|Heron on Kennett & Avon canal|
Some dreams reveal their meaning immediately, like a story that's invited you in to a whole other world. Others remain stubbornly alien, a story that doesn't seem to have much to do with you, or that speaks a language you can't unravel.
I've been writing my dreams down for a long time. And sometimes I find, when I go back in my journals and read past dream accounts, the images unfurl and make sense, they speak to me now, where they didn't before. Perhaps it is because I'm too close to present dreams, I don't know. Perhaps I'm just more aware sometimes, more perceptive.
|Painting at Saint Ronan's Well, Scotland|
For me, birds in dreams, have always been clear. They are the light-winged self, the self that can fly, free from the gravity of space and of time too, for time can have its own gravity, and limitations. So I've had dreams of a tethered bird, and of an entangled bird, and they were quite clear, needed no interpretation.
|Black swans in Regent's Park, London|
Then there was birdsong I once woke to. But in the passage between dream and wakefulness, the sound is located within me, the birdsong and I are one, all that lift and lyric joy is who I am....and only when I'm completely awake I realise it is outside me, but – I don't forget that when I was in a different state of consciousness, it was not external to me, we were not apart.
In one dream beginning in an attic of discarded and covered objects, I think I see some movement and in response to my interest, a white bird gradually emerges, sheds its drab cover, grows enormous, with coloured patterns on its front, and huge wings that enfold me, with the kind of love that answers all our longing. This must be how it is when an angel wraps its wings around you.
|Birds cluster round angel statue in Rhodos, Greece|
And then there was the bird that I was. I have flown in dreams before, but had always, as far as I knew, been myself, enjoying this new ability, the experience of flight. But in this one, as I became aware or lucid in the dream, I realised that I was this night bird, that was my being. I was flying over moonlit pine trees and hills, feeling the wind shivering in my wing-tip feathers.
|Eagle sculpture in Poznan, Poland|
And in the waking world or perception, there are the dawn birds, the morning birds you watch just outside the window, feeding on grains and seeds, fat-balls and breadcrumbs, the daylight birds, sometimes in flight and sometimes sentinel-still on fence-posts, and the birds that catch the twilight in a net and draw it in, circling above treetops in conversation, or perched solitary on a topmost branch, singing their lighthouse keeper signal, not so much singing to you but singing you, as you know from the response their singing makes in you.
|Heron takes off on the Kennett & Avon canal|
And you know this because you once felt their song inside you, were once held by a bird as white as an albatross, and you were once a bird yourself, flying over moonlit pine trees and you haven't forgotten the feeling of flight, of freedom, the exhilaration of knowing that this bird is who you are.
|Seagull over La Manche|