I am dancing in some kind of studio with others. I feel young, like pre-adolescent, maybe 8-10. The teacher, who looks like Sue (divine Anima figure), is there helping us get started. I start to spin in one place with my arms out. I feel the immediate disorientation of it. I feel like people are watching me but it's OK. I feel very contained in my body and all my vision is then turned inward. Then I am spinning but I am not moving my feet anymore. Then I shift my body into some kind of position that feels like some kind of yoga pose, like a flower. My arms are entwined with the hands held up. I feel my body become very still into this position as I am spinning around. It is like time has stopped and it feels strange and still. I feel frozen in time or outside of time somehow.This is a recent dream and one that is a touchstone dream. One I know I will go back to over and over. Every time I touch into the still point, I feel a bloom of fear which, if I stay with it, turns into sensuality. I did not feel this in the dream. I begin my dance with arms outstretched and spin around. When my body settles into the pose in the spinning, it is like there is no tension, even though I can feel how my body is in some kind of pose that should have me straining in some way! There is no tension in my body and I feel it sink deeper into this place of stillness. I look down and see my thin, young girl arms entwining up into the pose, and they are beautiful, smooth and then they become very still. So strange to be spinning and yet so still. I am waiting, but there is nothing that I am waiting for. The world spins beyond me even as I turn and I feel a timeless expansiveness in the stillness of the waiting that is not waiting, in the action that is inaction. I can feel the presence of the Anima somewhere behind me. I can feel her support for me in this new place.
In my session, when we worked this dream, my analyst read me this part of a poem by T.S. Elliot, which describes this dream perfectly:
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
Recently, my work is opening me more to this soul girl in me, and even to the warrior soul girl we call the Valkyrie. The girl for me is revelatory.
She reveals in me as the pathology is stripped away. When the stripping away of pathology and the alchemy of the deeper feelings are combined, she is revealed. I could not find her on my own, for she became a stranger to me long ago. I have needed the help of the Archetypes to find her. I have needed the help of the dreams.
And, I have needed to do some difficult trauma work to get there. Through the dreams, I have discovered that the trauma that I carry from this lifetime sits on top of even deeper trauma, which in this dream, indicates that I brought the wound of the trauma in with me from past lives.
I am with a woman who seems like Vanessa, my partner, but isn't. We are in the lobby of a church. I tell her we should go in because the service has started. We go in the sanctuary and as we do, all the men leave. I ask where they are going and someone says to take a blessing upstairs. I see some other women sitting in pews. We sit in the back next to a young woman (teens). She seems very shy and moves a little away from us. I see that she has been damaged; it looks like from some kind of explosion. She shows me a document that looks like a birth certificate but has a drawing of herself as an infant that shows the wounds with a description. I feel horrified as I read that she is missing an arm and some fingers and most of her neck, which is why she can't talk. I get up and go back out into the lobby and see that there is chocolate on the table. I take several pieces and a large cookie. I think they are supposed to be for the men after their blessing, but I don't care. The man at the table looks at me funny and I just say, “yes, yes!” because I am excited about the chocolate. I bring the goodies back inside and offer some of the cookie to the girl. She snatches a piece right away.To feel into being this wounded girl is so painful. The pain is locked up in my throat and I can feel how difficult it is to speak from this place. How hard it is to speak of my love for my God, of my desire to be in relationship with my God and my tribe. How difficult to speak of this incredible pain. I think chocolate must be the kinder, gentler way! Why wouldn't I seek out chocolate instead of facing into this wounded girl who is me? But I go back. I have always gone back; I have learned to stay even when I want to run.
I do know something about my past life trauma from a regressive dream I had while on a NOE retreat in Bermuda in the fall of 2011 of a girl who is publicly raped and then killed by very bad men. This type of trauma has come up several times in my dreams including one where I am a young boy who is sodomized and in the moment of the rape, I experience pleasure. This is followed by immediate dissociation and shame. I have learned how my desire and my trauma are wrapped up together. This causes me to demonize my own desires.
This work has opened and touched into trauma I have in this lifetime of being a runaway street kid and experiencing physical and sexual assault, violence and the compromising of myself in a sexual way with men. In these moments of pain and horror, I felt nothing. It is through the repression of the feelings that the trauma occurred. It is these places I have had to go to reclaim these lost feelings. So painful to know how I have suffered and how I have tried so hard to avoid the suffering that has already occurred, projecting that suffering out onto the world. Onto men, institutions, and ideas. I never understood the simple truth that by avoiding the suffering, I was also avoiding the love. What happens when I am reacting to my trauma? From a recent dream, this is what it can look like:
I am in a shed that is filled with glass shards. I am removing them to protect a young boy. I am pulling them out with my bare hands and throwing them outside, but I am not noticing that I am getting cut. Then I notice that it is not just glass shards but underneath there are lots and lots of gold crystals. They seem to be growing out of the ground. I pull out a huge cluster. They are beautifully formed. I feel overwhelmed because there is so much glass and crystals. I then realize that I have been throwing the glass out into a garden and I worry that people will get hurt and I think that a good person would pick it all up but I don't want to.When I am in trauma, I think I am protecting the boy (my libido/desire). I don't see that I am hurting myself and I don't see how I can hurt others and from this place I can easily throw out the gold that is the real me, and I won't even care. To begin to break the terrible cycle of trauma reaction, I have had to notice the deeper feelings of pain and anger when they arise in the moment and work my cut, which is to say, bring my dreamwork homework into the present moment and allow myself to feel the deeper feelings. This is very hard to do.
