Down The Rabbit Hole

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Alice In Wonderland – Down The Rabbit Hole is a painting by Christopher Clark

Last May (5-7-19) I wrote about the rabbit hole as a metaphor for falling emotionally into an abyss i.e., a feeling of “emotional overwhelm, loss of control, and alienation” and thought I would look at some of the symbols that often appear in dreams that speak to this emotional theme.

Transition symbols in dreams such as a cave, hole, tunnel, or a hallway can lead one into the unconscious and a transformed state. When Alice fell down the rabbit hole she entered a period of confusion and chaos, a place of change and transformation.

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well. 

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.”

­–Lewis Carroll

The word “suddenly” is often a clue to a nightmarish quality of impending doom and a feeling of having been caught off guard and made vulnerable. Falling itself has a meaning that speaks to failure, the failure to be cautious. As she fell down the hole she said to herself,

After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house.”

The “Rabbit Hole” is an allusion to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. To go “down the rabbit hole” is to enter a period of chaos or confusion but also it’s a metaphor for both jumping into something new and stressful and a recreation of ones life from one way of being to another without any knowledge of how it will turn out. It can also have darker meanings that speak to deepening depression and sense of loss.

Let’s look at a few dream symbols frequently associated with this type of dream:

 A hole can represent the start of a change—a transformation. Where does it lead?

The cave in a dream often represents inner or hidden issues. It is a part of the underworld, your underworld—the unconscious. What do you find in your cave? What are you keeping hidden? Where does it lead?

A tunnel in a dream speaks to a pathway you may have created into your unconscious, an opening to your innermost feelings and memories. It can also be the way to a birth of something (a rebirth or resurrection of something) as in the birth canal. Where does it lead?

A hallway can reveal how various parts (aspects) of you (your house) connect. A hallway can represent a means for the outside world to enter your intimate life. Where does it lead?

The rabbit hole one enters may also represent regression—a turning inward, sometimes to escape from problems. Wasn’t this what Alice was doing?

All presuppose an entrance which is often seen as a symbol for new experiences, or the passing between of one state of being or feeling into another leading to a new realization. Where does it lead?

They also suggest transit—a symbol for change. Where, or what are you transiting toward?

The rabbit hole as an abyss can be a “symbol of great depth often signaling the profound and infinite.” (Morpheus Speaks, page 6, 2019) It can be about the fear of a loss of control or identity and it’s often a symbol for depression. Where does it lead?

Notice how all the above form their own coherence—the internal logic of your dreams also provides information. Dreams are not just meaningless chaos, unless of course you have one that is just meaningless chaos, and that too means something!

Note also the repeated question, “Where does it lead?” This is the mystery inherent in most dreams (and in life as well?) and in much of the material hidden in one’s unconscious mind that has come to the surface in a dream. What I call Rabbit Hole Dreams can reveal some of the most exciting aspects of the human condition, the human psyche, and the spirit within.

So much into my head

 

3336650116a4470024486b678380162l.jpgWhile walking along a river in the North Country I came upon a frail looking old man with long white beard and flowing grey robe leaning on a staff and gazing at the water rushing by. “Good morning” I said.

He smiled and asked, “How long you been on the trail?”

“Oh about an hour I guess.”

“Is that all? Are you sure?” He added.

“Well, how long have you?” I asked challengingly.

“All my life” he grinned.

Great, I thought, some kind of guru! I was not really in the mood to go deep this morning. I was much more interested in chewing on my private thoughts and worrying all the worries I’d collected over the week.

“You seem to be somewhere other than on a walk,” he added.

“Well I was just taking a walk to ease my mind. Then you showed up.” I said with just a little petulance.

“I haven’t really showed up yet.”

“Uh, what?” I blurted. Is this guy crazy? I wondered.

“You’re so much into your head that I’m not really here for you yet.”

“Explain,” I said becoming a little interested where he was coming from.

“You’re so much in your mind right now that you’re not meeting me, you’re meeting only your mind.”

“Ahh mindfulness, I know about that!”

“Then why aren’t you there?”

“I was trying to until I ran into you.”

“No you weren’t. You were busy listening to your own mind!”

“I was being with my thoughts, being mindful of them.” I said in defense.

“You believe that don’t you?”

“Yes!”

