Tagged: alchemy

“The Mud on the Floor is Chocolate!” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

Q: I am in a small group of people at a big school under construction. It’s at the end of a long, muddy road, deep in the wooded slopes of mountains, including Mount St. Helens. Rain and mist and mud puddles are everywhere. We are receiving a tour of the buildings. My girlfriend is also on the tour, but in another part of the campus. I look down and notice that construction mud is being tracked through the classrooms as we walk. Then I see that the group is eating chocolate cupcakes. I mention the mud on the floor, but nobody seems concerned. I feel relieved and happy and begin eating a cupcake. Some cupcake and icing falls to the floor and I notice that the mud on the floor is chocolate.

A: Dear reader, thank you for submitting this dream and for the vulnerability that it took to do so. I know you’re struggling in your relationship with your girlfriend right now, so this dream is coming from a place of conscious pain. The underlying tones of what you’re sorting through are not surprising to you. I know you to be a man committed to self-growth, so I’ll do my best to work this dream in a way that points out places of continued exploration and learning for you, but also, hopefully, places of comfort that your conscious mind might be missing.

Let’s start by translating the setting for this dream. You’re in the muddy, deep, wooded slopes of mountains. You’re in a ravine; it’s raining. Everything about this setting suggests that you’re wandering in the deep unconscious. I can only imagine you are left exhausted by your nightly journeys these days, let alone by what is going on your waking life. You’re going deep into your being, not wrestling with surface things. Whatever is going on with your girlfriend is really touching you to the core, reaching back into your primal being. What’s good to see, though, is that at the end of this road there is a big school there under construction. If you take this at face value, the insight gained from it can be clear: new learning in this region of your psyche is in development. And you gain your first lesson almost immediately: something which you initially mistake for mud is actually chocolate. In this experience, what you may mistake as being “your shit,” your muddy mess, turns out to actually be edible and sweet.

I would explore your initial feeling of tracking in the mud to the school with some subtlety. Take some time to explore that feeling in all its nuances. Is it embarrassment? Worry? What does it remind you of from your life? My guess is that there are specific feelings and actions about which you’re feeling self-conscious and that, with some distance from them, you could discover they are less yucky and muddy than you might have initially perceived them to be.

There is another layer of this, however. What is also true about sugary treats in dreams is that they can point to regression, leading us back into childhood material, as if the image of a childhood home had appeared. Sugar can also point us back Mother, the first place of sweet foods (emotionally and literally). And, of course, it’s not a stretch either to imagine that difficulties with your girlfriend might be pointing you back into material related to your mother and your initial patterns with the feminine. Have you been exploring that territory lately? Now seems a ripe time to explore, not just intellectually and abstractly, those parts of yourself. This is a good time to go into the muck of your early feelings and patterns for relationships. Again, the alchemy of the mud-to-cupcake image would suggest that you are currently in a time when you can turn water into wine.

The rain and puddles and mud in this dream evoke an emotional quality of your psyche at the moment. Not surprisingly. I find sometimes, however, that really seeing what is in a dream can help our conscious minds to accept what is true within the depths of our beings, much like an X-Ray can validate some pain you’re feeling physically. Yes, things are watery right now. Emotional. Grief ridden. Yet water is also a time of softening. Just like with the earth, that which is hard without water can become softer with rain. This points us to that old adage about the Chinese symbol for “Crisis” being a combination of the symbols for “Danger” and “Opportunity.” The images in your psyche suggest the same: things have softened inside, but there is opportunity in that watery world for new growth too.

Getting more specific: What is your personal relationship to Mount St. Helens? As a collective image, a volcano in a dream points us to themes of eruption from the depths; material from the deep which explodes over the world you once knew, causing destruction for miles and miles. Again, however, this image brings with it hope. The ash that pours out of volcanoes is fertile soil for new growth. Don’t forget that. On the more personal level, I would be curious for you to explore your memories and feelings around Mount St. Helens in particular. My guess is that there is further information about this image in relation to your past that would provide insight into the areas of growth available to you at this time. Finally, on this image, the volcano can also be seen as an earthly allegory to the feminine, the bodily entry back into the mother from whence we each came. Again, it is an opening that provides an opportunity to gain contact with the feminine, the true earth-bound place of your own being.

And this leads me to my final exploration. This whole dream takes place in a very earthly landscape. The images are all derived from earth: woods, mountains, mud, and volcanoes. It might be worth exploring how this relates to your physical health as forests in dreams can often relate to the physical unconscious. In addition, however, he earth is again the domain of the mother. It is the material realm, the place of grounding on earth as opposed to the Yang heights of air and spirit. Again, I would encourage you in these times to pay particular attention to aspects of the personal mother,your mother and your relationship to her and your grandmothers, and also of the collective mother. And I don’t mean this conceptually. This requires deep engagement with the details of your life versus the big picture. The mother realm is physical existence, earthly existence, and our material beings. Focus on maintaining balance in money, in health, and in your day to day, temporal life. If you can keep your feet on the ground and your mind from pulling you up into spiritualism or intellect, you’ll be stronger to tackle whatever arises.

