Veronica's Garden

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

Tag: dream

Solstice Dream

“. . . the Cancer Solstice pulls us within to explore the deepest desires of our heart, while also calling us to express our feelings and visions in our wider community, finding appropriate forms and mediums through which to communicate our message.”Gray Crawford, astrologer

I was going back to school, my alma mater, Knox College. But I was going into a graduate level program in some kind of health field, something that would lead to a professional career that would build on the healing work I’ve done as a massage therapist for the last twenty years.

I met another student with whom I would be working frequently. She was young, just out of undergraduate study, and she was enthusiastic and energetic and made friends with me immediately. “So, what number would you call me?” she asked. I didn’t understand. She explained to me that it had always been her fond wish that someone would give her a numerical nickname. “So what number am I?”

How on earth could I give somebody a number? Numbers are so impersonal. “Well, what’s your favorite number?” I asked, but she was gone, leaving me puzzled and amused at the idea that somebody would actually want to be known as a number.

Looking over the curriculum, I read that some students in this program still had their Hematology textbooks, which would come in handy. Hematology? I know nothing about that. I knew many of the students in this program had come from the nursing field, but I hadn’t thought it was a requirement. I must be in way over my head. Maybe I should drop the whole thing now, before it went any farther.

But, the school had accepted me to the program. They knew my history, and clearly believed I could succeed. If they believed in me, why shouldn’t I? It would certainly be a big challenge, but I could tackle it, with determination and my natural ability to learn. I could get through this education, and graduate, and go into a serious professional job, with responsibilities and a salary, more money than I’d ever made. I could support my family.

And it would be a full time job, and I would not have time to write anymore. I would never write again. The pain was visceral, wrenching my gut, the realization that I would never be a writer again. How could I possibly have chosen this? How could I live with this choice?

Journal 2

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When Dreams Change

The Palermo house is being auctioned today. It might even be over by now. I’d love to see who gets it, and I’d love even more to see what they do with it.

This spectacular house stands out in Cottonwood Falls as one of the grandest residences. Maybe too grand for modest Chase Countians, because sometime in its past, it was broken up into twelve apartments. In the 1970s, the Palermos bought the house and began restoring it to its former beauty. They knocked out twenty walls. They gutted rooms and replastered the curving walls. They removed excess plumbing. They lived in the house while they worked on it, and continued to live there after reclusive Kain Palermo fell ill, and restoration was halted. It remains unfinished.

I’d always wanted to see the inside of this house, and I’d sometimes fantasized about owning it. Living in it. I’d pass occasionally and gaze at the ornate urn in front of the porch, at the wide screened sleeping porch upstairs, the round attic window. Overgrown hedges and trees looming close to the house gave it a secretive, haunted feel. It’s a house I might well find myself inhabiting in a dream, one of so many, in which I walk the rooms, imagining what I’ll do in each, feeling the satisfaction of calling this place my own.

Hundreds of people came to the pre-auction open house. I imagine that they, like myself, had been under the spell of the Palermo house.

As I walked through the expansive, empty rooms, the parquet floors gray with wear, the spell broke. It’s a glorious wreck with immense potential. Contrary to the many dreams I’ve had of possessing a place like this, I find at this time in my life I have not the slightest shred of desire to own this house in the waking world. Let someone have it who has the skills, ambition, and resources to resurrect this grand old dame into the spectacular home she was meant to be.

Practical Conscious Dreaming

Someone asked on Twitter what writers do for inspiration, and I mentioned that I had recently dreamt an idea for a novel. “Lucky duck!” she replied, which slightly surprised me. Lucky to have dreams? Like saying someone’s lucky for having two eyes. Well, yes, I am, but most of us do, and you probably do, too.

I wasn’t consciously looking for inspiration that day (or night, rather), but if I had been, dreamwork might well be a method I would turn to. I wrote previously about how I’ve cultivated my dreaming over the years. If you feel a lack in your dreaming, I’d encourage you to try it. You might be surprised what you can discover in dreams.

