Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Dream Symbols: Houses September 30, 2014

Note: You’ve shown a lot of interest in my recent posts about my”house” dream so I thought I’d share this post from a few years ago. It shares a bit more information about the house dreams I used to have. I hope you enjoy it!

Throughout the 80’s I had recurring dreams about preparing to move into new houses I didn’t like. Here’s one I had in 1988, three months after I began recording my dreams.

#54 The Unsuitable New House.  We’ve sold the house I love and I’m walking through a rickety plywood house we’ll soon move into. I’m appalled by everything I see. The tiny kitchen has huge, old-fashioned appliances and a turquoise and pink wringer washing machine. The window air conditioner unit rattles noisily. The dining room floor isn’t level, the flimsy table has a rotting corner, and the ceiling fixture is made of the shoulders, head, and antlers of a deer! Worst of all, there’s no room for my beloved books: no library, no shelves, no desk. I hate everything about this incredibly tacky house. Why did I design it this way? How could I have ordered these hideous things? I am filled with remorse. I think I should try to like this house but cannot convince myself I ever will.

I went back to school for my doctorate in the late 70’s and spent the 80’s teaching university students. The unsuitable new houses in my dreams depicted my unhappiness with myself and my life. It took another year of dreamwork before I trusted my dreams enough to leave a profession that wasn’t right for me. Two days after I left for good I dreamed I was escaping from a prison!  That fall I began to write my first book about the inner life. That was when I had a dream about touring an exquisite house that was perfect for me. At the end of the dream the woman writer who owned it hinted that it would someday belong to me!

When I was five we moved to Florida and lived in a trailer until Daddy bought the dear crumbling old wooden cottage where I grew up. After he died my mother struggled to support us on a nurse’s meager income. I would not have attended college had I not miraculously earned a scholarship. By mid-life I knew I had not developed my true interests and talents and entered a long and difficult struggle to discover my true self. At the age of 45 I found Jungian psychology and began studying my dreams. Since then my house dreams have depicted my progress. Here’s the one I had last weekend.

#4253 Revisiting My Childhood Home.  I’m in my childhood home standing in a spacious kitchen that used to be tiny, dark, and dingy. Filled with light, it has gorgeous new hand-made cabinets and polished stone counters. A young woman is kneeling on the floor painting the cabinets a creamy white. A man in the adjoining dining room is painting trim around the open doorway. I stand back to look at the remodeled kitchen and am so astonished at its beauty and suitability that I begin to weep in gratitude.

This emotional dream depicts exactly how I was feeling the evening before. My husband and I were driving along a beautiful mountain road to join dear friends for dinner when I was suddenly overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I love the way I’m traveling through life! I love my family. I love my work, my friends, my lifestyle. I feel loved and am learning to love myself. I am so grateful, feel so incredibly fortunate. The houses are my psyche. Their kitchens and dining rooms are places of transformation and nourishment. The remodeling work I’ve been doing for 22 years is making them more suitable for me. I’m becoming the woman I always wanted to be, and it feels so good!

How do Dream Mother’s houses depict your feelings about yourself and the way you’re living your life?

Art Credit:  I found this picture in Google Images but cannot locate the original source.  The artist appears to be “Rubal.”  If anyone knows where I can find his/her website, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know.

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.

 

The Metaphoric Meaning of Dreams August 26, 2014

Dreams symbolically represent underlying truths of which we are unaware. Dream events, like those in fairy tales, fables, myths and films have allegorical, metaphorical meanings. Rarely are they meant to be taken literally.

For example, in my early years of dreamwork I had many dreams about touring an unsuitable new house we were building. In waking reality I had designed the house we lived in and never wanted to leave, so I knew these dreams didn’t mean we would move into a new house I would hate. Then what did they mean?

Houses are a common symbol for the psyche of the person who dreams about them. These dreams were showing me how I was feeling about my current psychological reality. I was living in a “place” that was unacceptable to me. In utter ignorance of who I really was and what was truly important to me, I had worked hard to design and build a profession for myself that was deeply unsatisfying at many levels.

