The Mountain

It started with a clogged drain. I was cleaning the bathrooms in my house yesterday and pulled up the plastic plug that collects hair in the shower of the master bathroom. The shower is as old as the house, its narrow walls are an avocado green and its milky glass doors bordered in gold. It’s one of the few fixtures in our home we have not changed since we moved in 6 and 1/2 years ago.

The shower drain was not clogged enough to stop the flow of water, in fact it had shown no previous signs of being clogged. Yet, my eye was drawn to a black mass of residue that clung to the side of the pipe and I pulled it free in one satisfying handful. I thought the job was accomplished, but it wasn’t. As I turned on the water and started cleaning the residue from the floor of the shower, I discovered the water was collecting in a pool. By unclogging a pipe that had been allowing the flow of water before, I had somehow managed to create another clog. There was something in there, older, deeper, that needed to be released.

Now let me take you to the mountain I climbed in my dreams last night. Actually, I wasn’t climbing the mountain, I was riding up it with my husband on a chairlift. It was near the close of the day and we decided to take this lift up to the summit that we had never before noticed. The chairlift was all the way over on the far left-side of the mountain and it let to a lodge where you could spend the night.

This was something we were considering, as we were riding up the lift. Whether to spend the night in one of the pod-like rooms that we were fairly rapidly approaching as we ascended the mountain. Then I noticed the lift beside us with people we knew who were making their way up the mountain too, only faster. I found myself envying their speed. Why was their lift going faster than ours?

We arrived at the summit to spectacular views. The view was unimpeded, the only clouds, wispy and light high in a clear blue sky. We could see for miles, the undulating terrain spread around us like a feast of the eyes. To get onto the ground, it seemed we had to de-board from a large ship that was suddenly nestled tightly in the middle of a pond at the mountain peak. We were inside, along with several other passengers and the boat kept turning and bumping into the walls of the earth that held the pond.

Although I was still held inside the boat, I was given a view of the brow of the boat. It was solid, high and strong. The metal structure was painted white and there was a section that jutted out slightly in the shape of a triangle pointed downward. As I watched this close-up image that I clearly needed to see, the triangular structure opened like a plank, and I knew this was how we were going to get out of the boat.

I found myself on the top of the mountain, now inside a beautiful kitchen where delicious meals were being prepared for the travelers. For some time, I stood and watched, taking in my surroundings with all of my senses. Then, suddenly, I felt the urge to eliminate the waste held inside my bowels. I ran down the stairs where I knew the bathroom to be held, and as I ran I found that I was wearing only a white nightshirt. A long white cord descended from beneath the cloth and I pulled it, releasing a plug in the form of a tampon partially covered with old blood. Now I had that to get rid of, as well as the feces that were ready to be released.

As I was entering the basement room, I knew already what I would find. Of coursemore open stalls without doors, like in most of my dreams, I said to myself. Here was the turning point. The moment when I decided I had had enough. I searched the wall and found a container for the tampon and shut it inside. I looked at the floor that was now devoid of toilets and decided I would eliminate the waste I was holding inside of me and find a way to deal with it afterward. I was not going to let fear win, no matter what tricks it decided to deal out.

So I manifested a drain inside of my dream, which opened into the floor, waiting for me to wash my waste away. It snapped shut, and the job was done. I had found a way to be free of what I no longer needed. I had changed the circumstances of a legacy of feeling trapped and helpless, which has for many years manifested into infuriating bathroom dreams.

As I usually do, when I woke I returned to the scenes of my dream and started exploring their messages. I believe, as Denise Linn states in her book The Hidden Power of Dreams (incidentally I had just read this passage earlier in the day), that “Every day, in every way, the universe is trying to tell you something, just as your dreams are attempting to give you messages during the night.” (pg. 166)

Linn points out that we’re given these messages in the form of various symbols until we accept them. The clogged shower drain, I knew before I went to sleep, had not been coincidental. I could feel the sluggish energy from the old fears that were clogging my first and second chakras. This is where we often hold many of our deepest, oldest fears, as well as our creative and sexual energies. I knew I was being called to work through and release, to free the plugs, so to speak, that were holding me back.

Back to the mountain, that majestic symbol of spiritual transformation, at least when one is traveling up, which I was. I couldn’t over-look the other chairlift though, which was bringing people I knew faster to the summit. I couldn’t overlook the fear that I often feel like I’m not “getting there” fast enough. I’m an impatient soul, after all.