If you do remember dreams, here’s an exercise you can try tonight. Deep winter is a good time for dreaming, though you can do it any time of year. Prepare yourself to sleep in your usual ways —put on pajamas, brush your teeth, whatever you always do before going to bed. I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it. Take your journal to bed with you. Clear your mind of extranea (that sounds like a real word, don’t you think?). Keep only the question you want to ask. Write it in your journal, as clearly and specifically as you can. Then set the journal near enough to reach when you wake up. Turn out the light and let the question float around in your mind as you fall asleep. As soon as you wake, write everything you can remember.

Sometimes when I do this practice, I get amazing insight into my question. Once, Kirstie Alley appeared and gave me some sound advice. Other times I don’t find anything I can make sense of regarding the question or any dreams I might have had. Sometimes I have a strong feeling that a dream is meaningful, but I can’t find a way to relate the dream to the question I asked. In those cases I suspect that the question wasn’t really right to lead me to a useful answer.

Whatever happens, I love dreaming and dreamwork. If I can’t apply a dream to a particular problem, it could well be fertile material for some other project, such as a poem or a story. I hope later this month to release a collection of surrealist short stories based on a series of dreams I had years ago, when I first started writing fiction.

What do you dream? How do you inspire yourself to dream? How are you using your dreams in your waking life?

Diamond Rain

One shouldn’t choose favorites, but my favorite planet might be Neptune. WordPress informs us that lots of people are reading about Neptune these days; I don’t know why. Maybe their attention was arrested by the thought of 1300 mph winds; or by its mysteries: the unknown source of Neptune’s intense heat (5000º C near the solid core), or its pure, piercing blue hue, much bluer than would be explained by the small amounts of methane near the surface. Maybe it’s the diamond hailstones falling into a liquid diamond ocean.

Ah Neptune, you invite us to dream, whether of the day or night sort makes no difference. Still, Mars and Saturn are calling us to activity on this sunny day, so we will leave off dreaming until night.

Reader, what is your favorite planet?

Cultivating the Dreaming

I dreamt our family was set to go on a trip, but when the time came to get on the bus, I wasn’t packed. I couldn’t even get to my room against the crowds of people all going someplace. There were lots of stairs, there was a hotel room with piles of clothes and other junk that I had to clear out. The bus left without us.

I woke up pretty glum and related my dream in a post on facebook. My friend Kay Shandler replied, “You have the neatest dreams. I rarely dream!” This surprised me because Kay is a skilled energy healer, and I would assume that intuitive healing would require substantial capacity for imagination. Imagination, intuition, and dreaming are all related, and maybe sometime I’ll write a detailed post about that.

But it led me to think about my dream history, because it isn’t an accident that I dream vividly and remember my dreams. I’ve cultivated my dreaming intentionally over many years.

As a child, I never remembered dreams. My sister sometimes talked about her exciting, vivid dreams, and I think everyone in my family related dreams upon occasion, but I never remembered them. It felt like a wonderful and mysterious experience that I was missing out on.

Eventually I learned techniques for enhancing dream recall. I read books about dream interpretation. I kept a journal by my bed, ready to receive any dream that might come. I though about dreaming before I went to sleep. It took time because I had chronic insomnia, but by high school I was recording dreams frequently, sometimes three or four times in a night. I still have my dream journals from that period, and they are filled with page after page of terrible nightmares. Someone tried to kill me, someone chased me, someone shot me point blank in the face and I died. Or I was the aggressor, on a shooting spree in a shopping mall, before that was a trendy thing for crazy people to do. Or there was a nuclear holocaust or an alien invasion and everyone was lost in the dark.

I somehow knew that these nightmares had some kind of message in them, but I had no tools for interpreting them. All I knew to do was diligently record every dream, so that’s what I did, like an illiterate person painstakingly copying letters line by line, messages for an unknown person who might find a way to decipher them in the future.

In college I learned a little about reading symbolism and understanding archetypes. I continued to journal my dreams, and used them as source material for surrealist poetry, which seemed kind of like cheating. But the dream images were more compelling than the ones that arose from my conscious mind.

In my twenties, I learned to dream lucidly. If a series of unbelievably improbable, terrifying events happened, I could recognize that I was having a nightmare. It didn’t necessarily end it, but I knew it wasn’t real. Then I discovered flying. I’m dreaming? Great, that means I can fly!

