Dealing with the emotional and psychological after-effects of violence

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On occasion I receive dreams from those who have had family members or boyfriends/girlfriends that have been murdered. Many share seeing them again in their dreams. In some cases the departed will morph into something else. In one case the visiting dead turned into a snake that when in an attempt to catch it the snake slithered away into a hole. In this case it may have been a metaphor for those who had perpetrated the murder having not been caught and the dreamer trying to deal with the betrayal of both the “perp” and the authorities.

Some dreamers experience great helplessness (feeling tied up or trapped) or overwhelm (tsunami waves and/or flooding) as part of the dream. Some escape the symbolic trauma by climbing stairs or mountains toward a higher perspective while others fly free across a meadow or run away from threatening people or monsters.

Others have wondered if the extreme grief they’ve suffered has in someway damaged the soul.

Mostly the dream material of such traumas is about the mind trying to make sense of the loss and to then deal with it i.e. to make peace with it.

I believe that our souls accept trauma long before our conscious minds are able to wrap themselves around it, though the pain can be experienced as being so deep and profound that it feels as though your very essence, your being, the soul of yourself has been irreparably damaged.

Though the mind is valiantly trying to grasp and deal with the trauma experienced by the violent death of a loved one it can rarely do this alone. What often happens is the mind enters a never-ending spiral with no escape or resolution. Some dreamers experience this never-ending spiral as a vortex in a storm-tossed sea with them or the ship they’re on being pulled down into the darkness below. Some see themselves at the edge of a bottomless abyss.

Such dreams may reflect the dreamer’s difficulty in trying to resolve a great inner conflict generated by loss. This can take the form of anxieties of losing themselves or in facing the hard emotional reality of their own death. These dreams are part of the healing process but sometimes one can get stuck in the process without moving to the next level of dealing with the grief.

The experience of losing someone through a violent death can be similar to the experience of someone with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) with the reliving of the event in dreams or flashbacks, repetitive nightmares, and anxiety symptoms. This can also happen with those who have been physically attacked, witnessed great violence, and/or have been raped. All of these experiences destroy the sense of safety and personal integrity of ones life. They are a violation of the soul.

If these dreams persist over time it might be useful to the dreamer to seek a helper, a guide in the healing process, someone trained in helping others deal with grief.

Organizations such as Goodtherapy.com * can sometimes be useful.

Learning to deal with ones grief in a productive way can be helpful as well and to that end this link to ActiveBeat * as well as the following article in Psychology Today: Grief-isnt-something-get-over* might also be useful.

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* I am not an advocate of these sites and only offer them as examples of resources without endorsing them. You will have to determine whether or not they are useful to you.

 

 

 Death in Dreams

 

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 “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. 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”

    Mary Oliver (Skunk Cabbage)

      

Associated with death is also rebirth and resurrection. 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.

 

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Shiva

 

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.

 

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Caduceus

 

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 becomes eternally living within the memory of those left behind.

To see a dead person in a dream:

This can represent some area in one’s 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.

Fundamentally death in dreams is about change, impending, ongoing, future or past.

 

“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 down
into 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)

 

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For more on death and resurrection in dreams go to the Dreaming Wizard website.

http://thedreamingwizard.com/death-and-resurrection-in-dreams_295.html

Possession in dreams

 

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The following is a draft section of a new book to be published later this year, Morpheus speaks: The Book of Dreams” (RJ Cole, 2018).

 

Insight: Being possessed is an archetype itself (symbolic meaning that is found across all cultures). Many years ago people would employ priests or even lay mediums to exorcise an individual’s devil that has “possessed” them. But even now the old version of the primitive possessor demon lives within an unexplored psychic phenomena and acts out behaviors that are contrary to a person’s best interest. One only needs to look at how many so-called fearful “conservatives” will vote for the very issues and people who only mean them harm, directly or indirectly, to see the truth of that statement. All too often when we deny our complexes, our demons so to speak, we become possessed by them, we allow another force and energy to take over our lives.

