Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

autumn call to the inner…


Dream – In a large wooded area. I’m in front of a burial mound that looks as though someone has dug into it a bit. My father is buried here. I see Brenda coming towards me, pulling a wagon with children. I touch the burial mound indicating, “This is where my father and grandfather are buried.” Then I wonder how I know that, if it’s the truth. Brenda hands me some garlic bulbs. Some spill into the small dugout. Seems a long time later, standing again in front of the burial mound, a circle of men seated nearby on the ground to my right. I dig a little into the mound and there are wonderful huge bulbs of garlic, the size of my hand. I pull out a few for myself and put them in a bag. There are more, all tucked into earth pockets. A woman comes up and I dig some out for her, then others. Just when I think the garlic is gone there is another cache. I look over at my bag; I want to be sure I have some for me. It’s wonderful to find them and have my hands in the black soil. I reach a place where now there are hundreds of tiny delicate bulbs with green shoots. They’re gorgeous. Time to leave them alone and let them grow. A woman says, “They’re dead; they won’t grow.” She’s wrong. These are full of life. I gently sprinkle a layer of dirt over them. They will be beautiful.

My whole life, as far back as I can remember…in the autumn…I feel the desire to turn inward more deeply than usual. This hasn’t been a conscious choice I make. It is a quieting, a desire to spend more time alone with what wants my attention…with Who wants my attention. I know the call has come when I first see, smell and hear the rustling of the fallen leaves…as potent a call to the divine as any church bell…the susurration of dried up leaves calling to me…

When I was young, in a terror-driven environment, this inward turning seemed a form of sadness, even depression. Who knows where I might have heard the spiritual “Motherless Child” but by age 9, it was my song…a child’s song with simple repetition and one I would sing often…the lament…the cry of a heart longing for some love it didn’t know… “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child…a long way from home.”  A love I didn’t know in my outer life…but something I knew existed nonetheless…the inner beloved’s calling in the swirling fall leaves.

As I’ve aged, lived a lifetime of inner work, of dreamwork, taken the healing medicine that is in my dreams…the inward turning has revealed itself more, become more simple. Autumn now is a time I recognize the intent of the call to the inner…the feeling of loss, grief and yes, the reminder of the connection I have always known. And as many of us do, I turn from the outer for a time, take even more quiet time than I usually do, return my attention to things I love, being with my little family, making delicious food from simple ingredients, sitting in silence, time in my midnight loft and the leaf strewn woods with winds who can’t decide from moment to moment if they’re summer warmth or autumn chill…this liminal space surrounds me.

This recent dream at the burial mound reflects this process. There is a sweetness as well as a sadness at this sacred burial mound of my ancestry…of me…how it has been dug into…ruptured and even violated. This is a painful disturbance…a damage…one we all carry. 

In that moment, Brenda, a trusted sister of my soul and deep earth woman arrives with a wagon full of children…aligned with soul…and hands me garlic, so much so that it spills into the ruptured ground. After a time the place of damage becomes a place of growth. In our willingness to dig deeply…into our fear, pain and grief…the act of digging shifts…and becomes a planting…and a birthing of new growth.

In the moment of the harvesting, my hands in this rich soil and delight of so much abundance I am aware that I am in the company of the sacred circle of men…a sacred ceremony of healing.

Part of the healing process for all of us is the returned knowing that we are never alone. It may have felt that way…there was no cavalry coming to save us but there was always an abiding inner support. These dream images carry the feeling of this…so much support for me in this place of damage and healing…Brenda…the children…the circle of men…even the garlic. There is so much abundance that it overflows. There is the promise of more growth and abundance to come.

This autumn calling inward has transformed each year…it is sweeter, slower, more knowing and trusting. As I’ve learned to let it act upon me and through me I recognize that my whole life has been a turning from the outer to the inner…that the two are now so blended that the lines begin to blur.  The place of damage gives ways to the abundant new growth. As the leaves dry up and fall away from the trees, what no longer serves me now also dries up and falls away from me…old conditioning, old adaptations, old judgements…and makes way for the tender vulnerability of new growth that lies beneath. 

Looking out the window just now at the dawning light and the aspens afire with color I hear the call of the Beloved…


(photo of garlic sprouts by Steven Wood)


Mary Jo Heyen is a Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at www.maryjoheyen.com.

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