The Burning Tree

Meditation: 29/11/2016

I was listening to a LightBody meditation, when I realized that I often resist moving into really blissful, flowing states of consciousness. Whenever I start to feel “too good”, there is a part of me that gets scared and shuts everything down. That part of me believes I don’t deserve to feel good and that I will be punished for trying to experience something I don’t deserve. It’s definitely related to some old religious conditioning. Gee thanks Catholic school! Anyways… Near the end of the meditation, I got an image of myself floating on my back above a single perfectly round tree in the middle of a massive green field. While I’m floating, someone (me?) sets the tree on fire and my body gets burned. It burns into ashes, which are carried away by the wind.

Thoughts/Meaning

Given that I was dealing with some old religious conditioning, the symbol of a burning bush is pretty dramatic. It was after all the way God spoke to Moses (from Exodus: “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”). Interestingly, my burning tree destroys me completely. Maybe that’s my real fear, that if I did come into contact with God there would be nothing left of me. I would just burn up and be destroyed.

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Bullied at a News Conference

Dream: 24/11/2016

There’s a news conference going on. A reporter is about to say something negative about Trump. Suddenly his supporters (big white men) switch places with people until she is surrounded by a circle of bullies. She bravely faces the camera and says that they often use this tactic of intimidation. A man goes to stand behind her and with her. He is protecting her. I feel myself called to stand with them. As soon as I’m in the circle, I can feel a nasty energy being sent to us. I feel compelled to speak. As soon as I do, I feel myself going into hysteria and leaving my body. I mostly notice because my feet leave the ground. I cross my arms over my chest and turn inward, calming down before finishing my words. I go back to my seat. I’m afraid I hurt the cause by being vulnerable.

Thoughts/Meaning

This dream is definitely about some deep fears I have about persecution and being seen. With the current climate in the US, these fears feel really relevant. It’s interesting that the dream ended with me thinking that being vulnerable is a bad thing. That’s definitely a societal conditioning that needs to be worked out.

 

Body Image Issues

Dream 18/7/2016

I’m at my father’s birthday party. There is a man there that I find extremely attractive. I’d be happy if he even talked to me. I’m helping prepare everything and I feel really good. Then I walk up to dad to say happy birthday. The attractive man is standing there. He smiles and says, “Hi Miss Howe. Are you pregnant? How’s the baby?” My dad jumps up and says, “Yes, she is!” He doesn’t want the man to realize that no, I’m just fat. I feel angry and humiliated. I turn to the guy and say, “No, I’m not pregnant.” Then I turn to my dad and say, “And don’t lie to people to save face about me being fat. Tell anyone else I’m pregnant and I’ll kill you myself.” He sits down in a glass booth. I can tell he’s upset. I don’t care. When the guy spoke to me, I was on my way to get a glass of water. It’s in my hand. I throw it into the sink and it shatters. My sisters eye me questioningly. I start walking back to the house, thinking I will play video games and hide. Then I think, fuck this. I decide to go to the beach instead. I walk down a path and am there in minutes. Before the beach, there is a river with a dock and a row a trees. A man is taking a group of children for a swim up the river. It is shallow and they are having a great time. I get in and start swimming with them. No one says anything. Eventually they make their way to the beach. I get out and go with them. I stare at the trees. They glitch like they aren’t real. I can see a pattern of 6 dots in the shape of a pyramid on the trunk of one of the trees. I go back to playing with the kids. The guy in charge of the them is really cool. A little girl says something to me and I wake up.

Thoughts/Meaning

This is definitely a dream about body image issues and shame. When I was younger, my mother made me feel that I was never pretty enough. I wasn’t thin enough. My hair was never straight enough. I never dressed correctly. She believed that women’s value came from being beautiful, and since I wasn’t a great beauty according to her standards, I didn’t have value. It’s strange, but in her world (and I suspect many women’s worlds) the ultimate approval a woman can receive is a man’s attention, his sexual favor. In the dream, I feel excited that there is an eligible man present, but it all turns to dust when my body size becomes the focus. I feel ashamed for being who I am, having the body I have. Then I feel enraged. I let the rage out [I yell at dad and break a glass], but afterwards I feel lost. These ideas are so ingrained in everyone present that I don’t know how to deal with the situation. So I leave the party and I regress back into being a child. Except I’m no longer a child, I’m an adult.  Although playing the child might comfort me, it’s not real [the trees glitch]. At some point, I have to learn to confront people and their beliefs, how to set and maintain my boundaries without losing my temper. It’s time to grow up.

