I thought I was done and dusted with the Canyons of My Mind series but no, my subconscious had another surprise in store for me – a nightmare!
I’ve only, thankfully, had one other nightmare in my life, when a Dementor (a monstrous being in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling) appeared and, I can assure you, I hope I never see another Dementor in my life!
I dithered about writing about this nightmare as it took a while to work out and also it has a rather unpleasant content – at least, until the end. But it seems to me it’s an example of healing at a very great depth which may be encouraging to others who may experience something similar.
So here goes.
“In the dream I am back in the house where I lived as a kid, Liverpool Lawn in Ramsgate, Kent, south-east England. I go into a room where my father is asleep but he wakes up as I enter and walks threateningly towards me, a real monster. I realise he intends to rape me and I am absolutely terrified. I run out of the house, with him in relentless pursuit and it is pitch-black outside. I then run frantically down the alley way which used to run between Liverpool Lawn and Adelaide Gardens. All these houses had semi-basements and I am absolutely terrified as I run along.
Then I see a light on in one of the basements, run down the steps and burst into the house through the back door. I shut the door and find myself facing a young couple looking somewhat alarmed (as you do, I suppose when someone bursts into your house unexpectedly). I tell them my father is following me and intends to rape me, they say they’ll help but then we all suddenly realise he’s gone around the front of the terraced houses and is outside the front door.
The young man looks outside, says that my father now has a gun, and goes outside to confront him. However, I can’t let the young man be harmed so run out and push past my father. As I run around the centre lawn and arrive at the other side, I come across people at an outside party who, when I tell them my story, advise me to tell the police who have a branch office in one of the houses on the crescent.
I run up to the police post, ring the bell and tell my story when the policeman answers the door. He tells me I’m imagining things and to go home and stop dramatising things. But then I realise I can hear my father and his parents upstairs being warmly received by the police. I am furious and enraged, rather than scared, shout at the policeman for not doing his job, and run upstairs to confront my father and my paternal grandparents.”
When I woke up straight after the dream, I felt so terrified I got up and had a cup of coffee until I’d calmed down enough to return to bed and get back to sleep without worrying about the dream recurring. It’s my belief that, when we have a powerful dream/nightmare which affects us deeply, it’s important to find out what it’s about as the dream/nightmare has significance in your life.
I must say, upfront, that in fairness to my father, I’m pretty sure that he never sexually abused me. I know there are many instances of repressed memories but it was emotional, mental and physical control which characterised my relationship with my father.
If you look at the nightmare, it divides into three: 1) running away 2) seeking refuge 3) finally deciding to stop running, stand up for myself and overcome the fear (if you are trying to analyse a dream, look at how it breaks up. You’ll generally find a new section begins “And then….”).
I also think that the inclusion of my grandparents – with whom I had a distant relationship once my aunt, the favourite, had a daughter and replaced me – is also about ancestral healing, perhaps again because I felt I’d been also on approval with my grandparents and discarded as soon as my cousin was born.
It seems to me, the fear and terror represents what I felt as a child with the episode which I described in an earlier post and which left me believing I was in my family on approval, so to speak, with that approval liable to be removed any time. Of course, this wasn’t the true situation – this was my perspective as a child. It also represents the fact that I’ve been running from these feelings for a lot of my life.
I found the middle bit a bit hard to understand, until I realised that both the young man and woman were aspects of myself – the immature beings which, in my life, have been represented by my desire for approval and to be liked which, quite often, have led to me appeasing others at my own expense, fudging the truth, putting on a friendly face when I felt quite hurt by what people had said.
And finally, standing up to the police, my father and my grandparents is the position I’m in now – one where I’ve cleared out the old fears and childhood insecurity, and asserted my ability to be a powerful force for myself, for my creativity and for my self-confidence and self-esteem.
I should add that, since I completed writing about my childhood and since that nightmare, I am far more laid back, far less driven and far more ready to honour myself as a worthy, loveable human being who approves of and stands up for herself.
If anyone has any additional ideas about my nightmare, please feel free to contribute your thoughts, I’m more than happy to build up a collective understanding of my nightmare/dream as I feel it helps others in understanding their own dreams.
Oh, and just as an afterthought, my eating patterns have stabilised and I’ve started losing weight!
As I got more interested in dreams, read about them, went to a dream course and investigated the hows, wherefores and wheretos, I also began teaching understanding dreams. There are, in fact, countless ways to work with dreams and those who teach understanding dreams also have their own views on how to work with dreams. If you’re interested in dreamwork, have a look on the internet and see what draws your attention or what interests you. Work out how you personally want to work with understanding dreams.
My one proviso is that you don’t become dependent on a dream dictionary as often these are very rigid interpretations of symbols. Each symbol is unique to the person. For instance, if you like dogs and one appears in your dream, you might consider it a positive sign. But someone who is scared of dogs or doesn’t like them, would feel quite differently about them.
These are my ideas for understanding dreams and I hope you find them useful. I personally believe that working to understand our dreams can be a richly rewarding experience for our body, mind, emotions and spirit as it leads us deeper into the unseen realms and opens us up to to rich perspectives on our lives.