I was in my thirties when I took a class in past-life regression, which included basic training in hypnosis. I adapted self-hypnosis techniques to return to my dreams in a waking trance state, so that I could dialog with the aggressors in my nightmares. I’ve written about this technique previously.

Also at the past-life regression class, I met Henry Reed, a pioneer dreamwork researcher. One practice Henry uses is conscious dreaming for a person or problem. One way I use dreamwork is to ask for a dream about a question that is on my mind. I write it in my journal, think about the question as I fall asleep, and record what I remember when I wake up. This can be a tool to access information which the conscious mind doesn’t know exists.

When I look at all this history, I’m surprised to realize how constantly important dreaming has been for me, for as long as I can remember. Fortunately, I rarely have violent dreams anymore, and even the unhappy ones don’t have the nightmarish intensity they used to. My dreams are rich and varied. Where will my dreaming go next? I have no idea.

What about you? What do you dream, and what relationship do you have with your dreams?

 

Dream Gifts

Fifteen or twenty years ago I had a dream in which a man broke into my house, through the basement. I don’t remember now what I did -probably fought him, but when I awoke, I wanted to know more about him, and why he was trying to get into my home.

Later I used hypnotherapy to revisit the dream. Using a standard induction, I went to a room which is kind of my home base in self-hypnosis; from there, I visualized a door, with a sign saying Dream Recall. I opened the door into the dream I’d had earlier, and the man came in, just as he had in the original dream. This time, instead of fighting him, I bypassed my fear and asked him, “What do you want?” He reached out his hand, and in it he held an object which was disc-shaped, made of glass or similar hard, clear material. I thought, ashtray, then saw that it wasn’t an ashtray, but resembled an actual object that one of my housemates had, which she used as an ashtray. I took it in my hand, looked at it briefly, and saw myself hold it to my chest, where it was absorbed into my body. The man had broken into my basement (subconscious) to bring me a gift, which was a shield to protect my heart.

Then the dream dissipated. He didn’t stay to tell me who he was or why he wanted to give me this gift.

It was a relief not to have to be afraid of the intruder after that. I’ve had other intruder dreams over the years, but, for various reasons, have had mixed results with revisiting other dreams. I was only passingly curious why I would need such protection, when I was in a stable relationship, which I’m still in to this day.

I hadn’t thought about that dream for a long time until I had a healing session with my friend Kay Shandler. After the session, Kay told me, “You have a shield on your heart.” It was one piece of information among many she gave me that day, so it wasn’t until a few days later that I realized I’d already known I had this metaphysical object. It was still there, after so many years. When I asked her about it, she didn’t know anything more than that. It was just something she noticed, while looking at my energy field.

Maybe next time I’m on Kay’s table, I’ll ask her to look for more information. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I think there are two elements of this story which are important:

The intruder wasn’t there to hurt me; he was there to bring a gift. I was so fearful and defensive of any kind of help that the only way he could reach me was by sneaking in through the basement. He didn’t threaten me in any way; I acted on fear and fought him before he had a chance to do anything.

I was able to revisit the dream at will. The technique is simple. When you have a dream, it remains in your mind, even if you forget it so completely that it seems hopelessly gone. You only need to know how to access it. If you want to change a dream, you can. Self-hypnosis can be an effective  method of retrieving information that you might not otherwise be able to access. For the basics of self-hypnosis, the late Henry Leo Bolduc put some of his books online for free download.

What gifts are your dreams waiting to give you?

Maybe you'll receive a gift via a train rumbling out of the sunset.

Maybe you’ll receive a gift via a train rumbling out of the sunset.

Neptune Direct

Dear friend, at last you return.
Now I visit your dark Dreaming,
two eyes closed, the third open.

I find myself on fertile ground,
painting the laundromat yellow,
evading the wasps on the back porch.
And here is my grand old house,
which I’d forgotten I owned.
This time I’ll take the children to the attic
to explore and choose small treasures,
this time I’ll move in for good.
I’ve sent my dead mother to enjoy
a tea party with the ladies who teach
manners. At a music festival,
an old friend hands me an envelope,
something psychoactive.
Sandwiches of taco meat and
butterscotch pudding are served.
On one side, a girl with her pet beaver
on a leash, on my other side, a boy
recording sounds with his camera.