The voyage, which really wasn’t so long, was worth it. The summit so high, opened to glorious views. First I had to find my way out of the trapped waters of emotion and creation. I needed to find a way off that large ship that kept bumping into the walls of earth, so I could get to that beautiful kitchen where alchemy was being created in the form of cooking.

Spirit showed me the door, which blatantly revealed itself in the form of the upside-down triangle, symbolic of female genitalia and the sacred feminine wisdom of creation we house within our second chakra. The triangle opened, and I was free. Well, sort-of, I still needed to pull and release those two clogs that were trapping the free-flow of life-force energy inside of me. They were old, tired plugs, long stuck, and it was clearly time to let them go.

The only thing holding us back from living our complete, creative, sensuous divine selves, is the fear we trap inside of us. We can learn, as Denise Linn talks about in her book, and as I demonstrated last night, to work with our dreams to release these fears. My dream-self made the decision to step inside that fear and actively release it. I became an active participant in my own dream and changed the ending I was tired of having. I freed the fear that wanted to stay inside.

The House as a Metaphor in Dreams

I often dream of houses, I always have. Sometimes I wake in awe of the beauty of the architecture of my dream-world homes, wishing at these moments that I was painter. Wondering, at other times, which homes I am remembering from a past life.

Metaphorically, though, there is always something to take away from a dream house or building. When I find myself in a home rich with architecture and vivd colors, I am reminded of the rich tapestry of the soul’s truth. I am bounded only by imagination. We are all bounded only by our inner truths.

And, sometimes, we are inhibited only by our own fears. My fears manifest in houses that become mazes of rooms without exits, bathrooms without walls, and crumbled architecture. Last night, I found myself in a farmhouse with ample room, yet I yearned for one more room where I could entertain. I walked out of the kitchen (the heart of the home/soul) and found myself in the perfect room. It was large. It was empty. There were four walls joined into a rectangle.

As I contemplated my room I realized what was missing. The floor was not a floor, but rather the bare ground covered in grass. The ceiling, an open sky. The door and windows, merely frames. How, I wondered, was I going to fix my room? What would be the cost? Was it something I could afford?

I agonized in my dream-state, grabbling with this obstacle, not letting myself see how simple the solution was. With little effort though, the walls could come down. A “gentle” reminder that sometimes I/we get caught up in the superficial aspects of life, neglecting the true essence of our beings. Sometimes it is hard to let go. Even in my dream, I wanted both. I imagined large skylights in the ceiling, once I found a way to put one in.

The Spider’s Dream Tale #spidersymbolism #dreamsymbolism #animalguides

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Two nights ago, before I went to sleep, I placed Doreen Virtue’s Divine Guidance book on  the shelf beside my bed, closed my eyes and took her advice. I asked the Divine to show me my life’s path in the form of a dream, knowing it would be my job to interpret the symbolism in whatever form it manifested.

Here is the dream I was given:  I was at my parents’ house, sitting on their expansive breezeway. It was dusk, the light coming in through the open wall was darkening, creating shadows around the chairs where we sat and scattered the light around the brick floor.  My mother, stepfather, and two other men were there with me. One of the men was Stephen King, the other one unknown. Stephen was there because he was working with my stepfather on a building project for his house. He was lounging on a chair, acting aloof. After we were introduced, I told him I knew his niece ( I really do know his niece). He seemed largely unimpressed.

I then noticed a large white orb in the form of a tarantula spider’s sac under his leg (or my stepfather’s, I’m not sure which). When I realized what I was looking at, I started to panic, knowing this orb would eventually hatch and countless baby spiders would emerge and find their way into the house (I appeared to be still living there). I noticed more small white sacs throughout the breezeway, and my nervousness increased. I wanted to box them inside my daughter’s pink poodle lunch box and send them down the stream beside my parents’ home, but my mother beside me argued against this.

The next morning as I thought about the dream my initial reaction was disappointment. This was my vision? Another difficult dream with my parents and spiders to boot! Then I remembered reading about spiders in Ted Andrew’s book, Animal Speak, in which he refers to them as the totem of the writer (see pages 344-347). In lore, the spider is sometimes called the “weaver of illusion,” or the “grandmother – the link to the past and the future.” It was starting to make sense. I am actively weaving the past and the future together in my life and in my memoir writing.

The body of the spider is in the shape of an 8, the symbol of infinity, “the wheel of life.” The body itself is a bridge, connecting the past with the future. What then of my fears? It could not be an accident that Stephen King, the writer of fears manifested, appeared with the spiders. My anxiety was clearly palpable in my dream. It could be said that many of my childhood fears, aside from my earliest memory, originated within my childhood homes and the words and interactions I had with my mother and stepfather. It could be said that my greatest resistance as a writer is birthing from these sources. Hence, the impulse to send the spiders down the stream.

