I had this dream earlier in the week. I was at my mother’s place and I was going to cook Spaghetti, when some landscape gardeners showed up. It was dark outside and when I went out – one of them showed me three books. The one in the middle was an old, leather-bound notebook and I asked for it – as it was just like the others I have. He told me that it wasn’t blank – that someone had already written in it.
Then I was at work and had planted some sesame seeds in a planter. I looked at the seed packet and it said that the seeds were for the soil as well as for eating. I looked at the plant and it had grown very tall and had black roots. There were a few ‘spears’ that looked like they had corn cobs on the tops. When I peeled back the husk on one of them – there was no corn, but sesame seeds in a gooey paste.
I pulled off a blob and ate it. It was delicious – and I started telling other people about it so they could also plant the seeds.
THEMES: Family, sustenance, personal history, growth, opportunities, sharing wisdom
SYMBOLS: Food, books/journal, sesame seeds, black roots, plants
EMOTIONS: Concern, disappointment, excitement, wonder.
ARCHETYPES: Mother, Gardener
INTERPRETATION: I’ve been thinking of my family a lot – and cooking the spaghetti (a family favorite) represents my desire to re-connect and give sustenance. The gardener symbolizes a side of me that is ‘landscaping’ my life and growing things. Growth is a big theme here. Books represent knowledge, sharing ideas, wisdom – and the journal was already written in – meaning that there is already a history or a story that’s been told. I wanted the journal so that I could record things in it – but when the gardener told me it was already used – I was a little disappointed.
When you get older – you still have so much that you want to achieve – and I do feel like I’m just starting out (especially with my writing, etc.) The fact that the person who showed me the books was a gardener – indicates that growth can come from analyzing the past and what has gone on before.
Dreaming about work or the workplace – represents career and public life. Sesame seeds can be a symbol for wisdom and sustenance. The Buddha sustained himself on one sesame seed a day over seven days – when he sat under the Banyan tree – after achieving enlightenment. Seeds symbolize potential for growth, new beginnings and the germination of life and ideas.
The fact that it grew on a strange plant – other than how real sesame plants grow – with a stalk and corn cob at the top, shows different and unusual methods. Eating and sharing the knowledge/wisdom – indicates how I am willing to learn and grow – as well as share with others.
The rich, black roots symbolize a solid foundation – full of ‘rich’ ideas and things to draw from – but they could also indicate the darkness from my past. The word ‘soil’ was dominant on the seed packet. I think it was trying to tell me that I need to return the favor – as in re-planting the seeds to share with others – as well as enriching my experience and feeding off the rewards of my successes.
SUMMARY: I felt at peace when I woke up from this dream. I knew intrinsically that everything would work out fine – even though I still have a few areas that need tweaking. I was excited about the symbolism of the sesame seeds – as it confirmed what I know deep down inside – even though I do worry about failure. It will be interesting to see how the rest of 2015 pans out for me – as I gave myself until the end of this year to see how I go with my books and my business. This dream gave me some clues!
This is from a chapter I wrote a few years ago – for a book that has been shelved – called “The Lifescape”. I had planned to write a self-help book about life mapping – using a variety of techniques, such as self analysis, ritual, dream interpretation, shadow work etc. It was from a Jungian/Pagan perspective. I shelved it as other projects took precedence, but also – because my mind was oscillating between atheism and agnosticism. Trepidation took a hold of me so I essentially forgot it – deliberately. I might still go ahead with it – after I’m done writing the Storming Archives!
At any rate – I’ve decided to post it here, seeing as I’ve been blogging about my dreams. I hope they are of some value to whoever reads this. (I will continue the Dream Blogging – sometimes my dreams are too personal to post!)
In this chapter, we will discuss the importance of analyzing our dreams, including the usage of:
- Dream journals
- Dream incubation
- Lucid dreaming
- Common themes
- Recurring dreams
- The ‘Universal’ or ‘Great’ dreams
- Prophetic dreams
- Jung’s individuation process and basic archetypes related to it.
We will also explore how we can incorporate dream insights into our psychological analysis of ourselves.
Self analysis would be pointless (in my view) without the inclusion of dream interpretation. The subconscious world is the playing field where our daily events, relationships, memories, impressions, problems, personality issues etc are ‘played’ out – like a nightly performance. They afford us the opportunity to dissect, analyze and integrate the messages into our waking consciousness.
When our consciousness lapses into sleep, the subconscious mind takes over and dredges up all the things we have repressed, ignored or denied – to produce the dream. When we’re awake, it can filter through to produce visions. It’s also the realm that gives us the playground for daydreaming and creativity – offering us the forum and tools we need in order to explore and understand ourselves, others and the world around us.
How do we interpret them?
By interpreting the symbols, atmospheres, emotions and actions – even the time of day. (It’s been said that if the dream was in the morning – then it represents your early years. If midday – then it indicates now or your middle years. If the dream was in the evening or night time – then it denotes your later years.)
If you dream in color (some people don’t) – analyze the meaning of the colors – also shapes, numbers, etc. The list is endless. Dreams sometimes speak in puns – for example: seeing someone kicking a bucket could be death (which in turn, could represent the ending of old habits or way of life, transformation etc) – or it could just mean a bad tempered person! Another example would be a crumbled cookie – saying “that’s just the way things are” – regarding an issue that might be bothering you – basically saying “That’s the way the cookie crumbles”. Or it could just mean that you feel you don’t have enough to eat – with only crumbs available.
Our dreams can also speak to us in riddles – in contrast to blatantly direct messages. That’s why dreams can be so difficult (and sometimes annoying) when we’re attempting to interpret them – however – the process is also interesting, illuminating and definitely rewarding.
They can also show sides of ourselves as reflected through others, which is confusing when we try to place the blame or try to figure out who and what the dream was talking about. (Later in this chapter, we’ll explore this further – regarding the elements of the Shadow, the Anima/Animus and the Self.)
The most vital tool to interpreting your dreams is understanding universal or ‘classic’ symbolism – in contrast to your own personal symbolism. A monkey can represent a mischievous character to one person – and to another – it may symbolize a wise man or woman. A flower could mean beauty, growth, coming of age, sexual attractiveness, pregnancy and so on. It all depends on the dreamer and what’s going on in their lives.
It’s imperative to keep a dream journal – whether a notebook or a word document on your computer. (If you’re not much of an artist – you can cut and paste images to represent the symbols – which makes the process fun.) Alternatively – keep a tape recorder or note taker by your bed, so you don’t have to scramble around trying to find your pen and journal in the dark.
A handy tip – You can remember your dreams more easily when your eyes are shut. The theta waves are in play – just like when you’re dreaming.
It’s somewhat difficult to interpret dreams as ‘prophetic’ – due to the many possibilities regarding the symbolic nature of them. People have had them – throughout history: like the man who dreamed that there was going to be a plane crash and tried to alert authorities – to no avail. A plane did crash, as per the details in his dream. But as plane crashes happen a lot –it’s hard to 100% apply it as prophetic. (Click on the image to link to the story.)
To dream of death – even dead bodies, pronouncements of death, headstones etc – does not necessarily mean that you or someone else is going to die. It usually represents endings, transformation and so on. It’s important to take into consideration other symbols surrounding it, such as the atmosphere, what the people were doing, saying, how they were dressed etc. Seeing dead bodies could signify issues such as illnesses in the body – disease, lethargy or certain aspects of the body changing. Sometimes we don’t see that a dream was prophetic until way after it occurs.
I had a dream once – where (to cut a long story short) I had a fly agaric toadstool in my pocket (the red ones with white specks on them.) The pocket was in a white jacket made of wolf’s fur. In front of me was a congregation of rabbits, who trembled every time I faced them. I tried to interpret it to the best of my ability at the time, but it wasn’t until later – a few months later – when I realized that it meant that I needed to be careful as to who I told about my being a witch, as some people were afraid of me afterwards. (Their projection – not mine, I assure you. I’m quite a pleasant person!)
There are also dreams that can alert us to the fact that we might have medical issues that we’re not aware of – or are about to manifest. For example: I had a dream that I was on the second floor of a house, where the lower floor was in flames. I tried to escape down a ladder, but it was also on fire. Not long afterwards, I had problems with a very painful hip, due to a joint problem. It felt as though it was on fire and I had to get x-rays and tests done, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. For two months I had to take anti inflammatory medication, until it went away by itself.
