When there is a message of warning in the dream, such as the one I describe below, it means that when you do the inner work to transform the negative emotion in the dream into something new then if something potentially negative happens in real life you will have the ability to create a really positive outcome. In this way, you can shift your reality into something truly amazing. It takes time and daily effort and the really incredible results will shock and amaze you!
The reason trauma can be healed when you understand the secret messages of your dreams is because dreams exist outside of time & space. When we understand a message in a dream we can learn something about ourselves, our circumstances, and the people around us and we can begin to see negative things coming before they happen. This helps us become more prepared and it empowers us to use our skills, capacities, talents & strengths to create extremely positive experiences for ourselves, our families and our communities.
Truth be told, if there were a reward for having the most foreboding dreams in a row, I think I would win. In the past two weeks in my dreams I am:
canoeing in a river swarming with hungry alligators
hiking on a trail with snakes and lions
confronting an enormous bear trying to get in my house
running to rescue my dog who’s been attacked on the face
watching a herd of gazelles run from an unknown predator
Readers familiar with the way I do dreamwork (which was created & developed by author Richard Hastings), will remember that the many animals showing up in these dreams carries a lot of meaning. Here are four things to keep in mind when dreaming about animals.
Like humans, animals have two sides – a positive expression of their qualities & also a negative expression. Think of how a dog can by loyal and friendly but also vicious & attacking. Dreams about animals signal where some work can be done for the dreamer to be more of the positive & less of the negative.
When new energy is opening up in the dreamer, oftentimes animal dreams show up which provides guidance and clarity. So I can say that the negative energy I’m dealing with is anger, jealousy, hurt, fear – especially of being attacked by someone/something lurking hidden beneath the surface. The positives opening up for me are: empowerment (bear energy), flexibility (snake energy), strength/courage (lion energy), and … I’m still working on the alligator and the gazelle…
When we flip the negative emotion of the dream to its positive opposite then we shift our perceptions and can go for opportunities which can change our circumstances. I suspect the positive of the alligator is being able to be patient and wait for the right time to leap at a goal or opportunity.When I am a Positive Alligator then I don’t react to every passing whim or fancy or emotion. I can be clear-headed, focused & patiently waiting for the right opportunity to go for my goal.
When the dream is positive and outcome is good then it’s a good idea to try to incorporate the qualities of the animal because they will help with the real life situations. If the outcome is negative, then it means some work needs to be done on the issues so the outcome can be positive.
Gazelles are fast (known to run up to 60km/hr) but in the dream when I see the gazelles run by signaling that a predator is coming I turn to run with them but I know I could never keep up with their speed and in fact my running slowly would make me more vulnerable if it’s a bear or mountain lion. So I turn back to see if anything is coming but it’s just a dark path. I wonder if I can hide or maybe climb a tree. Without knowing what the gazelles are running from I find it hard to know how to protect myself.
Running in dreams usually means wanting to escape something fearful in real life. Often times, the object of the fear is a person in a perceived position of power. Facing the fear means standing strong, having clear boundaries, and having the Courage to be really big to the task. People who are addicted to power have a lot of ways of trying to make their targets feel small. When we stand in our Truth & our own Empowerment then we can be really big to the task and not allow anyone to make us feel small or threatened.
There are a number of potentially negative situations which can happen, at home, in the workplace or in the community. There are a few things I’m facing right now – all of us are facing something to one degree or another. When we remember to hold a clear vision of a bright future in our mind & we take positive action towards our goals then we never need to fear any predator. We have all the skills, capacities, talents & tools needed to overcome ANY obstacle or challenge that faces us. When we dream about animals it’s a sure sign that great big new energy is opening up and exciting things are happening! We need not be afraid of the change and we can trust ourselves and our inner guidance to move us through any difficulty or deal with any challenge.
Ask your Self: What am I invisioning happening in the future that scares me?
If the negative thing you imagine happening has HAPPENED to you in the past and you are afraid of it happening again, then this is a REAL FEAR and the solution is to have A LOT of Courage and to learn something new to deal with your current life circumstance.
If the negative thing you imagine happening in the future has never happened to you before but you have seen it happen to others (in real life, or movies, or on the news, etc) then the issue is ANXIETY. The solution for anxiety is to look back into your past, remember what you’ve done well & succeeded in before and then repeat those actions again with A LOT OF CONFIDENCE.
