Welcome to the second part of my Journey of Love: The Way of the Dream. For ease of reference I will republish both dreams, however, if you would like to look back over the first part of this article, here’s the link: The Way of the Dream – Part One. In this section I will be exploring each dream in further detail, bringing to light their guiding themes before exploring how, despite being decades apart, both dreams are deeply connected. First, let us return to my recurring childhood dream. Even though there are a number of symbols within each dream I’ve decided to explore the three central images, which for me are the Dragonfly, the Dark Woods and the game of Hide-and-Seek. In the second dream I shall consider the symbolism of Birth, the Goddess Lakshmi and the Queen of Heaven before exploring the powerful connections between both dreams.
Childhood Dream: (Ages 7-12 years)
I enter a dark woodland and am chased by a huge brown furry dragonfly. The dragonfly is terrifying, it has huge white teeth. She wants to eat me. I try to hide behind the trees, she always finds me and is just about to eat me when I wake up. These repeated dreams frequent my childhood. As I aged the dream slightly changes and I try to hide from the dragonfly under the water of a small pond in the woods. I sit there, underwater, on the branches of an old tree until I can see the stars in the sky above. Somehow I can breathe down there. I poke out my head and always she is there to kill me. At twelve years old I got used to this nightly game of hide and seek and when the part comes to my death I am resigned and accept it. This courage took many years to develop. When I died I entered a nothingness, a blackness, yet I still existed. This was a new world to me and although I took hesitant steps I was not able to access this place and was told to go back, entry was forbidden. The dream stops at twelve.
First, let us turn to the dragonfly who carries with it the universal symbolism of transformation and adaptability in life. A deep symbol of metamorphosis, that inspires us to bring about the changes needed in order to reach our highest potential. In hindsight, I feel my dragonfly was initiating, almost preparing me in childhood to one day leave the familiar and travel into other, unknown places. I realise the qualities of the dragonfly, with its lightness, emotional flexibility and ability to change direction swiftly, stayed with me when I needed them most. Often seen around water the dragonfly symbolizes its affinity with the realm of feelings, water being a powerful symbol for emotions and the unconscious. The repetitive nature of this dream during childhood was I felt, time after time, calling me to transform and evolve.
Make no mistake, in these dreams I hurried through those dark woods terrified. Like the unconscious, it was a place inhabited by wild, ferocious things, a rich metaphor for the Shadow. As I reflect today on the sanctuary of the small pond, which I know embodies the living, healing waters within my Psyche (aha! another four-winged Goddess) I realise the four elements of Fire (dragon (fly) Water (pond) Earth (tree) and Air (night skies) converged. Could these early dreams have shown me my future vocation of poet and psychotherapist, of being able to read my own and other’s nature clearly? For I feel I was repeatedly shown that in order to survive, I would have to descend to the very root of the matter. For many years in my childhood dreams I was taken back to those dark woods to sit upon the roots of my past, while the route to my future was hopefully being reflected in the water above by the ‘enlightened’ stars.
Hide-and-Seek is an ancient game, written about as far back as the 2nd-century by Greek writer Julius Pollux where it was known as “Apodidraskinda.” In this game Jung’s theory of holding the tension of the opposites comes to mind, as the turning point in my dream happened each time I was discovered by the seeker. Slowly over the years I learnt that, by completely surrendering to the seeker, my pattern of being a victim came to an end. In death my energy didn’t disappear, it simply transformed. In hindsight, I feel I was being shown the difficulties that I was to endure before I learnt how to not only meet my fear but surrender to it, and in that surrender my transformation would begin, like an initiation for the work to come. It was all there in that ever recurring childhood dream that completely vanished at twelve years old, the onset of puberty. Let us move onto my mid-life dream, decades later.
Adult Dream (Age 49 years)
I am dressed in a long sari, it is blue with gold flecks throughout the material. I am walking alone into town when I stop in labour on the path and give birth to a large, dark-haired baby girl. I look at her and notice that she has four arms growing out of her shoulder blades. As she is my baby, I tell myself, it doesn’t matter how she looks, so I wrap her up and continue my journey. The baby is nestled close to me. Only when the head was crowning did I realise I was about to give birth, it was pretty straight forward. On the way to the town I stop once more to look into my baby’s eyes and there I see the dark night sky, I see stars moving and watch as a circle of twelve stars form. In the sky the face of a woman appears, it is as though she is made up of stars alone. She talks to me and tells me to wrap up the child and continue on my journey. I hold the baby closer and continue on my way. Later that day, in Active Imagination, I speak to the sky-woman and from our dialogue I write a poem about this dream.