Gypsy Circus in the Desert

Dream 17/7/2016

I’m attending a gypsy circus. The landscape is really dusty and desert like. My sister, Jaime, and her son are there. The kid keeps pushing open the metal gates that stand between the audience and the show. Jaime keeps picking him up and closing the gates. Then, he opens them when a tiger is pacing back and forth. My inner rescuer kicks in. I grab him and think angrily that someone should padlock the gate during shows.

Thoughts/Meaning

Children (my inner child?) can expose what we believe to be the most dangerous part of ourselves [the tiger]. They aren’t confined by the societal rules and regulations [the gates]. Instead, they are true explorers, open to the possibilities. My child is trying to open the gate within me, to help me have new experiences [the gypsy circus], but I keep shutting them because I’m afraid [wandering in the desert].

I had this dream right after watching The Legend of Tarzan for the 2nd time.  The whole story of Tarzan is about man’s connection to his inner nature, which Western society sees as wild and uncontrollable and therefore unacceptable. They literally beat him and break him down so that he can ‘civilized’. I guess there’s a part of me that worries that if I truly connect with my instinctual self and Mother Earth that I will become too wild, too unacceptable. There is a part of me that wishes I was happy just being ‘normal’. That part of me wants what my sisters have: a family, a house, children, etc… For many years, I’ve made that part of me out to be weak and easily controlled, but what if it’s not? What if it’s natural? Maybe it’s time to venerate the different aspects of myself. To honor the part of me that wants to experience and grow and serve and teach, and to honor the part of me that wants to have the simple joys and pleasures of a normal life. Both are parts of me. I thought for a long time that one excluded the other, but they don’t. I can have both, be both.

The Man Inside My Head

Dream: Undated, sometime in early 2015

I’m sitting near a window at night with a friend, chatting about life, having a laugh. Suddenly, I realize that a man is staring in at us from the dark outside. His face is conveyed by a black, almost featureless mask that is terrifying when the light catches it. I yell at him, but he doesn’t go away. Says he’s just watching. Creep! I close the blinds, but he sticks his face in through them. I punch him with the end of a pole and he stumbles back. Then I close the curtains and my friend and I continue. The next night, I sit by another window. I am visiting someone else and the man is there peering in. I realize that he is watching me all the time and that there is nothing I can do. I wake up terrified and disturbed.

Meaning/Thoughts

The man is the personification of the patriarchal values that come from my cultural conditioning and live deeply entwined with my thoughts. I guess if you’re a western woman exposed to Christianity, you end up with a controlling man inside your head.

Examining Social Conditioning

Dream Series: Undated, sometime in early 2015

Dream 1

James and I are climbing all over stuff suspended from a hotel ceiling. There are old train cars, giant clocks, etc… It’s fun, but I decide to take a break. James says he wants to climb some more. Suddenly, the stuff starts turning like a giant machine, cogs in a wheel. I start screaming, yelling out to see if James is okay. A person drops from really high. I run over. It’s Elaine. She tries to get up but collapses. I tell her not to move and I yell out for the staff to get an ambulance. It takes forever. James is fine and rushes over, helping me with Elaine. She ends up with her head in my lap. I’m crying. She tells me she’s not going to make it. I tell her to hang on. She’s prepared to die. The ambulance finally comes. The paramedics are dressed in ebola suits. I tell them she has no family here and they let me go with her.

Dream 2

Sam comes to dinner with me and Mary Anne. He parks outside. We hear a crash and run outside. Some jerks are repeatedly bashing all the cars in the carpark as they drive past. His car is totaled. We find out it’s an activist group. I track them down and ask them to pay for the damage. They’re all black. I keep saying dude to sound cool. They won’t pay. I threaten to sue because you can’t just damage other people’s personal property. They say that’s exactly the idea that they’re against. I realize this group is very dangerous and I back out of the room.

Thoughts/Meaning

These are definitely dreams about social conditioning, but I’m not sure exactly what they mean. I think the first one references the idea that if I look too deeply into my conditioning there will be some kind of backlash [Elaine’s fall/death] because new ideas are contagious [her body was collected by people in hazmat suits] and the powers that be need to keep things as they are [cogs in wheel supporting a bigger machine]. The second one is about how my life is structured around a lot of these social beliefs [e.g. the idea of personal property]. I’m afraid that if these go away, chaos will break out [the gang bashes up all the cars]. That’s what I’ve always been taught, right? That without society and societal rules, mankind will degenerate into a chaotic, violent mess. Only, I think that’s just another a belief that keeps us invested in social structures. If we’re convinced we’re evil and need to be controlled, then we’ll let ourselves be oppressed. We might even help the oppressors because we think it’s necessary. It’s interesting how much this parallels religion. Society tries to keep us from knowing ourselves just as much as religion does. If we know ourselves, then we know we’re not actually evil. And if we’re not evil, then we don’t need protecting or controlling because we can trust ourselves. How different life on this planet would be if each of us completed trusted ourselves!

