Click here for the link with all pictures: https://mailchi.mp/8d8e8bd62c73/relationship-not-mastery?e=[UNIQID]
You do your inner work: you read the books and listen and learn; you receive insights and glimmers; your mind and soul are slowly trained in paradox and levels of significance; you learn how to wait and see; synchronicities flock about you; you pray paint, write, sing; you do your active imagination and your rituals; you discover you can dream together for each other; and, and and. The gifts are astounding.
And still - you wake up and say – What does this dream, this morning, mean?
Yes, there is a balance to the sacred not-knowing I wrote about last month ((https://mailchi.mp/d25d8370cb33/a-time-of-knot-knowing?e=[UNIQID]). Of course you can know plenty about your dreams, and through your dreams. But dreams rarely come straight at us with a "this and no other" clarity. So this newsletter is not about the steps of to dreamwork (download those in my "Field Guide to Dreaming" see below) but more about how dreams mean, which really points to our own attitudes of receptivity.
I want to assure you that nightmares are included in what I say here and anywhere. Thousands of people worldwide are reporting Covid nightmares (links below). For our dreamwork practice this month, I will give you the Nightmare Transformation practice that will help with any dream that feels disturbing.
A couple of preliminary things:
Let’s talk about a dream’s significance, not meaning. “Meaning” can imply there’s only one golden kernel of truth. Sometimes that happens, but you can always trust that a dream offers a significant, living link to waking life.
Also – I’m just responding here, not answering. This is a beginning.
Premise: Dreams help us grow into our Godgiven wholeness which the world needs us to live and give. Dreams nudge us to recognize our projections and complexes and outworn attitudes so that we can be more conscious of our gifts and how we live into them. We experience continual reorientation to this wholeness within us. And there is necessary disorientation before reorientation . Sometimes that process is painful and disturbing – and sometimes makes, literally, for nightmare material. Dreamwork is endlessly humbling, which is one reason I trust it.
In response to the question of “What does this dream mean?” I want to respond with a dream that is itself a comment on how we seek significance in dreams. It illustrates how our relationship to the dream is crucial to our interpretation of the dream’s significance. While this dream's perspecitve is limited, I stay within its limits because remarkably, it was dreamed by a woman in one of the Fire by Night dreamgroups as a response to the questions of meaning we were processing. (Or, in the words of another group member, "I'll just let it lay where Jesus flang it.")
Here’s the dream: it has four short scenes which I will discuss as I present them. In each section, I’ll suggest what the dream may be saying about the nature of dreamwork, and then project on some significance it has when I dream it as my dream.
Title: Elk, Stalk, Blossom, Hunter
Scene #1. I’m flying in a small plane with a male pilot above a tundra or large meadow. A hunter has just shot and killed an elk, which is now lying motionless on the ground. He is proud of his trophy.
Dreamwork as Trophy Hunting.Here the seeker comes upon the wild beautiful creature (dream) , and he kills it in a single shot. While he is a great marksman who hits his target and claims his trophy, the elk is dead. Similarly, we might say that if we assume we’ve possessed a dream in a single shot (“Oh I know what that dream means”….then dismiss it as “interpreted” ) then we have in fact killed any further relationship with its complexity, its beauty, its wildness, its place in the stark alien tundra of our interior, and how it might partner us in meaning. Maybe claiming the single interpretation makes us feel smart and empowered, but – the dream dies there.
If this were my dream, I’d beware the desire to master my dreams! They are live and wild. Targeting their meaning in a way that feels efficient to me will eliminate them, rather than help me relate to them. Maybe I can make a conscious shift to loosen up my dreamwork and get to know my inner “tundra” or wilderness in my soul where the dream/elk lives.Interestingly, the pilot and plane show me that I have an aerial view. Maybe I need to land.Get grounded here.
Scene #2. I’m in the courtyard behind my house. There’s a strange stalky plant growing there that I don’t recognize. The whole plant is a deep maroon with curved leaves. I don’t know how tall it will grow or when (or even if) it will flower.
Dreamwork as Beholding Mystery. There’s a “back courtyard” in the psyche, perhaps a mandala-like image of the private, sacred inner space of the soul, where something strange and not really beautiful – possibly even a little scary - is thriving. Dreamwork asks us to enter our soul space, and see elements of ourselves that we can’t understand right away. Rather than whip out a classification guide, we are just to take it in. To Behold – that is a beautiful sacred word that means to engage with awe and wonder and nonacquisitive curiosity.