For me the central images of the dream were Birth, the Goddess Lakshmi and the Queen of Heaven. The symbolism of Birth itself often signifies that the dreamer is undergoing a positive transformation which holds the potential to make them feel whole again. I didn’t know I was even pregnant, therefore, the birth came as a huge surprise to me. To go into labour whilst walking along the path feels significant in that the path (I feel) represents my journey through life. Birth came without much effort, ‘one big push,’ and there she was. I feel in awe of the glimpse of the creative process I have been given, I had no idea that it would manifest in front of me. This I felt was doubly blessed by my daughter’s quaternary of arms. As I held her in my arms, I felt like I was holding onto an earlier part of my life and when I awoke I felt certain that a new creativity and spirituality had been born.
(Maha)Lakshmi is a well-known Hindu goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth. She is also known as “Mother of the World.” “Maha” means great and “Lakshmi” is an aspect of the Mother. As soon as I had given birth to her I knew at once that my daughter’s name was Lakshmi, I had given birth to a Great Goddess I kept telling myself in utter disbelief. What could this possibly mean? I remember in my dream how the earth pulsated with life and joy filled the air as I delivered her. She had come from my ocean, out of my small inner pond (womb) where lotus flowers are known to grow and thrive and where a festival of (star) lights had taken place. Mahalakshmi is known as the supreme embodiment of the mother-goddess, the cosmic soul, a divine and Great Mother who transforms each seeker’s dreams into reality.
The Queen of Heaven was the title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses including Isis, Inanna and Hera. In modern times, the title has passed on to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. I like to think that whoever my Goddess was in the sky, dressed only in stars, she was a positive omen for the future. I was truly mesmerised, nearly fainting in delight (if such things are possible in dreams) when her face, a pure vision, appeared from the 12 circling stars. Then, when she spoke directly to me through the eye of the Goddess, I felt certain that the archetype of the “Great Mother” herself had travelled with me for all those years. For, as I return to the image of the dragonfly and recall her huge, brown and furry body, I think of her as more bear than dragonfly and the symbolism of Bear again brings forth, the Great Mother archetype.
How Are These Two Dreams Connected?
In my early dream I feel that the Great Mother (dragonfly) was initiating me for my life ahead, preparing me for the journey of birth that was to come. As seven years old is around the age we depart the world of soul and develop ego consciousness, I guess something had to die within so that I could engage more with life itself. Today the game of hide-and-seek leads me to fully understand that I cannot escape my fate, Self or Shadow, while the midlife dream reveals I have never been alone on this journey and that I am to keep the child close to me and nurture this new star from within. Oh how I wept with joy as I listened to her words! Memory flickers and I recall how stars fell into the water as I sat upon those ancient roots of my childhood dream, witnessing a festival of lights. In my descent, this fragment, this ‘Star of Lakshmi’ surfaced.
The quaternary (the fourness) of the wings and limbs, represent wholeness. Something went to sleep at the onset of puberty, only to be reawakened during midlife as I am told to continue my journey. I am reminded throughout both dreams of the opposites, light/dark, birth/death, above/below. I had no conscious need for Jung prior to midlife, although I did read his memoir aged 15, much of which went over my head, it was only his name, the thread through the labyrinth, which lingered through the years. Upon waking from my mid-life dream I painted scenes and wrote a poem titled “Dream of the Cosmos” after Anne Baring’s brilliant book and with whom I shared the dream itself. She guided me to stay in touch with the dream as it gave me all I needed to know. A dream like that, she said, would last a lifetime. Like myself, Anne wondered what the child would grow into.
Somehow, even decades apart these dreams feel deeply connected and I have been so pleased to share them with you. The Great Mother came not once, twice but three times in them and in a variety of forms, yet distinctively knowable. I’m so pleased to have discovered Jung, such treasure in one’s life. He has been ‘The Good Shepherd’, my inner Guide, as finally I have found a psychological language that helps me understand my life from a spiritual perspective, helping me understand myself as a unique yet ordinary human being. More to ponder for years to come whilst I continue to write my debut novel ‘The Bad Shepherd.’ Forever it feels, I am returned to the task of learning how to hold the tension between the opposites, tis The Fate of the Alchemist for sure!
If you’re also interested in working with the way of the dream and would like to share any insights or connections you’ve picked up whilst reading I would be most happy to hear from you. I feel that as I’ve already touched upon my poem, ‘Dream of the Cosmos,’ within this article, I’ll make sure it’s my first poem of 2016 to be posted.
A very happy New Year to one and all!
Copyright Deborah Gregory 2015