My shadow

In good times and bad you are always there. You’re not a fair-weather friend like Mr. Good Guy Feeling Good About Himself because when I start to feel like I’m him you’re always there to remind me of why I shouldn’t but when the going gets rough Mr. Good Guy will often throw me under the bus and run and hide.

When I start to think that I may actually have a talent you’re always there to tell me that I don’t really at least not any more than most others.

I used to think that you were not very helpful that I’d just as soon you were gone, dead, and buried but you never take a hint because you’re always in the shadows and waiting to pounce.

I’ve read once that you are a part of me and that I cannot ever get rid of you or even train you to behave yourself and that in order to lessen your power over me I need to bring you out into the light because as everyone knows shadows can’t exist in the light. But you and I know that’s not true because just as light needs the darkness the darkness needs the light. To have one is to have both.

So, because you’re always going to be there, how do I accept you in all your warty glory?

How if I cannot get rid of you do I learn to hold you as a friend because I’d much rather have an agreeable relationship than one that is not.

I suppose that if it were not for you I would not know where it is that I would need to grow to be a better person, like where I need to be less arrogant, more accepting of differing points of view, less reactionary to fear and hurt, more giving, more understanding, more open, more loving, and less judgmental.

I also need you to point out that I am no different to those people I hate and judge to be less than and that my attitude about THEM also contributes to what is not working in the world.

You can also help me get my needs met by pointing out what they are through their absence like belonging, being accepted as I am, being useful to others, and being acknowledged. It’s as though I’m always trying to BE that is, to exist and to have me be acknowledged for that. Somehow acknowledgement makes me feel real and you in all your incessant critique makes me at least feel real. You are always there to tell me that I leave a lot to be desired but that I am at least here making that negative difference. 

I really do need you because you seem to care that I am here and care what it is that I do and don’t do while I am here. How can you not love something that cares that much about you and something that is constantly kicking you in the pants to be better and more than you are being?

Okay, I guess you can stay because I think that after all this time I don’t really know what I would do without you because you really are an important part of me, the part of me that makes me strive to learn, to accept, to act outside of my safety zone, to challenge my inherent laziness, to identify and strengthen my weaknesses and to care for others. You do all that by never letting me rest on my laurels or by never really letting me have any to rest on. So, the Good Me reluctantly accepts your friendship but don’t get all mushy about it.

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*For more on the shadow self type in the word shadow in the search box near the bottom of this page.

“well-remembered and familiar accents of many thousand departed friends.”

By– Gray winter day liga klavina

There’s a line from an old set of books owned by my father and his father before him that goes like this, “And then did we, the seven, start from our seats in horror, and stand trembling, and shuddering, and aghast, for the tones in the voice of the shadow were not the tones of any one being, but of a multitude of beings, and, varying in their cadences from syllable to syllable fell duskly upon our ears in the well-remembered and familiar accents of many thousand departed friends.” It is from Shadow.– A Parable by Edgar Allen Poe.

I was struck by the image of the shadows of many “departed friends”.  As I say goodbye to some contemporary friends I’m also reminded of the many who have passed before, family and comrades– people who contributed to and enriched my life in many significant ways. There’s hardly a day that goes by without a recollection of at least one of them being pulled from the Library of Memories. 

This could also be read as a memorial for the over 316, 000 who have died from the Covid 19 virus pandemic in the United States and the over 1.7 million who have died worldwide and the shadows that each cast upon those who are still living.

What makes them shadows for me is that even though I’m grateful for the remembrances of those I’ve loved and of those who I do not know I don’t want to look too closely at the feelings of loss, best to give a rueful smile at their thought and return the book to its place than to turn the pages toward the grief that still lurks deep within. Best not to look at death too closely because in its blackness I can see myself reflected.

But as with all dark shadows they do not rest peacefully and conspire to darken my present, our present that robs us of hope for the future. The prospect of Death seems to steal one’s energy like one of the ‘Dementors” in the Harry Potter series. But it also, or at least it used to, give at least me impetus to live life as fully as possible while I could. That seemed much easier when I was young and the future seemed infinitely far away. But as close friends begin to leave and the daily climb of statistical graphs make so painfully obvious what was kept at a cosmic arms length is now lurking beyond the next corner.

This feeling is not new to me for I felt it before every morning as I shuffled through the dark to pick up my weapon and a few ammo boxes and climbed aboard the helicopter I was assigned to for that day. There was a heavy air of resignation that weighed on me then that I find returning to me now. But then the point for my life had narrowed to surviving the day so that I could reclaim a future. I was younger then, 22, with a prospect for an infinite future if I could survive the present but now with a very much more restricted future I find that I’m having trouble with all those pesky hidden shadows and that any point to it all is beginning to fade.

