Category: 2015 A-Z blog challenge

Z in the Dream

Z in the Dream

zebra3images (1)A cat yesterday, zebras today. Even though the stripes, shapes, form look almost identical, they’re not. Each is different to the other in subtle ways. The zebra may follow the herd instinct and we also have that natural collective instinct. But, like the zebra, each of us is unique and we have unique dreams meant for us.

The letter Z has a zig zag look to it. So with our dreams, they seem to zig this way, zag that way.  Often we find ourselves at a crossing in the dream, one road to the right, another to the left, yet another behind us and one forwards and many other paths in the 4 way crossing.

 Zero, a number that denotes what begins and ends. The zero is indeed a point, or a circle, or a dot on the page. But there is something of the infinite about it also.

In Jungian psychology the zero can be like the uroborous, the image of the alchemical snake that eats its tail. It represents the circle of life as we go round and round. We are old, young, in between and then we continually return. It is a concept of the infinite flowering, the seasons that repeat and the generations that evolve. It is our life in the circle game. We are all in this eternal return. The question is what we do with it.

And then there is zen, a concept that also encompasses all and a way of being that settles into what is and acceptance of enough. In zen there is no need to strive beyond. Zen means meditation to achieve enlightenment. It is a practice set up to transcend reason, rational thought and daily life. It is one of the ways of centering and done while sitting. Slowing down and reflection come about as the sacred and mundane merge. Part is a waiting, part is awareness, feeling and not feeling the body and its sensations and reactions, being and not being in the mind.

The above three paragraphs are from last year’s A-Z Blog Challenge (the ‘Z’) in which Susan Schwartz (Paradise Valley, Arizona) and I collaborated. We wrote on Aging. I’m pretty sure it was her post. I’m using it this time round –

Anais Nin : And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Thank you all so much for coming along on the ride with me.

 graphics courtesy google images

Yes to the Dream

Yes to the Dream

catcircleThe Act of Commitment Changes Things: Goethe

 I procrastinate, resist getting down to the task at hand, distract myself in many ways. Resist putting on my walking shoes to get some sunshine and exercise; resist even the simple act of turning on the tap for a glass of water; resist switching on the little torch attached to my dream journal in the middle of the night to record the dream believing that it was so dramatic that I will remember it; which happens – i.e. that I forget –

But when I say yes to my psyche the universe responds. When I say yes to my dream world, my unconscious responds. For me it’s a commitment to take my dream world seriously, a way of answering a yearning somewhere in the recesses of my soul. I want that connection, to myself, the underworld, the depths, the mud and slime and grime, where Death resides. It helps an enlarging of my attitude to life and death, the highs and lows or, as James Hillman puts it ‘… to encourage an attitude that can live with the defeat of our desire to know’. * ref below.

I know that I cannot take my dream literally, that I must live with its ambiguity, its strangeness, its entanglements, its apparent illusions and allusions, and not be attached to what I think it may mean. Psyche, the unconscious, is always in motion, is never fixed and is thus like the dream. Making a quick interpretation kills the dream stone dead. Keep the image alive – let it have its way of change as it meanders forever in its depths …

Photograph taken by one of our sons recently of Angie the ginger on the bed forming a circle

*James Hillman: The Dream and the Underworld

X-Ray of the Dream

Xray of the Dream935459_10151624055057702_1867179231_n

“The more one becomes aware of the contents of the personal unconscious, the more is revealed of the rich layer of images and motifs that comprise the collective unconscious. This has the effect of enlarging the personality. Consciousness participates more feely in the wider world, in better relationship to the world, in communion with the world at large”. * ref below

Do our dreams portray an x-ray of our inner lives? Will our ongoing dreams reveal a pattern of our lives, so that we can be better prepared for whatever yet comes our way?

The dream is the voice of nature, natural, with energy and, using its strange metaphors and vistas shows, from the unconscious, where perhaps its energy can be directed so that we feel a little more balanced, less stressed, knowing that we are in dialogue with our inner selves, a guiding Self, a bulwark against the troubled times we find ourselves in, many times soul-destroying.