- Dreams are generally messages from within, “postcards from your inner to your outer self”.
- Dreams are likely to relate to your daily life generally.
- Ninety percent of dreams are about yourself and what’s going on in your life.
- People in dreams are most likely aspects of yourself even though they may seem to be about people you know, i.e., friends, relatives or workmates.
- Some figures in your dreams can be spiritual energies, such as angels or spirit guides or spiritual individuals who have a meaning for you.
- Some figures in dreams – if they are family members who have passed into Spirit – may have loving, personal messages from the world of Spirit.
- Some (a few) dreams can be predictive (look to see if you are detached from the dream); or about past lives (are you viewing a scene as if through a lens or telescope?); or have spiritual significance (are you in a foreign country with people speaking a language you don’t understand?).
- Dreams can be multi-layered. Sometimes, if you return to your dreams later, you’ll see that they may have an additional meaning or relate to additional things happening in your life as well as your initial interpretation.
- Listen to your intuition when considering dreams and the “aha” feeling when you’ve made a connection about the dream or some symbol within it.
- Pay attention during the day to the subject of dreaming.
- Read books about dreams.
- Start a dream diary.
- Use affirmations during the day.
- Practise meditation.
- Practise relaxation.
- Stay reasonably healthy.
- Drink lots of water.
- Go to sleep at regular times.
- Try to get in the habit of setting your internal alarm.
- Drink half a glass of water before going to bed and the rest on waking to jog recall.
- Ask for guidance dreams from Spirit, your Higher Self, spirit guides or angels.
- Make an affirmation to dream and recall your dream before you go to sleep.
- Take time to lie flat, relax and focus on dreaming.
- I use the following affirmation:
I am a child of the Light. I live in the Light. I love the Light. I serve the Light. I am supported, sustained and protected by the Light. And I bless the Light.
- Use aromatherapy oils for relaxation or use a drop on your pillow – clary sage, lavender, etc., can help, but try a few to find what suits you.
- Work with crystals – moonstone, chrysoprase, Herkimer diamonds, or again, tune into the crystals in your care and listen to whichever calls to you to help stimulate your dreaming during the night.
- Keep a notebook by your bed. If you wake up in the night, jot down notes on your dream or use a mini-recorder (depending on your sleeping arrangements and partner relationship!)
- On waking, keep your eyes shut, lie still and go through any dreams you can recall.
- Even if you can’t remember all the details, jot down the bits and pieces you recall, even if it’s one image.
- If you have difficulty, go to the last scene and work backwards.
- Write your dreams down when you get up, don’t try and remember later in the day.
- Keep a dream diary and daily journal so you can relate dreams to the day’s events.
- Jot down your emotions when you woke up and recalled your dream.
- Give the dream a title if you can.
- Write the dream down in the present tense.
- Say the dream out loud as you write it down.
Having said all this, don’t get obsessed about remembering each and every dream. It’s been my experience that the ones that you remember most clearly or which leave you emotional when you wake up are the ones you need to work with.
- Give the dream a title, the first one that comes to you.
- Simplify and make the story break up into beginning, middle and end.
- Does the story line relate to anything going on in your life?
- Work out the symbols – remember, symbols need to have meaning for you, so be cautious in using dream dictionaries.
- Make up a dream map – put symbols in middle and then put meanings that come to you around them until one “clicks”
- Look for puns, ie, a symbol of a ram could relate to Aries and whatever you associate with this sign.
- Become the symbols and talk as if you were they; alternatively talk to the symbols and see how they respond.
- Talk to the people in your dreams – what do they mean to you?
- Men and women figures in your dream usually relate to your male and female energies. What qualities do you associate with those figures?
- Try word association.
- Trust your interpretation.
- Ask for help from a friend who knows you and what’s going on in your life, but again, trust what feels right for you.
- Do a waking dream. If you were interrupted in a dream, take time to relax, go back through the dream until you reach the point of interruption, and then continue in a waking dream to see how your inner vision resolves the dream.
Here are names of some nifty blogs on working with and understanding dreams:
And here’s a list of useful books:
I like Signposts as Ms Linn gives suggestions about symbols which are quite useful for prompting your own ideas. I also particularly like The Dreamcatcher’s Handbook which takes a Gestalt approach to understanding dreams.
Signposts Denise Linn
The Language of Dreams Patricia Felesco
DreamCatchers Handbook Helen McLean & Abiye Cole
Pocketful of Dreams Denise Linn
Animal-Speak Ted Andrews
Animal-Wise Ted Andrews
Medicine Cards Sams & Carson
Animal Dreaming Scott Alexander King
I’ve been pondering whether to do this post on dreams then sort of got kicked into action when I had a quite simple dream with a very deep meaning yesterday morning. I’ve gone into detail in this post on my art blog:
but I wanted to explain the importance of dreams since I started on the current part of my life in 1996. Boonah was a really awesome place in terms of spiritual wake-up and development, like a vortex in the mountains. I had never had anything to do with dreams until I moved into this village and then I began to open up to a more spiritual aspect to my life and to living.