To dream of a house sometimes means you’re exploring the ‘Mansion of the soul’. Apparently the basement can represent your repressed memories or hidden self. The kitchen sometimes means your family memories or the nurturing side of yourself. The bedroom can represent your sexual side; the attic can signify what’s going on with your mental or spiritual attitudes; the lounge room can denote how you present to others or how you act in a crowd, and so on.
I’m not trying to dissuade you from interpreting your dreams as prophetic, but just be careful – as you may be, at times – deluding yourself to the point of being disappointed when they don’t come into being. (Especially if you dream about becoming wealthy!) Which leads me to:
Wish Fulfillment Dreams
Not all the wonderful dreams we have are wish fulfillment. For example: some sexual dreams do deal with our attitudes towards our own sexuality, our sexual history – or even the desire to ‘unite’ with someone, an idea or group of people, etc. Once again – it all depends on the dreamer and their circumstances. We often have dreams where we are having sex with a famous person we either secretly adore or never had any attraction to.
You don’t necessarily need to be single to have sexual dreams – therefore – it doesn’t automatically signify that you are sexually starved! (Even though sexual starvation does occur in some relationships.) For some sex addicts – to dream of having sex rarely occurs, but usually appears in some other format – such as packed trains, laundry baskets full of dirty underwear. Sometimes their dreams involve grossly abnormal sexuality or bizarre events – even animals (denoting base or animalistic desires.) But that can also occur for people who are celibate.
To dream of eating delicious food such as gourmet cooking, chocolate, cakes – or smorgasbords – can represent physical starvation – e.g. someone on a diet or financially challenged. It can also signify other issues – even sex. Once again it all depends on what else is going on in the dream and your life, your attitudes, etc.
Dreaming of finding a wad of cash or a wallet bursting with money usually appears when we don’t have any! Also, dreaming of being successful and powerful sometimes appears when we feel powerless and unimportant. The subconscious does try to make up for any shortcomings – which again makes the interpretation of dreams harder still. We need to be careful not to jump to conclusions and need to assess the dream from all possible angles.
Recurring dreams and common themes are usually an indication that we are not paying attention to ourselves and what’s going on in our lives. Of course, some common themes do continue occurring, as either it ‘worked’ before – when you paid heed or where your subconscious ‘knows’ what symbols to use to grab your attention.
Universal or Classic dreams
Having a good understanding of basic symbolism does help when interpreting your dreams, as well as a working knowledge of archetypes, which we’ll discuss soon. I’ll include here a brief list of ‘universal’ or ‘classic’ dreams, which we all seem to have at one time or another. Again – this is all dependent on the dreamer, the circumstances etc. But on average, the following can be applied for general purposes:
Flying – a desire to get away from difficulties; escape – desire for freedom. Some say flying represents an idealized view of your sexual capacity! Look at how you’re flying, where, the weather, your feelings – e.g. elated or fearful?
Falling – sometimes linked with flying, but usually an anxiety dream, indicating lack of support, feelings of insecurity, a need for structure, etc. Successful people often have this dream, for obvious reasons.
Nakedness – feeling exposed (where you might be worrying about others finding out your hidden side, etc), repressed sexuality, vulnerability, concern about social status, etc.
Loose teeth – falling out or being pulled can signify the desire to change your situation, feeling powerless, insecurities regarding your appearance, impotence, etc.
Snakes – can signify new perceptions and realities. Historically they meant psychic or sexual energy or deep seated fears; a “snake in the grass” to watch out for (as a pun).
Travel – depends on the vehicle. e.g. Airplanes could mean foreign concepts, or the same as flying. A train could signify how you ’travel’ in life alongside others and so on. Are you going left or right (wrong or right)? Are you driving, or is someone else – meaning who’s in charge of the vehicle (your life) etc.
Weather: Rain – water usually represents emotions, so being in the rain or seeing it could mean tears or emotional issues. Alternatively it could mean washing something clean or a welcome sign of rejuvenation.
Weather: Storms – struggles, personal disaster etc. Raging emotions, war of words, chaos – sometimes necessary to clear the path.
Weather: Tidal waves – I used to often have these dreams – it usually represents feeling overwhelmed by your emotions. It depends on what’s going on. For example: I used to dream that the wave was washing over me and I had no control, but once I resolved these issues (to a degree!) – I dreamt that the tidal wave came, then crashed – but by the time the water reached me I was sitting down calmly, letting the foam tickle my toes.
Being chased – this is a very common, universal dream, as we all have times in our lives where we are either running away from ourselves or the things that we think can hurt us. Who is the person chasing you – a monster, wild woman etc? Could it be an aspect of yourself? (To be discussed further in this chapter).
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of good books about dreams out there – depending on your needs, e.g. you might want the mystical interpretations or folklore, rather than psychological, etc. Mythic themes are useful in the interpretation of dreams – but we still need to focus on how the symbols speak to us personally.
What if we ignore them?
If we ignore our dreams (especially if they are important) our subconscious may eventually create a nightmare, where there is more urgency and the symbols become more exaggerated and sometimes terrifying. Even though nightmares can be frightening, they do afford us the opportunity to dissect difficult things or situations in our lives, and help us realize that things aren’t as grim as we thought they were.
That knowledge helped me with the fear I used to feel in dreams. Now – even when I see a terrifying image – I’m more like a scientist, trying to figure it out whilst in the dream. (Lucid dreaming is covered further on in this chapter.) Facing our ‘demons’ is usually the reason the nightmare comes to us – if we’ve ignored the messages in previous dreams. We need to treat dreams like mini documentaries and take them seriously. Our subconscious is like a reporter on the edge, feeding back relevant information – the news!
An interesting exercise in discovering your personal symbology:
Symbols are everywhere – as encapsulations of all kinds of information, depending on how they are used and who is looking at them. Interpreting symbols – even whilst awake – is a great exercise in understanding your reactions to imagery. For example: you’re walking past a field and see some horses. Meditate on what they mean to you – e.g. strength, freedom, spirit?
If you see leaves falling from a tree – what does it invoke in you? Maybe the cycle of life, the autumn years, waste? If you witness an argument, can you read between the lines as to what’s really going on – or are they just having a spirited discussion? What does their body language tell you?
Or perhaps you see an abandoned car by the side of the road. Does it represent a discarded life, forgotten dreams, rubbish? Doing this exercise not only helps you hone your interpretation skills, it also trains your mind to analyze things from different perspectives. Believe me – it’s amazing how quickly this skill transfers to the actual dream and awakens the possibility for understanding as well as lucid dreaming.
This is where we actually become aware that we are dreaming, whilst in the dream. This is a level of consciousness that allows us to keep a foot in each world simultaneously, bridging the conscious and subconscious realms. In this state, we are able to delve deeper into our unconscious motivations and the psyche, and to work out issues (some of them serious). We are also able to explore the wonderful dream realm and are only limited by our imaginations!
The word lucid comes from the Latin ‘lux’ – meaning light – which is interesting, as it is about the concept of ‘shedding light’ on the subject. While this is a fascinating experience, it is by no means easy. Sometimes it happens randomly without any prompting from our conscious mind; other times – it needs to be planned and ‘activated’.
One way to activate the experience is to program yourself – before you go to sleep. A little later I’ll talk about incubating dreams. One of the methods is to tell yourself before you go to sleep, that you will be alert during the dream and that something – a symbol or action – will prompt you to snap to and recognize that you are dreaming – therefore taking control of it. Apparently lucid dreaming also reduces the frequency of nightmares, so it’s obviously a useful tool. It has been noted that children dream lucidly – more than adults – though the reasons why seem to be a little vague – such as sleeping patterns, etc.
Being more aware of your subconscious world, through analysis and dream interpretation is helpful – as well as meditation – which assists in helping you gain more control over your inner world. Again, programming yourself is useful – especially when coupled with hypnosis (or self hypnosis – which can be gained with such things as affirmations, meditation and creative visualization – even combining the two: pathworking.)
If you program yourself before you go to sleep – so that you will be alerted once an ‘unreal’ action or event occurs in the dream, it should prompt you to take note (hopefully!) If there’s a common theme in your dreams that could be considered as ‘unreal’ – a great exaggeration of reality or some other recurring symbol – program yourself to recognize it when dreaming, in order to trigger the process of lucidity. If you often dream of blue birds, stairs going this way and that or suddenly ‘teleporting’ to some other place (unusual or not) etc – then use them as ‘lucidity triggers’.