Again, we have to go beyond to know what our dreams ‘mean’ – they are meant to be held with love and curiosity, tenderness and care, allowing the image and the imagination to take time to unfold. It is so important to not make an immediate interpretation. Some dreams seem to be more significant than others; yet even the simplest image speaks. More work and attention is required, looking into those depths, for is not soul work depth work? The night is the perfect backdrop for us to re-think, re-feel, re-imagine, re-orient our attitudes to ourselves and the world. The psyche is always at work and our dream world lets us know it’s busy. We can take the x-ray of our dream into life, even though it does not show all or tell all. We may apply a certain meaning to it at a certain time; yet months later we sense a new meaning as it evolves over time, much as our lives do.

And, incidentally, Jung, when asked ‘what does my dream mean?’ always replied, I don’t know .. 

*C.G. Jung, Collected Works Vol 7. Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

with thanks to google images for graphic

Way of the Dream

Way of the Dream

dreams lotus_n

Simone Weil: Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity

I often take my dreams for a walk – I think they like the fresh air and exercise. I witness it in a different way, wandering and wondering, while my ego takes a deserved break. A new dimension in the dream appears. A crack in the sidewalk may trigger something and an unbidden thought arises. It reminds me of the other evening when I was watching the rays on the clouds of the setting sun from my study turn a glorious orange-pink. I went outside to see wider; the opposite side was an entirely different sky/cloud scape. I looked for a few moments and turned back to see the first view which had completely changed –

It’s like that with a dream. The lens is wider the more we let it cook instead of trying to whip it up into shape or water it down to fit with what we believe it to be. Any worthy work deserves patience and commitment. The waiting is hard – but it cannot be rushed. Autumn precedes spring, it takes its own time. It needs watching, and waiting. The wilderness is dense, those depths, thick, ambiguous. Occasionally a ray of sunlight breaks through, and we feel that the waiting was worthwhile as the dimension to the dream deepens, further still.

A woman dreamed of being a waitress, serving others, at their beck and call. She wasn’t a waitress in real-life; she was a very successful business woman. She sensed that her life needed changing, some withdrawal from business, to connect with herself, to slowly but surely find a way back to herself, to serve – and save – herself –

Like working in our gardens, waiting for spring to appear, we wait on our dreams, the garden of our inner wilderness; and let them, the images, do their mythical mysterious work on us. The walls come crumbling down – we see the way of the dream, glimpsing our lodestar, waking up to who we truly are and may yet become. The wisdom was always there, within, a world waiting to be discovered —

Today, Monday 27th April, is the 21st anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election, when Mr. Nelson Mandela became our President (1994). It was a long walk to freedom, hard won, not yet fully realised in this beautiful yet beleaguered country of ours.

 with thanks to google images for graphic

Voice of the Dream

Voice of the Dreammoon on waterThe dream’s ‘voice’ uses unusual metaphor and symbols as its vehicle of doing so – its’ way of communicating – unique, and meant only for you. You will recognise the voice, if you want –

Like the stars that come out at night and are visible when the skies are clear yet are so far away, so does the dream seem far away, yet the light is there. There is no darkness without light. That which is dark or unknown can be made visible. 

Who are all these visitors who come in the night? Sometimes they seem vague, no vice, no virtue, no voice, no violence.

Or those vistas in which we find ourselves, climbing mountains, going into a forest, crossing a bridge, being lost in a strange land, a verge, a sunset, a glowing world, drowning, valleys, a child – 

It’s a wilderness down there. 

Our conscious thought is governed largely by the ego, representing a mere tip of the iceberg, underneath which lies the vast reservoirs below, i.e. the unconscious. Leviathans lie deep. This strata is common to us all, the original sea, always adding. It is from here that our dreams come. It is from here that myths and legends emerge and live on. Grandmothers teaching how to make bread, weaving webs, story telling around a camp fire – Persephone and Demeter; Inanna; Hades; Oedipus; Tristan And Isolde; Eros and Psyche – to where we are now, space exploration, instant communication.. It is from those depths that we connect with those archaic ancestral mythical parts of ourselves – and move onwards, backwards, deeper still, always in images – 

Kern Windwraith (The Odd Particle) posted Lord Byron’s poem in her comment a post or 3 back – my thanks to her – his voice speaks clearly, in mystery.

“Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy”.

Graphic courtesy Google images

Understanding the Dream

Understanding the Dream

dreamimages (5)

‘Lack of conscious understanding does not mean that the dream has no effect at all. Even civilised man can occasionally observe that a dream which he cannot remember can slightly alter his mood for better or worse. Dreams can be ‘understood’ to a certain extent in a subliminal way, and that is mostly how they work‘. * Carl Jung: ref below 

 It is better to be uncertain about what the dream may be seeming to portray. In any event, one ‘understands’ better retrospectively. I often ask myself : can I depend on my own understanding? What other subliminal forces are at work of which I may be unaware?

