Veronica's Garden

Rachel Creager Ireland on writing, living, the Flint Hills, and the Post Rock Limestone Caryatids

Tag: dream interpretation

Meeting Self In Dreams

In dreamwork, it is sometimes said that a person you meet in a dream is probably a representation of you, the dreamer, rather than the actual person. Occasionally other people play themselves in dreams, but it’s not the most likely meaning. (I wrote a poem about this once.)

To understand the significance of a person, notice the first thought you have when you think of that person. Let’s say you have a dream and Donald Trump is there. What is the first fleeting thought that comes when you think about him? It might be orange hair, or bigoted speech, or excessive use of metallic gold paint in interior design. In these cases, respectively, you might explore the significance of the color orange, or examine your thinking for ways you might be unintentionally bigoted, or look for ways in which you might be excessively ostentatious or making a show of wealth you may or may not possess.

I dreamt that G, a man I know, was making advances, but I refused him, staunchly loyal to my husband. And just as a dream person isn’t really the person, dream sex isn’t usually sex. It’s more often some kind of union, a melding, or taking in of a quality. If the dream is lucid or semi-lucid, I don’t consider it infidelity to accept such an offer. Thus it was a bit unusual for me to refuse so adamantly. What do I think of when I think of G? He operates several businesses, and he’s successful at everything. He’s honest, kind, and generous. He volunteers. His wife is just as lovely. They have a wonderful partnership and they do everything with grace. They’re so perfect it’s slightly intimidating to me. (Of course I know they’re not perfect, but for purposes of dream interpretation, we don’t need to understand the person in depth, because he isn’t himself in my dream.)

It wasn’t a stretch for me to see that G, in this dream, represents success that I find elusive in my own life. Does success want me even more than I want it? I had to chuckle when I opened my journal to record this dream, and saw the last dream I’d written in it, and forgotten, just a few days previous.

In it, I was at camp, with my longtime friend, sometime partner, M. It was the last day, and there was a program that would be presented, but we were going to skip out and imbibe illicit substances. Actually, I kind of wanted to go to the program, but I was going to loiter until the last minute, then slip in just as it started. Then I had to go to the bathroom. While I was there, I heard in the next room a camp counselor had come to find us, and was having some kind of talk with M and our other friends. When I came out of the bathroom, they were all gone, and it was too late for me to get to the program.

What’s the first thing I think of then I think of M? Without hesitation, it’s his prodigious ability to avoid responsibility. He has many other qualities, some I admire, and he’s certainly matured in the 25+ years since we dated, but the other traits aren’t what come to mind. He could disappear from a room right before jobs were assigned. He could telepathically know when someone wanted something from him, and make himself scarce for days. Avoidance was his gift.

Can you guess where this is going? Let’s just say I’ve got some major financial issues weighing on me lately. And I’m questioning myself and choices I’ve made. Am I shirking responsibility? Have I pissed away too much time? Am I patently rejecting the charmed life which is trying to get closer to me?

As Edgar Cayce used to say, “The entity is meeting self.” And thus concludes the fun part of dreamwork. Now I have to do the real work.

Scooter

Do you dream of running a race with your hands glued to a scooter?

 

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Writing the Metadream

I don't know who gets photo credit. Most likely my daughter Rowan Ireland. Or her sister Kiran.

I don’t know who gets photo credit. Most likely my daughter Rowan Ireland. Or her sister Kiran.

I should be writing my novel right now, because it’s almost halfway through NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I’m way behind on my word count. But it’s not yet unthinkable that I’ll catch up, and sometimes—rarely— it’s just as helpful to talk about the book as to write it.

The idea originated in a dream. I dreamt about a woman who was a witch, and a farmer. She operated her family farm alone, because her mother and sister had mysteriously disappeared twenty years previous. Her secret was that they were buried in an egg-like pod under a field, because the farmer herself had, in a fit of adolescent pique, cast a sleeping spell on them. The problem was that she had forgotten the words to wake them up, and had been berating herself mercilessly ever since.

