A Journey Of Dreams

Recently I woke up three times during the night and each time I had a short but incredibly clear dream. When I woke up the memory was as vivid as when I had the dream. As I explored the relationship between the dreams I knew there was a journey but had no idea what could link them.

In the first dream I was with my first wife who had told ne she was leaving me and I was extremely angry. I asked how she could do this to me and her response was kind, loving but firm. I asked her when she stopped loving me and she paused and then responded, “I think when I lost the baby.”

The second dream was even shorter. I am in church with my dear friend Maryann. She is listening to the sermon; I seem to be watching her. Suddenly she exclaims, “WTF does Jesus have to do with my Christmas genesis?” 

The third dream I am standing at a bus stop with my friend Reg. A double decker bus arrives, we get on and I stop to deposit coins in the ticket machine. Suddenly it begins to spit coins out – more and more coins begin to cover the floor of the bus. I join Reg on the upper deck. The bus driver announces he is going to pull over to clear up the coins. All the snowboarders decide to alight.

 During the past two weeks I worked with these dreams both with my dream partner, some select friends and on my own. As often occurs pieces of a puzzle emerge:

– The first dream is purely metaphysical and bore no resemblance to my real life. My wife did not leave me, she never lost a baby. Therefore the message is symbolic.

– Therefore my first wife did not represent herself but some aspect of me. I deduce that she represents the unconscious feeling state.

– I lost touch with my feelings at the age of eleven when I got sent away to boarding school. During the next five years of my life I suffered enormous losses in terms of self-esteem, courage, initiative and ambition, and developing a fear of failure to the point I would no longer attempt anything risky or challenging. This is what the baby represents in the dream.

The second dream is much more difficult to interpret. I have had a checkered relationship to Christianity during my life. I abandoned it at the age of 13; returned for a brief period in my fifties when I joined and studied at the Unity Church; I went so far as to attend theological college where I made peace with the tradition realizing that what I had been taught as a child was history is actually mostly myth. I have great respect for the essential teachings of Jesus but like many I have learned to discern those which are likely genuine from those which are likely added later. (Stephen Mitchell’s Book “The Gospel According to Jesus” has been a great support.

Reflecting on the dream it occurred to me that the reason so many Christians could not follow the teachings of the man whose name their faith bears is that they have never explored their own psychology and unconscious fears around love and forgiveness which comprise so much of Jesus’s message.

I am still waiting for the powerful theme “Christmas Genesis” to be revealed to me. Literally it would mean “a beginning through a new divine birth.

The final dream is about closure. My friend Reg has just been diagnosed with cancer so he represents the aspect of me entering the last chapter of my life. The snowboarders are an interesting symbol. They have traditionally represented counter-culture, so they likely represents in me letting go of some more dissident aspects of my personality. The machine spitting out money suggests perhaps that on this last part of my journey I do not need to be concerned about basic needs.

One of my ongoing commitments is to continue to “refine my heart”. I suspect this dream is a signpost for me to follow. I am “following the bread crumbs” as best I can and have begun reading Stephen Mitchells book once again for clues as well as paying close attention to dreams signs and symbols. Eminent author and Jungian Analyst James Hollis suggests the enquiry, “Why did my unconscious bring me this dream now – a worthy question that as yet still needs an answer.

Dreams and Active Imagination

I am sitting in a room of a house trying to decide which TV channels to choose. Besides the TV is a man that I believe is French working at a desk. I decide to make a cup of tea and address him with the words, “du the?” He shakes his head and I go to the kitchen and put the kettle on. I return to my seat to search out a movie and he speaks to me in very proper English with no trace of an accent. I have obviously been mistaken in my assumption. He seems to be there to do some work. It slowly sinks in that he is not the owner of the house. At this point I am assuming I am a guest in the house too. He stands up and walks over to the wall and puts his hand on it announcing it is damp and there is moisture in the walls. He suggests that this would be problematic for the prospective purchaser. Suddenly I realize I am the owner and the house is for sale. There is an agreement to sell but it has not closed. I then sense he knows the owner and I become concerned that he may prevent the deal from taking place.

At this juncture I wake up. I am in a state of confusion. At first I think I still own a property in Nelson, BC and that this sale is under threat. Slowly it dawns on me that it is a dream, I feel a huge sense of relief – I sold the Nelson house almost twenty-years earlier.

I gave no consideration to the meaning of the dream as I had my monthly dream group that night and planned to bring it to the group for assistance through the dream partnering process I have developed.

Once again this technique of sharing and tending the dream by exploring feelings, energy and symbols was profoundly helpful at expanding my discernment. The dream is about an unconscious dissonance that has developed between the “doer” and the one who gets so easily distracted. Once again I marvel at the brilliance of the unconscious to present the “doer” as foreign to me.

This makes so much sense as I live much of my life in a state of being and trusting that my inner wisdom will bring me focus when I am required to shift into a more active engagement. Recently I have felt no great passion to write or produce anything. My summer was a great time of re-creation and I had not written a blog since mid-June. A project I had started at the beginning of the year has had no focus for months. Consciously I had felt unconcerned because there had been no clear evidence that it was time to move to a more active role.

