|Mrs. Arnold-Forster flies at the Royal Society|
In the dream, Mrs. Arnold-Forster is at the Royal Society in the immense colonnaded pile of Burlington House on Piccadilly. Some of the foremost scientists in Britain are there, including Lord Kelvin, who created the universal units of measurement named after him, and her brother-in-law, the physicist Sir Arthur Rucker. Sir Arthur asks her to explain how she flies. It's easier to demonstrate than to describe, so she pushes off and turns a few loops under the ceiling. She comes down and demonstrates a second technique, gliding a few inches off the floor.
|Mrs. Arnold-Forster flies to Belgium|
One of Mrs. Arnold-Forster's flying adventures starts in November 1914. The Great War has been raging for three months. The Germans have swallowed most of Belgium and are on their way to Paris and the Channel ports. In the dream, she is in a room painted light green and knows it is connected to the War Office. “I was expecting a dispatch that I had volunteered to carry to the Army Headquarters in Belgium, flying in the manner in which I fly in my dreams.”
Kept waiting, she flies around the room to limber up and also to check whether the window is a good launch pad. She inspects the pictures on the wall, which have been hung notably high up. She wants a map of Belgium to guide her flight. They only have a very old one on yellowed paper with no railways and very few roads. She is assured it will work because towns and villages in Belgium are where they used to be. “ You will fly over Naville and Dischemoote," she is told. Once airborne over Belgium, she finds the landscape below her very like the map.
When she gets to Army Headquarters, she finds Winston Churchill in charge. She delivers her dispatch and then explores the underground chambers of a castle that is falling into ruin. She watches a king and queen in procession. Back above ground, she sees Belgian Boy Scouts being taught to fly. She thinks they look silly, like flying frogs, and pushes of on her return flight to England.
Mrs. Arnold-Forster recounts all of this as another example of the adventures we can have in our dreams. She doesn't discuss how closely her dream excursion may have corresponded to what was happening on the ground. I find it fascinating to compare the details of her dream with what was unfolding in the war. There are dreams that are better understood through history than psychology. Winston Churchill had rushed to Belgium the previous month to try to organize the defense of Antwerp. A Daily Mail correspondent was astonished to see the young First Lord of the Admiralty jump out of a car in mythic costume - a flowing dark blue cape with a huge silver lion’s head clasps - and play traffic cop for a stalled military convoy. Churchill wasn't in Belgium when Mrs. Arnold-Forster flew there as a secret courier, but his presence may still have been palpable; he had lobbied for command of the British Expeditionary Force.
The part with the royals in underground chambers would have spoken to anyone following the situation. King Albert of Belgium took personal command of his army and succeeded in keeping the Germans out of a little strip of Flanders for the rest of the war, much of which, notoriously, was an "underground war" in the trenches. The Trench of Death at Diksmuide (one of the places on Mary's map, with various spellings) is now an outdoor exhibit recalling the horrible nature of that war.
Some elements in her dream might have incorporated news she was following at the time. It is more than likely that she had met Churchill. He paid attention to dreams and would have been intrigued by the notion that a dreamer who knew what she was doing in two worlds - as an oneironaut and the widow of a Secretary of War - could serve as an aerial courier. It's a pity she wasn't given a subsequent mission by the Dream War Office to get Churchill to abandon his next mission - to take on the Turks in what became the tragedy of Gallipoli.
|La vie aérienne en rose|
As a proper Edwardian lady Mrs. Arnold-Forster always wanted to be correctly attired. Her favorite flying dress extended three inches beneath her heels. This made it less likely that people on the street would notice when she fluttered down from the sky and glided along the pavement. She was especially happy with a flying dress of rose silk..
Quotes are from Mary Arnold-Forster, Studies in Dreams (New York: Macmillan, 1921)