Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dream Wardrobe Department: Putting On the Bearskin

Last night, I visited a friend in England. We agreed to take a spin around the countryside, and I decided to change. I put on the uniform of a Guards officer, complete with the red coat and the high bearskin hat. I was pleased by how well this outfit suited me. In the bearskin, I looked incredibly tall and strong.
    I woke from this dream feeling refreshed and re-energized. I had been suffering from travel fatigue and the oppressive humidity in my home neighborhood. I was struck by how, in the dream (more than during my recent visit to the U.K.) I seemed to be claiming something of my ancestral identity. I smiled at the memory of a Guards costume, complete with fake bearskin and wooden sword, that I wore to a dress-up party when I was about eight years old in Australia.
   I was especially struck by the importance of the bearskin hat. They were originally designed for grenadier regiments in Europe with the design of making the soldiers look impressively tall and strong, to cheer allies and deter adversaries. 

    I am grateful for the energy boost that came from a change of clothes in last night's dream, in which - I remember - I was also practicing Gaelic phrases, and was delighted to find that when I got some of them right, they opened portals into mythic landscapes that the boy adventurer in me loves.
    And I am thinking of how ingenious the beings who run my Dream Wardrobe Department have been over the years. Perhaps the most important of all my dreams of changing clothes is the one I recorded juts after my birthday in 1988, when I was in the midst of a crisis of shamanic initiation that led me to transform my life. 

    In that dream. quarter of a century ago, I found myself in the rooms of a tailor in Manhattan. I asked to see the fabrics he had available. I wanted to have a new suit made, but did not like the fabrics he had in stock. When I left the tailor's shop, the city was different. There was the sense that hidden things were pulsing behind the scenes. Still bent on new clothes, I entered the menswear section of an upscale department store. I pulled a suit off the rack. It fitted perfectly and the price was right. It seemed to have pinstripes. When I looked at the label, it read “Shamanic”. 

    I examined the pattern more closely. The “pinstripes” were actually minute designs, a magical language I could not yet translate.  The collar was unusual. I realized it was animal fur. My first impression, of a pinstriped "power" suit, was an illusion. I had chosen a power suit of a different kind: a shaman’s outfit, of skins and furs with magical charms. 

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