Our dreams are filled with a “curious sometimes crazy cast of characters.”*
While many dream characters may be the actual person we know in waking life, they may also carry a quality that we ourselves carry and come to reflect that for us and help us understand the beauty or the flaw that is ours to learn more about.
Also among this cast are often those whose presence is so strong that they may even wake us up from the dream with a feeling so intense that it can stay with us for hours, days and even years later. They may come as beings of light or they may come as outrageous characters, doing and saying provocative and challenging things…often the very ones we are quite sure couldn’t be inner teachers.
My experiences of these dream visitors are that they are very different from some aspect of our personality. As with all dream characters they are coming to reflect and teach but with these unusual presences it seems we are encountering something entirely different from anything we experience in ordinary reality…something wholly other than ourselves…something wholly Other…the numinous.
Theologian Rudolph Otto calls these an encounter with the “mysterium tremendum et fascinans,” Latin for the fearful and fascinating mystery. The dream presences can evoke awe, terror, wonder and silence…and yet even in our terror we are fascinated. They most definitely get our attention!
We’ve all had these dreams with the numinous. We can easily recall some of our more memorable dream characters even from many years ago. Did they have this quality of evoking simultaneously fear and awe…terror and fascination? Did we feel the urge to turn away from them, even run away? Perhaps take a breath and return to that moment…to that feeling they want to evoke in us. In that breath can we take another look…we are very likely in the presence of the numinous.
Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. She is the author of the dream primer, “Who are Those Guys?” which explores the many characters who come to us in our dreams. The companion piece to her dream workshop of the same name it is available in ebook and paperback. Learn more about her work with dreams at her website: http://maryjoheyen.com/.