I will be writing a lot more about working with Fear & Anxiety in upcoming posts.
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When there a bully in the schoolyard, he takes advantage of the fact that most of the children have a lot of fear. He can push his weight and size around because he is pretty certain no one is going to challenge him. He gains access to the feeling of power and getting what he wants. In the traditional approach to dealing with the bully, the bully is the problem that the school has to get rid of.A lot of effort is put into disciplining the bully. What isn’t so apparent is that the bully is only taking advantage of the fact that there is a huge amount of fear. If the school were filled with the virtue of courage, the energy it doesn’t have now, then the bully could be easily taken care of.
Courage is the capacity to go for a particular goal where there is a risk involved.If you just look at the above scenario in terms of the bully, then you don’t see that the people in the environment do not have the virtue of going after goals where there is some risk involved. They shrink into fear because of the risk, and then the bully has its way.If the environment promoted courage, a place where people could take risks safely, then bullies would go away on their own.Schools traditionally don’t promote courage or taking risks. They do the opposite. They promote conformity and following the rules because the ability to take risks is such a threat to the established ways of doing things. If you can promote courage, then when you get rid of the bully, he stays away.
When people have on-going digestion problems, they have a tendency to go for physical remedies like antacids or digestive enzymes or other medications. The first place they go shopping for a remedy is the medical one. The idea is to get rid of the digestive issue and return to the good ole days when you could eat anything at anytime. What if the fear was the cause of digestive issues, that is, that you live in such a state of fear that the body’s digestive processes just don’t work well? Medication, when there is fear involved, just gets you relief for a time.Your system can go back to where it was temporarily.After some time, however, the physical remedies stop working, the problems return, and the fear is as present as ever.This happens because the fear which comes from the ego is insistent. It isn’t going to go away by physical means. It is has an emotional cause rooted in some experiences. It calls for a new capacity, a new energy, or virtue because the person living with the fear is not fit spiritually to participate fully in what life is asking of him/her.Maybe the person needs determination, but is fearful that going forward means being treated unjustly by bad leadership.If this were the case, then as soon as determination is in place and the fear is gone, then the digestive enzymes would start working because the body would not be held in a tension filled state from fear anymore.
The logic of this approach is so simple and easy to understand. The physical problems are mostly held in by negative emotional patterns. Fear, anxiety, grief, anger, disappointment, frustration and jealousy cause the body to hold negative tension which cause physical problems.When you replace the ego patterns with higher new ones such as compassion, honesty, generosity, wisdom, and patience, then the body releases its tension filled energy with new energy that is healthier.
The higher energy is the lure to us.Our spiritual qualities are our purpose in life that never stop developing.. Life is about constant change and transformation everyday. Who you are today will be asked to change tomorrow to someone even better. It doesn’t ever stop. The higher being, your spirit, will be asking you to change. It will show you your places of change in your negative emotional patterns and the bodies reaction to them.What is your life needing right now to make it work? Where are you being challenged? Get out of the old pattern of trying to return to an old state of being. Advance to the new state.
What holds true for the individual also holds true for humanity? Some leaders are gaining a lot of support these days by trying to get people to go back to old worn-out ideologies like nationalism and racism and sexism because they feel so utterly incompetent in a world based upon cooperation, respect for the rights of others, equity, and lifting the downtrodden for the same reason that the bully in the schoolyard doesn’t want to have to share a swing. The bully just wants to be able to have the swing whenever it pleases. He is scared to death of having to share.
A lot of people are going to go kicking and screaming into the world of equality and unity and will experience a lot of pain in the process, but the higher self of the world is moving to higher energy. It isn’t going backwards. It is only going to go forward.Shouldn’t you be doing the same in your life? Find the virtue that is calling to you and let it develop without so much resistance. Try some tranquility for a change. Or maybe some tolerance. And by the way, tonight when you dream, your dreams will be showing you the way.
