Back near the end of 2009, before I began learning about archetypal dreamwork and working my dreams with my dream practitioner, Rodger Kamenetz, before I began working with my own dream clients, I was several years into trying to understand dreams on my own. I had a long dream where there was a gila monster outside…a giant gila monster…a trembling gila monster. There was also a little girl who I was afraid would be eaten by it. At that time I knew nothing about the gila monster let alone anything about what the girl might mean in a dream, a little girl who, it turns out, was in no danger from the gila monster. After the dream I researched gila monsters and found out that they are one of only two venomous lizards, whose bite can be fatal. They are considered the first shaman, with powers of divination. “When abroad in the desert, crawling around his domain, Gila Monster’s forefoot trembles as he walks.” The Navajo say that he is the original hand-trembler, which means that he can foretell the nature of mortal illness and protect against it. It is believed that shaman who carry the power of the gila monster share this trembling in their hand and it is a way to foretell and prevent illness.
Almost exactly five years later…the last morning of an intense dream retreat in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, I am lying in bed at 5:45 a.m….I’m lying on my side in the pre-dawn light thinking it may be time to get up when I hear the sound and weight of a four footed something running around on the floor. It sounds way bigger than any lizard I’ve seen around here so I’m scared it could be something else. It jumps onto the bed, runs over to me and stops; I feel the quilt move under its heavy feet. It runs back onto the floor, back onto the bed and it stops just inches from the back of my neck. I’m both afraid and sense that I’m in between two worlds. I look up at the light switch and wonder if I can throw back the covers, jump up and turn it on. Just as I’ve screwed up my courage to move, the creature blows a powerful warm breath onto the back of my neck and runs back off the bed. I wonder if I’m dreaming. I’m not; I’m wide awake.
I ‘knew’ is was the gila monster (yes, I did check under the bed,) and even though I didn’t understand what happened, I felt the breath was some kind of blessing, something initiatory.
More research on the gila monster…it is said that not just the bite, but even breath of the gila monster can be fatal, can kill a person. Did this one come to kill my ego? Was its close warm breath on my neck the ego killing breath? Subsequent dreams have been filled with people, who at first look, are harsh or threatening, and as the dream progresses, they change right before my eyes, into qualities of kindness, teaching, tenderness…qualities I could not see because I have had so many opinions and judgements in the world. As these projections are dying, the old me is shattering (as seen in several dreams with shattering teeth.)
Working with and trusting my dreams can be considered at the edge of reasonable thought. Working between two worlds, the inner and the outer, the shamanic and the day-to-day rational, can seem too much…yet I not only cherish this invitation…I rush out to meet it. Do I believe that somehow, through my dreams, a portal can be opened, and the unseen world is able to communicate with me, that I can be visited by a spirit animal, offered its healing, feel its spirit breath?…yes, I do.
With love, Mary Jo
Mary Jo Heyen
Archetypal Dreamwork Practitioner
Dream sessions in person, via Skype or on the phone