The dream of lions

Running impala from safaritalk.com

Here is what I dreamed last night.

A lioness was chasing an impala across the savannah. Both were running hard. The impala was leaping and turning, agile and lithe.

The lioness was muscular and strong, running lean and low, digging in to make the sharp turns.

Lioness from wallpaper,net

In the dream, I wondered how the race would end. Who would win, the powerful lion or the agile impala.

I was filled with a deep peace and heard the Bruce Cockburn song playing in the distance.

And then I saw the difference between the two. It wasn’t the stride, or the size of the muscles. It was in the intention, the purpose of running.  The lion was running for her dinner. The impala was running for her life.

–Quinn McDonald is lucky enough to remember her dreams.

Learning from Dreams

Dreams are important. They are more than just random processing of the day’s events. Sure,  some parts of dreams are recycled parts of experience. But dreams are also our very personal stories, given meaning by our deep personal connections.

In a dream, we recognize the yellow tricycle we passed on the sidewalk earlier in the day. That doesn’t strip it of meaning. To wrangle meaning out of dreams, we have to sit with the ideas our dreams give us and untangle the complicated links to ourselves.

Put down the book that “explains” dream images. You create the message and you can understand it. It’s yours to explore for meaning. A few nights ago I had a dream about a toaster cozy. Unlikely, yes. At first.

A handmade toaster cozy, sadly no longer available on Etsy.

The Dream I was in a class of women, and we were all making kitchen-appliance cozies. You may remember those–covers for toasters, blenders, coffee grinders. Cozies were very popular in the 1950s and early 60s. I think the purpose was to unify the look of the kitchen, although it’s possible women wanted to “hide” the machines that did the work for them while they wore pearls and shirtwaist dresses.  There was a lot of conflict in housewives’ minds about having “women’s work” made easier. It was more noble to do everything by hand, but a lot faster to use a machine to help.

In my dream, I was in a sewing class, learning to make a toaster cozy. The other  women in the class were making their cozies really fast, sewing machines humming. Most of the cozies in my dream were crayon-colored prints, with contrasting piping. (In my waking life I’m not attracted to crayon-colored prints and piping.) Some women were quilting theirs in traditional quilting patterns.

My toaster model was a vintage, rounded, 2-slicer with the big bakelite black handle. The instructor kept stopping by, fretting. I was making a cozy out of Tyvek,  the material FedEx envelopes are made from, and was adding a stuffed sculpture on top. The instructor was worried, and said, “This isn’t really the shape everyone is working with.” I nodded, but kept working.

The instructor, who in my dream was a home ec teacher, asked to see it on the toaster, but I shook my head. I didn’t speak, just kept working. Finally, when other women were putting their neat, tidy, perfectly sewn toaster cozies over their toasters, I put mine on the toaster–it used the toaster as a base, and the whole cozy was about two feet high.

  On the top of the cozy was a tiger, rearing up on two hind feet, claws out, snarling. The teacher was horrified and asked me why I did that. I said, “Because I needed to.”

The interpretation: Here is what I knew but didn’t say to the teacher–the toaster was fear and the cozy was anger,  a reaction to fear. I was covering fear with a show of anger. Tyvek can’t be torn or ripped. It would stand up to a lot of angry treatment.

Showing strength and anger keeps people from seeing we are just a toaster. Because being a toaster is not enough, in our heads. And yet, we buy toasters just for that ability–to toast bread.

The question: What cozy do you put on to appear to be something else? What are you hiding from the world?

Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling. She has a strange attraction to Tyvek.

Dreaming Your Life Awake

Australian Aborigines believe that our dreams are our real life, and our waking life is meant to be a path to fulfill them.  I’ve had recurring dreams, meaningful dreams that I still remember vividly, and dreams that have come true much as I dreamed them. I once dreamed a portion of someone else’s lif and had them verify it.

Dreamers, colored pencil on Bristol Board © Quinn McDonald

What’s bothered me about dreams is that they seem personal and meaningful, but dream interpretation seems to be a impersonal, reduced to symbol searches. Many books list the items in dreams and assign them a meaning. You dream of flying, it’s a sign someone is going to die. In another book, flying is sex. (In that book, everything is sex. It doesn’t need to be 300 pages long, one would have been plenty.)

