Dream Journey – Part 1 Chicken or the egg?
About two months ago I had a life changing dream.
For a bit of context, I have always felt that my childhood had been a bit gloomy and difficult.
We used to live in a village that my mum didn’t like and were surrounded by a home for beaten women, a footpath that was not safe to walk at night, a village centre that had more pubs than shops, and a cemetery.
When I was 7, my dad left our family home without any notice when we were away. Leaving my mum, my three sisters and I in a half restored house, no money, five broken hearts, a lot of painful questions and no word from him. It was specially painful for me as I knew that my dad didn’t want me, the last child.
My mum who was still quite young understandably struggled with this situation a great deal and was not able to be there much for us. As time passed I took in the beliefs that the world was not safe, that we are not worthy, that men are not trustworthy and that if we were not careful with money we would end up in the street and with nobody to help us. We had to cut down our style of living, no more biscuits, new clothes, holidays and it was all pretty grey. I remember feeling ashamed of my family ‘because my dad left’ like if somehow it was our fault. I felt less than the other kids with all their presents, holidays, nice houses, confidence and ‘happy parents’.
So for years, my childhood home has been holding the shadow of pain, disbelief and fear.
Then I had this dream:
“I am in the bedroom of my childhood home and I am looking for my cat. I look out of the window and see the alley in the front of the house leading to the garden. I call my cat, and out of the bushes of the alley come about six cats and dogs looking at me with a big smile. In my dream I am please to see them but still the cat I am looking for is not there.
So I come down through the house and into the garden. Walking along the hen house, I can see something in the grass. As I walk closer I realise that it looks like a dead and dried cat. I come closer and as I am about to push it gently with my feet to feel if it is definitely dead, the cat suddenly turns on his back facing up at me with some fluffy front legs open towards me. The whole front of the cat is suddenly really fluffy, alive and warm. An expanded and radiant love is beaming out from this being. The felt sense of this experience is very strong, like a bath of warmth and unconditional love wrapping me and entering all of my cells. The cat says; “I am so pleased that you have come”.”
I remember the morning after my dream I was quite surprised and touched to have a dream bring me back to my childhood home, as it is rare. I felt nourished somehow.
A few weeks passed and I kind of forgot about the dream till I had a Voice Dialogue session with Trilby, my mentor, friend and colleague. I mentioned this dream at the end of my session and she was really amazed. She told me “this is a life changing dream Christie !”
Then she shared how dreams that happen in a childhood home take us right back into the core foundation of our beings, where our core experiences are stored and infuses all our daily experiences, beliefs and behaviours.
As she said this something clicked in me, a felt sense that something had changed in me with regards to my own relationship with my past. It was like the filter that was over my childhood which mostly allowed darkness, gooey and painful experiences, slid sideways and started revealing places of light, of unfound or buried treasures; such as these dogs and cats with their innate graceful wildness looking at me, so happy to see me.
It was like I had always had friends, that my garden had always been benevolent and loving and that I was really welcomed here, that I was wanted. Now is it my dream that made this shift in me possible, or is the shift in me that created this dream?
The dead/alive cat is filing my heart with warmth and love each time I connect with it. I sit with it regularly and allow my heart and my being to drink from it like from a golden fountain. I am not sure how vast this energy is, but it is vast, I haven t found any bottom yet and I don’t have a feel that I will find an end.
I have started, and still am, working with the dream. By this I mean that I am setting a certain time aside to sit with the different spaces in the dream, with the different images and with my experiences. There are different ways to look and explore each of them. Taking the different images, like the alleyway, the cats, the dogs, even the main house or the hen house, I can re experience their presence and stay with what happens in me while I do this.
I can practice perceiving the subtle expressions and movements of energies inside of me whether they are proprioceptive (sensations), touch, visuals, maybe even auditive, gustative, or olfactive. Whether they bring emotions, memories or spontaneous thoughts. I stay with what is happening and receive it.
As I do this with the view of the alleyway by my garden and the presence of the cats and dogs, as I connect with it and at the same time stay in my body, I feel the alleyway being in the middle of my chest, going down from my throat towards my belly. I feel that the dogs and cats are awakening slowly inside and around my lungs like new colourful pockets that I can breath from. My inner landscape becomes richer, wilder. I stay with it for as long as I am willing to receive.
Another and complementary way to work with dreams is to ‘become the different elements’ energetically; to imagine becoming the house, the dog or the cat. This can take practice if you are not used to energetic work but it is magical. Aspects of our lives might start to reveal themselves energetically through these images and offer us new perspectives and experiences.
In Voice Dialogue or Jung’s dream work, each part of the dream is seen as a part of our psyche. And as Clarissa Pinkola Estes so beautifully puts it, each dream and each image is like a door to another dimension of our being that has been sent to us as an offering. They access a dimension that our mind can’t comprehend but that our bodies can navigate, recognise, feed and thrive from. And this is what is magical, to feel that our beings have other ways to know, receive, navigate and orient themselves from the dream world.
There are other ways to work with the dream, for example to work with the experience of the ’dreamer’ in each scene of the dream or to practice receiving the presence of the different aspects of the dream all at the same time – this is what we call the Aware Ego process in Voice Dialogue. It might also demand a bit of practice.
All of these ways of harvesting the wisdom of the dream can be amplified and facilitated in a deeper way through the presence of another person, for example in a Voice Dialogue session. I feel how these sessions have helped my being to understand the energetic way dreams work and now in the mornings I can harvest more easily the gifts, offerings and signposts.
Lastly, and I am quite excited about this, during a facilitated session the dream can also continue its narrative; new pieces start to revel themselves, new actions are taking place, new dots are being linked together in the ever-revealing tapestry of ourselves and our connection to others and the world around us.
Picture : Mirco Wenzel