When Your Dreams Show You the Way To Shift the Paradigm of Power
By Rachel Perry
Interpreting dreams is not a new idea. When we look back into every ancient civilization on the planet we see evidence of dreams and the societies which honoured them, gave them meaning. What is new about dream interpretation the way I learned from Richard Hastings is to take the interpretation to a deeper level with a focus on transformation. Quite simply, this means gaining an understanding of the metaphors in the dreams, how those metaphors are providing clues into challenges in day-to-day life and then deciphering the clues to understand how to solve those challenges in a way which leads you to being uplifted, being free from fears, being capable of actualizing your authentic Self. The transformation which occurs is like how the sun rises at dawn turning darkness into day, or how a pearl slowly emerges from the friction within the shell, or how a caterpillar changes form to gradually become a butterfly. The inner transformation is like steel hardening in fire, or like ice melting in the Spring. All around us in the natural world we see examples of transformation from one shape or form to another. When we take a deep dive into our dreams with the goal of transformation, we become like miners deep in the caverns of the earth and with enough search and effort we can come up with a myriad of jewels, gems and golden treasures.
When you think of DreamWork in this way, it is easy to see how the change is about “adding” on the new qualities, about bringing in the new positive energy. You see? First you dive deep into the metaphor of the dream, and then you search around for the meaning and then you find how that message opens up understanding about new qualities, or virtues or skills which you can begin practicing and then you begin trying it out in your day and then you will see change happens almost overnight. In this way, you are adding new qualities to your life to solve the negative challenges. This is extremely different from every other model of personal development which exists in the world right now. Every other framework is about “letting go” of the problem … let go of anxiety, detach from depression, let go of anger, let go of fear, let go of … this and that and the other thing. Many self-empowerment practices include a very soft approach to healing, for example, the practices often promote “finding forgiveness” or “getting to your inner state of Calm”. There is nothing inherently “wrong” with these things but Dreamwork takes the process one step further because sometimes the quality which is needed is not as easy as that. Sometimes the quality needed is Self-Discipline or Obedience or Courage. The mental toughness that is needed isn’t gentle and easy to achieve sometimes. It’s painful and difficult and takes time. The effort is well worth it because when the issue has been dissolved and the new quality or skill firmly in place then so many wonderful and positive things open up in life.
When we are working on adding a new quality to our lives, we start with our Selves first, then expand out to our family, then our community and then to the world. In this way, amazing growth and accomplishment can be achieved.
Undoubtedly, when change starts to occur, it affects others and the challenge is that not everyone likes change. Not everyone likes growth. Some people cling to the past as though it has all the answers and they refuse to move forward. For an individual who is understanding their inner blocks and removing them little by little, adding strengths and courage and self-discipline and enthusiasm to their lives, they may start to see things change in the institutions around him. Marriages can undergo transformation when this happens, as can work places, and educational institutions, and even penal institutions or governments. Change can affect every area and every institution in society. The exciting part of this process is that it is exactly what is needed for the world of humanity to reach its next stage of human evolution. This is the time in history when old institutions are crumbling and new ones are being built up in their place. The two things are happening simultaneously. The old is being rolled up and a new one spreading out at the same time. People who had grown accustomed to having power in a relationship, or in a corporation, or in a school system, or in a political party, are finding they are no longer able to rule with the threat of a metaphorical sword the way they used to. The old ways don’t work anymore. It’s time for something new. When individuals empower themselves to persevere through the challenges in their lives they can affect positive change in every area of society.
I like the way Richard Hastings describes this process and how it leads to greater health. He writes, “The higher energy is the lure to us. Our spiritual qualities are our purpose in life that never stop developing.. Life is about constant change and transformation everyday. Who you are today will be asked to change tomorrow to someone even better. It doesn’t ever stop. The higher being, your spirit, will be asking you to change. It will show you your places of change in your negative emotional patterns and the bodies reaction to them. What is your life needing right now to make it work? Where are you being challenged? Get out of the old pattern of trying to return to an old state of being. Advance to the new state.”
Advancing to the new state seems like an “easy” thing to do, sort of. I mean, logically it makes sense that the True Self wants to experience something in this world, that inspiration & ideas come to mind to actualize it, that the ego/Self comes up with fears and concerns about what could go wrong if those ideas are actualized, that the True Self consciously works through the fears, eliminates them and then finds opportunities to make it happen. When a lot of work has been done on an issue and the opportunity to advance is right there in front of you, why is it still hard to just do it? What is the resistance? Why is “adding on” a new quality or skill so much more difficult than “getting rid” of the old ones?
