A Dream Recalled on 29 December 2000
This continues an occasional series of strong medicine dreams. Several times each night, when our earthly body and personal mind become quiescent, a myth-spinning mind becomes active. The following dream is part of a slowly evolving indigenous mythology. The story of how I was drawn to dreams many decades ago is here. Links to other numinous dreams in this series are here.
I’m in a massive indoor mall, filled with small shops, large businesses, and condominiums. It’s a self-contained urban living environment. People in the mall are trying to leave, due to the immanent arrival of an approaching Presence that is both alien and implacable.
The evacuation has been orderly. There’s no panic; we’re simply trying to get out of the mall as soon as possible. We’re not taking anything with us, either. There’s no time for that. A few of us have even removed our clothes and are leaving either naked or in our underclothes. It seems to be an evasive strategy, based on the belief that what’s approaching will pay less attention to those not wearing clothes.
I end up in a small half-basement portion of the complex and have to climb out through a low, ground-level window. Once I’m out, though, I don’t know where to go. There’s a sense of futility to what we’re doing. Maybe there is no way to escape what’s coming.
Then we become aware of a document that’s just been released, describing what’s been learned by those who have successfully found their way out of this labyrinthian mall. There are two copies of the document. My assignment is to take one of them to a nearby city. The people living there have started to hear rumors of what’s approaching. The city’s in an earlier time zone, though, so I’ll have to go back in time in order to warn the city’s residents about what will soon be on their doorstep.
It’s evening. I’m an emissary, walking through deserted streets toward the adjacent time zone. A small vehicle passes me, going in the other direction. It’s remote-powered, with a flashing light on top that reminds me of R2D2 in Star Wars. When the little vehicle sees me, it makes a u-turn, comes back to where I’m standing, and shines a small spotlight on me. It has apparently been sent as a scout and a guide. I follow it, feeling like I’m following a dog that’s eager to show me something.
My improbable guide leads me to a large, enclosed Colosseum or stadium in the new time zone. It’s filled with people who have decided not to evacuate. They will instead stay and face the approaching Presence together. This is where I am to present the document. By now it’s late at night. The people who have organized this event are exhausted. Many are asleep, slumped in chairs or lying on benches. I awaken them gently.
They take me to the top floor of the Colosseum, which has three levels. Each level has its own loud-speaker and the loud-speakers are wired to three microphones. Using the microphones, I read the document to the people assembled here. When I finish reading it, small groups start to quietly discuss it among themselves, trying to process the new information.
Then there’s a sudden shift in the atmospheric pressure in the stadium, causing our clothing to tug briefly against our skin. It’s as though a strong centripetal force has sucked some of the air out of a hermetically sealed building.
The powerful vacuum also absorbs light. It doesn’t ingest all the light, but the Colosseum gets noticeably darker. The light that remains has somehow become embedded in the darkness, making it radiant. Yet this radiant darkness is subtle, muted, subdued.
Most sounds have likewise been extinguished. The abrupt shift in atmospheric pressure put an end to all conversations. But there’s a deeper stillness, for the vacuum apparently consumes sound as well as air and light.
In the ominous darkness, I lift up the microphones and speak the words that come to me.
“God is approaching,” I say. “God is approaching us in the same way that we should approach each other — as beings who are mostly unknowable and unpredictable.
“Put aside fear and revulsion. Let go of longings and regrets. For fear and revulsion, longings and regrets, shield us from the unknown. They shield us from the unknown by pulling us out of the moment.
“Stay in the moment. Stay open to what’s approaching. Stay open to what’s already here.”
Amplifying the Dream
Before sharing some of the associations I have with this dream, here are two alternative or complementary ways that dreams may convey meaning. The sleeping mind may weave captivating scenes and themes into meaningful dramas each night. Or the awakening mind may assemble random images into coherent stories each morning, much as fortune-tellers use the chance arrangement of tarot cards or tea leaves to tell a timely tale about a client’s life.
But whether it’s the sleeping or the waking mind at work, meaning is being conveyed. The nighttime dream-maker is a playwright who plies a theatrical craft, while the daylight artist is a magician who changes clouds and inkblots into rabbits and goblins.
One worldview suggests that everything we perceive is an out-picturing of our expectations. From birth, if not before, we learn to see ourselves and our surroundings in highly personalized ways. Once this perceptual framework jells, we see and feel what we expect to see and feel.
So we ascribe meaning to dreams or we don’t. We take the outside world literally or figuratively. But either way, we constantly construct evidence to support our beliefs. My own construct says that dreams are meaningful, and that so-called waking life is as dream-like as anything we awake with in the morning.
