Behind the Scenes of Dreams

As the poet drifts off to sleep,
the mercurial archetypes
below are busy sorting out
their light and dark sides,
together with which typology
will go with each character.

Seamlessly, like a dream
or well-choreographed dance,
they swirl into costumes,
placing clues in the scenery
of sacred images and symbols
for the dreamer to follow.

Only everyone’s ignoring
the Self’s handwritten note,
pinned to the poet’s heart,
saying don’t forget the tomcat
with his silver tinkling bell,
needed for tonight’s lysis.

Why? Because they’re busy
fighting over the leading role,
caught in a power complex
amid theatrical, raised voices,
hence the five minute call
isn’t heard above the noise.

With order and strength
of purpose, the goal-seeking
animus is using his power
to push the spiralling anima,
vast ocean of eternal being,
out of the twin dressing room.

Telling her he can’t think
straight while she’s around,
go chant in another room,
I want to focus and integrate
my fantasy football team
before we help the poet out.

I’m thinking twenty tonight,
handsome and godlike,
I’ll appear like her first crush,
the dazzling David Cassidy,
to show her how far she’s got
with her lesbian malarkey!

Anima beams brightly at him,
why would I ever leave you,
instead of performing solo,
let’s merge in the green room
and reveal ourselves to all
as the Divine Hermaphrodite.

Come meet Jung’s archetypes
behind the scenes of dreams,
who go all-out to come together,
whilst forever turning tables
on each other, in melodramatic
plots, to find inner balance.

Perhaps not as glamorous
as front of house, but backstage
they do the important jobs
in the production of all of us,
for without these archetypes
our show wouldn’t go on.

On cue, out of the dark closet,
the shadow slams the door,
maddening the set designer,
to hiss in the animus’s ear,
what a joke, let’s trade her in
for a quick lust over the ex!

That’ll put her out of the room
so to speak, where she belongs,
rolled up inside a yoga mat!
Hell no, the animus laughs,
who would I watch Strictly with
and dance with afterwards!

On the warpath, the shadow
pulls out her father’s gun
from underneath the pillow,
whilst hardening her heart,
as she plots to murder the soul
of this slumbering poet.

I mean look at her snoring,
getting fatter and fatter,
she’s lost her looks for good,
hardly worth … hey why
are you all side-stepping me
like I’ve got the plague?!

Meanwhile, backstage,
the sound crew press mute
to make sure the shadow
doesn’t steal any more lines,
ensuring the poet’s heart
rises and falls rhythmically.

As each metaphor slips past
her innermost defences,
the poet glimpses through
the soul’s eyes, up into
vaults of stars, searching
for the lost pieces of herself.

Applying a new coat of lippy,
the persona joins the fray,
you think you’ve got it bad,
try faking it all day long,
I mean, fuck knows who I am
behind this painted façade.

C’mon, let’s sort it out,
if we pull together collectively
here in this sacred house,
enact the great cosmic drama,
the poet will finally learn
how to relate to herself better.

Not beaten by a long shot,
the shadow turns to everyone,
well, your masks off first,
show me who you really are
and while the poet sleeps
I’ll shoot her in her warm bed.

On cue, anima and animus,
twin souls of the psyche,
whistle to the Dream Maker,
as guardians arrive to take
the shadow back to the closet
from whence she came.

The final curtain call is given,
the archetypes gather then
in a prayer circle and chant,
holding out for harmony
as they encourage each other
to break a theatrical leg.

As the dream ego approaches,
uniting above and below,
fearful of knowing what will
happen next, a bodyguard
appears behind the scenes hastily
bullet-proofing her bed.

In the distance the Self
can be heard laughing loudly
as this one-off performance
in the theatre of the soul begins,
where the poet meets herself
in disguise, time and time again.

A hush falls over the outer
circle of a circle within a circle,
the house lights brighten
while the dream curtains part
and a tomcat with silver bell,
wanders onto the stage.

© Deborah Gregory 2021

Image credits:  ‘Evolution III’  and  ‘Circle of Time’
by the incredibly, talented artist Michael Cheval. 

24 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes of Dreams

  1. OMG this is utterly brilliant Deborah!!! It pulled me right in, fascinated, love all the imagery and your clever way of telling the dream-story. I laughed at the Animus, clever Trickster choosing the most apt image, so funny… Just wow…

  2. “With the Self’s smiling, knowing look revealed behind the mask of the poet.”

    Deborah, your poems go way beyond understanding dreams. They represent the whole human being. You leave me thirsty for more.

    1. Wow, I don’t know what to say other than thanks so much Bookworm for your visit and watering my creativity! Being a Jungian loving poet and psychotherapist certainly takes me into some interesting spaces. I bless the day I met Jung and the archetypes! Love and light, Deborah.