Asking #4

An Asking: Undated, sometime in late-2014

Show me what I am avoiding. I am consciously choosing to stop numbing out. Help me see and understand the things I have closed my eyes to. 

This was followed by a list of negative thought forms and beliefs:

  • I somehow deserved it. I brought it on myself.
  • Mom would have loved and protected me if I’d been different. 
  • I will be punished for being me.
  • Men always reject me. 
  • Men don’t say anything worth listening to.
  • Sex is dangerous. You could get pregnant or get a disease. 
  • You can’t be a “good girl” and be sexually active.

A Tapeworm, A Boat Ride, and A Carnival

Dream Series: Undated, sometime in mid-2014

Dream 1

I’m in a medical exam room. There’s a guy on the table but they don’t know what’s wrong with him. The doctor tells him to throw up. He ends up pulling a giant tapeworm out of the guy’s mouth. There’s a little girl in the room who’s curious. She asks her mom something and the mom completely over-reacts. The mom grabs a piece of the tapeworm and rubs it all over the girl’s face. The girl starts to cry and the mom looks pleased. I’m standing there wondering what’s wrong with her.

Dream 2

Malcolm, Lana and I are going jet boating, but we’re running late. Everyone is on the boat and it leaves without us. A lady on the boat gets it to stop, and I manage to swing myself from the dock into the back of the boat. Malcolm can’t make it though. He’s too big. The boat ride is super jerky, and I don’t particularly enjoy it. 

Dream 3

A group of us get dropped off on an island that used to be a theme park. It clearly hasn’t operated in years. A guide emerges and says to break up in groups and enter through the stalls. He goes in one and it falls apart. It’s empty. The others begin sinking into the ground. My team gets in one and it lets us out in front of an old decrepit house. We find a card that say “find where they heal people”. We begin searching. I find myself paralyzed in the foyer. To the left, I can see a dinghy corridor which is blocked off by hundreds of gravestones in the form of crosses. Then I notice a staircase. I go up the stairs, but first I have to climb through a window shaped like a vagina. Upstairs is a liquor store. I think they probably used the room as a healing space before it was covered in booze. 

Thoughts/Meaning 

The first dream is definitely about power/control and feeling contaminated [the tapeworm] by family patterns. The second one is about trying really hard to fit in [getting on the jetboat] but realizing it’s not worth it because I’m just along for the ride and I’m not really living. The third one is more complicated. I think it represents all the things that stand in the way of me becoming myself. The theme park represents social conditioning. The crosses represent religious conditioning. The vagina shaped window represents issues with sex and sexuality. And behind all of that, at the very center, is addiction [the liquor store]. My family line is riddled with it, particularly alcoholism and gambling. But even in the dream, it’s clear that underneath all of those beliefs and issues, the potential for healing exists. 

Escaping PE

Dream: Undated, sometime in mid-2014

I’m with a group. We’re going swimming/running. Mrs Reed, my PE teacher from high school, is yelling at us. She believes you should work out until you’re skinny. According to her, if you’re not skinny, it’s because your lazy. When we get to the work out place, I can’t find a secure place to put my stuff. I end up hiding it under someone else’s bag. I go for a drink of water, but the water comes out of a fish tank and I think that’s weird. People are lapping me because I’m taking too long to get ready. I get on the track and start running, but I hate running so I start to jump instead. I jump and jump and I jump so high that I’m above it all. After a while, I realise I can fly and control my path using my arms. I jump one final time and feel like I’m swimming in the air. The gym class has stopped and they’re watching me. I realize I’m in a harness and my grandma is next to me in another harness. There’s a piece of dead skin in my harness and she keeps trying to get it. In doing so, my harness completely tangles and I fall out. I’m hanging there, feeling scared when I wake up. 

Thoughts/Meaning

I feel like American society places a lot of expectations on women [workout, be skinny, keep up, etc…], but that none of those things have value for me [I just want to fly away]. I don’t like being controlled. I want to be free. Except  when I finally get away from the society  [I’m swimming freely in the air], I find I’m still constrained  [the harness]. I carry with me old family patterns  [dead skin] that need to fall away. The problem is that those patterns are all I know, so I’m afraid to let them go.

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