The answer seems to reveal itself in the natural world. A great example of transformation is the butterfly – although there are limitations in this example I’ll still share it as a starting point. If we look at a butterfly we can see the biggest difference between it and the caterpillar is the capacity to fly. The butterfly goes through a transformation allowing it to develop an entirely new set of wings and now it can do so much more than it could do before. But really, it loses the “ability to crawl”. It lets go of the old crawling behaviour while acquiring the new skills of flying. In the transformation process, while it is in the chrysalis stage it not only loses the ability to crawl but it doesn’t yet have the new wings added on. It can neither crawl nor fly. Essentially, its body turns into a pocket of “goo” as the cells were busy re-inventing themselves. This process takes time, patience, and trust as the caterpillar essentially “surrenders” to the change.
In time, the “crawling” skill changes into the “flying” skill and the butterfly’s life suddenly becomes better than ever. If the butterfly could talk, it might say, “Wow! Look at me! I’m flying! I can’t crawl anymore but that’s okay, now I can fly.” Well, if we take this metaphor and compare it to the way many self-help approaches focus on the “getting rid of” part of the change. It would be as if there would be self-help groups for butterflies who were feeling depressed because they can’t crawl anymore. It’d be like, “Hi, I’m a butterfly and I’m a crawl-a-holic” or something like that. Clinging to the memory of crawling and dealing with all the issues about not being able to walk on twigs and tree branches anymore. Nevermind you now have the skill to FLY to the tops of the trees, lets cry & grieve about not being able to wiggle like you used to. Now I’m being a bit facetious & flippant here but just to exaggerate the problem with the “getting rid of” mentality. Think about it – if there were to be promotional signs for people joining a “Transformation Program” which told caterpillars they could “get rid of” their crawling issues would that be more effective then telling them they could “add on” the ability to fly? The “getting rid of” paradigm permeates our culture. Get rid of depression; get rid of anxiety; get rid of PTSD; get rid of nightmares; get rid of violence; get rid of alcoholism; get rid of drug addictions; get rid of anger; get rid of co-dependency; get rid of passive aggressive behaviour and the list goes on and on and on. But true, authentic, long-lasting change will never work with this approach alone. It would be like talking to a butterfly about “getting rid of” their crawling behaviour. How much more effective to teach a butterfly to soar in the sky than teach it to “deal with” the loss of its caterpillar self.
So how this translates to human transformation is that as we move from old limiting behaviours and grow into new ones, we are essentially letting go of the old and embracing the new. We are learning new skills, adding to our repertoire of skill-sets to draw on throughout our life experience. We are adding on capacities. We are developing new traits. We are discovering talents which are latent within us, lying in potential, just waiting for the opportunity to expand. Just like how a caterpillar has the potential to fly within it, so do we have the potential to do amazing things which have not yet been actualized.
The reason I used the butterfly as an example is because the interesting thing about a butterfly’s change is how it has that third chrysalis stage when it is neither a caterpillar or a butterfly. It’s in-between. It’s in process. It’s growing. It’s changing. I think humans go through this type of process symbolically as well and when people say they “don’t like change” or they “can’t handle uncertainty” this is what they are talking about. During the “inbetween stage” you cannot see any trace of the former caterpillar nor can you discern the butterfly. It’s just goo. If we are going through a growth process within our home, or our work environment, or our community we can see there are these “gooey” stages as well. Sometimes the fear of uncertainty is so strong for some people they may quit their job, or fire others during this stage. In marriages, some people may give up, go for divorce, or go for affairs. Someone going through personal transformation in a jail setting might find this stage nearly unbearable because the old behaviours are gone but the new ones are not yet fully established leaving a tremendous feeling of uncertainty and this can be a vulnerable place to be in, especially when surrounded by authoritarian figures. But in time, the wings start to grow, and in time the butterfly breaks free, and in time it’s easy to see the process was well worth the effort because flying IS so much better than crawling after all.
So this is why a butterfly is a good metaphor for change. If a butterfly were to show up in a dream, it would be a good symbol for this type of personal evolution of adding on new skills and letting go of the limitations of the former life before the new skills were added on.
As Richard described in his post, sometimes there is a bully-type person in an environment who likes to put people down. Bullies usually do not like change, growth, development. They like things to stay the same because they felt they had a control over things. What if there is a lot of growth and change in an environment – what if there is Courage instead of fear? What of the bully then? Well, either the bully changes too or he gets out. Most times, if there is enough positive change in the environment he will leave on his own will because he just can’t handle not being in control and power anymore.
So this is what the “adding on” paradigm shift is about – allowing for the process of change, and being patient while qualities such as Self-discipline or Obedience or Determination are being developed. In time, old fears, anxieties, and patterns of thinking can be dissolved and replaced with new more advanced capacities which transforms the life of the individual, their family, their work and every area of their lives. The effort and patience required is definitely worth the effort.