The ego is very good at repressing uncomfortable truths. Despite numerous dreams that dramatized the same issue from a variety of perspectives, eight months after my first dream of an unsuitable new house I still didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I didn’t know because my ego didn’t want to know. Then came the following dream:

#209: Running Out of Gas. It’s a dark night and my car runs out of gas. An old woman pulls up behind me and pushes my car to a doctor’s house. As she walks me to the door I ask her what kind of doctor it is. She says he is a psychiatrist. I was hoping she would say that. We go into the living room. In the center of the floor is a large open book. A young girl in a ballet costume flutters across the room on toe shoes as the doctor tells her how lovely she is. An intense young Russian man expresses a desire to stay in the United States. When the others tell him to stay, he says he can’t disappoint his father; he has to go back to Russia to pay him back for his education. A woman in a cowboy hat sits quietly on the floor in front of me with her back to me.

This dream wasn’t warning me to check my gas tank, see a psychiatrist, take ballet lessons, or travel to Russia. These would be literal interpretations. The metaphoric meaning was that I was “in the dark” (confused) about my life’s journey, and “running out of gas” (energy), but had access to the guidance of a wise old woman (Sophia) who indwelt my psyche and wanted to help me. The people in the house (the inner world of my psyche) were unknown aspects of my personality gathered in the living room (the place where I was “living” my life.) The doctor was my wise inner healer who was helping me with my inner work. The lovely ballet dancer symbolized my desire and potential to return to the graceful, innocent state of my childhood when I felt free to pursue my real interests. The intense Russian (he came from an “alien land” far from my conscious awareness) was the unconscious part of me that felt indebted to the Father (the patriarchal system I grew up in) for its investment in my education.

The Russian student was the key to the meaning of my dream. Pursuing a job I disliked was sapping my energy. I longed for meaningful, creative work but my ego believed it would be wrong and ungrateful to disappoint the teachers, mentors and system which had supported my efforts to become a college professor. In truth, this was the rationalization of an ego which would rather be unhappy than leave a job that brought it the status and prestige it craved.

And the peaceful woman in the cowboy hat who was featured in the lysis, or last image of the dream? She was the me I was yet to become if I continued to pursue self-knowledge: a woman who would quit her unsuitable job, learn to meditate, write her own books, buy her own horse, and wear a cowboy hat with glee! Two months later I quit college teaching for good and stepped into my real life, the one for which I was born, the one I’m living now.

Do dreams really have meaning? You bet!  But try telling that to a fearful and stubborn ego that thinks it runs the whole show and believes it knows best!

Can dreams really foretell your future?  Absolutely! Next time I’ll tell you a story about the unexpected way the woman in the cowboy hat showed up in my waking life many years later.

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.

 

Insights from Ireland: Cooking Possum Stew May 21, 2013

mother and babyAfter I wrote my associations to the symbols in my Ireland dream, I started on its message. The biggest clues to a dream’s meaning are recent waking life experiences and how you responded to them. I was aware of some issues, thoughts and feelings in the days before the dream, but which were relevant and which were not? In the month since then I’ve pursued several dead ends but feel close to the core now. Here’s how my thinking has evolved.

Act I: It’s obvious that my psyche (mansion) is undergoing some kind of alchemical transformation (golden urn). I get it that my animus envisions a nourishing (dining room) change that would unite the vessel and its contents. But what is the nature of this change? I don’t know.

Act II: I understand that my ego wants to maintain a smooth and shiny persona (pinboard). As a “J” personality type, (see this site for an explanation), I like keeping the outer aspects of my life orderly and organized. But what less-obvious parts of my persona (covered pin holes and scraps of paper) still need work? And why doesn’t X want me to expose them? Is he afraid people will see that he’s/I’m not always smart, confident, in control, or right? Could be. New situations like this do bring out this concern. Maybe he’s my overly self-conscious perfectionist who fears I’ll say or do something thoughtless or annoying?

Act III: Another aspect of my animus (my thinker/spiritual striver/writer?) thinks some valuable old (as in inherited or acquired at an early age) qualities should be openly displayed. This could refer to personality traits that have been helpful in my inner and outer work, and also to the fact that I’m comfortable with aging. But what’s this primitive instinct (possum) hidden beneath the externalities that I don’t want in the house of my psyche? Which of my five instincts—nurturance, activity, reflection, sex or creativity—does it represent?