The urge to have an answer to the meaning of the dream is real. Many of us live our lives to some degree through unconscious expectations and thus are often disappointed at the marriage that went wrong or lack of success at the job, as writer, as friend … fill in the blanks. And want answers. There are many unanswered questions when we note our dream and this is where we usher in the mystery of it. We can unpack it to some extent, like a Poirot on the scent of unclear clues. I’ve painted a few striking dreams – and I’m no artist by any stretch of the imagination. I spent much time resisting, and then fashioning my painting; it was worth the effort, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I had to let go of my inhibitions about it not being good, or worthy, or perfect or any good. But the dream was important. And the image lent itself to being painted. Sometimes the hands work out something that the mind cannot to paraphrase Jung.

An unpleasant dream makes us uncomfortable, even subliminally, unless of course we simply discard it as so much rubbish and give it no more heed. We are the authors of our dreams, no one else. They come from down under, the deepest recesses of our being. Most of my dreams are absolutely unexpected and leave me mystified, at least for quite a while, until I ‘work’ on/with them, and allow them to work on me … they’re an unfinished symphony.

* Carl Jung: ‘Approaching the Unconscious’ in Man and His Symbols.

with thanks to google images for the graphic

Theatre of the Dream

Theatre of the Dream
All the world’s a stage,

and all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts, ..

‘As You Like It’ : William Shakespeare.

Like the great dramas of ancient Athens and Rome enacted in amphitheatres over days, weeks, months, years, so too is the great dream drama within and without enacted and unfolded. Like the dream on a stage, the curtains open and the characters are there, and the scenery is what is is. 

I like to think of this inner world of dreams as the theatre of the soul. The other night before I constructed this post, I dreamed of being with two women. One was my sister, the other I haven’t met but ‘know’ her through her blog posts. We were in a cinema passing chocolate to each other. And then we sang. (I’ve never sung in a dream before). The image of a darkened place, a projector somewhere in the background and being with two women I care deeply for, makes me know that I need to amplify it more, paying attention to the images. What am I called to see in the dark and what am I projecting onto my sister and ‘Elizabeth’. And chocolate? What is this ‘theatre’ in my dream?

Like the play on stage, the dream unfolds. We’re both participant and observer. After the opening scene there is development of the plot where the action commences followed by a culmination in which something happens. There is more but the word limit is restricting! But it would be remiss of me to leave out that the women in my dream are shadow aspects of me, since they are of of the same sex. Gold can be found in using the metaphorical torch to shine a little light onto the shadow –

Dreams invite us to get our teeth into it, to assimilate it, chewing it over and over and allowing them their slow digesting. Letting it take it’s own time, like the tides of the oceans, trusting that they will come into shore.

And again, let the images speak. It can be helpful to give the dream a tentative title.

Seeds in the Dream

Seeds in the DreamtreeoflifeThat tiny acorn, buried in the ground, tentatively sprouting, filched by squirrels, bombarded by storms, blazing sun, freezing temperatures, high winds, fire, becoming flexible, enduring all as it matures in its natural intended way. Seeding and re-seeding through the seasons. The span of the branches is as wide above as its roots below. 

As above so below.

I love the symbol of The Tree, recognising the soil as its Mother, with its roots, trunk, branches, leaves, giving and taking, providing shade

Simon & Garfunkel’s song comes to mind:

Hello Darkness my old friend,

I’ve come to talk with you again,

Because a vision softly creeping,

left its seeds while I was sleeping,

And the vision that was planted in my brain,

still remains,

within the sounds –

of silence.

It’s like that in the dream … a seed is planted, something shifts. There’s more soul space within for growth, germinating, biding its time. Sometimes there’s a bit of sweet synchronicity when there appears to be no causal connection between two events. The bridge between the collective unconscious and consciousness seems a little less shaky and less narrow. We see the myth of our times a little more clearly, suffused with those inherited ones from aeons past.

The collective unconscious is a strata common to us all, where motifs, myths and the archetypes appear everywhere. Somehow we’ve lost touch with our sacred inheritance.

