Friday, January 12, 2007
A Strange Dream
I woke up convinced -- with the same level of banal certainly that tells me I can watch HuskerVision from my office -- that my grandfather was alive.
I had a vivid dream of walking in the "crick pasture" with him. There is a creek by his old farmhouse, and he owned owned a "lake pasture" on the old Yankton Trail, but this was a different place. It was a relatively small plot, half a section long at most and perhaps a fourth wide, with an oxbow crick in it.
It was spring.
My grandfather, my girlfriend, and I walked up the crick. He was not in the best of health -- he stumbled a bit as he walked, and his skin was a little thick from fluid, but he was healthier than he had been for years. We walked just out of the mud on a beautiful spring day.
As we turned on the oxbow I saw a bicycle -- with thick blue plastic and sized for a young teenager -- in the mud. I pulled it out so it wouldn't get ruined and we walked along.
I saw a second bicycle, similar to the first, in the mud but also in the water. My grandfather and I pulled it out together, and we laid it on the grass.
We walked a bit farther and I saw a big, plastic, light-grey television remote control in a clump of grass by the creek. I pulled it out, and my grandfather said something I can't remember. (I think he said that there was no need of it, or that it was junk, but the impression I got was not to throw it away). It was much larger than a standard remote control, but didn't have extra functionality. Merely the standard remote control buttons. For some reason it seemed like a remote control from the 1980s, but I cannot remember seeing a control shaped like that. So I pulled it out and moved it farther from the mud, too.
We walked farther along, and passed a few rocks that made a natural dam on the creek. My grandfather concentrated to get his legs through the rough spot but managed fine on his own. My girlfriend followed behind him. For some reason after I cleared the hurdle I turned around and laid down on the grass. I looked up at there was this beautiful bush -- it was a tree, I knew it was a tree, but in the dream I remember thinking it looked like a bush -- that was being flashed by the little creek waterfall. It looked like water was falling up it, and over it. I remember wishing that I had remembered to bring a digital camera because the image was so gorgeous.
Then I woke up.
This is an interesting dream with a lot of mythic imagery. It was a beautiful spring day. Spring is a time of rebirth, of life and light, when the creative energies of the universe are most visible. An old man is a common feature in myths and folktales who provides assistance to the hero. Joseph Campbell describes the role of the old man in his book "The Hero With a Thousand Faces":
"Not, infrequently, the supernatural helper is masculine in form. In fairy lore it may be some little fellow of the wood, some wizard, hermit, shepherd, or smith, who appears, to supply the amulets and advice that the hero will require. The higher mythologies develop the role in the great figure of the guide, the teacher, the ferryman, the conductor of souls to the afterworld."
From the water and the primordial mud you and your grandfather pull two bicycles (useful tools for a journey) and find the remote control. The bicycle is interesting; it is a tool that makes traveling easier, but it is self-propelled, so you must do the work in order to benefit from it. Perhaps the remote control is the opposite of the bicycle, the remote control allows you to sit back and change things without much effort. Bodies of water often represent the unconscious, whose depths contain dark, hidden creative powers. In myths and folk tales they can appear as wells, springs, rivers, streams, and lakes. The water itself may have creative power or it may contain a special object such as a sword or golden ring or may be the home of the dragon or the frog who poses the challenge that the hero must overcome. The bicycles and the remote control are gifts or messages from your unconscious mind to your conscious mind. They appear when you need them along with a friendly guide to help you find them and teach how to use and interpret them.
Later your grandfather leads you and your girlfriend across the creek. Crossing a river or stream is often symbolic of a journey from the ordinary world of waking life to another, non-ordinary world. For example crossing the river Styx (by means of the ferryman Chiron) leads to the underworld. In Buddhism "crossing to the other shore" (paramita) is used to symbolize the movement from samsara, the world of suffering, to nirvana, the liberation from suffering.
As your grandfather guides you across the stream you have to pass through a "rough spot". The hero's journey always includes obstacles and tests that must be successfully negotiated in order to move on to the next level. And once you cross over to the other shore you see the tree. The tree is very common in myth and folktales as a means of traveling up to the upper world(s) or down through the roots to the lower world(s). Jack and the Beanstalk. In Germanic myth Ygdrasil is the World Tree and plays a very significant role in many stories. The Cosmic Tree is the "center of the universe" the place where all levels of reality meet. So here on the other shore, a place that is not the ordinary world (water flowing up the tree reverses the ordinary direction) and you are given the gift of a powerful experience of beauty. Perhaps even a beauty of a spiritual nature.
Well, make of that what you will.
Posted by: phil | Friday, January 12, 2007
I've seen Joseph Campbell books around, but have never read any. I'll need to add one to my list of things to do.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, January 13, 2007
There are three machines. Two are for leaving. One is for watching.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, April 10, 2007