Worlds Tilting

Who am I? For my whole life I have lived with two names. I have a name given to me at birth by my birth mother which was sealed away when I was given up for adoption in 1963. I have a name given to me by my adoptive family and that I have been known by. Should it be strange to me that I might have other names? The mechanical mind wants to know. The mechanical mind needs to compartmentalize, categorize, label, name. It needs a linear track, a beginning, middle and end. The simple mind has no need to understand what it already knows, the knowing that lives in the soul. I have fallen into the crack in the worlds. I am like the traveler who has landed and does not know where she is. The longer I live in unfamiliar places, the less I know of my old self: the thin woman with the accusing eyes, impoverished, hungry, angry, lonely and tired.

I am sitting in front of the huge windows overlooking Frost Fish Cove in Harpswell, Maine at the home of my birth mother’s husband with whom I have remained close friends since her death. There is an unseasonal snow storm, a nor’easter blowing outside. The trees are still fully leafed and yet the wind rages and thick wet snow blows in from the sea. The ducks have sought shelter along the seaweed covered rocky outcroppings and ledge that make the Maine coast so beautiful and wild. The tide has just turned and is running out. We are now without power, though I can feel the faint humming of the generator.

I have come to be with my birth family as the great patriarch dies. The decision to come when I got the call that he was dying was made from the simple mind. There was no thinking or worrying or planning. I would wait until the weekend and I would go. After the decision was made, I had several difficult moments as I realized I was to stand at the death bed of the man who forced my adoption, against the will of his 18 year old daughter and his wife. A man larger than life always, he has reigned as the patriarch in this enormous, fraught family which I somehow stumbled into, the lost traveler, the child found. My aunts and uncles have gathered at Uncle Frank's to make the simple pine box that he will be buried in, a tradition which began with the death of my birth mother. I touch into the deep grief of the many losses. That I can feel these things now and sit with these feelings is a relatively new and momentous thing, a product of my willingness and my work. I stand at his bedside, he knows he is dying. He is 94.

Trauma work.

The dreams are like the cairns on the cloud covered tops of the White Mountains. I stumble through the fast moving mist, disoriented, pushing into the wind, terrified as the last marker, the pathway back, fades behind me. Now there is only forward. I cannot go back. I see that somehow, in the last year, this option has come off the table. To turn back is to embrace the numbness, to accept the flat, two dimensional world I had been living in. To move forward is to be rocketed into the fourth dimension.

Moving forward means moving through my places of trauma. It feels like going back, but it is really moving forward. If I had known when I first saw the partially covered North of Eden poster on the bulletin board outside of Climb High in Burlington that I would be doing trauma work, I am not sure I would have approached them. The words that jumped out at me from the colorful poster were “Archetypal Dreamwork”. Though I only had a vague understanding of what Archetypal meant, I immediately made a connection to the symbols and characters that appeared in my dreams. I was drawn to write down the web address out of a desire to understand what I knew to be something quite profound happening in my psyche and playing out in my dreams. I did not come to do trauma work. But, I knew there was something. In my very first session, I was confronted with trauma. I was shown pathology as something separate from me that could be removed. Through the Anima, I was shown the idea of a deeper healing. When I left that session, I knew what I have always known: that my demons must be confronted.


Yesterday, the headline read "Tibetan Nun Self Immolates in China". I read in horror about this young 20 year old woman who died by self immolating in protest of Chinese rule. She had called for religious freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama. In my session with Sue last week, as we discussed the place of burning in the dream, I told her that I remembered a monk who had set himself on fire many years ago and that I could not understand how anyone’s devotion could be so great as to participate in self immolation. The image of this man seated in his Tibetan robes on a gritty paved street was burned into my mind. He seemed so calm, so unaffected by the fire and clearly so sure of his actions.

I am not so sure. Being in the place of burning is very difficult. In the dream, I disassociate and here now I feel the disassociation. I sense the terrible grief, but it is difficult to feel. I have short, sharp, shocking moments of it. It is not sustainable. And yet, I see fire everywhere. Outside my studio window, I see the fire of autumn on the Vermont mountains. There is fire on my canvas and fire in my Leo heart. But I am terrified of the fire. I see the small, mean chamber of the dream. Its walls are blackened with the soot of many. I see the burnt and crushed bone fragments. Layers and layers as if many people have died in this horrible place. He is there, so there must be a spiritual connection. Even in this claustrophobic place, this oven, He is there. His visage is frightening. He is restless and I imagine I can hear His crisped flesh rustle as He moves. He has been persecuted, as have the many that have burned. But He is not dead. I see the place where a body once was. Was this vague outline once the wet of me? The flesh and blood and water that wrapped my soul? I see three white round lights glowing in the depths of the blackness. And I notice that I am somehow seeing through the charred table to galaxies beyond. It is like an optical illusion. Do I really see infinity? Do I see a place where time is stretched to its quantum limit? Tempus Incognito. Something is hidden here, something not revealed, something incomprehensible. Is this where the girl, who cannot be destroyed, lives?


There is a natural human tendency towards valence. In psychology, this is a reference to what we believe the intrinsic attractiveness or aversion is to a specific idea, event or situation; the notion of good vs bad. There are many ideas and concepts which we, as humans, carry in our collective conscious as good or bad. One need only look to the 7 deadly sins or the prayer of St. Francis, or a list of virtues to see examples. We believe that these ideas come from God, but perhaps they are simply man-made constructs created out of our need for order and our aversion to pain and suffering.

