What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in you hand
Ah, what then?
Do you sometimes wake up and find your waking lives a disappointment after the evocative, surprising landscapes of your dreams?
Do you even find that your dreams intrigue you enough to talk about them? And do you wonder sometimes how far they represent your ‘secret self’ attempting to heal areas of your conscious life where you feel lost?
Roads less travelled perhaps?
How far can dreams alter the perceptions, the VERSIONS we hold of our waking lives, even curiously adding a form of healing to some aspect of our waking lives through their weaving, meandering, reanimation of lost times, lost figures, even lost emotions?
The other night I had the most vivid dreams peopled by figures long passed away, behaving and acting very much as if they were alive and significantly alive in healed and vital ways. I awoke deeply moved by my adventures!
How far can dreams transport us back into worlds recreated from the fragmentary ‘realities’ of our past? Do we liberate our conscious rational thinking through our night excursions down what Moira Eribenne argued could be our sleepy tumbles into Lewis Carroll’s ‘rabbit holes’ of the unconscious?
Moira suggested: ”The rabbit hole is a warren of the sleepers desires. You walk, swim, float and discover the discourse of the vastness of without, within.” This vastness within may reveal an ‘event’ drenched with ‘raw imagery, skin -prickling clarity and utter sensory largesse.”
Imagine a curious dream where a group of Roman soldiers were marching towards a huddle of sprawling farm buildings where I was staying.
My Dream logic didn’t register the reason I was there. My dream logic knew that the Romans were completely out of time, but I accepted the dream ‘fact’ that they were there.
For some dream reason my two brindle greyhounds( now passed away) were staying on the farm too and part of the dream’s hectic activity was to make the dogs ‘safe’inside before the Roman soldiers arrived all organised , focused and indifferent to their time travelling !
Even though I was still ‘me’ enough to know that the Roman soldiers were all ‘wrong’ in the modern day Welsh countryside, their presence remained undeniable. I could hear them. So could my dogs. Our senses were on high alert.
We felt alarmed and our movements were urgent.
And make no mistake. We felt their clinical, military power relentlessly approaching; just slightly shadowy and just ‘there’ over the hill.
Inside there was a lot of ‘rallying’ type activity. Indeed the specifics of the dream all involved placing parts of the farmhouse furniture against doors and windows: protection from the impending threat of the ancient army.
Maybe the present time perhaps hopelessly to protect itself from the past. I remember that I hoped to find a gun with which to threaten the army with the horror of a few bullets, yet the ‘realistic’ part of the dream told me, you would never use a gun,and besides the place was a holiday home, so no guns!
As Moira suggested dreams are a ‘tumble’ down a rabbit hole of the unconscious and maybe the fact that both my beloved dogs were alive again in the dream, yet were threatened once more with death, presented me with a bizarre opportunity to defend them from hurt.
My mind,in the timeless sanctuary of a dream, was trying to heal the finality of death. Why death should come in the form of a Roman cohort marching through the Welsh countryside remains a mystery.
Dreams coincide details whose relations with each other defy rational explanation yet whose visceral meaning may ‘feel’ symbolically apt. You may not literally ‘get’ the meaning of your dream, but intuitively you ‘know’ it anyway.
Think too about the opening to Daphne Du Maurier’s thrilling novel Rebecca. It opens with a haunting sequence and somehow we never quite shake off the feeling that the dream-scape is as real as the narrator’s so called ‘real life’.
Here is the opening and can anyone afford to forget it- as Moira says, dreams cause a sensory largesse we may find impossible to forget. The narrator like us, weaves together different parts of her conscious and unconscious experience like a sticky psychological web of suggestiveness. Freud’s condensation and displacement combined!
Du Maurier’s anonymous narrator is curiously fascinated by her own night visions!s
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited. No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.
The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done, but as I advanced I was aware that a change had come upon it; it was narrow and unkept, not the drive that we had known. At first I was puzzled and did not understand, and it was only when I bent my head to avoid the low swinging branch of a tree that I realized what had happened. Nature had come into her own again and, little by little, in her stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long, tenacious fingers.
The woods, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the borders of the drive. The beeches with white, naked limbs leant close to one another, their branches intermingled in a strange embrace, making a vault above my head like the archway of a church. And there were other trees as well, trees that I did not recognize, squat oaks and tortured elms that straggled cheek by jowl with the beeches, and had thrust themselves out of the quiet earth, along with monster shrubs and plants, none of which I remembered.
Du Maurier’s famous opening reminds us that in dreams we go back.
We do not ‘let go‘ of what is behind us . We tear down night’s gauzy veil…
…. rediscovering ourselves –CURIOUSLY!
Carol Ann Duffy 15 ideas!
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