A Dream Metaphor for Death

The Dream: I’m in a room crushed against many people waiting for my number to be called. Some people with numbers behind me are being called. “That’s not fair!” I complain in my mind.

The Interpretation: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all those family and friends who have died, some were younger than me.

I really hate this whole death thing and usually avoid thinking about it but once in a while a dream will come along and insist that I pay it some attention. It’s as though my soul wants to say something and uses the medium of the dream to express itself. It’s funny what happens when I let go of my resistance to the awful thought of personal death and allow myself to sink down into it and to feel its pull.

the fear,

the grief,

the anger,

the loss,

the sadness,

the unknown,

the not knowing,

the mystery,

the wonder,

the curiosity,

the what’s next?

And down here it doesn’t seem so awful.

Psyche’s Dream: A Dragon’s Tale

  • Psyche’s Dream: A dragon’s Tale (ISBN-10: ‎1663227276; ISBN-13: ‎978-1663227270)

As a Jungian trained psychologist and after working with children in a variety of mental health programs and venues e.g., in schools and day treatment programs I learned a great deal working with their dreams. It was through these dreams that the staff and I often had great insights into their inner life and how that played out in their social environments and families.

The story is of a young man who meets an ancient wizard who teaches him the mysteries of real magic, not the magic of wands, spells, and mystical creatures but the mysteries of the inner self and the great power it can wield when one learns to harness it.

The story tells of the great magic that lies all about and within each of us. Young Adam the protagonist undergoes a number of alchemical transmutations and witnesses a number of strange and frightening visions as he undergoes his own process of transformation. Along the way the young man confronts his own inner demons, heals those places within him where life has injured him, and learns to open himself to the magical alchemical powers of the psyche that for most are beyond our imagining. 

This is my fourth book on the mysteries of dreams.

In the brightest dark of this deepest wood.

“Go to the forest,” said the voice in the dream.

Cross the valley, ford the river, climb the mountain

walk the meadow to the far side

and enter the dark wood.

_

“Go to the forest,” said the voice yet again. 

Standing at the edge of the meadow Layers of forest lie before me. 

One step and each course pulls me deeper and deeper 

Into the darkness of myself.

_

Magical forces hidden amongst the branches,

Otherworldly forces filling the air, thick, and heavy with the smell of decay,

Mystical forces coming up from the earth,

giving way to the darkness that is the only light in this deep, deep place.

_

Enchanted, strange, sorcerous, irrational

Layer upon layer passed as deeper trespasses.

The I Am breaks free the further I push through the copse of my hidden self

yet nothing seems the same in this oddly familiar place. 

_

A crack of twig under foot. Someone waits ahead. Who is this I wonder?

The farther I travel the more I become what I am traveling into. What seemed so scary

before I started feels so much more like me than the person who first entered. 

Who is it who waits ahead?

_

I am more myself than I was before this journey

but have gained nothing more than I’ve been already.

The forest is dark, but here my eyes shine brighter the darker I tread.

Soon, I meet myself in a small clearing, we hug in the brightest dark of this deepest wood.

Death in dreams: not so ominous as you might think

Philosophy and religion on the surface look like opposites where on one side one operates on faith and belief while the other critiques and challenges belief. One espouses the rational while the other embraces the irrational.

However, both are of one mind regarding death in that both welcome the mysteries of death because it speaks to the mysteries of life.

When life and death are seen as opposites separated at birth death becomes real. But when death is seen as the continued transition of the soul’s migration through reality the separation and opposition disappear into a mystical unity.

In Jungian philosophy a goal of life is the reunion of opposites called the coniunctio.

In this vision of life’s purpose death takes on a new meaning shifting from an ending to an element in the soul’s journey toward unity and becomes about change and transition from one way of being to another. This point of view is also reflected in one’s dreams where death can be a symbol for change, an end from one way of being to another. Thus, the image of death becomes an archetype for transition. To embrace it is to partially fulfill the purpose of life i.e., to bring all of life’s opposites (life/death, male/female, the conscious/unconscious) into unity.

