Doing dream work is a highly effective way to gain understanding of yourself and your life.
Part of that dream work, a big part, is keeping a dream journal. Recording the details of your dreams on paper is an absolute necessity. By being able to ‘go back in time’ and read the details of your dreams you have the distinct advantage of hindsight, and evolving perspective at present, with which to review the dream’s contents and possible meanings. Often, dreams will speak to you of the future, and recorded dreams allow you to gain deeper insight into yourself as you grow through time’s passage.
I was reading over my dream journal this morning and came across one dream that surprised me at the time. But now I get it, or rather, am getting it.
One night, around late August or early September of 2008, I lay in bed to go to sleep. I asked my Spirit for a dream. Usually, I would ask for a dream in answer to a specific question. This night, however, I had nothing pressing on my mind but I was feeling playful and wanted an intimate moment with my Spirit through my dream life. It’s like a couple going out on a spontaneous date to the movies, or dinner, or a hike through the woods as a way of rekindling romance and fun.
I requested of my Spirit, ‘Show me freedom.’
I then drifted off into the void of blackness that precedes total immersion into the inner world. I remember smiling and feeling excited as I drifted.
That night I had the following dream (transcribed from my journal):
I was in the apartment (where I lived in Jamaica Plain) which was as dark as night. I was in the bedroom and I floated to the living room in a flying (horizontal) position. I peeked into the kitchen and Dicky (my older brother who passed away in 1995) was in there doing chores. He was emptying the dishwasher, I think. There were 2 other people in the kitchen but I couldn’t tell who they were.
A young white woman, in her mid to late 20’s, was following me. She was my student or apprentice. I was teaching her how to work with the darkness.
I led her to a door that opened up to a bedroom (neither of which exist in real life). I entered the bedroom while in the middle of the lesson. The bedroom was visually and energetically dark. She followed me into the bedroom. We walked through the bedroom into and she continued into an adjoining bathroom.
Then, for demonstration purposes, I started doing an energetic projection with my hands, sending energy to her as she stood in the bathroom facing me. I was still standing in the bedroom. This was part of the teaching on how to work with the darkness.
I made several attempts with no success even though I was trying very hard. Then, a breakthrough. Dark energy entered her. Charged with the dark energy, she rushed toward me with her hands raised in front of her. She overpowered me, knocking me to the ground as her hands grasped mine. She straddled me as I lay on my back. She growled, her eyes rolling back in her head.
I was not afraid, realizing this was part of the lesson and the work.
When I awoke from this dream it occurred to me that this was in answer to my request, ‘show me freedom.’ But how? When I asked to be shown freedom I never thought a dream about working with dark energies would be the answer.
First, to immediately jump at the first or most obvious interpretation of a dream is a mistake. Dreams are realms of thought, feeling, metaphor, and myth that are layered with meaning. Dreams are their own language and do not fit neatly within the syntax of our daily waking lives.
To rely on a dream dictionary is also folly. I used to do this. I’d look up the various dream symbols communicated in my dreams to see what they could mean. I was going by the book. Your life and, moreover, your personal myth do not follow any book. There may be guiding principles and archetypes that can help inform your search into the meanings and patterns manifest in your life but you are also free to stretch those references if you are guided to do so. Follow your intuition here.
Read, yes, but don’t stop there.
Read mythology (Egyptian, Babylonian, Biblical, Greek, Native American, Indigenous myths, etc.), read Jung, James Hillman, Thomas Moore, Joseph Campbell, Sufi writings (as presented by Idries Shah, who considered the Western psyche in his presentations) read writings by mystics (St. John of the Cross, Buddha, Rasputin, etc, etc.). Read Manly P. Hall, Gerald Massey, Carlos Castaneda, Paulo Coelho, Sir James Frazer, William James, Andrew Harvey, Christmas Humphries, Malidoma Some, Robert Anton Wilson, T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, Rilke, Rumi, Khalil Gibran, etc., etc., etc.
But more than books, read your life, your past, your present, your patterns, your lovers, your relationships, your friendships, your parents, your family history, your dreams, your daydreams, your imaginings, your thoughts, your ideas, your feelings, your fears, your doubts, your goals in childhood, high school, college, and now.
Take note of things like your favorite books, your favorite authors, your favorite movie(s), your favorite songs and musicians, your favorite colors, your favorite foods, your favorite memories.
Look at paintings, photographs, sketches, sculptures. Read poems, parables, and prose. Create some yourself and take note of your body, your thoughts, your feelings, the process, the moment. If you’ve created art of any kind in the past then revisit it from time to time to glean new insights and revelations.
Notice the animals that cross your path, the formations of clouds and what you see in them, the wind and what you hear and feel, the sound of the waters as they fall, flow, drip, and gush.
Look. Listen. Feel. Ponder. These are your classrooms. Your lessons will become apparent. Your teacher is ever-present. Your understanding will emerge in its own time. You have no tests or grades. You will earn no degrees. You will never graduate. You must never drop out.
Now go, and find your own freedom.