Wonder is exactly the opposite of the hunter’s approach and this is the first way of really relating to a dream: just behold the mystery that isn’t yet known or named.
If this were my dream, I’m exploring the cultivated temonos aspect of my soul. (Not a tundra.) Here I find a strange aspect of myself that seem like an intruder. What in my experience is like this – weird, awkward, unclassifiable, not fully formed? I’m disturbed by this thing, and wonder if it’s going to be something beautiful or ugly? Edible, medicinal or poisonous?
In my dream it could picture some marooned, stalking homeopathic shadow essence in myself which I need to become conscious of. Maybe a little bit of this shadow could save my life. Maybe too much of it could kill me.What in my life is like that? I am paying attention to situations that bring up this tension of interest, bewilderment, and anxiety. It is my soul's growing edge.
Scene #3. There’s another unfamiliar plant in the courtyard. It’s has a large, completely round white flower on a green stalk. When I look at the flower closely, I see that it’s made up of lots of tiny blooms; some of them are buds that haven’t opened yet.
Dreamwork as a Signpost or Summons. Sometimes s dream shows us “You Are Here” in the life journey. Or – a tweak on that – “This is Where You Need to Be.” Dreams address our life journey though their settings, feelings, and actions.
Trust that the soul always desires to draw us into our fullness of being. We never get the whole of a dream, but we can see and feel the sense of it, and trust that there is fuller knowing blossoming soon. Stay with it.
If this were my dream: I’m moved by this encounter with the new flower. I sense that continued beholding in the inner dream garden, the sacred place of soul – has yielded a vision of the Self. If it is a signpost, I feel reassured that there is a wholeness in me and it has blossomed, yet still is blossoming, like this flower. What in my life feels beautiful, complex, and continually unfolding, like this flower?
Or – if it is a Summons, how might I need reassurance that whatever mess I’m in right now is a confused effort to find this soul essence? How can I meet a challenge with more confidence knowing this full-and-still-flowering truth about myself?
Scene #4. I look out the front window and see the hunter standing in my yard. He is wearing black, and he is changed: he seems disoriented, he’s awkward. No longer macho. Humbled. He believes the pilot took his trophy elk and now he’s troubled. He wants his elk back, but isn’t hopeful he’ll ever see it again, and he wants to talk to me. The dream ends as I consider whether to open the door to him.
Dreamwork as Balance and Discernment
Even if, like the hunter, we diminish the dream with our egoic desire for mastery, our deeper desire is to understand the living truth in the dream. That unerring draw toward individuation brings the hunter closer to the garden, a place of growth towards wholeness.
The seeker is now in black (often the color of the unconscious, and of nigredo, the beginning of a new stage in the individuation process). He is disarmed, disoriented, and humbled – but still he has his masculine energies for understanding. His humility is more of a boon than the elk ever was. Now he is a true seeker.
And what does he find? Dreams always show us where we need balance. The hesitation at the end of the scene shows a tension between masculine and feminine energies. Dreams help us grow by picturing the union of opposites in ourselves. Here the masculine seeker and the feminine beholder might tend the garden of dream wisdom together.
Both the humbled hero and the lively beholder are necessary to understand what a dream is asking or telling the dreamer.
If this were my dream: I’m feeling that I’m being asked not to scorn the masculine even though he shot the elk. I might need to welcome my farsighted, straight-shooter masculine energies. I don’t really want to. But I know that as the feminine “beholder” I can get bogged down and moony about a dream.
What’s going on in my life in which I need the hunter’s precise analytical energies that are now in service to the soul rather than the ego? In my dream, I am shown an energy that I need to integrate into my life to balance my current way of being. I’ll be watching for ways I reject the “hunter" energies in waking life and try to integrate them instead.
IN short, relationship, not mastery, is the what dreams want from us.
In my dream, the courtyard garden – a larger image of the Self - summons the both the Hunter and the Beholder.
We enter dreamwork feeling like seekers, and eventually discover we are the sought.
Connections Websites/articles: Here are a few of the resources for collection and discussion of dreams related to Covid 19.