O Divine Neptune, I sink, a stone,
into your watery depths.
Never leave me again,
in that dreamless sleepless bleak
of your retrograde.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Shadow Saboteur’s Magic Wand

I dreamt I took the kids to a birthday party, and, because I had no pockets, I set my phone and journal on a table while I went about the party. When it was time to leave, the table had already been taken down and put away. I tried to find the hostess to ask her if anyone had seen my things, but I couldn’t find her. Eventually I looked through some things, then went to a basement room where there were rows of stacks of things. I searched through countless items, none of which was mine.

Now, this shadow saboteur bit is getting tiresome. (See my previous posts on the saboteur.) On the face, this dream might seem to be about seeking that which is unattainable, but you can tell that in fact these things are attainable, only the saboteur is preventing them from being mine. I could find lots of things, but it was as if someone were looking over my shoulder, someone who knew all my secrets and weaknesses, who knew just what feature of a thing would eliminate it from the category of mine, someone who held the magic wand, not the one that generates matter in being, but the one that specifies its nature, so that as soon as I have a phone in my hand (My phone is red. Or is it sparkly green?), this one is black. I find a checkbook I wasn’t even looking for, with the right cover, the right style of checks, a winning lottery ticket tucked inside, but the name on the checks is someone else’s. I find a journal, and not only has it no cover at all, but the pages are filled with unfamiliar handwriting.

In the end, I did find the phone, because it rang, and it turned out it had been tucked safely in my cleavage all along. Did the saboteur relent? Or somehow slip up? What do I do with this?

Dreaming Matriarchal Community

I haven’t been inspired to blog lately, probably just too busy to let my mind wander, which seems to be an integral part of the creative process. I have had some moments when everything seemed luminous and magical, but my mind couldn’t rise to the occasion and do anything with that. And that’s okay, because it’s most important simply to experience and notice those moments; elucidating is extra. Then there are times when the push to stay in a mental mode conducive to functioning on the mundane level causes all that metaphysical energy to be sublimated to the dreamworld. There were years when the only writing I did was surrealist poetry, because dreams were the only place I could find material worth writing about. And so, today I’m going to write my Easter dream, the most beautiful and joyful dream I’ve had in years.

I was staying at a sort of hippie coop instead of a hotel, while traveling. In actuality, it was run like a hippie coop, but had a feel more like a modern college campus. It was a place I had heard about a long time ago from an old friend (who in waking world no longer speaks to me). This community was gynocentric and/or matriarchal. The people were open and kind. They solved problems by listening to one another and working together to find solutions. Everyone looked out for all the kids. The group was not without dissent; I heard a man complaining about how men weren’t respected here, yet there were other men present who loved the place and felt respected and welcome.

I was with my children. My husband wasn’t there, but was expected to arrive perhaps the next day. The kids were playing while I talked to other adults, and at one point another woman kindly put my younger daughter to sleep with her children.

Someone handed me a spoon. It was one of the treasures held by this community, artifacts of ancient matriarchal and/or goddess-worshipping societies. He rubbed the edge of the bowl of the spoon, and it sang, sort of like a wineglass might, but not just one note. With one touch, the spoon played a whole song, so movingly beautiful that I wept before it was over. The women surrounding me smiled with love and understanding at my tears. I tried to play it again, but all I could get were short single notes.

I was about to take the kids to bed when someone mentioned that I should pay for our stay. I went to get my checkbook, which was in our room in another building. On the way back, someone knocked me down in the darkness. It was a boy, not from this community. He took a basket I was carrying, another of the artifacts. He said it wasn’t fair, that his bike had been stolen. But I got the basket back and went inside. As I was writing the check, the man I was about to give it to told me that payment was actually optional. I was thinking about how much to give, when I saw through a window that both my girls were outside playing with the other kids. It was full dark, late for them to be up, and I had been sure at least one was already asleep. I’d have to gather them as soon as I gave him the check. I gave him $15, asking if it was enough, and he said that he’d only expected me to give $2.

So that’s that. Hope you all had a lovely Easter, if you recognize it, and if not, that your spring brings renewal and light and hope.

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