I woke up one morning with a very clear memory of the dream I’d just had, and I was feeling shaken (yeah, pretty stirred too) and felt very heavy-headed and emotional. I may have mentioned this in an earlier post but it was this dream which really opened me up to how dreams can help you in your daily practical and spiritual life.
I was in the living room of my home with a big, black bull outside, pawing at the door and snorting at the gap under the door. Suddenly it broke through and chased me into my brightly lit kitchen where my mother, who was standing there, made the bull vanish.
I went to see my friend later that day, told her the dream and she said: “Oh, it’s quite clear, if you take your father up on your offer of building a home on the vacant block next to his, he’ll never be out of your life, he’ll always be interfering, and the fact that Bryan isn’t there shows he’ll break up your relationship. The image of your mother is your intuitive, wise self telling you a higher truth”.
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. We had our home up Mt French for sale and my father had offered to let us have half of his acre block to build a home on when we sold our current one. I’d agreed because I thought it would free up money for Bryan who wanted to return to the UK to see his family. So I told him about the dream and he said: “I could have told you the dream was about your dad. He’s a bully and he’d never have left us alone. I only agreed to the idea because I thought you wanted to live close to your dad.” And I said to him, “No, I hated the idea but thought it would help you to visit your family”. Whereupon we both looked at each other, decided the two of us had been off our rockers, and mutually agreed against the idea. Which was a pretty good decision because my father used to like controlling people, with money if necessary, and he never would have been out of our lives. And it was a pretty good hint to start talking about things a bit more openly too instead of second-guessing each other.
Not long after that I had another dream. I was standing on a hill looking at a scene from which I was separate because of a stream running at my feet. As I watched, I could see flying machines of various sorts landing and taking off. Some took off conventionally, some took off vertically like helicopters. Then a plane flew in, refuelled, took off and crashed on the field opposite me. People rushed over, lifted up the cockpit and then said: “There’s nothing we can do for him, he’s dead.” I felt quite detached from this scene, nothing like the emotional response I’d had the dream abut the bull, and I couldn’t relate it to my life at all or what was going on in it.
So off I trotted to Yvonne again, we pondered over the images and how I felt for a while, and then she said: “You know, this could be a predictive dream. You’re separated from all that’s taking place and you’re emotionally detached, like an observer. Keep an eye out in the news for anything that resembles this dream.” Well, to think you might have a dream about someone dying is pretty upsetting and all I could do was send good thoughts to the unknown person and hope for the best.
On the following Saturday night, on the TV news, I saw a report that a plane had crashed at the Bundaberg Air Show after flying in to refuel at the airport, taking off and then crashing in a field. I felt my heart lurch at that because it was the exact scenario of my dream, but I really couldn’t understand how I could possibly dream about someone unknown to me. I saw Yvonne a few days later and mentioned the death at the air show. She jumped in her chair and looked at me in amazement as I said I couldn’t work out any connection. “I can tell you the connection”, she said. “That person was a good friend of my eldest daughter and she’s terribly upset about his death.”
So there you have it – somehow I had an invisible contact with a complete stranger via a mutual acquaintance and had forewarning of his death. It might sound good to say you’ve had a predictive dream but, for me, it was very unpleasant to suspect that I might have prior knowledge of someone’s death, not know that person and not be able to do anything to stop them losing their life.
It was, however, like a life lesson. On the one hand it showed me that there are more things going on in this world than we can imagine. Somehow I had become part of the invisible web which links us all and picked up this man’s departure from this world. It seemed to highlight a phrase which is very important to me: “Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know. For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.” (John Dunne). And if I’m part of this invisible web, then so is everyone else.
On the other hand, it showed me that our time of death is pretty much set. Now that I find hard to digest, to be honest, but there I was, getting advance notice of this person’s death, so perhaps it might be that we’ve all got a set time for living, only we’re not aware of it. I suppose if you were aware of your time limit you might get a bit neurotic (or a lot neurotic, as the case may be). Or you may learn to take life by the horns, live it well and walk a path which lights your life instead of a life where you might not be happy.
So here are a few questions for you:
- Are you happy with your life?
- Does your work please and satisfy you?
- Do you have time to smell the roses?
- Are you happy with being alone with yourself?
- Are you happy with silence?
- Do you still dance?
- Are you energised by your life or are you knackered and downbeat all the time?
Only you know the answers but if you feel you’re not living an authentic life, consider that you might die tomorrow. How would you feel if you looked back on your life now and wished you’d done something different or lived differently or loved when you had the opportunity or you’d squibbed at doing creative work you knew would light your life and instead chosen a path where you feel stifled and untrue to yourself?
I mention Gabrielle Roth’s quote quite often because it certainly had meaning for me until I decided to live an authentic life instead of trying to please everybody else and also overcame a fear of not being liked if I was truly open about myself, my likes and dislikes. But I found, in being true to myself that I got re-energised, I left behind the bouts of depression I used to suffer, and I began to take a creative path which really, literally, lifted my spirits.
I’ll wind up this part about dreams now, but will describe some of my other dreams in the next post and, in the third post in this series, post some hints about working with dreams. Listening to postcards from your inner self can illuminate your life and provide spotlights on the way forward to a life lived fully and not half-full.