When The Snake Bites

Photo Credit: Thinglink.com

So many good emails.
So many inspiring messages.
So many invitations to deep connection phone and video calls.

So many harvests of important insights from such calls, messages, emails — I’m glad for them, for the way they stir soul. For the way that human beings can’t help but offer creativity.

A part of me wants to share them all in this blog. Perhaps in days to come, because I’m committed to offering Human to Human resources, wonderings, wanderings that invite myself and others to be in commitments of kindness, consciousness, and flow with life itself.

These CoVid Times are bringing forward so much good. Yet pain, grief, and fear also, right? It is quite a thing to live with an awareness that things will get worse, yet better — and that the meaning of these words, “worse” and “better” might evolve significantly in the coming days, weeks, and years. Well, perhaps this is part of the meta invitation of these times.

I’ll offer something a bit different today, a dream. Not an “I have a dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. style. It’s last night’s dream for me. From the sleeping night time, when the individual and collective subconscious has room to claim more of its voice. This dream came on the heals of a two hour men’s group zoom call, with a group of six of us, just before going to bed.

My orientation to dreamwork is not one of objectifying meaning. The human psyche gives us much wider horizon to cast our eyes and hearts upon. I’ll offer a snippet of my sense-making and how it relates to these waking life times for me. Please feel free to choose your detail and offer your sense-making and associative super power.

I am in a small and plain room with a man. It is mostly dark. The floor might be dirt. There is some natural light coming in through a window opening. This man is an advisor to me. We live in a time that feels like two-three millennia ago. The man is advising me about a snake that is on the ground floor in the room. I am walking in a circle watching the snake. It is crawling in a circle opposite me, watching me. The snake is 2-3 feet in length; it is about 1.5 inches in diameter. The snake is bright green, multicolored, tropical looking but this geography feels more Middle Eastern or Egyptian. This advisor is telling me to kill the snake, which seems to have more relevance than just what is happening in this small room. It seems to have relevance for a much bigger group of people. I keep walking in a circle, about six feet across from the snake’s crawl. I watch it. It watches me. The advisor is telling me to act upon the snake as if it doesn’t have any consciousness or awareness. But really, the snake is listening and taking in all of the words spoken and intended. I go to reach for the snake, which appears easy enough to do. But now the snake turns to a bright gold color. I think I’m acting upon it, which the snake seems to comprehend. To my surprise, it bites at my right hand and arm, which I shake rapidly to get it off. My fearful and surprised shaking only lasts a couple of seconds in which the snake disappears. It vanishes. I wake.

One of the more attention-catching details in this dream, sense-making for me, is the relationship to the snake. In the dream it seems that I’m acting upon the snake, but really that snake has higher… something. In waking life, I continue to sense that earth itself has higher… something, and that she is biting back to interrupt this false and rather pretentious assumption that humans can be in omnipotent control (or, pulled to the personal, that I can be in control of all of it).

Here’s to the insights that any of us are finding anew, in what feels like a time of required labor, and messy birth, yet perhaps blessed, in the end, with a few initiatory and awakening bites.



Get to the Subconscious — It’s Personal, And, It Matters

Oh dear — some extra personal reflection — the personal that is actually universal. Here goes.

Symbols matter to me. Symbols that create access to areas of my subconscious that are, well, subconscious. Sometimes the symbol is a picture. Sometimes the symbol is a scene from a movie. Sometimes the symbol is a detail from another person’s story. Sometimes the symbol is from a set of cards or archetypes. Each can be remarkably fruitful to gain access to the largely unconscious way in which I, and human beings, make meaning and discover just a bit more of how the inner subjective world  projects an outer, and more presumed, objective reality. In short, the view depends on the viewer. And what determines the view is a lot of largely unknown stuff on the inside.

Symbols matter to me. Relationship with the invisible matters to me. Finding meaning matters to me. Sourcing matters to me. I don’t know why. It’s just always been this way for me. Lately I’ve been taking stronger stands for the “so much more that is going on than what we humans typically pick up in our regular bandwidth of perception.” It is in realms like this that I tend to feel a bit alien. Over overly serious. I can see, and want to see, more of what is underneath the known. I feel a bit weird with this. And afraid of being alone in it. However, my experience is often the opposite. People are hungry to make sense of their lives and their environments in the best ways possible, including through a few swims into the invisible.

One source of symbols that I particularly rely on is my dreams. It quite amazes me that even the most simple and silliest fragments of a dream have power to unlock a whole pile of the unseen. I find this to be quite fun and playful. And very informative. Key tip — write your dream down when you have it. Even a word or two in the middle of the night. Or a few typed words on your bedside phone can do the trick. So that you can come back to it in the morning. The subconscious mind and heart get trumped pretty quickly when the waking day begins, even that dreams that I didn’t think would be possible to forget.

