both of these images might be about love, giving or getting and what it is to mature and sustain it.

 

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Lastly, I bring up the Death card: In a dream this doesn’t always mean ones own death or the death of someone close but can be symbolic of an ending or the need to end something. It can mean the death of a way of being, an idea, point-of-view or of a relationship of some kind. In a dream it can be about transformation or the need for it. It can symbolize change. Behind death waits something new so it can sometimes represent the generative power behind a new beginning.

Sometimes death in a dream symbolizing the lack of resistance needed to diminish the power that the resistance to evil actually gives to evil. The fear of death is often an impediment to healing and growing. Death’s dark aspect is often used to avoid dealing with scary things and yet there is treasure hidden in the darkness of death’s potential.

Death in a dream can be pointing to ones inner demons and the need to deal with them appropriately, to take personal responsibility for them and accept that they are a part of oneself. Accepting without becoming and acknowledging ones dark side without judgment begins the journey toward real change. Thus death can symbolize the need for or the beginning of real growth. Death in this light is a transpersonal image, a means for transcending the ego-self.

Waking up from the dream

 

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The human mind functions at the level of dichotomies i.e. opposites. For it nothing exists but because of its opposite e.g. good/bad, up/down, left/right male/female. For the most part we revel in our differences and group ourselves according to our differences. We put lip service to accepting diversity but this has parameters e.g. as long as it isn’t too different and as long as we reserve the right to accept on our own terms.

In a democracy people are always struggling with tolerance, acceptance, and oppositions and in the thick of the struggle it often looks as though a rigid rule or creative separation might be the easiest way to go.

Unity is one of humankind’s great dilemmas because each of us on a fundamental level thinks of ourselves as separate from everything and everyone else. We just don’t function as though we’re one thing–with many facets, and manifestations, yes, but fundamentally at the level of spirit and soul, one thing that includes all things, ideas, beliefs, and ways of being. For all of us our bodies and minds end at the end of our extremities–at the surface of our skin. And all our institutions reflect this bias (some say it’s a cognitive error) we either create laws, or rules (spoken or unspoken), constitutions, articles of confederation, religious dogmas, or physical manifestations to keep us apart and to protect us from the separated other person.

But we have to do this because we can’t/don’t/won’t trust each other to act as though we are one. We don’t trust each other to hold each other in respect and in love. And nearly everyone has gone into agreement that this is the rational way of being. But is it? As a famous TV Psychologist often says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” If we look at the amount of guns, bombs, murders, starvation, betrayal, cheating, wars, conflicts, oppressions, locked doors, armies, police, vigilante groups, laws, loneliness, bullying, rape, put-downs, lies, cover-ups, deceits, burglaries, slavery, and rebellion in the world that should help you with an answer.

You’d think if we knew and acted as though we are each other, a single creation from a single creator (regardless of name), that we could at least treat the illusion of the “other” with some respect.

Ah, but that’s the rub! Do we not treat each other with respect because deep down we don’t respect ourselves? In this waking dream where nothing is as it seems, where we stand apart and are only witness to the images that parade before us, we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t believe in the beauty of what we are. We often think of ourselves as a lie because to reveal the real self would cause rejection and then we would really be alone. Better to either be a traditionalist or a rebel than to not exist at all.

But what would happen if you truly loved unconditionally what you are, with all your faults and warts? Would it be a little easier to accept the “other” in the same way?

Whether you’re a terrorist, anarchist, Democratist, isolationist, or religionist you probably want pretty much the same thing–safety and peacefulness, a sense of belonging and of being loved i.e. the right to exist as you believe. But I don’t think any of these needs can come from outside yourself, or in the attempt to manipulate, or dominate others. Peacefulness, belonging, love and the feeling of security have to grow from within before their seeds can ever be effectively sewed in the greater world.

This is all a part of waking up from the dream.

Precognitive dreams

 

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Over the years I’ve had a number of people share dreams where they thought they may have known what was going to happen in the future. I usually skirt the issue and deal with the more tangible images of the dream. When I have commented on the idea of prescience (keen insight), or even the more startling idea of precognition I’ve pointed out that for this to happen you need to have either a keen sense of intuition, or effect would  have to precede cause. Another explanation may be that everything has already happened and we are each living it out, though sometimes our brains malfunction and get ahead of themselves.

