Dream (or Stuff I Write at 3 AM)

I blew around the airport.
I’m too old to run
so I let the wind
of other people’s travels
blow me past,
swooping low, soaring high,
tumbling in swift spirals.

There would be an airplane
somewhere for me
in this wild place of portals.
I passed one gate
and could hear a plane outside
whispering machinely,
“Come on, hurry! Come to me!
I’ll take you somewhere
filled with delight
and suffused in wonder…”
But I blew on past so fast
I couldn’t even see its destination.
It wasn’t my gate anyway.

At last the wind dropped me, lightly
on my feet, slightly tipped, but
I soon straightened.
O, yes — a flight to Iona…
does Iona have an airport?
No……….. but…
I could get there from here
if only I knew the names
of all of the ancient stones.

And then a cat jumped on me
and we fell the rest of the way
out of the airport
and into my bed
Home. Warm bed. Cats.

Still, I did tell the cats
(when I fed them at midnight)
that I didn’t want to be
wakened early this morning,
certainly not at 3 AM
for their morning riot.

Yet…

Home, warm bed —
the best place of all.

When God/dess Grins At You…

I dreamt…

I was trying to understand…

I was in a large, open, airy room with many other people. Around the edges of the room (and randomly placed within it) there were shelves, cupboards, and bookcases — all crammed full of things. At a glance I could see hundreds of books (of course!), jars of various powders and liquids, rolled scrolls, piles of art supplies, whatever we might need to learn by creating.

It felt like a school but we were our own teachers. We were all sitting in little groups at small tables, but we were not working together. Each one was studying on his or her own. Some were writing in notebooks, others making drawings, diagrams, paintings, or sculpting. Some were reading, and a few were doing combinations of these things. There was an intense silence except for the rustling of pages, the skritch of pens upon paper, and the soft sound of brushes. I had a large pad of paper in front of me together with pens of many colors — bright and subtle, clear and muddy, translucent and opaque, scintillating and dull, through and beyond the rainbow.

I urgently, achingly wanted to understand something about God/dess so I began by drawing the three circles of a Venn diagram. Venn diagrams are fun and sometimes they bring great clarity to things. These didn’t. Each circle became more complex as I wrote within it and studied it. The things within the circles multiplied, as if they were spawning other circles randomly. Things that seemed simple on the surface were full of complicated concepts that often I couldn’t comprehend at all. The harder I tried to understand, the more confusing it was. I got hot and sweaty and frustrated and felt like a failure. My beautiful colored pencil broke because I was pushing so hard. This wasn’t working! I felt driven to do this but was getting nowhere.

A gong rang. Everyone gathered their things up quickly and streamed out into the bright day, chattering . The area we emerged into was mostly paved, but there were occasional benches on little areas of grass with flowers, bushes, and an occasional a lone tree. There were huge numbers of people there, all coming from different buildings and streaming toward … something — I didn’t know what. The people were different ages, nationalities, colors. Some seemed happy, some sad, many perplexed, even some frustrated and overheated like me. We were like the pens I had been working with — no permutation was missing. We were gradually funnelling into a single walkway, with light-colored (kind of tan, kind of gold) walls on both sides. The sun shone brightly on the wall to the right.

As we passed a stylized metal sculpture of god/dess (it was impossible to tell which) hanging on the wall, some people were pausing to pray aloud or to discuss it. I paused too, but didn’t do either of those things. I held out my cupped, upward-turned hands to the god/dess, not knowing if I was offering something or begging. It felt like both. The god/dess’s eyes sparkled as she/he looked at me and he/she grinned.

In that moment…

Briefly…

I understood.

I got it fully.

No, I can’t explain it. Some things (quite a lot of them, in fact) don’t fit into words. The only way you can put them into words is to chop bits off — which is not something one should (or can) do with god/dess. To do so simply lessens understanding rather than enhancing it.

The people around me fell silent as they saw the god/dess grinning gleefully at me from that formerly neutral, stylized face. I turned away from the pressure of their intent but unspoken demands for explanations that it was not possible to give.