The way my ego has adapted to compensate for the lack of love and to protect myself has been shown to me in myriad ways through the dream. I run, I defend, I attack, I hide, I am judgmental and distrustful, I worry, I feel responsible. And I am very angry. This has been true in my outer world life and has been a big piece of my work. The dreams have helped me to see how the anger is an energy that moves in me that is tied to the way in which I have suppressed my libido and my desire. I can use bravado, aloofness, and distrust to keep myself isolated from all of you. My blocks show up mainly in the way I project onto the boy, the girl, the Archetypes. I think bad things are happening or going to happen and I react to this in all the ways I described.
This is what it can look like from a dream I had last summer:
I am in a city in a bad section of town. I am outside of a convenience store. Men keep approaching me and I feel unsafe. I have a knife that I keep brandishing. They avoid me and go into the store. There is a shopkeeper watching, but he is not doing anything. Then a good looking young Asian guy comes after me. He tries to take the knife from me, but it is a small handled, hooked blade which makes it easy to cut his hand or arm even if he grabs my wrist. I keep slashing at him. Then he hands me an empty quart sized glass beer bottle, I immediately take it and smash off the bottom on the side of the cement wall next to me and hold the jagged edge to his face and tell him I will cut him if he doesn’t leave me alone. He freezes. I feel the intensity and power of my anger. I feel how I am barely able to keep from pushing the glass into his face. I see a small spot of blood on his cheek and know that I have cut him. Then I see another guy approaching. He is a huge hulking guy with long hair and a long beard. He isn’t paying any attention to us and suddenly I wonder what if one of these guys is the Animus. Then I think he couldn’t possibly be the Animus. Then I feel confused and I don’t know why I am doing this. I feel like everything has just gone too far. I feel fear and grief at what is happening, but unable to back down.Such a provocative dream. The Animus even hands me the bottle! At the end of this dream, the projection starts to break, but it is very hard for this to happen. The projection is so deeply imbedded in me that only through extreme faith can I see through the lie and only for a moment. But through the dream, the Archetypes push me to feel and to know and to understand these deeply entrenched places in myself.
When, in the dreams, I began to hear the voice as something outside of myself, I could make a choice whether or not to believe it. Before that, there was no choice. Now, in my outer world life, I can often hear the voice as something separate from me and choose in the moment to pull the projection back. Very hard to do, especially when in the moment, I happen to be right about whatever is going on.
Recently, my partner and I were to attend a meeting of an organization we belong to. Moments before the meeting, she stated she decided she didn't want to go. The voices immediately started to clamor in my head: “You can't back out on a commitment like that, we'll get in trouble, get kicked out! It's retaliatory; she's just trying to get back at someone. People will think badly, like she is irresponsible.” In the past, I could have gone into an immediate spin and we could have been in the fight. I could hear the voices and but felt no attachment to them. While some of what I was thinking might have been true, I could feel how it wasn't mine to hold. From that place, I could be OK with her not going and just be there myself. From that place, I felt no anger, no reaction. It's kind of amazing really, and nothing bad happened, not at the meeting and not with us.
The dreams have worked hard to open me to my desire, sensuality, pain, vulnerability, and love – all feelings with which I had very little access to and can say I never understood in a truly visceral way before I began this part of my spiritual journey. I have had the experience of the sacral chakra being opened in the dream which has opened me more deeply to my desire and sensuality. I have felt my desire for the Animus, which is really about my desire for God.
This is how I feel. I feel all these incredible sensations and feelings that I did not know existed. The truth is that to know great joy, I must know my great pain. To feel the power of my need, I must feel my intense fear. These feelings are wrapped up together, two sides of the same gold coin. These feelings are a divine currency that I carry. It is the pot of gold that never runs out; it is the gold crown with the inscription “Love never ends” (from Jung’s The Red Book). The deeper truth in this statement is, as the Buddha says, suffering is unavoidable. To know the love, I must accept this simple truth. I have suffered believing that there was no real love for me when the truth is, it is all right here, right now.
Dream: I see myself as a young woman (maybe 19) wearing period clothes that look like Viking clothes, with fur leggings tied with leather and some kind of tunic with fur. I have a large sword tied to my back and am standing on the side of a dirt road looking at me. I see that I am about to step into the woods, and maybe going to draw the sword. Everything is still and no one is around. I wonder where everyone is, why I am alone? I feel as if something is about to happen and I can feel adrenalin in my body. Suddenly it's as if time is rushing forward. I see everything in blurry color like we have moved into warp speed and I feel like now I am her, instead of observing her, and everything feels like it is moving very quickly around me, like a whirlwind of color and sound as if modern times are rushing in. It feels like chaos all around me and I am still inside myself as I step into the forest.This is the girl who can enter the mythical forest and be with the lions and tigers and bears. This is the girl who can be with the Animus and knows him for who he is with unquestioning devotion. She is the part of me that knows the vulnerability and love even in the place of my own woundedness. She is the one who can emerge in the world as a warrior, carrying this message to others. She is the true Bodhisattva in me. As her, I can speak from the place of my full passion with the full knowing of my heart.
As I step more deeply into my warrior girl soul and my own calling in this journey, I have begun to work with my own Archetypal Dreamwork clients. You can find out more about working with me by visiting my website at www.archetypaldreamworks.com.