Some physicists have studied the phenomena of time and the direction it seems to go in and as it turns out not only does the past seem to make the present, but, oops, the present also seems to make the past and not just a person’s present experience of the past.

At the very miniscule quantum level, that is at the size of a photon of light, it appears that decisions made in how to observe an experimental result actually feedback to the beginning of the event and changes it. In short, the effect can come before the cause. Huh?

Does that mean that not only do our choices today affect the future, but they also affect our past? And does that then suggest that our future affects our present? Does that mean I can change my present by affecting my past? No, is the answer presented by Dr. Fred Alan Wolf PhD popular physicist and author of Taking The Quantum Leap (1989) and Time Loops and Space Twists (2010.) According to him there needs to be a conservation of continuity with regard to time that is when something has happened regardless of whether you’ve affected it in the present toward the past, or the future toward the present it cannot be changed to do so would quite literally split the universe into two universes where each of the two-time lines can co-exist side by side, but not as one.

But does this phenomenon exist in the macro world of our everyday life? In my book The Dragon’s Treasure (see Books by Author at right) I spend an entire chapter on time and report on a study done by two psychologists, Kolers and Grunau, from The University of Toronto (pg 154) where the results suggested that perhaps our minds don’t actually interpret events chronologically. The work of Dr. Roger Penrose also suggests that the ancient Hermetic axiom, “as above, so below” is true in that the quantum realm may be reflected in the macro, or human scale as well.

This asynchronous experience of reality shows up in dreams more often than not. Dreams seem to follow something other than linear time e.g. a nonlinear time, cause and effect is often turned on its head, and in fact everything seems to come at random. Why is this?

The answer may lay, in part, to one of the purposes of dreams e.g. to down load the days experiences, sort through them and encode those that may be of survival benefit and trashing those that may not. These memory fragments may come forward through association, one image associating with another thus appearing random in nature, or irrational. Also that part of the brain called the conscious mind is set up to perceive linearly, but that is the part that is shut down during sleep and the unconscious doesn’t need to work linearly. But both seem real when we are in them. They are even complimentary in that they both see reality, but from different temporal perspectives, thus they offer the potential for the wholeness that doesn’t exist in either, but does within the integration of their opposition–a process Carl Jung called Individuation. Following this concept of complimentary opposition it is no surprise that linear consciousness has its corollary in unconscious nonlinearity.

Sometimes in order for us to perceive reality as it is we need to function outside of linear time where we are not bound by the rules of cause and effect. It is in this realm where the creative composer, artist, poet, and writer dwells and expresses their spirit. It may also be there that we can remember what is yet to become.

It’s as the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s, ˆThrough the Looking Glass” said to Alice, “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

 

Some more thoughts on the inner animal.

 

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Found on theprovince.com

Stepping out on the porch and into the night I saw silhouetted at the edge of the lawn an animal all in black, its back arched high, tail erect, and ears plastered along its head. A low guttural howl rumbled from deep inside it and grew louder with each passing moment.

I scanned the yard for the object of the black beast’s ferocity and there, cowering against a low lying bush, a white cat critter lay hunkered low to the ground with its hair raised high along its spine. Both animals stalked and circled each other and issued a racket loud enough to raise the dead.

The air was heavy, and thick with fear. I was about to witness a mindless clash of titans.

“Oh for goodness sakes you two, knock it off!” I exclaimed while stepping rapidly forward. “Shoo, shoo!” said I while dismissing the combatants with a wave of my hands. They then scattered to opposite ends of their territory and slinked off into the night, living yet for another day.

I can remember as a school principal saying the same thing, minus the “shoo-shoo”, to a couple of boys squaring off on a high school campus. Cats, lizards and teenage boys sometimes have a lot in common, especially when they set whatever higher thinking skills they have to the side and begin to function from their reptilian brains. It’s the same brain that convinced me when I was thirteen to put on some old roller skates and hitch a rope tied around my waist to the back of an ice truck just before the driver headed out onto the main blvd. What was I thinking? And that’s the point, I wasn’t, nor were the two cats or the two teenage combatants. We were functioning exclusively in our reactive instinctual mode (self-preservation isn’t high on a teenage boys list, after all they’re immortal).