“Don’t believe everything you think. You know, mindfulness isn’t about making up what you want to be mindful to. It’s being with whatever is there. You were caught up in and believing what your mind was telling you. You know all that stuff in your head is bullshit don’t you?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The events in your life aren’t causing you pain it’s your mind chatter that is causing you to suffer. Your beliefs about the way things should be rather than being mindful of the way they are is causing you pain that you then devaluate and that takes you even further out of the moment.”

“I know this!” I interrupted angrily.

“No you don’t! Knowing is paying attention and you are not paying attention! You can’t see the world that’s in front of you because you aren’t looking at it you’re looking at what’s inside your head. You reject what is and because of this you find yourself not at peace. To be at peace you need to cooperate with how things are, then you can see how things need to be.”

“How do you know this?” I asked growing more interested.

“Simply by paying attention.”

“But what about my problems?”

“Most of your problems are but a side effect of not having a clear relationship with reality.”

“But I need to figure out how to make something happen. I need to solve these problems I’m thinking about.” I pleaded.

“You’ve allowed yourself to be conned into thinking that you have control of anything. Stop that. Don’t make things happen, let them happen, you can’t force life into submission. Give yourself permission to be where you’re at.”

“Somehow that feels right.” I said and he smiled and then vanished. I could hear the water washing over the rocks, the wind singing through the trees , the rustle of leaves, and birds calling to one another. It was so peaceful.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

Death, Yours, Mine, Ours (excerpt from The Dragon’s Treasure Ch XIV)*

 

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“Tell me not, in mournful numbers, life

is but an empty dream! For the soul is

dead that slumbers, and things are

not what they seem. Life is real! Life is

earnest! And the grave is not its goal.

Dust thou art; to dust returnest was not

spoken of the soul.”

 

—HenryWadsworth Longfellow

 

 

THE EGO DIES, BUT THE SPIRIT LIVES ON

Doesn’t this vision of death that says when the ego dies

the spirit lives on reinforce the incorrect notion that they are

separate?

I like what James Hillman in The Force of Character49

had to say about death and aging. He suggested that when

we substitute “leaving for dying and …preparing for aging,

then what we go through in our last years is preparation for

departure.”

He didn’t like this idea because he thought that to focus

in this way was to distract a person from life. He wanted to

focus not on what is leaving this world and goes on to some

metaphysical reality, but on what is left behind—the character

images and “force of character” that is left in the lives of the

living. He sees these images as sometimes independent voices

that continue to inspire and advise. In this way, the death of the

body does not mean that the character of he who lived in that

body has ever left. He or she is still here in memories, and not

just the fond recall associated with the person who has died,

but the fact that memories that impact and interact with those

whose bodies are still functional.

 

“When we are dead, seek not our tomb in

the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.”

— Rumi’s tomb, the Tomb of Mavlanain

Konya, Turkey

 

I agree with Hillman when he implies that this idea of the

soul leaving the body (ego) behind only serves to reinforce the

concept that there is a dichotomy, a separation between body

and soul. Just because the body has left does not mean that ego

has left. I would go even further and say that the soul hasn’t

gone anywhere either in that, as essence, there is no other

place to go. This essence continues to advise those who are

still living. Every thought or image of them interacts with your

thoughts and has impact.

Though I may like the idea that the character images of

those who have died continue to interact with me, I miss the

physical character and my relationship with it. It’s hard to have

a dynamic relationship with a memory; it’s so one-sided. In this

idea, the influence of the dead may live on, but the soul and its

projected ego representative with all its flaws and brilliance has

moved on too, leaving a rather poor two-dimensional substitute.

Better than nothing, I guess, especially for a melancholy junkie

like me.

_____________________________________________

*I’ve explored death in dreams in a a number of postings over the years e.g.,

March 9, 2017

October 3, 2018

January 18, 2018

 

 

Whether from the sleeping dream or the waking dream guidance abounds if you just open to it

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Driving to a meeting feeling overwhelmed, burdened, thoughts racing, and more than a little resentful of having to meet in the first place I was beginning to spiral down emotionally. All my mind tricks to try and center myself were having limited success and then I glanced into the next lane. Passing me on the right was a white sedan with a license plate declaring, “BE STILL”.

It was as though the universe were guiding me toward a solution to my dilemma and the source of my unrest. BE STILL, quiet the mind and give power to the soul by quieting the ego-self. Allow for the divine to have influence.

It worked for a while and got me through the meeting but after leaving the little demons rushed in to fill the void, the stillness, with their own agenda– to destabilize and take over. It’s like having my own personal ISIS making camp in my head. I tried stuffing my feelings so as to get home in peace.