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Gunmen in dreams, people shooting at you or others in dreams, killing or being killed in dreams

 

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Gunmen in dreams, people shooting at you or others in dreams, killing or being killed in dreams all very scary, what’s it mean?

Simply put these images suggest anger, fear, aggression, conflict (inner and outer), confrontation, hate, the forcing of ones views/opinions/beliefs and/or feelings of being targeted, or victimized.

Not so coincidentally the same actions and images in ones waking life have the same meaning. The ultimate meaning, however is that the perpetrator(s) are neither expressing or feeling love, or self-worth…no, harassing, hurting, oppressing, enslaving, or killing someone does not enhance self-worth, importance or Godliness. Quite the contrary, it diminishes it. Forcing your ideas on another diminishes you. Living in a society that narrowly defines self-worth by how much money you have, how thin, smart, young, talented and beautiful you are also diminishes the vast majority of its citizens.

Limiting someone’s ability to express their divine self diminishes you, controlling someone for your own gain or to some imagined gain of religious meaning, or political meaning diminishes you. Bottom line, anything that limits the free expression of ones soul diminishes them and no God would ever ask any one to do this, only a confused ego-self would attempt such an affront, only a confused and frightened ego-self would do anything but love.

Love is not a feeling of being gaga over someone or something, it’s an action born of knowing that we are all connected, all children of one God, one Earth, with different ways of worshipping and praying, but all equal and the same in our divinity. Anything else is not love and anything else is not of the soul or the one spirit that enliven us all. Anything else is ONLY of the self-involved, self-serving, greedy, simple-minded, and self-centered ego-self…period!

What you lose when you ‘hate’ is your own self, your own soul, and your own connection with God regardless of what name you give to him or what religion or ideology you follow.

The killing that you see in the world is not love, it is not of God, or the greater spirit of humankind…it is pure and simple fear, hate and an expression of the loss of our connection with the divine and each other and can never bring peace or enhance the well-being of anyone or anything and all the revenge and retribution and misguided religious, or nationalistic, fervor will only drive us deeper into despair and further away from our universal inheritance and this is not just my opinion.

You only need to look at what non-love produces to know that I am right. You only need to look into your own unlimited soul to know it’s right! You don’t need some politician, leader, priest, rabbi, or Imam to tell you what is and isn’t love and what is of the divine and what isn’t.

We can only pray for those stuck in hate and fear that they will wake up from their dream before that hate consumes them, that they will cease to follow the small ‘g’ god of their limited ego-selves and open up to the bigger ‘G’ God that loves us all.

When death is seen in dreams it is often a metaphor for bringing an end to some negative behavior or ineffective way of being. Take heed, your soul is trying to tell you something.

 

“The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.”

–Norman Cousins

Soul Work: Life is not an empty dream

 

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Carl Jung imagined that as a general rule the soul comes in two forms the Anima and the Animus. These are archetypal personifications of the soul in each of us. I use a feminine image above because I think of a man’s soul as being associated with the feminine (Anima) in nature in both its positive and negative aspects. The dove for me represents that which is freeing my soul from the captivity (chain) of the ego-body.

Not too long ago I read an article in the New York Times. It was a story about the museums of death found in many places around the world. I was surprised by the title for I thought all museums were about death aka Natural History museums with all its carefully displayed dead animals, Art museums where most of the painters have been dead for such a long time, The National Funeral museum in Houston, Tex., antique auctions museums where you can find really old furniture from the houses of dead people, well you get the idea.

And what’s the fascination with cemeteries and skulls and horror stories?

I think that we dwell in awe and fear at the world’s greatest mystery, death. It’s that part of life that terrifies most of us because it portends something we can know nothing about, non-life, specifically our own. What is non-life? We know it’s the opposite of what we have now, but what is the opposite of life really? And why do we even ask the question? Fear? Fear of the unknown, fear of what is dark to us? Our unconscious mind is dark to us but as long as we are alive we have potential access even though we’d rather not, but death? Now there’s a darkness and unknown we can’t even begin to fathom. It’s a bottomless abyss that goes on forever.