Podcast: This Jungian Life - a wonderful Jungian resource http://www.thisjungianlife.com.
I love these three Jungian analysts! Each week they take on a topic of current interest and/or Jungian theory. LIvely and enlightening discussion followed by a dream they work together.
The Nashvile Jung Circle has some timely offerings: www.nashvillejungcircle.com
The Haden Institute's
Summer Dream Conference
is Live on Zoom!
While those of us who love to go the Haden Summer Dream & Spiritualty Conference are sad that it’s not happening at Kanuga, I’m thrilled to invite you to attend online. Participants will have access to dozens of live presentations, workshops, meditations, and a live dream group. $350. Participate live and have access to it all afterwards. www.hadeninstitute.com. May 24-28.
If you register, tell them Laura Huff sent you! I'll earn a little bonus which I can use to help the Community Dream Initiative bring dreamwork to others. Thanks
Find my teaching series on my Laura Huff Hileman FB page: there is an invitation and 4 videos in which I teach my "Fleld Guide to Dreaming." 2 more in the works. You can download the Field Guide for free at www.firebynight.net.
While this is a good way to work with a nightmare, it’s good with a disturmbing dema of any sort – and any dream ,really.This is a very non-invasive, safe guided imagery that puts our in an observational role with a nightmare – not back into it.The fact that you are addressing it means the psyche will change the dream and you will begin to see something healing or creative in it.Do this at least twice with the same dream, preferably a couple of days apart.I used this as my thesis and everyone who tried it found it helpful and non-scary.
Scroll down to Guided Meditations and click on Nightmare Transformation.
Developed and read by Tallulah Lyons in connection with the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
NOTE: I am not a trauma therapist, and if you are dealing with trauma, you should consult a licensed therapist.
When I wrote the first draft of this newsletter last week, I named a few things that were out of my control, including the Nashville tornado and closed Metro schools. But now the whole world is out of everyone’s control. By the time I hit “send” on this newsletter, there will be half a dozen new updates on the coronavirus as well as the economy, cancellations, closings, and continually lengthening “pauses” as we all gaze at “the curve” and know that this is not going to be over in weeks. It’ll be months. And lots of us will probably get sick.
However, this is not the End Times. It’s between times.
Recently I've had several dream images of being in between two entities – maybe two spaces, or two times, or energies, or two people or two choices. Maybe you can relate.
The last of these dreams was vague but powerful – a dream in which I know only that I am in a a place of not-knowing. And I’m there wholeheartedly, completely and strongly at peace.
It felt wonderful.
In liminal consciousness, I groggily reached for the notebook under my pillow and began writing: “I’m in a state of knot-knowing….”
Then I woke up sharply, suddenly seeing exactly that - a complex, orderly, impossible knot floating in my imagination– whole and perfect.
I hadn’t seen it til I misspelled the word correctly.
I’d like to consider that image of the knot, as a a picture of wisdom for this time of relinquishing our fictions of certainty. A time of not-knowing.
What does a knot do? It can tie together, it can unite and secure. A knot creates a crafted, connecting bond, and it’s often beautiful. Complicated and balanced.
It is like a labyrinth. A piece of art. You can get lost in there.
In my dream, the experience of wholehearted knot-knowing was an invitation to be squarely centered in this time of in betweenness, in a time of that can feel like tangle and scrum, a time of untethering and disintegration. The dream says Wait. Not-knowing has its gifts.
What are the gifts of not-knowing for you? Especially in these times? Perhaps the gifts of “nots” could include:
Not to fix or correct
Not to over-plan
Not to control
Not to let anxiety be the choice-maker in my decisions
Not to feel I must be heroic
Not to insist on perfection, tidiness, order, and niceness
Instead? Perhaps the gifts in the “knots” of not-knowing are:
Allowing myself to be still and balanced.
Allowing the cycles of crisis to happen and just be in them
Allowing impulses of compassion, creativity, and courage to take the lead
Allowing myself to accept the unknown, to give up my personal agenda
Allowing myself to play, to find joy and connection with people even as I distance myself from them physically.
The image of the knot also invites the willingness to be situated inside the tangle, to be ready to engage with what is, and to relate to others from there. To let the interplay of attachment and detachment instruct me.