Clearly these shadows need to be invited to the party and a new dialog needs to happen. Today I begin to dust off the old tomes stuffed into the lower shelves of the library.

Standing at the edge of the Abyss

“There I stood at the edge of a cliff high above a dark and forbidding abyss. The earth beneath my feet began to shake and as I peered over the edge I could just make out something huge crawling out of the blackness. In terror I tried to step back fearing that I would lose my footing and fall into the blackness and the cavernous maw of the creature below. And then I awoke.”

Yep, a good old-fashioned nightmare had gripped me and shook me to the bone, rattling my soul until I awoke to save myself. 

Sound familiar?

Apparently a lot of us have these dreamtime ‘cliff hangers’ that grab our attention from time to time, but what’s the message?

Lets look at the images for some clues. The cliff could be about being on the edge of an understanding, a solution, or an “ah ha” awareness. Perhaps it’s a critical point in life where you can’t afford to make any errors i.e. lose your footing. Falling itself in this case could be about failure or at least the fear of it. 

We have expectations for ourselves and others have expectations for us as well. This can put the pressure on us to succeed or at least not to fail. There’s also the fear of not being who you are by trying to measure up to some standard /goal that’s not your own. This is the stuff neuroses are made of. Stuffing these fears as a way of dealing with the pressures can eventually create the kind of nightmare I shared above.

How you got to the top of the cliff could speak to your ambitions and drive the risks you took or are taking. At the edge in this case might indicate that you are at your limit. If you were to stand tall against the fears it might suggest that you need to stand up to your fears.

Looking down into any abyss can be like staring into the unknown. This in itself can create great anxiety and the dream reflects that. This dream may also reflect an obstacle to your ambitions but can also suggest that you may be afraid of “taking the plunge or the leap of faith” into the unknown that often needs to happen in order to succeed at something.

But the abyss or void can also represent the depths of your unconscious mind and your uncertainty of what lies below. This unknown can also represent change, or the need for change stalking you. Clearly something is stalking this dreamer and it may very well be a shadow creature, a part of their rejected self that they have pushed down into their subconscious, but that is crawling menacingly out of its hiding place and forcing the dreamer to confront and deal with it directly. These shadows can also represent one raw ambition that needs to be confronted and tamed.

There is of course danger afoot, perhaps decisions are to be made, risks to be taken, barriers to be overcome, but in confronting these perhaps there is wisdom down there as well.

In short, even the scariest dreams come to us with our health and well being in mind and shouldn’t be rejected out of hand. 

The shadows that bring light

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Below is an excerpt from a story about a young man whose life was opened up to him in a very mysterious way. This part of the story speaks of an aspect of all of us that seems very dark but can have the most enlightening affect if one knows how to work with it.

 

“There is an ancient invocation that goes ‘As it is above, so it is below, as within, so without’” he said as he once again patted the green book next to him. “This is more a reminder than an invocation really because it tells us that we can find out what is inside by looking closely at the outside. This is because we are always projecting ourselves onto the outside world. For example, if we want to see our shadow, look to see what or whom disturbs us, or what we reject. This is easier to do if you can place yourself somewhere between the two worlds of the conscious and unconscious that are both reflections of the one world.

 It is like a tree that has its roots in the underworld and its branches in the heavens. To do this you must accept that you do not know what you do not know. You do this by not letting what you think you know get in the way of what there is to know. This will place you between the known and unknown, the conscious and unconscious and allow you to be open to discovery.

 Shadows can be your fears, disgust, rejections, feelings of abandonment, prejudices, judgments, repressions of memories, biases, negative thoughts and all your personal madness that can then be projected onto others that you meet or onto objects and events. You can see yourself, see your shadows, madness, and level of enlightenment through what you see in others. Even the goodness in others can point to that unconscious aspect in yourself. What is inside is inextricably connected to what is outside in a very profound way. When not separated from the rest of reality you become all of it, what is labeled good and what is labeled bad. The turbulent winds out there in the world that buffet you are the winds generated from within you.”

Every person and every event in the world speaks to us if we have the ears to listen. Everything is a guide into our deeper and most essential self if we are willing to take the journey.

 

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A broken hallelujah

This poem came to me out of a nightmare that I had a couple of nights ago.

 

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No one behind the mask

Open him up and there’s no one there.