In the dream, I was realizing something had been stolen from me and I was talking to someone about what had been taken. Details of the dream aren’t too clear but I think it was something valuable kept in a safe that went missing. I was telling someone about it and formulating a plan of what to do next.
Since a house in a dream is about the Self, to have something taken means a valuable part of my self has gone missing. The part of my Self which went missing was the part which could have been developed had circumstances in my childhood & adolescence been different. Because I was abused by both my parents in childhood, the course of my life was altered. The positive outcome of this is that having been abused myself gives me insight and capacity when working with others who have been abused. The negatives in my past gives me strength and capacity in my present and this makes me very hopeful for the future.
I’d like to write a bit about how growth works in metaphors of dreams and also to explain how the growth of a virtue or quality happens over time by exploring the metaphors of dream.
Let me just begin with writing about a way to think of growth because I use that word a lot. Imagine a large garden, a guy beside a tree, and he sees a woman in the distance, who is gardening. She’s pulling out weeds and watering the flowers and she appears to be the supervisor, giving instructions to other gardners. The dreamer feels the urge to be close to her but then he suddenly feels a large viper snake crawling up his back. Maybe the man isn’t sure if the snake was intent on biting the dreamer or that it was poised to bite the woman. Regardless, the man suddenly freezes with fear.
To understand the way growth happens and to think of the metaphors or symbols in dream, it’s always good to think of the symbols/metaphors first. Dreams use symbols to communicate and so the key to unlocking the meaning is to understand what the symbol is about. Some of the key symbols in this image are 1) garden 2) tree 3) woman 4) snake.
What is a garden? Well, a garden is a place of growth. It’s a place where beautiful flowers and nourishing foods are grown. That means a garden is a symbol for the way beautiful things grow. The most beautiful things we can grow in real life are qualities within us, such as Compassion, Patience, Enthusiasm and Courage. Every single person on the planet has the ability to have these qualities and some of us tend to show them to those who are closest to us, like our friends, family, associates. It’s very easy to show Compassion to someone we know and trust. Much more difficult to show Compassion to a stranger. It takes a certain quality of Courage to do that. When there are vegetables or fruit growing in the garden, these are symbols for the things in life which give us nourishment, the things which keep us alive. In real life, our bodies need food in order to survive. But the other thing we need in real life to survive is experiences with Love, Support, Encouragement, Kindness, Gentleness, and feeling Connected with others. When we experience these kinds of positive things with others they are like sweet honey and they are good for the heart. Good for the soul. Every person has a basic essential need to feel close and connected with others. Connecting with others is just so very sweet. When a person is in jail, the most painful thing they experience is being disconnected from the people they are close with on road. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, associates, whatever … when we lose that closeness it hurts. The institutional setting is designed to destroy and disconnect relationships. In reality, that disconnection is more painful and more cold than the steel, cement and bars. The human heart longs for connection and that longing shows up in this dream, when the guy is looking at the gardener. He sees the qualities in her which he wants to experience too. She’s gentle, kind and caring to the flowers and plants. Probably the complete opposite than what day-to-day life is like on the inside where there isn’t really a lot of gentleness and sweetness in day-to-day life in jail.
How can qualities like gentleness grow? So a garden in a dream is a perfect symbol for the way growth happens within us. I’ll give an example from my own life. When I was a teenager, I did not have a lot of Determination. I had a lot of enthusiasm and I could get really excited about starting new things and trying out new things but I lacked the Determination to follow things thru to the end. One time, I started a cross country race, I think it was 5km and half way through the race, when I got really tired and overwhelmed, I just veered off course into the woods, found a comfy tree and sat there for a while. Eventually I sat so long I fell asleep. Sounds like the tortoise and the hare fairy tale, I know, but seriously, I did that. I fell asleep during a race and then long after it ended I woke up, remembered where I was, walked to the finish line and found most people had left, and everything was being dismantled, teachers were putting away the signs and food and stuff. I found a friend sitting at a picnic table and she was like, “Rachel, where were you? I was looking for you!” And I can’t even remember what I answered her. Probably made up some excuse or maybe told her the truth as bizarre as it was. And that’s how I handled the fact that I did not have a lot of Determination. I gave up easily when things got hard. It showed up in my grades too. I would consistently get high marks at the beginning of the year and then gradually decline, so my marks would be in the high 90s when I started out and then drop down to 80s, 70s, 60s. I’d finish up the year with 70 average not because I was a C student but just because I did not have the determination to keep up at my 90% level of enthusiasm for long periods of time.