For some it’s not death that is feared but the process of getting there because it can be so frighteningly painful and mostly uncomfortable or so it looks. We humans will enter into almost anything if we truly believe there’s a pot of gold at the end of it– something better than what we have though we’re never satisfied with what we have. But not to know? Too scary.

The promise of no pain and eternal peacefulness seems a pretty good draw for letting go of life so as to enter some kind of heaven, but the “Great Decider” determines whether we wind up there or in the burning cauldron’s of hell, or so we’ve been told, though I’m pretty sure those stories come from the same type of folk that wrote the stories for the Brothers Grimm and for the same reason, to keep the children in line, whether they be little children or adult children. This reflects the belief that left to their own devices people won’t do the right thing. That is of course a pretty cynical view of humanity usually portrayed by the “fearful ones” who don’t know who they really are and by extension who we are. In the United States we call them Republicans or the Alt-right.

Some folks have solace in the belief that they, body and all, pass into another realm. But the ego part of us is of the flesh, that 3lb squishy thing inside our head that some of us occasionally think with and that decays and shrivels and turns to dust– we like with everything else in life can’t take it with us. So what is it that goes on to wherever we imagine consciousness continues on to?

“The soul! The soul goes on” cry still others. But what is that? Have you ever seen it? How often have you been aware of it? Do you actually identify with it? How many of us truly know of that invisible, ephemeral ghost in the machine that we imagine to be us, after all aren’t we the thinking, feeling, frightened, pain wracked, opinionated, memory-filled, squealing thing with a name and social security number?

So what is the soul? Is it a living thing? Well if it is living within the body wouldn’t it be subject to the same decaying effects after death? Ahh, so it’s not alive, it’s, what, a spirit? What’s that? And why does it need us as a host to visit the world? And if it loses its host where is it, what does it experience then? Is it conscious? Was it our consciousness all along only we became duped by the not so long lasting ego that convinced us that we were actually the ego?

Recent research has shown that even after a person has been pronounced brain dead, usually a no-turning-back step beyond clinical death when the heart stops, that “consciousness” may in some cases continue beyond the functioning body1. This is known as an OBE or Out of Body Experience. What that consciousness is however, that appears to be separate from the brain has scientists stumped.

This soul thing probably has no fear of death because death isn’t part of its life but the ego is a jealous thing and envies and fears the soul because of its non-death. It dreams of being like its opposite and creates a myth of everlasting life. There is everlasting life, but probably not like the life we currently experience, but the ego doesn’t want to hear that, so let’s just keep that between us.

Still others see the soul as a transmitter of the spirit into the receiver of the brain that then allows it to be manifest in the world making us sort of like a TV with arms and legs.

 

“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.”

The Psalm of Life
by– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

I go into greater depth with the exploration of death in the Chapter from the “Dragon’s Treasure” titled Death, Yours, Mine, Ours (pg. 168).

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1 Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that ‘out of body’ and ‘near-death’ experiences may be real, independent.co.uk/news/science/life, 7 Oct. 2014.

Demon visitors to dreams

 

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“Is the devil invading my dreams?” has been a worry communicated by several dreamers over the years. My likely response was always to deal with the symbolic meaning of the devil or demon mainly because each of us create our own demonic forms based on our cultural, religious, and familial influences. Though this little devil will show up in many forms his existence is an archetype from the collective unconscious of humankind meaning that it resides within the universal psyche as an expression of the antithetical and contrasted phenomena that create the reality that we see.

For example, for something to be experienced as being “good” requires a definition or experience of something being “bad”, female requires male, up needs a down, positive requires a negative, and right needs a left.