Yet my unconscious is expressing concern. In fact the “doer” thinks that the structure of the house (my individualized consciousness) is under threat. The deal – “my commitment to my deeper self or Soul to fulfill my highest expression” may be in danger. Damp implies significant exposure to water which in my dream lexicon could be about the unconscious or feelings.

I feel uncertain about how to address this dissonance and whether I am being asked to rethink a long term philosophy of “waiting on the will of heaven” before acting. I have always trusted that inspiration will come when I am required to take something on. I have found that passion for something becomes the driving force to move ahead.

But what happens if that inspiration or passion does not show up? Should I introduce more structure in my life. Suddenly it occurred to me that this would be a perfect opportunity to apply active imagination.

Active Imagination is a Jungian tool asking us to converse with the character in the dream. We ask the questions and then reply. It seems strangely foreign at first but is all about letting go and just recording the dialogue as it unfolds without judging it or questioning it. I decide to name the “doer” as Jim.

Me: So why have we become so disconnected?

Jim: I feel stuck because I can’t “do” without having a reason.

Me: Ah I see what you mean the driving force is missing.

Jim: That’s why I start things and nothing progresses.

Me: Yes there are a lot of unfinished pieces in my Word file and the “Legacy” project has ground to a halt. So how do we resolve this?

Jim: The ball is in your court.

Me: While I of course think it is in yours.

Jim: I wait on your direction but you are waiting for inspiration/passion.

Me: And for sometime it has not come. The “other” in my life seems to have vanished.

Jim: So what comes next?

Me: I think that I need to do some contemplation on the “other”, reduce the distractions in my life and let’s at least start writing by finishing the blog on Morocco.

Jim: that sounds like a deal.

The good news is the blog got finished (see https://wp.me/pENvY-sW if you are interested). Then I felt encouraged to complete writing about the dream. It feels like the impasse has been broken and hopefully the dissonance resolved.

 

 

 

 

Not All Dream Are Created Equal

trevor's dream 2

One of the first priorities when we start to work with dreams is to distinguish what to focus on, as not all dreams are created equal. Occasionally we can become overwhelmed trying to interpret every dream that enters our awareness. Recently, I have been witnessing dreams that come as an affirmation of our current life journey. It is as though the soul wants to assure us that we are on the right path. One dream-partner shared a dream of being able to sing beautifully, it was an amazing moment as she has always aspired to sing and now the voice in the dream was the one she had always longed for. She knew immediately that the dream was not about a vocal miracle; it was a declaration that she had found her voice in the world in which she lived.

So what are some of the other forms that dreams may take?

  • Junk Mail Dreams There are dreams that come simply to support us in discarding the psychic trash. These dreams are full of haphazard, overlapping images that can create chaos in the waking mind. Treat these like junk mail; they came to pass and perhaps clear some of the detritus from an overloaded mind.
  • Anxiety Dreams There are the classic anxiety dreams that everyone will occasionally encounter; you arrive at the airport without ticket, passport or bag; you sit an exam with no pencil or paper. These are a normally a sign of some harmless anxiety about a future event however if your dreams are always anxious then it will be important to explore the underlying cause.
  • Precognitive Dreams Infrequently you may have dreams that are pre-cognitive of a future event. These dreams are generally like a photograph: clear, accurate, no symbols. There is no explaining these dreams outside of the context that “we are more than we think we are”.
  • Collective Dreams Some dreams may represent something happening in the collective consciousness at the time. Carl Jung dreamed images of the First World War before it happened. I recall attending a meditation on the evening of September 11th 2001 and everyone except one person there had experienced disturbed sleep the night prior to the event.
  • Dreams of the Life Not Lived They totally intrigue me; I encountered them at a time when I was deeply involved in pursuing my spiritual quest and spending a lot of time in meditation and on retreat. I began to have these movie type dreams full of action and adventure; these were related to the lack of exciting activity in my life at the time. I always regretted that I could not recall them as I am convinced there was an Oscar contender in their somewhere.
  • Symbolic Dreams of Guidance The ones I focus on in my workshops. Much has been written and explored but look for these signs of a significant dream: it features people you know, three is a significant number, it contains emotion and energy, it is about travel, your waking self tells you it is a “stupid meaningless dream”, and particularly if you have similar dreams on a theme.
  • Dreams Outside of Real Time Sometimes these symbolic guidance dreams occur before the event in question has occurred; this can be confusing but very affirming after the event has transpired and you realize that you had a dream that helped you cope with the experience. I had one such dream recently. “I am standing on a ocean beach, I feel I am too close to the waves and move back to a safer distance however a huge wave swamps me right up to the centre of my chest then recedes leaving me no worse for wear. My sister Chris and her daughter Amy are there. The scene segues to a sparse forest with lots of space between the trees. Suddenly I put my hands in my pocket and find my keys missing, then I think I find them and then realize they are not the right keys as my shorts have changed. I begin to panic as it is getting dark, my sister and I retrace our steps, she finds my keys hanging in a tree.” This dream is about allowing myself to get swamped by emotion and knowing I will be safe then trusting that although I may not know what is going on the “key” lies through the feminine feelings. This dream came a couple of months before the event actually took place.
  • Energy Dreams My dream partner reminded me there are also dreams of pure energy. They are not always easy to understand but frequently offer a sense of connection to the divine through our chi and our chakras. In this type of dream the body can feel as though an electric current is flowing through it.
  • Dreams of Invention It was a dream that helped Einstein to develop his theories of relativity and Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, had a dream of being surrounded by cannibals with long spears with a hole in the end that helped him solve where the eye in the needle needed to go.
  • Dreams of Comfort and Reassurance Recently I met someone who asked me what it meant to a dream about whales. When I asked her about the feelings she experienced in the dream they were feeling comforted and reassured. Dream researcher Robin Cartwright suggests that dreams are sometimes mood modifiers happening without us being aware of them