Spiders, Ted Andrews also writes,  balance the male and female energy. Perhaps it is not accidental that the mother in my dream was urging me not to send those unborn spiders down the stream, even though in actuality her life reaction to my writing has been quite different. We are, after all, the writers/weavers of our own destinies.

Spider is also symbolic of death and rebirth. Andrews writes, “Spider teaches us that through polarity and balance creativity is stimulated.” Life is about balance, as is writing. Sometimes this balance is hard-won, but when we get the hang of it, we realize falling off is nearly impossible. Through my writing, I have certainly been reborn.

Although tarantulas don’t spin webs, they do spin threads. They also make their homes within the earth. They combine gentleness and strength, as well as agility. They are night workers, linking them to the moon and dreams – a source of creative inspiration and wisdom for many, including me.

As I do each morning, I took my dogs for a walk in the woods, listening and looking for signs from nature.  As I turned into my driveway, I saw before me in the sky a large eagle formed out of the clouds. Its head was turned toward the south (the direction of overcoming obstacles and awakening the inner child; trust; and resurrection). The eagle itself was in the eastern section of the sky (the direction of healing, creativity, and rebirth).

Eagle, according to Andrews (see pages 136 -141), is the symbol of healing, creation, and resurrection. The “balance of being of the earth, but not in it.” The bald eagle feathers have links to grandmother medicine, wisdom, healing, and creation. They are connected to the number three, new birth, and creativity. “The willingness to use your passions to purify and to use your abilities even if it means being scorched a little.”

Eagle vision is 8x greater than humans, linking it, like the spider, to the infinity symbol. Andrews writes, “To accept eagle as a totem is to accept a powerful new dimension to life, and heightened responsibility for your spiritual growth. But only through doing so do you learn how to move between the worlds, touch all life with healing, and become the mediator and the bearer of new creative force within the world.” Was this a sign telling me that my pull to be a healer and a writer, somehow combining the two, was a path that was unfolding to me?

A half an hour later, I was outside hanging up the laundry beside our apple tree. I heard the voice of Chickadee and looked up to see three of the little birds singing down at me. This was not the first time Chickadee has appeared to me, asking to be heard. The last time it was seven birds leading me to feathers, this time it was in the form of three asking for my attention. Andrews states that the chickadee (see page 125 – 126) is the bird of truth.  The number three is associated with birth and creativity. Because there are seven types of chickadees, the bird is linked to the number seven and the seven primary chakras in balance. I have had chickadee in my life since I was a child, just as I have held fast to the symbolism inherent in my name.

Animal Messengers

Before I began this post, I scanned the blogs of some of my friends. I try to check in every couple of days. Today, a friend of mine wrote of seeing an eagle after she was thinking about this new year and what it means to her. She was born in the year of the dragon.  My friend’s animal encounter gave me those chills that fill you with the wonder of the universe. She was, I am sure through Eagle, given a sign.

On Monday I began a psychic development course taught at a nearby high school. During the class the instructor spoke about animal encounters, encouraging us to pay attention to them and record our observations in a journal. Each one, she told us, holds a message, whether it be a spider, a bird, a deer, etc. Even the number matters. One crow, brings a different message than five. We may encounter animals while driving, those deer staring at our headlights are asking us to take care; the blue jay flying across our path may be giving us the nudge to speak our minds. And, we may also meet animals through meditations and dreams.

I love Eagle. The eagle, in its ability  to connect the air and the earth, calling both places home, sends us messages of strength, healing, creative expression and magic. Not unlike the dragon. My friend is a hard-worker and a writer. She’s a survivor. Eagle has visited her before. I hope she has faith (as I do) in her ability to transcend perceived limitations.

A few years ago I had what I thought was a nightmare. During my dream state I ran naked from the waist down, through a dark path in a forest. Danger, it seemed, lurked within every shadow, but I knew I needed to reach the end of the forest. At the end of the path I found myself inside a building filled with people who all looked the same. No one seemed to notice my presence. I stopped a man and asked him for directions back to the forest. “Are you sure you want to go back there,” he asked me. “Yes,” I told him, “I need to.” I didn’t know why I needed to go back, until I got back on the path I had just left. This time, running, I was not alone. I carried a small child upon my back. The child was a girl. She looked like my daughter. She looked like me. Suddenly the stakes were so much higher. I had much more to lose. Much more to save.  I ran past those shadows determined not to trip, or let loose my grip on the child I carried upon my back. Eventually, I saw through the separation of trees in front of me a distant light, indicating the end of the forest. In the instant before I woke, before I reached my destination, a small white unicorn ran across my path.