We seem to observe this mode more and more often these days, in our politics (a lot of lizard-brain posturing there), in our neighborhoods, and in the work place. Fear is the primary stimulus for reactive positioning and it is fear that is being exploited in governance, politicking (“he’s destroying our country!”), on the radio & T.V. (facts, who needs facts?), and commercial advertising (e.g. “kills 99.9% of all disease causing bacteria”). And when we get entangled in our fears we go out and buy guns, and begin to make any number of bone-headed decisions that ultimately make us even more fearful.

Overall, our animal natures are just barely subdued and held in check and when bombarded with messages of fear the veneer of self-control begins to wear dangerously thin. And when finally pushed into a defense mode we shut down the also thin thinking layer of our brains and begin to operate from the vast repository of the unconscious and the animal within arches its back and growls a warning.

These warnings show up in our waking lives all the time with low volume growls of “Bitch, bastard, A_ _hole!” and any number of even more vile expletives meant to demean another being as a means of defending ones own. They also show up in our dreams as dogs that bite, snakes that hiss, spiders threatening to ensnare us, and large animals that chase us down and attack.

Once caught up in the unconscious animalistic and irrational fight, or flight mode, it’s hard to get back to the rational thinking mode. However, no matter how threatening, these animals also have immense capacity for good. When observed prowling in our hearts or in our dreams we can use them as a signal to take note of what is happening around and within us. If we can stop in mid expletive and observe what’s happening we have a much better chance of functioning out of conscious rational choice rather than be reactively controlled by our unconscious animal. When we can be more conscious of our socio-political environment and our reactions to it through the monitoring of our dreams we can also be more at choice in our responses.  

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Eagle Dancer by Bud Barnes . Animals in dreams are depictions of

 

ourselves stripped of our social controls

 

and often present us with our unedited

 

feelings. They depict our drives and

 

urges for procreation, love caring and

 

nurturing. Their skins were

 

once thought by early native tribes to

 

impart the power, personality and

 

wisdom of the animal they once belonged to.

 

Animals continue to give their power

 

in our dreams. –RJ Cole (Book of Dreams)

 

 

I think we need to be able to “shoo” away our inner and outer animal and stand between our warring aspects in order to scatter them and give space for more measured and thoughtful responses. God gave us a part of the brain not given to the lizard and the cat to aid us in this endeavor and I think we better start using it a little more often if we want to survive our darker natures.

 

 

Animals in dreams

 

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Found on the side of a building in Seward, Alaska. In the Inuit Culture of the Pacific Northwest Raven is seen as a creator being. 

 

Animals frequently show up in dreams and I’ve written about a number of them but I thought that I would look at these images from another perspective i.e. how they represent the interplay between psychic opposites.

For example, in both my dreams and waking life I seem to have a positive affinity to Dragons, Phoenix, Eagles, Wolves and the occasional Raven or Crow while on the other hand I have negative reactions to snakes, spiders and sharks. On the surface this sounds reasonable at least from the perspective of the negative animal images. However, when I look more closely I notice that dragon/eagle/wolf represent, among other things, freedom (freedom of expression and being), whereas snake/spider/shark represent quite the opposite i.e. these images restrain and take me over leaving me no room to express.

But there is also a unification of both the negative and positive aspects in that the

dragon-and-phoenix-chinese-culture.jpgPhoenix or Eagle on the one hand and the snake on the other are both symbols of rebirth and transformation. There is a healing of the soul in the reconciliation of its opposites. The image of an Eagle or Phoenix grasping a snake or fighting a dragon is the symbol of confronting our shadow selves, our inner devil, in order to set free our soul.

Even the Dragon is both the positive of the East and the negative of the West and the snake can be both a sign of God’s power, as with the staff of Moses thrown down before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:8-10) and of the Devil as well (Rev. 12:9).

Ravens are often seen as tricksters, magicians, shaman, guides to and messengers from our deeper selves, as well as cultural heroes.

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Found in Seward, Alaska with plaque above.

Ravens and crows can also be seen as psychopompsguides to the underworld after death or as guides to the inner and unconscious self.

Within the Wolf there also lies attributes in opposition because he or she is both shadow and bright beauty, socially confident and a loner, self-confident and obsessed both in-control and out of control. The shark can be both self-empowering and an emotional threat while the spider can both threaten your well-being and yet symbolically protect you from self-destruction.

There’s no coincidence in the images one chooses to express the interplay of opposites in that the psyche is continuously working on resolving this inner conflict of personalities. This shows up in the World Psyche as well when it is noted how oppositional nations, and cultures are in their interactions with each other.

