Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Love Letter in a Dream September 2, 2014

Shadow and meLet me tell you about the mysterious woman with the cowboy hat from dream #209 (see my previous post: The Metaphoric Meaning of Dreams.) This is one of those things about dreamwork that blows my mind.

I never took dreams very seriously until I enrolled in a five-year  Centerpoint course on Jungian psychology. One of the first topics we discussed was dreams, and one of our first activities was to share an important dream. When my turn came I related one I’d had at the age of ten in which the Lone Ranger shot me and I woke up screaming in outraged protest.

Why was I a victim of the Lone Ranger:  a strong, independent, utterly ethical icon of the culture in which I grew up?  my child’s heart had wondered.  Didn’t he like me?  Why not? Was he telling me that because I was a girl I could never be a hero like him? Wear a cowboy hat?  Ride a horse through the countryside righting wrongs?

As I told my dream to my Centerpoint group I was surprised, then alarmed to notice my heart pounding. Before long I realized I was going to cry and these people were going to see it! All because of a childhood dream. This utterly unexpected public display of strong emotion had a profound and lasting impact on me. Determined to figure out what had caused it, I became intentional about working with my dreams. About a year later I had dream #209:  Running Out of Gas. By then I knew my dreamwork was waking up my ego and taking me on a thrilling journey to the life I was meant to live.

Fast forward 16 years. My life was dramatically different. I was an author of three books, speaker, workshop leader and teacher at the local Jung Center, had been practicing dreamwork, meditation and yoga for years, and had fulfilled a lifelong dream of buying and training my own horse. One day in preparation for a speech I was soon to make about dreams, I reread Part I of my book Dream Theatres of the Soul for the first time in many years and ran across dream #209:  Running Out of Gas. I had totally forgotten about it. More heart pounding. More tears. More insights.

That year my husband had commissioned a painting of Shadow and me for a birthday present. When I’d had the photographs made for the painting I wore a party dress with my favorite cowboy hat hanging down my back, even though I rarely rode Western any more. Why did I love cowboy hats?  Why had I chosen to wear one for the picture? I had no idea. Just a whim, I thought.  But there, at the end of a dream I’d had 16 years earlier, was the image of a unique, independent and obviously peaceful woman sitting in a lotus position with her back to me….with a cowboy hat hanging down her back!  She was the woman I was to become, the woman I had become, even though I had no conscious memory of all the bread crumbs that had led me to this place!

What was going on? Was my youthful fixation on the Lone Ranger with his horse and cowboy hat a manifestation of a heroic archetype that was activated in me at the age of 10? Or was my dream simply a product of 1950’s television programming? Does the Self have knowledge of the future and create dreams to guide us to who we are destined to become? Or was the woman in the cowboy hat a random image that unconsciously influenced my future choices?  I have no way of proving the truth of my answers to these questions. Nonetheless, my Lone Ranger dream and Dream #209 dramatized what would become the major issues of my work, relationships and spiritual journey.

Because of these and other dreams I now know that I am loved by an unimaginably benevolent and wise entity that sends me love letters when I’m asleep. Call it Life, call it Self, call it God, Goddess, the unconscious, Dream Mother, the Christ within, or the Beloved. I don’t care what you call it. For me, this is not about theories, creeds or beliefs. It’s simply what I have experienced, what I know!

As your sister in the human family, I also know that you, like me, are known and loved by something real that wants you to know it. That’s why it sends you dreams. Have you had a Big dream that affirmed you, brought guidance, provided an important insight, or predicted your future? If so, I hope you’ll share it. If not, I hope you’ll start looking for one. We need more stories about the Sacred Mystery of life that indwells us. Because knowing we are known and loved by something so vast and magnificent… well it just makes life worth living.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.


8 Responses to “Love Letter in a Dream”

  1. Catherine Says:

    Dear Jean, I have just typed my version of your words, printed them and placed them on a wall in my study. Life is challenging at the moment. They are a reminder that life is also precious. Thank you.