After doing a little research on the meaning of death psychologically I put down my laptop and ambled down the hall to bed. During the night I had a dream where I sat before a desk with others standing around me and I placed a small beaker upon the desk and concentrated my focus upon it. When I did it correctly a transition from one place of being would become a new one i.e., we would all sort of “portal jump” from one place to another. I was elated with each successful transition.

Upon awakening the dream seemed significant though a mystery as to how. As I continued my research later that morning the dream’s meaning began to clear. The portal jump from one reality to another was an archetype of death. It’s a focus that I find I often think about these days as life gets closer and closer to this transition period. A shift in focus from an ‘ending’ of life, or place of being, to one of a ‘change’ of place of being seems important to me and gives me a new sense of purpose. As with my earlier life my purpose was to prepare myself through all of life’s transitions to live my life as fully as possible, I now can create another purpose that of preparing myself for this next transition. As a soul it’s all my life.

Self-awareness poem from an upsetting dream

Part of last night’s dream had me talking with a bedridden old woman who had an upright bicycle parked at the foot of her bed. Suddenly she rolled toward me, forcefully trying to fall out of bed but I resisted.

This may have been a dream where my soul (the anima or female in a man’s dream) was declaring the need to get up and out of her psychic slumber and walk forward. The bike was both a symbol of a motivating force, an image of going forward, and a mandala for finding your bigger self-i.e., the wheels.

The following poem came to me as I reflected on the meanings of this dream.

Stuck in victim mode

I see only my lowest self

A loathsome self

Paralyzed and blame ridden

Lashing outside myself

Not knowing who to blame

Who to call for help

Putting others or the gods down for my 

Pain my loss my failure

Stuck as victim to myself

Where is it that I say enough

And roll out of my lethargic self-loathing slumber

And declare that I am ready to ride forward?

Emotional Vampires and Cannibals

We find the fact that there is cannibalism in the world ugly even though rare and recoil when ever it raises its ugly head. Cannibalism is the same species eating of the body for its own sustenance but what about the eating of the soul when we beat someone down, kick the dog, torture an animal, oppress a people, commit war upon them, or suck the energy from a room or a relationship is that not a form of cannibalism?

Some people thrive on the eating of another’s energy for they have little to none of their own having had it eaten earlier in life or the continuous presence of the loss of energy due to how they are treating themselves or are being treated by others.

Some people eat another’s energy such as what many politicians and their followers are currently doing to others. That same energy is also consumed through psychological or physical means and then this type of metaphorical vampire uses it to further its own goals.

How does one spot an energy vampire or cannibal? One way is to note who has just walked into the room when the energy level changes or decreases. In a discussion with someone do you feel lifted or deflated, valued, or devalued. Another way is to notice after someone has talked or made a speech how you are feeling e.g., inflated, empowered, encouraged, or deflated, disempowered, and discouraged. Energy cannibals bring hate, anger, and fear into a room. They thrive on the negativity because they’re trying to shed it from themselves by placing it on or sucking it from others. They are destroyers of cooperation and unity. They also will never take accountability for their actions either by placing it on others or by just lying about it, and will always one-up others who challenge or disagree with them. You can always tell what an emotional vampire is up to by what he or she accuses others of. They will also use your good nature against you and create all kinds of drama around themselves.

Some politicians thrive on sucking
on the energy of their challengers and creating havoc for their own aggrandizement.

Energy vampires/cannibals will always seek to place blame for their failures on something or someone else. After being around them do you feel better or worse about yourself, better or worse about life?

Watch your dreams are they depicting bleeding or vampires or dark figures menacing? If so, perhaps you are experiencing an emotional energy drainer in your life. But remember the quote from the comic character Pogo, “we have met the enemy and he is us” for we may be playing the role of our own vampire/cannibal by how we judge and treat ourselves or in how we are judging and treating others. Dreams of shooting or being shot, threatened, and chased might also be indicators of some kind of conflict both inner and outer in your life. Feelings of being trapped, restrained, or trying to escape in your dreams might also be indicators of a vampire/cannibal in your life.

