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.



Five Steps to Bringing Dreams to Waking Life

Below is a piece I wrote initially in 2010. Since then, I’ve found myself using my dreams a lot, and, in the spirit of what I recently heard Thomas Moore speak — “Some see the night time as a time to prepare for the real work of the day. However, the day is often what prepares us for the real work of the night that shows itself in our dreams.”



In about 2009, I started paying attention to my dreams. I wasn’t a person who regularly received epic, vivid dreams. Not even regular little dreams. I just had an ever-sharpening awareness that it was important for me to pay attention.

I read a little on lucid dreaming. And on out-of-body travel. I had and have those desires. But in search of simple first next steps, I just started writing my dreams. On my laptop. In my notebook. In the middle of the night. In the morning. I was advised that if I wrote them, they would come more commonly. They did.

To be transparent, I have many beliefs about catching dreams. Don’t we all. I don’t tend to take my dreams as literal — though some can be. Yes, I know that dreams are influenced by life experiences. Everything from last night’s lasagna to past-life trauma. I don’t feel obligated to interpret my dreams through universal meanings of symbols — though I welcome that also. I like the response that my friend Roq offered when I shared one of my dreams and asked what he thought. “If that were my dream, this is what would catch my attention.” I loved his pointing to the subjective. And I believe more deeply, the pointing to the symbols in dreams as receiving vessels on which to project meaning.

In “just writing” I came up with a pattern of five steps that I now follow all of the time. I find them helpful. Surprising also. Even the seemingly silliest of dreams, or the smallest fragments of a dream, open insights that I find helpful. My assumption is that dreams are a way for the “wholeness of the world” (or perhaps a collective consciousness) to be in partnership with us. To be in communication with us. Tuning to that communication is a practice. Messages come through dreams that our minds can’t hear or see. Dreams open up other forms of knowing and communication.

The process I use is below. It is one of noticing what is emerging. Try it out.

1) Write your dream. Don’t edit. Just write. Open to whatever is showing up through words. It may be a paragraph. It may be several pages. It may be a fragment of a dream. These often open up other dimensions of recall. Just write.

2) Highlight key symbols, words, or images from your writing. If the image of the pink towel was strong in your dream, highlight it, whether you think you should or not. If on my computer, I highlight by giving them a different color. If in my notebook, I just circle them. I look for what seemed particularly clear. Again, no sense-making here. Just highlight the parts that you experienced as key, strong, memorable, or poignant. Sometimes I choose as few as 2-3. Usually 7-8. Sometimes more.

3) With each symbol, free associate. Write a couple of words or phrases about what that symbol means to you. If pink towels make you think of Grandma, write that. What you write may be sparked from the context of your dream. It may be more generic. Begin to watch for a stronger meaning to arrive to you as you free associate. I often find it’s the second or third free association that stays with me intuitively.

4) From this associating, name the general story. The one that feels important. Was it a transformation dream? A seeking dream? A letting go dream? Don’t name what you think it should be. Look for what is arising.

5)  Name a couple of questions, insights, or assignments for your waking life. A few key areas of focus that you can carry with you into the day or the next week. I often reframe an association into a question. I don’t force it. It just feels like an invitation. How might I be different today if I think of my grandma?

One further insight on this dream learning process. It feels equally helpful in the dream that is waking life. I often follow the same steps above to make sense of some real life, waking dream, experiences. It helps me to see and respond in very different ways.