This week’s Life Mapping activity invites you to reflect upon a recurring dream or a recurring image in your dreams. These sorts of dreams or dream images can reveal archetypal messages for you about important potentials and challenges. If you keep a dream journal, you will notice repeating images or scenarios and you can keep track of how they appear to you and whether they change over time. As you work with your recurring dream imagery—either through dream-based therapy such as Gestalt or archetypal dreamwork, or by actively contemplating the dreams you record—you will come to understand what they represent about your own feelings or unconscious complexes.
For many years in my dream life, I encountered archetypal lions, tigers and bears (oh, no!). There was always a similar scenario: I have befriended a Tiger, for instance. Then something stresses the Tiger and I realize that, being wild, he will turn on me and try to hurt me. So, I run, climbing through three degrees of fences or walls (like the 3 epidermal layers of skin!) in order to reach shelter and safety, with the Tiger hot on my tail until I get through the thickest, third barrier.
In one of my Bear dreams, my sister and I are in a woods and we find a cute little bear cub in a clearing. We approach to pet the bear, but of course, then the bear cub’s Mother sees us and comes after us to protect her cub. I tell my sister to run and climb a pine tree (axis mundi, “world tree” for you Jungian readers, linking Earth with the Heavens). I climb up behind her, then looking down I see the Mother Bear—beautiful and graceful–climbing after me as easily as if she were on level ground!
To benefit from these vivid recurring dreams, it is important to work with them inwardly as well as outwardly in your journal. After the Bear dream described above, the feeling of the dream lingered, but I didn’t completely understand it at first. So on the second evening, I took the dream “into contemplation”. Asking for help in understanding the dream from my Inner Guide, I asked inwardly about the meaning of this dream. Then, the dream played itself out visually on the screen of my mind, like a movie rerun. As soon as the rerun faded I heard a voice, telling me clearly: “Even though you run from Her, she is driving you to greater heights!”
This interpretation was exactly the point of the whole series of lion and tiger and bear dreams I was having: I was projecting my own strength or power into these animal figures. Rather than claiming and harnessing my own power, from fear of that power being overly aggressive, I ran from It. Yet, indeed, even running from my Power required me to use it, to get away, to protect my sister, and to survive.
After I realized the meaning of these dreams, they started changing. In a Bear dream several years later, I see a cub and then a Mother Bear and I climb a pine tree. But this time, at the top of the tree there is a platform; I walk across it to a Laboratory where a female scientist is preparing a potion she gives me. Somehow this prepares me with what I need to know to ward off the Bear. I go back to the tree and strip off sections of bark, tossing them down at the Bear, who backs off down the tree and goes away!
So, what is an example from YOUR dream life of a recurring dream scenario or dream figure?
Write down as vividly as possible a typical dream with this recurring scenario or figure in it. Let your unconscious mind help you to write out this dream description; it will give you the right words to use.
Now, you can ask yourself, or better yet, ask your own Inner Guide to help you understand the meaning behind this recurring dream. Does it remind you of any outer situation in your life, perhaps showing you something about how you typically respond to it?
If you are an artist you can draw or paint the significant elements from your recurring dream. If you are a poet, you can write a poem, or if you are a musician, write a score or lyrics.
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
(William Blake, from “The Tyger,” in Songs of Experience)
However makes most sense to you, record what you can of the meaning of your dream. Then, put it aside. You can create a dream dictionary at the back of your journal (cf. The Art of Spiritual Dreaming, by Harold Klemp), and then every time you have your recurring image or dream, you can write the date and describe the image to see if or how it might be changing over time as you assimilate the force of the image into your daily life and understanding.
For me as an avid Dreamer for all of my life, I believe that recurring dreams always bring important messages. Dreams are not merely phenomena to be experienced or even just remembered or retold. Dreams are messages from Spirit and from your own Higher Self. Learn to listen to their messages to you and to act on your dreams to benefit from their lessons or nudges. Even if the action is just writing a dream down or sharing it with a loved one whom you can trust, I believe the more you pay attention to your dreams, the more clearly they will speak to you and help you to identify and then to fully Realize your Life Dream.
Better Endings to You!
I invite you to Comment about your own recurring dream image or the lesson you have learned from this activity. Remember, ultimately YOU are the best interpreter—and active beneficiary—of your dreams. The more you can learn from your dreams to realize your Dream, the more service you can also be to others!