  3. I enjoyed a dramatic breakfast meeting with your archetypal characters–beginning and ending with the tomcat with the silver bell. I love the animus who can’t think straight with anima who must chant in a different room. Showing my age, I paused at heartthrob David Cassidy who died as an alcoholic and must have always had to live behind his pretty boy facade.

    The shadow scared and surprised me (as usual) with her father’s gun as she plots murder! I was relieved when the crew defended against the shadow screwing things up and also the body guard. The dreamer needs lots of shadow protection. I laughed out loud with the lippy persona who has to fake it all day. And then the wonderful containing bookend of the final appearance of the tomcat.

    So creative and original–serious and whimsical–proper and silly–with tension from the shadow. What will that shadow do and where is she hiding? All the makings of a full Shakespearean comedy. I loved Michael Cheval’s paintings. Let the play begin.

    Thank you, Deborah. You’re amazing. I’m not dreaming much, so I live my dreams in caterpillar Imaginal Discs and butterflies. Sending you love and a deep formal curtsy to your creativity from across the ocean.

    1. Well, I’m delighted to have breakfasted with you my lovely friend! Thank you so much Elaine for your wonderful rendition of my latest poetic offering. Believe me when I say that this is a slightly watered down version to the much ruder (unpublishable, but one my Shadow and Mercurius enjoyed writing!) one I first wrote. Yes, the dazzling David Cassidy was my first crush and what a pretty boy he was too. It was terribly sad to read of his early death at 67 yrs in recent years. According to his daughter, Katie Cassidy, his final words were … “So much wasted time.”

      Ha-Ha! The Self, I believe, often sends in the Guardians of the Faith, when my Shadow is busy playing up. I know, the gun right?! That surprised me too as her intention was murderous. She was all out for revenge, emotionally cut-off, lacking any empathy, the total opposite of my conscious self, as it always will be I guess. Although secretly I do have to confess that I admire her naughtiness (or is that my Shadow talking?!) ‘All the makings of a Shakespearean comedy’ Yesss! I can picture the whole play in my mind but 24 verses later, I had to stop and let the dream begin.

      Your love and deep curtsy is warmly received here on this warm autumn day in the UK. I’m truly delighted that you enjoyed this poem. So no nightly dreams however your day dreams are pretty impressive as it’s been a joy to follow your butterfly adventures this summer more than any other Mama Monarch! Love and light, Deborah.

  4. Not to be a drama queen with my comment but…I just love, love, love this Deborah!

    The way you have woven all of the archetypes into the scene setting is wonderful, painting the picture so clearly of how they all interact in the unconscious. The comedy of it all shines through…that pesky shadow – oh I had a picture in my mind of the Guardians from the Handmaids Tale taking her off to her closet and the persona could be played on stage so well by Helena Bonham Carter!! The tom cat with the silver bell as the lysis makes me wonder what the outcome of this dream scenario actually is!

    That’s what it does – it conjures up so many images and would make a wonderful play or short film…a new career could await you!! The beautiful images you have chosen are just perfect for this – I particularly like the second one…the circle within the circle within a circle, an excellent choice.

    Fab-u-lous Deborah…take a bow! Love and light, Sophia

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for your wonderful reaction! Ha-Ha! Drama Queen, love it! Yes, that pesky Shadow of mine is always trying to create more problems behind the scenes. Still, the Guardians of the Faith (otherwise known as the Self) quickly deal with the situation. Helena Bonham Carter, as Persona, yes! Hmm, the tomcat has his own tale to tell and I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

      This is why I love my dreams so much because they’ll full of insights, wisdom and guidance, some even prophetic. You know I think I could whip up a screenplay on this! Thanks for the inspiration. Michael Cheval’s fantastic art speaks volumes, I love his creativity! As soon as I saw the first painting I thought of the Self, holding the ego, puppeting the archetypes and so on. And the last painting, well ‘the circle within a circle within a circle’ I couldn’t resist especially as the look on the dancers face, behind the mask, perfectly matched the mood and atmosphere of the theatre of the soul.

      Your ‘Strictly’ response wasn’t lost on me either. Fab-U-lous as Craig Revel Horwood would say! Yay! Only one week to go! Love and light, Deborah.

  5. I’d call it “The Divine Comedy”! This is a piece in three acts, in which one meets the self (poem meets poem), and then the fight begins! An amazing encounter of two sides, dearest Deborah, who wins? I hope both… Thank you, you wrote another legendary. Always with love.

    1. Aww, thank you so much Aladin for the gift of your kind-hearted words! I had so much fun writing this one, especially with all the divine comedic in-fighting over the starring role. It was a type and laugh session. Yes, both sides, conscious and unconscious, to win here too! Love and light, Deborah.

