MINDFULNESS - "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."
Jeremy Taylor’s Ten Basic Assumptions of Dreams
1. All dreams come in the service of health and wholeness, even those that take a dramatically negative form.
2. No dreams come just to tell you what you already know. All dreams break new ground and invite new insights.
3. Only the dreamer can say with any certainty what meanings his or her dream may have.
4. The dreamer’s "aha!" of recognition is the only reliable touchstone of dream work.
5. There is no such thing as a dream with only one meaning. All dreams and dream images have multiple meanings and layers of significance.
6. All dreams speak a universal language of symbol and metaphor.
7. All dream reflect inborn creativity and ability to face and solve life’s problems.
8. All dreams reflect society as a whole, as well as the dreamer’s relationship to it.
9. Working with dreams regularly improves relationships with friends, family and others.
10. Working with dreams in groups builds community, intimacy, and support and begins to impact on society as a whole.
"Man does not know himself. He does not know his own limitations and his own possibilities. He does not even know to how great an extent he does not know himself."
(P.D. Ouspensky, The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution)
The Danger of not knowing our Selves
Our world is in wild confusion, governed and dominated by false, ego-driven personalities who are blind, selfish and utterly unaware of who they really are. The governed and dominated are ever more angry, betrayed, disoriented, or despairing. They also are mostly unaware of their True Selves, following instead the self-serving, defensive, victim-thinking, distorted directives of the small ego.
“Most people confuse 'self-knowledge' with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities. Anyone who has any egoconsciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents.
(Carl G. Jung)
Ego itself is not the problem. It is the disproportionate importance we give to the ego, and our blind, unthinking obedience to it that harms us. The ego is a very small part of the psyche, the larger parts of which are the unconscious and the superconscious or spiritual dimension of the Self, but we have given ego more importance than it warrants, and do not question its claim to be the whole Self, when really, it is just the tip of the Self of which we are conscious. Ego has become our master, rather than our servant.
Despite all our modern references to the wider dimensions, the unconscious and the spiritual, most of us have little if any real idea of what they are, and very little conscious experience of them. They do speak to us though, constantly breaking into our ego minds as dreams, impulses, visions, insights, moods and emotions, but we brush these off as insignificant, meaningless or even dangerous, and do not listen. So most of us remain woefully ignorant of vast regions of ourselves, denying ourselves precious guidance and doors to deep self-understanding and much broader perspective of the whole Self.
This prevailing ignorance of our own true nature, and our consequent failure to strengthen, support and express it, leaves our world and us in the mad hands of fractious, fearful, fragmented, delusional, ego-driven, self-serving, confused, unaware personalities, ours and others'.
This is no world for genuine human beings, and if we do not transform it, we might fall so far that it will be long dark eons before humanity can arise again.
Evolution of Humanity
Some believe that our evolution into a higher kind of humanity is inevitable, that the energies and powers that will achieve that will flow onto us without our active participation. All we must do is receive. But humanity as a whole is not yet in a suitable condition to receive. The universal law of attraction is that like comes to like, or more bluntly, you attract the energies that are compatible with your own.
Given the state of humanity, its proclivity to violence, hatred, fear, antagonism, divisiveness, all of its dark little tendencies and conditioned reactions, humanity is in no state at all to receive the energies that will raise us from our present condition to something holier, more spiritual. Our energies are too heavy, too dense with all that negativity, so dense that we have even polluted the energies of the earth. That's spiritual pollution, just as bad if not worse than polluting the environment.
If we want to be raised up, to be purified so that we can safely receive that light that continuously flows towards us seeking entry, if we want to evolve, we have to change ourselves. We have to clear away from ourselves, each one individually, all that accumulated negativity and heaviness with which we've buried, smothered our true Selves, and give our Selves room to stretch into the light of day.
To change the world, we must transform ourselves, or more accurately, we must recover our True Selves. This is evolution, spiritual evolution. Nature won't do it for us. God won't. Our efforts to grow, change and evolve are always divinely supported, and Mother Nature would like nothing better than for us to evolve, but This is our task. We are responsible for our own evolution.
