It is largely believed and accepted that our dreams come from the unconscious mind. The unconscious (also called subconscious) mind is a sort of reservoir for behaviors and beliefs that have become automatic (riding a bicycle, for example). Psychoanalyst and dreamworker extraordinaire, Carl Jung identified the collective unconscious-- a deeper reservoir still, filled with behaviors and beliefs that are inherent among all humans. This is the realm of instincts and archetypes.
As a Dreamer, this is the realm that most fascinates me.
Through dreaming and the collective unconscious we have access to extraordinary information. Deep wells of wisdom that run through hundreds or thousands of generations. Wisdom that may be difficult to understand or comprehend through any medium other than dreaming. Wisdom that may be difficult to understand or articulate once we wake up, even with the dream intact and still vividly in our mind's eye.
That's when wisdom becomes Mystery.
Mysteries must be participated to be understood.
Even when the collective subconscious delivers a beautiful dream bursting with meaning, there is always, always more to be discovered and learned about the dream and its message. In the old days we would have taken our dream to a council of elders. They would have mulled over the dream with their collective wisdom and advised the next steps to take.
Go on a vision quest.
Perform this ritual.
Offer this gift.
Wisdom must be earned.
Even when we are given very wise dreams, we still have to earn the Mystery's revelation. We still have to act on the dream.
Most of us don't have access to a council of elders these days (pity), but we do have access to a reservoir of the collective conscious. In fact, this very essay is being stored and transmuted through the collective conscious reservoir: the internet.
Of course, there's a lot of bullshit masquerading as conscious wisdom on the internet but used judiciously and with discernment, the internet can be our council of elders.
In ORACLE: Divination for Magical Babes, I open with the retelling of one of the most powerful dreams I ever have had. The dream immediately gave me the courage to leave a dead end marriage but even now, nearly 10 years later, I have known that the dream held more. Which is why I have kept the dream close at hand, retelling it often. Which is why keeping a dream journal is the first step to earning Wisdom.
In the dream, I am part of a circle of women preparing for the patriarchy to take over. We know the world is changing and it is going to be dangerous for women. We know that the Divine Feminine, and Her wisdom, is going to go underground. We know we must let go of what we can't hold onto and sequester what we can, saving it for a future generation to uncover.
We go through a ritual and create a goddess. We name her Medea but agree to tell the men that her name is Medusa. If they don't have her true name they can't murder her true wisdom.
I woke from the dream, excited, but having no idea who Medea was. I knew Medusa was a goddess with a head full of snakes who could turn men to stone. I turned to the reservoir of collective conscious wisdom and Googled "Medea," I didn't find much-- only that she helped Jason win the Golden Fleece, married him and was later betrayed by him. One scholar called Medea the Patron Saint for Divorced Women.
That dream helped me leave a relationship I was growing too big for and now, many years later, the dream is beginning to stir and to take on a new life and meaning.
For the last week I've been feverishly researching another dream. I recently had a reoccurring dream about a goddess in Spain. The dream was of a quality that I know I was visiting Spain in my dream body, in real time. I'll save the details of the dream for another time, but I have become obsessed with finding out who this goddess is and where her shrine is. I know it exists.
Incidentally, my dream about Medea and Medusa originally came to me while I was living in Spain.
While researching this mysterious goddess, I have unexpectedly unearthed new information about Medea and Medusa.
And it's blowing my mind.
From The Obscure Goddess Online Directory, I was introduced to the goddess Angitia (pictured at the beginning of this post):
. . . Angitia was the name given to the witch Medea, who fled to Italy after her plot to poison Theseus was discovered. Medea is much associated with sorcery and serpents or dragons, and so she was identified with the native Marsian snake and magic Goddess.
From The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (a book every dreamer should have on her shelf):
Medea: "Wise One," eponymous Mother Goddess of the Medes. Like Medusa and Metis, she was named from the Sanskrit concept of medha, "female wisdom."
Medusa: . . . A female face surrounded by serpent-hair was an ancient, widely recognized symbol of divine female wisdom, and equally of the "wise blood" that supposedly gave women their divine powers.
Here, nearly a decade later, connections between Medea and Medusa are still being made. First, Medea is directly correlated to a snake goddess (Angitia). Medusa is also a snake goddess. Second, Medea's name has the same origins as Medusa's, "female wisdom," which is symbolized by snakes.
This shows how deep the reservoir of the collective unconscious wisdom really runs. My conscious mind could not have conjured up that dream-- I didn't even know who Medea was when I had the dream, let alone that there were real and varied similarities between her and Medusa.
1. Dreaming is a gate to untold depths of wisdom. I don't know of any other way to access these waters. When you neglect your dreams, you miss out on these teachings. These teachings can give you the strength to make a difficult but positive life change, they can enrich your life, give you a new outlook on life, provide mental and spiritual stimulation, they can heal you, they can even entertain you. Why would you want to ignore them.
2. I believe the meaning of my dream is being revealed to me in layers on purpose. When I first had the dream I understood it at the level I needed to understand it and for that point in my life. Because I continue to revisit and work with the dream, I have been able to peel back to another layer, a layer for this current time in my life.
3. Keeping a dream journal is a must. Because I wrote the dream down I can accurately and frequently return to the dream. And I do. It shows honor and respect for the gift of the dream, an attitude and behavior that I believe is essential to fostering a magical dream practice. In the latest dream I have been researching, The Spanish Goddess dream, I have given thanks that I've written down the dream so many times and I only had the dream last week. It's still fresh in my memory. Why? Because during all of my research and all of the photos I've looked at, my version of the dream has warped a little. But because I wrote the dream down, I can return to it. I wrote down every architectural detail. I wrote down colors and sights and geography. I even drew a picture. So when the images and stories I've read begin to change the shape of the actual dream, I can go back to my original dream report and shake off the inaccuracies and half-truths.
And in case all of that detail sounds overwhelming? The dream report still fit on the 10 lines reserved for dream journaling in my DIVINA journal.
4. Finally, you must take action on a dream. You must begin to manifest it in the physical realm somehow. Whether that means sharing the dream, researching the dream, making decisions based on the dream, drawing or painting the dream-- DO SOMETHING WITH THE DREAM.
Participate in the Mystery, earn the Wisdom.
Me? I feel a pilgrimage coming on.
image of Angitia by Thalia Took
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