I am staying at Rh’s house. Or not in the house proper, but in a kind of separate guest house / basement suite that she uses, leaving the main house empty.

A man comes in. He wears a balaclava over his face and chases me around, trying to rape me. I am terrified, I do NOT want this to happen. Rh chuckles, watching the action. She has planned this.

There is a pause, and the man pulls off the ski mask. He is, in fact, a kind of goofy guy, and a magician. There is no threat after all.

* * *

This dream stayed with me for a while – as the frightening part was heart-stoppingly terrifying, and the idea of a goofy magician underneath the mask totally piqued my curiosity.

A few days later I found myself at a workshop in Owen Sound with the Toltec teacher, Sergio Magaña –

We learned a “manifesting technique” that, in its series of movements, reminded me for all the world of the Magician card in the tarot deck – reaching up to the sky above, and down below to the earth in the process of creation…

What a way to begin the summer…

We stayed just outside of Owen Sound on my friends’ farm where they had some new horses, and Sauble beach is just a hop skip and jump away –

And there is a sense of buoyant optimism in the sensation of creation from this practice… It’s a technique that is done for a number of days in a row, the repetition reinforcing the sense of creative magician… even my dream world has been increasingly busy (and occasionally magical) with this practice.

* * *

On Facebook I belong to various dream groups, and recently someone posted some collages she was doing from her dreams.

They had the structure of a series of comic book frames, allowing for the shifts in the narrative from scene to scene – a technique she said she learned from a workshop with Jeremy Taylor.

We got into a bit of a conversation about working from a dream, and how sometimes later, when you look back at the original entry in your dream journal, the details can appear to be quite different from what you’ve been accentuating or extrapolating as you make art, or even have conversations about the dream.

For example, from the dream above at Rh’s house, I’d been remembering the most vivid bits of the fear and of the unexpected revelation of a magician.

Yet when I looked back to my dream journal I found that I’d had several other forgotten magician dreams before this, and within the original entry on this dream, there was a detail that “this is a game or a challenge Rh and I have”. So the chuckling Rh seems less evil in this context, and my character is then also not so much a victim as a co-creator.


* * *

There was a dream I had maybe 2 years ago of 6 dead bulls in a parking lot.

It was a terrible dream, with the stench of death in it, and the sense of tragedy of these 6 massive powerful creatures dying a lonely unceremonious death in a parking lot at night.

At the time I had no place to talk about dreams, but I can always make art, so I did painting after painting of bulls, dead or dying, wondering what the heck the dream was about.

At some point I happened on a free webinar given by some people in Vermont, and I told them the dream of the 6 bulls. They were so lovely, they listened so well, and at some point Sue said, “how do you know they were dead?”.

The possibility of seeing the dream story as a more fluid entity, of not taking the narrative as a finished, absolute, unchangeable reality ROCKED my world.

Since then there has been a large painting in the works of some very alive bulls, and even a small sculpture is in the works.

And you, Dear Reader…?

Have you found your relationship or understanding of certain dreams changes over time?

Chaos in the hallways

golden-collageI am in an insane asylum. It is large and labyrinthine with many hallways and rooms and rooms within rooms.
It seems I am a doctor of sorts, a healer.
There are many sweet sweet patients – interesting artists and creative types – lovely people.
But there are also many angry people walking the hallways. Angry men especially.
On closer observation, some of the angriest figures turn out to be animals walking on their hind legs.
There is a lion walking upright in one hallway with a sign around his neck, “You will die if you get too close”.
lion-covers-face-oil-and-grahite-on-terraskinIt’s difficult to figure out how to manoeuvre within this dangerous place.
One room is a large blue-hued glowing-glass high-tech sci-fi X-ray kinda room.
A young man is in there – he is my patient. His head sits above what is like a skin sack – a shapeless sheet of a body.
I tell him to remember to feel his bones.
Feel the bones – remember the feeling of bones.
As I speak, his bones are wheeled in from where they’ve been kept in storage.
His whole skeleton will be reassembled.
skeletal-armBut while this is happening, the angry people and animals in the hallways are becoming more agitated – it is getting increasingly violent and dangerous.
I run through hallways and through rooms into even tinier rooms until I find mine, a small, well-hidden room where I dive under the cot bed against the wall, trembling like a coward, to wait out the violence.
Am I perhaps a patient after all?