“The evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness. And consciousness cannot evolve unconsciously. The evolution of man is the evolution of his will, and will cannot evolve involuntarily. The evolution of man is the evolution of his power of doing, and doing cannot be the result of things which happen.”
Spiritual evolution. There is no greater challenge for our times, and we must rise to it.
The quest to reclaim the Self from false personality calls each one of us to sally forth from our thick-walled castles and venture out into unfamiliar territory, to face what we have created, and with understanding, love and compassion, overcome it.
This is no small thing, but the task need not overwhelm us. For the soul, this is an adventure, the ultimate knight's quest, and we the knights ... brave, unwavering, resourceful, to the ordinary eye - alone, but in reality, companioned, guided and supported by unseen forces, for this is a spiritual quest for the Self we seek is no less than part of our greater spiritual being.
The Spiritual Journey
Like the questing knight, we set out not knowing where we are going, only that what we seek is of great value, worth every hardship ... And hardships there will be: monsters, dragons and demons, evil and temptation, fears that will arise like bad smells from us, and doubts that will bloom like great storms to deter us. These we must be prepared to face to sear us clean of our lower selves, our lower emotions and passions and make us worthy of the prize, the Holy Grail, experiencing ourselves as the spiritual beings that we really are.
Of course we will make mistakes! Of course we will sometimes be distracted from our quest, lose our way, lose hope, feel all alone, for a knight is only human.
But isn't that why we came here, not only to know our Selves more deeply, but also for the adventure and excitement of the journey? To experience all that we encounter? To plunge deep into ourselves and draw up inner resources we didn't know we had? Is not that the challenge we undertook for this life?
Is the reward not worthy of the suffering, this Pearl of Great Price, this remembrance of our godlike True Nature?
Awakening+Soul+Spirit. Image from humansarefree.com
What greater prize can there be for a human being than Self-Knowing, because in the remembering of ourselves we free ourselves from our false, created personas, we free ourselves from the errors of our humanness, all those misconceptions, misunderstandings and self-delusions that are part of being human but which must be released before humanity can evolve to a higher state of being, as is intended.
If we do not evolve, become the fully conscious human beings we are meant to be, said Carl Jung, we will inevitably destroy ourselves. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said the same:
"When you know yourselves, then shall you be known, and you shall know that you are the sons of the living Father. But if ye do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty, and you are poverty."
and, "If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
(Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi Texts)
So do not be afraid to ride forth, dear souls, and may your journey be blessed ... .. For on the way, you will meet your True Self, and recognise your power to be authentic, to live life as a genuine, fully conscious human being.
cc 2016 Tosca Zraikat
It has become fashionable to talk about spirituality as something that comes upon us with minimal effort on our part. It has become fashionable to consider ourselves spiritual because we meditate, or go to ashrams in India, or light candles or live more environmentally conscious lives. All good things to do, for sure, and they can certainly be part of a truly spiritual life. But they do not make you into a spiritual person, not by a long shot.
Spirituality is a state of consciousness - an inner state of lovingness, compassion, self-awareness, self-acceptance, forgivenness, patience, connection with something greater than ourselves that I call God - and being spiritual means actively and intentionally striving towards that state so that we can make it our usual, our normal state of consciousness.
Being a spiritual person, one who naturally and easily expresses his or her spiritual being in the midst of everyday life, can take a long time, our whole lives even, and we might - no, we will slack off now and then, lose sight of our goal, lose heart because we are human. Even the most spiritual human being can lose heart or get tired of following that path. That's what spiritual practice is for, why it's important to be connected with a spiritual teacher or tradition, not only to help us get to that spiritual path and walk on it, but to help keep us there when we don't feel up to it on our own. That is all part of the spiritual life.