Ultimately it is Death that gives meaning to Life and vice versa. Generally speaking it’s our polar opposites that create and inform the reality that we see. It’s fundamentally this  conflict that we struggle with that enriches the experience of reality that we create.

When this contrary little demon shows up in a dream it is usually there to point out a conundrum, a paradox, an unattended to contradiction, something denied, rejected, or repressed that is causing us discomfort or driving inappropriate behaviors. Just as with all the other archetypal images the demons are there for our health and well being.

The Devil in a dream can represent our struggle with our basic urges, that which pulls us down. He (or she) can represent our fears, negative aspects and limitations though it can also represent cunning, cleverness and deception. If the devil is talking to you it can suggest that you might you be worried that certain temptations are becoming hard to resist. If you’re friendly with the devil perhaps you are talking yourself or allowing someone to talk you into something that you really don’t want to do. Dealing with the devil or a demon in any way within a dream may reflect your need to deal with an issue of morality in your waking life.

When a demon shows up as Satan itself it can be about things in the inner and outer world that you may fear or you think are out of your control. This can represent something or someone adversarial or confrontational as in an attacker or accuser or just someone critical of you or your work. Frequently people invoke this image and project it onto other people so as to justify hurting them. This happens in all wars or when one takes sides in a political controversy.

Sometimes people experience being possessed by some demon in their dreams. Being possessed is also an archetype and over the centuries people from all cultures would employ priests or shaman, even lay mediums to exorcize an individual’s devil that has “possessed” them. Today we’re more likely to consult a therapist.

But even now the old version of the primitive possessor demon lives within an unexplored psychic phenomena and acts out behaviors that are contrary to a person’s best interest. One only needs to look at how many so-called fearful “conservatives” will vote for the very issues and people that only mean them harm, directly or indirectly, to see the truth of that statement.

All too often when we deny our complexes1, our worries, and repressed fears and emotions our demons so to speak, can possess us, in that we allow another force and energy to take over our lives, both internally and externally.

But sometimes he’s just there to show us some clarity on what is good.

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1 Complex: A pattern of emotions, perceptions, wishes, or memories in our Personal Unconscious. Some of these patterns can manifest themselves somatically i.e. through the body.

Severely negative and untreated or denied emotional patterns can lead to neuroses such as obsessive-compulsive disorders including perfectionism or poor impulse control or extremely low feelings of self-worth. Both Jung and Freud thought that these unconscious patterns were the most important factors influencing our waking behaviors and attitudes.

“I see dead people”

 

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This was a quote from the 1999 movie, The Sixth Sense. In it a little boy confesses to his therapist that he sees and interacts with dead people. The journey that he and the therapist go on becomes a frightening and transformational trip through the spirit world that parallels the world of the living.

An interesting fantasy, but other than those who have claimed to see ghosts, or in stories or movies, or over-dramatized TV ghost hunter shows when, if ever, has this been a reality?

There is an archetypal specter that shadows us throughout our lives and that most of us try to ignore, but one that informs the way we live, behave, and move within our personal universes–DEATH.

Dead people in our dreams have visited many of us e.g. dead relatives and loved ones, dead celebrities, or even ourselves. Ghosts, spirits, and specters fly in and out of our dream spaces, threatening, or offering cryptic advice. Some of us have teetered on the brink of death while others have fallen in. We’ve been shot, stabbed, clubbed, eaten, and died by accident, or disease, or the bite of a snake sometimes over and over again across many nights. We have witnessed mass killings on a field of battle, or in our own homes. What is all this mayhem about?

In part it’s as simple as working through the concept of death itself–an attempt to develop a working relationship with it. These dreams help us to work through our deepest fears for ourselves and for the loss of others.

Sometimes dreaming of those who have died, or fears for our own death can be messages that we have become stuck in our grief, or our fears. At a conscious level we often convince ourselves that we have handled death, or we actively suppress our fears so as to function more efficiently. However, denial, or suppression only works, if it does at all, on a superficial and temporary basis. Healing has not happened because the wound remains hidden and not exposed to the air and a weeping scab is formed under which the wound festers. Learning to face these wounds and fears can be part of a healing process that allows us to move on in our lives.

