Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

the breath of the gila monster…

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

4 thoughts on “the breath of the gila monster…”

  1. Wonderful…The breath of the Gila monster…feels so sensual just feeling into the image you have painted here with your words. Thanks…love,

  2. In my dream there was 1 large gila monster and an infestation of babies. I had no fear and no breathing on me. But they were gental and many.

  3. I just woke up from a dream where I was hanging out with a pet gila monster, eventually i would up roaming a quiet closed down city. Everything was closed due to the pandemic. I sneaked into an art gallery filled with amazing paintings and drawings, i took a small black and white pencil drawing of trees and decided I was going improve the drawing by shading it more and return it at later time. When I came to return the drawing their was a huge mural on the wall of the gallery. It was of all creation starting with the stones moving into trees and all the animals of world. It was of all the bad and good, I began to weep and came to the understanding that everything good and bad is all part of this one creation. As I left the gallery out the front door I was at the top of a sweeping valley covered in forest, waterfalls, and a colorful sky. In that moment I found myself still crying hands on my face. Knowing our time here is short and time is running out for us. Our poor home, our earth what have we done and is it too late to stop ruining our place in universe. I prayed and begged its not too late. Upon waking up I looked up the meaning of a gila monster in dreams and I found your dream story, thank you for sharing! Last nights dream shook me like not a lot of my dreams do. Im glad you shared 💛Jessie Gene

  4. Dear Jessie – thank you so much for sharing your dream with me and I am glad that my own dream experience felt supportive. Yes, yours is such a tender dream of grief and loss. Through these potent images such as those in your dream we are invited to feel the depth of our feelings for our ragged little planet as well as these places of loss and grief in our own lives. The gila monster for me carries these powerful feeling medicines in my waking reality and my dream reality. If you ever feel the desire to explore this dream in depth with another, I would be happy to step into it with you…

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