I am sure there are more, my list expands each year. As my wonderful teacher Atum O’Kane says, “Having a dream and failing to explore it is like receiving a gift and not unwrapping it.For a free dream partnering download go to http://www.soulclarity.com/free_taste.html

Exploring My Inner Trump

L-CRAIG-STRANGETRUMP

I did not particularly enjoy waking to a dream that included Donald Trump. Who really wants to explore their “Inner Donald”? However I suspected there would be intrinsic meaning from this image.

I am at the tail of a plane. The captain announces there has been a fire on the wing but the suppression system has put it out. I glance over to see flames flowing over the edge of the wing. I cry out that it is still alight. Then the gentleman sitting next to me who is wearing a uniform and I assume is an off duty member of the flight crew shouts, ” no it’s ok it’s out.”

I am confused. I can clearly see more and more flames expanding and growing across the wing yet the expert claims there is not a problem. I keep my mouth shut and get ready to die. I am convinced the plane will explode before we land. I am at the opposite end of the plane from the exits so would have no chance if even if we landed then caught fire.

I leaned over and gave a kiss to my fellow passenger who had contradicted me and braced myself for the end.

I notice we are descending lower and lower on our flight path. Suddenly the ground is flashing by, we come to a stop and there are fireman attending to the fire. An exit open immediately beside me and I step out. I am safe. Some of the president’s security detail are with me, they are talking about how huge the president has become. “He even takes up two seats” said one. 

I feel both bemused and relieved to wake. At first I want to dismiss the dream as stupid and irrelevant. This is my ego’s normal response to anything that may threaten its authority. Then after my morning meditation I am just finishing my journal practice when I realize I have not written it down – a sure sign of resistance. So I capture the essence then move on to my weekly call from a close friend.

She shares an amazing dream from the previous night that she did not particularly enjoy. “Much better than dreaming about Donald Trump.” I quip then share my dream with her. She can’t help wondering if it is about a brunch I have planned later that morning where I may encounter a test of my “Pledge to Listen”.

As I walk to my appointment I begin to ask myself “what is my inner Trump and why would it be getting bigger?” The word “inauthentic” pops into my head and the pieces of the puzzle slip seamlessly into place.

Normally when I work with a dream I begin with the feelings that flow through the dream; in this case they were particularly intense – confusion, fear, feeling shut down by an authority figure, resignation, surrender, relief and more confusion. Solving the dream is a bit like cooking a dish- mix all these feelings with the symbol of growing inauthenticity, simmer for a while  and check what comes?

Dreams frequently relate to the current environment of life. Last year a friend of mine began a campaign to get people to sign “a pledge to listen”. I know I disappointed him when I refused the offer telling him that I was just not willing to give time to hear misogynist, racist, conservative, and bigoted views. Life was too short. Frankly I am poor at paying attention to any views that don’t correspond with mine.

Then two things impacted me. First due to an amazing dream I realized the importance of expanding what I call feminine values into my life – loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, empathy, equanimity to name a few. Second, at times I fell so short of trying to achieve this goal it is humiliating. For example I am out with a group of male friends for a beer and discussion evolves around a new tax on rich people’s homes. I am sympathetic because I believe that we need programs to help redistribute wealth. One of my friends explodes and violently argues against my perspective. I decide to shut him down, “why can’t you accept I am a communist”? It works.

It’s not true or even close to being true but it seemed like the response that could shut him up. Empathetic? Compassionate? Loving? Certainly not and it felt like a failure. I would have liked to blame it on the beer but in reality I had nursed a pint to help avoid such reactive outbursts. (I learned a while ago that too much alcohol reduces the chance of staying centred and empathetic.)

I could unravel the psychology behind it. It was a repeat of the confrontations that has haunted me since childhood facing a father with strong evangelical views. However despite understanding it, I could not dismiss it.

I went off on a long “escape winter” trip and faced no similar challenges however I knew they would be awaiting my return. The gift of solo travel is that it offers much time for reflection and self-examination. I realized that listening from the heart is one of the feminine values to which I am committed and decided to reconsider the “pledge to listen”. I was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, it was time to embark on an alternative strategy.

