Q: I am cleaning a room with two other people. On one side of the room, there are wasps’ nests strewn about the floor. We must step over them very slowly and quietly in order to not wake them — it seems to be some sort of test. I do alright at first, but then something happens and the wasps begin buzzing around. We run into the bedroom and dive under the covers for protection. Above me, I can feel the wasps relentlessly pelting the blankets, trying to attack us. I feel a sharp pain as a few of the stingers get through. After it’s over, I see that I have been stung three times: twice on my right hand, and once on my left.
A: Wowza! Well, I suppose you’re doing some deep diving into yourself these days, huh? The appearance of animals (or creatures) in dreams are always important images to take note of, but there are some that carry particular weight in the dreamworld, and wasps are among them. Big moments in our lives will often be marked by visitations of some of these animals in our dreams or, synchronistically, in our waking lives. In addition to wasps, other “big” animals include snakes, large cats, bears, and elephants; animals which, incidentally, Kundalini yoga and other ancient traditions, also include as representing significant stages of personal development.
So what’s going on in this dream? I’m quite curious what room it is that you’re cleaning, and who you’re with. Answers to those questions could probably provide us with some information regarding what areas of personal evolution you’re really undertaking at the moment. Without that information, however, I would say simply that it seems you’re cleaning house, so to speak, taking stock of life and disregarding the extraneous. In that process, as indicated by the sequence of events in your dream, you’ve awakened another part of your person, a very powerful, very evolved aspect, perhaps inclined towards the design and construction of a new home (symbolically speaking), as wasps are so adept at doing.
For a bit of global amplification, in Zambian mythology, it was the wasp who brought fire to a cold earth from God, acting as a beneficial intermediary between the divine and the (less enlivened) human experience. In other parts of the world, wasps are symbols of initiation into a higher ranks, and in general, wasp symbolism orients around new beginnings; they seem to act as archetypal threshold images for major life events and changes in relationships. In particular (and men, please correct me if I’m wrong), this animal seems to have a particular relationship to women’s lives, arriving more often in women’s dreams, perhaps pointing to the awakening of a very strong, self-contained energy of feminine independence and personal power.
Visitations of these threshold animals are even more attention grabbing when they bite or sting you, as is the case in your dream. Dreams with this motif appear on occasion with wasps and snakes in particular, while other animals will consistently engage with the dreamer differently. That you were stung by these wasps further indicates the integration and union of this new element of you with the old you, not unlike (cover your ears) the image and act of intercourse and the receptivity of the feminine from the masculine. In the image of “being stung,” therefore, the themes of fertility and new beginnings are self-evident. By cleaning house, it seems, you’ve awakened a sleeping giant in you and been stung, stuck, impregnated by it. Only you can know what that means for you, but I anticipate that a very important and rich phase of life and personal evolution is now in the works and gestating. Here, here!
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
Q: A few times a year, I dream about my ex with another woman. In the dream, he is either dating someone new or his focus is just somewhere other than on me. In the dream, I struggle desperately against this. I hit, kick, punch, pull, do something physical to keep them away from each other. Sometimes, I hurt him in some way. I try and do something to catch his attention that is being diverted away from me, but the effort is fruitless since he doesn’t return the attention I am looking for. In some dreams, I even hit the other girl he is with. The dream feels very physical. I always wake up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and sad.
A: Oh, dear. These dreams are the worst. As you say, sad, overwhelming, just… bleh. And they’re so common! You are certainly not the only one who dreams of exes and wrestles at night with the ins-and-outs of relationship woes. I know you’re a little embarrassed about sharing this dream, so I want to state unequivocally that you shouldn’t be. Ambivalence around break-ups is normal, people we love and have loved are hard to let go of, and the confusion around these ups and downs are likely to show-up in our dream lives.
What’s interesting about this dream is the level of physicality involved. You are really exerting some effort with this one! You’re clearly struggling hard around something to do with this ex. The dream is likely reflecting the situation you two are in, but not literally. One possible scenario, is that your on-going struggle and interactions with him in waking life may be hurting him in some way, as you state plainly in your description of the dream that you sometimes do so. I wonder, how is he doing with the current dynamic between you two? How are you feeling about your behavior towards him when these kinds of dreams arise? Are you pushing and pulling him at the same time?
The most plain reading of this dream may be the one most valuable for you: you’re struggling with (or against) the relationship with your ex in some way and would almost certainly benefit from focusing some time exploring your feelings around it (on a deeper level than you likely already). Don’t be afraid to go there. The attention spent with your complicated feelings will relieve some tension that you’re carrying around with you. The first question to begin the explorations for yourself, given the content of the dream, may be simply: How do you feel about the fact that you’re no longer together? What attention do you want from him still? Let what arises with this question arise. Follow the emotion into whatever images and other memories may come-up and maybe even write them down.
There is another layer that could be valuable to explore too if those first questions feel too charged to go into just yet. It’s a harder layer, more complicated, but it’s a more symbolic one, sitting just below all that emotional stagnation. Themes related to union (or dis-union) that show-up in dreams can reflect our relationship to the integration of something within ourselves (think “coming-together”). What I mean by this is that there may be something to do with elements specific to your own psychic make-up, your own feminine and masculine sides in love and companionship, that are in conflict now. They’re your yin and yang pieces. By engaging the subtleties of your feelings around love and self-worth on a regular basis, like a little yoga practice, you may find over time that these dreams soften and the conflict disappears.
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Satya is a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in applicable dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and the stage of life between young adulthood and mid-life.