I can’t stress enough how the dream is specific to the dreamer. The archetype is impersonal. It just is. It is especially important in this regard to not be led away from the dream, but to  focus on the image, the form and content. A symbol is not a sign – a sign tells you this is black or white –  symbol goes beyond the obvious and immediate meaning of the dream. Let the image of the symbol continue in it’s shapeshifting.

 thanks to goggle images for the graphic

Re-cognising the Dream

Re-cognising the Dream

illusion How can I possibly relate to these strange and weird dreams. It is all is too foreign and beyond my ken. For many of us including myself this is very difficult. The important thing though is how we feel about the dream and how we attempt to revise and revision by placing ourselves in that dream to see what it is saying: am I this wave or this tunnel or this walking around; am I this  house with it many rooms, known and unknown – and how it compensates for our waking attitude.

I may or may not recognise that woman or women in the dream, or that man at my home kneeling on the ground with a large piece of paper in front of him to whom I pass a blunt pair of scissors. Unexpected visitors turn up when I am unprepared for them and have no food in the house and have to leave the house to go in my car to buy food and get lost on the way.

These are the sorts of dreams that give me cause for pause. That I left those unexpected visitors is representative of me in some way. No food in the house (my inner realms metaphorically) to nourish these other parts of me. My thoughts go off in all sorts of directions … and I know I cannot reduce it to a simple formula.

When I walk, I get into a sort of reverie about them or it all. I put the ego aside for the while. I ponder and re-imagine, and re-member the dream, looking for loose threads that need to be located and realised. I go over it again and again, entering into it. And still it is beyond my grasp. But that’s ok. What am I not being receptive to I have to ask myself. And in this way, whether walking or retreating into myself in some other way, I can reflect and re-cognise.

Image: Google graphics

Quo Vadis? on the Dream

Q : Quo Vadis? on the Dream


 ‘Quo Vadis’? Latin: “Where are you going?”

The words asked by Peter when he met Christ upon the Appian Way. ‘Domine, Quo Vadis’? Lord, whither goest Thou?  

I do not know where my dream is going when I am dreaming. I do not know my destination in the dream. I wake at a particular juncture when it is important that I remember this dream, to write it down, so that I can look at it in the cold light of day. For me it brings up the old age question, Why? Why this dream now?

I remember a dream from years and years back. I was standing on the tennis court at our home, not dressed in tennis gear, no-one else about. Out of nowhere a huge library of books came tumbling down onto me and knocked me down to the ground. I can’t remember how long it took for me to decipher that dream, maybe not long at all, because in it’s way it was fairly clear. Although I resisted its message, I took away from it that it was time for me to get out of my head, stop living in it, stop being so one-sided, so intellectual, so up in the air, devouring books books books, to the exclusion of all else. Start living, start feeling, this last a much neglected side of me. Not necessarily to quench my thirst for learning but not to the extent of quarantining myself from my feeling function. I’m still learning how to do this –

When I ponder on a significant dream I ask the same sort of question, ‘whither goest thou’ of myself – it’s an ongoing quest.

Rilke: Live the Questions

Emily Bronte: ‘I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind’.

Talmud: An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter.


Pregnancy of the Dream

Pregnancy of the Dreambeach from Lookout

Land, sand, beach, sky, mountains, sea, plant life – each and all pregnant with life, pulsing with possibilities.

Like our dream –  also pregnant with potential and possibility –

Our psyche, or soul, or source, or inner beat, that deep rich soil within, provides the compost. 

Like poetry or a painting or a piece of writing or a sunset or sunrise or the sound of the waves or the trill of a bird that speaks to the soul, we feel the pull, the tug, some visceral reaction to a dream.  We pause when a dream or an image presents itself, whether in paradox or more clearly. Our psyche is penetrated, some passage is opened, a page is left opened for further study. There is purpose, though dimly seen.

Most often, the dream presents a puzzle to us, or to me in any event. But, with patience, putting those pieces of the puzzle into their rightful place, sometimes incorrectly, even misplacing the pieces of the borders, and seeing the pattern finally emerge, not necessarily to completion, is uplifting. 

Laying out the pieces of the puzzle requires preparation; the table needs to be clear. For my night-life some planning helps. Before I ‘turn in’ for the night, I ensure that my small torch is clipped to my dream journal. I often look at previous dreams to see if I can discern a thread – or give some sort of title to a previous dream. I ask my unconscious to provide a dream, knowing that this can’t be predicted.

I know that decoding my dreams takes practice and that the more attention I give to them, the more will be yielded. 