A small, brown, round-faced child suddenly grinned up at me with exactly the same look of glee and joy that god/dess had. He had it! I woke up suddenly and jumped out of bed. Then I just stood there, smiling and smiling for no reason at all. It was like everything that had been jangled inside me was suddenly humming smoothly.

It’s feeling, but it’s much more than feeling. It’s much more than words. It’s that moment of total connections — and something more.

It is what it is.

Footprints in the Sand

The sole of the matter.

I’ve been thinking that this blog has been rather serious lately and I’d like to put something more faery frivolous in it, and this at least starts out that way.

I dreamed that I went to a town meeting. There were a couple of thousand people there. It was being held on the machair, a broad sandy beach with tufts of tough but richly nourishing grass on it. The tide was out, and between the low and high tide marks, the beach was very stony and harsh, unlike the firm sand of the machair higher up. The sea was restless. I was wearing my sandals with flowers on the soles, leaving lovely footprints in the sand, and was walking backward to watch the footprints. They made me feel blithe and whimsical. And happy.

A very old, large, ruined stone building stood on a dune nearby. It was scheduled to be demolished, although most of us wanted it to be restored instead — restored or rebuilt somehow. People were volunteering to help in various ways and offering to work on the building or to help reuse bits from it, saving the best parts. As they considered these things, some small groups sang or danced, some sat in circles, holding hands, while others wandered around looking thoughtful.

Somehow, I accidentally became responsible for all the wine racks from the building (house? castle? stronghold?). The racks were beautifully made of aged black walnut, and there were enough of them to fully furnish all the wine cellars of all the castles in Germany and have enough left over to fill the cellars of the Vatican and every monastic order in Italy. There were probably even more racks than that. Beautiful, strong wood for making furniture and — O, and wouldn’t it be lovely for making doll houses and faery houses and birdhouses? There seemed to be acres of the racks — they stretched as far as I could see.

There was a large, bulbous man who seemed to think he was in charge, though no one I knew seemed to know or like him or to care for his disapproval of all the suggestions offered. He demanded, “Young lady, what are you going to do with those wine racks?” There was a world or two of condescension in that “young lady” — he was many years younger than I. And somehow, I didn’t think he would appreciate the idea of doll and faery houses.

It was irresistible. I became very fluttery. “O, sir! I’m going to carve tiny figures out of them. You know — little humans and animals and other extinct creatures!”

“You cannot possibly use all that wood for that!” He actually stomped his foot in temper. Suddenly he became a judge, wearing robes and seated in one of those high, lectern things that judges use, towering over us all.

“O,” I waved my hands airily, “Do you think not? Then I’ll just have to find other people who’d like to do the same thing. I’m sure there are very many who would enjoy it, and then I’d only need to bring those people” (I gestured toward the imaginary crowd with one hand) “together with these wine racks,” (gesturing toward the racks with the other hand) “and poof! Problem solved! Voila!” I clapped my hands together happily.

“Young lady! You are not making this easy for me!” He pounded his gavel so hard he damaged the beautiful wood of his desktop.

I thought about this and his sarcasm and condescension in calling me “young lady” yet again, and smiled at him as if I were the small Shirley Temple showing off my dimples. I don’t have dimples and am of an elderly persuasion, and then said slowly, “Nooooooo… but I could if I wanted to. You just haven’t given me any reason to want to.”

His entire shiny head turned a brilliant scarlet, like a Christmas ornament, and he began to swell up, bobbing upward in his chair. It would make a terrible mess if he exploded.

So I woke up. And then I laughed and laughed.

There are lots of ways to think about dreams. They can be ways in which the unconscious (or subconscious) mind can tap into that non-local consciousness. Or they can be so simple as a chance to view everything in the dream as a part of yourself. Viewing yourself this way gives an opportunity look at the disparate parts, considering the symbolism, the interactions, the conflicts and resolutions, the ways in which the central “I” of the dream is being helped or harmed — or transformed.

