Dear Dreamers, 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. SO 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 crucialto 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.
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, tellthem 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.
Dreamwork Practice: Nightmare Transformation. 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. www.healingpowerofdreams.com 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.