The mention of the dining room suggests the instinct for nurturance. Physical survival has never been an issue, but what is problematic is my emotional need for approval and security and my resistance to admitting to these needs. This is a root chakra issue that would have begun in my infancy.

possummotherSomeone at the conference noted that possums play dead when they’re frightened; hence, the phrase, “playing possum.” Another said that baby possums cling to the mother’s fur when they ride on her back. These associations felt important then and still do. There’s a frightened young possum in me that didn’t get all the mothering she needed and somehow plays dead as a result. But how does this show up in waking life?

Here’s what was going on with me. We left Orlando on Thursday and arrived at the conference site on Sunday afternoon. The pre-trip packing, airport hassles, flight to Dublin and lack of sleep left me exhausted. Two days of hectic touring in a new city reduced my normally low tolerance for excessive stimulation to zero tolerance for practically everything and everyone! Then we left the Dublin hotel, took a taxi to a meeting point, had a long bus ride to Cromleach Lodge, checked in, unpacked and organized luggage. Then there were 37 new people to meet.

Maybe these things aren’t problematic for some personalities, but for people like me, they’re challenging. Why? Partly because I’m an Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging Type. Partly because I was fully conscious of my feelings and didn’t like them. Stoic as usual, I was doing a pretty good job of containing my emotions (playing dead), (Fred told me later he had no idea how stressed I was), but, perfectionist that I am, I considered them unworthy. Inwardly I was shaming myself and my self-criticism was dragging me down. I couldn’t forgive myself for being human!

Next time, the big “Aha!”

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon site and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Insights from Ireland: My Associations to the Dream May 17, 2013

opossumNow that I’ve related my dream from the night we arrived at the Jungian conference in Ireland, I’d like to use it to demonstrate how I work on my dreams.

Every year I start a new file on my computer and write out dreams in the order of their arrival, giving each one a number, date, and title. I try to include every detail, image, event, color, plot change, behavior, thought and emotion I can remember.

Next, I go through the actions and symbols and record my personal, cultural, and archetypal associations to them. I also note my dream ego’s emotions throughout the dream.

Finally, I look for connections between the dream and what’s happening in waking life. When I don’t understand something, I jot down questions. Sometimes this is enough to give me a sense of closure. Other times I’m left wanting more. When this happens I might think about the dream for days or even weeks, watching for more insights and adding them to my journal so I won’t forget them.

Following are my associations. Next time I’ll share what I think the dream was saying about my inner and outer life at the time I had it.

  • Fred: My husband. He often appears in my dreams. Sometimes as himself, sometimes as my animus, sometimes both. I associate my positive animus with qualities like self-discipline, ambitious goal-oriented activity, clear logical thinking, and persistence in heroic striving for psycho-spiritual growth. I’m annoyed at him for creating this mess.
  • Interior designer: An aspect of my animus that’s helping my ego re-design the interior of my psyche.
  • House: Me, my psyche, my personality: the place where I’m living now.
  • Golden urn: An alchemical vessel, container for my inner work.
  • Dining Room: A place to take in nourishing food so it can be transformed into useful energy.
  • Filling in holes on the pin board: The pinboard was like a household bulletin board that holds notes, schedules, lists and reminders. Smoothing out my persona, my outer social personality.
  • X doesn’t want me to see what lies beneath the list: X is an intense person I know whose extreme attitudes and behaviors sometimes make me uncomfortable. A shadow aspect of my animus.
  • The other designer arranges antiques into a still life on the right side of the mantel: An aspect of my animus which sees some older parts of me as valuable qualities that should be displayed in a prominent place. He arranges them above the hearth/heart, the center of my body and its chakras, the source of compassion and inner fire. I like many of my older qualities too, and think this is the right place for them. I assume that once they’re arranged they’ll be still and I won’t have to make any more changes. Hah! Joke’s on me!
  • Possum: A primitive, instinctual, and very alive aspect of me that’s been hidden from my ego’s awareness. My ego doesn’t want it messing up my psyche and I don’t want to clean up after it.
  • Excrement: Alchemy’s prima materia: raw, disowned, instincts and emotions.
  • Electric blue zig-zagged lines: Spiritually transforming energy like lightning bolts and electricity.
  • Beautiful patterned carpet: The underlying pattern of life; archetype of the Self; my god-image. I want my spirituality to be clean and pure, not marred with possum excrement (my flawed, human, physical, instinctual self.)
  • I know it’s my job to clean this mess up: Like it or not, I’ve accepted the responsibility to deal with this situation.