The dream is your guide, helpful in showing possible paths

own photo of Plettenberg Bay, Southern Cape.

Other in the Dream

Other in the Dream

yinyangWho is that ‘other‘ in the dream who I do not remotely know? That person is so opposite to me in every way. Or, I do know this person.  Sometimes I know this place, or I do not know it. It is so obscure, sometimes obstructive. What can I possibly discern from this? What will be my orientation to it in my waking life? Is it offering me anything? 

Well, yes, it does offer itself to you, like a gift, although it does want something in return, namely your overt attention. It does not want to be spurned. It provides the dreamer with a golden opportunity to look further, go deeper, go over and over it, again and again, especially if it is extremely puzzling.

 Carl Jung’s quote :

‘The more one-sided his conscious attitude is, and the further it deviates from the optimum, the greater the possibility that vivid dreams with a strongly contrasted but purposive content will appear as an expression of the self-regulation of the psyche’.

All those characters, events and place in the dream are only facets of the one dreamer.

I’ve stressed in previous posts, hopefully sufficiently enough, the importance of letting the dream cook and steam as in an oven, not rushing to turn it off to halt its cooking. Not rushing to interpret it, although as previously said, sometimes the meaning is very clear.

Many times my dreams are ordinary, and that’s ok. At least I feel that the channels are open and, if I wake, I write them down. It may be a sentence or two, even a few paragraphs or fairly lengthy. But it is for me a way of observing my inner world, checking it in my outer world – I want to know that unknown other, apart from me, though a part.

The dream is your guide, wanting your observation as you get to know the other within –

 thanks to google images for the graphic

Nature of the Dream

Nature of the Dreamdream images (1)

‘Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will. They are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature when our consciousness has strayed too far from its foundations and run into an impasse’. see ref below.

Now, I feel I have taken on far too huge a task to bring across the value of the dream in approximately 300-350 words for each letter of the alphabet. Honestly, if I’ve said anything at all, it would represent the tip of my fingernail to my whole body. I can only encourage you to pay attention to your dreams, a very real and natural expression of your unconscious and the collective unconscious, that strata common to us all.

Dreams are hard nuts to crack. Those that give us cause for pause and or wake us up in the middle of the night because of the strangeness of it, are the ones to be attended to. Each dream and its associations are unique to the dreamer and in this are nuggets to be found. It shows possibilities, potentials, both negative and positive, and it is not necessary to find an answer. 

Don’t neglect your dreams. Not for nothing do we dream. Each dream or series of dreams offers a new point of view, a compensation for our usual conscious way of looking at things. It is not surprising that it is alien. Each offers a way of self-reflection. Each problem personified in a dream can be outgrown.

Sometimes it seems we are going nowhere in the dream. Our deepest self does know, but of this we often have no notion

 CG Jung “On the Nature of Dreams” CW 8 The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg.532

Mystery of the Dream

Mystery of the Dream

done on 13 Aug 2013 with left hand
done on 13 Aug 2013 with left hand

The dream like all mysteries takes time to demystify. Who is that who I see in the mirror – when I look?

The mud of it, thick, impenetrable, murky, mistaken. How can this possibly relate to me personally, and collectively.

The dream can serve as metaphor as we meander, faithfully holding the dream with care and reverence, until it yields its message. Autumn and winter precede spring and the dream oftentimes seems to follow a similar pattern, at least to me. It lies low, deep in the rich soil, germinating, and I am unsure it will ever flower.

For many the dream is a muse. Some well known ones:-

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of ‘Treasure Island & Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde’, inter alia, wrote that he got many of his best stories from his dreams.

Guisppe Tartini wrote his masterpiece for the violin, The Devil’s Sonata, after hearing it performed in a dream.

19th century chemist Dimitri Mendelev fell asleep while chamber music was being played in the next room. He understood in a dream that the basic chemical elements are all related to each other in a manner similar to the themes and phrases in music.

Albert Einstein as a young man, dreamed that he was sledding down a steep mountainside, going faster and faster, approaching the speed of light, which caused the stars in his dream to change their appearance. Meditating upon that dream, Einstein eventually worked out his extraordinary scientific achievement, the principle of relativity.

Your dreams too can be such a provident source. It means exercising that inner muscle, tensing, flexing, releasing, tensing again to see what the mirror reveals. The metaphor of matrix comes to mind. Dreams can be re-membered no matter from how long ago. The more we work on our dreams the more our own myth becomes apparent.

own graphic