My first test would come at a dinner party scheduled five days after I returned. Still feeling somewhat in a state of adjustment due to a fifteen-hour time time change and going from tropical temperatures to freezing, I stepped boldly into the unknown.

My intuition even warned me how the test would come. He will ask you what you think of your friend Trudeau now. Our prime minister has been involved in a challenging political drama that is dividing the country and causing many people to reassess him as a leader.

However the evening progressed with no fireworks, no political discussion, just a lovely reunion of seven old friends.

I pushed my chair back thinking I had perhaps dodged a bullet and then it came. “Before you leave, what do you think of your friend Trudeau now?” I sat back down, hesitated then responded, “I would be interested to hear what you think”.

To my surprise this led to a well informed, thoughtful and entirely reasonable perspective, most of which I agreed with. There was no need for our normal combative engagement. It seemed this “Pledge to Listen” could really help.

However as I drove home I knew this was a small step. It is so much easier when there is no real fuel to the fire and we were not in violent disagreement but at least it was a start. Our next engagement was quite different. We were back at our friendly local and he engaged on his favourite hate – our current provincial government and a speculation tax on empty houses. I followed my pledge and listened, occasionally acknowledging his frustration and feelings. I didn’t agree but had no desire for confrontation. It seemed easier to listen and be empathetic. Once again Pledging to Listen had saved me from conflict.

Back to the dream and its relevance to this situation. In the latter context I could see that my pledge to listen risked the danger of losing my voice and becoming inauthentic by not expressing an opinion. If I simply succumb to an authority figure and became empathetic then I risk ignoring the flames of legitimate expression. Notice how in the dream I leaned over and kissed the authority figure beside me. A wonderful symbol of empathy! As the Grand Maester of dream work, eminent author and Jungian analyst James Hollis says, “You can’t make this stuff up!”

I can see my commitment to listen will be an ongoing journey. The dream tells me the next step in this journey ext – how to listen and respond authentically without being enticed into combat. I must remember the words of St Francis, “Let us be wise that we do not wed another’s madness, making them in debt to us for the deep raging gash their helpless raging lance may cause.”

A Dream to Help Deal with Clever Trevor

Rosetta Notebook
My Rosetta Notebook

My unconscious had precipitated me back to my world in the eighties. It was a time when today I may have been considered one of the Mad Men. The world of advertising even then was not unlike the world of Don Draper and Roger Sterling.

I am on a set and we are making commercials. I sit down to watch a rough cut. I am appalled at the level of impersonal violence in what I am seeing. It is a scene of a radar controlled bombing attack.

I go to my client Nigel to tell him I do not like what I am seeing. He brushes me away indicating no interest in discussing my point. Somewhat disconsolate I walk away to find my production notes to figure out how this scene got in the production. I can’t find them but instead I come across a notebook I had purchased some years ago at the British Museum. The cover features a display of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

I wake up puzzled but with a crystal clear memory of the dream, usually a sign it is important. Initially it made no sense. We never made commercials like that; in fact the commercials we made for Nigel were always witty, friendly and fun. No wonder I was taken aback. But why this dream now?

I began the familiar process: write the dream down, explore the feelings in the dream, identify the key high energy moments in the dream and then review the elements in the dream as symbols representing something about me. Finally consider the environment of my life in which the dream occurred.

The feelings began with interest, then curiosity, then alarm, then more curiosity, some frustration and finally more curiosity. Sometimes the flow of feelings will recall a current situation in my life but not in this case.*

The key energy points in the dream were when I viewed the rough cut, my client’s reaction and finding the note book. Nigel was a part of my life for many years. Figuring out what he represented in me was not that difficult. At one point we had both completed the Hermann Brain Dominance survey. – a fascinating personality profiling system.

Nigel had a strong dominance for analytical thinking and imaginative creativity. My profile was similar and I realized that in the dream he represents the aspect of me that represents rational thinking and intuition. Together they are a powerful combination but there is a downside. They can create a definitive sense of being right and give little respect to other people’s feelings.

This has gotten me into difficulty a number of times and as I continue in my quest for self-improvement it is an ongoing challenge. My energy when defending a position can become aggressive, insistent and self-righteous. I refer to this persona as “my clever Trevor”. I have been working to be more considerate but have had limited success.

As the wonderful poet Tukaram expresses, “Certainty undermines one’s power and makes happiness a long shot. Certainty confines”. It also can cause conflict, violence and war. It was with this realization that I began to consider the final element in the dream. The note book from the British Museum.

This notebook contains hieroglyphics from the Rosetta stone, a featured exhibit in the British Museum. This artifact provided the key to understanding Egyptian Hieroglyphics by containing a proclamation in three languages – Greek, Coptic and Egyptian. So why had my unconscious selected this symbol?

It dawned on me that when I am gripped by this mania of certainty I need to learn how to express this in a new language – a more gentle, compassionate, and considerate style that reduced the inherent combative tone I can resort to. My dream partner suggested I need to find a new narrative.