This doesn’t mean – by any stretch of the imagination – that you will be 100% successful. It takes a lot of practice and programming. Just make sure you continue recording and analyzing your dreams – maybe you’ll achieve and possibly even master lucid dreaming! (It’s funny how it becomes easier when you take the time to dissect them. It’s like your subconscious mind ‘knows’ it’s being watched!) I’ve met a few people who dream lucidly, all the time – so just keep at it. I assure you, it’s definitely worth the effort.
Be mindful that there will be times that the lucidity will slip through your fingers. It’s easy to get caught up in the dream world and forget that you’re dreaming. One way to trigger lucidity is to recognize – in the dream – that what’s going on wouldn’t happen in waking life. For example: people with apples for heads, or driving cars without your hands on the wheel, etc.
For some people, it helps to wake themselves up – with an alarm clock or some other method (like drinking too much liquid before going to bed, so you’ll wake up – hopefully – to go to the toilet). Then stay awake for a while, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour. The reason for this is that it ‘disturbs’ the sleeping patterns and sometimes evokes lucidity. But be careful that you don’t disrupt your whole sleeping pattern. You don’t want to spend your days walking around like a zombie – or ending up an insomniac!
Another method is to try to retain consciousness whilst going to sleep. This is difficult to do but the theory is that you’ll stay alert for the entry into the dream state – therefore – be lucid and aware that you’re dreaming. I have tried this myself, but found for me – I might be aware for a few minutes and then forget that I am dreaming. Vigilance and perseverance is definitely a factor.
(This topic could’ve been included in Chapter 10: Ritual – but it’s relevant here and by no means is the only method for the incubation of dreams.)
One way – as discussed – is to program yourself before going to sleep – such as repeating a mantra, like “I will remember my dreams” or “I will be totally aware that I am dreaming”. The same could be done for a particular dream that deals with a certain issue. For example: “I will dream about a solution to…”
To start with, I find it useful to read a certain type of book before bed, or listen to a particular type of music, watch a movie etc, – that embodies the kind of issues and images I’d like to have in my dream. Also, talk about it during the day (to yourself or others) as though it’s an established fact – that you’re going to have a certain type of dream. A good way to achieve ‘programming’ of yourself is – of course – ritual. Ritual speaks to the subconscious, so it’s an excellent tool for dream incubation.
You don’t need to be a witch to conduct a ritual. We have little rituals in our life – every day. You might want to align yourself with a particular archetype or deity. Even if you’re Christian, you could ask Jesus to help guide you in the process. Other deities could be: Morpheus – the Greek god of dreams, Nanshe – Sumerian Goddess of prophecy (assists in interpretation of dreams), Chandra – Hindu moon god, Iduna – Scandinavian goddess of dreams and divination, or Bes – Egyptian god, whose likeness was carved on headboards to chase nightmares away. (It is said that if you draw a picture of him on your left hand and wrap it in a black cloth – that has been dedicated to Isis – he will bring you the dream you want.)
There are many other deities out there (or you can use an archetype – whatever makes you comfortable.) The correspondences you can use when conducting your ritual could be as follows:
DAY: Monday PLANET: Moon COLOR: White or silver DEITY: your choice GEM: Smoky Quartz, Moonstone, Celestite, Jade HERBS: Marigold, Honeysuckle, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Elderflowers, Jasmine (you don’t have to use all of them – even one herb/plant will suffice.)
SWAN – helps interpret dream symbols
BAT – a messenger from the subconscious
DRAGON – guards the treasures of the subconscious realm
The above is just a guide – you might not want to incorporate ritual at all, and might be more comfortable just meditating. It’s up to you to choose the methods that you feel most comfortable with and then go from there.
Dream Incubation Ritual
If you like – draw a picture of the deity/archetype you’re going to use – as well as a power animal (or all three), if you like. Write out your question or statement regarding what kind of dream you want to have. Get a white or silver candle, consecrate it with sandalwood oil (again – depending on your preference) and prepare a cauldron or dish for your charcoal and incense – made from the herbs/plants – and set it on your altar (or bedside table – being careful with the flame of the candle and charcoal.) You can place the gems on your altar/bedside table or put them under your pillow (with the note, if you won’t be burning it in the ritual).
Light the candle, sprinkle some of the incense on the lit charcoal and call the quarters. Invoke the deities etc that you wish to have assist you in the ritual. Cast a protective circle and state the following:
“Hear me – Morpheus – God of dreams, I invoke Thee” (or whoever you’re using) “I seek your assistance tonight. Bring me a dream that answers this question” (either put the note in the cauldron to burn or put it under your pillow.) Also, you can change the wording to suit yourself. Then state:
“As this candle burns – the energies of dream incubation will be released. Thank you Morpheus” – or whoever your guide is. Then meditate on the flame – doing creative visualization incorporating the Swan, or Bat or Dragon (or all three!) – giving you the answers you desire. Mix it up to suit your purpose.
When you’re done, close the quarters and circle, go to bed and go over your question in symbolic format – e.g. if you want to know how to combat an emotional issue – see the issue as a tear falling down your face, and so on. Use your imagination – which speaks to your subconscious. When you awake, record your impressions. As I said before, you don’t have to conduct a ritual – it’s just that ritual is a great way of programming your subconscious will. If you prefer to just meditate, or put the gems under your pillow with the note, that’s perfectly fine. The important thing is – to set the tone for your desired outcome.
You might notice that the symbols in your dream seem totally nonsensical in regards to what you asked for, but don’t be discouraged. This is always the way the subconscious appears (at first.) Do analyze the dream and keep a look out for the next few nights – as the answer might not come straight away.
Now (finally!) we’re going to delve into the ‘meat’ of the topic – which is the discussion of the basic archetypes and the individuation process. I don’t want to go into depth regarding the psychological processes, as they are covered in the following chapter – Self analysis. (Not included in this post – sorry!)
Carl Jung regarded the individuation process as involving the developmental path that we all take during our lives, taking into consideration the fact that each of us are individuals with unique destinies. He stated that we have two personalities – the outward, ‘conscious’ personality and the hidden personality, contained in the ‘collective unconscious’. Under the conscious self is a well of repressed, ignored or forgotten feelings, memories and behavioral patterns – which he called the ‘personal unconscious’. Beneath that lies the ‘collective unconscious’ – a depository which is massive and encompasses all the behaviors and imagery that have been recorded right throughout history, since ancient times.
Jung believed that this collective unconscious – this depository of human memories etc – shows how history still has an incredible impact on us and our lives.
The Archetypal Stages of Individuation
1/ The Shadow: this is the archetype that embodies all the personal traits that we ignore, deny or repress. It usually represents itself as the same sex as the dreamer – or as a monster, etc. (Depending on the level of repression, etc.)
2/ The Anima/Animus: usually the archetype that represents the opposite sex to the dreamer (or the male/female aspects of the dreamer.)
3/ The Self: this is the archetype of the integrated persona – the ‘whole’ self, usually represented by a wise man or woman. (But it can take on other forms such as animals, inanimate objects – in nature and man made – or a variety of human forms.) In our dreams, we are often pulled back by our past and prompted by our future. These energies are sometimes personified – or objectified – by our archetypes. The individuation process is when we begin to integrate the whole of our consciousness into a singular being – rather than a fragmented being. Dreams are the individuation process reports – they tell us how we’re going in relation to our integration of various personas, etc.
The archetypes appear in our lives through the individuation process, which is determined by the type of person we are. This is why each path for each person is different.
Usually, the individuation process involves the second stage of life, according to Jung. He believed that we spend the first half of our lives building the personality, and when that’s accomplished (if not, then the process is difficult to say the least!) – then we can focus on going within.
During the first half of life, we learn how to live and how to deal with the world and the people in our lives. Our parents are the be all and end all – when we are young. They are the authorities and what they say goes (Usually!) We become who we are depending on their expectations and how they present themselves to us – often mimicking their behavior. We all enter into this world with a blueprint of who we can become. It needs to be able to adapt to all the different energies, experiences and people we encounter, in order for us to fulfill our destiny. We all have inherent skills, abilities and desires – which are sometimes denied, ignored or repressed in order to satisfy the expectations of others.
According to Jung, one or more personalities grow around these ignored or repressed desires etc – which become the Shadow. When we have new issues arise in our life and we don’t know how to deal with them, the Shadow figure appears in our dreams – which symbolizes the energies and so on – that we need in order to deal with them. Jung said that the Shadow appears when a new cycle is about to begin.
