Archive for the 'dreams' Category

Versions of a story

October 3, 2013

I knew a story about a girl who couldn’t “get down” from a spiritual experience, couldn’t return to consensus reality, that is.  I’m not sure how or when I became aware of the story, but I even had dreams about it years ago.  In one particularly vivid version, the girl had had a way down, but she inadvertently “kicked it away” while she was coming out of her experience, distracted by a man chattering to her from behind her left ear.

Today I was looking online for an explanation of hawks in Incan mythology, because I had seen a picture yesterday suggesting that they had some sort of role. I came across this (non-Incan but Native American) story:  “The Girl Who Climbed to the Sky.”  It even contains elements I thought were from other, separate stories — marriage to an ugly and controlling husband and virtual servitude, and an issue with roots and not digging them up.

When I saw all these elements combined in one story, and one that I am not conscious of ever having heard before, I couldn’t help but wonder what that means.


Daytime raccoon

May 9, 2013

I came home from a long day yesterday, but it was still daytime, and after putting my car in the garage, I discovered, halfway to the house, that there was a raccoon at the bottom of my steps, blocking my way to my front door.

The raccoon looked at me, I looked at it.  Then it went off towards the garage, moving behind some shrubs along the house.  As I went up to the house, I saw it at the foot of the pine tree next to the garage.  The raccoon was up on its back feet, its front paws on the trunk of the tree, ready to ascend.  Again we looked at each other.  It started up the tree, I went into the house.

I discovered when I went in the house that Jordan had the screen door, which I think a raccoon could pretty easily open, in place in the back door.  The raccoon had not, apparently, tried to come in.

Jordan had dismantled a bookcase while I was out, and the boards were lying out back on the patio.  I have no idea whether the trash collector will take them.  Jordan says he told me he had planned to get rid of the bookcase (one Willy had made, nothing fancy).  I had understood him to say he was merely going to move it down the wall in his room and put a bin emptied of old electronic paraphernalia into the basement.  He’s getting a couch on Friday and so he needed to make some more space.

I am not happy with a daytime raccoon, I worry that it’s ill.  This one also doesn’t show enough desire to keep its distance from human beings.  I guess I’ll just have to be more careful than usual, and be on the lookout for it, so I don’t end up in a closer encounter with it than is safe for me.

The bit about the backdoor and the bookcase and the raccoon reminded me of a dream I had some years ago about a bear getting in the backdoor and terrorizing people at some place like a cafeteria in a school.  The variation yesterday in real life was more benign and well-ordered and mundane.  The dream-bear version had that distinctive aspect of dreams in which things are slightly out of control and surreal.  It included, too, a feeling of responsibility for rescuing and the feeling of being almost at wit’s end to do so.  In that dream, I gave the bear a bag of candy to distract to it, and he fell asleep eating it, and so he didn’t harm people, which was good because the professional rescuers took so long to find us.

I like to think that this real life mundane raccoon version of “vulnerability through a backdoor” indicates that whatever was bothering me, or needed amelioration, has been improved, dissipated, and been safely played out.   I do think there is a connection between dreams and the everyday world.  For me, I see connections through similar patterns in both or, in other cases, through a similar emotional response in both the dream version and the everyday version.

But I will still be on the lookout for the raccoon.


March 5, 2013

A lighthouse marks a piece of land, some dangerous terrain, to warn ships to steer clear.  Spiritual lighthouses, I think, do the opposite — they attract passers-by, as if the light beckoned.

For “spiritual lighthouse,” I think “fairly enlightened person” can be substituted.

A problem would arise if passing ships came to the lighthouse as if it were actually a different kind of light source, as if it were a signal to harbor instead of a warning of dangerous rocks.

The souls or spirits of people who have died and are disoriented can be attracted to spiritual lighthouses, and the lighthouse redirects them gently.  I suppose that if people prayed to spiritual lighthouses, those prayers could be redirected, too.

