Excerpts from my dream primer, “Who Are Those Guys?”
Dream – “I am skating along an upper balcony of a building, trying to avoid small frozen pools, worried that I will break through the ice. Below, I see a large elk lying on the ground being attacked by another elk. His side has a huge gash, opened and bloody. There is a large crowd of people watching. A young man is walking back to a waiting car carrying the elk’s bloody rack of antlers. I am horrified. From the balcony, I yell, “That’s against the law!” It turns into a chant that the others pick up…in unison we all chant, “That’s against the law!”
I imagine if this dream were to have gone on any longer I would have had the crowd making posters and picketing the place in protest.
This was one of my first dreams years ago when I began dreamwork. I couldn’t wait to explore its meaning in session with Rodger Kamenetz, my dream practitioner. I was sure that he would compliment me, say what a great steward I am of the National Park System. Well, it didn’t quite go that way, didn’t quite go that way at all. I’ll come back to my dream in a moment.
Our own presence in our dreams is what we can call the ‘dream ego.’ We are in the dream as ourselves, usually our current age, our current state of mind, behaving as we behave in the outer world.
The dream ego reveals all the ways we are in the world. It shows us ways we are that support and are in alignment with our soul, where we feel love and can feel loved…feel connected to something bigger than we are. However, when we begin working with our dreams what we’re mostly shown are ways we are in the world that actually block this inner connection.
One way the dream ego does this is by showing us how our mind works…and very quickly I might add…to make sense of a situation, to find an explanation, to create and believe a story so that we can be okay with ourselves in the world…and that story is what helps us avoid seeing and feeling into something difficult…what it is the dream wants for us.
This is what makes working with our dreams so challenging. It is very ‘ego pinching’ to see ourselves as controlling, petty, mean or selfish. The dream doesn’t worry about stepping on our toes. It shows us exactly as we are, it exposes the ways we react, judge, hide…how we avoid feeling what it is in us that wants to be felt. It shows not only where we’ve been broken, it helps us understand how we were broken…and how to heal our brokenness.
Which brings us back to my dream which I titled, ‘The Bloody Elk.’ My dream ego is skirting around frozen ice pools, afraid to break through to the water below…and what is in the water below? Feelings I don’t want to feel. How do I keep myself from feeling them? Well, there are many ways we can do that but for me I found causes, good versus bad, right versus wrong, fair versus unfair. This can all look very good in the outer world. Things get done, causes get served…all the while my connection to my soul was lying under small easily avoided pools of ice. I had learned to react to what I felt was unjust, to tell myself that I was speaking and acting for those who couldn’t speak and act for themselves, that this was righteous indignation. The truth was that these were all ways I had learned to help me avoid the feelinsg that were underneath the frozen pools.
The glowing gift of the dream, which I couldn’t yet see, was for me to see the wounded and bloodied elk…and to feel it as my own wounded self…the pain of this wound. When asked what I felt about the elk, all I could say was that I felt badly, but nothing much deeper.
I never thought the hardest question I would be asked in my life was, “What are you feeling?” I had nothing. I had learned to have thoughts, ideas, opinions and judgments…“That’s against the law!”… all of which could look and sound like true feelings…but weren’t…they were reactions to feelings.
My true feelings…difficult feelings…were lying under pools of frozen ice.
And yet our dreams are very kind, challenging but kind. The dreams knew that it was too soon to show me as the one with a painful gaping wound, so it created a character: the image of an elk lying on the ground with a bloody wound. The dream also showed my persona self raising its fist in outrage at an injustice. This was a way I could be in the world…and not feel my own pain.
Our dreams aren’t saying don’t defend the weak. They aren’t saying don’t speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. What they are saying is to feel into our own wound, our own pain, our own loss…and from that place…speak for what is true and needs healing in ourselves and the world.
As we listen and learn from what it is our dreams want for us something remarkable happens. We find that we change both in our dreams and in our outer world. We heal from the inside out. We begin to have dreams where we are less reactive with a need to control. We become more willing to be vulnerable without the need to know and manage everything.
These inside changes in our dreams are reflecting ways we’re changing in our outer world, and we not only heal into ourselves, we heal in our relationships and can be with ourselves and others in a truer and more honest way.
As we come into alignment with the soul, qualities we thought we’d lost for good…true joy, sensuality, creativity, our ability to feel the full range of feelings from deepest pain to deepest love…all begin to return to us as we recover our true self…our soul self.
With love, Mary Jo
Mary Jo Heyen is a Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with dream clients in person, phone or Skype. She is the author of the dream primer “Who Are Those Guys?,” the companion piece to her workshop of the same name. Learn more about her work with dreams at her website: http://maryjoheyen.com/.