Dreams: writing your unique sacred text

Taupō-nui-a-Tia

Two women on a road trip. Hardly Thelma and Louise, although it did feel a bit like driving off a cliff as we headed towards a dream retreat.

I’d been in, and loved, Jungian dream analysis but the idea of talking about dreams with a bunch of strangers was new. However, since we’d raised the idea of morphing our Jungian book group into a dream group, we had to do our research.

Entering new spaces or groups always brings on fear and anxiety for me so I dreamt up a few prejudices and held them out in front like a talisman to ward off evil. From behind the shield I wondered about the dream I’d had a few days before where I’d been coming down the stone steps of an ancient temple that was a bit like the Latin American pyramids. I was terrified and felt physically ill. The dream made me think about the fear I experience when trying new things. It can be immobilising, tie me down, stop life happening. This retreat was a way of engaging with the fear instead of walking away.

Everything coalesced for me on the second day when I was in a small group of people exploring, drawing and talking about dreams they were prepared to share. Each dream was individual, unique, to be entertained and gently probed but not trifled with. Our facilitator, who reckoned she was a novice though I’m finding that hard to believe, held the group together with sensitivity, respect, gentle curiosity and humour. There wasn’t a moment that I didn’t feel safe. Despite my initial reservations, I leapt into the deep waters of the unconscious with delight. The process was sound, and it enabled enthusiastic engagement.

Late in the day we got to my dream, a rambling story about a dilapidated house, a dead and skinned pig, fire, water, fake fur and various disconnected people. Once the drawing was up on the whiteboard, and fear not, the quality of your drawing doesn’t matter, we added the context and a few emotions. But, after an initial rush of discussion there was silence. I accepted that the group might be as bemused as I had been about this dream.

Then someone asked a quiet question and suddenly another internal door opened in me and connections spilled out. Ideas flowed from the group. No-one told me what to think but offered more questions, observations and perspectives that built into a treasure trove to take away and ponder about in my own time and the privacy of my soul.

As we watched the sun set over the lake that night, I thought about my dream library as a unique sacred text that has arisen from deep within me. It’s never complete, always a work in progress, open to new discoveries and definitely not an authorised version for others to follow. It has slowly grown into a taonga (a treasure, a highly prized natural resource) that can benefit from careful sharing with others who are clued up enough to see it as sacred and who are willing to gracefully contribute to its wisdom from their own experience.

‘I don’t suppose all our book group will be interested in this,’ I mused on the way home. ‘Probably not,’ said my friend. How wrong can you be? Everyone wants to have a crack at driving over the cliff.


Thanks to Margaret Bowater who has been a dreamworker for many years. Click the link for her courses and books. I’m signed up for Dreams of death, grief and healing in March 2019.

Also check out Sacred Dream Circles: A Guide to Facilitating Jungian Dream Groups by Tess Castleman and Jungian analyst in the United States. As excellent resource to help people run safe and enriching groups. We’ll be using this book as a resource for our group.

6 Replies to “Dreams: writing your unique sacred text”

  1. Thanks Sande. It may be because of my “maleness” but I keep rationalising about what happens or how it happens in my dreaming. But the rationalising may be part of the useful decoding that is a kind of hermeneutic. In a dream I feel that my mind and imagination go to work without benefit of my self consciousness interfering. Going to work they produce their own kind of coded interpretation of what has been happening in the conscious life around me. Which life is a kind of buzzing booming confusion and needs some sort of ordering. The coded dream seems remarkably revelatory sometimes when I awake and start my own exercise of decoding the coded interpretation that the dream has marvellously but cryptically composed for me. I am writing this to describe a kind of mysterious process that has often occurred for me and it may be of interest to others.

    1. Thanks George.
      I think your words, code, revelatory, cryptic, ordering, mysterious and so on are a great way of talking about the dream process. And I think you’re right, your imagination and your mind get together in a creative partnership to decode what has arisen within you.
      Thanks again.

  2. I used to keep a Dreams Diary next to my bed and write in it each morning before opening my eyes completely. It was fascinating belonging to a dream group for a time and talking about our dreams and sometimes trying to re-enter them. Congratulations on engaging with your fear about exposing your unconscious in a dream group and for not running away. Not an easy thing to do.

    1. Thanks for the contribution. One of the things I enjoy doing is to engage with characters in the dream to get another perspective on it all. There have been some fascinating encounters. Looking forward to what the group dreams up!

  3. One of your richest posts, Sande. The waka huia holding your dreams is indeed full of golden phoenix feathers. Every time it is opened, new meaning pours forth. Glad you embraced the fear, I had similar experience, and the richness I beheld still unfurls. Godde meets us there.

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