To start with, the Shadow appears as non-human, like a monster, zombie, etc. Later on they become fully human, the same sex as us – but still frightening. Later still, they become more of a nuisance – rather than a scary persona. We then look down at them and put up with their presence. Further on, they become acquaintances (although not important), then they evolve into friends, family members, or even partners. If we have integrated their traits into our persona, they will no longer appear in our dreams – as they have become a part of us.
If we continue to deny our true identity, the Shadow will pursue us in nightmares, which is why we need to stop and engage the Shadow, to find out what it wants. (This is why shadow figures appear in nightmares and dreams – because we have become too set in our ways or have forgotten our true path.) When we think that we are perfect – the Shadow figure contrasts this with the opposite persona – imperfect, dark, menacing etc. The shadow teaches us about how misguided we are about our desires.
When we repress ourselves sexually, a shadow figure appears who emulates all kinds of sexual ‘aberrations’. The more we deny the shadow, the more power we give it. After a while, it becomes too powerful for us to ignore. We either slip up and do things we’d rather forget – or project it onto others. (Especially those who aren’t as inhibited). If we acknowledge the shadow – we can evolve. If we repress it – we suffer it’s wrath. In order to understand the shadow, we need to see our projections and break them down.
If we don’t examine our hidden selves they build to monster proportions and break through to our conscious lives. If you come across someone in your dream who frightens you or if you fight with them – see the qualities in them that correlate to your personality and integrate them. The more the conflict – the more likely that you’re dealing with a shadow figure.
The Anima and Animus
The Anima is the males’ feminine aspect and the Animus is the masculine aspect of the female. It’s more difficult to integrate the Anima/Animus than the shadow. Intense emotional energies occur when we transform from the shadow to the Anima/Animus. (Once the Shadow qualities become integrated, the Anima/Animus issues appear – although I’ve found they can occur simultaneously.) The shadow appears to alert us to our hidden, ignored, forgotten or repressed desires and the Anima/Animus takes it from there. The world of the Anima/Animus is the testing ground for how we conduct ourselves in relationships (personal and with the world.) Our issues with our parents are also reflected in the workings of the Anima/Animus.
The Anima/Animus appears in our dreams in many formats. As god/goddess – such as Mars (embodying war, fortitude, etc) and Aphrodite (embodying beauty, love etc). They also appear as a variety of different archetypes – like the mother, father etc. They personify those particular qualities that we need when we are about to go through a transformation. The Anima/Animus shows us how misguided we can be about our emotions and relationships. In the shadow stage – we discover that the ‘monster’ is actually us. In the Anima/Animus stage – we discover that we are connected to everyone and everything. The Self teaches us that we need to discover our inherent nature – in order to be wholly integrated.
The Self is even harder to interpret than the Shadow or Anima/Animus. As an archetype – the Self encompasses many images and forms – which is what makes it so difficult to interpret. The Self is who we were destined to be; the supreme goal. It’s the divine aspect of ourselves. As we have an idealized view of ourselves (or who we should be), we usually use the archetype of the Self to measure other people against. When we stray from our true Self – a Shadow figure appears – but as we draw closer to our Self – the Shadow becomes less of a monster, etc and more like ourselves.
In dreams, the Self can be represented by an animal or even a tree, flower, river etc. Jung also believed that the Self could be symbolized by things such as mandalas and other forms.
These images often appear in our dreams when some kind of order is being restored within ourselves. If we don’t see the image, animal etc as an expression or symbol of ourselves – then integration will be difficult. When we dream about animals, usually depicted as aloof or disinterested, we need to realize that the Self has appeared to us.
Reptiles – especially snakes, are usually representative of the Self, as they appear when a new cycle is about to commence. They embody wisdom and powerful instincts. Apparently the most common representations of the Self as an animal are: snakes, horses, bulls, elephants, bears, black and white birds, fish – even turtles, spiders, snails & beetles!
The “Mana” personality: in dreams – is a being with magical powers and is evocative of the occult. Once the Anima/Animus is integrated, the Mana personality appears – sometimes before the Self does – and is considered a lesser representation of the Self. It forces us to question out true identity – to ask ourselves the question – “Who am I?” This is the part of the individuation process that is key – “How do I go from who I’ve become to who I’m supposed to be?”
We are ‘self actualized’ when our motivations are ‘pure’ and not colored by external expectations. Put another way, we can only truly be ourselves when we follow our own path rather than someone else’s – or their idea of what our path should be. Self actualized people are those who adhere to concepts such as truth, justice and beauty. They cope with life better than others, no matter how difficult the journey is. They truly ‘feel’ or experience the good and the bad in life. They are truly connected to their emotions, but once felt and expressed – are more able to move on, quicker than those not self actualized.
We can’t be our true selves without having confronted and dealt with who we are and what we want in life, without other people’s projections interfering. (Notwithstanding solicited advice, legitimate concerns etc.) According to Jung, there are strange side effects when the Self appears, such as emotional outbursts – that seem to happen for no good reason; or strange illnesses that seemingly appear out of nowhere. Other symptoms might include prophetic dreams – which come true and other ‘paranormal’ activity. This is the time when we need to guard against assuming we have become everyone’s ‘guru’ – especially towards those we think are less evolved.
This apparently occurs because of the archetypal energy released when the Self appears. We can counteract this distorted use of the energy by channeling it through a creative outlet. This is the process of sharing the collective unconscious with the world.
Final notes on dreams
We surely now understand why analyzing our dreams is important. When we take notice of our dreams they take notice of us noticing them! We form a ‘bond’ with the dream realm and it reacts accordingly. See how your dreams change once you actually start taking them seriously. When analyzing your symbols, use free word association and stream of consciousness methods – let your imagination run wild. This helps amplify the meaning, giving you every possible angle, so that you have a better chance of finding what makes the most sense to you.
Words are also symbols – check out their meanings in the dictionary, thesaurus and even world history – to see if you can shed any light on the subject. If your dream resembles a mythic story or fairy tale, research it to see if you can gain any more insights. I can not emphasize how important it is to record your dreams. Give them titles and dates so that you can access them easier. Use drawings if you can’t find the right words to describe them. You’ll discover that your dreams contain many wild adventures and opportunities for growth that will literally change your life.
At the beginning of 2014, I set myself the goal of completing my first novel, and now I am happy to announce that I achieved that goal last weekend! That’s one of the reasons why I have neglected this blog (for shame!), as my focus was to bash out this book. During each fifteen minute break and lunch time, every day at work, I was hammering at my laptop and scrawling in my notebook, or reading and researching. On the way to and from work, I was listening to audio books, for ideas and to educate myself, on the topics included in my novel as well as on the process of writing.
Halfway through the year, it became clear that a straight out memoir was distasteful to me, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, was the idea of airing out dirty laundry: sharing anguish and personal content, just made me feel uncomfortable. Secondly, and more importantly, I had an idea that I had been throwing around for a long time, in the form of a Young Adult story, that I wanted to put more effort into. I realized, after a time, that the story was semi autobiographical, and I started including bits and pieces from this blog.
Then I discovered all the annoying rules that come with writing for a Young Adult audience, which include things such as issues with swearing, drugs, sex and horror. I thought, “Well, that leaves me out!” So I decided to change the protagonist to an older person – a thirty year old woman, so that it would be reasonable for her to have had the experiences in the story at her age, but not too far away from her teenage years.
Then I wrestled with how complex the story was and tried my best to simplify it. Then I worried that I was dumbing it down too much. I fretted over narrowing my audience down too much, but then making it so appealing for a wider audience that it was too boring! The see-sawing was working my nerves, to say the least! Then I thought, “You know what? I’m going to tell this bloody story, get some feedback from people I know, from different age groups and backgrounds, then I’ll revise it accordingly, and not before!” Which is what I’m doing now. I’m chewing my nails and waiting with bated breath, as they read and review my baby!
So now, as I wait, I’m researching different agents and publishers, confusing myself with decisions such as having my own author’s website or just sticking with my facebook page, and this blog 😉 – also, exploring other options such as doing my own ebook or self publishing. Anyway, shall I tell you what the novel is actually about, rather than blather on about the whole boring process? I suppose I should!
It’s called “Delwyn of the Realms”.