I believe the cover of the notebook could act as my personal obelisk sending a reminder to translate my expressions into this new narrative similar to the role of the massive black monolith in the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Once again I feel wonder at the ability of my unconscious to martial images to create such subtle meaning.

*Only as I finish writing this reflection do I realize that the flow of feelings in this dream “curiosity, then alarm, then more curiosity, some frustration and finally more curiosity” accurately reflect the feelings I experience during a ‘clever Trevor’ episode!

When Dreams Come In Pairs It’s Worth Paying Attention

Occasionally dreams come in groups that are connected.  Sometimes the connection is easy to sense especially if the feelings within the dream repeat themselves. A friend of mine recently had two dreams containing both anger and jealousy of her partner.

Recently I had two dreams where the connection took some work to perceive. The first featured three people from my past. One was a market researcher I will call Bill, one a colleague I had worked with at Chevron named Don and the other someone I had only met once I shall call Dan. The dream is simple I am walking with Don (someone who has shown up previously in a dream and represented reconciliation.) He is leaving so I can have lunch with Bill. Dan drives by on a moped and I realize he is joining us for lunch. At the last moment I invite Don to join us. His response is “I thought you would never ask.” The setting of the dream was near the home where I grew up.

That’s all I had. It seemed significant but I had no idea where to go with it. The theme of reconciliation seemed important but reconciliation with what? Bill’s presence suggested understanding this dream would take curiosity and research to unfold. The last clue had been Dan who I had met only once in Cheltenham in 1993 where I gave a presentation on Chevron my major client.

How puzzling! Why this particular time and place? I wrote the dream out and remembered that in a conversation with my ex-wife Kat she had told me that she had her first thoughts that she did not want to be married to me on our trip to England in August 1993, the same summer we went to Cheltenham. I wondered speculatively if this dream was to do with reconciliation with her. That seemed highly unlikely as she had no interest in remaining friends, claiming she found me “boring”.

The second dream occurred the next night. I am in a classroom as a student. There is a young British woman named Loni in the same class. Loni is a friend of my sister from England. She is the age that I first met her in Las Vegas July 1993 on my honeymoon. I am talking about the importance of giving. The teacher of the class, a woman, responded saying that was helpful but after lunch we would address the other aspect of the subject “advocacy”. I ask Loni if she wants to have lunch but she wishes to see the teacher. I wonder off feeling a little lost.

The connection between the two dreams was my marriage to Kat. Each dream represented a bookend to my marriage – my honeymoon and when Kat decided it was over. Clearly the issue of reconciliation was on the table. But what form could it take? Why did advocacy show up? Why Loni and what did she symbolize within me? Why was I talking about giving?

Where should I begin? Dream work is not for the faint of heart. It requires attention, commitment, suspension of rational judgment, patience, willingness to open your own Pandora’s box, perseverance and more.

I started by remembering a blog I had written a number of years ago on the archetype of the advocate of the Soul. I decided to look it up. Part of the advocate’s role is to reflect back to someone that which may help support them and perhaps reimagine a challenge they are undergoing. (see https://wp.me/phAyS-EO for more). Immediately I sensed the significance of this to my second marriage – there had been no advocacy for either of us.

I had been like a deer in the headlights. The marriage had been spawned out of my mid life crisis – the classic case of an older man smitten by a beautiful young woman nineteen years his junior. In the dim recesses of my mind I recalled what was a rare occurrence in those days, I had written a secret diary of my illicit passion. A brief search ensued and somewhat to my surprise I found it.

I don’t think there is anything more humbling than reading something written almost thirty years earlier when I can honestly report my state of personal awareness would have likely scored zero. I sat appalled, reviewing what seems now to be the pathetic, heart pouring obsession of a deranged mind. I notice to my horror I had no feelings for anyone other than myself and what I wanted but could not get. I never considered the impact on anyone else involved even Kat the woman I was pursuing. I certainly did not consider my current wife.

Suddenly the role of Loni in the dream was clear. When I met her she was in thrall to an older man, father of her young child; he was off surfing in Mexico while she danced on tables to provide for the family. She represented the immature emotional self.

Now I had identified the key players in the two dreams, the pieces of the puzzle began to slip into place. I realize the reason I had been talking about giving was that I had always justified my behavior with Kat because I had been so generous with her – before we got married, during our marriage and even after it finished.

However it was time to reconcile the fact that this was not enough. I may have been generous but I had never been an advocate for her needs. I also needed to reconcile that with no advocate myself, I did the best I could at the time even though it was not very good.

It was a time for letting the past go. I wrote a note of closure. I addressed it to Kat even though out of respect for her wishes for no contact I would not send it. This dream journey is mine. Dear Kat, I apologize for any injury I may have caused you by not thinking of your needs. I let go of any need to know why you stopped being friends with me. I release any sense of lack of appreciation I may have felt.  Then I did a formal ritual or of surrender and closure and burned the note.

Only then did I have a third dream. I am on the second floor of my house sweeping out when Loni ascended the stairs towards me. She is now a mature woman. I woke up marvelling at wisdom of my unconscious that provided the confirmation that indeed this passage was now complete.