I found the forgetting part particularly amusing. It seemed like the kind of thing I would do. When I had the dream, I immediately thought it would make a good story. I’d written a short story from another dream once, and was pleased with the result. I did think a bit about the meaning of the dream, but assumed it was related to my relationship with my sister, which was a bit strained at the time. As for the mother in the dream, maybe I was also trying to put to sleep whatever remaining issues I might have with my late mother. I figured it signified some kind of avoidance of dealing with issues, but didn’t bother to do anything with that. Naturally.

Thinking about writing it as a novel, I decided that a romantic interest would be helpful, and he could help the main character, now dubbed Stella, to figure out what happened. Then I decided to lay partial blame for the forgetting upon the sister.

Then I didn’t do much with it at all until November 1, the first day of NaNoWriMo. Not far into the story, it occurred to me to give the sleeping sister a bit of volition, so I let her wander astrally. She can even visit other people’s dreams, and give them (questionable) advice. She became more of an actor in the story, not simply a passive victim.

As I write, I like to interpret a story as a dream. I’ve blogged elsewhere about that method of dream interpretation in which everyone and everything in the dream is the dreamer. If there’s a war, it’s an inner conflict. Love is a union of forces, such as one’s inner masculine and feminine.

So what to make of this story, inspired by a dream, in which dreams are part of the mechanism that drives the action? Whoa, this is meta. Let’s see. The woman alone is strong and capable, but ultimately needs to activate her masculine principle in order to move forward. She’s put to sleep certain parts of her feminine nature—it happened in adolescence, in a time of inner conflict— but it turns out she needs their assistance in order to access her masculine power as well. So maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with my actual sister at all.

Or maybe it’s all just a story. One that I’m really enjoying writing, and I hope you will enjoy reading it, when I start posting excerpts soon.

What are you dreaming and writing about?

When David Duchovny Visits Your Dream

Happy Easter. (I know some of you don’t celebrate Easter, but I hope most of us at least got a 3-day weekend out of it.)

When David Duchovny Visits Your Dream

If David Duchovny visits your dream,
it’s not the real person, the one who
never finished his dissertation on magic
and technology in poetry. The man who
enters your mind is really the part of you
who wants to believe, or possibly the one
who fucks over everyone who loves him,
to party in a mansion with wannabe starlets.
It’s true that the one you meet really does
want to help you solve the mystery, and
it’s true that he would give you a piece of
paper when sitting next to you in design class
when you’re unprepared and too burdened
with useless miscellanea to bring what you need
to class. But it’s not true that you have
a deep soul connection to him, or rather,
to that actor, but it is true that you have
a deep soul connection to the one who
plays that role in your internal drama. You
have invited the actor’s face to gaze deadpan
from a facet of the gem of your psyche.
It isn’t real. He isn’t real. Or, he is already
one with you. He is you. He is you. You
talking to yourself, you are the one
you shyly hope to get to know better
one day, as the semester progresses.
Maybe you will like you, if you get to
know yourself better. Maybe you will
help yourself, offer some kindness or
assistance or simple friendship. Some
appreciation of irony, unspoken but shared
nonetheless. Maybe some of your success
and fame will rub off on you, and one day
you’ll be a person people know, someone
people notice, someone they care about,
hope to meet one day. Someone people
dream about. Would you do that for you?

***

I don’t know, there might be a minor change yet, so consider it a draft. Who do you dream about?

Interpreting Dreams, Life, and the Big Story

When I was at a point in writing my novel,  Post Rock Limestone Caryatids, that I had more behind me than in front, I had a dream that I was sort of a motherly person to a band of runaway kids. They had no one else to look after them; I did what I could. We had a bond of loyalty and mutual trust that comes of surviving difficulty together. There was a teenage boy who I felt particularly close to. He had maybe had some trouble in the past, maybe not all that serious. He had yet to demonstrate any outstanding talents or gifts. But he was a good kid, attentive, quiet, sensitive in ways that you would only notice if you were paying attention, which no one ever had, to this kid. What kind of chance did he have in life? I was going to do everything I could to help him, not just to survive, but to establish a life for himself, to create opportunities for himself to realize whatever potentials he had yet to discover, whatever dreams he might one day allow to blossom in his spirit.