For Delwyn, the only way out is through, and beyond! What if her astral travels and sleep disorders are real, and what she’s been told, about being off with the fairies, was a fantasy itself? After a psychotic break and a marriage breakdown, she escapes to her Aunt’s farm in the country, to recuperate. She agrees to the therapy and medication, and goes through the motions to rejoin society, but she’s always been a dreamer, and finding a mirror that’s a portal to the world of dreams is just the perfect ticket to sanity, isn’t it? As all Delwyn’s afflictions and wonderful adventures in the dreamland plummet her further into the belief that she’s a “Portal Stormer”, and that she can continue existing with “One foot in each world, riding them simultaneously; expecting not to fall!”, her Aunt, friends and doctor scramble to save her from herself. The question is: which realm is the fantasy?
Wish me luck (and any feedback is most welcome!)
Happy New Year everyone!
Writing this memoir has been a very therapeutic experience in terms of exorcising demons and analysis. For the most part, as long as I’m writing, I’m happy, although the perfectionist and idealist in me tend to gripe from their perches, saying things like “What about the poetry?” or “Not as good as the Beats” or “I thought you wanted to be a Great Writer!” I’ve had articles published in three of Llewellyn’s Almanacs. The first was about Animal totems in their 2011 Magical Almanac. Then I wrote a series of entries for their 2012 Witches’ Spell A Day Almanac. The last was a piece on the Numerology of plants for their 2013 Herbal Almanac.
I’m proud of those pieces, but I have to admit that along the way, something in me transformed, in regards to my ‘spirituality’. I have always felt uneasy with the term ‘atheist’ as it implies the notion of an aversion to spirituality. The idea of calling myself ‘agnostic’ also made me uncomfortable as it came across as laziness, or at least – as being in a holding pattern until something better came along. It was like a ‘just in case’ position, or lying in wait – like a spider on the outskirts of a web, waiting for the tug of the string.
In my earlier years I went ‘out on a limb’ and explored different faiths, reading book after book and attending services and visiting temples. I had countless conversations with a variety of different types of people from different walks of life. I lived in a Buddhist commune for a year and was initiated into the White Tara mysteries. I spent a brief period studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses (boy was that a mistake!), which was brought on by an episodic fear of death. My cousin organized a clumsy religious intervention, disguised as a makeup party, where she and a psychotic garden variety Born again Christian woman did their best to ‘exorcize’ me! They both ended up in tears and I walked away amused but angry that I was duped into wasting my time and energy – AND I had brought good food!
When I was twenty three I met an American woman – Elia, who was from Waco, Texas. She was in her early fifties and had an ad in the paper about teaching Numerology. I had been interested before and decided to look into it so I called her. When she answered and we started talking, for some reason I thought that she was Russian. (It turned out later on she discovered that her family did have Russian in their background!) The lessons were cheap so I signed up and started attending, every Tuesday night. Elia had a degree in Psychology and was also an art teacher. She was thoroughly fascinating and I learned a lot from her.
It turned out that I was the only one who stayed for the complete course and she said that from the beginning, she knew that I would be the only one who would stay. Week after week, someone would drop off until it was just Elia and I, which was fine with me. To this day I still practice Numerology, as it’s been the only thing that has rung true, for me. I have tested it in a variety of different ways and often I find myself saying “Well, it’s all projection!” But when I look back over my chart I get a chill, and realize that whatever happens, Numerology has been like a blueprint that just states the facts ma’am!
I had religious people telling me often that I needed to have faith, but that seemed like too much hoping. I’d rather have knowledge and truth. Something concrete is better than smoke and mirrors. I remember thinking that it seemed as though they all wanted a father figure so badly, that the idea of someone watching over them gave them comfort, and who was I to take that away from them? I thought “Good luck to you – but don’t impose that grasping onto me!”
Fear is a great motivator and pain is a great educator, however – it all depends on where you take it and how you develop it. Every time I had a crazy experience, whether it was a hypnagogic hallucination or a supposedly prophetic dream, I assumed it was my synapses misfiring or whatever I ate the night before. Sometimes they were prompted by auto suggestion or psychosomatic circumstances.
I knew an older man called Keith who did my tarot cards for me every now and then, in my twenties. He reminded me of Khalil Gibran. For years he pursued me romantically but I was not interested – and I never led him on. One night we stayed at a mutual friends’ house and had to share a bed. Apparently he came to bed later and my vibes were so strong that he had to leave the room! When I came out in the morning he was sleeping on a bean bag in their lounge room and was very angry with me, even though I had no idea what had happened! (Later on that day, we were sitting in their backyard and their pet goose came running at Keith in full attack mode! It was like even the animal kingdom was against him!)
I remember that every time he did my readings, there were always messages about me having to let my guard down and to stop worrying about what others thought about me. I had to stop worrying about the ‘pigs and fishes’. The last reading he did for me was using a Native American deck with animal totems. Again the message was about removing the masks and discovering the real me. I wondered if Keith was peppering the readings with subtle hints about letting him in. There was no way that was going to happen. He was sweet – but kind of creepy at the same time.
After that last reading I had an incredible out of the body experience. All of a sudden I was floating in space with two creatures – much like a white demon I had seen in a painting, with faces on their groins. They were on either side of me, holding my arms and they were grotesque. They told me telepathically that I needed to ‘drop the mask’ and to learn to see beyond the masks of others. In front of us I could see a huge black planet rolling towards us like a bowling ball. I was afraid but they kept telling me to relax. Then I saw a brilliant white light coming up over the horizon of the black planet. It was growing brighter and brighter as it came closer, appearing over the planet, still rolling towards us.
I wriggled and tried to break free, screaming in my ‘mind’ that I wanted to go back to my body and that I wasn’t ready. The creatures (or angels?) kept saying “You’ll regret it!” The white light was getting bigger and closer to the point that it was almost unbearable to look at. Finally I broke free, screaming “I can’t!” and I snapped back to my body. Fair enough, as soon as I sat up in bed I regretted being a chicken and not waiting to see the light, as it dawned on me that the white light was my ‘Higher Self’. To this day I feel bad about that, even though I’m still not sure if it was just my synapses misfiring!
One constant thing that has always been a part of me or my spirituality, is my pagan side. I have always felt strongly connected to the earth, the seasons and to the animal kingdom. I have always been fascinated with ritual and witchcraft too. When I was about twelve years old I came across a book of ceremonial magic that my mum had in her bookcase. It was given to her by a friend of the family, who had given it to us as he thought he was cursed by the witch who gave it to him. He was a guitar player in a band and he had an affair with her. He said that she scared him as she was very controlling and definitely had ‘the power’. When he broke up with her he started having terrible problems with arthritis in his hands, to the point where he couldn’t even play guitar. I don’t know what he did to “break the spell” but giving the book to us apparently helped a lot.
I remember taking the book into my room and setting up a ritual with candles, casting circle etc. However I freaked out when the wind picked up and the candles flickered so I quickly snuffed them out, packed up the altar and put the book back in its spot in the bookcase. Years later, mum threw the book in the fireplace.
In my late twenties I started dabbling with an ouija board. My neighbor at the time, Debbie, came up with the bright idea, and even though we didn’t have a board, we decided to make one out of a piece of masonite and some scrabble pieces. We used a little liqueur glass and placed our index fingers on it. Immediately it started moving. It was strange as it seemed as though it was moving of its own accord. Both of us were quite skeptical and wanted to test it, out of curiosity. Sometimes it would go so fast that it would slip out of our fingers and keep moving across the board. It was hard to keep up with it.
The same people would come through and it would say random crap that usually bored us to tears. We noticed that even after just twenty minutes our energy would be drained dramatically, and we had to stop to recharge our batteries with cups of tea and cookies! One time was freaky though. An entity came through and told us that Debbie’s son had torn his pants climbing over a fence at school. I went with her when she picked him up and fair enough, when he got into the car, he told his mum that he ripped his pants climbing over a fence! We raced home to jump back on the board!
It was amazing though, that we couldn’t get the lottery numbers! It wasn’t long before a nasty entity came through, saying that my brother Peter was going to die (he did die a few years later). I was so angry I told Debbie that I wasn’t going to do it anymore so we broke the board up into little pieces and threw it away.
I still wonder about what happens with an ouija board – whether you’re just channeling your own subconscious energies through it, or if there really are actual ‘spirits’ coming through.
Debbie and I started getting into tarot cards and read for each other over the following years. We also went to a professional reader who did a reading for me that I will never forget – as it made me laugh so much. She said that I would end up living in Argentina on a cattle ranch, with 40,000 head of cattle! Debbie promised me that if it ever eventuated, she would personally get on a plane and come to the ranch and eat her own shit from a gold platter. The funny thing is, it kind of came close. I did relocate to the U.S. and am living in Nashville, just not Argentina and without the 40,000 head of cattle. I hope to one day make enough money to do that, just to see Debbie eat her own shit. (Just kidding!)