 

 

A Dream About the Dynamic Feminine

As a preliminary to my dream workshop the following day, I offered the group a practice before going to sleep the prior night. “Keep a pen and notebook beside the bed, as you drift off to sleep; ask for a dream to come to you during the night, then remember to immediately write it down if one comes.”
As I was heading to bed I decided to follow my own suggestion. At 7:00 am I found myself frantically trying to capture an exceedingly complex dream that had been taking place. I struggled against the voice saying, “oh you are too tired, it’s a crazy dream anyway” and captured what I could. Later that morning as I began to record the details I was amazed at what came back. It is a dream in three acts – something I always find significant.
Act 1 takes place in a forest. I am part of a dissident group that is being pursued by government troops. They are firing at us. I do not feel scared but fascinated to the lengths the authorities are going to attack us. Then they bring up a tank. This seems way over the top but before I can flee the troops mutiny and begin attacking each other.
Act 2 we have escaped to a conference where the mood of the group has turned ugly – resentful, aggressive and unbalanced. I am concerned about what may happen and text a woman I know who possesses some kind of authority. She texts me back immediately that she wants to meet. I find her in a small, somewhat Mexican looking town. Her name is Eva and she says she wants to address the group. I am sure this is a good idea and take her to the event. She is petite, dark haired with incredible presence.
Act 3 something amazing happens as she arrives at the venue. She seems to connect positively with everyone she meets, embracing them and uplifting them. The news of her arrival ripples through the gathering. Meanwhile I try and locate the organizer whose name is Ian. Eventually I find him in a room where they are setting up the final session. He seems disinterested in what I have to say but I beg to talk to him. Finally I begin telling him what has transpired but before I finish I notice Eva has arrived beside him. She places an arm on him and tells him, “very strong cable Ian, very strong.” He immediately hands her the microphone but she wants to use the small lapel microphone that has somehow got tangled in my left foot. I have no shoes on. As she begins to speak I feel myself fading into the background. My work is done. I wake up feeling a little frustrated I heard nothing of her message.
This seemed such a big dream I was not sure where to begin. I always begin with the personal – how do the symbols, energy and feelings within the dream relate to my journey? Although I considered that this dream was about my internal conflict and resolving it through the feminine it seemed bigger than that. Carl Jung believed that some dreams could tap into the collective consciousness. I am always reluctant to take this direction as it seems just a little presumptuous.
When I considered my personal environment in which this dream occurred, I had another insight. I have been wresting with the state of the world and the future challenges that face homo sapiens (see https://wp.me/phAyS-Eh). This dream seemed related to those concerns
My feelings in the dream moved from curiosity to apprehension, from concern to action, concluding with a sense of satisfaction at having played my role. However I am left with a lingering question about what my role is?
Albert Einstein once said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” It seems to me we keep trying to fix things at the level on which they occur and perhaps the dream is about new solutions. Changing leaders and ideologies, engaging in opposite solutions creates even greater friction and misunderstandings. At Unity church one Sunday many years ago, the late Rev. Marvin Anderson observed that we keep attempting to change societies and failing; it is people that need to change.
Suddenly the first act of the dream makes sense, our society is at war with itself. The dream symbolizes what is all to real in our society at the moment. There seems to more and more polarization.
Following this thread the second act suggests that as we attempt to fix things at the same level with the same tools, the energy of those attempting to force changes on societies, can turn ugly – protests, violence, revolution, loss of respect and even abandonment of proper principles, all lead to chaos. The imposed solution creates even more resistance and power shifts back to the competing side.
In the third act Eva represents another way. The name is interesting in itself. My unconscious selected a version of the name Eve that means life or the living one. She carries all the aspects of what I sometimes refer to as the divine feminine – compassion, caring, equanimity, love, empathy, passion and enthusiasm. This archetype carries great power. Yet she is also dynamic. My sense of the dream is that it offers the idea that change must occur through the dynamic feminine.
But what does that mean both individually and collectively. Unfortunately I don’t hear her speak. My role was to introduce her. What could that look like in my life? I need to begin by holding the energy and hope for change and seek the guidance for how I can contribute to encouraging a shift.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step. I began a meditation this Summer where I stand beside an ancient tree. I tap into the living energy that has witnessed the transformations of the past 500 years and has seen our progress and our backsliding. I reflect on the positive changes I have seen in my lifetime: human rights, gender rights, the right to be gay and lesbian, transfer of power in South Africa, peace in Northern Ireland, the end of segregation in the USA. I affirm a prayer: “I am a radiating beacon of love and hope, show me the way.”

NB After writing these words I went to the gym for a workout. I always listen to a blog and today it was by eclectic author and anthropologist Wade Davis. (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/wade-davis-light-at-the-edge-of-the-world-1.4499962) He offers a vision for hope based on his observations as an anthropologist and offered a wonderful quote from his father: “As my father would say, ‘what side do you want to be on? Do you want to put your shoulder to the wheel of justice, or do you want to be part of the problem?”

