Ritualized Dream Work

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David Shoemaker recently fired up Living Thelema again, just as I had gone back to re-listen to some older episodes. In listening to the show on dream work, I was highly inspired...

Last night I had two very similar consecutive dreams. As you read keep in the back of your mind that the Moon moved into Leo today....

In the first dream I was in my hometown, Asheville, NC. I was standing in the middle of a road. I was looking up the side of a mountain. As is the fall season currently, the trees were bare, allowing me to see quite a distance through the woods. I spotted some old barns, much like what we have here in Mars Hill. I was tremendously curious and wanted immediately to leave the road and begin climbing the mountain towards them. Before I could, I saw movement around the barns. It was a Devil Monkey. Let me pause here to say that Kelly and I had a real life Devil Monkey sighting this past summer that you can hear all about on Strange Familiars Podcast. In the dream, it was white, just like the one we had seen. It began descending towards me. I fumbled at my belt for my holster. In life I carry a Glock into the woods. It was there, but the magazine was empty. I feared, knowing the reports of Devil Monkeys attacking cars. Yes that's a real thing. I pulled out some bullets and was struggling to get them loaded into the magazine. It took every bit of energy and concentration that I had. The Devil Monkey was almost at me. I finally realized what had been the problem: one bullet was too large to fit in the magazine. I took it and threw it at the Devil Monkey, now only feet away. It hit him in the face. His face was different than what we had seen in real life. It was bestial, fierce. Almost like a lion, with reddish mane. I almost wanted to give up and just let it mangle me. I managed to get three bullets in the magazine and chamber a round. I pointed the gun at the Devil Monkey and tried to shoot. As is always in my dreams since childhood - the trigger was too hard to squeeze. I couldn't fire. Now, this has been the case with dream guns since I was probably 3 or 4 years old - I had received a plastic machine gun. The trigger mechanism had broken. Only if you squeezed it extremely hard would it make a firing sound... Anyway, I woke up.

The second dream that happened after I fell asleep again was that I was on either an alien planet or near an extremely exotic forest. Not exactly like the Amazon - more like the old growth Redwoods. A woman was with me. I remember looking towards a boundary. There were some picnic areas around it. Beyond them was the old forest. Again I had an incredible yearning to go explore the woods. The girl and I began walking towards the boundary. She started running, and jumped the boundary. I feared for her because I could see 3 or 4 wild animals doing something like circling. Not quite circling... Was it a Sabbat? Suddenly something stepped out from behind a tree. I yelled for her to return across the boundary to me. I crossed it awaiting for her. She came. I threw her to safety and stood my ground as this... beast approached. This is hard to explain. It looked like depictions of Mithra - with a lion head, but the body was animal. As with the Devil Monkey, I've never seen anything quite like it. It challenged me. I took a fighting stance. It attacked and I punched it in the face. It flew back against a tree as if it almost weighed nothing. It got up and attacked again and I punched it in the face again, it again flying back. It lay at the tree looking at me. I did some Kung Fu moves and motioned with my hand for it to come at me again. Then... it changed. It's entire face took on the countenance of a innocent kitten. I spoke aloud that it was not fooling me. It's face then flashed dark and the eyes glowed red. Still standing my ground, I pointed to the woods and very sternly said, "GO". It did not. I said "GO, NOW!" and then I woke up. I had not been afraid of it, as much as recognized it was a devilishly mischievous beast. 

Alright, so that's what I'm working with. David Shoemaker quickly went over Jungian psychotherapist Robert Johson's method for working with dreams. Keep in mind that in the Jungian school all of the dream represents part of you. In a nutshell these are the steps,  matched up to the Qabalistic worlds, cause it's nifty:

  1. Make associations with the dream content (Aztiluth)
  2. Connect dream images and symbols to inner dynamics as well as amplifying by mythological context (Briah)
  3. Weave together inner dynamics into the story related by the dream (Yetzirah)
  4. Perform a ritual to honor the dream (Assiah)

OK, so step 1:

FOREST - would seem to obviously be a symbol for the unconscious.

WILD BEAST - with the beasts, I am slightly tempted towards my theological background to dealing with the beasts of Daniel and Revelation. There they always symbolized power - Kings, Governments and so on. Power is good. We'll stick with that. Personal power emerging from the unconscious.