Whenever I did my own tarot readings I recorded the questions I asked as well as the answers, so I could go back to them after a certain time to see if whatever was predicted came true. The problem with doing this is that once ‘programmed’ with the supposed outcome, you subconsciously bring about the result, unless you’re a saboteur and stop it from happening. I found it annoying when I realized that no matter what, I had the power to begin with, to bring about whatever change I wanted. Even though it was fun and enchanting to do a reading, whatever question I asked – I already had the desired answer in my mind.
I knew what I wanted to happen so I felt that I was affecting the outcome with my subconscious desires. I resorted to doing readings where I just asked “You tell me.” I got more honest and interesting results, which I still recorded and checked, months down the track. At times things did come true, but then it was easy to project certain outcomes. These days I don’t bother with the cards, as I rely more on cause and effect, research and knowledge, based on what has gone on before and what seems logical and reasonable.
We also started getting into witchcraft but I dropped it when I got into my relationship with Jim, the crazy unemployed writer. When I split up with him I picked it back up. I went the whole hog, doing rituals, wearing capes and pentagrams, celebrating the Sabbats and Esbats, writing my own incantations, gathering herbs, playing with gems, oils, spells and so on. I was already into dream interpretation, astral traveling etc so it went hand in hand. After years of practicing I realized that essentially, I was still an atheist at heart. I wondered how I could reconcile this with my pagan heart. Then it dawned on me.
We use magic as a touchstone to program the mind and deities as archetypes to understand our psychology. Symbolism is the language of our subconscious and ritual allows us to tap into it and to project our intentions. I realized that my connection to nature and the animal kingdom was what expressed my spirituality. It is my spirituality. The collective unconscious and the symbolism of the world is what speaks to my ‘spiritual mind’.
It’s not necessarily a faith, as it’s something that I can test and can see real outcomes eventuate in my life. Although my spirituality is still a work in progress (which is the same for all of us), I do feel that I don’t need a religious dogma to nail it down.
Organized religion has an agenda that is not in accordance with the ebb and flow of the rhythms of nature. It is preoccupied with the motivations of greedy and power hungry humans, who are hell bent on controlling other humans. I am happy to side step all of that and to find peace with the reality of nature, without the unreality of religion.
My narcoleptic experiences had died down to a dull roar during my teens, which is strange, but they intensified after the birth of my son at age 22. The last big one I had was when I was about 28 years of age. (Which is interesting as that is the age that some people believe your ‘Saturn returns’ come into play. For example: every 28 years, Numerologically & Astrologically, you go through a crisis of some sort.) It’s an age when people are apparently more likely to commit suicide – or make a major change in the direction of their lives. Apparently every 7 years you go through a crisis, good or bad, just like every 7 years your body has totally replaced every cell in your body.
At age 7 you are learning more about the world, its rules and your place in the world. At age 14 you are dealing with puberty and going through lessons dealing with how to become an adult. At age 21 you are expected to have ‘arrived’ and the crisis is usually to do with questions such as ‘who am I? what am I here for? where am I going?’ Some people figure that if you haven’t got it sorted out by the time you are 28 years of age, or if you are having difficulty with your assimilation into society, that it’s a big crisis. 4 x 7 = 28 and every 28 years is another major crisis.
The Atheist in me is still intrigued, but more likely to believe that each person has different life paths, patterns etc. Some people seem to be in crisis all the time! It’s usually all pinned to the journey an individual has lived, the summation of the decisions and choices they have made, their background, their projections and perceptions, belief systems, relationships, environment etc. Although a 7 year rhythm does seem reasonable, as most things in the universe relate to the vibration of a number, I don’t believe that everybody is exactly the same with this cyclic phenomenon.
At the time, I was living alone, apart from my 5 year old son. Nothing overtly important was going on, other than my son having started school. I was single and living in public housing, in a stand alone unit. I wasn’t working at the time and had a routine set with getting up early, getting my son ready for school, including getting his breakfast ready and packing his lunch. Then we’d get on the bus and after dropping him at school I’d come home and do housework, shopping etc.
This time there was no warning. I hadn’t changed the position of my bed. It was early on a Saturday morning and the sun was coming through the curtains, around 6:30am. It started with a dream, where I was in the back of a bus and I needed to get off. When I started walking towards the front of the bus, a few other people got up too, and we were queued in the aisle. When the bus stopped, we got off one by one and when it was my turn, I looked at the bus driver and something told me not to look at him, but I couldn’t help it.
When I did look at him his face was scrunched up in a really evil smirk or snarl. It was very scary. When I turned to jump off the bus I saw a little brunette school girl, about 5 years old and she had a surprised expression on her face. Her head then started getting bigger and bigger, as though someone had started pumping up her head with a bicycle pump. It looked like a balloon, the way her head kept getting bigger and bigger, and her eyes kept getting wider and wider, as if she was becoming more and more surprised.
Finally, her head exploded and then I saw a totally different scene. It was like a page filled with swarming maggots, but when I looked closer, I realized that it was a massive orgy with thousands of people swarming over each other. It wasn’t long before I snapped to and woke up out of the dream, but I was again paralyzed and couldn’t scream. I was on my back and felt another mouth inside my throat. It kept saying, over and over – “Why don’t you call your mummy?!” – in a sarcastic, taunting voice.
At the same time the voice was taunting me, I was trying to scream but couldn’t, and I also heard in my right ear, railway crossing bells ringing loudly. I could almost make out the railway crossing to my right, as I strained to see the room. Then I saw the ceiling go a misty white, like a cloud was forming.
As the clouds started clearing in the center, I saw three aliens. Two of them seemed like the standard greys but the one in the middle was the one that scared me. It seemed to have a face that floated in front of its actual head, changing and morphing like oil on water.
I was screaming inside my own throat, as the voices kept taunting and the bells kept ringing. I forced myself to look off into the left corner of the ceiling and yelled inside my mind for my ‘higher self’ to come and help me. As soon as I started doing that, I could see an orange ball of light appear in that left corner of the ceiling and as I focused on that – rather than the aliens, it dissipated. At the same time, lots of eyes had started appearing all over the walls, blinking and looking at me.
It took a long time to shake that episode off. Even after I got up and went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea – 10 minutes later – I could still faintly hear the bells and my throat felt like the lips were still there. It shook me so much, I finally made an appointment at the local hospital and was linked to a neurologist.
After being interviewed and giving my whole history, I was scheduled for an EEG reading. They played strobe lights in front of my face as I stared straight ahead, and after a while we stopped and they told me they’d be in contact with the results. A few days later I received a phone call from one of the doctors, who advised that the findings were quite amazing. Apparently the majority of my brain activity was in the right temporal lobe. They said that the left brain was virtually inactive in comparison! They said that they could see where the last attack had taken place and that I needed to be tested further.
According to a theory put forward by some scientists, the right brain is best at creativity & expression. It also covers intuition, music appreciation, emotions etc. The left brain is supposedly in control of logic and analytical thinking, being better at things such as critical thinking, language, reasoning etc. (Some scientists say they have debunked this theory as a myth.)
I’ve always been very creative, love music and consider myself mostly intuitive, but I can also be quite analytical and like to think that I have a good grasp on language and critical thinking! So I went to my next EEG reading which was more intensive and then finally went back to my neurologist for the results. I was told that even though it’s a sleep disorder, it’s not technically narcoleptic. Hypnagogic hallucinations happen when falling asleep and hypnopompic hallucinations happen when coming out of sleep. I mostly have hypnopompic ‘turns’ but have sometimes had hypnagogic turns.
A trick I learned, especially over the last big turn, was to aim to turn my head to the right. When I was finally able to move, I noticed that I could ‘snap’ out of the attack and sit up, no longer paralyzed. Hence the reason that I have not had anything like that last attack since then. From time to time I have felt myself slipping into it – but suddenly turning my head to the right sets me free! There was a time, after that, when I fell asleep on the couch and I half awoke, feeling like there was a tornado in my ear. I felt the familiar, rubbery sensation along my spine and thought “Oh no!”, but was able to snap myself out of it. Some people say that the roaring in your ears is the beginning of your ‘soul’ leaving your body, as in astral projection. Who knows!