Who is this “they” of which I am so wary?

If only they weren’t so shallow, infantile, 

ignorant, stupid, selfish, and self-serving.

If only they would wake up, be more introspective, self-aware, and compassionate.

If only they could truly love, shed hate, and their need to project onto others what they hate about themselves.

If only they could broaden their definition of belonging,

Be less paranoid of the other and more accepting of differences.

If only they could rid themselves of the pronoun “they” and 

Adopt more often the pronoun “we”.

If only they could be more like I wish I were,

Then maybe we and they could be friends.

Dealing with the Dark Night of the Soul

I did not grow up in the Christian church or any church for that
matter. The first time I ever heard of the Psalms was while attending
a field service in Vietnam for a friend who had died two days earlier.
He was a friend who had taken my place on the night crew, for I was going out on a mission the following day. If he hadn’t, things might
have been different in both our lives. I was feeling very
disconnected, confused, and holding a little guilt.

The Psalm read that day during the service was called the 23rd Psalm.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down
in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He
restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his
name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy
staff they comfort me.”



As I listened to the words, I found myself crying and Marines NEVER
cry. Suddenly I found myself lifted and all my fear, anger, and
sadness, the turbulent waters of my mind and heart “stilled.” For a
moment, I knew that as I walked through this “valley” with death all
around me, I was not alone. This gave me the strength to carry on.
 
It wasn’t until years later that I realized the grace given to me on
that day, even though I was experiencing the dark night of the soul
(aka depression) and felt I wasn’t worthy of anything good. That day
was the beginning of my journey toward spiritual maturity, and that
day was the day I awakened to something that I later called soul.
Spiritual awakenings can happen at any moment in life. They can be
spontaneous, triggered by major life changes, illnesses, tragedies,
and traumas such as life-threatening illnesses, accidents, divorces,
midlife crises, war, and so much more. They can happen during
meditation or while taking a walk around the neighborhood.

There are also those times when all seems hopeless and emotionally
overwhelming, what some call The Dark Night of the Soul. If you’re highly sensitive to the suffering of others and are a deep thinker by
nature, it is possible that you have gone through, or are currently
going through, this dark night.
 
The Dark Night of the Soul is a period in life when you feel
completely cut off from the Divine. The more _aware_ you become of
your disconnection from the Divine, the more chances you have of
experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul.
 
In my experience, going through this encounter with the dark night is
profoundly entwined with the process of spiritual awakening, i.e.,
before spiritually awakening, we often “walk through the valley of the
shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4); that prepares our minds and hearts for
it.

From the perspective of an Alchemist and Jungian analyst the Dark Night could represent the nigredo which means ‘blackness’ or putrefaction or decomposition. Many alchemists believed the nigredo was a first step in the pathway to the philosopher’s stone or wholeness.

Nightmares as answers to what’s troubling you

Being attacked by self, events, and/or others can leave us feeling helpless, angry or depressed.

A sea urchin with no spines is attacked by an ugly toad intent on the urchin’s destruction. But the seemingly defenseless urchin sends out tentacles from beneath and wraps them around the toad’s neck. I am appalled and grossed out as I watch this aggressive dream.

“What is going on?” I wonder as I awake from this nightmarish scene.

As I review this dream trying to gain some insight to its meaning aggression and conflict seem to be the main theme. I am both the urchin and toad, the attacker and the attacked, the aggressor and the victim. The usual suspect comes to the fore i.e., my penchant for self-punishment. But it’s more than this same old, same old story. 

As I watch helplessly the political realities of certain egos plotting to dominate the government with little or no regard for people’s lives, countries making invasion plans for no other reason than to dominate and make themselves important, random mass shootings for the same reason, and in my own tiny corner of the world a violent incident that has pitted well-meaning people against each other I am feeling overwhelmed with things that I can do nothing about but watch.