Making Sense of Nonsense

Sometimes I awake to a dream that is truly perplexing and in the light of day feels like pure nonsense. However I have learned over twenty years of dream work that the waking insight of the ego is a most if not the most unreliable witness to the value of the dream. The elements of the dream remained fixed in my mind so as I sat down to my morning journal practice I wrote them out.

I am in the spacious yard of a beautiful, architect designed house that has recently been expanded. I have been given a baby to take care of. At first I decide to place it in a handy container for protection and safety then I have some misgivings and take the baby out and place it on the grass. The baby is very developed for its age and can sit up and almost perform yogic positions. I am very impressed. I pick her up, her name is Alice and I enjoy her company.

I realize she is the daughter of a friend of mine Jan and her husband Jonnie. He has been working away from home. Then Alice’s grandparents arrive – they are my other friends Inez and Rick from Victoria. She picks up the baby and we walk toward the beach. They are holding hands. We arrive at the beach and Inez observes you can see the island of Lundy today. I wake up.

I am no clearer after writing it out. It is full of confusing symbols – Inez and Rick are not Alice’s grandparents, I don’t really know Jan and Jonnie except through her mother and putting the baby in a closed container smacks of infanticide. Fortunately I am having a Skype with my dream partner later that morning so I can check to see if she can throw any light on the meaning.

Her first question is about Inez and Ron, “what comes to mind when I think of them?” I have always thought they were both wonderful grandparents to Inez’s grandchildren. She then observed that the scene suggested generations – baby, parents and grandparents. Then I explained that Lundy is an island off the coast of North Devon where my sister lives. I expressed some confusion about why did the dream suddenly bring up a symbol representing North Devon. “Surely that is where you have three generations of your family living.” She suggested.

Then like the proverbial scales falling from my eyes I knew the meaning and the guidance coming from my dream. The baby represents a creation of mine. For two years I have been working on a project to pull elements of what I have learned on my crazy journey of life into something I can leave behind for my nieces and nephews. I call it my legacy project. It has been an enormous struggle – pieces fall in and out of place. I get a sense of direction then lose it. Part of my challenge is that I travel so much that I am continually feel like I am starting again. Putting the baby in the container is like parking my project when I go away. It stays alive but does not thrive until I take it out of the container.

Why are Jan and Jonnie in the dream? They are in fact the new parents of Alice. Jonnie is in the theatre business and frequently has to work out of town. They work hard to ensure they do not lose their cohesion as a family so Jan will bring Alice to join Jonnie for at least part of the trip.

This dream reminds me I need to take my legacy project with me when I go away, not park it until I come home again. I need to work on how I do that but with modern technology so much is possible. Although perhaps a simple journal dedicated to the project will be a major step.

Wow – what an amazing dream and how easy it would have been to ignore it. And I am about to embark on another trip to the UK for four weeks so the timing is perfect. I have always felt my unconscious is much smarter than I am and once again I prove my point. Its ability to select symbols impregnated with meaning is a tour de force.

Dreams and Our Unconscious Feelings

Carl Jung observed that whoever discovers the power of the unconscious knows that he is forever not the master of his own house while eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis says, “ask me what I know to be in the unconscious and I will reply absolutely nothing.” That is why it is called the personal unconscious.

So are we forever condemned to be subject to inner unconscious scripts that control our reactions and responses time after time? The answer of course can become one’s life work as we begin to unfold layer by layer the many stories that run our lives. The theme of Hollis’s most recent book Hauntings is all about the invisible presences that govern our lives.

Dreams can provide a window to the unconscious in many different ways. Most recently I had a series of dreams that clearly were telling me something but I had no idea what. The dreams were challenging, not pleasant and were hard to look in the face. The “me” in the dream was not someone I really cared for. In part they seemed in conflict with the psychological and spiritual work I have been doing. My dream personality was short tempered, irritable, judgmental, irrational and felt aggrieved towards women. After I awoke I felt like a failure.

One of the first things I teach about working with dreams is that the most unreliable witness is the waking persona. It is at the moment of waking that the ego assumes control at the expense of the unconscious. It is not to be trusted. It will frequently dismiss the dream as irrelevant, stupid and psychic trash to be deposited in the garbage.

By now I know these reactions are a clear sign that the dream has value and must be explored.

I had a series of three dreams – a series is always in itself an important sign. The dreams were also full of emotion yet another key indicator of meaning. In addition they contained symbols that dream lore would rate as significant – cars, water, journeying, and individuals who had archetypal significance.

In the first dream I am at an event a long way from home, I am driving a large group back. We are cleaning up in preparation for leaving, some women are loading the car. I go to check the car and they have done an insane job of packing. They have even loaded in two large flower pots. There is no way we will fit in. I walk away in resignation. My friend Dennis is beside me saying “I tried to tell them.” Another woman wants me to go two hours out of my way to take someone home. I am abrupt with her. I feel pressured both energetically and emotionally. It is pouring with rain, a woman grabs me to ask if I am not going to say goodbye to someone. I began to react negatively then feel a sense of shame about the way I am acting. I wake up not liking myself in the dream.

The second dream was getting very angry with a friend for turning off the TV just as I had found the right channel.