Marc stated in the Mystery of the Dream Revealed class recently that if we are to progress in the work, then we must drop the notion of good and bad, right or wrong. But it seemed he spoke specifically to good vs bad as it relates to what we feel in the dreams. Marc talked about the idea of the Antihero embodying emotions that are generally considered less desirable such as anger (bad) vs feelings of love and joy (good). My understanding of what he said is that, sometimes, the feelings of the Antihero are necessary in that we must experience them to move through some particular trauma or suffering. What a tricky thing to understand the fine line between where process anger turns self righteous or pathological or, finally, nihilistic, and anger necessary to move in the work.
Dear God,

Must I suffer? Must I die for You? I go into the tunnel and this is where you bring me? To this place of horror and pain? Where has the garden gone? But, I see that you have suffered too. And yet, you live. Your flesh is burnt. You are not recognizable. What is this grisly countenance, burnt and desiccated flesh, blackened bones? And yet, you carry the crown of thorns so that I might know you still. Why are you restless? Why do you stir and rustle? What is this dark chamber with its blackened walls and seething stone? Have I died here? Did this thing happen to me? What more do You have to show me?

The fire is gone and in the cooling embers I see galaxies. I see my place on the table, my place in our bed. But I am gone, destroyed but not dead. I see three white stars glowing in the depths of the ash. I think they are teeth, gnashed out in the anguish of the fire, unrooted by the collapse of my body into burnt ash. But, even teeth burn. These are no teeth. I look down upon this seething alter and I see through time. I see young, hot galaxies; a place of chaos, a place of creation; the formation of stars and galaxies expanding through time. If I am seeing it, then the explosion must have occurred long ago. The fire has already happened. Where am I in this vastness?

How does this bring me to being the girl in the water? I feel my young girl body, no breasts, thin arms and legs, coasting through brackish waters. Dark, hot, amorphous water flows across my flesh. The chaos is here too, in the fluidity, in the possibility of the water.
How does my pathology take me out? There are many ways that I am taken out of the work, away from the conscious contact with the Divine. My mind is a feral one, filled with ear whisperers who tell me lies. The lies are convincing because they are told in my own voice and because they play on the heartstrings of past trauma.

My current homework: Be in the tunnel and feel the fear in the vastness and quiet of the tunnel. Notice when I am feeling guilt and judging myself or when the voice of pathology is loud and trying to confuse me.

How am I taken out? The constant undercurrent of fear wants to move me into reaction. I have no patience for the unpredictability of the world or the reactions of others. My partner complains and interrupts. I react by throwing something across the room and storming out of our house, tearing down the driveway stones flying off my tires. I am out of control.


Fear. In the dream work, fear is considered a most important feeling to experience. It has the power to transform. But it has taken me a long time to understand what was meant by fear. I had done many fearless things in my life to prove to you that I wasn’t afraid. I pushed my bravdo to the forefront to hide my fears so you wouldn’t see them. I pretended I didn’t care when I did. I pretended and hid behind a persona constructed bit by bit, layer upon layer; a creation of masks and mirrors and sleights of hand. I worked so hard to deceive you that I deceived myself. In the dreamwork, we speak of fear as the way through, as a portal. Marc describes fear as “essence in disguise” with essence defined as “feeling God’s love in a direct and personal way”.

When I first started the dreamwork, I had no understanding of this (my visceral understanding is still quite limited...). I was incapable of feeling this type of fear. For me, fear was really only about losing something I already had or not getting something that I wanted. I fueled these fears by playing movies in my head. Horror movies starring me as the victim (trauma fear) or epic fantasies in which I played the hero. This type of fear activated all manner of projections and reactions to people, places and things in the world, and provided a justification for it all.


We often think of pain as the great motivator. We won’t change unless we are in enough pain. Many people come into the dreamwork because they are in pain. But what if it is not pain that propels us forward, but attraction which draws us? The inexorable attraction for the Divine which exists in us all, but which we forget or turn from in pride and fear. Perhaps pain is not a motivator at all. Perhaps it is simply something we experience that reminds us of the attraction. The attraction is forever there, an immutable law of our soul. Our soul yearns to be connected to God.
In the NOE writing class, I learned to start my writing with a reminder of what my homework is.

My current homework is to feel the support and love and teachings of the Anima in the place where I am retching out my trauma and to bring her presence to the place of fear as I approach the scene of the accident.

I close my eyes and I am in the car, both feet double stomped on the brake pedal. The car won't stop. I feel it's rate of speed diminishing as if in slow motion. All things happening in slow motion. The siren is screaming. Something bad has happened.

I remember the trip down from Boothbay Harbor the night my birth mother was killed in the car crash. I was consumed with guilt. I had left the restaurant where we were supposed to meet. I was impatient, I was angry. Under the anger was the terror of something known. But a big loud NO! sat on top of that. It was a big loud spinning NO. A cacophony in my head; a ceaseless rant of denial. The terror of the girl who refused to believe that her worst nightmare might be true and in fact was.
My homework: To feel the support and love and teachings of the Anima in the place where I am retching out my trauma and to bring her presence to the place of fear as I approach the scene of the accident.

I am driving in my car and I hear sirens. I start to slow down, but my brakes seem to not be working well. I wonder if the cops are after me because I can’t tell where the sirens are coming from. Then I see a red car with a yellow flashing light on top coming towards me. I have both feet on the brake pedal trying to stop, but the car is slowing down very slowly. Then I see another red car spinning down the road towards me in slow motion. I see that there is some kind of huge accident ahead.