I think about my dreams a lot. I have come to realize that dreams are sometimes more real than life. As my psychic instructor told us, we are often more awake in our dreams than we are during the day, going about our busy, technology-foused lives. I took a class on dreams over the summer. During the class the instructor told us that thousands of years ago, before medicine as we know it was starting to evolve, there were dream hospitals. Literally, patients would gather in these rooms to sleep and to heal.

If an animal comes to you in a dream, pay attention. Even, a unicorn. Perhaps, especially a unicorn. As I have discovered, unicorns have incredible gifts to give us, and an immense ability to heal and show us the “light.” My unicorn dream, I came to realize was rich with symbolism, reminding me of the child-self I still needed to heal.

For more on unicorns, see books and resources by Diana Cooper. She has a website: www.dianacooper.com and has written some wonderful books and has created decks of oracle cards. There are numerous resources online to look up animal totems and symbology. Animal Speak by Ted Andrews (I have not yet read this), was recommended by my psychic instructor. I flipped though it, it looks wonderful.

Perhaps this year, more than ever, the animal world will speak to us. Hopefully, we’ll take the time to listen.

Voice

When I was a young child, after my mother and stepfather moved us from Oregon to NH, we had an outhouse. In back of the outhouse there was a stream, and beside the stream, tucked in amid the ferns, were white sheetrock buckets holding leafy green plants. The plants were a secret. One of many. They looked like tomatoes, but they were not.

At ten past five this morning the phone rang and I was pulled out of a deep sleep to listen to an automated message informing me that my children’s school had been canceled for the day.  After I cursed the superintendent, my mind began the replay of my dreams. In the first scene, I saw myself standing in a room with my mother and stepfather. My stepfather loomed in front of me, my mother was in the shadows to my right. It was Christmas and my stepfather held before me the partial skeleton of a quilt. Triangular patches of scrap fabric had been sew together (presumably by my mother), but the shape of the quilt was just taking form. It was his gift to me. “Take it,” he told me, “I want you to finish it.” As he spoke my stepfather pointed to bins of calicos in the colors of Christmas behind him, gesturing for me to choose the fabrics of my choice to finish the project. He was insistent, this was something he thought I should do.

I refused. I didn’t want the beginnings of a quilt that he thought I should make on my own. (My mother once helped me make a quilt for my bed, he had much to say about it while the project was occurring.)

Instead, I stood before my stepfather and started to talk. The first words that came from my mouth were muffled and strained, as though I were trying to talk through a clot or a windstorm. There was no strength to my words. But, as I spoke, my voice became strong and clear. “I don’t want the quilt,” I told my stepfather, “Instead, I have something I want you to hear.”

I told my stepfather that for Christmas I had given my birthfather back his name (I did, in fact, give this “gift” to my birthfather this past Christmas). The name my stepfather had taken from him. “Dad.” As I spoke, my heart was racing my words and winning in its mad sprint. I tried to look past the mix of anger and hurt in my stepfather’s face, not willing to allow my voice to stop inside my throat. “I can call two people Dad,” I told him, “There are no rules that say you can’t do that.” I argued my defense to a mute audience, listing the reasons why I should not be denied the right to have and love two fathers. I didn’t stop until I had emptied my body of the words I had been holding inside.

The scene changed and I was standing in another building, a public building with many people, talking to a couple with a child in a stroller. My mother and stepfather were behind me and we asked about the child, a girl with long light brown hair hunched within her too small seat. There was an aura of gloom around the child, a sadness so deep the air around her was heavy, gray.

“How is she,” we wanted to know. The girl lifted her head slightly as her parents spoke of how she was recovering from the depression that had filled her after she had been to Oregon for a visit. They told us that now that she was back she was beginning to improve. As her parents spoke, my heart reached for the girl. This seven year old child with long brown hair, whose too large body sunk into her stroller, needed me. I knew the source of her sorrow. In my mind I saw her standing on the sand beside the rocky gray waters of the Pacific. I felt her open her mouth to a scream whose sound was immediately swallowed by the greedy mouth of the wind. I felt her body absorb the violence of the swirling air as though it were my own. I knew I could help her.  I would teach her how to recover her muted voice.