In my recent dream, I see a young deer who is disoriented and stunned. A man grabs her and cuts off her horns and also seems to cut around her eyes. It sounds traumatic, but the Animus as the provocateur sometimes wields a heavy hand. In the last Mystery of the Dream class, Marc talked about the how the Animus often shoots people in the dream. Not to kill them, but to push them to feel their pain. Some of us are so blocked that Divine intervention must be radical.
In my therapy session, it is suggested that the man is the Animus and the young deer, of course, is me. The Animus cutting off the horns of the young deer and cutting around her eyes is not about causing harm to the young deer, but it is instead to move me more deeply into feelings of vulnerability that I have been working with these past several weeks. It is to open me, to open my eyes, to help me move deeper into new understandings of myself.
In my homework, which is to be with the man as the defenseless fawn who has had her horns removed, I feel disoriented and confused. I feel a sense of freeness, as in a lightness around my head without those horns, but also absolute terror in my defenselessness. I am terrified at the prospect of being in the world this fragile and defenseless. Why is this being asked of me? I feel I need my defenses or I will be hurt. The truth is I have already been hurt and my reaction to that hurt is to take a defended position. I don’t think I am being asked to be something different than what I am. I think I am being asked to see myself as I truly am. I have no idea how to exist in this state of utter defenselessness. I don’t know what it is like to approach the world in this way, only that it is terrifying.
Why would I want to do this? That is a good question. I can only tell you that I really have no choice. At this point, to deny the dream is to deny my life and my journey. To turn away from this is to turn away from Him. I want to ask, "Why would He do this to a poor little deer (ME)?" It seems like torture. It doesn’t seem right, but who am I to decide what is right or wrong? Each moment of the dream holds something for us, we don’t always know what it is, but if there is a real feeling in the dream, the challenge is always to move into that feeling. This is the journey. There is no end to the journey, only a growing awareness of our true nature and perhaps a call to service in some way. Marc has said that he doesn’t believe the Archetypes would ever traumatize us. To see the deer with its horns cut off could be traumatizing. It is like having the crust scraped from my eyes, the hard bark carved from my skin. Things look different and I am in a place of heightened sensitivity and disorientation. But to be the deer feels terrifying, not because there is pain, but because I feel my true vulnerable nature in a different way. This is archetypal fear, the fear of something completely unknown or perhaps unremembered.
Trauma is only trauma until it no longer has a hold on us. Then it becomes an experience, something that happened. The trauma is not me, it is something that happened around which I repressed all of the feelings associated with it. To unlock the trauma is to unlock the feelings. Once the feelings flow, the fear is that they won’t stop and, since they are usually difficult feelings, there is great resistance. The resistance is habitual and, as with all habitual behavior, we need help, usually Divine help to overcome the habitual, reflexive resistance. Accepting the help of the Archetypes is accepting the Divine help which is in all of us who not only seek it, but also allow it. I see more and more how my traumas have affected my life and blocked me from my true self. As I find deeper levels of healing, I realize that I do not know who I am or what my purpose is. This is scary.
In recovery, we talk about our purpose as "doing the next right thing" in daily living, one day at a time. This is a way of letting go of the stories of the past and the fantasies of the future so that the present moment might bring some grace to our current situation. In recovery we may also experience spiritual awakening and we find purpose then in carrying the message of this to others who suffer by sharing our experience, strength and hope. There is the promise of finding a new life; that no matter how far down we have gone, we will see how our experience will benefit others. This is a purpose to live by; it is a way of finding meaning. It is not about preaching, but about being a living example of another way of being in the world.
I feel this way about the dream work. There is a great deal of honesty and integrity necessary to do this work. Some of my friends say, "that’s way too deep for me!" or "why do you want to focus on your problems", or "let sleeping dogs lie". On some level they understand just how difficult what we are doing here is. It is not that they are ignorant; it is also that they know. They know and they don’t know. There is contempt prior to investigation and a dismissal based on that contempt. But to say that it is all ignorance would be a fallacy. Many know and turn away thinking it is not for them.
When I hold myself accountable to my dream work, it is not about whether I have done it right or wrong, good or bad, or what I know or don’t know. It is about honesty. It is about holding the place of integrity within the dream and allowing all that it has to bring.
As I get ready to head up to the mountain, to the NOE winter retreat, I feel honored that I am able to be there, to bring some of my paintings, and to be among a community of individuals with whom to share the journey. Despite my discomfort and fear of the vulnerability (the defensive position of ANGER is what tries to creep in and take me out), I can be the defenseless young deer in the presence of a God who asks me only to feel the truth of who I am in this moment and to share that truth with others.