Veronica's Garden

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

Tag: dreamwork

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

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?

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?

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.

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.

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.

How Many Share This Dream?

Dreams of Lots of Rooms is getting hits. Is this dream sparked by the holidays? The impending change of year? Do we dream more when the nights are longer? Could it be true what some are saying, that we are in the midst of deep change, evolving from what we were into something as yet unimagined, undefined? Are these rooms the various facets of the gem of the individual, different faces we try on for size, show the world, and see reflected back in the mirror of dreaming?

My New Year resolution was to manifest a room. It hasn’t happened. I still hold hope, that it will be soon, soon.

Have you had the roomy dream? What do you make of it? What rooms do you explore in your dreams? How can we manifest our dreams into waking reality?

333410_8245

Photo by Zoltan Zelenyak

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?

%d bloggers like this: