Friday, May 23, 2008

Speech of the Swallows

Years ago I dreamed:

"Two swallows are sitting on a telephone wire, chattering. I understand what they are saying. In addition, I am able to SEE their speech, in the form of colossal stone letters. It is obviously an archaic language, older than any human writing. As I look at the letters and listen to the simultaneous English “translation,” I realize that I must remember what I am witnessing. In the process of trying to decide whether to remember the shapes of the stone letters or the English translation, I wake up." [End of dream]

This dream is especially important to me because swallows are one of my favorite birds, running a close second to the Great Blue Heron. To me, both creatures -- herons and swallows -- are particularly potent carriers of a great mystery. They stitch the boundaries between “this world” and “the other world” -- however you might wish to conceive that otherness.

Not surprisingly, both birds were regarded as sacred in ancient cultures. The heron, also known as the “bennu bird” in ancient Egypt, presided over the moment of sunrise on the first day of creation. And the swallow was regarded as sacred to Aphrodite in ancient Greece. Their joyful presence in the sky must have been felt as a palpable manifestation of the beauty of the Goddess of Beauty.

Dylan Thomas recognized this sacred quality in his poems: "the heron-priested shore" or "herons spire and spear" or "herons, steeple stemmed, bless."

I know for a fact that there are many people today -- probably millions, if not billions -- who dream of animals. I also suspect that surprising numbers of people at one time or another have understood what the animals were saying to them in the dreams. In fact, this may well be an important characteristic of dreams, at least for those who pay attention to them: In dreams, our understandings often far exceed our waking abilities. 

The loss of dreams today may be as great a catastrophe as the loss of animal species. But however one chooses to apportion value between the two, both losses derive from the same deep division within ourselves. And in each case the “cure” is to be found in a revitalization of our capacity to imagine. At bottom, this amounts to what Russell Arthur Lockhart (Words As Eggs, Psyche Speaks) calls a "rediscovery of dreams." By that I mean not that we should all indulge in “mere fantasy,” but that we should restore an awareness of the degree to which our lives are grounded in and dependent upon an autonomous, imaginal field out of which dreams approach us like mana from heaven. It is up to us to find ways to bridge the gulf between dream life and waking life.

Any dream, of course, is a good place to start. But pay special attention to the animals that visit you as you sleep. One way or another, they will offer up their wisdom. Occasionally, they may even talk to you. If they do, listen carefully. 

And if in the process someone ends up regarding their dream animal as sacred, or as an angel, or as a daimon, or guiding spirit, I wouldn’t have any problem with that.


buffalo_ken said...

I had a dream just a few nights ago. I dreamed about fleas. They were chomping on a circular section on the left side of my scalp. They were not talking to me, but they sure seemed to be enjoying themselves! My wife gave me an interpretation from a "dream moods" website she likes, but it seems to me that the meaning of dreams is inherently mysterious and personal. Regardless, I do agree, in this day and age, we so need dreamers.

Looking forward to visiting your blog in the future.


buffalo_ken said...

So look, I am back. That is what is awesome about the web and about dreams - don't you think?

buffalo_ken said...

Do you really want to know something of seeming coincidence that is not. My father and mother in laws were just talking about the blue heron. But the bird only flies when the bird is ready.

Don't you think?

Paco Mitchell said...

Hello, Buffalo Ken,

My apologies for missing your comments yesterday. Good to hear from you.

You said the "fleas" were "chomping" on a "circular section" of the LEFT SIDE OF YOUR SCALP.

As you can imagine, regular fleas would hardly bother to chomp in a CIRCLE. Dream fleas, however, might have a different agenda, so to speak. They might be "bugging" you for some purpose that you might not normally think about.

The left side of the scalp, of course, would correspond to the left hemisphere of the brain, which, as I understand it, is normally associated with straight-line cognitive processes, thinking, speech, analysis and so forth.

Symbolically speaking, however, the "circle" is more closely associated with right-brain functions -- patterns, wholes, continuities, mystical union, etc.