Even when we lose our way and fall back into a totally un-spiritual way of being, we can still pick ourselves up and get back on the path. Falling back can be a good thing sometimes, a wakeup call that we need to pay attention, keep our eyes on the goal and not take our progress for granted. Falling back and losing our way can be very humbling - and that is a good thing.
You see, spirituality is a commitment, a persistent effort to be transformed - to consciously and intentionally transform our way of thinking, our way of seeing the world, our attitudes to others, how we treat others into a way of being that is both human and spiritual, the very best of our humanness.
It's not good enough to just hang out with 'spiritual' friends or go to 'spiritual' retreats. The test of a spiritual life is what is happening inside of you. Are you being transformed from a self-centred, self-interested, ego-driven person into a kinder, more selfless, giving, forgiving, patient, compassionate person? Does your behaviour in the world reflect that? Are you looking deeper into yourself to find and weed out all those habits you've developed over your lifetime that keep you from recognising the holy light within you and making it shine?
The way of Spirit can be a hard way, because it requires that we dig through all the mud that is inside of us to find and bring forth our inner divinity, our spiritual nature. And that takes a lot of digging, a lot of humility as we find how much mud there really is - all that resentment, that anger, those unkindnesses, fears, selfish actions, all that pride, that desire to be special, to be admired. An awful lot of mud.
But it is also a joyous way, for in that mud, in that toxic sludge lies the seed of the beautiful lotus flower, and as you dig and clean away the toxic stuff, that seed is putting forth roots and stem. One day, that stem will rise high above the mud with its precious bud, the self-realising You, and that bud will open to reveal its unique, pure beauty and radiance - You - to the world.
Don't think you have to be a Lakshmi, a Jesus or Buddha to flower like that, that you have to be something special. No matter what your state of consciousness now, You can be, you have within you the divine potential to be that beauty, that radiance, a blessing to yourself and others.
One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water.
If you want to live as a spiritual being, prepared to be humbled, to have your illusions about yourself shattered, and your self-importance deflated. For humility melts away your inner resistance to God.
We all know that humility is not much appreciated in our society. It's seen as weakness, being a shrinking violet, not something that will get us recognised, get us ahead. Yet humility is truly the foundation of spiritual awakening, and along with love, the rock-solid foundation of a spiritual life. Without humility, we cannot open ourselves as fully to God consciousness, to the Christ or the Buddha or any other Teacher or Master as we must before we can be lifted up to a whole new level of consciousness.
How easy it is to get stuck in pride! We all want to feel special, every one of us. That's why every spiritual tradition teaches the necessity of eliminating Pride, Vanity, and of learning to be humble. That's why every spiritual tradition worthy of the name offers to genuine seekers the guidance and support of a teacher, a priest, a minister, monk or mullah, and why the teachers themselves have spiritual mentors, more experienced, wiser individuals who, among other things, help to keep the teacher's pride in check. That's why even the wisest, most spiritual of them turn humbly to God or whatever Higher Being they revere for solace, comfort and guidance. Gandhi did. The Dalai Lama does. The Pope does. Socrates did. So did Yeshua, the Christed One.
As one of my teachers often says, 'You cannot do it alone!' Understanding that, acknowledging that deep in our hearts takes humility. Thank God that I have this mentor to keep reminding me of it.
(You'll find a link below to that particular teacher's video on humility; Listen to it. It is deep, compassion wisdom. There's also a link to a post on my own experience with humility.)
If you are serious about following the spiritual path, you will have to get dirty, get into the dark, deep places of yourself.
For it is in those dark places that you can find and pull out all that is choking the seed of your higher self, holding it fast in the mud and not letting it rise. That takes humility, the humility, first, to accept that that sludge is inside of you, then the humility to find it and weed it, to clear away the mud that suffocates.
Then, that seed of your sincere desire for God, your yearning to be your True Self in the world, that seed that was being suffocated can now take root in the rich soil. But if you have not gone into that mud, cleared away that choking tangle, and planted that seed, you can be sure that your flower, your spiritual potential will not be able to rise and blossom. So do it.
