Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Wren and a Hound are Singing

My friend the wren
Stood upon a fence
And sang the summer rainstorm
To its face
The chickens got excited too
And Harry the old hound
Began to bay right at
The darkling cloud
I also felt the earthy summons
Of a hymn or howl
Emerging from some hidden
Place inside

But couldn’t quite betray
The aria in mist and sage
And so I only watched
The happy little bird and laughed

I think I really meant to say
That language only works halfway
When desert rain
Disbands the day

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Three Dreams

I’m not normally inclined to write about my dreams. Most of the time, they don’t make a lot of sense (at least to me). Often they are a bit too personal. But every once in a while they carry a message. And of the several dreams I have had in the last few weeks, three of them seem to be of this latter category. They have a feel of the mantic. I think they are pre-cognitive, to use the language of experts. In a word, I think these dreams are warning me about the future.

I don’t presume to receive dream messages for others. So I write about these three for my family only. I also send them out into the world in case they ring true to anybody else.

The first dream that impressed me a great deal was of a visit I made to the office of a lawyer friend of mine. In the dream, it was the first time I had visited him at work and I was extremely impressed by how large and expensive everything was. The ante-room was three stories high and probably over 4,000 square feet in area. All the walls were lined in gray and white Italian marble. And the building was filled with clients, so many that I couldn’t count them all.

Every one of them was coming to see my friend about handling their bankruptcy. I remember being surprised by this because I knew that my friend was not a bankruptcy lawyer.  I was also a little put-out because my friend did not even have the time to say hello to me. He was just too busy.

I was about ready to leave when I saw the wife of another lawyer friend of mine. She was dressed in a thick diving suit and she was very busy too. She was polite enough, however, to say hello. As she moved out of the office building, she said there were so many that were drowning that she had to save.

In my second dream, I found myself surrounded by many credit cards. This troubled me a great deal since I don’t like credit cards. I have one bank card and a couple of store cards and I pay them off each month. In my dream, though, I was defaulting on all these cards. I also noticed an elderly friend of mine that I suspect is not very wise in his financial decisions. I tried to catch his attention but he refused to notice me.

When I told my wife about these dreams we both agreed that they were a warning about difficult economic times ahead. We also felt that they were warnings about avoiding debt. I guess you don’t need to be trained in psychoanalysis to draw these fairly obvious conclusions.

The third dream was quite short. More accurately, I only remember a part of it. In the dream I found myself with my family in the world of a few hundred years ago. It took a little getting used to – as we were all fully comfortable in a 21st Century American culture. We did, however, find things to be alright. Instead of frustrations and culture shock, we found ourselves getting by nicely, although quite a bit more simply than we do right now.

These three dreams have left me quite concerned about the future. Hopefully, they are a type of dream that means nothing more than a personal reshuffling of my waking thoughts. This would be nice, of course, except for the fact that before the dreams, I had no thoughts whatsoever about worrisome economic times to come. That is no longer the case.

Carl Jung identified several types of dreams from antiquity. The un-inspired dreams are hardly worth noting as they are usually about our personal preoccupation with food, money, love, hate, prestige, etc.

But ancient cultures (and most non-Western cultures today) also have many traditions of divinely inspired dreams. Sometimes these dreams are oracular – meaning that an honorable important person appears and gives counsel on what we should be doing (or avoiding) or maybe about the future. Other inspired dreams might be visionary dream of the future. Supposedly, these kinds of dreams are visions of how things will actually be.

A third category is the figurative dream. These are dreams involving symbols of one kind or another. In other words, the actual events of the dream may make no sense at all by themselves, but understood as an analogy, they may be quite prophetic or otherwise enlightening. My three dreams all appear to me to be of this symbolic type.

I find it interesting that so many cultures all recognize the symbolic nature of some dreams. Some psychologists recognize that these symbols are individual and perhaps arbitrary. Among our more influential dream observers, though, (e.g. Jung and Freud) symbols often represent consistent and recognizable things. Jung, for example, believed that some symbols represented universal stages (or archetypes) in the development or history of humankind and they were consistent across many cultures and peoples.  

I have a book claiming to identify several of these universal symbols. After having experienced my three dreams, I decided to look at what some of the images might mean. Did I dream using universal symbols? I wanted to know.

I couldn’t find a reference to marble, but stone is known to represent power or permanence. There was nothing in my book about rubber or diving but swimming is said to represent being surrounded by uncertainty and by something greater than ourselves. Again, there was nothing listed for credit cards but money is fairly straight forward indicating currency, capitalism, finance and such things. And I found nothing on abandonment by friends but the meaning of betrayal is quite harsh. It is associated with hanging, punishment and death.

Many other parts of the dream (lawyers, history, crowds, etc.) were not listed either. Maybe I am to understand these things literally. I’m not sure. I’m not an expert in dream interpretation. That said, I am enough of a mystic, I suppose, to believe that dreams can be important.

I come from a Christian faith tradition that recognizes the importance of dreams anciently, even if our contemporary understanding is a little less clear on the subject. I grew up taking the stories of Joseph’s and Daniel’s dream experiences seriously, just as I did the story of Lehi, Nephi and their family.

I don’t believe that our modern scientific notions necessarily have to diminish how seriously we take dreams. There are plenty of examples of bright people that think dreams are important. I’m not sure I know why our culture seems less interested than others do about dreams. Maybe dreams are just too subjective for us. It is more likely that there is little place in our academies for prophecy and their ilk.

Whatever the reason may be, I think some dreams should be taken more seriously than we are wont to give them. I say this because I have had a handful of experiences with dreams that clearly turned out to be pre-cognitive.  If these three dreams turn out to be the same, I think we should do whatever we can to be ready for difficult economic times ahead. I’m not a fatalist, nor am I a doomsday prepper. I am someone, however, that does believe that some dreams are important. And I hope that my family does too.


For Jung’s ancient taxonomy of dreams, see Dream Interpretation Ancient & Modern by C.G. Jung, published by Princeton University Press this year (2014). Another reference that comes to a very similar chategorization of dream types is A. Leo Oppenheim’s The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East, with a Translation of an Assyrian Dream Book (1956). Transactions of the American Philosophic Society, New Series, Volume 46 (3): 179-373. My reference on symbols is, The Book of Symbols, Reflections on Archetypal Images edited by Ami Ronnberg and Kathleen Martin published recently by Taschen.