For example, buildings in dreams may sometimes represent the body of the dreamer. Here the ruined building could be my body and the state of my health (which concerns me) or it could be my ‘body of work’ — the various (and often scattered) things that I’ve done, which I’m trying to organize and clarify so I can best work out what is important to focus on now. I suspect that it is both of these things, and in the dream we see this ruin that is maybe, perhaps, conceivably, feasibly, imaginably repairable. Or for all one knows, it might just be trash and scraps, some of which might be salvageable. In either case, body or body of work, it will take the cooperation of many aspects of myself to do anything worthwhile with the current mess. (I’m actually working on both things — O, and a third — trying to create order in my home, in my body, and in my work, but I’m not being very orderly about it. Being disorderly about creating order seems like a contradiction in terms.)

Many parts of myself seem easily distracted, but good-natured, while others seem cooperative and willing to help if only some agreement can be reached. One part, the bossy judge, seems only interested putting down the ideas of others. He offers no constructive suggestions and gets angry with the ideas offered. He wants to be in control and can always (or almost always) find a reason to disapprove of any action. One way of dealing with him is to make fun of him, but… that doesn’t seems to be working well and he is about to explode and make a big mess. This is a recognizable part of me, an internalization of a lesson learned wrongly, but early, that things must be kept under tight control, that action is not safe, that I can’t trust myself or my intuition to make plans and decisions, so I just create more muddle. I thought I’d long since overcome that attitude, and I know that it is not true, but obviously a trouble-making part of me still thinks it is — and I need to find a much better way to deal with it, hopefully a final cure.

I draw a Faeries’ Oracle card to represent the judge and get the Bodacious Bodach, a perfect fit — interfering, bossy, wrong-headed, but meaning to be helpful. I’m wondering what I can do to give him a way to actually be helpful. Perhaps that part of me might like to make lists and put thoughts into categories where they can be looked at in a more orderly way. Lists, plans, and maps can be very comforting, but are a bit boring to make. This suggests that the tediousness of it might well be worthwhile.

Later on, I pull a Medicine Card, asking what I can best do to help the judge be more comfortable. Grandmother Spider, sitting in the center of her own web, tells me that I need not only to be centered about my work, but also about all the other aspects of my life. I need to understand how they all relate to each other: gardening, house, meditation, writing and art, health, and everything. How do these different things cooperate and how do they conflict or get in the way of each other? I may need to draw a lot of Venn diagrams before I understand this.

I’ve no idea what the wine racks represent. Ideas and/or possessions that could best be repurposed (perhaps radically so) now? They are well-crafted, but not useful in their present form. The beautiful raw materials I have for making and writing?

“Footprints in the Sand” — why did I intuitively choose that for the title to this? Is that a part of the solution or of the question? Do I, in my heart, feel that none of it matters and it will all soon be washed away by wind and storm and tide? And where did the thought about “humans and animals and other extinct creatures” come from? I can guess — and have already decided that the only sensible way to live is to act as if there will be a tomorrow while focusing on the value of today. With courage and compassion, and, yes, hope.

What to do? What to do? What to do?

 

Tiaras & Simple Things


The pristine writer’s desk

“When I Was a Queen in My Own Country…”

I woke up with those words in my head a couple of days ago. No dream memories, no context — just those words. And I’ve been puzzling about them ever since.

Quite awhile back, I bought a tiara, a simple, cheap one (but it does sparkle brightly). In fact, I bought three — the first one wasn’t the one I liked best after all, and the third one was for my granddaughter. The idea, which I got from writerly friends that I admire, is to wear it when doing creative writing. Donning the tiara marks off the time and space and acknowledges it (and oneself) as creative, special, magical. This is an excellent idea!

I wore it once.

Then I wove ribbons into it, but it still wasn’t right.

I’m certain that pretty, clean, precise, sparkling tiaras are right for other more princessly and queenly women, but that just isn’t me. I’m realizing that being ill for so long has made me sort of “civilized” — tame or timid or with too much inertia. But I was never meant to be tame; it isn’t in my genes. Sure, “civilized” is okay for a masquerade — can you imagine me nicely dressed, make-up and stylish hair, disguised as a citified business person? I’ve done that, and done it well enough to pass, but it was never me . Such women probably don’t have flyaway hair like dandelion clocks. Or “gardening fingernails”. Or bare feet. Or cat hair all over their velvet skirts. Velvet skirts? Well, yes — silk and velvet are for me. Especially once they get a little worn and have picked up some stains from the flowers and berries and leaves. And glitter is sticking to them in surprising places. You see what I mean?