Any more thoughts?

 

Slipping Into Myself May 18, 2012

I began recording and working with my dreams in 1989. In those early days, many of my dreams  had to do with conflicting feelings about my career.  This is one of them.

Dream #198: “Hiding From the Enemy”

Someone desecrates my small, primitive wooden house and ransacks my possessions while I’m away teaching writing classes.  It’s a dark night and the enemy is looking for me.  I’m in danger.  I hide, lying flat on the ground, pressed against the outside wall of the classroom.  I’m afraid to breathe or make a sound.  I know my tribe values my contribution and won’t give me away.

In dreams, houses usually represent the psychological condition in which we’re living.  So right away I’m being told that my inner life is cramped and primitive.  Moreover, it is a mess. But instead of trying to fix it up, what am I doing?  Hiding in terror behind a classroom! In other words, I’m using my focus on my job (I’m a college professor) as an escape, a way to avoid conducting some inner work and confronting an unknown enemy that’s really messing with my mind.

And who or what is this enemy that has my dream ego holding its breath and cowering in the dark?  When I had this dream I couldn’t imagine what it might be; dreams are, after all, dramatizations about the unconscious self.  But now I know and the knowing makes me sad for  my cluelessness and the needless anxiety I was suffering. I was a puppet of convention and terrified of my natural, authentic self!

At that time it must have looked to others as if I had the world by the tail; but inside a battle had been raging for over nine years between two apparently irreconcilable opposites. On one side was my ego that was growing increasingly unhappy with its lack of personal meaning and spiritual fulfillment, but still preferred the familiarity and safety of the status quo to the dangers of the unknown.  On the other was the compelling new voice of Sophia whose call to freedom from conformity was deeply attractive but felt dangerously subversive. Which side was right? Which was wrong? Nothing in my life had prepared me for this excruciating dilemma. How was I to choose?  Rejecting either one would have felt like a terrible mistake.

My solution was deceptively simple and came in its own sweet time. I listened to my inner opposites and tolerated the tension between them for nine long years without shutting down or rushing to premature closure. Gradually I grew more aware of a fuller range of choices and braver about making original ones that honored my inner life as much as my outer one. Then I had a big dream in which I was going against the current in a rushing river and walking back upstream toward my true home. This dream told me that something in my psyche had shifted. Without my ego’s full awareness I had changed directions and simply slipped into myself.  Why? Because I was taking my inner life seriously and paying attention. I was just trying to stay conscious.

It seems to me that the energies of life support two basic human endeavors: to become ourselves and learn to love.  And until we get the first one right, we can’t accomplish the second. That’s why making the unconscious conscious is my career now and nothing less will ever satisfy.

 

Three Perspectives on Dream Symbols January 27, 2012

After my last post about the dragon dream, Rob asked if we dream out of both the personal and the collective (archetypal, therefore shared by everyone) unconscious, and if dreams about one’s personal unconscious sometimes use archetypal imagery. Yes. Many dreams seem to be purely personal, a few are purely archetypal, and most, like my dragon dream, are a combination of both. In fact, every dream symbol and theme actually has three possible levels of meaning: personal, cultural, and archetypal, so I always look for associations at all three levels. I’ll demonstrate with the symbol of a house.

Personal Meaning of House: My dragon dream took place in the house in which my husband grew up. When Fred and I were dating I was invited often for meals, and after our marriage it was the setting for numerous family gatherings and fun celebrations. I have many warm associations with this house, all involving Fred and his funny, quirky family. Although my mother visited there a few times, I do not associate this house with her. I find this a curious aspect of the dream. The kitchen in Fred’s house was the core of family activity and most of our gatherings were centered around meals cooked by Fred’s beloved grandmother or stepmother (with whom he had a conflict-filled relationship). My mother never entertained and she cooked only the simplest of meals out of necessity, never passion or even interest, so her presence in this kitchen is an odd detail. The room in the far left corner of the house, streetside, was the bedroom shared by Fred’s brothers George and Tony. I adore them both and imagine them dreaming many beautiful dreams in there. In realilty, of course, the room had no garage door, although there were high windows. The actual garage was on the other end of the house, on the right side next to the kitchen. This was the garage I was heading for at the end of the dream.