My third dream was at a major event organized by my most important client from the advertising business. A woman who works for me decides not to stay for the main event. I am very angry with her as I feel it is disrespectful to the client. As I remonstrate with her she drives off.

Three dreams, each with a persona that seems inconsistent with my current self yet obviously my unconscious has something to reveal. First I looked at the surface level of the dream. Am I repressing any anger toward the people in the dream? This was easy to dismiss as I live such a peaceful, harmonious life and am not aware of being angry or having anyone angry at me.

Secondly I asked myself a question about unconscious dissonance – that inside I was angry but not feeling it. It was then I had the “ah-hah” moment. In the first and third dream I was angry with woman – if I considered the archetype the feminine represented – intuition, feeling, the state of being rather than doing – then perhaps the masculine archetype was angry about the lack of focus in my life. My friend Dennis represents the active masculine – the doer in my dreams. In the second dream I was angry at a male friend who has showed up in previous dreams as the archetype for betrayal.

The pieces of the puzzle clicked into place. I have a lack of balance between the masculine and feminine energies. My unconscious is bringing this to my attention through my dreams cleverly expressing the dissatisfaction of the masculine at the way things have been going.

For many months I have lived very much in the feminine: no to-do lists, no particular objectives, and waiting on the “will of heaven”. I have wondered about the sense of inertia that has developed but decided that patience was required (another feminine trait). I was spending lots of time in meditation, contemplation and walking, reciting poetry.

The dreams suggest it is time to bring more masculine – “doing energy” – into my life.

I responded creating a to do list of twenty-one items and introduced more focus and order in my life. It feels good, even minor accomplishments bring a sense of satisfaction and after three “angry” dreams in one week – they have stopped. Perhaps for now balance is restored.

My Inner Director

Woody Allen

I am walking down a Vancouver street with Woody Allen; he looks like he is in his forties. His wife and her two sons accompany him. I am telling him how much I like the process he uses to create his movies. (I once saw an interview where he described beginning with an inspiration that would usually come at night. He would write it down then capture ancillary ideas on separate sheets of paper. When he felt ready he would sit with the stack of sheets and review them waiting as the plot gradually came together.) He then asks me about my writing. I feel embarrassed reporting that since Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions twelve years earlier, I have written only blogs. He moves on to tell me he was here to do a presentation but only forty people had come. I responded that it was a shame I hadn’t known. He smiled and said that someone else only had four attendees. I suggested the promotion must have been inadequate and replied, “Well what does Kelowna know about promotion?” Then one of the boys observed, “mum have you noticed that Woody looks more and more like our dad.”

After I woke I realized that this dream was staying with me. Even without writing it down every scene and word seemed clear. It felt significant particularly because of the embarrassment I felt around my writing. I have written very little recently because I had nothing I felt like writing about. Perhaps it was time. I liked the idea of just flirting with ideas and recording them as opposed to leaping in to a project. Perhaps if I followed Woody’s model it would lead to some passion around something or other.

As I explored the dream more different pieces began to emerge. Woody Allen as the inner director of my conscious world. The comment of the children about his looks combined with his age caused me to wonder if this had meaning. My mid forties was when I was at my most dynamic and focused. Perhaps I need to bring some of that focus to my current life.

Shortly after I had the dream I attended a retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. To my delight one of the presentations was on interpreting dreams through art. I was introduced to a technique known as tissue paper collage. We began by visualizing the dream then spontaneously exercise tearing scraps of tissue paper and pasting them on a sheet. It was delightful bringing out the child in me. It was important not to plan or think the drawing out, just let it emerge.

tissue-paper-collage.jpgMuch as I liked the outcome, I could not at first see any connection to my dream. However on second glance two insights emerged. Where colours overlapped something magical happened. First I saw when red (representing passion) overlaid purple (representing the Spiritual) a deep beautiful crimson emerged. Also where blue (air or thinking) overlaid brown (earth or the sensate) there was another rich combination.

I felt these were important guides to how my inspiration to write may emerge.

Finally as I shared my insight with a small group I began to smile when I realized the simple meaning of the Kelowna reference – I always think of Kelowna as the interior because it is 500 km east of Vancouver in the interior of the province. Therefor the dream suggests that the inner world is not took good at promotion, it requires action in the manifest world to make things happen.

I began capturing ideas – a memoir, a legacy project, book of Soul Stories, my favourite poems, gratitude, my business life, my advertising stories, combining my 180 blogs …. It was fun – but then another dream.

l-craig-strangetrump-e1512092558638.jpg

I don’t like waking up to images of Donald Trump. In my dream he is cozying up with a good friend of mine. This friend is part of my dream library of characters. In life he is a master at getting things done, in my dream world he represents the dynamic masculine or the ability to do. In this dream I feel I am missing something, I wanted to explore a ship owned by a character called Alex. (I met Alex recently – she is a poet.)

I immediately realize that if I focus my actions on that which is shallow, meaningless, and inauthentic, I will miss out. It suggested I need to reorient my focus and as a result I have set time aside to write every day for even when I am not certain where to begin.