When I was in my 30s and started realizing how I would give up on my Self all the time I started setting new goals. I signed up for a 5km race and then trained for it for months. I used an app on my phone to set the length of the run I wanted to do and then I forced myself to keep going until the timer stopped. Sometimes I’d slow down all the way to a walk but then when I got my energy and breath back I’d start running again. Eventually I got better and better at finishing things I started. I realized it takes a lot of Determination, Strength, Endurance, Perseverance and Courage to finish something. The energy to begin something is Enthusiasm, like a Dolphin. Playful. Excited. Full of energy for beginning the thing. But to complete something difficult, it takes Strength, like a Bear. Marathon runners often talk about the point in the run when they “hit a wall” and they really have to push their way through that wall, past the physical and emotional exhaustion to complete the race. In time, I learned to recognize when my own inner wall was coming up and when I felt the strong urge to give up and I learned how to push through it. First I would do this when I was running but then as I started to get stronger and started to complete more 5km runs then I was able to be more determined with other things in life too. I found I could more successfully set a goal and accomplish it because I learned how to pace myself, learned how to cope with feeling exhausted but not giving up. I learned how to keep coming back to the running trail over and over and over again, no matter how frustrated I was at my slow development. In time, I developed the inner quality of Determination. And then now matter what goal I set for myself I now had the determination to see it thru to the end.
So this is the way determination started out like a small seed in me, and then as I “watered it” with lots of practice on the running trail, that small seed started to grow like a plant grows in a garden. Eventually the quality was so strong and big within me, like a tall vibrant tree, that the fruits of my labour came into being. I started accomplishing goals, finishing races, winning awards at my work for the programs I was running, winning court cases I was involved in, publishing articles I worked a long time on. You see? Once I had the quality of Determination strong within me I could use it no matter what challenge in life I faced. But this didn’t happen overnight. It took about 5 years. Before I had determination, I gave up on myself all the time. Quit jobs. Left tasks incomplete. Missed appointments. Lost important things. Forgot to deliver things to people who were expecting them. Etc. Etc. But after focusing on Determination for 5 years I find I am a completely different person. Sometimes I can even start out a task or job or goal with a very clear idea of what it will take to keep the enthusiasm right until the very end of the project. I have learned what it is like to “bang up against my inner wall” and push through it. That inner wall is Fear. The reason I gave up my cross country race when I was 16 is because I was realizing I didn’t have the energy to finish the race in the front of the pack. I was realizing I was going to be one of the last people to cross the finish line and I was so afraid to look like a loser that I couldn’t bear the thought of that. So my fear of embarrassment made me shut down. I hit a wall within me and then just let myself give up. Back then, I decided I would rather disappear, literally, than finish at the end and look like a loser.
When I figured this out about myself I had to learn to be okay with being embarrassed. Being okay with being in last place. Being okay with looking … kinda bad for a moment. Being okay with having made a mistake. Maybe I didn’t sleep well enough the night before, or didn’t eat enough to keep me going, or didn’t train long enough during cross country practice. All my mistakes led me to not perform well and I was so embarrassed I just skipped out and ran into the woods to hide. Imagine that.
So I hope this example shows how this inmates dream of the garden is about how he has within himself the ability to “grow” a lot of new strengths. In his circumstance, since he is facing trial, he may go thru some of the same feelings I did. Feelings of embarrassment, of wanting to hide, of feeling like … having failed. When he has developed determination and strength more fully within himself he’ll be able to envision getting to the other side of the situation with a lot of Courage like a bear.
What about the snake? So animals in dreams help us to understand the next stage of
growth with a virtue or quality like Determination. Animals have qualities, abilities, capacities and skills which help them survive on earth. Every animal has skills or abilities unique to their own species. First Nations cultures understand this more than any other culture and Aboriginal teachings remind us to look to the animals who come into our lives as guides, friends, and teachers demonstrating to us the things we need as we encounter upcoming challenges. Two examples I gave were how Dolphins have natural Enthusiasm and how Bears have natural strength but you can think of this with any animal which comes to mind. Horses have Power & Endurance; Insects have the ability to multiply quickly, Birds have the ability to soar above the hustle & bustle of every day life; Snakes have the ability to be very flexible.
