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.

Forever falling down the rabbit hole: Sometimes what surrounds the dream is the message of the dream.

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I had a dream recently that during its course was rather benign but became nightmarish when I awoke. Upon awakening the feeling of the dream morphed into near panic as I lay in bed trying to recall it so as to write it in my journal. It felt as though I had become possessed by something not of this world– something almost demonic.

As I pondered it a feeling of emotional overwhelm, loss of control, and alienation began to grow until I could stand it no more and forced myself from the bed. As I walked it felt as though I were falling down a hole– a rabbit hole. Then the main character image of the dream came to me and stood there in my memory with a big Cheshire Cat grin.

Ahh, the Cheshire Cat, an alien story arc that once read long ago left me with both confusion and understanding mixed together in an anxious soup. Somehow the dream was suggesting that I needed to move on from the arc of my life into another story. Somehow I was feeling alienated from the story I was in.

It reminded me of the story of Alice in the Wonderland books by Lewis Carroll where she fell down the rabbit hole, and that I was always falling down the hole but choosing not to notice.

And the Cheshire Cat grins as Alice asks, “Would you tell me please, which way I should go from here? “

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t care where. “

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

“As long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that” said the cat, “If you only walk long enough.”

I too don’t know where I am going, nor do I even know where I’ve been, or where I am now; forever falling down the rabbit hole.

“Have I gone mad?” … “You would have to be mad to dream me up.”

And I realize that it is I that would have to be half mad to dream this world up.

Life to me is seeming more like a riddle with no answer as with the Mad Hatter asking Alice, “Why is a raven like a writing desk? Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.

Since I awoke something seems to have changed once again.

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘who in the world am I?’ Ah that’s the great puzzle.”

Upon awakening from the dream and not knowing who I was– not knowing who I am– have I ever? Perhaps not, I think. Oh shit, do I have to throw all of the story I’ve created out the window?

Anxiety sets in, even panic and like Alice I feel as though I may drown in my own tears. I want to return to the old story but as Alice said, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

“Little Alice fell

D

O

W

N

The hole, bumped her head and bruised her soul.”

Haven’t we all?

________________________

Everything in quotations is from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Falling into the Abyss

Not so long ago I asked the “nothing-in-particular-of-the-general-universe” (God for some of you) to help me through the funk I’d fallen into and while browsing a bookstore my attention was drawn to a shelf where a book called out to me, The13th Disciple by Deepak Chopra. “Sounds a bit preachy and just alittle too Christian for my tastes,” I thought, but found myself buying it anyway. I waded into its pages when I got home and nothing jumped out but something told me to be patient that there was some gold hiding in the pages.

As I continued to readI came across a chapter that sparked a memory, a recollection of a time spent at a retreat when a grief was resurrected and sent me hurtling down an endlessly dark hole from which I wasn’t sure I could pull myself.

I shook off the memory and continued to read when another turn of phrase triggered another memory of a void I had tripped into shortly after hearing of my father’s death. Both instances of grief propelled me into a helpless emotional abyss from which I wasn’t sure I’d escape and appalling as it may seem I wasn’t sure that I wanted to.

In both instances within moments of my plunge, and with fear consuming every cell of my being, I calmed and faced the darkness before me wondering curiously what lay at the other end and finding that I was just a little captured by the thought that there might not even be an end. What would that be like, I wondered?

Why was I visiting these pains yet again after so many years? Was it possible that I hadn’t fully dealt with either and here was another chance to reconcile, to “zero out” or bring balance to these experiences? I’d always wondered where the tunnel would have taken me if I had not stopped the tumble. I mean what would have happened if Alice had stopped her fall down the rabbit hole by waking herself up?

Almost as soon as I had that thought the following came to me and I quickly grabbed a pen and in my haste, and not finding any other suitable writing surface, wrote it inside the dust jacket of the book.

“Seeking zero point where nothing holds you up and you plunge into the emptiness of your being.

Falling into the objectless void you’re on your own with no one to aid.

But keep your wits and you’ll pass right through hell, the tears will wash away the fear, and the abyss will become your grace.”

The words in my mind came to an abrupt end and I set down the pen and briefly pondered their meaning.

Suddenly a memory of light elbowed its way into consciousness and for a brief moment I was laying on the floor of a mediation room open on all four sides to a surrounding forest that until then had been cloaked in the deepening grays and shadows of an advancing night and marveling how every tree, every leaf, the sky, the ground, and the people around me seemed to have a glow.

What had been a somewhat hostile world became warm and friendly and I got up and walked into the night feeling for the first time in my life that I belonged, not to any organization or place, but to everything.

And then I was back. As I sat at home reading my musings it was as though something in the universe wanted to remind me of the journey I’ve been on all these many years and how far I’ve come and how I’ve changed over that time. It’s not in my essence that change took place but in my ability to see it and function from it and like Alice sometimes there’s a light just for us at the bottom of the dark holes we fall into and we just have to let go in to them.