Dead people in dreams, especially those we know, can be an attempt of the mind to deal with sad feelings, memories, guilt, loss, frustrated love, or anger connected with the person who has died, or to just complete our relationship with them from when they were living.

 

“To die, to sleep
 no more; and by a sleep, to say we end
 the heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
 that flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep, 
to sleep, perchance to dream; Ay, there’s the rub,
 for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
 when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 
must give us pause.”–Shakespeare, Hamlet after the ghost of his father has come to him to tell the circumstances of his death.

 

When these dreams are faced and accepted (vs. denied, or rejected) this eventually allows the dreamer to resolve the loss and move on. There are also people whose images visit us when we are in times of stress and are looking for guidance or consolation. My Dad often shows up when an old feeling, or special memory associated with him is longed for, especially one that can lead to my own health and well being. Some people have shared with me that when facing an intractable problem and wishing the wisdom of a deceased parent were available, that that parent in their dreams will often visit them.

If you as the dreamer were to kill someone in the dream, it’s most often a symbol for the desire to “kill off” what they represent, e.g. a feeling, a relationship, their effect upon you or others, or even a circumstance or situation which their character may represent.

The death of feelings (such as when there is a loss of love for something or someone), or motivation, or the end of a plan, relationship, a belief, a chapter of ones life, or a transition about to happen e.g. mothers sometime see the death of a boy child in their dreams as the son transitions in waking life from one state of being to another– into preschool, or kindergarten, his first overnight, high school graduation, and off to college. In fact, whenever one is in transition from one state of being, or one event to another, dead people and death can show up in a dream. And when it does, ask yourself, “what is dying in my life–what is coming to an end, or what has the potential for ending soon?” This will give you clues as to the meaning of the dream.

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Do you believe in magic? Chapter IV: Transmutation of the body psyche

Chapter IV

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Symbol for the Philosopher’s Stone

“Well?” said the Wizard waiting patiently for him to speak.

“It has been a week of tears, of joy and sadness in almost equal measure. I’ve had insights that broadened my understanding and those that crushed my very being. I have touched the face of God and have been burned by unspeakable evils. I feel as though I am not what I was having transformed myself both now and into the future and deep into the past. I am profoundly grateful and resentful of what you have done to me and now feel lost in the world that was once my home. And what’s worse, I fear that I no longer care about your stupid magic.”

“A bit dramatic are we not? Now, listen to me well boy for I am about to reveal the rest of your curriculum that only now can you comprehend. You have entered a cleansing or dissolution stage of your transformation a transformation that is necessary in order for you to attain your true spiritual inheritance. Once entered you cannot turn back for to do so would leave you at best dead or worst dissolved and no longer able to function properly. Hear now what it is you need to do in order to reclaim your birthright. Are you ready?”

The boy stood there and despite some misgivings he was ready to absorb what the Wizard was sharing and nodded his assent then cleared his throat, “I’m listening, though my fear grows by the minute and even though I can set it aside and watch it grow without becoming it, I wonder for how long can this body endure?”

The boy was struggling to control himself and remain centered in the bigger self he had discovered during his practice of the week before. He wasn’t aware of it then but he would need all his strength to make it through the transmuting gauntlet he was about to experience. As the wizard invited him to sit in the chair next to him he sunk down then straightened and slid to the very edge of the seat barely in the chair at all and focused everything on the old man who sat before him.

“Your body, mind included for I am not of the popular notion that they are in any way separated, is an instrument of magic. But like any instrument it can become useless if you haven’t taken care of it. Over time you’ve gunked it up with so many ideas, rigid beliefs, illusions, fantastical expectations, thoughts and worthless and fake knowledge that it can barely fizzle let alone sizzle or sparkle and forget about using it to consciously create magic because the natural flow from the Source to the greater reality of the Self is impeded by all the accumulated crap you’ve attached to it. Do you understand?”