Turning now to some brief associations with each of the scenes of the dream.
The opening scene of the dream is an indoor shopping mall that’s also residential. A shop is where you buy or make something. Shopping centers and craft-shops. Consumers and producers.
I once went to Las Vegas, where my daughter was testing for her black belt in karate. The casinos there are “self-contained, urban living environments.” Las Vegas is almost totally dependent on trucked-in supplies and non-renewable energy sources.
The mall in the dream is cut off from all contact with the Earth. Our home planet would therefore appear to be “alien and implacable.” To escape the claustrophobic confines of the mall, I have to climb out through a “ground-level” window.
Dreams are playfully fond of puns. A mall and Amahl. Amahl and the Night Visitors was the first opera made for TV. I watched it as a kid in the 1950s. The opera centers around Epiphany. In the Christian tradition, three Wise Men know that God is approaching and they go to pay homage to a newborn child. This dream came a week before Epiphany.
See also two uber-relevant poems about an approaching God: T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” and William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming.”
A key realization in the dream is that “maybe there is no way to escape what’s coming.” The force field that’s approaching may be a seemingly alien and implacable God and/or a seemingly alien and implacable Earth.
Inside the vast mall, its habituated inhabitants always know what they should do and where they should go. But “once I’m out, I don’t know where to go.” Then I receive an assignment. So there are three sequential stages: orientation, disorientation, reorientation.
My assignment is to take “what’s been learned by those who found their way out of this labyrinthian mall” to others in “an earlier time zone.” I therefore have to go back in time to warn people there about “what will soon be on their doorstep.” This is a primary intent that underlies Light Morning’s website. See, for example, our Home Page.
Some of us in the mall taking off our clothes associates to the Garden of Eden story. The Christian scriptures begin not with abstract theology or cosmology, but with stories: the creation of the world and the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve’s loss of innocence leads them to cover their nakedness with clothing. Humans are the only species who wear clothes. Clothing protects us from the elements; it’s decorative; and it hides what we’re ashamed of.
In the dream, some of us intuitively know that the approaching force will strip away everything unessential, including our possessions and our clothes. Leaving these behind repudiates the core purpose of the mall, which is predicated upon preening, concealment, and accumulation — three futile attempts to compensate for well-indoctrinated feelings of unworthiness and shame.
The Garden of Eden story introduces the concept of shame. It’s also the birthplace of blame. God blames Adam, Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent. A god concept changes in Eden as well. A Figure walking through the garden in the cool of the day becomes an implacable Judge who punishes and banishes. Or perhaps the Judge simply reminds transgressors that actions have consequences. Any story, myth, or dream has multiple interpretations.
Scene 2. My acceptance of an assignment makes me an emissary: one who has been sent forth. On the way to “an adjacent time zone” I encounter an R2D2-like character who has been sent to find and guide me. A bread crumb trail of associations leads from R2D2 to Joseph Campbell, the mythologist whose writings encouraged George Lucas to write Star Wars. Myths and religions have to be periodically re-purposed, recycled, and redistributed. Amahl and the Night Visitors was first seen on television; Star Wars premiered in movie theaters; and mythic dreams are staged nightly in the theater of the sleeping mind.
Three levels, three loud-speakers, three microphones. Communicating with my physical, personal, and transpersonal selves? Addressing portions of myself that are ready, willing, and/or able to change? Speaking to my past, present, and future?
A self-enclosed Colosseum. Like clothing, a domed stadium offers protection from the elements. But in the dream, there’s no protection against the elemental Presence that’s approaching. So there will always be a creative tension between a self that is safely enclosed and a colossal force that subverts all enclosures.
A Colosseum or stadium is a venue for sporting events. Adversarial contests. Many observers, few participants. Those in the dream Colosseum, however, have become participants. Then there’s the Colosseum in Rome. Early Christians being fed to the lions. Martyrs standing against an imperial paradigm that’s unwilling to acknowledge an upstart religion and an alien God.
Dion Fortune was once asked for a one-word description of God. Her response? Pressure. When I inflate a tire, I use a pressure gauge to apply just the right amount of pressure: not too much, not too little. Changes in atmospheric pressure indicate when weather systems are “approaching.”
Clothing tugging against skin is a pressure gauge, and goes back to the clothing imagery and associations for Scene 1. There’s projective pressure (a pneumatic nail gun) and constrictive pressure (a vacuum cleaner).
The final scene of the dream confirms the intuition at the beginning of the dream. “Maybe there is no way to escape what’s coming,” whether what happens to be coming is death, taxes, or an approaching Presence.