Thursday, 23 December 2010

Animal Dreams

In Rubin Naiman's Healing Night I read an account of someone's dream. In it, she was very afraid because a wild black stallion was kicking at its confining stall. The dreamer was on the other side of the stall, frozen, unable to move, and afraid that the horse would kick through – she felt as if she was about to die. Eventually she began to wake up and realised it was a dream but

the image haunted her and she told the author about it. She told him that she felt boxed in, in her present life circumstances. It's not hard to see the connection between her comment and the fierce wild stallion, and with the author's help she came to recognize the horse's energy as her own.

Reading about this reminded me of a vivid dream I had many years ago, when I was in Paris. There were two animals In this dream, a bull and a sheepdog, and at first I was simply observing what was taking place between them. The bull was being driven by the sheepdog who seemed to think that the bull should act like a sheep, and be rounded up or at least go in the direction the dog wanted it to go in. The bull put up with this for a while and then lost patience, broke away from the nagging dog,

turned right around and charged towards me. I think that I felt unable to move and felt too, that it would trample me and possibly kill me but I woke up before it reached me.

Like the woman with the stallion dream, I too felt confined in my life at the time. But it took this unexpected, spontaneous visit to Paris, on my own, to provide me with a dream that clearly pointed out my situation to me. I spent the next two days walking through the streets of Paris, mainly, though not always, on my own. A sense of freedom came gradually, it stole up on me and then seemed to take hold of the edges of my perception and prised them apart. I stepped through, into a different world.

After such an experience, you cannot return to what you were before. I made changes in my life, that gave me more space and freedom. I also wrote my experience in Paris into a story, The Number of the Dream. The dream of a potentially destructive force had initiated an experience that broke through my sense of intense frustration and the limitations of my perceptual reality. This potential opponent that can turn into a helping, creative energy is what Arnold Mindell in Shaman's Body calls both 'the daimon' and 'the ally'.

I wonder what happened to the woman who had the dream of the horse. It seems to me that both of us were afraid of our own powerful selves, both of whom were enraged at being confined or controlled. The author does not say what happened to her, perhaps did not know. He mentioned that she had been considering a move to the country as she thought she might feel more free there, with more space, but she did not make this move. But there are many ways of making changes in our lives and re-routing our creative energy so that it is not self-destructive. Wherever they are, I hope that she and her magnificent black stallion are working well together.

Sculpture by Eoghan Bridge - Horse and Rider

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