“So far, yes” said the boy as he encouraged the old man to continue.

“What we’ve been doing is to scrape off this crap so as to polish the tool once again and give it the purpose for which was designed. After that you’ll relearn the art of using it properly.” The old man paused and thought a moment before speaking again, then absently picked up his pipe and took a drag, tapping it against the bowl when he realized it had gone out. Pulling a match from a container next to the bowl he held it for a moment and the match flamed without being struck. He then put the flame to his pipe and relit it. Taking a couple of drags a faint glow emanated from the pipe bowl. After another drag he leisurely exhaled a puff of smoke that created a ring that floated above his head. Meanwhile the young man just sat patiently waiting for what was next.

Holding the pipe by the bowl the old man pointed it toward the boy and went on with his lecture. “Your body is the prima materia that needs to undergo a tormenting cleansing in order to be transformed. As it is now it is like lead– heavy and without luster. When you have completed this process, only part of which you have been practicing this past week, you will shine as gold and be whole once again. After that you will learn to transcend the body and no longer ‘be it’ but include it within your greater sphere.” He paused to see if the boy were still focused on what he was saying and after satisfying himself that he was, he continued.

“The body must be consumed by fire, dismembered and dissolved before it is re-enlivened and made whole again. Though the process of living can act as a crucible where one will burn in order to prepare for the transformation into a more brilliant being, the process takes too long. Sometimes many life times.”

As he paused and took another drag on his pipe, the young man couldn’t help himself and made a comment.  “This sounds like the ravings of an Alchemist!”

“In that you are right, but their so-called ravings were in reality the process for transforming the leaden consciousness of humankind into the Golden Spirit that he or she was born to be. The truth for each of us is that within us is a Philosophers Stone but to forge it into reality requires a precise tormenting of the prima materia.”

Abruptly he stopped and became very serious in demeanor focusing his full attention on the boy. The boy squirmed in his seat at the discomfort of the old man’s penetrating gaze.

“Do you trust me, boy?”

The boy sat perfectly still and looked within to see if indeed he did trust the old man and when finding that he did declared, “Yes sir!”

“Good, then stand up, the time has come for the Torment.”

The Torment? The boy shuddered at what was next, but the old man hadn’t hurt him so far, in fact, his administrations had actually opened him to a world he didn’t even know existed– a world of exquisite emotion and revelation and he was anxious for more.

“Stand before the fire.” said the old man who then leaned forward and gently touched the boy’s forehead and the boy complied and stood.

“Let go of your thoughts and walk into it.” The young man trembled and knew that this would have been foolhardy on his own or with any one other than this particular old wizard, but for some reason he knew that this man had only his best interests at heart and he walked slowly toward and into the fire. It was warming, welcoming and felt like the right thing to do.

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Dissolution

 

Suddenly his clothing caught the flames and before he knew what was happening the flames engulfed him, the heat became unbearable and pain grew rapidly beyond endurance. He felt his skin crackle, sluff, and begin to melt from his body. “Oh my God” he thought, I’m going to die! He screamed a most blood-curdling scream that ricocheted off the walls then trailed to a pitiful whimper as he passed out and fell headlong into the flames becoming a human torch that lit up the whole room. What was left collapsed and quickly turned to blackened ash. The sickening smell of burned flesh filled the room.

All had become quiet and the wizard returned to his chair casually picking up his pipe and relighting it with another match. He stretched and lay back into the softness of the chair. He had taken many a neophyte to this point in the process and knew that for some it ended here what with the purity of their essence having been too compromised to withstand the Dissolution and then not being able to master the Recombination. He would wait to see if the boy was one of those. He hoped not, he kind of liked him, but it was taking longer than usual.