ROAD / BOUNDARY - in the second dream the symbol of the road was made even more obvious, i.e., the luminous place between the conscious and unconscious.

GUN / FIGHTING - I believe that the conscious mind is afraid of the unconscious mind. Distrusting. Guarding against. The unconscious mind is always in communication with the conscious mind, trying to balance the ego. That we spend 1/3 of our life asleep and dreams aren't much of a human concern is very telling to the truth of the fear and dismissal of the the unconscious, which I actually dismissed the second beast, commanding it back from whence it came. My inability to pull the trigger in the first dream is telling - I wanted to but a more knowing part of me than my ego would not allow it. In both cases, I felt that I was defending myself against a dangerous aggressor.

SEEKING - my initial overwhelming feeling in both dreams was a powerful urge to explore the forest. There too was this feeling that I could not at anytime I wanted simply wander off into the forest. Mundane life prevented this. I wanted to make time to explore the forest, which I felt contained all the wonder in the world. In both cases, before I could decide whether to wander or not, a wild beast emerged from the forest and across the boundary, into my everyday world. And I wasn't expecting it, and was fearful when it happened.

WOMAN - well, in my huge experience you all know about there was a woman and a beast. Here, I don't know what to make of it. She seemed completely free in the wild.

PICNIC AREAS - some of these lay over the boundary and this is where the woman went. Picnic areas are for family fun and leisure, for food and reconnecting with nature. I was having none of that, especially since wild animals were around. This may say something about my ability to have fun. In fact, I'm sure it does.

Step 2.

The Devil Monkey is much like Bigfoot. Mysterious, obviously metaphysical to anyone paying attention. Fortean studies explore the times when the fantastical does step into our world. In our stories, we always slay the dragons, kill the trolls, cut the heads of the hydras, stake the vampires, etcetera.... But from a Jungian perspective, they are us showing ourselves... ourselves. The lion-faced beast reminds me somewhat of a sphinx. A sphinx was a guardian, letting none pass until they had properly answered a riddle. Within Freemasonry and Egyptian sphinx lore, the sphinx guards knowledge of the mysteries from the uninitiated. What struck me from within the 2nd dream was the likeness of the beast to Mithra. Now, that's deep, deep esoteric territory. A while back I read a book on it. The cult had 7 degrees of initiation. Not enough time or space here to go into it, but that is the most astonishing and occult amplification possible. Anyone interested in the Mysteries should read The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries by David Ulansey - find it here. This is December 07. My friend Bangkok Jonathan just reminded me that Mithra's birthday is December 25th.

Step 3. 

Well, at this point I have to tell you that simply writing all this has been tremendously enlightening. The story that emerges is this:

I more than anything want to pass through into a conscious knowledge of the unconscious. Into the mysteries. Into the realm of the gods. Into knowledge of Self. Holy Guardian Angel. Into Wholeness. However you want to frame it. My desire to explore that forest is overwhelming. Before I can take a single step into the forest, a guardian emerges and confronts me. My reaction is to shoot it, fight it, dismiss it. Surely those are not the proper things to do to get past the guardian. Surely it must be telling me that before I can step forward into the forest I must tame it, or come to know it, or something.... From a Jungian perspective, there is some aspect of myself preventing my way forward. I am conflicted. Man and beast standing face to face. I can think of what aspects of my personality are beastly. That's a no-brainer. I am a horrible people person. I grunt and growl more often than speak, and my world is nearly completely internalized. The woman in the dream who ran forward. I was angry with her for being careless. I cared much for her. I should have more fun.

Step 4.

Ritual. This I have not done, but I have plans for. This will be in Jungian terms Active Imagination, and I suppose in ceremonial magic terms, an evocation of sorts. As with the Birto conjuration I'll acquire the figurine of something sphinx-like. If only I could find a Mithra statue for relatively cheap. Chinese guardian lions also a possibility... I don't plan to have it as complex as the Birto operation. Perhaps a simple Pentagram Ritual, a standing in the circle, and so forth and so on. In the mean time, I may try this in the astral. With active imagination, you recreate the dream in a deeply meditative state and begin a conversation. 

This will be the first time I have done dream work on this level, and I'm very curious to see what may result. The big ritual is aimed for December 25th.