 

These animals represent different aspects of our nature, that part of us that is instinctual (animal-like) or conditioned (by parental and cultural values). If left to only our instinctual or conditioned selves we would be hell bent on our own destruction. But human beings also have a mediator, the ego-self, this part of the psyche that I’ve been talking about over the last week. This part of our psychological construct is far from perfect and is easily influenced, but it is there to act as a rational intermediary between the opposites of the desirous-self and the moralized-self. In short, it helps to keep the balance between the two extremes and could do a reasonable job if not coopted by either of the other two constructs.

Normally a healthy ego-self can withstand the onslaught but once in a while it is overcome by fear, that turns to anger and that makes it near impossible to hear the voice of the rational. Eventually the ego-self is so overwhelmed that it figuratively becomes fear, no longer just having it, but being it.

As everyone knows fear is extremely painful and the human body is designed to do whatever is necessary to reduce or eradicate pain. One of the most important ways of doing that is to find the source of the pain and get rid of it, that is to figuratively or physically kill it. The animal self comes to the foreground and shouts down the voices of morality and mediation or colludes with the morality-self so as to justify its actions and chaos erupts.

Now this process works pretty well for the other animals in the universe, but humankind has something that the other animals don’t have, the ability to kill huge numbers of others in a relatively short period of time. We also are much more interconnected with each other than the rest of the animal kingdom is. This connectedness is both our strength, because we can work together toward universal solutions, and weakness in that it can spiral out of hand quite quickly leaving our survival in disarray.

Having your fear without becoming your fear:

When we allow our animal nature and instinctual fear responses take us over the end product is never in anyone’s best interest. It may provide an immediate solution but over the long haul is no solution at all e.g. do we feel any safer because we have so many guns in our homes? Do we feel any safer with huge stockpiles of munitions and weapons of mass destruction? Do we feel any safer having built high walls and fences around ourselves? Do we feel safer because we’ve locked up so many of those people whom we fear?

We’ve rejected the vaccination of our children out of fear and our children are dying. Some parts of the world have rejected sexual contraceptives because they fear others are trying to kill them off and hundreds and thousands are dying. Some have started wars designed to kill off entire cultures because they fear they are destroying their way of life and millions have died. All because of irrational and unmitigated fear.

If our frequent and usual response to our fears is to pull the proverbial “trigger”, how long can we last? And do we really want to live like that, huddled in the dark corners of our mind or the bombed out buildings of our cities?

Perhaps we need to open up to another response strategy and to recondition our animal response to threat and develop some other tools for safety. Some are trying to do that, but they are too small a group to overcome the darkness alone. This will take all of us to make the shift from the exclusive-instinctive-individual-self to the self-aware-consciousness of the inclusive-global-self required of modern man. We need to get out of our social-emotional caves and deal with our problems as mature human beings, not reactive animals. What we need is to embrace a new evolutionary way of being distinct from that of our ancient cave dwelling selves. And we can’t wait for “them” to do it because “they” will never do it, they’re too afraid to come out of the cave.

Some have asked me, ”but how, how do we do it?” and I answer, “There are hundreds of wizards out there that have found ways of making the evolutionary shift in ourselves. I’ve also written over 500 articles, thousands of pages and referenced hundreds of links all dealing at some level of what kind of change we need to make in our individual and collective selves to make this shift in consciousness and action. Somewhere in there, there have to be some kernels of answers.

I’ll give a little hint, however, something that I learned in the Marine Corps, of all places. It is this, we all initially react with fear when we perceive or are confronted with real threats. No one is immune to this, we may ignore the fear, deny it or gloss over it, but we will have it, it’s the way we’re wired. And there are only two fundamental responses to fear once it’s triggered– we either gird for battle or run like hell. There are lots of nuance to these two responses but fundamentally we are restricted to these two basics. Often the first reaction is to look for a way out, but all too often that’s not available to us. That’s when you “have” the fear and advance anyway.

It’s scary in todays world to confront injustice and intolerance because the purveyors of it can get quite aggressive in their defense of it and they will stop at little to have you become so fearful that you’ll run away and hide, physically or psychologically. That’s when you have to stand-up and face the fear, have it, yes, but not become it, not be overwhelmed by it. It’s when you need to step outside of your animal-self and manifest your reasoned self, your loving self.