    ..The Sacred Mystery of life dwells within.
    I am known and loved by something deep within.
    An unimaginably benevolent and wise entity sends me love letters when I’m asleep.
    Through dreams I am affirmed, guided and provided important insight.
    Call it Mystery, Life, call it Self, call it God, Goddess, the unconscious, Dream Mother, the Christ within, or the Beloved.
    I am known and held …

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Oh Catherine……I am so glad this post came at a time when you were in special need of it. I take this synchronicity as another love letter from the Mystery. And I suspect that your intent to stay mindful will bring many more such letters in the difficult days to come. Blessings, Jeanie


  2. Brian Carlin Says:

    I don’t know if this is a Big Dream as you refer to it, but it had been a recurring one through my early life. First time when I was about five years old and lastly in my late teens. I think only partly remembered, but you bringing it to mind today it had that heart thumping quality you mentioned.

    I’m young, the age I was when I had the dream first time, and coming out from playing and returning to my house via the communal stairs. As I go up them my way is blocked by a man who is dressed in what I’ll call magicians clothes: black top hat with black silk ribbon, black cape with red lining. He has a black moustache. Around his neck he has a tray , like the usherettes at the cinema used to have and it is filled with oranges. I turn away from him and run to go back out but he is now at the entrance blocking my exit. On turning round I find him at the top of the stairs, the oranges are tumbling towards me. I realise he will always be there whichever way I turn.

    This terrified me as a kid. The stuff of nightmares. When I had it again in my teens, the same dream, although scaring me in the same way, my feelings later on were along the lines of, amazed something like that could return after all those years, and reassured in a way that this thing was a part of me.

    Meaning of it, I haven’t really begun to scratch. I had an aversion to most adult male figures in my younger life. I wonder if it was telling me that growing up was going to be ok- the fruits from it?

    Magicians outfit? Me transforming into an adult? I don’t know.

    Amazing if dreams are sending messages at such a young age, a shame I lived in fear of it for so long.


  3. jeanraffa Says:

    I’d say this is definitely a Big Dream, especially since it was recurring. Also because I got goose bumps reading your comment. I’ll share a few associations in the hope that some might be meaningful to you.

    First of all the Magician is an archetype that represents the Creator and Trickster. The following quote is from Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey, by Sallie Nichols. Whereas the Fool (another version of the Trickster) represents “that impulse deep in the unconscious that sets us on the quest…the Magician might symbolize a factor in us that directs this energy and can help to humanize it. His magic wand [like a pencil in his hand (my comment, not hers)] connects him with his ancestor, Hermes, the god of revelations. Like the alchemical Mercurius, who possessed magical powers, the Magician can initiate the process of self-realization which Jung called individuation, and he can guide our journey into the underworld of our deepest selves. Man has always recognized a power transcending the ego, which he sought to propitiate through magical rites.” p. 45.

    A few other snippets from the same book: “The Fool and the Magician are both at home in the transcendental world…..the Magician journeys through it as a seasoned traveler…..The Fool plays tricks on us; The Magician arranges demonstrations for us. The Fool perpetrates his surprises behind our backs; the Magician can perform his magic before our eyes if we will attend his performances. The Jester fools us and makes us laugh; the Magician mystifies us and makes us wonder…..” A personal note: I see that wonder in your poetry which you “demonstrate” for us. “The Fool is a loner, his method is secretive…The Magician will include us in his plans. He welcomes our attendance at his magic show, sometimes even inviting us on stage as his accomplice.” pp. 45-6

    Also, “The Fool is a happy-go-lucky amateur; the Magician is a serious professional…he is a dedicated artist.” As you are! “When one of his creations fails, he is concerned and tries to understand why.” Like you. And finally, “The Magician, being Tarot Trump number one, has a very different psychology [from the Fool.] He is interested in discovering the one creative principle behind diversity. He wants to manipulate nature, to harness its energies. The most primitive magic rites were connected with fertility.” p. 46. An aside here: oranges, because of their many seeds, are, like all fruits, symbols of fertility!

    There are 24 pages of associations with the Magician in Chapter 4 of this wonderful book, which I highly recommend. I suspect you’ll find a great deal of meaning in it. If I can figure out how to scan this chapter into my computer, I’ll e-mail you a copy.