But there is little peace to be had in running from the demons and when I got home it didn’t take long for the agitators to stir up problems between my wife and I. Tempers flared over things inconsequential and we both simmered and sulked in different rooms.

As usual it was my wife who recognized the need to transform the stalemate and clear the air. I have learned to trust the process, though I have to admit when I’m stuck in the need to be “right” about something I can be pretty pigheaded.

At first I claimed to not know why I was being so contrary, but with a little patient prodding I shared what was going on with me and the fears I was having about a new assignment. I had been suppressing these fears for days and hiding from them because I thought they would overwhelm me. But as usual suppressing them only emboldened them and the result was the very sense of overwhelm that I was hiding from. Sharing those fears brought them out of the dark recesses of my mind and shined a light upon them. Magically, this simple act of shining a light reduced their hold on me and quieted their influence.

I know this, having experienced it time and again, suggesting its power to others, and having used it many times to dig myself out of the dark holes I’ve jumped into, but when I embrace the mind chatter, the inner voice of the ego-self, the knowing is shut down and allows the little devils to loudly invade and drown out the power of the stillness.

BE STILL. Great advice! Whether from the sleeping dream or the waking dream guidance abounds if you just open to it.

 

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know that I

Be still and know that

Be still and know

Be still and

Be still

Be*

 

*This slow rhythmic prayer has almost mystical qualities much as its magical cousin the Abrasax…

 

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Hope

 

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Why am I lying here trying to convince myself that there’s no hope left?  Well you see if it’s gone, then it won’t hang around and taunt me. And it’s always taunting, hiding, promising, and just out of reach.

Hope is like a smoldering cinder that never takes flame but lurks in the burned out fires of my soul driving me onward in search of something to ignite and burst once again into the conflagration that was my youth. But hope hurts especially when its object never comes to pass.

So what is this little glimmer that still burns at the bottom of my soul?

Maybe it’s the magic I’ve so craved and so needed, maybe it will be right around the next corner.

Maybe the awe will return. Maybe it’ll all come into focus and then I’ll know there WAS some purpose.

I hope so.

As Above, So Below

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As above, so below is a maxim in ancient Hermeticism and modern Wicca. For me it is a reminder that I reside between two worlds, the unconscious and the conscious both reflections of the one world. It is also a statement that the spirit is not something separate from myself i.e. something “out there” but something that is within and without and not something that I necessarily need to go looking for because I already have it.

I’ve always been fascinated by images of trees and the mythological images of Trees of Life or what Carl Jung called the “Philosophical Tree” in that they have their heads in heaven and their roots in the Earth thus metaphorically representing the binding of the higher and lower aspects of the human psyche i.e. the spiritual and the mundane or the body and the soul. Many of these trees have visited my dreams over the years.

This image has taught me that there is psychic and spiritual nourishment to be gained from both.

But not all of these “Heaven and Earth” symbols come in the form of trees. I once had a dream where a “Blue Lady” visited me while angels walked up and down stairs from sky to Earth much like the image seen by Jacob in his prophetic dream related in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.

This staircase represented my own struggle with my polarities– those aspects of myself that I accept and those that I reject.

In the dream that I labeled “The Blue Fresco” the female figure was inviting me to leave the everyday comfort of the known world and to take a road less traveled that lead into the mountains. The invitation was to integrate the lower plains with the lofty mountain tops- a journey that must be taken in order to achieve wholeness.

And it was no accident that it was a feminine image inviting me on this journey because it’s the masculine and feminine traits in all of us that need balance as well. It is the above-ground sky action of the masculine that is energized, no, powered by, the feminine from the below-ground Earth that will move us toward our wholeness.

This dream was also encouraging me to accept both the basal aspects, the dark side of myself, as well as those aspects that I find acceptable.

The tree and the staircase, the plains and the mountains, and the roots and crown of the tree suggest that I need to live in and/or seek the center– I need to live my life as though bound to both. And bound I am for the Earth and I are connected, the soul of both the Earth and myself are inextricably linked.

How do I know this? I did not find it in some book and no pulpit would have uttered such magic, for meaning is not found in the studying and memorizing and trying to figure out what somebody else is trying to say from some great books. Meaning cannot be found in things, meaning comes from encountering ones self both in the dream and in the awakened state.