Living people, especially those who for whatever reason live to a large extent in their subconscious, can wind up drawn to one of these lighthouses.  They may mistake the lighthouse for something else — a muse, a god (or God), maybe even a demon.

In some ways this doesn’t matter (in an existential sense), except, of course, to the person attracted to the lighthouse, because a lighthouse is a lighthouse, not the sun or some other self-sustaining source of energy; the lighthouse remains unaffected by the misunderstanding.

But unlike a real, literal lighthouse, a spiritual lighthouse can get caught up in the passer-by’s mistake that the lighthouse is an ultimate source of light — yes, a person can be sufficiently enlightened to function as a lighthouse while still harboring flaws that encourage them to believe erroneous things (that meet unresolved psychological needs).   Becoming enlightened may be a series of steps, but they aren’t always taken in the same particular order.  Some sequences are more difficult to pull off than others.  Just as a piece of seemingly watertight pottery can leak or shatter for no apparent (to the naked eye) reason.

I woke up this morning with the realization, during that transitional period from sleep to wakefulness, that some people will just never see things as I do and that all I need to do is to see that, and with compassion, not to try to get them to change their minds.  I just need to see them clearly, to see them as they are, even if they take great pains to make that difficult.

And later in the morning, I could see that in the story in which the prince understands his mission as being to wake the sleeping princess from her nightmare, the nightmare at issue was actually not how the princess perceived her dream, or the “nightmare” of her situation, but the distress caused to her by her taking to heart the prince’s own idiosyncratic perception of her.

Talking in his sleep

May 7, 2012

Some people don’t make the transition from sleep to being fully awake when someone wakes them up, and they can talk in their sleep at length and with self-consistence even if the subjects are fantastic.  They don’t recall what they’ve said later, when they are fully awake.  I’ve never had someone in that state make a promise to me, but I think there’s a story somewhere about such a situation, in which one partner promises the other marriage during such a dream state, and the fully awake partner does not realize that her partner as she knows him is unaware of what he has said.

Another old poem

December 21, 2011

Cassandra’s Cry


In the middle of the night

Having got back to bed

I listen to a song at the edge

Of a dream I can almost

Feel:  it is warm and we are

Laughing easily with one another

Above the soft thrumming of

Ancient empty rites and valiant

Funeral chants.  In the distance

You can hear the Sirens lament

Another lost chance at shipwreck and

Cassandra’s lonely cry.


But we bask and caress

In the morning’s blessing as the waves

Lap and kiss at our bare feet

And we run hand in hand

And fall into soft pillows of sand

And are heedless of

Time, the gods, our

Misprision of each other’s



When my husband awakes me at six

To the children’s calls and the day’s

Expectations, I can almost remember

Where I wanted to be

I can almost believe

I was there I can almost

Have faith we will one day

Meet I can almost be sure

Cassandra was wrong.



Beyond reciprocity, concluded

November 7, 2011

I got the ending to this particular story sooner than I thought, last night, in fact.

When last we left off, one partner was on a slightly higher step, reaching back down to help the other partner up.  Since this was a spiritual rescue, it could involve things like ghosts passing through walls.  Here it involved the higher partner’s allowing the lower partner to go through the higher partner, to use that partner’s abilities themselves to gain that higher reach.

What happens next is this.  The higher partner becomes aware that this is the script, and that leads to that partner’s having the thought, “Well, then, this is what I will be doing.  I wonder how it will work.”  But then it occurs to her, that in her real spiritual work, she never knows in advance what it will have been, her best event is unwitting willingness.  And she never wonders “how it will work” in advance.  So there is something wrong with this picture.

She also knows there’s apt to be mirroring involved, including between the spiritual and material worlds, and then she gets it, what she’s perceiving is just the mirror image of a rescue drama scripted by her partner as a harmless creative fantasy of fiction.  Only it ended up being pressed over one of those energy vortices in the universe that then projects the image as “real” onto our collective unconscious.  And there you have it, a spiritual rescue theology, with its origins in a daydream.

