Deep dreams

horse flank hairA large, hot, breathy, needy animal in the bed with me – powerful, emotional, childish, grabby.
So close, as if I couldn’t quite see it.
A horse?
horse eyeWaking up, stretching, catching the tendrils of the dream, I thought of the horse at the farm this past summer, the one who would always break away from the group and rush over at a trot – would be on me, nipping my shoulders, in my face, my ear, so needy.horse groupBut thinking further back, I realized horses have appeared a number of times in my dreams. They are beginning to take on their own symbolism – like a running motif in a story they’ve begun to be recognized figures, speaking, along with the cats and other regulars, in a kind of private dictionary of dream symbols.horse eating and lookingThere was that really vivid one some years ago – an obviously BIG dream – where I was with Claudia, and we decided to look for some old drawings I’d done.
If only I could find those drawings, we said, the way through to the future would all become clear.ronda archwayWe jumped down from the old stone walls, having decided to look for them right away, right now, and went into the house.
People were everywhere – women cooking and talking, gathered in each room.
They were friends, most of them – some of the Montreal gang, but a few Toronto friends as well – busyness everywhere, with the noise of laughter and talking and kitchen sounds rising and bouncing off the walls.
We made our way past everyone, polite nods and waves, and in to the centre of the house – some inner sanctum that posed as a crawl space but was really a kind of lost cave like those ones in the south of France and Spain.
There, in the doorway, at the entrance to the cave, where I was sure I must have stored the drawings, were 3 horses.
circling small w watermarkThey needed to be paid tribute.
They were needy, neglected. There was a whiff of beer.
They needed some kind of acknowledgement before passage would be allowed.
Animal as sacred; sacred as innate nature, as dharma, as animal.

So of course, to pay tribute, to acknowledge and pay respects to the call of the hot, needy, breathy companion of the night, I’ve started a new painting.begin horse pntgNow I just need to pick up some beer…double expose horse skyWeekly Photo Challenge – Depth

Dream paraphernalia

dreamcatcherLast night I was telling my son about the dream of the house where nothing was what it seemed, everything shifting, slippery, treacherous and untenable.
We stood under the overhead lights in the kitchen, he towering above me as I said I thought it was about the job I quit on Tuesday.
“Oh, but you don’t know that”, he snapped with annoyance – one of mom’s hare-brained, hippie inclinations at work again.
He is a computer science student with a rare flare for mathematics. He is an excellent student, top of his class. I see the pages of his homework, a language of ciphers and glyphs that I will never ever in my life understand even a spec of.
Dreams, however, I know a little bit about – I’ve spent some time with them.dream shelf“It’s not like math, it’s an interpretive art”, I said to my too-cool-for-school, skeptical son. My son who insists it’s not that he doesn’t remember his dreams, it’s just that he doesn’t have them.
On a similar note, a number of the new visitors and commenters here on followyournose have mentioned they rarely remember their dreams.
So I’d like to share a few of the authors and influences I’ve come across, in case any of it might be helpful to someone.
I was telling Poshpedlar and Agniva how I keep a dream journal, THE single most important tool, I think, if you want to start remembering dreams.dream journalIt sits open beside my bed with a blank page ready in case I want to scribble in the dark in the middle of the night, and also for the blurry morning fragments, captured first thing, before turning over or getting up, any fleeting whispy images.
A good source for some of these fundamental things to try is dream-master, shaman-teacher Robert Moss – he’s got a Tools & Techniques page, very helpful.
Although the dream journal is one key tool, personally I use kind of a bunch…like kind of a lot….like I’m so heavy into the dream thing, it’s kinda way out in woo-woo land. In an exchange with jethag at Jet Lag, I allowed as how there may be “dream paraphernalia”…
For example, the dream catcher at the top of the post. Of course.
For example, this silver bowl – silver dream bowlIt sits on the bedside table with water in it – I refresh the water regularly.
This practice came from Ohki Simine Forest, a fascinating shaman-woman who lives in Chiapas, Mexico, though she’s originally Canadian (Québécoise / Mohawk). I got the silver dream bowl practice from her book, Dreaming the Council Ways, a book I loaned out to someone and along the way have forgotten the particulars of the why’s of this practice, but I still feel some magic quality, some mystery in the aquatic reflecting vessel by my bedside for facilitating, channelling dreams.
Also beside the bed is this buffalo fetish –
buffalo fetishHe reminds me of a dream I had some years ago, a dream of a buffalo in a zocalo, a town square, and of how I followed the dream to a place, traveled to try and find and understand the dream, and along the way found him in a shop just off the zocalo of a town that looked an awful lot like the dream.
He reminds me that I’m willing to travel for my dreams, to follow them to the places they show me, to think about what they are trying to tell me.dream crystalsThese crystals are quite tiny and special in a way that is so far out in the land of woo I can’t even describe it, I’ll let you explore for yourself here.
But I love putting one under my pillow each night, as a kind of promise to myself to try and pay attention to any dreams that come.
This little ritual emerged from a fellow student in an online dream workshop, Dreamwork with Toko-pa, a lovely experience. Toko-pa also has some tips for dream recall in a video on youtube – a nice way to get some ideas and introduce you to her fabulously exotic west-coast self.lion biting - brighterAnother favourite thing to do with really strong, vivid dreams when they come, is to draw them or paint them – it’s a great way to spend more time with them in a visual, visceral, sensual kind of way.
The lion above was from one striking dream I had, and the panthers below another strong onepanther collage - brighterEach of these practices is essentially about one thing – I am telling my dreams and myself that I’m listening. That I want to hear from them. That I respect and value what they have to tell me.
Some years ago I took a series of dreams I’d had to an elder, Joanne Longboat, a woman Robert Moss writes about in Dreamways of the Iroquois, referring to her as “Turtle Woman”.
She said to me, “They say the Spirits will come talking to those who listen.”
So I’m listening…