I know when I’ve touched my inner self, that space between Heaven and Earth, when the reality around me changes for I’ve learned that the world that I see is a reflection of the development of my own psyche, as it shifts, the world I experience shifts.

_________________

Picture found on– https://samissomarspace.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/as-above-so-below-6/

 

The Alchemy of Dreams: Hello darkness my internal light

 

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The Black Sun from the Splendor Solis (1535) representing the nigredo or the beginning of the alchemical work i.e., the first step on the path to the philosopher’s stone from chaos to enlightenment.

 

Pushing, pushing ever harder, transcending belief and going beyond the known I discover another me, not the me of the sunlight world with all its fears but the hidden me of the darkness that fears nothing.

The light above mirrored by the dark below and I find that I am but a dream and do not just live in the light but am lived by the darkness.

In that darkness all becomes clear and as I yield great strength comes to me and for one brief moment I glimpse eternity. Aye and for one brief moment there is only one.

And what say you to that?

The Alchemy of Dreams: My mythopoetic self

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Mythopoetic Symbols of my Psyche

There is a place, a realm, a fancy, a state of mind, sense, country, and experience that exists within the imaginal spaces within my being.

It is a soulful place where reality is nurtured and the mysterious grows dense and tangled as an aggressive vine weaving its branches into every corner of my consciousness.

It’s a place where time is measured in experience not finite number. It’s the place where the dream of my conscious and unconscious selves meet and share what is real.

Death and the Dead in Dreams

 

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Death images in dreams are probably the most frequent of all the dreams I receive, making up easily 30%. Some are simply an image of a dead person, or a visit from a beloved family member, a killing or being killed but some dreams are much more complex and speak to a much broader spectrum of issues dealing with death. Such is the dream I share below.

The following is a dream sent to me with names and places redacted. For flow, I’ve also made some grammatical changes.

The Dream:

Hi Bob, let’s just get straight to the Dream…I had this dream that my eldest Daughter (31 yrs) died. I was working in some kind of huge factory type job and anytime something big happened that ends-up on the front page of the newspaper, my job showed it on a very large screen, it showed my daughters name in French, then slowly the picture came of my daughter, a side view picture of her, dead. Her hair was tied up in a bun and she was wearing a blue denim jacket. She wasn’t lying down in the picture but kind of propped-up and entangled in ropes, no cuts or bruises, nothing, and her eyes were closed. She seemed to be in a container of some sort with a glass front lid, and either my other daughter ____________ or her own daughter _______ was with her but I couldn’t see them, I just knew that she wasn’t alone. There was no talking at all in this dream either. I saw her being lifted up out of the water in this container and could see the water pouring down over her face even though she was in this container, then someone’s voice which sounded strong and demanding said to me ”_________ never under-estimate the power of your Psychic abilities”. End of dream…I woke myself up from the dream by my own screaming and crying-out for my Daughter at 6:19am Friday morning last. When I tried to go back to sleep later-on the same dream just started off again same as before, I stayed awake, didn’t want to sleep then.  Most of that day I felt really distressed about it all and cried a lot.  I really felt in some way that I should have been mourning!!! Even though this was just a dream. I felt drained all day and real upset. My Daughter lives in __________. we talk often on the phone. I phoned her that Friday night and she was fine. In the past I have been known to dream of events that have actually happened to non-family and family members in real life!!!!  My relationship with my Partner is strained, he almost died 2 years ago, and was in hospital for 3 months, I looked after him 24/7, he is 58 yrs old, and seems happy he never has to work again in his life, he has no zest for life at all… four months before this,  my Sister died in hospital, and the 8 years before that again was a very difficult time too with deaths and cancer in my family. My Daughter __________ (25 yrs old) is talking about leaving to live in ___________, she works hard in a tough job. That’s it Bob, please fill me in on it all, I await eagerly.

The Interpretation:

You have certainly experienced a number of deaths over time! Death of those close to us is very traumatic and often forces us to confront the reality of death head on, especially our own. Death tends to focus the mind as does anything associated with it.

Parents tend to worry a lot about their children and their safety regardless of their age (I have a daughter who is 47 and I still worry). When recent death is still being worked through in the psyche, the fear associated with it can get attached to events and people in the waking world.

There is also a sense of loss, great loss, or potential loss, and/or huge change associated with death, so it can also represent the loss of someone, especially if they are moving far away from us. Death can also represent a traumatic change in circumstances or relationship, or an ending.