As you move forward, I wish you all the best in relationship with your girlfriend. This is a fertile time, my dear. Unfortunately and fortunately, the pain makes it so. Don’t shy away from this pain or from going even deeper into it. Don’t seek for only love, but also its opposite. It is sometimes only through diving into what we perceive as mud that we can emerge with the chocolate we were craving. Meanwhile, trust that your muddy school is under construction. You are learning and growing already.


Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!

Satya is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com

“In the Glass House, a Mysterious Man Opens His Palm…” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

Q: I’m at the coast in Oregon. I’m looking at the stunning ocean from a large hill a few hundred yards from the shore. There’s not a single person in sight, as if I’m the only human for hundreds of miles. I look behind me and see a huge, regal grizzly bear running in full sprint out of the woods towards me. I immediately begin sprinting down the hill towards the ocean. When I reach the sand, I begin running south. I know there’s nowhere to hide. Then all of a sudden I see a glass structure that is blended in with the environment. I run towards the large glass doors and walk in. The inside is clean and immaculately beautiful, you can everything outside from inside. There is a tall man with his back to me and his hands clasped behind him. It’s as if he’s been waiting for me. I can’t see his face. He’s wearing dark colors and may have a cloak over him, though he’s non-threatening. I walk towards him. When I get close, he turns towards me and takes a few steps in my direction. He opens his hands and reveals little rocks and pills on his palm. “This is your Bear Medicine,” he tells me. 

Whoa. What a dream! This is the kind of dream from which movies are made. In fact… despite the very different setting, the similarities in the final scene of your dream and Neo’s first encounter with Morpheus in The Matrix cannot go unmentioned. Neo is directed towards a room in which Morpheus is waiting for him; Morpheus opens his hands to reveal Neo’s choices. Which pill will you take? And what happens next?

But I’m getting ahead of the story. Let’s start at the beginning, with a little insight from Dr. Jung on dreams with a theme like your own: “When you dream of a savage bull, or a lion, or a wolf pursuing you, this means: it wants to come to you. You would like to split it off, you experience it as something alien, but it just becomes all the more dangerous. . . .The best stance would be: ‘Please, come and devour me!’ . . . The Other within us becomes a bear, a lion, because we made it into that. Once we accept this, it becomes something else” (Children’s Dreams, p. 19).

The bear is a part of you that has been split off from your conscious identity. And the bear, I would argue, transformed into that incredible, mysterious man at the end of your dream. He was seeking contact with you and got it. In one form, he sent you towards the glass home and in another, he greeted you there. I’ll share with our readers that you are a man in your early thirties. If you were a woman, this Morpheus figure at the end of your dream might be more like the Oracle, a wise old woman with esoteric wisdom. It is the inner aspect which guides you, whether you are aware of it or not. It is an aspect to which you are advised to listen.

In the beginning of the dream, you are admiring the beautiful ocean, staring into the vast unconscious. No one else is around, suggesting that what happens next is for you and you alone. This is not about relationships or the collective, but your own primal wholeness. Some part of you that has been cut off is trying to regain contact.

You might look back at a recent dream interpretation I wrote involving a bear for some insight into the bear in your dream. I think there are helpful parallels there. Concisely, the bear might be seen as a representation of the feminine instinctual sphere. The realm of being versus doing, of embodiment versus spirit. The bear is the Great Mother; while a figure similar to Poseidon would represent the god of the oceans, a powerful bear can be seen as a god of the earth. In this case, the bear is also representing shadow material as it explicitly appears from behind you, where your shadow follows you around. Similarly  the bear comes out of the woods, a setting which can be thought of as the physical unconscious. It is a place of earthly darkness, of mystery and potential danger. As the bear is coming from the woods, it is suggested that the physical, embodied, earthly realm is where your shadow resides.

The bear runs towards you. It chases you down the hill and you are forced into lower levels of consciousness until you nearly reach the ocean itself. Then a glass structure appears, which you find beautiful. You enter it. Glass walls or containers in dreams can indicate our separation from emotion: you can see whatever is behind it clearly but you can’t feel it. Connecting with what is inside is important.

Your life and work pull you towards both the intellect and spirit, so I wonder if the physical and emotional realms are not seeking more attention from you. As we move through life and gain intellectual and spiritual consciousness, we can also begin to devalue our embodiment. It’s worth asking yourself: Are you remembering to play? To dance and be silly? To save space in your life for love and romance and embodied life? Think of what the gods would do on the first day they found physical form. What do they think about when they long for embodiment and mortality?

As a nod to the collective unconscious, your dream parallels many myths in which there is a glass house, often where an old man is waiting inside. This wise man in your dream offers you medicine, something to ingest. He hands you pills and rocks which he refers to as Bear Medicine. In the language of dreams, I would argue that this is about you incorporating the bear into yourself, an act which will then protect you from being devoured by the bear. A common theme in fairy tales is the ingestion of bear meat, the incorporation of the bear’s power; your dream imagery parallels this theme. The rocks, like the glass vessel in which you and this wise old man stand, might be viewed as an alchemical symbol: the Philosopher’s Stone. “This is your opus,” your wise old man seems to be telling you. This is very important work in your life, to integrate your bear, your primal shadow, your earthly self. You are asked to descend, not run higher, and you are asked to eat the earthly stones and the bear. This is your healing. Reconnect with your grounded, emotional, vulnerable, earth bound self, those aspects of you for which the gods are envious.

Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!

Satya is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com