Conflict arose when his abusive father re-entered his life. The father was a surly, bitter man, whose sole way of getting his needs met was to extract them from the people around him, by any means that he could. He located his son and demanded that he come home with him, because it was the son’s responsibility to provide for his father, regardless of any future sacrifices he might have to make in order to take up menial labor and start bringing in paychecks immediately. Wielding the power that only parents have, he took his son home.

I was infuriated. What a shameful twist of logic, to require the son to support the father, instead of the father nurturing and supporting the son. What an ugly, hateful way to raise a child, to thwart any potential before it had been discovered, to extract whatever monetary profit could be gleaned from the relationship. Parenting ought always to be managed with an eye to the day when the child will stretch his wings and leave the nest, to start his own life, to make a way that he owns, free to become what he will become.

But there was nothing I could do for this boy. He had chosen, uncomplaining, to follow his father, and really, what did I have to offer but some kindness and undreamed dreams? He really was a good kid. That was the end of the dream.

There’s a method of interpreting dreams in which everyone and everything in a dream is understood to be a part of the dreamer. It’s not an original idea, but I have no idea what famous psychologist or psychoanalyst presented it. I think I got it from Rosalyn Bruyere, but last time I quoted her, I made a huge gaffe, so don’t go blaming her for anything I say. In this dream, I am the mother, of course; I am the boy; but do I have to claim the father? That hateful, petty man, whose only goal in life was to get his due from other people? Oh, it makes me shiver to think that he is part of me.

Here’s how I interpret this dream. The boy was my novel in progress. I was both mother and father, encouraging, discovering, nurturing; but also wanting to make this creation of mine work for me, to bring me money. Was I willing to thwart its potential to that end? I’m not sure, but I can say that to date, it hasn’t provided any profit, and I don’t hold that against the book. If anything, it’s my fault for not nurturing it adequately, not helping it to find its wings. Don’t ask me what that would mean in practical terms; I honestly have no idea.

I read the Hunger Games trilogy this week, and I was so impressed, much more than I expected. There’s a Big Story in it, not just a dystopian teenage love triangle or a heroic warrior girl leading an army. Like life and dreams, the Big Story can be interpreted by the “I am everything and everyone” method. I haven’t untangled it all yet, but for some reason this dream inserted itself into my musings. So here it is, and tomorrow I’ll write about Hunger Games.

Wildfire dozes in the inbox while I write.

Wildfire dozes in the inbox while I write.

Collectively Dreaming the Witch

What dark eyes haunt your dreams?

What dark eyes haunt your dreams?

Several months ago, the post “Dreams of Lots of Rooms” was getting hits. People were searching for just that, apparently. It came up on this blog’s list of search terms that brought people to Veronica’s Garden several times per week.

Lately it hasn’t, but now just as often people are searching for dreams of being chased by a witch, which I wrote about previously. In my dream, the witch who pursued me was a dark little girl, whom I recognized upon awaking as myself. Who is chasing you in your dreams? What wisdom is to be gleaned from this collective desperate evasion? What nightmare are we struggling to wake from, those of us anonymously searching the world brain for clues that might liberate our unconscious?

Let us speak our secret dreams. Let it begin here.

Shadow dream

It was just about a year ago now that I was introduced to working with my Shadow by my dear friend Mary Jo Grant. Mary Jo is in my women’s circle, and has also written a book about use of dreams in healing. http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Power-Dreams-Make-Well/dp/1585010952/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1322846026&sr=8-3 As an archetype, I recognized the Saboteur in my Shadow. Naturally nobody likes the Saboteur, but through this work I came to see that the Saboteur is my friend, acting in my interests, and willing to do for me what I will not or cannot do for myself. In our circle, we wrote poems about our various Shadows. It’s built around a standard form, but I was surprised at the diversity produced by the members of our small group.