Do the work and trust that eventually, you will feel your spirit emerging into the light. You will find yourself in Love - loving yourself as you are, loving others more and more, even those who have hurt you. When Love becomes your very sun, constantly sustaining you and shedding light on your every day decisions and choices, you can be sure that your true spiritual nature is blooming like mad in the world. Your task thereafter is to keep it blooming, clearing the way for seed after seed, flower after flower.
“The world is emblematic. Parts of speech are metaphors, because the whole of nature is a metaphor of the human mind.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Nature
On my travels last month, I did some intensive inner work with my Tarot cards. After a few days of this, it dawned on me that the symbolism and practice of the Tarot are in some ways similar to the symbolism of the Medicine Wheel and the Pentacle, and that drawing on each of these systems could add a whole other level of significance and insight to my readings.
The forms and layouts might be different, but the processes are fundamentally the same: inviting the energies of the symbols in their particular placements to speak to me, and recognising their relationship to each other.
What triggered this huge (for me) insight was experimenting with other layouts than the one I usually use, the traditional the Celtic layout.
First, I did a personal reading with a four-card layout described in master Tarot reader Nancy Antenucci's little gem of a book, Psychic Tarot:
Pentacles / earth
Cups /water Swords / air
Wands / fire
The results were so significant, so deeply relevant to my life and current situation, providing such helpful insights into my own psyche and experience that I was eager to do more experiments with the four-card layout.
I also noticed that that layout almost corresponded with the Medicine wheel:
(image from mayankin.com)
Since I use the Medicine wheel in my spiritual practice of calling on the powers/energies of the four directions, I did another reading with the cards laid out according to the Medicine wheel, with mind on top, wands on the bottom, and earth and spirit on left and right sides.
This is my Medicine wheel/Tarot 4 card layout:
pentacles/earth, Physical wands/fire, Spirit/Creativity
In the centre, I also lay a card chosen from the Major Arcana to represent the Sacred Pole of the Medicine wheel that connects Mother Earth and Father Sky. In the Tarot reading, I interpreted that centre card as representing an overall spiritual perspective on the readings of the other cards from my spiritual guide or the Divine.
Once more, with this new arrangement, I obtained a most powerful and insightful reading, and that night, had a dream (nightmare, actually) that shocked me into a new and very disturbing realisation about an important past relationship and an unresolved issue that I still carried from it. It took several days to recover from that and attempt another reading.
Having already recognised correspondences between the pentacle and the four-card Tarot layout and Medicine wheel, I thought I'd try a reading with a pentacle layout, in which spirit is treated separately from the elements earth, air, water and fire.
I guess because I tend to do readings from a spiritual perspective, inevitably relating all other aspects of person back to spirit, the pentacle reading didn't work so well for me until I included the Centre, the World Pole that represents the descent and ascent of the Divine, the Holy.
That allowed me to read the top point of the pentacle, the point of spirit, as spirit being manifested or not manifested in my life, as indicated by the other four points, and then to read the overall spiritual perspective from the higher sources, the uncreated Mother/Father, the Divine Principle as intuited or suggested from that central card.
With such good results all around, I am now totally convinced that it doesn't really matter what symbol system one uses, for we are being continually offered guidance. It is all around us, like a ceaseless ocean running all through the cosmos for our erudition. It's just a matter of learning how to use the tools, read the signs and trust a higher wisdom to open our eyes to the message. Gratiea Dea.
Nancy Antenucci and Melanie Howard's Psychic Tarot (2015) is simply the most helpful Tarot book I have found (and I have a few) for developing and refining one's Tarot reading abilities.
The very first mandala I made was a layout of things gathered in my garden ... rough, spontaneous, and invested with much meaning.
Over time, the symbolism of my medicine wheels has become more refined as I have gained a deeper understanding of what I want to express and what symbols to use. Much of it, though, is intuitive. Every time I make or enact a medicine wheel, I gain insights into the significance of the directions and the symbols I am using, so each wheel carries much meaning for me.
