Tagged: dreams of bears

“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

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“I am a Bear Apprentice in a Bear Market.” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

Q: I am an apprentice bear following around an old grouchy bear who doesn’t want to be followed around. I am supposed to make Old Bear a meal of grass, so we go to a bear market. Nobody is very friendly, least of all Old Bear, and I have trouble picking up the grass from the vegetable coolers with my paws. We sit at a table in the back of the market because Old Bear knows everybody there and he lets me eat some of his grass and I get him to tell me some of his life story. I feel like I am finally making progress in my bear apprenticeship. Then we go sit outside on the grass, everything is so colorful. Both of us feel sleepy and accomplished and I fall asleep. Then there is a gun in my face! Two hunters are pointing guns at us. Old Bear tells me not to move, even though I wouldn’t have anyway. They tie his paws and then mine and they hoist us over their shoulders. Then I start flipping back and forth between being Young Bear and being myself at about age twelve (I’m now 20). I’m running after the hunters. Then I am 12 years old, barefoot, stopping suddenly: both of the hunters with their bears have disappeared. I stumble forward and realize we were at the edge of a ravine. There is no way either of the hunters had made it, carrying bears, but I can’t see any of them below. I stand up and it is very quiet, except for the sound of the water two hundred feet down. I feel very calm. 

A: What an incredible dream – and beautifully composed (I sadly had to edit down the richness of the original dream to make it suit our purposes here). I have a hunch this is a big “what-is-the-path-of-my-life” dream, so I’m going to do my best to give you a few toe holds here for your continued work. You’ll want to keep doing some exploration and amplification (research into the mythological and historical root of dream symbols). To get you off and running, this is some of what I notice in the dream…

I notice first that you are 20 and that you (in astute observation of the dream) are also 12 years old at various times in the dream. You are 12 when you find yourself staring down a ravine. A ravine is, concisely defined, “a deep, narrow gorge with steep sides.” It’s a scary place to be standing at the edge of, but you see that down there is water… the spring of life? A place for cleansing? A place one might hope to get to, after some effort and sweat and tears of the journey down…? What were your hopes for the future when you were 12? Where did you hope to get to after your dedication and effort? And what may have happened recently for that dream-for-the-future to be reignited?

Before you found yourself at this ravine in this dream, you were still 20 and were startled awake by serious danger. If we were working together therapeutically, I would want to explore at length with you what your major shocks have been recently, as well as traumas or shocks that occurred in childhood at this time. The sudden appearance of a gun in your face when you were blissfully asleep, resulting in the flip-flopping of age, suggests to me a major shock in childhood, something that took you by surprise and shattered your notion of what life was at the time. An existential tragedy and forced awakening? Alternately, this same image could be reflecting something that has happened recently that’s bringing your psyche back to those pastures of childhood, long tucked away and forgotten. Take some time to explore what this might be pointing to.

I’d be curious too about your mother and your relationship with her around that time and now. I mention your mother because the Bear symbol can represent Mother archetypally (the personal mother or the divine mother), but also because you commented on the mother-child relationship of bears in your response to my request for your associations. I must admit that I’ve been imagining a grizzly bear, although I realize I don’t know what kind of bear was in your dream… and this is a critical detail for understanding the meaning more. The specificity of different animals are important indicators of the specificity of instinct and behavior being mirrored in the psyche. Each animal reflects different parts of our instincts or body of our beings. In general, bears are not terribly social animals. In fact, after childhood and childrearing, they mostly live alone. Their true behavior is counter to their gathering together in your dream, so I’m curious about this incongruence. I wonder if you’re still seeking something from childhood that is incongruent to the stage of life you’re now in, and/or if you might be a more solitary person by nature than you have been allowing in your life.

In general, we are circling around issues of intimacy and relationship and how that all works for you as you come into yourself as an adult. (It’s notable too that the number 2 comes up so regularly in your dream. I wish we had more space here for all the neglected symbols!) I’m curious in the same vein about your current work environment and your history with mentors. My sense from the dream is that you are eager for a mentor and eager for someone to show you the way into life. You are seeking your way in the world and would love a wise mentor from whom to learn. Your eagerness seems not to be fulfilled, however. Have you made yourself content with scraps of mentorship, convinced they’re teaching you what you need to know? The image of Grouchy Old Bear might suggest a Mr. Miyagi character, a true master who is grouchy and avoidant until the student proves her unflappable dedication to his art. Is this the case? Or are you trying to remain optimistic when all around you is a reality of underwhelming mentorship? This will be up to you to feel out further. You may long for a Mr. Miyagi figure, as I think most youths do in order to find orientation and inspiration as they come of age. Have you found this person? Or should you seek him inside instead?

Ultimately, what we seek externally is for us to develop internally. Old Bear in this dream, and any guide figure, also reflects your own inner truth and wisdom center that leads you into the world. This dream may be reflecting your deep relationship with your own internal guide, your guide to “the source”, the creative, inspiring source of life reflected by the water in the ravine to which you finally arrive. Take some time to journal on how you know and trust that inner voice inside.

Finally, I wonder too about how your fears about money and financial stability are affecting you. Your dream tells you plainly that you are in a “bear market,” a quite literal note on an economic downturn that may be plaguing your sense of courage to launch into the world. It’s also worth noting that nobody is very friendly there! Bear Markets are not places we want to be when we’re trying to apprentice and find the right path.

You have chosen to learn about the art of being a Bear, my dear. Bears are deeply wise, maternal, and independent creatures. This is a soulful and rich animal that you seek to become. Take this as fact. You may not have found the right mentors or clarity of direction yet, you may not know how to trust the inner guide or which fears to fear and which to launch above. But my sense is that with enough effort and trust in yourself, you will find yourself on your own path, deep down that ravine near the source. After all, it is not until you are all alone in the dream that there is a sense of deep calm. No need to prove yourself to anyone but yourself. No need to face the expectations and demands of anyone, just the personal, incredible journey ahead. 

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