A tiara is for writing. O yes, definitely for writing, but not just sitting at my desk with the computer. I’ve put a half a picnic table on the back porch with the intention of sometimes writing or doing art work there. Scribbling in a notebook. Messing about with paints. So far, the table is pristine. Unused. No ink spills or paint spatters! Perhaps I should just go out and dribble paint on it and break it in that way? The inertia of illness is a terrible thing.

Now I understand that a different kind of tiara is needed. Most likely it would be made of things that grow in the woods and bits of ribbon and perhaps fragments of faery lace — and, yes, things that sparkle. It wants to have faery faces peering out of it. If I put red sparkly things on it, do you suppose it would attract hummingbirds? Or only mosquitos? I now understand that it must be for much more than writing. Certainly for art. Definitely for gardening as well — grubby hands and radiant crown and dirty knees. Perhaps a tiara could also be for meditating outside where I can smell the flowers and the trees and hear the birds. Or just for sitting there, sipping a tisane. Magic… my magic is in the humble, simple, beautiful things. It’s natural magic — my favorite form of enchantment where the world of the fae intersects with ours.

To be a Queen In My Own Country… This is about being totally oneself, no? And wearing a crown to celebrate this, a crown born from My Own Country? I’d better start gathering the pieces. And I wonder, I just wonder — what kind of a crown or tiara or circlet would you wear to be a King or a Queen in your Own Country?

An Hour for the Earth; the Rising of the Lark

Well, I turned off all the electricity for Earth Hour, including battery things. I couldn’t find where I’d put the kerosene lamp, and it felt like I really didn’t want to light a candle. To my surprise, I had the most marvelous time with this. An hour of darkness—and in a forest, under a dark, clouded sky the dark is really dark.

I usually have small night lights on during the darkness; without them this was an hour of deep and silent blackness, the only sound being the slight sibilance of branches in a light breeze—and my own thoughts. I thought about an e-mail I’d received earlier about a magical dream, I thought about potent dreams of my own, and where they have brought me now. I wasn’t concentrating; just letting my mind gently roam over old memories and reflections.

You know, I started this hour with the thought that I was just going through the motions—that my joining in with shutting off the electricity for an hour wouldn’t make any difference in the world. But it did make a difference—to me! And it matters if even just one person feels it. And who knows where the ripples will stop? In a Universe made of ripples and waves, will they ever stop? Now I’m quite eager to create the altar space I feel called to make outside in the forest. I feel afire with creative and devotional energy. Who knew that an hour wide awake in a silent and deep darkness would do this to me?

I’ll talk about the altar another day—perhaps even with photos. But at this moment I’d like to share the dream.

It began with me standing quietly in an old, tangled forest with my hand resting on the tree beside me, feeling the rough texture of the bark and the springiness of the moss growing there. The moss was so green and alive, not dry and stiff nor soggy with soaking rain, but resilient against my hand, pushing back like a creature. Looking at the moss, I noticed that my hand was painted or tattooed; it matched the moss and the bark of the tree. My eyes couldn’t tell where the mossy tree ended and I began. Only touch and the slight movement of my stroking hand showed the edge between.

I gradually realized that I could feel the air moving all over me and that I was nude. The touch of the air was a delightful feeling—almost like being delicately brushed with the softest of downy feathers. I felt like someone slowly awakening from a dream with the dawn. I could hear birds singing in the distance, and then, soft on my shoulder, I felt movement. Slowly turning my head I could see a small, brown lark painted on my left shoulder—and I could see his beak move, the throat throb and breast expand and contract as it began the softest of song. Gently, its wings began to move and it rose from my skin—whole, entire, its own self, lifting, the skylark rising, unlikely in the forest, as the song suddenly intensified into a full-throated and joyful paean. It reached its crescendo and dove back down, was again a painting on my shoulder, breathing hard.