Cultural Meaning of House: Houses everywhere represent protection from the elements, family, warmth, and comfort: nurturing qualities all. Kitchens are traditionally the purviews of grandmothers, mothers and other women who prepare food for their families. They are also rooms in which flour, milk, water, yeast, sugar and salt are mixed and baked in ovens, a magical process which transforms them into nourishing bread.  Kitchens also have fresh water available for cooking and cleaning up.

Archetypal Meaning of House: Houses represent the psyche and everything that goes on in our minds. Archetypes are mental pictures of physical instincts. The needs of all five instincts (nurturance, activity, reflection, sex, and creativity) can be met in houses. This dream features three instincts. Nurturance is represented by the house, my mother, and the kitchen. The kitchen contains two especially vital symbols: a  womb-like oven which transforms basic elements into the bread of life, and a source of water, the cleansing, life-giving element associated with humanity’s maternal Source, the Great Mother (she’s also associated with dragons). Activity is shown in the dragon’s banging on the roof and walls, and in my dream ego’s walking, then running away.  Reflection is symbolized by the windows which provide an outlook into the unconscious, the dragon with its fiercely knowing, staring eye, and the keys representing access to secret knowledge and wisdom.

Do you see the wealth of multi-leveled meanings I can glean from these symbols?  All but the dragon are parts of everyone’s personal life, yet most also appear in the myths and fairy tales of every culture. I’m still working on the dream. It could take a long time to understand, if ever.  For now I’m just letting it cook.

 

Lessons Learned From the Flu April 19, 2011

A note to subscribers:  Some of you received this post last Friday when I wrote it and, due to “lingering flu fogginess,” (which ought to be a recognized condition) accidentally published it ahead of the intended date. I hope you won’t mind reading it again. 

As I write this I’m in the ninth day of a bout with a nasty, feverish flu. I use the word “bout” deliberately. At first I fought it, insisting on attending a social event, doing a little writing, flying to North Carolina, preparing a meal for beloved relatives, and flying back to Florida. Thanks to a highly developed Warrior archetype, living in my head and ignoring my body, pushing forward, and toughing it out has always been my normal mode of operation.

But I’ve surrendered to the bug. I’ve canceled three workouts and three engagements, stayed in bed, and written zilch. This is decidedly abnormal. I rarely get sick, never nap or watch television during the day, always show up, and, above all, am almost always attracted to writing. Not this time! Thinking made my head hurt and the last thing I wanted to do was write.

Now that I’m feeling better my passion for thinking and writing is returning. And since I look for meaning and psychological reasons for everything, I find myself wondering what this enforced time-off has been all about. Here are a few random conclusions. (I don’t intend to sit here all day perfecting this piece. I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before the bed starts calling.)

Lesson #1: Giving myself permission to relax and let go of my agenda frees me from a burden of anxiety of which I’m usually unaware.

Lesson #2: My anxiety is nobody’s fault but my own.

Lesson #3: Missing a special grandparents’ breakfast at my 3-year-old grandson’s school will not devastate him or mean I’m a terrible grandparent.

Lesson #4: Daytime television is not a complete wasteland and allowing myself to enjoy it is not a character flaw. I watched some cool movies. I enjoyed them. Enjoyment is good.

Lesson #5: I tend to be a tad obsessive. (This is an understatement.) My head knows this but some largely unconscious needs still haven’t received the message. This morning I awoke from a dream in which I was trying to clean up some messes outside and within my house in preparation for an anticipated event. I was feeling guilty for not having addressed them sooner and annoyed that nobody else seemed to notice or care but me. I think that pretty much speaks for itself! Being sick for nine days hasn’t cured me of my perfectionism, anxiety, or tendency to live in the future.

Lesson #6: I’ve known this stuff for years, yet despite my inner work some issues remain unresolved. Still, I am making progress and this is a very good thing.

Lesson #7: I am human and flawed but my friends and family love me anyway and I am grateful for their love. I knew that too, but I must have needed a reminder.

Lesson #8: I don’t always have to be prepared several days in advance. I wrote this blog post in three hours!

Lesson #9: There are times when surrendering is the correct choice. This was one of them. Bye. I’m off to bed!

 

 
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