Soul Dreams

IMG_0962Every night, your soul sings to you.  Are you listening?

Dreams can be tricky things.  Our souls do not speak in clear, logical language; they speak through symbols.  Some symbols are universal, but most are far more personal, and cannot be interpreted by anyone but the dreamer.  This is work we have to do for ourselves, if we are to learn what our unconscious minds are trying to tell us.

Sometimes dreams burst into consciousness, with night after night of vivid nightmares.  Other times, you may find that you don’t seem to be remembering your dreams at all.  Whether your dreams are trying to get your attention or you’re looking for a closer connection with the voice of your soul, there are some simple tools that can be useful when decoding your dreams. My favorite method was originally developed by Carl Jung, and is discussed by Martha Beck in her book Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny.

To begin, keep a dream journal.  Immediately after waking, write down whatever you can remember, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. The more you do this, the more likely it is that you’ll remember your dreams.

Next, identify the symbols in your dream.  For example, say you dream that you are boarding an airplane with many other people, while carrying a red bag. You might identify the symbols as “airplane,” “many people,” “red bag.”  You can also identify verbs as symbols:  “boarding;” “carrying.”

One at a time, pretend that you have become the symbol.  Say to yourself, “I am the airplane.”  Go on to list three words to describe yourself (“I am large, silver, empty”), and then describe what your purpose as the airplane is (“to carry people to their destination”) and how you’re here to help the dreamer (“I’m taking her to the next stage in her journey”).  Go through each symbol this way, then go back and look over the dream as a whole, with this deeper understanding of its individual parts.

This technique can only be fully appreciated through practicing it, because what comes up may be entirely unexpected.  The way that your symbols speak to you, and interact with one another, will be nothing short of a mosaic of personal messages.  It is not always immediately clear–sometimes you have to sit with a symbol or its message for hours or even days–but often there is deep wisdom to be found here.

For the best results, either go through this exercise with another person (I often lead my coaching clients through this process), or write it out.  This is much more powerful than simply thinking your way through it, although even that can be invaluable in a pinch.

Wishing you sweet dreams~

Athena & The Olive Tree

The Greek goddess Athena, wise and fair, was born from the head of her father, Zeus.  This came to pass because of a prophecy that any child born of Metis, goddess of wisdom, and Zeus, first among gods, would grow to be even more powerful than its father.  Fearing such a fate, Zeus swallowed Metis before she could bear him a child.

Some time later, Zeus began to suffer pounding headaches, which were remedied only when his head was cleaved open by a mighty ax.  Athena leapt forth, fully grown and fully armed, from her father’s head.  She became his favorite daughter, a patroness of the arts and a counselor of heroes.

At the time that the great city of Athens was founded, Poseidon, god of the seas, and Athena each coveted the city.  To determine which god would be granted the city, the citizens decided that both Poseidon and Athena would give the new city a gift; the giver of the best gift would be awarded the city as his or her own.

Poseidon struck the earth with his triton, causing a salt water spring to appear on the dry land.  Although beautiful and impressive, the salty water was of little use to the people.  Athena’s gift was more subtle–an olive tree.  But although the tree was small and delicate, its gifts were great:  shade, olives, oil, wood.  The city was given to, and named for, Athena.

The simplest gifts are often the greatest.  They may be hidden, they may seem mundane, yet these are the things that nourish our lives and give them meaning.

And speaking of beautiful goddesses born fully grown (and armed) from their father’s head… today is Father’s Day and my sister’s birthday.  So this post is both for my father (first among gods, but never afraid of his children’s potential) and my sister (a goddess of fire, passion and creativity if there ever was one).  I love you both.

The Nature Of Obstacles

The Hindu god Ganesha, the god with the elephant’s head, is beloved by millions as the remover of obstacles.  His name is often invoked at the beginning of a new venture; he is thought to bring his followers good luck and fortune.

He bears the head of an elephant because one day his mother, the goddess Parvati, asked him to guard the door while she bathed.  He did so faithfully, denying even his father, Shiva, entrance.  Shiva was not pleased that Ganesha was standing between him and Shiva’s wife, and so he cut off Ganesha’s head.  Feeling contrite almost immediately, Shiva ordered his servants to find a replacement head for Ganesha–they returned with the head of an elephant, and Ganesha has been known as the Elephant God ever since.

Elephants represent wisdom, and not just any wisdom, but that of your higher self, the self that exists before and beyond what you think of as your life.  This wisdom is what counsels us to choose love, to create beauty, to forgive, to seek, to trust.  This wisdom is what teaches us that all of our obstacles exist only in our minds.

Ganesha is the Remover of Obstacles, but in this well-known story, he is himself the obstacle, standing between mother and father.  It is his head that is removed, and then transformed into a symbol of higher truth.  This is the greatest teaching of the story:  we are our obstacles.  What stands between us and the love and light we seek are our thoughts, our fears, our resentments.  To be free, we must replace the thoughts that stand between us and joy with the thoughts of our higher selves, our true wisdom.  Only then may we be transformed into all we are capable of becoming.

Only you can remove your obstacles.  Only you are the chosen hero of your story.  You have the power to transform darkness into light, because darkness is nothing but the shadows of empty thoughts.  Trust in your own wisdom, and allow your obstacles to be transformed.