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A visit from death as a message to “let go”

 

death.jpgWARNING! Though what I’m about to say suggests that I’ve found the answer to something it’s more like an answer. I’m struggling with all these concepts as well, which is why I started this blog in the first place i.e. as a venue for discovery and sharing.

In trying to catch up to the backlog of submitted dreams, many of the last several dreams I’ve worked have included the visitation of someone close who has died, or have had more subtle visits from the dead show up such as in the dream below. There are an incredible number of ideas concerning death e.g. what is it, what happens, if anything, after death, etc. Most of this seems to follow a spiritual line of thought and pretty much leaves the reality of death for the dreamer to handle on their own.

But most often death is painful, messy, ugly, confusing, sad, and frightening and none of us seem to have the right tools for dealing with it. Most of us would rather not look too closely, or feel its reality too deeply, preferring not to “wallow,” but to “move on.” We are told that we should meet death nobly by being calm, accepting and embracing its inevitability stoically, or as a great adventure. Some think they will now live peacefully in heaven. I think that’s wonderful, if you can do it, but I fear that would just be another failure in my life so that even in death I lose. After all, if I do it wrong, there’s no do-over!

I, on the other hand, am pissed off with the reality of death, what a rip; I am not looking forward to it! Most of the palliatives offered for dealing with death seem to be some means of avoiding its reality. But the avoidance only keeps the emotions stuck, especially the fear and sadness, and in my case a measure of anger.

In the dreams shared with me there’s always something new that comes up, for example, and in the name of practicality, I share this dream that came from the mother of a child who seems to be having trouble dealing with a father’s death:

The dream:

 This dream is mostly verbatim though I have changed some identifying features in order to maintain this family’s autonomy.

 “hi am writing on behalf of my child who has been unwell for 7 months and since has really bad dreams about fire and about people, usually male, trying to chase them and capture and harm them. I know this is a feeling of insecurity because their dad passed when they were 9. could this be the cause. and what can i do to help them? thanks mom”

My answer: (for privacy, names and gender have been redacted)

“Death of a parent to any of us is always traumatic at some level, but to a child the reality of death both personally and the devastating loss of someone they always trusted to be there can be especially traumatic. Children can also wonder if they had anything to do with the death i.e. if they had just loved them more…

 _____ may very well be dealing with his death on many levels especially, in dealing with the insecurity that the death brings into their life.

 Fire itself can be a “cleansing” symbol, but it is also a symbol for destruction and can represent repressed anger (sometimes we can have anger at the person who has died as in “how dare they leave me!” But they can’t admit this to themselves let alone voice it out loud. There’s also the anger that is directed toward God, or just the world in general. It’s a very helpless feeling which is also present in her dream.

 All these feelings and thoughts may not even be at the level of consciousness for _____which is why they are showing up in a dream (all dreams come in the service of health and well-being).

 If you haven’t already, it would help _____ greatly to work with a nurturing counselor to help {your child] move through this.”

Disconnecting from the intimacy once shared when someone was living is a hugely difficult process, we are social beings designed to be connected. When this evaporates due to death or any ending (such as a relationship or a way of being), when the connection disappears, we have to deal with our own disappearance, our own lost sense of being apparent–of existing.

As humans our relatedness confirms and reinforces our existence, the loss of relatedness caused by the death of a loved one can render us ungrounded and unattached. Sometimes we need help to find our footing again.

In dreams, death frequently represents social, emotional, and spiritual transformation that is going on in our lives and in the growth of our personalities. We need to let certain parts of ourselves die in order for something new to develop.

This is true for children’s dreams as well wherein the parent dies because there is a need within the child’s psyche for certain relationships with the parent to die in order for the child to continue to develop. When we are fleeing something in our dreams often we are fleeing this need for change and psychic growth. It could be that the child in the above dream doesn’t want to move on from the relationship experienced with the father–wishing to remain connected and not letting go. The fixation at this level will make it difficult to move that part of themselves on and could possibly retard their overall emotional growth.

So, what do we do? Read more