Weekly Photo Challenge – Chaos

Seeking Boundaries

train travelI am newly arrived.
I have just come to this place after many travels, and will settle here.
A house has been given to me, or I have taken a house – I find myself in a house that seems like maybe it belonged to someone before me, but there it is, it is mine now.train sunsetThis house, this place is out on the edge of and yet part of a community – a school? A town? A hippie commune? A camp?
I am now part of this community in my little new / old house.
But I’m concerned about security.
There have been transgressions before – incidents have occurred in the past, violations of the perimeter have been known to happen.
Absolute securing of all boundaries is necessary.chapel ndbThere are the usual doors – front door, side door, back door. This is my first line of investigation. None of them are particularly sturdy. None of them inspire absolute confidence.
But there are also 2 doors at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the second floor – a pair of wooden doors that seal the upstairs from any intruders that may make their way into the first floor.
One of these wooden doors doesn’t close properly – it won’t lock.
This is a concern. blue glow ndbUpstairs I am rooting around in things, cleaning the place, looking for tools, turning over the problem of the less than sturdy doors, the unlocked door in my mind.
Up on this second level there are piles of rich colourful fabrics scattered around on the floors.mandala 1 ndbmoving totem ndbSome movement underneath the fabric turns out to be 2 tiny translucent kittens. As if they are so young and so new and so tender, they aren’t quite actually there yet – they are mere outlines, and are otherwise see-through.
It wasn’t in the plan for this house, to take on cats, but hey, what the heck, the wee things need a place to live I figure, and I go back to fretting about the doors, the precedent of boundary breaches, how to create more security.
In no time the kittens are already becoming cats – one orange, one a sandy brown – no longer translucent, but taking more and more substance all the time.tiger leIt will be good to have these cats around.
Animals on the property is a good thing.
It occurs to me I should consult with the other people here in the community about how to fix the doors – surely someone does carpentry, a locksmith… There must be people I can ask about securing all entrances.
But I realize the problem in this new place, as in so many places I have been…
I don’t know who to trust.sunset lake trainWeekly Photo Challenge – Boundaries

Grand Animal

The taxi driver refused to go any further.
In the dream I was staying in a hotel on Spadina near College and wanted to go shopping further down towards Dundas, in the deep and winding medieval streets, but the driver turned the car around and let me out, saying “most people don’t want to go down there – it’s too dangerous”.
It was like one of those neighbourhoods in Mexico City – Colonia Doctores or Ciudad Neza way back when – where all taxi drivers refuse to enter, cause everyone knows anything could happen.
So I walked.
The streets were deserted, dark, until I got down near the very bottom, almost to the waterfront, where the sky was wide and the road opened up into a kind of rock quarry, reminiscent of Teotihuacan –
quarry1teotihuacan b&wAnd still walking, I ventured into the rocks, strolling happily until I sensed movement in the steps and mounds of the quarry. And as I looked, these creatures took shape.
They were lions – stone lions.
They were living animals – their large bodies moving and rummaging about – but they were made of stone, the same stone of the the quarry.
placcid lionsnarling lionAt just the moment that it registered in my mind what I was seeing, the danger I was in, a large lion sensed me too, the hint of movement in his peripheral vision, and his head snapped up in a snarl.
Then the pounce, the running jump of the massive creature coming after me.
Suddenly I had a large plywood board in my hands which I lay underneath in a crevice in the rocks, pulling the board flat on top of me, effectively disappearing into the ground.
big biting lionThe lion lumbered heavily over me, not finding me, scrambling over and away, somewhere beyond where I lay hidden.
The fear was so real, the terror so palpable – one of those nightmares that wakes you up in a sweat, blinking in the dark of the bedroom.
The next morning I was out walking, and turning the corner to where the new second-hand bookstore is, the guy who sells old National Geographic magazines for a buck a piece, I noticed several had big spreads on lions.
nat geo running lionI brought them home and began to draw.
When the dream is so vivid, so strong, and yet so cryptic, there is nothing for it but to spend more time with the imagery…
running lion