It was sad, (and strange) when I realized I had passed on this ‘affliction’ to my son, Zack. He was three years of age and prior to his first incident (or at least, to my knowledge it was his first incident), he had not yet strung words together to make full sentences. I was a little worried, although he was able to communicate and knew quite a lot of words and was obviously intelligent. It was early morning and I was at the table having a coffee. My brother Lucas lived in the unit next door, in the fishing village of Warneet on the outskirts of Melbourne.
All of a sudden, his door flew open and he ran towards me, very angry, breathing like he’d run a marathon. He just looked at me, angry and breathing hard. I asked him what the matter was. Then he calmed down and said “I come from the Pleiades constellation!” That’s right. They are the exact words that came out of his little mouth. I was flabbergasted and nearly dropped my cup. All I could say was “What?!” He repeated himself. Silence. A little while later I said “Say that again.”
He said it again. I grabbed his little hand and took him next door to my brother’s house and woke him up, which made him grumpy, of course. I told Zack to tell his Uncle what he had just told me. He said proudly “I come from the Pleiades constellation!” Lucas woke up 100% and did the same routine, saying “What?!” and so on. We were both flabbergasted. Zack proceeded to tell us, in full sentences, that our whole family came from the Pleiades constellation, from a planet called “Liftkik” (I don’t know if that’s the correct spelling!), and that we were vapors before we came into our bodies on this planet.
We spent the whole morning, trying not to lead him, to be as clear as we could, to find out where this stuff came from. It turned out that Zack had woken up in the middle of the night, feeling trapped in his body, and he tried to scream for me but I wouldn’t come. He said he saw tall grey aliens in long black cloaks standing in a semi circle around the room, with small, squat black aliens in front of them. One of the small black aliens put a clear crystal ball in the air and it floated towards Zack.
He saw that it had a black key in it and they told him that if he took the ball and unlocked the key he would discover the secrets of the universe! Apparently all the aliens kept chanting “Take it, take it, take it!” There was one alien that was very strange. He was also short, but like a white dwarf, with a long nose, pointy ears with gold earrings in them and he didn’t have a shirt on and no shoes. Apparently he was wearing shorts. Zack was mostly afraid of him. Zack asked me why I didn’t come to him when he was screaming for me. I apologized and said I didn’t hear and agreed to let him sleep with his door open from then on.
No matter what had happened, it dawned on me that he too might have inherited the dreaded narcolepsy curse. Or – our family comes from the Pleiades constellation! (?)
Until 1997 I hadn’t lost anyone particularly close to me, other than distant relatives, whose funerals I went to out of respect and to show support. The first funeral I had been to that I remember was for my cousins’ baby who had died of cot death (SIDS) when I was twelve years of age. It was 1978 and a grey day in Melbourne. My cousin was small and skinny with the front of her hair dyed orange and she was clutching onto her boyfriend. They were both crying uncontrollably and everyone else was huddled around them in a protective circle.
I remember the coffin being so terribly small. Everyone commented on how in the hell they could’ve fitted him in there. It was powder blue with a royal blue ribbon around it, only needing two men to carry it up to the altar. Afterwards, at the wake, I heard snippets of hushed conversation about the events leading up to the discovery of his lifeless body in his crib, how the blood had settled in ridges so he must’ve been dead for a while.
At the time, they didn’t know much about cot death and everyone puzzled at what happened, what could’ve been done and how hopeless the situation was. I was a very young twelve year old and didn’t know how to react so just hugged my cousin and said sorry and she gripped me and said “luv ya cuz!” It was all very confusing and sad.
For a long time, death happened to other people and I was somewhat cocooned from it, until 1997, when it caught up with a vengeance. Early in the year, I was in a relationship with – let’s call him John, who was many things but he mostly drove me insane. We had been together for about a year. I learned a lot from him and he was passionate, crazy, insanely funny, hyper intelligent, unemployed and a writer. I loved him to death but he was a serious drain on my energy. I had been doing my own tarot readings for years and at the time had pulled the cards out every so often, but every time I did, as I was shuffling, the death card kept falling out. Every time!
I consider myself mostly secular, but at that time, it freaked me out. It happened six times in one week and I decided not to touch the cards for a while. Two weeks later I picked them up again and carefully shuffled, deliberately clearing my mind and thinking about my career and other pleasant things. When I cut the cards and turned half the stack over, the death card stared me in the face! I was mortified. I quickly put them away again and told John, who was Catholic and straight away he was freaked, telling me to stay away from them.
At the time I hadn’t had my period but I’d always had issues with my cycles so didn’t think much of it, until I ended up having to go to the emergency room with unexplained bleeding. It was a miscarriage. After it was all dealt with I thought of the death card but brushed it aside, as I was upset over losing the child, even though it wasn’t planned and probably for the best seeing as the relationship was by no means stable.
Two weeks later John and were in my kitchen, making dinner when the phone rang. It was my stepfather who matter of factly told me that my younger brother Peter had died of a heroin overdose. Just like that. I’ve always had a delayed panic response to crisis. It’s always way after the dust has settled. I calmly asked what I needed to do. He asked if I could come with them to view the body. I agreed, hung up and asked John if he could watch Zack, who was ten years old at the time, so I could go and identify my brothers’ body. He was dumbstruck and came around the counter to hug me, telling me – “Of course!”
We talked about Peters’ wretched life and how on the one hand it wasn’t a shock, but on the other – how it was still a surprise. We had all tried, at various and numerous times to help him, to offer a stable home and to get him help. But it never worked due to relapses and so on. Things would get stolen, he would get involved with seedy circles and bring them back to our homes. There were mountains of broken promises, rivers of tears, lies and hopeless regrets.
My mother and stepfather turned up and we drove to the hospital. I was worried about Mum as she was so calm and rational. She kept saying over and over that at least the hopeless struggle was over, as though she was trying to convince herself. I knew that deep down it didn’t matter – the struggle, because the bottom line was that her baby was gone. The chance for trying to help him one more time was ripped out of her hands. We talked like robots as though reading from a pre-approved script until we arrived at the hospital. Once inside they took us to a room and a nurse told us that they had him in another room. She pulled me out of the room for a minute to tell me that Peter was on a slab and rigor mortis had set in, so it probably wasn’t suitable for Mum to see him like that. I agreed that it was probably for the best if I was the one to identify him.
I went back into the room and without explaining why, told Mum that I should be the one to identify him. She agreed – still stunned and said that she wanted to remember him the way he used to be. Before I walked out she said “Make sure you check the tattoos. Remember? Jimi Hendrix? And get the rings if they’re on him.” I said ok and followed the nurse into the hallway where a kindly policeman was waiting to lead me to the room.
Once at the door he turned and stopped me as I was ready to just casually walk inside. He told me to prepare myself. In a calm voice he said “The person you’re about to see is not the same as the one you’ll remember, so take your time.” My mind was racing but I just wanted to get it over and done with, so I nodded impatiently and said ok. He opened the door slowly and held it open for me to walk in. I took two steps and instantly – a tear shot out of my eye like a bullet! There he was, like a statue from Pompeii, on a cold metal slab, on his back, with his arms twisted upwards as though warding off an invisible attacker.
The plastic tubing was still in his mouth and a clear plastic sheet was draped over his body. It was like something out of a horror movie. The expression on his face was contorted as though he was still in discomfort. The smell of formaldehyde was overwhelming. I started hyperventilating. The policeman had a hand on my arm, asking if I wanted to take a break. I said no, but was having difficulty dealing with what I was seeing. I remember thinking “Check the tattoos”. I saw Jimi Hendrix on his bicep. It’s amazing how your mind tries to trip you up. I kept saying to myself “Are you sure it’s him? Check again!”
I kept checking and even when I said to the policeman, “Yes it’s him” and we walked out the door, I had to turn around and have a second look, to make sure. As he walked me back to the room where Mum and Brian were, I composed myself and asked the policeman to make sure we got his rings back. He promised and he did. As soon as I walked into the room I looked at Mum and didn’t even have to say anything. Straight away she collapsed into sobs and it began.
For a week the grief kept its’ distance from me. I was the one who called all the relatives all over Australia and planned the funeral. I organized the viewing before the funeral (we decided not to have an open casket – even though they did a great job on Peter and he looked so peaceful). On the morning of the funeral, that’s when it hit me. I was sitting on the couch next to John, when all of a sudden it was like a cannonball hitting my stomach. I had previously assumed that grief was just like any other emotional pain or depression, just deeper. No-one tells you that it’s a whole different ball game.