My medicine wheel also provides the pattern for my calling of the powers of the five directions: north, south, east, west, and the vertical of the Central pole or Tree of Life that draws down to me the blessings of Mother Earth and Father Sky. For a while, I kept trying out different power animal symbols until I chose some that felt just right to me .
My power animal for the East, direction of beginnings, the new day, inception is the deer, to me a symbol of grace, lightness and alertness. She reminds me to walk with care, aware, watchful, and to approach all things, all undertakings in the spirit of grace and beauty.
For the South, direction of work, productivity, growth, activity, and plants, my animal is the bee who labours long and unselfishly for the common good, and whose work produces something of great sweetness and value. So must I humbly and diligently do what work is required of me, for the greater good of all.
My power animal for the West, direction of holding, retaining, storing, is the little squirrel, who gathers and stores acorns to nourish itself and others through the cold, barren times. He reminds me to be fore-thinking, be prepared for whatever may come, to hold onto life's sweetness, lessons learned, wisdom gained. But also not to store or hold onto resentments, regrets, anger or fear, anything that will pull me away from goodness and truth.
For North, direction of wisdom, the ancients and elders, teachers, withdrawal and cold, I chose the snowy owl. My first choice was the wolf, one of my favourite animals, then the bear, but there is a cold and aloof beauty to the white owl of the Northern regions that reminds me of the principle of non-attachment. The owl sits silent, patient, unnoticed then quietly falls upon its prey. So must I learn from the wise, the elders and teachers to flow with silent power and grace towards my chosen object.
Falling cot dream
I dreamed that I was at a desert oasis with friends, and went off to lie in a depression in the sand. All is very peaceful. Then a very big, heavy metal cot containing a big baby, which is nearby, lifts, and starts to tip over and fall on me, and I raise one arm to hold it off, still not ruffled, but find that the cot is too heavy.
Meanwhile, the baby flies out of the cot into the air, and I look at it anxiously, but it is actually laughing, and lands safely.
I call out to my friends, but no one hears, as they are deep in conversation. Yet I know they they will eventually notice my dilemma, so I lie there calmly, holding the cot from falling onto me. I am more concerned for the child's wellbeing, and also, a voice calls out to me three times, very clearly, 'Help Bill. Help Bill. Help Bill.' I wonder who Bill is, and wake up with that thought in mind.
Later, I made a rough colour sketch of the dream, and also spontaneously wrote a story as a creative response to it (below), something that I often find helpful in getting to the underlying message of the dream.
On waking, I realised that the Bill my dream spoke of is probably a person I know only by email, an older man who has been struggling to get past some very disturbing psychic experiences from many years ago, and to find some inner peace. I have been listening (by email) - sometimes with irritation, for he does go on - to pages of his reminiscences and often chaotic reflections, and figure that maybe it's time to offer some thoughts, or at least, to encourage a more optimistic perspective. Tactfully and with much restraint, of course, because no one really knows what is in another person's soul, or what that person has come into this life to do.
Story about 'Falling Cot' dream.
Many years before there was television, a young girl went into the desert with three friends, and after a long walk, they came to an oasis, a place where a natural spring bubbled up, and green plants could grow. There, they sat in the shade of trees and after eating their sandwiches and sweet purple grapes, they told each other about their dreams.
The girl loved to talk about her dreams, and to hear about others’ dreams, because she believed that the dream world really existed, and that those things that they saw and did in dreams really did happen. Her friends laughed at her about this, calling her - sweetly and with little hugs - naive and childish, which did not bother her in the least.
One friend, whose name was Alex, dreamed about a bed that he had slept in as a little child. He remembered that bed because it was made of silver, and very heavy. "In my dream", he said, "the bed carried me far way over the sea, and became a boat, and took me to a land of many foxes. That is all I remember", Alex said.