No one to love

No one to care.

 

Something is missing

No one to come home to when alone

Where did he go?

When did he leave?

 

Born a hallelujah

But the mask lost him early on

Early on, early on the mask he did don

And he disappeared.

 

He cannot help you

Because he can’t even help himself

Do not go looking for he isn’t there

He isn’t there, he just isn’t there.

 

No one to laugh, no one to cry

But with every word you can hear him scream

Hear his pain

Hear him lie about what he could have been.

 

But he is asleep to this world

And asleep to himself.

He doesn’t even see us, you and I

For the eyes of his mask are empty.

 

Empty because there’s no one behind

No one behind

Behind the mask he wears

But just another broken hallelujah.

 

Lost at sea

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A sad and very dark dream filled my sleeping space not too many nights ago. When I awoke I jotted down the essence of its feeling, the images having become but wisps in the light of day.

Water, symbolic of my emotional state. When I just stuff my unhappiness under the rug or down deep into my hidden psyche because I feel helpless to it the unconscious will only let me get away with it for just so long then it bursts forth in an unsettling dream, demanding to be heard.

 

The dream (often my dreams read like a poem):

 

There’s a Sadness like dead matter floating down through the water deep

I’m enveloped by panic and struggling to regain the surface

Thrashing about but only treading

Until the weight of it all drags me under

 

 I can only distract for acceptance is not yet here

When will I know? Will happiness ever return or

Is all I’m doing is just giving in? Trying to let go brings depression

Is letting go just giving up?

 

 I wonder if there’s a bottom?

Maybe it’s like a black hole, never ending

Until you’re crushed beyond recognition.

Or will I just sit at the bottom and be eaten up by the darkness?

 

 How did I fall off the boat?

Was I pushed, did I jump?

Was I careless or too awkward?

When did I realize that I was never going to get home?

 

Home, I don’t know what it looks like anymore.

It’s been so long I don’t really remember it.

Was it peaceful? Was it happy?

Did I love? Was I loved? Did it matter?

 

I really want to go home!

Maybe if I just stopped struggling

and let it

sink…

 

 

 

 

Another Pandemic Dream

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In a recent post I talked about the vivid dreams people seem to be having during the Coronavirus lockdown. Several people have shared their dreams and experiences during the lock down and I thought I’d share an example of what many people are experiencing along with my response to them.

The dream:

 Hi , thank you for reading this! Last night I had 2 very distinct dreams: 1st dream: I watched 3 tornados form in my back field (NE), and a bolt of lightening nearly struck my 7 year old, standing on the back porch. I was able to get my son and 2 dogs into our safe spot. We were fine. 2nd dream : Real life -I have 5 cats (we live on 10 acres). My cats are inside/outside . I fear that I will loose them but I also know they are willing to take the risk and are very happy. Dream: I watched 3 large coyotes move in and surround The house/the back porch once again; where the cats love to hang out. I made eye contact with the largest coyote and held its gaze, walk past all of the coyotes and was able to have all the kitties come into the garage and lock it down. No harm came to anyone. I know there was a 3rd and I can’t recall it. I know it’s there though. Honestly it was odd feeling when I woke up, curious and not fearful or worried. In an odd way it was very reassuring that I will be able to keep my loved ones safe. I do believe there will be 3 waves of the virus. Recently I have been connecting on a spiritual side with Gaia and embracing those beliefs. We have started celebrating pagan holidays as well. Thoughts?

Interpretation: I use the image suggestions from the book Morpheus Speaks to assist in the interpretation.

These all seem to be anxiety type dreams and probably reflect the inner emotional turmoil that you are experiencing right now. Bad weather dreams often reflect the state of ones emotions. Children often reflect the ambitions or future aspirations of the mother and in the dream this has been attacked (by the lightning). Note also that lightning can symbolize an inspiration or insight as well. The “safe spot’ could be your subconscious dealing with the ‘troubled waters’/situation/circumstances you see yourself in at the moment and your need to stay safe in order to protect your family.

The kittens can be about vulnerability, yours and your sons, to the wildness of the circumstances you are having to face down (the coyotes). Overall the dream is suggesting that you can face up to the threats you are encountering. The coyotes could also reflect your animal nature, your instinctual feelings. They can also come to us in our dreams as spirit guides and speak to our inner power and their symbolic energies (which yours does). You have it within you to face down whatever threatens you at this time.