I physically felt it, in my stomach, like a rolling black ball, all consuming and dragging me down in a pit of despair. There was nothing I could do to fight it. It horrified me, as I could not control it. I could hear a howl come out of me that I had never heard before. John grabbed me and held me, much to his eternal credit – he did have a human side. I sobbed and gasped, drowning in a pool of darkness, wondering if I would ever come out of it. About ten minutes later it subsided. When I finally came to and sat back up I realized that this might happen at the funeral. I wondered if I might be able to control it then.
At the funeral, one of my cousins played the didgeridoo – which is an amazing instrument at any time, but at a funeral it drags out your grief, kicking and screaming, by the ankles. Everyone was kind of holding it together until he started playing, when the curtain finally closed over the coffin. The deep bellow of the instrument grabbed our souls and we surrendered. It was beautiful and horrible at the same time. But very necessary.
A week later I was having a shower and the grief monster hit me again, right in the pit of my stomach. I doubled over and collapsed on the bottom of the shower and waited for it to subside. It was like being possessed by a separate entity. It came in and after it did what it had to, it left. After that I was able to control it better.
Two weeks after my brother died, we heard about my uncle committing suicide. It was during the anthrax epidemic and farmers were having to cull their stock. He had been depressed and two weeks earlier had started taking prozac. My aunty told me that he had walked into his neighbors’ dam and drowned himself.
A month after that, Johns’ sister committed suicide. She gassed herself in her car after a relationship breakup. John and his family were devastated, as they had already lost a younger sister when John was quite young and their father a few years earlier. That whole period was a fog of death. It was so surreal and it took quite a while to get back to some semblance of order.
It wasn’t until the end of that year when I remembered the death card popping out all those times. It took a long time for me to be able to take the cards out again!
We’re all on our own journeys in terms of spirituality and I, like most others have vacillated between a variety of beliefs (and most recently, more towards non belief). But for me, at least, it’s far more interesting to go back to when I was a child and to remember what it was like to not know, or at least, to wonder. As an adult I hate not knowing and much prefer concrete evidence, common sense, reason and intellectual understanding. I can look at a sunset, knowing that it’s a collection of vapors and chemicals and can still be exhilarated by the beauty of it all without having to attribute it to a deity. (I don’t mean to offend the religious, each to his/her own etc – this is just my opinion, at this stage in my life.)
However I do remember the ‘magic’ of otherworldliness. I do remember being mystified by the idea of fairies and the idea of an all powerful, all knowing Godhead who watched over us and had all the answers. I remember believing that my teddy bears and dolls had feelings and souls. One early memory I have is being a toddler in my crib and setting fire to it, with a box of matches I had found. I lit the matches one by one, throwing them to the edges of the crib, watching the flames in rapture, feeling like I was in the center of a birthday cake.
My mother remembers the screaming, calling the fire brigade and crashing into the room to save my baby brother and I. My nightdress had gone up in smoke and all that was left were the arms and the back of it. I didn’t have any burns whatsoever! Everyone thought it was a miracle. My teddy had a burnt leg and I was completely grief stricken. Every time I looked at him I was wracked with guilt for having hurt him so much.
Even as a young adult I felt a twinge of shame and it took a long time for me to realize that he was just an inanimate object! (It was even worse when I had taken him for show and tell at school years after the fire, when a nasty little shit had ripped out his eyes, the bastard! I thought – now he’s blind too! I couldn’t bear to let my mother sew new eyes on him for fear of putting him through more pain. More guilt for me!)
When I was about ten years old I walked into our kitchen and straight out asked my mother if she believed in fairies. I did – but I needed an adult to tell me so I could feel secure in the ‘knowledge’ that fairies were real. I knew the instant she responded with that ‘Oh god, I better humor her’ look, that fairies were not real. I was angry, hurt and deeply depressed. Even though she tried to convince me “Yes darling, of course I believe in fairies!” with that patronizing smile, it was too late. I had my answer.
Mind you, I didn’t stop reading fairy tales, and books by Enid Blyton, mythology, Catweazel, The Children of Green Knowe etc. I was 50% willing it to be true and pretending it was true and 50% knowing it wasn’t and ignoring that fact. For me, the bottom line was that it was entertaining and afforded me the kind of escapism I dearly needed.
When I was little I remember going to stay at my aunt’s farm in the country. She and her boyfriend were hippies. They had chickens and a ginger cat called Peter, who went on adventures with me. They had a statue of David for a doorbell. There was a sign over his penile unit that said “Pull”. You flipped the sign up & pulled on the penis that was attached to a wire that sounded the doorbell. Hilarious! They had a big shed full of these statues. I was mystified by these statues. (Not sure if it was the start of Agalmatophilia, which is sexual attraction to a statue or figure – but I don’t feel like that now, even though I appreciate them!)
I would spend ages hiding in the shed, just staring at them, transported to another dimension. I can’t remember what I was thinking, but it was magical. A few years earlier, when I was around five years of age, I had started having hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations – which is basically dreaming while awake. I’ll write about those experiences in more depth later as there’s quite a lot of ground to cover. But at that time I had also started to get up in the middle of the night and would talk to myself in the mirror. Needless to say, it freaked my elders out! They would put sheets and towels on the mirrors but I would just go to another room and do it again!
I was always attracted to the idea of alternate worlds, portals, other dimensions. Maybe it was a subconscious need for escape, as my parents were divorced then and I was living at my grandparents with my father and my cousin and brothers. I kept having a recurring dream of a mountain which still haunts me to this day. I’ve always wanted to find ‘my mountain’. In the dream, I would wake up at my Nanna’s house and go out into her garden, around the side of the house and I would see this majestic, snow capped mountain behind the shed.
I could never get to it because there was always something in the way, like a gate I couldn’t get through, a clump of weeds or bushes, etc. I can see now that it probably represented the integrated self calling to me – for a chance to escape all the crap our families were going through and to ‘find myself’. Every time I see a perfect, snow capped mountain I get a chill of excitement, like I’m still waiting for it. It’s almost a spiritual pull. But it’s a very particular type of mountain and for some reason, ever since I can remember, it’s somewhere in Sweden!
(Not Sweden – but looks just like my mountain!)
When I was living at Nanna and Pa’s, around five years of age, I had an experience that could be explained as either my synapses misfiring, or a narcoleptic experience (although they say that hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are not technically under the umbrella of narcolepsy). It could have been a dream. The funny thing is – my Pa had the same experience when he was a boy and so did my father and his twin, in the same room! (Pa had his experience in a different house.)
In my event I was asleep in my room at Nanna and Pa’s, when a bright light suddenly filled the room and woke me up. It was so white that it was tinged with blue and was almost too bright to look at. I was under the covers, afraid and wondering what was happening when an astronaut came into the room. (When it happened to my father and his twin brother they called him the white milkman and my Pa had said he thought it was a ghost.) As soon as I saw the astronaut I passed out. Then I felt waves over me, as though two people were on either side of the bed wafting the blanket up and down on me. I was so scared but couldn’t move.
I’ll talk about my ‘narcoleptic’ experiences in another post, as they would take up a whole chapter. The sensations were always the same, tingling up and down my spine, feeling frozen and not being able to move, not being able to scream for help. My father and uncle had said that the white milkman came to them when they were in the crib and the room also went a vivid white color. Apparently he just stood there staring at them for a while and then he disappeared. My Pa had a similar experience with his ghost.
I’ve also had OBE’s (out of the body experiences – also known as astral traveling). I’ve seen fantastic planets with colors that I’ve never seen before and had experiences that aren’t easily explained. One time, I slammed back into my body so hard that my boyfriend at the time freaked out and leapt out of bed, thinking that I had deliberately jumped onto the bed from the ceiling! He was angry, scared and confused. When I explained to him what happened he still didn’t believe me and thought I was nuts.
The idea of these magical experiences being real is quite delicious, as they hint at otherworldliness, which would mean that there is something else out there, the ‘unknowable’, that would allay my fears of death and ceasing to be. In my twenties, when I was going through a phase of fearing death, I had an OBE where I was floating in a strange place amongst a lot of crazy mathematical equations. I kept hearing a voice telling me that death was not the end. Of course, when I woke up, my fear of death had vanished.
A religious person would say that it was God coming to help me. A scientist would say that it was my subconscious will trying to calm myself down so I could keep operating. My attitude is – whatever works.
I enjoy fantasy as it juices up the imagination and enriches my creativity. I also enjoy reason as I am most comforted by the truth, facts and figures. I like my feet firmly rooted in the earth so my head can safely wander through the universe and back again.