‘Oh, I love foxes!’ exclaimed the girl, "and there was one in my dream as well. I was standing on a mountain looking over the valley with my baby brother, and I noticed a little fox in the grass, gazing at us. My brother ran towards it, that kind of waddling run that he used to have when he was smaller, and he disappeared into the grasses with the fox. I was very upset, but I knew the fox wouldn’t hurt him".
"Well", said another friend, whose name was Jenna, "I dreamed I was a crane, flying, and it was wonderful".
"I don’t remember my dream," said the other friend sadly.
So they sat, talking quietly among themselves. It was hot, and the girl lay in a little hollow in the sand where it was shady. After a while, she feel asleep.The girl awoke with a start, and saw her friends still talking. They had been dabbling their feet in the cool spring, and were standing beneath a tree in deep conversation.
All of a sudden, the girl saw a great silver cot falling out of the sky and called out, “Watch out! That’s your dream bed, Alex, about to fall on you!” Alex paid no attention, even when the bed just missed him, and fell onto the girl. But she was ready, and held it off, though it really was heavy.
Then the girl saw her baby brother falling from the sky, laughing as though he were on a playground ride, and he landed lightly on the grass. “Oh hello dear brother”, said the girl. “So, you’ve had enough of foxes for now”. “Look”, she called to her friends. “My brother has come back from the fox!” No one heard her.
Next, the girl saw a great white crane sailing across the sky, and it reminded her of her friend Jenna. “Jenna!” she called. “Come down and see us!” but the bird called back, “I am on my way to the sea where the whales are playing”.
And then a little box fell down beside the girl, and on it was the name of her other friend, Tony. It was beautiful, but locked, with a little key still in the lock. She knew at once what it was.“Come over here. Oh come over here” the girl called to her friends, and this time, they heard her.
“What is that silver. . . . oh!” exclaimed Alex. “My bed! The very one I dreamed of! How can that be?” “And there goes your crane, Jenna, on her way to watch the whales play” said the girl, pointing to the crane that was circling around them before flying out of sight. “How did you know that I was flying to watch whales?” asked Jenna in astonishment. “I didn’t tell you that!” “No, you didn’t. The crane did”, said the girl with a big smile. “And see, here is my baby brother, come back from the fox”. The girl’s friends looked totally perplexed, especially when they spied a little red fox disappearing into a burrow beside one to the trees.
“Here Tony”, said the girl, handing the box to her friend. “I believe that is the dream you forgot last night”. Tony stared at the box and the girl, not sure what to do. “Before you go to sleep tonight”, the girl continued, “why not open the box and dream that dream again?” Tony nodded dumbly.
This was all too much. In fact, as the friends walked home, they could hardly talk from astonishment. The girl just smiled. She smiled because she knew that the world was full of surprises. There is so much that we don’t know about it.
As she parted from her friends to go home, Alex said quietly, not quite believing what he was saying. “Maybe we live right beside the land of dreams, but just don’t see it.” Jenna nodded. “Yes, maybe it is a real place after all, “ she said. Tony shook his head. “I just don’t believe it! Somehow, you’ve played a trick on us,” he said to the girl, his eyes full of admiration because Tony did appreciate a good trick. “No,” said the girl. “No trick. You just have to believe”, and with that, she went home smiling all the way.
(Fox drawing from 'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint Exupery)
(Originally posted on my Creative Spirit blog in 2015)
The more I work with my dreams, the more I find that the most important message of a dream is not always the most obvious. If a dream is particularly clear, or if it stays with me, I make sure to look deeper into it, not with intellect (which is always limited by its current beliefs and expectations), but by getting in touch with the unconscious mind.
I find Jung's methods particularly helpful for dreamwork. For my most recent dream, I used his 'active imagination' method, where one brings a particular dream image to mind and lets the unconscious make its own associations. Here's how it worked for me.
I am sitting on the floor in a lovely, elegant but sparsely furnished house, near a fireplace, unpacking boxes of books for the house owner. Out of one box I draw a large, thick book bound in very finely worked soft leather or suede, very beautiful, and lovely to touch. It is a Russian-English dictionary, and it is surprisingly light - unrealistically so.