The Moment

twiggy brush flowers

In a sense, any spiritual path is largely a matter of misdirection, something meant to conceal an appalling and marvelous fact…
~ Henry Shukman

There is the traditional idea of a 4 day fast in the outdoors being a Vision Quest – something that young men and women would do to find their direction, their animal, their medicine, their place in the world. But it’s something that can be done many times in a lifetime, separating oneself from the demands of everyday life and reconnecting with the Earth, with Spirit, with whatever Questions have arisen in ones life.
I went into the one last weekend with a desire to break down my ego, my identity, my idea of myself as I have constructed it thus far, and see what lay deep in my heart of hearts – to forget for a while who I think I am as a film industry person, kind of smart, cynical, jaded, or as a sole-support parent, strong, determined, or all the confused stories with men – a mid-life kind of Question.
But of course it was not all particularly pleasant – the ego resists.
The first stumbling block was on Saturday, when, having only been fasting for some 18 hours or so, we were required to stand in a semi-circle in the afternoon sun to receive Teachings before we went into the sweat lodge. As we stood there, listening, the sun beating down on our heads (I’d forgotten a hat), I saw the black begin to encroach on my peripheral vision and I fainted.
The ground was soft, the grass cool – somehow I didn’t fully lose consciousness as I usually do when this happens – and I lay there for a moment enjoying the moist cool grass until I was rested enough to get back up again.
Remarkably, no one noticed. We all crawled into the sweat and went through rounds of hot rocks and steam and drumming and song and were cleansed.
Later that evening, one of the helpers came by and asked how I was feeling. When I mentioned having fainted, there was a little flurry of activity and finally it was decided I should sleep on the couch in the house just in case, and do a modified version of the fast, eating a little when necessary.
I was pissed.
This was not the way it was supposed to go. This was not what I wanted, sleeping on the couch like a wuss. I wasn’t even especially hungry.
In the morning I went out around 5 to my tent and began the day, looking at the sky and listening to the birds and beginning the rounds of smudging and prayer and meditation, attempting to silence the chattering monkey mind.
water rushingAlready I could see the hint of a lesson, already I could see that the thwarting of my willfulness, the denial of my ego’s determination to maintain an image of strength and self-sufficiency was something I would have to absorb as part of the process.
And the modifications didn’t really interrupt much – still the long hours of the days were spent on the land in silence, contemplating the water, the song of the birds, the shifts in the weather. I prayed and prayed for strong dreams, or for a visit from an animal, for some kind of moment, some special epiphany or revelation that would make coherent cohesive sense to the quest.
Sunday night I had a dream. But it was not the dream I was hoping for – there were no eagles or tigers or goddesses of light with magical purple stones and songs I would wake up singing… No. Just some jumbled stuff about hanging onto some crappy thin old futon mattresses, about not letting go of junk that it would really be best to let go of.
Out in the tent again, lighting my smudge, my thumb was getting calloused and burnt from the lighter, the sage and tobacco had almost run out. I was cleaning up my little area of paraphernalia when I noticed a small ball on the floor of the tent. Mud maybe? No, it had a smooth shape to it. I looked again – it was a curled up slug.
Ewww. A slug in my tent.
I looked at him for a moment and thought, well, slugs are kind of like snails but without the shell, and snails can be pretty, so…
So I found a little twig and let him crawl onto it and put him outside my tent door.
dew dropsOnce out in the wet dewy grass, the slug unfurled himself and began to crawl up a blade, slithering and swaying with a slow sensuous movement, with what looked like such delight in the wet, in the green, in his element. His antennae waved and contracted in the soft sunlight, his body swayed happily in the morning breeze. It was suddenly a moment of such great beauty, of such a tremendous simple joy in life itself, that I burst into tears.
That’s it, I thought. This is my creature-teacher. This is who has come to show me what I need to see about the universe, about life, about myself.
This is the lesson in humility, but also in the direct immediate sensuous pleasure in life itself.
Now, back at home again, I remind myself: I am a slug.
yellow snail

