A Big Dream

Excerpt from Dream Journal









A Big Dream

A number of years ago when I was navigating a particularly difficult terrain in my analytic training, I had a dream.

In the dream MJ, my control analyst in training at the time, gives me a Christmas gift at an Institute party, a flat turtle about ten inches across. I open the turtle, which is a kind of purse, and am stunned by the beauty of its insides. Upper and lower sides are sewn with Celtic knots, convoluted like intestines. The designs are appliquéd with tiny pieces of different animal skins. Top and bottom are like the sky and the earth. There are many, almost imperceptible stitches. Stunned by the beauty of the gift, I realize it will take years to assimilate its meaning.

This dream is one that has defined my path. I also remember knowing at the time that what I had received in this dream was a gift. You can see from the picture above in my almost translucent papered dream journal (from China), that the drawing I made of the inside of the turtle was two circles divided by into quarters, essentially two Celtic crosses. In the lower left quadrant of the first circle I made some attempt to fill in the Celtic knots—or intestines.

The turtle was particularly interesting to me. In the drawing, the top and bottom of the purse show the in-turned tail and head. This turtle is at rest, even protecting itself. At the time, I was feeling self protective. I also felt that I was going through my candidacy at a very slow, turtle pace, of which I was tired.

A native America creation story of California tells that the land is the back of a turtle (Turtle Island). Was new land being formed within my psyche? In fact, this dream has often seemed like a Noah’s ark kind of dream, with all the animals and plants being represented, along with the heavens and earth. Something was being saved to re-inhabit the world after the waters receded, and MJ’s dream gift was a reminder that there would be life after this time of what seemed like stagnation but was perhaps incubation.

As I contemplate the image now, I realize that the many animal skins, skins of instinctual forces, were offering protection. We need skin, and I certainly needed many kinds of skin during these trials. But the skins were also stitched in a most delicate and deliberate way. The in-turned time was also one of women’s work, like some of the alchemical drawings in Slendor Solis. A slow, feminine process was essential!

The association to intestines also suggests a kind of digestion of what had been ingested. As Celtic knots, they were enigmatic strings of no end, reflecting natural cycles, death and rebirth, birth and death, on and on. And the fact the interior of the turtle was the universe brings to mind As Above, So Below. In a very deep way, I was being given a Christmas gift (celebrating divine birth) of wholeness, a worked piece that was at once natural and manmade, protective and incubating, in-turned and yet the ground of the new world. A purse often represents the womb, that place of incubation, or in the outer world, the place we carry our ID and valuables.

This dream came in the month that my husband, sons, and I moved into the house we had built over the last year and a half, a time that I was also questioning the direction I was going professionally. Although the way was not clear, the dream assured me I was on the right path. I am appreciative to MJ for the gift of this perspective, one I continue to fathom as I find my way, now as an analyst, farmer, and writer.