Essentially, I’m detecting great emotions of fear and anxiety in this dream, fear of endings, of being out of control over what happens based upon recent and past events. I think that you are probably still working through and dealing with the death of your loved ones, even the severe trauma experienced by your boyfriend and the toll that sickness always takes on the caretaker (which is immense because you have to give up so much of yourself to give to them).

Because people in dreams are most often representative of the dreamer themselves, it is possible that there are aspects of your daughters (or their lives) that you recognize in yourself, or wish you had for yourself. Being in a box could be a metaphor for feeling ‘boxed in’ with some relationship or circumstance, while entangled in ropes could also be a metaphor for being ‘all tied up’, or entangled (trapped).

I am not a believer (but not a hard and fast disbeliever as well) in precognition (it kind of turns the whole concept of cause and effect on its head), though I do believe that the subconscious sees a lot that our conscious mind does not and as it puts two and two together during the dreaming process it can “see” what the waking mind cannot. Some people are very good at this. Your quote, ”_________ never under-estimate the power of your Psychic abilities” may be saying what it says, but it could also be telling you to trust in your feelings, or trust in your intuitive sense. The dream itself is of the Psyche (from which the word psychic comes), which includes the larger unconscious part of the Psyche and thus the quote can be an enjoinder to trust in this part of your self as well.

Curator of lost dreams

 

My wife and I have often traveled the Pacific Northwest and one time pulled into a little town lined with antique stores, old fashioned news stands and funky little restaurants catering to the meat and potato crowd–sushi, are you kidding? After nosing around the town for a few hours the following missive came to me the next morning on the veranda of our lodgings:

Driving through town I pass beneath an ancient steel archway, a portal marker for a city hanging on to its past. Traffic is sparse and all moving in a single direction, much like, I imagine, most of the denizens of this little outpost bordering America’s past and future–pretty much all aligned in belief and values.

I parked along the curb across from a local antiquarian–a dealer in “the lost dreams of the dead” as the proprietor described himself to me before I wandered toward the back of his shop piled high with the bones of these dreams. I wandered narrow aisles displaying the technological wonders of a golden age where art and function united to create objects of magical beauty whose purpose have been lost to antiquity anticipating a Magus to caste just the right spell to animate them once again.

 

th-2.jpgI wandered past objects in fine wooden cases, or Bakelite boxes, some with oddly shaped glass tubes–the instruments of a former alchemist’s dreams–ready to spring to life once more.

And there it was, center stage in a locked glass cabinet, the object of my quest, a century old device once used by student wizards to peer into a Lilliputian universe. It had a golden tube that seemed to glow with a fire of it’s own. It was to the rational mind a brass microscope, a beautifully machined tool of exploration and wonder. Excitedly I called to my wife who also marveled at the find and immediately offered to purchase it as a birthday gift.

As the proprietor dismantled the lenses from the scope and wrapped them in tissue and butcher paper for their protection, he shared some of his own past. As an engineer by training and vocation he spent a lifetime wielding the modern instruments of his trade and watched in despair as the world became more and more functional and plastic and losing it’s beauty to practicality. “Something had to be done.” He said almost pleadingly. “So today I’m here as a curator of the past, a preserver of history, if you will” he added with a look of hopefulness that I would understand and honor his purpose.

“Many who enter here don’t understand, they see pretty things that briefly hold interest, just as with anything else in this world of small attention spans and equally small ambitions. Some come here to steal so as to feed their habits, or their addiction to excitement. Others come to sell and bury their loved ones in a place they know will honor their memory.”

So, like the oarsman who ferried the dead across the river Styx, this man tends to the ghosts of human ingenuity, preserving and honoring their former meaning and the dreams they once represented. “There seems to be a soul attached to these things. The souls of their former owners I think.” He says as he ties the last string around the larger package. “Or perhaps the souls of their inventor, or maker.” I suggest while hefting the package that somehow seemed heavier. It was as though the item were emphasizing the new import of the dream I now took as my own. “Perhaps.” He said his eyes glistening as he carefully handed me the smaller package of lenses.

I thanked him, turned to go, and as I did so he rounded the counter so as to escort me through the door. “Thanks for caring.” He said and I walked out of the shop of wondrous visions and onto the streets of empty eyes–the unseeing eyes blinded to the magic all around, to the dream we are all living, and to the past that informs it’s future through the world of our present.