In the desert

We were walking along, my son and I – it felt like that trip to Arizona when he was 10 or 11 and wore his city kid shades on the horse ride out into the desert and Bill, who led us out on our little horse-riding expedition called him “cowboy” over and over and told him to watch for rattlers in amongst the stones.
But we were walking this time, and as we turned into a small dry gorge, in amongst the boulders and caves and stones there were all kinds of snakes, multi-coloured snakes, beautiful in all their patterns and brilliant colour combinations.
Probably not very safe though, I thought, so I suggested we’d best leave this small canyon, turning us both back towards the entrance.
But there, crouched and waiting, silent and watching from the rocks, were dozens and dozens and dozens of black panthers.
Tails flicked in the sun. Whiskers twitched slightly in the air.
panther collage
There was no easy way out of this little room amongst the stones we’d stepped into – snakes on one side and panthers on the other.
I hoisted my son onto my back, began to flap my arms, and lifted us off the ground into the sky.

4th, maybe 5th black panther dream in the last couple of months.
Been reading up on ’em.
From Ted Andrews –

In China there were five mythic cats, sometimes painted like tigers or leopards. The black reigns in the north with winter as its season of power, and water its most effective element. This is the element of the feminine. This is the totem of greater assertion of the feminine in all her aspects: child, virgin, seductress, mother, warrioress, seeress, old wise woman…
To the Indians of North and South America, the jaguar especially in the form of the black panther, was endowed with great magic and power… the black panther was the god of darkness and could cause eclipses by swallowing the sun. This reflects the tremendous power inherent within the feminine forces.

Gosh. I realize now it was probably one of those dreams where I should have faced the threat, the fear, asked it what it wanted, and made it an ally.
As Robert Moss suggests –

Trying to escape dream challenges by fleeing back into ordinary reality is a poor life choice. The issues we confront, or fail to confront, in dreams are issues we need to deal with now. In an even larger sense the dream state is an arena in which we are trained and tested in choice and courage and our ability to grow.

Hmmmm.
Time to try mastering lucid dreaming or at least some kind of re-entering the dream.
On the other hand Jamie Sams says –

If the black panther has appeared today, it may be telling you not to worry about the future… Let go of fears that appear as obstacles or barriers. Embrace the unknown and flow with the mystery that is unfolding in your life. The next step may be leaping empty-handed into the void with implicit trust.

At any rate, it’s definitely getting a little bizarre the repeated dreams of large cats.
Most of my friends say they dream about things like their boss at work and maybe strange scenes in elevators and subways – regular daily stuff repurposed for the dream world.
Imagery so far outside what I see every day (like, um, snow just lately) seems to want some attention…

What strange creatures appear in your dreams, gentle reader?

Good morning

My morning ritual has gotten more and more elaborate over the years.
It begins hors champ, out of frame, in my bed with scribbles in a dream journal à la Robert Moss – you can’t move too much or the dreams get lost, as if it is the body that holds them, not the mind, so this must be done while still in bed, searching inside the positions of the body for the secrets of the night.
Then journal and pen get dragged groggily downstairs to the kitchen table where writing continues, a kind of morning pages thing à la Julia Cameron, but with candles, I’m not sure why, just for fun.
candles, journalIdeally this is all happening before first light, cause next up is the Sunrise Ceremony à la Diane Longboat, with a little more fire to make a smudge of dried lavender and sage – it’s supposed to be tobacco, but tobacco is kind of pricey around here and doesn’t burn so easily and I’m not so fond of the smell, and seems like the main idea is prayer and gratitude for the day, giving thanks for being alive and being able to see the sun rise yet again, the smoke rising to wherever prayers are heard.
smudgeThis is done facing east, of course, though as a Canadian the changing arc of the sun becomes quite evident if you are doing this daily, and right now the sun is a little further south each morning.
If the day is not too wet, and sometimes even when it is, I stand barefoot out in the dewy grass and damp soil of the back yard, out where the morning glories and other plants reside.
sun in artichoke stalks 2And somewhere in this greeting of the sun a glass of water will be consumed, the first drink of the day blessed by the light of the sun, re-hydrating the body after sleep.glass of waterBut I must confess, each morning is a struggle between the timing of the glass of water with the sunrise, and the feeling that I want, I crave, I shouldn’t, but I just can’t hold off on my one deep intractable addiction, my true love, the one I lie in bed the night before fantasizing about…
coffee groundCOFFEE…..
Oh how I love my coffee, can’t wait for some coffee, am sad each time my allotted 2 cups are done and I’m not allowed anymore.
But I’m not the only one. As I move through my morning routines, often as not sneaking one coffee in before the glass of water, or even before the morning pages and the first lighting of the smudge, I have to be careful not to set my cup down. Someone else here, bizarre little thing that she is, will lick my coffee cup if I’m not looking –
kitty sniffsWe call her the Italian cat cause she likes coffee and pizza, will steal a piece of pizza from your plate if you’re not careful. As a kitten she was found in the alleyway here in Little Italy – seems it might be genetic…
For a good morning bonus, here’s a nice little article on creativity and morning habits.
(Weekly Photo Challenge – good morning!)

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 –