Another school of thought says that you are everyone in your dream. I’m not sure that works for me, either. Many of the people in my dream are known to me and many unknown that represent an idea or warning for me, but they aren’t me.

I think dreams are far more meaningful, and I don’t believe they are random images your brain fans out because you’ve eaten pepperoni pizza late at night. I believe dreams are a connection to the collective unconscious–the past of your cultural ancestors. I think dreams are a map of our lives, a colorful tapestry of adventures, a guide to the path we have chosen, an illuminated manuscript of both our imagination and our possibilities.

After studying with Robert Moss, and reading his books, I’m interested in active dreaming–a combination of shamanic methods and paying attention to ourselves. Moss says, “Our ‘big story’ is stalking us, and if we don’t embrace that story, others will impose their own stories, little stories and ‘small identities’ on us. ”  The only person who can correctly interpret a dream is the dreamer, who has all the information. Well meaning friends, who reach for mass-interpretation of dream, may want to help. But it’s the “fixing” kind of help that isn’t the best answer because it’s someone else’s idea of what we should do.

Moss believes we can re-enter dreams, either in meditation or in subsequent dreams. He believes we need to get lost in the meaning of our dreams to discover their meaning.

I’m keeping track of all this dreaming, waiting to see how I’itoi is meant to be in my life. I’ve chosen to believe that dreaming of I’itoi is not hijacking another culture, it’s freeing my limits. Dreaming sets your soul wandering at night, why should I build a fence around it? Enough people do that already. And maybe that was the meaning I’m learning.

Quinn McDonald is a dreamer, writer, and creativity coach. She never uses faces in her work, but this one, a figure from a dream, worked out.

The Dream and the Dreamer

For years I’ve been interested in dreams. I’ve had recurring dreams, meaningful dreams that I still remember vividly, and dreams that have come true much as I dreamed them. I once dreamed a portion of someone else’s lif and had them verify it.

Dreamer by Quinn McDonald (c) 2008What’s bothered me about dreams is that they seem personal and meaningful, but dream interpretation seems to be a impersonal, reduced to symbol searches. Many books list the items in dreams and assign them a meaning. You dream of flying, it’s a sign someone is going to die. In another book, flying is sex. (In that book, everything is sex. It doesn’t need to be 300 pages long, one would have been plenty.) [Editor’s note: WordPress automatically assigns links to posts based on keywords. Please be careful before clicking on the automatically generated links below this post.]

Another school of thought says that you are everyone in your dream. I’m not sure that works for me, either. Many of the people in my dream are known to me and many unknown that represent an idea or warning for me, but they aren’t me.

I think dreams are far more meaningful, and I don’t believe they are random images your brain fans out because you’ve eaten pepperoni pizza late at night. I believe dreams are a connection to the collective unconscious–the past of your cultural ancestors. I think dreams are a map of our lives, a colorful tapestry of adventures, a guide to the path we have chosen, an illuminated manuscript of both our imagination and our possibilities.

Currently, I’m enrolled in a seminar on dreaming, run by Robert Moss, the originator of active dreaming. Moss believes we can re-enter dreams, either in meditation or in subsequent dreams.

I’m keeping track of all this dreaming for both my dream journaling course and for some workshops on how to wake up to dreams, making them a useful part of your daydreams and waking life.

May 9 update: I had a dream in which I saw a woman who was a potential client in a crowd. She was very blond, almost glowing. The rest of the crowd was very dun-colored, as if a gray wash had been put over the whole scene. She began to bekon to me, but I couldn’t get to her, the crowd was too thick and not moving. [end of dream] I woke up and had this strong urge to email this person. So I did. Two days later she called me and said she had had a job come in, and hadn’t thought of me until she saw my email. I accepted the freelance job. I’m calling this a Quinncidence.

–Image: Dreamer, color pencil, aquarelle pencils on 100-lb. Bristol Board, Quinn McDonald (c) 2008 All rights reserved. This post is also under copyright by Quinn McDonald, who is a workshop developer and leader as well as a certified creativity coach. See her website at QuinnCreative.com