•Racing around town on a self-propelled scooter at breakneck speed and weaving and dodging.
•Men jumping without looking into deep holes, crevasses into the underground.
•I’m walking into a room. It’s greyish and dark, dank, cold, and empty. It feels lonely and abandoned. I see no windows with the room feeling small but unending.
•Someone is attempting to stab me in the stomach and then shoots me with a rifle.
Lots of internal conflict and warnings about being too reckless. An overall malaise seems to have enveloped both my waking and sleeping dreams. A sense of being attacked by others and by myself permeates these dreams.
I have not spent enough time exploring what’s going on with me, so my dreams take over to focus my attention. I’ve been too harsh on myself lately as well. This has created an unsafe place and empty void within me. I need to let up on the self-attack and focus on what I’m doing.
“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses”.
In our darkest dreams we encounter tunnels to transformation, fall down holes into an inner world of the unconscious mind, step into a bright light, walk through open doors, observe a sunset, or a skeleton, or a gravestone, or cemetery and all are pathways to the hidden self. Most of these inner adventures when brought into the light can lead to changes in the way one perceives and lives their life. But deep down in the darkened cellars and caves of our soulful existence there are buried daemons of the rejected upper world–dragons, monsters, devils, and the Grim Reaper itself.
They who venture into this world must be ready, not to do battle, for these creatures cannot be slain or conquered, but to learn their ways so as to harness their power.
For change to happen in one’s life they need to let go of that which needs change; one cannot hold onto the past while reaching for their future.
This is when death shows up in your dreams for it is the harbinger of change, that which heralds the end to one way of being to make room for something new. And sometimes death in a dream is an invitation to go deeper into ones self to find the energy and power to go after a waking world dream, goal, or achievement. Sometimes, in order to engage life one must let go of it.
One can resist the need for change, but be warned that if you do, the images of death can become increasingly fearsome. Death makes itself known when there is an urgent psychological matter or problem that needs to be attended to.
In nearly every philosophy, or religion, some sort of resurrection follows death. Life, whether animal or plant appears to be in continuous birth, death, and renewal. All cultures have various rituals to acknowledge and celebrate the connection between life and death and all self-development programs require the letting go of one way of being in order to manifest another.
The dead in dreams not only refer to something having died in us, in our lives, or represent the need to let go of something, but also help us through times of transition. Sometimes something in our life is threatening our emotional survival and dreams of our death will come to shock us into awareness.
Aspects of the dead reflect aspects of ourselves that we need to pay some attention to or to let go of. Our own deaths in a dream can speak to transitional phases of our lives such as from adolescence to adulthood, singleness to marriage, or parenthood, or youth to old age. Worries about impending transitions such as from being in school to graduating, or moving from job to job can often conjure images of death, or threats to ones life.
In short, though it may seem contrary, death in dreams may actually be about healing; embracing the death can lead to this healing.
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
I’ve been rereading Diane Kennedy Pike’s book “Life as a waking dream” (Riverhead Books, 1997) and thought I’d tackle the concept in a little different way. I decided to look at critical events in my life lately and treat them as dream material and using the dream interpreting book “Morpheus Speaks” (iUniverse, 2019) as a guide to their possible meanings.
Incompetence: I tend to become really upset with what I perceive to be incompetence in anything such as with a person or government or the law, teaching or in the building of something, etc. This probably reflects some of my own worries about my own competence and lack of forgiveness toward myself whenever I deem I’ve been less than competent in some action. Why? Because I hate to be wrong! I mean, being wrong is wrong! I see it as a failing, a less than ideal quality and something broken and God forbid, unfixable. So, I deny the experience, demean it, reject it, and put it down (for purposes of word economics use this last sentence in all the rest of my symbolic meanings).
Injustice: This is another upsetting experience within my everyday waking dream symbols. It is probably connected to incompetence because at one level to be incompetent is unjust or just wrong (are we seeing a theme yet?).
Accused, attacked (especially wrongly): When I or someone I identify with is being wrongfully accused I get upset. Sometimes this may be reflecting my own guilt about something or my doubts about myself. To cover up a wrongdoing e.g., such as a doubt about what you are doing and acting as though you know what you are doing is wrong. Recently I’ve had some doubts about my competence in some action and some project that I’ve taken on and acted as though I knew what I was doing when I wasn’t sure that I did and then the waking world presented me with an unrelated and false accusation that I had to deal with. It was only when I didn’t make it personal such as taking it as a personal wrongdoing that I was able to overcome and solve the issue to everyone’s satisfaction.
Fakery: Pretending to be something you’re not. I do this sometimes to make myself seem better than I am. Of course, I only do this when I feel as though I am not very good. I see this a lot in politics and politicians these days.