So, it seems that something in the psyche is "bugging" you, as if it's trying to superimpose right brain functions upon your normal left-brain operations. I would presume that it's doing that in the interests of psychic wholeness, i.e., both hemispheres operating together, coherently.

The left-brain/right-brain analogy -- however accurate physiologically, anatomically, etc. -- is just that: an analogy. I would move closer to my own point of view if I spoke of "wholeness" as an integration of "conscious" with 'unconscious."

(Sorry about all the quotation marks.)

In a sense, then, the fleas are doing you a favor, creating an "itch" that you are bound, one way or another, to scratch.

Hopefully, what you uncover in your efforts to alleviate the discomfort will lead you to the "circle" that the fleas in some strange way prefigure.

As for your father and mother-in-law recently talking about the Great Blue Heron, it may be an indication that the "animal spirits" I invoked in my first post, have been activated in your environment.

Stranger things have happened.

I do know that the heron only flies when it is ready. It's nice to know that someone else is aware of that as well.

Many thanks for your comments, Ken.

By the way, where did you come by your notion that there are energies building toward a tremendous turnaround in society?


buffalo_ken said...

paco - thank-you for what you say.

I suppose it is true that the imagery in a dream (such as the "flea-circle") is not formed randomly. It was a circle for a reason. I try to be receptive to my dreams such that often my dreams will help shape my own physical reality. But obviously it is a long and winding road.

With respect to your question regarding "energies building", let me say that I think it has to do with (1) life's inherent attribute of finding a balance (for the benefit of life), and (2) the likelihood of "quantum-type" shifts when the ultimate limits of zero and infinity are approached. I think humanity on a global scale and in many different ways is approaching its limits - this creates instability, increases unpredictability, and raises "energy" because at some level we can all sense the unprecedented scale of present discord.

When the ultimate limits (zero and infinity) are approached the likelihood of some sort of totally unexpected shift towards a new balance increases. For humanity, one possible shift would be for the rest of life on earth to be rid of us (just now I think we are doing more harm than good - we do not fit in with the rest of life). Alternatively, in this day and age when all People on the planet can communicate so readily, I think we ("The People") have a unique opportunity to help shape what the future could be. It could be shaped in the People interest, not in the interest of a few who refuse to let go of the status quo. In my humble opinion, concsiousness of this preferable possibility is rising. Not to be melodramatic, but we need to dream this future and then will it to be. We need to do this collectively and rapidly, but I think we can. There may be a few who want to hold onto the status quo, but when change goes quantum the status quo goes out the door or gets flushed if you know what I mean.

Anyhow, I'm not sure I've explained it as well as I could of, but I tried! I'm very receptive to feedback and comment (negative or positive) because I'm trying to learn all the time.

If you are interested, check out my main website:

A Cuban In London said...

Good post. It was a very surrealistic setting, reminiscent of Dali's lobster-telephone drawing. It would interesting to see (not that I am willing it to happen) what would be the outcome of animals (and I am thinking vertebrae) disappearing from the Earth and what effect it would have in our dreams?

Good blog.

Greetings from London.

buffalo_ken said...

I'm glad someone is still around here. By now i figured there would be another post. But hell, what do i know.

buffalo_ken said...

OK, I'll admit it. I'm curious. Are there going to be any more dreams or is it all just going to turn into a long nightmare.

I vote for the dreams. The pleasant sort of dreams if you know what I mean. The ones that are fair (without trying to talk like a square ---- ha.).

Later for now,
Buffalo Ken of the small house...


P.S. I hope everyone can sense that just now I'm only talking to have some fun......not at anyone's expense. Just some good ole fun.

Man I wish I could play the guitar, but I'll just have to go with what I've got - don't we all?

Paco Mitchell said...

Hi Cuban in London and Buffalo Ken,

Sorry about my absence. It's been a very hectic couple of weeks here. Your question about what would happen to human dreams if animals disappeared is a very interesting one. I've actually been pondering a related question myself, but it's too complicated to explain right now. I'll post something tonight (Friday). Thanks for checking in. By the way, how about Lorca's "arsenic lobster'?