Painted vines wove around my arm, along with the leaves of bushes and fragrant berries, sweet and wild. Around my ankles the bluebells opened, softly chiming their subtle aroma. A lily of the valley on the other ankle overwhelmed the bells with its richness. Painted—or tattooed—or was I perhaps born with every inch of me adorned with leaves and branches, subtle blossoms among them? With a glittering dragonfly drawn at my breast, a squirrel peering out from the leaves near my wrist, its bright eyes blinking and curious, a field mouse among the grasses and wildflowers on my ankle, I blended fully into the forest. If anyone had passed by, they would not have seen a woman, or if they had, they might have thought they were seeing a goddess, strange and wild.

This dream arose many years ago when I was in Scotland, living in the country among magical Celtic places—sitting in stone circles, walking lines of power in the earth, leaving stones on cairns, meditating in the earth mounds. But in all years between then and now, it has been vivid in my memory, and I think of it often. Somehow, without my understanding the process, it has quietly dwelt within me, changing me.

I am now that woman in the woods, a part of it, not separate. I bloom with the flowers, sway with the trees, sing and, yes, fly with the birds and leap with the squirrels. And it all happens all the time, even when I’m in town shopping for groceries or fretting about where to find a chimney sweeper for my blocked stove-pipe, wondering which clothes to put on today, or dealing with human aches and ills. This condition isn’t visible to others, and I cannot see it in a mirror. All the living, singing, blossoming, growing tattoos are on the inside of my skin, caressed and moved by an invisible wind out of spirit.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Healing by Dreams

Wild wolves were all around me this morning when I woke up and… but let me tell you first about the blog I read yesterday. Robert Moss wrote a blog on healing dreams, stories, and visions, which I read and thought was an excellent exercise. In fact, it seemed so good that I decided to try to remember to do it each night and see how it worked for me. But I forgot about it at bedtime.

This morning when I awakened, I was still half caught in a dream. In it, my granddaughter, Megan, was about three and she was my daughter rather than my granddaughter. She, my husband, and I were on a car camping holiday somewhere. We had parked far out in the bushes along a trail, near a small lake. We set up a tent there, but decided to walk back into town together for some supper. While we were eating my husband wandered off and disappeared. Megan and I finished eating, and I decided that it was getting too late in the day to linger, so we started back to the car and camping place.

As we walked (I carried her a lot of the time), it seemed much farther than it had while going into town. I was beginning to worry that we’d passed the car without seeing it. Megan was nearly asleep in my arms, and finally it became totally dark—that deep darkness you only get in the country on a moonless night far from any town. I decided we’d better stop and sleep where we were. I was a bit concerned about having no shelter and being in unknown territory, but there didn’t seem anything else to we could do. Fortunately, Megan was wrapped in a blanket that, when unfolded, was big enough to wrap around us both. We found a clear spot just off the trail purely by touch and settled down, snuggled together and well-wrapped up.

Then I felt a cold, wet nose touching the back of my neck. I could hear breathing and panting and rustling sounds.

Megan murmured sleepily, “Gran’ma, who’s here?”

I didn’t know! Yes, I was worried—who wouldn’t be? Yet I certainly didn’t want to alarm her, so I said, “It’s just some animals. They’ve come to protect us while we sleep.” I could hear the grass and bushes moving as several large beings moved around, but since they made no move toward us after the initial touch and inspection by sniffing, I snuggled Megan closer, tucked us in better, and I listened to her fall asleep, which she did quite easily and trustingly. I was so tired that, as soon as I was sure she was deeply asleep, I drifted off too and slept soundly.

When I wakened at first light in the morning, I found us encircled closely by a pack of wolves. All but one of them were sleeping right up against us, keeping us warm. Megan had one arm out from under the covers and was quietly petting the one that was awake. It was the largest wolf. His muzzle was gray with age, and he was looking straight into my heart with his penetrating golden eyes. He let his tongue loll out in a wolfy grin, and I told him, “Good morning, sir. We thank your for your protection and warmth.” I felt like I should curtsy to him, but it’s difficult while lying down, wrapped in a blanket. The pack silently got up and moved back to give us room to disentangle ourselves and stand up. Then they, still quiet, drifted away into the bushes like shadows. Megan waved good-bye to them and grinned up at me.

