Jung said that one of the things he liked to do with a dream was to “circumambulate” it, wander around it, considering it from many angles. He liked to do this while in physical motion, wandering around his house on the lake, through the garden, into the woods. This is a grand way to get greater perspective on a dream. Walking with a dream for a while, you may find that more of the dream narrative returns to you. You are almost sure to get commentary of some kind from what you notice playing around you, wherever you happen to be going.
You may find that both inner and outer perceptions accomplish what a dreaming people of central Africa say we must do with a dream. Like other cultures that value dreaming, the Yansi of Zaire have special words for dreamwork practice. According to anthropologist Mubuy Mpier, the Yansi share dreams every morning, and the core of their approach to dream exploration is embodied in the term a bumi ndoey, which means to “turn a dream.” The teaching is that we need to turn a dream carefully, as we might lift a great rock, to see what is underneath, on the side that is not initially visible.
It’s not only a matter of letting the world illuminate the dream; it’s a case of letting the dream illumine the world. “We do not always have only to sit with closed eyes, moving around in our heads, to draw closer to an image. We can put it in our pocket and carry it with us throughout days and nights,” as Mary Watkins wrote in her passionate appeal in Waking Dreams for us to let images speak to us and through us. “You not only see different things, you see things differently” when you are seized by poetic imagery, poet and scholar Kathleen Raine observed.
One of the things we want to do when we are walking a dream is to notice when it starts to play out in the world around us. There might be a considerable time gap between the dream and its unfolding in the world, so patience and a decent memory — assisted by your journal! — may be required. When a dream does begin to manifest in external reality, let an alert flash on your inner control panel. In my mind, the default version is: Dream Playing Out Now.
When the dream starts playing out, you have several options. They are not mutually exclusive. If there is no sense of danger and the original dream left you feeling happy and confident, you may be content to let the dream play again and enjoy it with all of your senses. Maybe you’ll find that a sense of “rightness” comes with this: that you have made the right choice, that you are in the right place, that at last you have found the right friend or lover or teacher. If you had a darker sense of the dream — if it involved risk or danger — you will want to be poised to change the script, solve a problem, avoid that accident or that drama at the office.
As a dream plays out in exterior reality, you may notice that its symbolism is now alive in your world. This can become a whole education on how to refresh and renew our perspectives on what is a dream and what is real. We need to take dreams more literally and waking life symbolically.
A dream may be fairly literal in the sense that it reveals something that is happening or will happen in the future in the ordinary world. Yet when the dream is enacted, we see that there is symbolism in the physical event. So a literalistic dream can point to a symbolic play in the outer world. Let’s consider an example.
A man I will call Yves dreamed that his ring finger was cut off in an accident. There was blood and pain, and he saw the splintered bone, and woke with feelings of dread and fear. When he brought the dream to me, I asked very early, as is my practice, whether it was possible that he could lose a finger in a literal accident, maybe cutting or slicing something. Did his work involve such risks? Well, yes, it did. He worked part-time pruning vines on a hillside in southern France, where he lived. He agreed that he would need to be more watchful about how he handled the secateurs.
We proceeded to discuss the symbolic levels of the dream. Hard to miss the significance of losing the ring finger in terms of a relationship. He was not married, but he had a live-in partner and felt her interest had begun to stray. This brought in the Freudian bit. Did the loss of “tall man” — the middle finger — speak of a decline in sexual performance?
Yves walked with his dream. Within the week, it began to play out when he made a false move while working in the vineyard. He only narrowly managed to avoid cutting off his own finger with the pruning shears. It was the ring finger, as in the dream. The partial fulfillment of his terrible dream led him to confront the symbolic issues. He sat down with his partner. She told him, with the sexual candor for which the French can be notable, that she was dissatisfied with his sexual performance and had already taken another lover. They agreed to separate.
Big Feet. Detail from painting by Brazilian street artist Pedrito, RM private collection.
Post a Comment