Note also that in Native American lore the coyote is a trickster come to stir things up in one’s life and to test one’s mettle and to challenge one’s traditional way of looking at things (this is why some theologians think of Jesus as a trickster symbol). Consider also that the coyote may reflect an aspect of your own personality such as being clever and resourceful (the raven is also one of these animals).

Dreamer’s response (partially edited for privacy):

I felt it was a message that we would be safe, to trust myself and my instincts. I am capable of navigating and caring for my family during these times.  My son’s health is compromised and life for all of us in a bit challenging right now.

I didn’t pick up on my internal struggle until this weekend.  I see it clearly now, in the dreams about the tornados and in my most recent.   I have been on the fence about some very personal beliefs and how to accept the changes that I have undergone and the impact they may have on my relationships.  Yet I saw this weekend that I will become stagnant and unhealthy if I do not move forward. Plus, to trust my instinct regardless of how they materialize within the world at large.

Comments:

This dream is full of very vivid images that mostly relate to the dreamer’s emotional state and they reflect what is going on with them during their day. Note also that with most dreams there is new material or insights that one may not have focused on during the waking hours. The unconscious mind from whence dreams come picks up on what’s happening while the conscious mind is busy trying to survive and during the download process of dreaming can provide a wealth of information that the waking mind may not have noticed. This dream had the potential to create powerful change through new insight. Most dreams if not all come in the service of our health and well-being.

There were also archetypal symbols such as the coyote/trickster in this dream that have somewhat universal meanings beyond the unique meaning that the dreamer brings into the dream.

 

Youtube: Morpheus Speaks

 

This book opens the reader to the world of the unconscious, the deeper psyche with both its lighter and darker aspects. With sections on universal dream symbols, fantasy creatures, shadow aspects, and nightmares this book provides insights to ones dreams beyond the everyday. It is an encyclopedia of over 5000 dream symbols collected from over 3500 dreamers across 140+ countries and cultures. Though it cannot cover all possible meanings it can direct both the beginner and journeyman dream interpreter to a broader insight into their unconscious mind and then lead them through the process of applying this information to their everyday life.

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.

What threatens our well-being

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Jogging along a mountain path a panic stricken young man passes me in the opposite direction with a pack of howling dogs hot on his heels. As he careens around the corner a few of the dogs break off from the pursuit and begin to surround me. As I stand there petrified one creeps up behind me and menacingly begins to nip at the back of my neck. I want to run but can’t move. The others start to move in on me and panicked I will myself awake.

Yep it was a good old-fashioned nightmare. These typically come to us when we are not paying attention to something urgent or something threatening in our environment so after writing it down I went looking for what was happening in the waking world that would manifest in my dreams as these attacking dogs.

The night before I watched part of the Impeachment proceedings against the American President. The process has been very upsetting including the President’s behavior up to and including his inappropriate actions that drew the condemnation and investigation that has lead to his being held accountable. His verbal attacks and those of his political party have seemed so vile, vicious, polarizing, and demoralizing that I’ve found it too distressing to watch all that is going on so in order to stay centered in that quieter place within myself I’ve been trying to change the negative narrative in my head. Of course this never works because as with anything we try to suppress or any negative narrative we try to write over it remains waiting for a chance to make itself known like the palimpsests of ancient manuscripts where hidden writings beneath later writing can reveal new and often deeper material.

Many psychologists believe that much of the distasteful material we suppress so that we don’t have to deal with it only festers beneath the surface informing our feelings, beliefs and actions usually in a negative way. In short, this material doesn’t disappear but works its power beneath the surface until we bring it to the light and deal openly with it.

Over time I’ve learned that my dreams have access to this material and will occasionally and in the service of my health and well-being come forth in a nightmare to give me opportunity to deal with it.

Biting dogs can be about disloyalty, aggression (felt or toward another), and/or betrayal. “Biting can also represent ‘biting’ remarks your own or coming from others both of which I find I am doing and feeling. It’s hard to not take the President’s nastiness personally even though he’s not talking about me but he does represent an attack on values, things I hold dear, such as being open and working with others, being civil, empowering and not demeaning others, caring for someone other than myself, honesty, integrity and willingness to work for the greater good. These are things that I think both sides of the current civil unrest could agree upon though the finer definition of each might be negotiable.

The current unrest has been useful I think in that it clearly and keenly highlights what we really value and what can destroy or diminish the expression of that value. It also highlights the negative effects of unchecked, unmanaged, and paralyzing fear, at least in myself. My own undealt with fear has sometimes made me into a biting dog so that it is also I who visits my dreams as a pack of dogs threatening my own well being.