Lying: I lie to hide my actions and I do this to not look bad or to look good or to look better than I am. I don’t like the fact that I on occasion do this and find that I rail at those who do it publicly and rail in proportion to my rejection of my own lies.
Well, that’s enough for now. The theme seems pretty obvious to me right now in that all of these fall within my biggest bogeyman that of being “WRONG” or “Less than” which shows up as incompetence, injustice, fakery, or lying. Needless to say, that these days I’m spending a lot of time railing at virtually everything that I see on TV or read in the newspaper or the newsfeeds I get on-line.
Ultimately what I’m seeing and railing against are my own shadows i.e., what I deem the darker parts of myself.
The outside world is but a mirror to my own inner self. Calling these reflections out for what they are and who is responsible for them and for who needs to deal with them is probably the next step in this process of working with the waking dream. I cannot change the outside world but when I take responsibility for the inside world change can happen.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.
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?
Three nightmares across nine fretful nights sleep. In one a character is shot several times as he runs down the road, the last shot bringing him down, I falling with him and reaching out to comfort. Another has me wearing a CPAP mask at a restaurant dining table, feeling shocked, vulnerable, humiliated and virtually emasculated.
The last dream has me being threatened and abused by three twenty-foot giants.
What to make of it all?
In the first dream the character being shot is an expression of myself suffering what Bill Shakespeare called “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” i.e. attacks against the psyche in this case. The fear may be that there will be one too many that I may not be able to soothe and get up from. This dream may have been triggered by watching a friend take several psychic blows that would have left me emotionally bleeding. There’s also a theme running through the “world psyche” at the moment where many people are taking the blows, with the collective-ego becoming increasingly more self-critical.
The current immoral insanity sweeping the nation and the White House is suffering profound psychic blows as well as we each watch the country we love being torn apart by fear, bigotry, ignorance, and hatred. Our shadow aspect that we’ve been hiding to both the world and ourselves is showing itself in all its repressed ugliness.
The second dream seems to echo the first and indeed came on the night following the first. This dream seemed to suggest humiliation and a feeling of emasculation. It continued a theme of feeling vulnerable and not being able to protect myself adequately. The mask itself also may have symbolized a fear of being found out, of not being able to successfully hide what I am feeling in my everyday life right now.
Seven days later the third nightmare intruded and interrupted my sleep. In this dream three imposing and quite frightening ‘giants’ attacked me and stood threateningly astride me as I fell. It felt that I wouldn’t be able to save myself from what was about to happen and then I awoke. Are my feelings overwhelming me? Is my negative inner dialog going to injure me? Who are these three antagonists I wonder? Then it hits me that they might represent my three biggest concerns as I grow older– 1) Body deterioration (not only reflecting all the aches and pains but the loss of attractiveness to the opposite sex); 2) Deteriorating usefulness; and 3) Contracting future.
There’s a lot to be learned from one’s darker dreams i.e. there’s light in our nightmares, though in this case there are few if any answers, but knowing in deeper detail what’s going on with me emotionally may give me an opening through which I can find the light.
Dreams of being a child have come into my sleep along with being wrong and making mistakes, feeling shame and powerlessness and falling. When my waking dream becomes too stressful, when I find that I can’t stay in the here and now because I’m caught up in worries about the future, or guilt from the past, I find my dreams full of powerlessness and fear. Hurricanes, storms, titanic waves, and floods wash through my dreams and add even greater stress to a psyche overburdening itself. If the dreams shared with me on-line are any indication, I’d say this might be true for many of you.
Though I did not measure up to my personal expectations, to the image of myself that I thought I should be, I realized something much greater. The Black Dream where I found myself in the waking world had been giving way to something new.
When facing the darkness one can receive images much grander than their limited images of self. For me I saw that I never gave up, though the way looked impossible; that I always strove to become better than either my own judgments, or the judgments of others. Somehow I found the courage to stand up to the feelings of failure and rejection and to face what I judged to be humiliation with my head held high. I allowed myself to feel the fool and to grow from its presence, to go beyond the fears and become bigger than my estimate of myself.
The experience of recent events and the consciousness they brought in their wake have helped me to realize some of how big I really am. I may not be what I think I should be, an ego-self desire, but once again I’ve discovered that I’m really so much more.
Until I was willing to truly accept the darkness and honor its value, I couldn’t see the ever so small light flickering in the corner. I’ve been fighting the darkness ever so long, but the truth is that rejecting the darkness also rejects the light. This morning, I saw the barest glow and reached for it and it warmed and filled the space that dispelled the darkness before it. Hanging onto the light often seems harder than living in the darkness. But I think it’s a miracle that the light is there at all.
And that’s the gift of the Black Dream, the Shadow, the darkness; it highlights the flicker of light that is our true self. I can also see that to keep it burning I need to share it and it’s in that vein that I do so now. As I’ve said earlier, love is the cure for our nightmares; it’s the light within our darkness.