  6. And we do so often fail to listen to the self…

    Lovely, Deborah.

    Your choice of title image is perfectly in tune with your weaving together of historical, contemporary and impression. I love the idea that ‘the poet meets herself/ in disguise, time and time again.’ It could have been a good finish, but that final stanza brings together everything you’ve set up earlier, and leaves me with a picture more vivid than the painting you’ve given us at the end – though the expression on the dancer’s face was spot-on, too.

    1. Wow, I’m blown away by your response Cath, truly I am! How masterly you command language and how, in so few words, you succinctly pull together each thread. It’s like you’re reading my mind re image, title, dream, ending and all.

      In dreams I believe we meet ourselves a thousand times, in varying disguises and its Jung’s archetypes that have helped me understand this the most so far. It’s a theatre down below where all parts of ourselves gather, courageously I feel at times, to enact and re-enact the cosmic drama, on both personal and collective levels. No wonder kings and queens of old, had interpreters back in ancient times, due to the importance of dreams.

      And finally, I decided to leave the lysis of the dream, the tomcat with his silver tinkling bell, with the imaginings and dreams of the reader. I’m thrilled that this worked so well for you as a reader. Oh, I’m getting teary now! Love and light, Deborah.

  7. What a fabulous piece Deborah! Animated by the anima and animus! It is truly what happens behind the scenes, those archetypes lurking yet wanting recognition for their roles. This has set up my Friday with a smile at the smiting and all else. Have a glorious weekend. Hope you manage to get some more walking in and I hope your ankle is recovering well. It’s amazing how having to be still can bring forth such wicked and wise wordery. All hail to Mercurius (mercurious?) Love the art work too and the final curtain.
    Love, Susan

    1. Thank you so much Susan for your truly fabulous review! Hopefully, ‘Behind the Scenes of Dreams’ will become one of my finishing poems for my new ‘Animus Diet’ book (I haven’t finalised the title yet) and so the archetypal animus and anima had to come into their own. I’m hoping my poems in the book will help the reader understand a little more about each of the archetypes that I explore in more depth in my Animus Diet, Divine Hermaphrodite and Sophian essays. It will be an unusual book for sure! Ah, Mer-curious! Love it!

      On the walking front I’m up to three miles now, and comfortably so, although I appreciate it’s going to take me several more months to get back up to my usual 10 mile walks, if ever but 7 would be a good place if not. Hmm, sitting still does bring its rewards doesn’t it. I’ll have to make a note of returning to this moment if I’m ever laid up again because my imagination just started soaring once I had accepted that I couldn’t physically move. And as for Michael Cheval, I love, love, love his art! Love and light, Deborah.

  8. Brilliant!!! Absolutely brilliant!!

    Your comedy, timing, knowledge of Jung’s archetypes it’s all there Deborah. What talent! Highly original writing. I shall be back to read this again and again. Being of a certain age myself, the David Cassidy mention did make me laugh. All the best, Anna

    1. Wow, thank you so much Anna! Oh my goddess, I’m deeply humbled by your kind and generous words. As I wrote to Jeanie, the idea came whilst in recovery and unable to walk, so many hours on the sofa became fruitful and I guess September seems the perfect time to gather in the harvest doesn’t it?! Aww, the ‘dazzling David Cassidy’, yes, he was my first crush too! Love and light, Deborah.

  9. Oh my, Deborah. What a delightful, playful, take on the magic and mystery of the archetypes as they play their roles in the Dream Theatres of the Soul (title of my second book!), showing us what’s going on behind the scenes of our conscious selves. This is one I’ll be reading again and again.

    And Michael Cheval’s amazing art couldn’t be a better way to illustrate the Dream Maker’s extraordinary creativity. There’s a local gallery here in town that carries his work. I adore it too!

    I have no doubt you will learn to relate to yourself better through dreamwork. It’s inevitable when we stay with it. There’s no better teacher than our own dreams.

    Thank you for this inspirational romp through the netherworlds of the unconscious.

    Love and blessings,


    1. Thank you so much Jeanie for your delightful review. This one was so much fun to write and written no doubt by Mercurius himself! Indeed, the dream theatre of the soul is where the archetypes gather and enact those personal and collective dramas on the poetic stage of the soul. The idea came to me whilst I was recovering from my broken ankle and I had to literally stop writing at twenty four verses because this longish poem could easily have continued. Hmm, and may do so in another form later, probably as a screenplay or book!

      Oh yes, Michael Cheval’s art is incredible! I mean, I get excited just browsing his images online and can’t imagine how it would be to be in the gallery with his surrealist art on the wall. I think I’d go weak at the knees to stand before such utter brilliance!

      Love and light, Deborah

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