    I think it’s very meaningful that this powerful archetypal image appeared to you as a child. Naturally you would be afraid of it. We’re always afraid of the archetypes when they emerge into our consciousness because we intuit their transcendent power and know our egos are no match for them. If this were my dream I would think the Magician archetype appeared to me so many times in my youth, particularly when I was ascending the community’s stairs (aspiring to the heights of spiritual knowledge) because it represents the essence of my soul: I am one who is destined to travel the inner journey to self-realization, or individuation, and return to bless my community with what I learn. I will do this by attending the Magician’s performances, i.e. paying attention to my inner life which both frightens and fascinates me and fills me with wonder. Along the way I will become a serious professional, a dedicated artist who will use my creative energies to create magic (with my poetry) that will mystify others and make them wonder as well. As oranges fall from the tree to implant their seeds in the earth so that new orange trees will grow to nourish others, so my creative outpourings will tumble out of me to become my nourishing offerings to the world. This is my special gift, my destiny.

    P.S. Red is the color of “the pulsing blood and of fire,” creative fire included, and “for the surging and tearing emotions.” (p. 53, J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols.)

    If I didn’t already know it, this dream would convince me: you are the real thing, Brian, and I thank you for sharing your profound dream here. I’m sure its significance will be as apparent and inspiring to others as it is to me.


  4. Brian Carlin Says:

    I’ve gone ahead and ordered a copy of the Sallie Nichols book. What you write above about the Fool and the Magician is fascinating to me. Considering that the major traits of the character I chose to display for the best part of thirty years coincides exactly with those mentioned above of the fool. The writing too has changed from those days. And my attitude towards it. I thank you so much for the above.


    • jeanraffa Says:

      I thought you might like this and I’m glad you’ve ordered the book. Apart from its traditional function as an oracle used by gypsies and wise old women, (which is why Christian authorities demonized it),Tarot is a psychological symbol system, a compilation of universal archetypes and their symbols that exist in all of us. Sort of like a symbol dictionary without words. However, its value as a healing tool that can lead to self-discovery has only been recognized since Jung’s time. I had a similar experience of hiding my most important archetypal potential behind an if-not-more-socially-acceptable at least less-personally-threatening mask for the first half of my life out of fear of being criticized for my unworthiness. It’s a heavy load for a child and young adult to carry, but it becomes so habitual it feels normal. It took me a big wake-up call at mid-life to finally see the toxicity of this way of living. When I did, everything in my life changed for the better. It still is.

      You’re most welcome.


  5. elainemansfield Says:

    “Because of these and other dreams I now know that I am loved by an unimaginably benevolent and wise entity that sends me love letters when I’m asleep.” It seems to me we can get through anything with this love behind us.

    I’ll quickly share the first dream I had after my husband’s death, a time when I needed a guiding dream: I was in the chaotic house of the Green Man. Huge and handsome with bronze leaf hair and pale green skin, he sat in a large porcelain bathtub with droplets of water on his skin.. I was given an uncluttered quiet nun’s cell where I could stay and knew I would stay for a year.” This dream gave me direct instruction about how to handle my loss. Stay in the House of the Green Man (northern European nature god of rebirth after death) where I would be protected and instructed. Keep life uncluttered and quiet. I spent huge amounts of time outdoors all summer and winter and this soothed my grief tremendously. When spring came after winter, I felt life surging in me. I learned to trust in the cycles of nature. The dream helped me cooperate with the initiation I was going through since there was so much advice to see friends, distract myself, and keep busy.


    • jeanraffa Says:

      Wow. Now that is a love letter of the first magnitude! How wise you were to listen and accept its guidance. Over the years I’ve found that writing down my dreams, especially Big ones like this, is the key to helping me remember and continue to act on their wisdom. It’s so easy for me to slip back into unconsciousness, forgetting that I already have the answer within me. Having the dream written down to return to again and again helps me remember, keeps me moving in the right direction. I know that your altar, with Vic’s Green Man picture on it, and your art—I expect you painted this dream too—were also of enormous help. Conventional wisdom about how to handle profound loss is not always best for us. How wise you were to know that your dream held the right answer for you! It’s that kind of trust built up by many years of dreamwork that has brought me to this time of life characterized by more ease, peace, appreciation and gratitude for “what is” than I’ve ever felt before. Now I know what Mother Julian of Norwich meant when she said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Blessings on you, sweet Elaine.


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