The Saboteur

My Shadow wears
an ugly leer
fetid rags
a filthy blanket of shame
and she knows the order of things.
Her hair is like
green slime on a stagnant pool.
My Shadow is a
miasmic disease that seeps in on stale air
a blow to the head
a stab in the back
(who did that?)

I can never turn fast enough to catch her.
The only way to see her is in a mirror.

As I reread the poem, I realize her appearance has changed since I wrote it, as, recently, I’ve decided to make friends with that little waif of a girl. Using meditative visualization, I called the girl, and first thing was to give her something to wear. It turned out to be a funny sort of victorian-looking white dress with lots of eyelet detail, but she was wildly excited to have it. Now whenever I see her, she’s wearing that dress, with her dark hair still flying wild and unkempt. Sometimes I just sit with her and hold her in my lap.

Do I sabotage myself? Sure feels like it sometimes. Now and then I catch myself swimming in negativity or paranoid fantasy, and I hope the Shadow girl isn’t listening. I’ve started, at those times, replacing the negative thought with a more desirable alternative, or an affirmation, and also speaking to my higher self, asking for intervention and protection from the Saboteurs. A couple weeks ago I went to the girl and told her I want to be friends. We can work together. I will listen to her. She can tell me what she wants. We will be partners, and things will work better for everyone. I saw an image of a blue stone, and associated it with the throat chakra, the source of communication and speaking one’s truth. Yes, I need to do more of that. When I got up from meditation, I went to my jewelry box and right there on top was a bracelet I bought years ago, but never wore.  The stone it held was a brilliant blue. I wear a blue stone now at my throat to remind me to speak my needs. If I withhold communication, the Saboteur might well step in on my behalf.

This morning I woke up and laughed at the dream I’d had. In it I was in a big building, perhaps a former bank, with some friends, one in particular whom I admire for her creativity, another whose name is also Rachel. We were working on some crafts. We each had our own special projects, and I was trying with minimal success to operate a sewing machine. I didn’t necessarily belong here, but wasn’t bothering anyone, and everything was just fine. Then entered a woman who was at once earthy and angelic. She had a full figure clothed in a floor-length, flowing white dress, her white shoulders bare. Her hair fell in platinum curls to the hip. She was nice enough, maybe a bit of a busybody, but what annoyed me was that at some point it became apparent that she wanted to steal something, or even take over operations altogether. It was a terrific threat, so when I got a chance, I knocked her down and pinned her. I held her wrists together behind her back with one hand and grabbed her by the hair in my other hand. She didn’t resist, that was good, but what next? Before I could figure anything out, I saw through the window a van full of suspicious people, her minions, no doubt. I asked the others, “Is the front door locked? Lock the door! Lock the door!” But nobody paid any attention. Then four or five men came in, dressed kind of like hipster burglars in black turtlenecks and black jeans and knit hats. They spread out and I saw we were outnumbered. It was hopeless. What could I do? It was easy to sneak out when nobody was looking my way. I felt a little bad about leaving my friends, but if it was that easy for me to get away, they could too, right?

At first I ran, suspicious that someone might be following me. But I lost them quickly, and wandered about the city streets, half running and half jumping, like you might on the moon. I guess I woke up right about the time I realized I could simply fly, and not even have to touch the ground.

Need I explain what I found humorous about this dream? Well, just in case, suffice to say that I had called on my higher self to intervene, like a child asking for a grown-up to settle a dispute with another child. When she came, she appeared as a controlling busybody, to the one I had asked protection from, who was, of course, just regular old me.

Feel free to add any comments, relevant or otherwise, or any stories you might wish to share about your encounters with your Shadow.

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