The other things which animals teach us are the ways to understand how positives & negatives show up in our own self or our own lives. When we look at an animal we can see how the positive and negative of the same quality can operate within one animal. Take a Bear for example. It’s Strength makes is a great defender and protector of its children. But make it angry and it can tear a person to part. A dog’s positive is trait is Loyalty & Friendship, but it can also be vicious and bite someone’s hand off. Insects can multiply quickly to reproduce its species but they can destroy anything in their path like eating away the roots of a tree and killing it, or eating into the walls of a house and destroying the foundation. Snakes are wonderfully flexible but also they can have venomous teeth and can kill in an instant. When animals show up in dreams, it’s good to ask if the dream is positive or negative. Are the animal’s traits working in a way which leads to something getting better or to something getting worse? When an animal comes in a dream it is there to show the dreamer where the next stage of work is to develop the quality to its most excellent degree. If the dreamer happens to have a lot of enthusiasm, like I did in my teens, but lacks strength like I did, then Bears might show up in dreams as a guide for the dreamer to develop more strength. Since Fear was the thing stopping me from developing my strength back then, in order to become stronger I had to start looking at my Fear, looking at how it operated in my life, looking at how my fearful actions were hurting myself and others and start to make changes. It was not easy but I took little steps daily for a long period of time and then saw the changes I was looking for.
When Snakes show up in a dream, start looking for jealousy. Perhaps the dreamer has some jealousy or perhaps someone in the dreamer’s life has jealousy and is acting out in hurtful ways. The more dangerous the snake in the dream, the more venomous can be the poison from the jealous person. Sometimes people can behave just like snakes. Maybe you know a snakey-type person in your workplace, or family or in your unit or range. When someone is acting like a snake, they will most likely not draw attention to themselves for a while, like a snake in the grass and then when they are ready they pounce out with their hurtful words, actions, accusations, and threats. The goal of a snake is to take over an environment, like a territory, and to take control of everyone using fear to dominate. In a workplace, a snake may be trying to take power by getting to the top as a CEO, or getting to the “top” of a school like becoming a principal. In a family, a member may try to control everyone with threats so that they always get what they want no matter who they hurt while getting there. Some might say jails can be like a snake’s den, with dozens of snakes all gathered together, all trying to get what they need to survive. Most people fear snakes but then there are people like Steve Irwin, or Snake Charmers, who have no fear and who can connect with the snakes without getting poisoned or harmed.
In the scenario above, with the man and the garden and the snake, well, the man has a choice in this case. He can become like the snake and lash out and harm the gardener. Or he can become like a snake charmer, capture the snake and set it free away from the garden to keep the flowers, plants and woman safe. The choice that the man has in this case is what makes us human. Humans have a quality which animals do not have.
Philosophers and mystics have composed volumes of work on the theme so I can’t go into it more now but to briefly touch on the topic I’ll just say that human beings have the ability to make the decision to be hurtful or helpful. They can decide to succumb to a challenge or to rise above it. They have the ability to … for example … stay in a fearful state and let the best things in life pass them by or to develop Courage for example and have the Determination to meet any obstacle. This is where humans stand apart from animals. Whereas animals are trapped within their instinctual nature, humans can stop and pause and assess a situation. They can imagine alternatives. They can weigh pros and cons. They can evaluate risks. They can calculate a plan. They can take action and follow through. They can achieve their goals. Animals do not have the ability to imagine a realm outside of what their senses can perceive. A dog, for example, cannot stand in a dark yard at night and imagine the sun shining on the other side of the earth. A human can though. A dog is limited by what it can see and feel and hear. A human can use the power of their imagination to perceive things which are beyond the realms of the senses. In this way, a person who does not have a lot of Determination can imagine what it would be like to have it. A person can imagine what it would be like to have determination. A person can take actions to develop more determination in their life and they can eventually have it. They can have it so much that they learn to have determination with every task they take on and anyone looking at that individual would say, “Wow! He really has a lot of Determination.” They begin to name the person by that virtue.