I invite you to play with not-knowing this month. I have tied a knotted string around my wrist, right here next to my watch. The time of knot-knowing is a pause in the flow of time as we know it. As potter and poet M.C. Richards writes, “Trust and not know, simultuaneously."
One of the most important things we can do in this strange season is to tend our dreams. They connect our reactionary ego-selves with our deep wisdom – for ourselves, for others we know, and for the human species.
You can start by watching my series of videos about dreamwork. See below for link and details. Share liberally!
Also - I would value any dreams you share about living in these times. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, a note about your situation if you wish, and permission to share anonymously if you are willing.
Thank you and deep dreams blessings,
All in-person Fire by Night events are paused indefinitely – the groups, the Sunday gatherings,
even 1:1 meetings for now.
Same thing with the Nashville Jung Circle and the Nashville Public Library. Nothing is on our meeting calendars at this time.
This is a powerful time for dreamwork.
Here are three invitations
Watch my online videos here;
https://www.facebook.com/laurahuffhileman/videos/10216514069383778/ If you are new to dreamwork or need a refresher, I’m teaching my little book “A Field Guide to Dreaming.” Download the book for free on my homepage at www.firebynight.net. I’m leading you through the basics of dreamwork practice, including demos for ways to work, play, and pray with your dreams. FInd it at https://www.facebook.com/laurahuffhileman/videos/10216514069383778/
Pass it on!
Make a Quipu:
Maybe you have LOTS of time. In that case, you might want to make a Quipu. What’s a quipu? Briefly, it’s an ancient Inca system of creating knots to record stories – anything from number-centered stories about trade and population to stories about the lives of people and the history of the culture. Take a look below, then use string, yarn, or threads to create your own quipu-like storyline about dreamlife and waking life. (I wish I’d taken a picture of the one I made: it was a total mess but remember, the doing of art is the point.)
How many 2020 ocular jokes have you heard already? In the following paragraphs I will torture the metaphor just a bit more, but first, in a rare moment of total literalism, I want to share some 20/20 bliss: this month I will have cataracts removed in both eyes and corrective lenses implanted (they DO that!) and I will open my eyes in the mornings with near-perfect vision.
This hasn’t happened since I was 8 years old. It’s hard to express how happy this makes me. Only recently have I realized the limiting effects of serious myopia compounded with the gradual cloudiness of cataracts plus floaters and those dizzying bifocals. I quit driving at night because I couldn’t see and headlights blinded me. So I stay at home a lot. Since I can’t see big things from a distance - things like road signs, powerpoints and humans I should recognize, I unconsciously developed adaptive strategies to get by (driving only familiar roads, listening better, and identifying people by context, gait, and voice). Since I can’t see little things like small print, sheet music, and crumbs on the carpet, I quit reading the small print, took up percussion, and vacuum barefoot if at all. Really, I’m amazed by the limitations I’ve been accommodating. And I can’t wait to “see” what happens to those limitations once I can actually see better.
Meanwhile, of course, I hear a restless dream group ready to jump in with projections about my waking life "dream" of 20/20 vision in January. Yes – you can “do dreamwork” with a waking life issue – no actual dream required!
Here are some of the voices I imagine in the circle, after the group has dreamed the "dream” of my limited sight issues and corrective surgery in January:
Thanks everyone! My main Aha was about the ways I am likely to obscure my new perceptions with worn out assumptions and projections. Given a chance to see anew, I don’t want to limit myself with my old adaptive patterns! What else is there to see? In a person, an institution, a situation, a dream?
And also yes – it matters what I do and say in these times of high stakes, hot tempers, and elusive truth.
What am I going to do about it? Let’s start with opportunities for Jungian oriented dreamwork. Two free classes are coming up this month. Details below. If you’re new to dreamwork, I hope to see you there!
And consider joining a dream group: we begin the first week of February.
If you’ve worked with me before, I’m starting Fourth Sunday meetings – please come join me in February 23 from 1:00-5:00. More about that in the February newsletter.
All the best to each of you for the new year…the new decade…Epiphany…and January’s new chances.
You can use a situation, an arresting image from a movie or art piece, an interaction, a song lyric – anything that touches your heart or soul or piques your curiosity can be explored as an energy or “part of you” that is asking for your attention.