Monday, December 15, 2014

The state of your soles

Walking a lake shore, I come upon something small and white and solitary on the wet sand. From my original angle of vision, it looks like a tiny ribcage. When I come closer, I see it is a sandal with many straps. I feel I am looking at a symbol from a dream. Abandoned between the confident lakefront mansions and the cold lake, looking so much like part of a little person, the lone sandal makes me think of soul - a part of soul that has been left somewhere away from home.
      In dreams, the state of our footwear often suggests the state of our souls. You can hear the echo of "soul" in "sole". A dream of lost shoes may invite us to think about where on the roads of life we may have lost or misplaced soul. Sometimes you can reach back into that kind of dream in order to look for lost shoes, and that search may take you back to a place in your life where you lost something more important - vital energy and identity - that you can now reclaim.
     Shoes not only have soles. They have ties, and the state of your laces or straps in a dream may say something about connections - "old ties" or new ones. A woman getting ready to attend a high school reunion in Manhattan dreamed she was urgently seeking shoes that would be comfortable for walking yet smart enough to suit her taste. A salesman in Bloomingdale's persuaded her to purchase a pair of sneakers with laces made of genuine, but flexible, gold. She smiled at the thought that after all the years since graduation, her ties to her classmates were "golden", and that she would be comfortable with them in the big city.
    A Freudian psychiatrist I know dreamed that her shoes were far too tight; they were torturing her feet and making it nearly impossible for her to walk. When she reflected on this, she realized that her Freudian approach was cramping her ability to do her job. She expanded her studies, embracing Jung and other approaches to the psyche and its healing. Now, in her dreams, her shoes fitted just right.           
    In some dreams, we find ourselves wearing shoes that would be highly unlikely in regular life, except at a costume party. We seem to be cross-dressing, or wearing the footwear of a different historical period, or dispensing with shoes altogether in a primal landscape. When we inspect the bodies we inhabit in dreams of this kind, we sometimes discover that our dream self slipped into someone else's situation, in a different place or a different era. The state of our shoes in such dreams (and other details) may be a clue to connections within a soul family that includes personalities in different times.
     That thought has been of great interest to me since I dreamed that I visited my favorite professor at a research institution where he was doing some remarkable work that involved pairs of shoes. The professor is Manning Clark, the famous Australian historian, who was a great friend and mentor to me when I was a student and a precocious lecturer at the Australian National University. Manning died in 1991, but I have had many intriguing encounters with him since.
     In the dream involving shoes, Manning showed me that he is now busily engaged in studying "parallel lives". This meta-historical approach seems to involve tracking how choices made and actions taken by two people living in different times impact each other's fortunes, by a process of causation that you can only grasp if you can step outside linear chronology. One of the pairs Manning had selected for study was Lenin and Dionysius of Syracuse (a tyrant of ancient Greece). Each time the professor finished work on one set of parallel lives, he moved a pair of shoes to a different position on the far side of his desk. This was evidently a kind of tally, but I felt the shoes signified something more.
    I am thinking now of that lone sandal on the lake beach. There is a sandal angel, very important in the pathworking and astral travel protocols of certain Mystery and kabbalistic orders. His name is Sandalphon. He wears sandals in the presence of his Maker, and leather footgear in the presence of Shekinah, the Divine Feminine. Some say he was once the prophet Elijah, or Elias. He presides over the astral body and the soul journeys we make in this vehicle. Some believe he watches over the big journeys that precede birth and follow death, which involve putting on and discarding "garments", like soft shoes.
    I think also of the symbolism of everyday life. The other day, I noticed a pair of women's high-heeled shoes, muddied and scuffed, abandoned under a tree on a gritty urban street. And I thought again about those dreams in which shoes that are lost or abandoned can reflect soul loss. 
    In my book Dreaming the Soul Back Home, I discuss shoe dreams as one of the main categories of dreams that encourage us to ask where soul has gone and make sure that we have proper grounding when we are walking our soul paths. The state of our soles may indeed reflect the state of our souls.

Abandoned shoes (c) Robert Moss

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