This is how a small seed of skill or capacity starts growing in someone’s life and how the dreams will show the development of the skill over the course of months or years. First the quality is just an idea, like a ball of potential energy, like a small spark, or a small drop of water, or a small seed. Then as the quality grows in the person’s life they may start to have dreams about animals who have that quality, for strength is could be bears, elephants, hippos. Then as the dreamer continues to develop the quality more and more they will start having dreams where the people in their dream have a lot of the quality that they are aspiring to. These character dreams may have people from the dreamer’s real life, strong teachers, or coaches. But maybe they show up as characters from movies, or from fairy tales, or from songs. The dreamer’s mind is seeing strength in these characters and they show up in the dreams to bring messages to the dreamer about what they can do to have the quality more and more.
Dreams about People are about understanding the qualities of the dreamer and the person the dream is about. It may happen that a dreamer has a dream about a person with the quality they need more of, like Determination, and then in the dream they have a sexual encounter. If it is a positive encounter then it is a symbol for how the dreamer is integrating more and more with the quality they are seeking to develop. If it is a negative dream, it shows where there are still some fears or issues to work through before the virtue or quality can be more fully actualized in the life of the dreamer.
Many people have dreams about sex and many inmates tell me dreams about sexual
encounters. It’s natural to think that these dreams are about the actual act of intercourse but in truth, dreams about sex are about the symbol of two qualities coming together. When someone has a positive sexual dream about a person who has the qualities they are going for in life, then it is a positive symbol for the way the dreamer is coming to fully integrate the newly developing quality within themself.
Sometimes, the reason why a person would not have a certain quality or skill in their life is because of trauma at a young age. A negative teacher or parent may have said or behaved in a way which taught the person to not develop a certain skill or quality. As the dreamer is learning to develop that skill or quality in their adult life they will have some healing to do around the trauma. A lot of sadness may come up, or anxiety, or jealousy. Any host of emotions could arise from the work and it takes time to heal the trauma so that the skill can be developed. A positive dream about sex with a person who has the quality you are going for is a good signal that the healing is working and that the new quality can be actualized in life without any painful associations.
This is where the work changes from a process of healing to a process of development. Just how I described that my first small steps at determination were focused only on running 5km but later I was able to use Determination for every task I set out to do. I was still healing at the time when I was learning to run 5km without giving up. I was healing from all the giving up I had done in childhood, in teen years, in adulthood. Once I had healed from my “giving up mode” then I had opened up brand new capacities and skills within myself to begin taking on new challenge and new risks knowing that I could start out with a lot of enthusiasm & finish with a lot of strength.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
Do you find it easy to start a project with enthusiasm but not too easy to finish it? Or …
Do you find it really hard to get going on something new but once you get into it then you have a lot of determination to complete it?
If what you need is enthusiasm, then to get uplifted you can think about a current challenge in your real life, imagine the biggest obstacle and then try to think of something new you can do that you never did before which would help solve the problem. Sometimes this is a good time to start a new class, or a new program, or learn a new skill.
If what you need is more determination, think about something you’ve been working on but which you’ve hit some sort of wall with and imagine what you can do to build your Confidence to move forward through the wall. To achieve this, remember something you have done well, with a lot of skill and then repeat that. Repeat the things you have done well and apply it to the area where you are stuck. Amazingly, you should see the wall start to crumble metaphorically speaking and your confidence in your capacity will grow.
When have you dreamed about an animal? What are the main qualities of that animal? How can you bring more of that kind of quality into your life now? How could more of that quality solve a current problem?
In the dream, there’s a lot going on. I’m outside in a large open space, maybe like a large family campground, something like that. The atmosphere is friendly and open. I’m walking from one area to another and then I notice a group of people have all started smoking. I say, “Oh, it’s time to smoke is it?” And I decide to join them thinking if we all smoke at the same time then it won’t bother the non-smokers as much because there’s no secondhand smoke inbetween. When I reach for my own cigarettes I discover they aren’t in my pocket. My sister is there to my left walking beside me and when I start looking for where I put my cigarettes she mocks me and says, “Oh Rachel, we’re smoking now, are we?”
“It’s none of your business,” I tell her and I walk away thinking about where I may have left them. I consider getting a cigarette from one of the other smokers but don’t want to appear that I have none of my own but also by the time it takes me to look for my own and I retrieve them then they will all be done and I’ll be smoking alone anyways. It’s like I have to decide to look foolish and ask for one or look foolish and smoke alone. I decide to keep looking for my own.
I find them in a strange room and I can’t recall the details of what made it strange but it was unusual somehow. Anyway, I found them and go back to the others and I have time to smoke while they are and we finish together at relatively the same time.