Last night I dreamed that I’m in Invermere, British Columbia, Windermere Lake (pictured above, but in the dream there is no water slide and very few people), accessed through Kinsmen Beach (traditional lands of the Niitsitapi Blackfoot and Secwepemc). It is summer. I am my current age. This is a place that I’ve been to about a dozen times over the last twenty years of summer holiday. I’m swimming in Windermere Lake. A friend has asked me how far out from the beach you can go and still be able to stand to touch the bottom. I don’t know, but I swim a long way out  — it feels like 3/4 of a mile. I’m a bit scared and alone in this part of the lake. I’ve had a fear of deep waters since I was a young kid. I stop swimming to see if I can touch. I can. I’m surprised. And relieved. I call back to my friend to let her know. I wake.

Your symbols from this snippet of a dream might be different than mine. There is no wrong answer. It might be the lake, the beach, the traditional lands, the fear, swimming. Trust however, that there are piles of paths to follow that are fruitful (here’s the five steps I created to see more in my dreams).

For me, the location was significant. The place of summer holiday was a place of joy and safety for me. Hmmm… A part of me now seeks joy and the safety that comes from connection and belonging that was in those 20 years of holidays.

This body of water was significant. It is actually a passing through section for the Columbia River, whose headwaters are another 30 miles or so south, and that eventually make their way to the Pacific Ocean near Portland, Oregon. Windermere lake is technically a widened section of the Columbia River. Big waters. A part of me feels the bigness of the life circumstances I’m in, and that as a secondary note, do in fact, flow.

Swimming far into the lake was significant. Being scared was significant. I’m aware of a part of me that feels scared of the long way to go, that requires far.

The relief of touching the bottom was significant. Ah, relief. A part of me wants to feel relief, that perhaps what I thought was going to be way over my head, isn’t after all.

Dreams matter to me. Being awake matters to me.

Ah, back to facilitation. In my facilitation work, working with symbols, sometimes dreams, means that it is imperative to remain in connection with one another. In well held containers. With perpetual curiosity for the inner landscape that is a human consciousness. With perpetual curiosity for the outer landscape generated by engagement and learning with one another. It all changes. It all is connected. It requires us to pay attention. It’s deeply fulfilling and fruitful to create organizational culture that expects to work with symbols together and many layers of awareness — to be guided by life and spirit energy.

This writing isn’t all tucked in for me. I’m learning to give myself permission to not have it all figured out. But I can still feel the tugs in me — wanting to know what it means.

For now, what does feel clear to me — if the view depends on the viewer, it matters that we human beings further encourage cultures that tease out the personal, for the gift, I hope, of seeing what helps to see the universal. The personal matters. For helping to shape ways forward. And, well, it just feels really satisfying and joyful too.



The Tree of Dreams

A friend recently reminded me of Nic Askew’s work.

It’s exquisite, I find.

It’s magnetically compelling to see beauty, art, and human depth
applied to the practice of conscious seeing.

What I see in Askew’s work melts protective layers in me,
transporting me to much more raw heart
— within me and what I see in the world.

Enjoy this poem on dreams.

Many had gathered under the
tree of dreams.

All but one stood shaking its
branches for dreams
to fall.

Dreams that had been whispered
to them by the voices of

Dreams that would fade
with time.

But one sat quietly, waiting
for a dream to recognise his soul.

And to consume him with no doubt.


To Gold

Dreams inform my life. As symbols. As glimpses to the subconscious. As touch-points to what is collectively invisible. There are no absolutes for me in dream interpretation. An entry point to sense-making beyond rational brain is enough. And utterly fruitful. I give myself permission to pick any detail or details from the dream, with the only reason being that it / they have my attention in recall. That’s where I start. I find that when I give my dreams my attention, I remember more of them.

This week I dreamed:

I am an old man, perhaps in my 80s. I live in a village where there is a king (or prince). There is a narrow and steep path of stone on the edge of a mountain that leads from the village up and over a mountain. Each stone is like a shingle, overlapped by the next. Each stone is rectangular, two feet in length and about nine inches wide, and 1.5 inches thick. The king has asked for someone to do an enormous task (I can remember what it was in the dream). As an old man, I tell him that I can’t do that, but I can “paint” each stone from the path that leads up and over the mountain. There is some reward that I will receive if I’m able to do this. The king accepts. I proceed. With each slab of stone, I brush its full surface with at first a cedar bough, that then turns to a paint brush, though there is no paint. I begin to get scared from the height of the path when I am about 50 feet above the village. It is very narrow and it is a steep fall. I can see villagers below and know that I’m in a dangerous place. At first, I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to feel embarrassed or ashamed for not accomplishing the task. However, my fear of the height over takes me. I call out in fear and slowly step down the stone-shingled path, one stone at a time, which continues to really scare me. But then I’m able to hold the slabs with my left hand and slide all at once to the bottom. I feel my failure of not painting the whole path. The next morning I wake to find that each stone that I brushed and painted has turned to gold. The king is wondering how I did it (and valuing it). I don’t know how I did it. I wake.

One of my details in this dream is the alchemical change, which is as good of a narrative as I find to invite depth in human beings together in work, community, family, etc.

Whether you think it, respond with a comment, or reach me privately, what do you touch that turns to gold, even without knowing exactly how it happens?