So, the ending to this story is that they all wake up and realize it was a dream and eat a lovely breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup, or something like that, listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “We’re All Right” in the background.

The End

Maybe it’s not so neurotic

November 3, 2011

When I was in Harvard Square the other night, I noticed that the road, or alley, between the two buildings of the Harvard Coop had been redone — no curbs, and pavers, I think, rather than macadam.  I’m not sure when that was done, but I don’t think it was like that last year when I went to last year’s Richard Shindell gig at about the same time, same place.

As I was sitting in the club waiting for the show to begin and looking up out the windows to that streetway, the thought passed through my head, “Oh, I must tell Willy when I get home, he’ll be interested to know and maybe we can figure out why they did away with the curbs, etc.”  My immediate next thought was to remember that he’s dead, over eight years now.  I know that he’s gone, really gone, I knew that the moment he died, I think I blurted out, “He’s so gone,” because I hadn’t really expected he’d be so completely gone to me when he died.  Knowing that, I find that experiencing that quirk of still expecting to share something with him can make me feel neurotic (even if it’s not uncommon among widows).  I am aware that I do acknowledge in other ways his not being an on-going part of my life; I had a very vivid dream once, while I was having such difficulty handling what Jonas (my older son) was going through, and in the dream it became clear that even though Willy wanted to help, he couldn’t, because his knowledge of stuff going on in our lives had ended with his death, and he just didn’t have the understanding I was developing to even be much of a helpful interlocutor to me about what to do.

But this morning it occurred to me, over twenty-four hours later, that my urge to tell Willy about the repavement of the alley could be an indication that what I was doing, namely hearing a concert and getting dinner in Harvard Square, was kind of more like the more normal kind of life he and I had had together than the rather high drama, extreme events, and incipient chaos I’ve dealt with as life since he died.  So, I thought, “Maybe this marks progress of a sort, having mundane curiosities to share with him, rather than huge questions about how to handle things.”

Hawk feathers

September 18, 2011

I was taking a walk in a little patch of woods nearby and expressing the wish that I find a hawk feather.  I like hawk feathers, I like feathers in general, but I especially like hawk feathers, I’m not sure why.  I have found small hawk feathers in that wood before, twice I think, even seen a hawk perched in a tree one Thanksgiving morning before I put up the turkey, I remember.

I wandered around — there’s a hill within the woods, with a fairly bare and rocky top where it looks like kids hang out and drink, and I took a path up and then a different path down, and I pass by something and feel the prompt to take a second look, and sure enough it’s a medium sized hawk feather, really pretty.  So, I’m pretty happy, but I’m thinking about big hawk feathers, and how I see one displayed in a jar in someone’s porch window when I take a certain route, and how I once heard a story from a neighbor once about her dog finding one on the beach.  I go around the base of the hill and walk up another path, and again, I feel the urge to take a closer look at something, and this time it’s a long hawk feather.  Wow.  I’m thrilled.

I’m recounting this because I’ve been mulling over how I interpret things like this and how someone more skeptical than I might critique that.  I took the paths I felt moved to take — I didn’t retrace the routes the dog used to prefer (which unfortunately included plants with burrs), and the paths I walked happened to include feathers.  And both times this afternoon I felt prompted to look a second time, to look more closely.  I can see the argument that something had registered in my brain with my first glance, and some mundane process lay behind my second look, but that’s not how it felt to me: it felt like a separate strand within me making a suggestion to the me who’s doing the looking:  “Look there again, why don’t you try taking another look.”  Maybe I’ve clothed routine mental processes with the trappings of otherness, but even if that’s what’s going on, I think it’s significant in a positive way because it seems to make them more accessible to me.  It reminds me of stories of people who can be more aware within their dreams than most of us, or Eastern spiritual adepts who are said to consciously choose their next incarnation — something becomes easier to reach and participate in consciously.  For me, it seems to come up in more mundane contexts, like walking in the woods and finding hawk feathers.