Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Five Dreams: Pieces of a Puzzle

The five-dream series began on a Friday night. Initially, the first dream seemed like nothing more than a warning or a reminder: an old grief, buried under all my current activity, is still present, active, and strong; it’s something I mustn’t lose sight of. But four other dreams followed, two on each of the following two nights. These five dreams, coming as they did after an extended period where I didn’t remember any dreams at all, act like pieces of a puzzle, each of which comments on or amplifies the others in the set to make a more complete picture.

My assumption is always that two or more dreams occurring on the same night are related in some way—not that they can’t be viewed individually, but that they have at least some elements that speak to the same issue. It often takes a bit of work to figure out the relationship between them, but working with them in this way is invariably provocative and useful.

Saturday night I remembered two dreams. In the first one, the Old Wise Woman (in the guise of a dear friend) and I are walking past a warehouse full of objects and animals that I find vaguely frightening. Still in the dream, I have a sudden insight: “I’m afraid to go inside! And that’s my unconscious!” As soon as I realize this in the dream, the images—people, horses, strange and wondrous animals—become astonishingly vivid and vital. I understand that this kind of intensity, even in waking life, is possible for me if I will muster the courage to do my soul-work. The distractions of my waking life make this difficult, but it is possible.

Later in that same dream, I find myself with a group of people waiting to run a “130-mile race.” Trouble is, I’m wearing flip-flops. Instead of running the race, I find a different door, outside which are many exotic and magical horses and other creatures. It turns out that perhaps I don’t need to run the race after all.

The second dream from Saturday night highlighted themes that echo those in my dissertation: the ways in which women sacrifice themselves for relationships. In this dream I was offered the opportunity to witness this process as the dream ego and also as another, younger woman, and to experience the feelings and consequences of these sacrifices.

Sunday night I also remembered two dreams. The first one involved my mother: in the dream she is young and just setting up housekeeping, while I am my current age. I am visiting with her and helping her set up her new home. There was a lot in this dream about relationships, too—especially about important relationships that did not go well for her, or for me. At the end of the dream I am in tears and she comforts me. When I woke up, I could feel her presence strongly.

In Sunday night’s second dream, I work for a small family business (not my own family) which is foundering. They are going to have to lay me off. Instead of just letting it go and continuing my own life, I try to give them my contact information so that I can continue to work for them, even without pay, but find that I can’t manage to write out my name. Some part of me, it seems, does not want to be so loyal!

I’ve abbreviated these dreams, of course; they are quite detailed, and will need a lot of work to fully understand what the images have to say. But the main theme is clear, once all five are viewed together, and particularly in the context of my life at this moment:

The busy-ness of my life is making it easy to avoid doing the deep psychological exploration that is so necessary if I’m to continue my soul’s journey, which is also my life’s chosen work. Working consciously with one’s dreams and fantasies is not easy, and is often unpleasant when difficult issues surface. But the reward is enormous. And the dreams seem to suggest that I don’t need to take the “normal” route—the 130-mile race that the others take. There is another way, and one that leads to magic and adventure.

The first three dreams seem to be giving the “big picture.” The second pair of dreams hints at the personal issues involved in my fear and reluctance to follow what I know is my own path, and they suggest that the roots of this reluctance may lie in my ways of dealing, as a woman, with close relationships. This is a cultural heritage, one handed down through my mother and the Motherline.

Can I find another way? Can I find that other door and that other path? I’m sure going to try.

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