In Your Dreams|
Posted: March 23rd. 2003
Times Viewed: 9,970
This has been a hellish week. I usually avoid describing things in what are traditionally Christian terms, but the images of what is transpiring in Iraq so closely mirror the biblical descriptions of hell that I would be hard pressed to come up with another term that defines the scene as well. Even as I write this, the television screen glows with images of a sky turned red by the flames of a city ablaze. Coalition troops are under attack in many areas. Some have been captured. Those of us who have friends and family in Iraq and the surrounding countries face new fears and uncertainty as 'friendly fire' incidents and behind the lines treachery begin to make news. War is hell, we know. But this one, perhaps more than any other, has brought us to the edge of its abyss. Looking into the very mouth of its inferno, we are both fascinated and repulsed by its furious and violent energy.
Perhaps part of the fascination comes from its source. For this 'hell' is not that final and ultimate solution devised by a vengeful sky-god. It is not of any divine construction at all. We did this. Seeing the images filtered through a nationalistic psyche divided by centuries of Western thought, it is hardly surprising that we could be both oddly proud and spiritually appalled at the same time.
This is a mighty power that we have unleashed upon the lands. The lightning bolts of destruction once reserved only for the gods are now in our human hands. It is no wonder that many people are trembling under the weight of that responsibility as the much touted myth of an 'antiseptic' war is being demolished before our very eyes.
The character of Obi-Wan Kenobi once remarked in the movie, Star Wars: "I felt a great disturbance in the force..." Many sensitive people across the world have certainly felt such a shaking in the psychic planes. In the past few days, I have received quite a few emails from people expressing just such feelings. It matters not whether they are for or against the war itself. They are disturbed. They write that they are deeply troubled in a way that they were neither prepared for nor trained to acknowledge.
And they are having some very strange dreams...
The Western world tends to dismiss dreams as a viable source of information. The major monotheistic religions discourage dream interpretation as being too open to demonic influence or at least to be utterly unreliable when put up against the words written down in the books of their sovereign gods. Thus for these religions -- and the nations that arose based upon the philosophies of these religions -- dreams are viewed with distrust, skepticism or ridicule. At best, they are pushed back into the dimly lit parlors of the fortune-teller and considered as a somewhat harmless source of entertainment.
Psychologists are generally only interested in dreams as a clinical tool by which to gain insight into real world personality disorders or as just so much psychic garbage that the brain cleans out each night. Carl Jung postulated that the dream world opened up the human brain to the wisdom of a 'collective unconscious'. He in fact reported years before the rise of the Nazi regime that many of his subjects and/or patients reported having dreams of Teutonic symbols and gods. Jung himself never concluded whether these were precognizant flashes or images picked up from a social context that was beginning to take shape in the powers that were about to arise. Looking back upon that particular time in history however, a case could be made for either premise.
It is only when we turn to the native and indigenous peoples of the world that we can find a context in which dreams are respected and encouraged as oracles of future events. Tribal peoples, drawing from a psyche that divines events as being spatial in nature rather than lineal as most Westerners do, perceive no conflict in the acceptance of both fate and free-will. Their dreams then do not paralyze them in indecision over such a conflict, but rather grant them insights into a whole (holistic) framework that allows them to act upon their visions.
"I saw it in a dream' rings with a truth for native peoples that most Westerners could never accept as 'the truth'. Unless one has been brought up in an indigenous culture where dreams are known to be 'true', it is difficult to understand how this can be so.
Today's Pagans are caught somewhere in the middle. While we believe in -- or rather, say that we believe in -- various forms of divination, many of us are still trapped within the Western forms of thought. That is not a value judgment. It just is the reality of the situation. One doesn't embrace Paganism and then miraculously transform one's psyche overnight.
One of two things usually happens when a person decides to become a Pagan: he/ she either retains or retrains>. The new Pagan (And let it be apparent that it is not only the recognizably 'new' Pagan who does this.) may retain that Western-biased psyche by twisting an inherently non-Western mode of spiritual practice or religion to suit him/herself (Or join a path or tradition that does) or he/she will retrain his/her psyche along native tribal and cultural modes.
The former (retaining) provides an almost instantaneous identification and gratification (another Western-based virtue). It is an act of individual determination, self-declaration and personal will. Or, as some more critical of the validity of such an approach might say, it is an act of wish.
The latter (retraining) may take years of exercise and introspection. It is a way of being. It is a process of reconnecting to the cosmos.
That we have 'Pagans' who fall into each of these schools reveals some of the source of the tensions between the various modern sects. And the way a Pagan comes to evaluate messages from dream world also will depend upon which mode of thought he/she has embraced.
Those who maintain a Western-biased psyche may find it difficult to accept that dreams can look into the future -- or for the Quantum Pagans out here, a possible future -- or be messages of import from Gods or Ancestors. Even should these dreams be recognized as such, retaining Pagans might interpret them as being personal messages sent for their individual growth or edification alone. They would certainly be reluctant to share with others the contents and thus risk ridicule.
Retrained (and perhaps 'reintegrated' might be a better term here) Pagans, on the other hand, see a truth revealed in dreams that must be shared with the world and they usually desire to do so. However, we face some modern-day problems when it comes to any sort of universal dream interpretations.
I have been asked to offer interpretations of the dreams that some have shared with me. Unfortunately, in most cases, I can't honor their requests. I know what an image means in my own 'tribal' setting, but I cannot say that it would mean the same thing in theirs. A wolf, for example, will symbolize one thing to the tribe/clan to whom Wolf is a protective totem; it may mean something different to another tribe. Elves mean nothing to Native Americans, but dreams of elves may be very important to those of an Irish clan. (Or to Tolkien fans). Cultural and tribal context then is very important in dream interpretation and unfortunately, we in the West severed many of those links long ago.
All is not lost. Tribal and indigenous peoples still dream dreams and share these dreams with their peoples. (If my good native friends all start heading for the hills, I think I will trust them on the wisdom of that necessary and be right behind them!) We also can retrain ourselves -- reintegrate ourselves -- into the dreamtime realms.
For many, many years, we have merely closed our eyes. We have been asleep.
But now -- as a worldwide hellfire of our own creation turns the night sky red -- we must learn how to dream again.
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, March 24th., 2003
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