At first, as I carefully put the book away, I think it is the whole dictionary, but it turns out to be only one of four volumes.
Somewhere in the dream, I am praised by the house owner for translating something from Russian into English. I tell him that my Russian is very poor, but it doesn’t seem to matter, and I am pleased to know that he is satisfied with my work.
I return to unpacking, noticing a few other cartons to the side, different from the cardboard boxes that I am emptying, perfectly square, well made, lidless and empty. I wonder what will be going inside them, and feel that they are waiting for something special.
Associations with waking life
For me, interpretation is a process that begins with considering the surface content. What associations can I find between the dream and my waking life? Most obvious is the importance of books. I love books, I have many of them that I simply cannot bear to give away, and keep collecting more, and I am constantly reading them. I have a beautifully made book from Venice given to me my youngest daughter a week AFTER this dream, different from the dream book but also covered in finely tooled leather, and quite special.
I also love language, and am moderately fluent in Russian, my mother-tongue, and somewhere among my books, I have a very heavy, very thick two-volume Russian-English dictionary that I have never used. Then the house, it was just the kind of house I used to dream of living in, a gracious home in the quiet countryside.
Everything in the dream reflected things that I value and want to include in my life: books; knowledge; beauty; grace; refinement; craftsmanship; peacefulness and solitude, as well as having my work valued and appreciated.
My initial interpretation of the dream’s message was to do things I love to do, to do them well, and to trust that others will recognise the value of what I do. This is definitely a message with great relevance to my waking life, because I often feel that I am not really good enough, and that I will never be appreciated for myself. I have also received this same message in other dreams where, most often, I am going to teach a class and find that I either cannot find my materials, have no idea where to go, or I cannot get there. I sometimes awake from these dreams with my heart racing wildly from anxiety and frustration. So I thought that I understood the dream, and that the book represented learning, knowledge, the beauty of mind and such.
I have always been interested in symbolism, so looking at dream symbols is a big part of my dreamwork. Using Jung’s active imagination technique for getting into the symbols, I explored the major image in my dream, the book, and here are some of the inner visions that came up:
pages coming together on their own as if by magic
old man writing in a small stone room,
girl sleeping with head on book,
book embedded in ancient stone wall
hands yearning to write
words arising, each as an image
angel watches a writer at work
an open book is a landscape of hills with trees, like a child’s painting,
someone painting a small picture
walking into a book that is a great dark forest with unknown beings watching from the shadows
All about books, I thought: reading them, writing them, losing oneself in them. Of course!
Last night, however, I dreamed about that dream, a short dream of which I recall only bits and pieces, but those bits and pieces gave me a whole new insight into the dream and the symbolism of the leather book.
In last night’s dream, I was in that great dark forest that I had seen during my active imagination exercise, but the rough path I was following disappeared into an increasingly dense forest with tangled undergrowth. The forest began to feel restrictive, darker, gloomier; my initial delight turned to discomfort, and I noticed goblins and strange figures looking at me from deep shadows. What had at first seemed a place of refuge and enchantment, a place where I could read in peace, now felt like a prison, a place of entrapment from which I might not get out.
Still in the dream, I recalled the man writing in a small dark room (another image from the Jung exercise), and I realised with a start that he was stuck there, alone in his ivory tower, and had forgotten the world outside.
Waking from that second dream, I understood in a flash of insight that the book of my dream was also the dark forest, the lonely tower, the dungeon, the place where I retreated from life. I had not opened the leather book in the first dream because it was not life, just a collection of words, a place to hide from my fear and self-doubt.
My first interpretation of this dream had been true, but only on one level of meaning. Now, I had another, and both were equally valid, for dreams, like symbols, are never what they first seem to be.
(Images: Dreamer, by Edward Burne-Jones; Snow White, by Arthur Rackham; St Jerome in a dark chamber, by Rembrandt.)