Night visitor

garage doorHe came to me in a dream again – jealous, cruel.
In the dream I’d been snuggling happily in the arms of his best friend, feeling content and nurtured in the embrace of a simple, comforting uncomplicated love, a warm supportive, not-totally-fucked-up-and-dysfunctional-and-impossible love, when he appeared.
“I thought you were dead”, I told him, startled, not really feeling guilty enough – I’d been, momentarily, so peacefully happy.
He ignored me. Cold shoulder.  Off in a huff.
instamanAccording to many ancient belief systems, and to dream teachers like Robert Moss, when the dead appear in dreams, it’s probably not the thinly veiled symbolism of unfulfilled wishes or the projections of aspects of our own personality, but is in fact an actual visit from the dead.
Seen this way, my friend C’s visit was not surprising, I suppose, as it was the anniversary of his death and I’d meant to do something – go out to the bridge where he leapt, or at least do a smudge in the house, say a prayer – but it was a busy week and I didn’t get it together.
So he found a way to make sure he wasn’t forgotten – he just showed up.
Typical really – he always needed so much attention…
It’s been years now since C jumped to his death, and although the first year was devastating – a swamp of guilt and suffocating grief and the complicated mix of loss and relief – once that first year passed, it wasn’t so bad.  It was if I always knew he was gonna leave us early, someway, somehow.
Recently I’d been thinking about C as I was poking around on some of the excellent sites dedicated to blogging about mental illness, and I’m struck by how many of them are deeply engaged with discussing pharmaceuticals.  Of course it makes sense, and I have nothing against pharmaceuticals – in fact, in the 90’s when it seemed like half my friends were on Prozac and raving about it, I tried to convince the shrink I was seeing that really I should be on something.  She didn’t bite – never gave me any pills.  Complex PTSD is not a problem of organic origin, she argued, so there was no need to meet the problem with organic tampering.
But my friend, C, what was it he had?  Maybe paranoid schizophrenia?  Perhaps pharmaceuticals would have saved him.The Bistro
I remember a night, a bunch of us drinking beer down in the grimy Bistro 422 where C spent so much of his time “self-medicating” with booze and weed – I can’t remember how it came up, but there was that moment when he suddenly turned to me and Jeff and said, “Don’t ever ever ever let them give me electroshock therapy – Promise?  Promise?”, he said, shaking my leg under the table to make sure I heard him over the loud music, the drunken conversations pressing in all around us, the terror and mistrust of psychiatry desperate in his voice.
He’d majored in psychiatry in university, had an inkling of the things they might do to him if ever he were to cross the threshold into a psychiatric institution.
And aside from the paranoia, both justified and psychotically induced, as a Chipewyan, it was as if he had a sense of, had heard of or maybe read of shamanic ways of dealing with the crisis of psychosis, and was perhaps holding out a hope that he would find someone, stumble across the right person before it was too late….
But then it was too late.
The night before he jumped, he sent me an email –

Vicious Cycle (A Prayer)*

I am the circle
and I will embrace everything (within it) as my birthright.

I will be like the circle – an out-turning one, opening
myself to the universe.

I will never fear the circle or anything (within it).
I am the circle.

*(In response to threats)

church overcastThe obvious descent into unliveable paranoia breaks my heart to this day.
I still see him walking out to the bridge alone with these “threats” in his mind.
So one more time – a few weeks late – I send out a prayer for him.


PS – just happened upon this stunning video –