And I woke up, feeling incredibly protected and secure—more so than I’ve felt in years. It is not that I’ve felt nervous or in danger all this time, but this was like the difference between just not being angry and being completely happy—an enormous gap. This was a radically different feeling of peaceful security, and it was very healing for me.

I think I better understand now what Dr. Moss was talking about in his blog. And yes, I do plan to practice it. If there is no healing dream that volunteers itself, I can always tell myself a healing story and just see what comes up from my creative mind. How we envision our world has a profound affect on how we feel, and the more deeply that vision is embedded in us, the more strongly it influences us. The dream was quite detailed and had a smoothly logical sequence, more like a conscious story than an unconscious dream, but I’ve noticed that my unconscious mind is quite capable of following instructions—when it wants to.

© 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Stories

While everyone else was asleep at 4 a.m. this morning, I was dreaming about stories, all the many stories we tell—the true ones and the truth tucked inside made-up stories—and how we tell about ourselves, our hopes and our fears, in our fantasies. Even the wildest fantasy contains our personal truths about how we feel the world is or should be or how we fear it to be.

In my classes, I used to tell a lot of ‘teaching stories’ and I know that wrapping a truth inside a fantasy is a way to get it across, especially when the ‘fantasy’ is true too, and people just assume it isn’t because it doesn’t fit with their view of the world. If you tell them that this is how the world is they are likely to just go into denial (and maybe even get angry), but if it’s ‘just a story’ they can listen. It’s a seed, a penny that may just drop into the slot and something might happen. A connection can be made. Eventually.

The heart of a story can be hidden in jokes, in fables, in dream imagery. Our worlds, daytime and night, are aswirl with stories. We live them, we breathe them, we call them fantasies and say we don’t believe them—and then often we act as if they are true.

We are not things. We are stories moving through time. Dream your stories well, my dear, because they are your heart.

If I were to tell you
all of my stories,
you still wouldn’t know
how I got where I am.
You’d have to know
the stories of those whose paths
crossed and entwined with mine.

I only know fragments,
but if you want to know me
(or I want to know you),
we’ll really have to look
at all the stories and how
they wind together
into the One True Story
called the Universe.

Are you big enough
to hold all that?
Prepare to be surprised:
Yes. You are.

There are no lost
or separated bits—
just One
and we’re It.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

October Dreaming

Have you ever dreamed that you could see in the dark? As if everything were faintly luminous? Dreamed that you were small and powerful with a body so lithe and agile that you could dance in moonlight like a wraith?

Have you ever wakened from a dream like that and found a cat beside you, paws twitching on the blanket and her breath coming fast?

Did you wonder whose dream that really was?

When a cat wakes and looks at you with a question in her eyes, do you wonder what she is asking? Do you wonder if she wants to know what you heard, what you’re thinking, dreaming?

Do you ever wonder if all around you everything understands something — except you? Is there is a web of communication between all things—cats, trees, slugs, coyotes, stars? Do you ever wonder if we humans have fallen out of that net somehow? Dreaming that we are better, smarter, more important because we are too headblind and deaf to hear, to see what everything else knows? And we, sleepwalking in our dreams of superiority, blundering around destroying, trampling, wrecking that scintillating, intricate web of life?

Have you forgotten everything? Do you wonder what the cat knows? Is there any way at all to get out of your own head? And into the bigger world outside?

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Guess what? There is a path — several paths. Meditation is one of the best ways to begin.

Meditation links:

Basic Meditation by Jessica Macbeth. On Jesa’s Woo Woo Classes home page you can use the search function to look up more meditation information on those pages.

Shambala Basic Meditation Instructions This one also has a link to a helpful video.

And a meditative exercise applicable to daily life:

Meditating While You Work by Jessica Macbeth

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.