Witches, Nightmares, Memes, and Dreamwork
by Rachel Creager Ireland
Rowan dreamt of a witch, trying to get all the children. She told me while we were cuddling in bed in the morning. I told her, if she dreams of the witch again, to ask her what she wants. Rowan said she can’t talk to the witch because, if she stops trying to get away, the witch will get her. I had to tell her about a witch dream I had years ago.
A witch was chasing me for a long time, over many places. I knew she would kill me if she caught me. I ran and ran and when I was trapped, in a dirty, windowless, basement room, I fought for my life. It was violent and brutal. I beat her with all my strength, but she kept getting back up. Finally I woke, exhausted. I reviewed the horrible dream I’d had, trying to remember all the details. What did the witch look like? She was little, a girl, and she had brown hair and brown eyes. In fact, she looked like me.
“You were fighting yourself!” Rowan was smiling, enjoying the discovery.
“Yes, that’s why I couldn’t kill her. I was afraid of my magical self, afraid to be powerful.” I went on to tell her how I’d had so many years of nightmares, and about the box of journals I still have, filled with page after page of terrifying, violent dreams, recorded in minute detail. Rowan has nightmares, too, though she often has joyful dreams as well. I told her how there was a time when all my dreams were about running for my life, then I decided to start fighting back, then I decided to find other means than violence to do what I have to do.
It wasn’t until I was well into A Course In Miracles that I stopped having nightmares, so I had to tell her about that. “A Course In Miracles teaches that God is love. You know that, though, right?”
“And God is eternal, which means there can be no limit on God. Right?”
“So there can’t be anything that’s not God, because that would mean that there’s a line, God is here, but not there, so there can’t be that. Right?”
“Mama, are you God?”
“Yes, and so are you. Can God be hurt?”
“If I can’t be hurt, then why did it hurt when I got a scratch?”
It gets tricky in here. The best I could tell her is that we have a bigger self, one that is one with God and all the universe, and that, by comparison, the hurts of the little self are insignificant. But the big self can’t be hurt, so we are safe as long as we identify with the big self. A Course In Miracles teaches that there is nothing to fear. When I came to understand this, I stopped having nightmares.
Rowan thought for a moment, then said, “Okay, let’s get up now.”
I don’t expect Rowan to grasp all this easily or instantly, and I don’t want to take away what is hers to learn on her own. I hope, though, that these things I tell her will help when she needs them.
There’s something else that this conversation brought to my attention. We got up and went into the living room, where Kiran was watching a tv show about some kids who were trying to protect their computer world against their eternal villain, a hacker. We are inundated with stories, images, and rhetoric about the evil villain or the criminal who is Other and must be vanquished. These memes lie. The scary bad figure of your dreams is part of you. He or she is not the villain of children’s television shows, who must be disempowered; nor the criminal on the cop show whose very existence threatens everyone’s safety until he or she is either locked up or put to death. Sure, there are probably exceptions, but you’ll never really know if you are one of them until you take a risk. The answer is not to run, or fight, not to separate yourself from what you fear, but to open to every self that you are. Talk to yourself. Make friends with yourself. If you can’t be friends, make alliances to serve your mutual interests, because they can’t be that disparate, if you are one person, can they? Take a risk and see what happens if you let the intruder in, turn around and face your pursuer, listen to the demands of your attacker. You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself.
Sometimes you even receive a gift –but I’ll save that thought for another post.