Add to all that my own self-criticism for not living up to my own standard for being and I create the inner turmoil that this dream represents. The dream brings to the fore what I try to ignore, the feeling of helplessness and depression that keeps me angry at the world and at myself.

For some reason facing this anger helps me to settle, for the truth is I have a right to be fearful and angry but need and want to also face the fact that am not totally helpless in that I can change what I do with that fear and anger. I can resist the tendency for my emotions to take me over and still do what is right to do with what is in front of me. In short, I need to be gentle with myself in all things and not give evil for evil.

As I finish up this blog, I am reminded of the poem by Max Ehrmann, the Desiderata.

Desiderata

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

I hope that you can keep peace in your soul,

Bob

Death in Dreams

Tarot: The death card, a sign of spiritual transformation and great change and even fresh starts.

“Without death, life would be meaningless…limitation enables you to fulfill your being.”
C. Jung

Basically he’s saying that death is a condition for the meaning of life.  

Death in Dreams (The symbolic meaning) Death often relates to the ending of something.
But it can also suggest our relationship, or attitude towards death e.g. how do we feel about it? As an archetype it can show up as a sunset, crossing a river, twilight, a skeleton, gravestones, a cemetery, blackness, the grim reaper, an old man, or woman, a fallen mirror, a stopped clock, or an empty abyss.

Death often shows up in our dreams during times of transition
Dead animals can also be metaphors for our own demise.  

“These are the woods you love where the secret name of every death is life again”  Associated with death is also rebirth and resurrection. 
-Mary Oliver (Skunk cabbage)

Shiva, Hindu god of untamed passion also known as the “destroyer.”

Such things as a cave, or an egg, Spring, dawn, the cross, a snake, a seed, a bird taking flight (though if it were to fly off into the sunset it might suggest death), a Phoenix, flame, a pearl, or the womb.The body itself is in a constant birth, death and renewal cycle in that individual cells need to die in order to be replaced and renewed without constant injury to the body’s cells, fresh cells could not revitalize. This is the idea of creating by destroying. The Hindu god Shiva is the destroyer of the world (actually the ego—the false identification with form, and the letting go of habits and attachments). Brahma then recreates what has been destroyed. In short, all that has a beginning must also have an end. The only thing that dies according to this concept is the illusion of individuality and separateness. In this way Shiva is the great purifier. 

Caduceus Medical Icon/ also known
as the staff of Asclepius

The ancient Greeks believed that a person’s well-being depended on the opposing forces of dissolution and creation. The Caduceus with its entwined snakes and being the symbol of the healer can be symbolically linked with Psyche interacting with matter and transforming both. This idea of the snake representing both death and renewal sheds its old skin to reveal something new and revitalized, thus dying so as to be reborn.                                       

Dead people in Dreams:In most cases this is about the dreamer trying to deal with the passing of someone close. It’s all a process of letting go and of resurrecting the one you interacted with on a physical level into the memory of that same person. For some the deceased become eternally living within the memory of those left behind. 

To see a dead person in a dream:This can represent some area in ones life that has “died” such as a feeling, a relationship, or situation. Sometimes anger repressed in your waking life can kill ones vitality and satisfaction. It can also represent a part of yourself that you would like to leave behind (to see that part, look at what aspect the dead person may represent). 

To see your own death in a dream:This can suggest a transformation in the way you have been, in thought, in feeling, or in attitude. It can also suggest the transition of one phase of your life into a new one. 

“Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear?Who made the grasshopper?This grasshopper, I mean-the one who has flung herself out of the grass,the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.I do know how to pay attention, how to fall downinto the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,which is what I have been doing all day.Tell me, what else should I have done?Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” –Mary Oliver (the Summer Day)

For more on death and resurrection in dreams go to the Dreaming Wizard website.http://thedreamingwizard.com/death-and-resurrection-in-dreams_295.html

See also Darkknightofthesoul.blog Dec 20, 2019