Thursday, May 7, 2015


Had this dream in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 7, 2015:

I was on a train with R.T. I was trying to explain to him some political concept that he was having a difficult time either understanding or accepting. As we were talking, Vladimir Putin arrived and sat down in a seat on the train near ours. (I was facing R.T., and Putin sat next to him, to his right.) Putin said that it was a law of politics that politicians do only that which is convenient, never that which is necessary, which is why they only make the right choice after it is too late. They wait until events have overwhelmed them and the nation is facing disaster, and the right choice is the only convenient one. Putin cited one historical example after another to support his argument, and I was getting very excited, because the data he provided made this case ineluctable.

Göran and I were staying in an apartment. It was a very simple apartment, and small, and reminded me of the kinds of apartments you find in Europe or here in South America. A messenger came for us. She was very young-looking and was dressed all in white, very simple clothing, no make-up, short hair cut. She told us simply that she had something important for us to do and we should accompany her immediately, without taking anything with us (as everything we needed would be provided), which we did.

We were spirited away to some conveyance, I believe a plane, where there were a number of other individuals who had been gathered in a similar manner. All we were told is that we had an important mission to accomplish and everything would be explained to us at the appropriate time. Finally we arrived at our destination. It was somewhere in Europe (I think), at some major metropolitan library. We were led to one of the upper floors of the library, through a maze of stacks, and brought to some kind of secret room at the heart of the library. The walls were all white. Everything was comfortable but very simply furnished.

A group of us (including Göran) were there (perhaps 12?). We were told that we would receive special training, and that we would eventually be sent back into the general population to be the eyes and ears of some revolutionary movement that was coming soon, that would overthrow all the governments of the earth. Here we would learn the basic rules and principles that would be associated with our roles.

It occurred to me that we must be very trusted, because any one of us could expose the movement. I wondered how we had been chosen. I assumed that perhaps members of the movement had been observing us for some time, and had decided – based on what they had observed of us – that we were true believers and could be trusted. (I wondered if my conversation with R.T. and Putin had been a deciding factor in my case.) Still, it seemed risky to me, because I thought any one of us could change his or her mind later on.

There was an African American gentleman (very tall and muscular looking, quiet and unassuming). He was some kind of teacher or trainer, apparently also charged with taking care of our dietary and other needs. He told me that I was in charge of gathering the food choices of the individuals in my training group. He gave me a stack of white envelopes, each of which had a different colored dot on it. There were some punched notches on the envelope with the chads still in the notches, that people could push out in order to make their meal selections. He showed me how it worked, by helping me make my meal selection on an envelope with a tan dot. The teacher/trainer took me to where there was a kind of natural wood molding on the wall in a long white corridor in the library proper, just outside the door where we were meeting, on which I should stack the envelopes in a row, whence they would be picked up and our meal choices processed.

I misunderstood what he had told me and placed all the envelopes there immediately, without allowing individuals to make their selections. I followed the 
teacher/trainer back in and started socializing with the others.

Through an open door, I saw another group similar to ours that was being trained.

It occurred to me that I had put the envelopes out too soon, as no one had registered their choices. I realized that lacking any choices, people would receive the default menu, but I ought to let them choose nonetheless. So I went back out into the hall, gathered all the envelopes, and had each member of the group make their choices.

When I took the envelopes back, I found that the molding where I was supposed to stack them was too high. I could only reach it by performing some acrobatic climbing feat. Then I realized, there were two doorways and two hallways, on the North, the other on the South, and I had mistaken one for the other. I was going to take the envelopes through the opposite door when I was intercepted by the 
teacher/trainer and he told me to simply give the envelopes to him and he would take care of the order.

I went exploring outside and eventually wandered down outside of the library into the city. Göran had accompanied me. There was some kind of gathering in front of the library – some sort of demonstration. The library was constructed from white marble and glass. A large group of people dressed in ordinary street clothes with many different colors were there. They seemed angry and even violent. I decided it was best to get back into the library as soon as I could. Göran and I had wandered past the mob and we needed to make our way through them to get back in. There was some kind of security checkpoint with a scanner or metal detector well outside the library that you had to pass through in order to get in. Göran and I were making our way toward it, when a couple of ruffians stopped us. They seemed to have recognized that there was something special about us that they didn't like. A couple of them pushed me, and looked like they were about to beat me up. Göran ran up ahead of me and made it through security. I broke free of my assailants and followed. I was running up the steps of the library, and realized I was naked. My assailants shouted and were making fun of me because I was naked, and they were calling attention to me and telling others to stop me. Other people in the crowd were laughing at me because I was naked. Others were starting to rush me, and I thought I would never make it, but it was then the 
teacher/trainer showed up, and somehow mysteriously whisked me back into the secret room at the heart of the library where I was safe again. I felt very embarrassed about having let myself get caught in that manner.

In the secret room, I sat down at a long table with other members of my group, ready to eat our meal. I noticed that there was someone sitting at the table who was my double, who looked exactly like me and seemed to be me, and I saw that every other member of the group also had a double there.

After waking up, I wondered if the political theme in this dream was influenced by my attendance at the Evita Museum, visiting the tomb of Eva Peron, etc., and some discussions I had and readings I did late in the day about Argentinian politics. At any rate, Putin's comment seems a fairly accurate statement about the psychology of collectivities, and why civilization can only last for so long before it collapses under the weight of too many bad decisions, global warming being the preeminent case in point.

A lot of my dreams have this theme of a coming new order that will overwhelm/overthrow the existing world order. Europe in my dreams is almost always symbolic of worldly power and dominion. Putin is perhaps the perfect representative of bankrupt, worldly empires whose days are numbered; though in this dream he displays a startling capacity for self-deprecating wisdom. I think this is the first time Putin has appeared in a dream of mine.

The part involving envelope/menus, choices, and a premature order is all about choices and mistakes; part of the learning process; part of why I am in training under a patient, strong, wise, and punctual teacher/trainer.

The overwhelming feeling during the mob scene was guilt. I felt I had done something terribly wrong to end up in that situation. But subsequent reflection on that part of the dream has led me to conclude that that scene is more about vulnerability than guilt. I was rescued by the teacher/trainer charged with my care, without being scolded or shamed for ending up in such a situation.

The end of the dream where we all discover our doubles/mirror images is the most intriguing, puzzling aspect of the dream. Is it about discovering a new self (after sharing a communal meal? a symbol of sacrament?)? About spirit and body? About present and future selves?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sankt Ludwig

This one is puzzling. I recorded it about 3:30 a.m. this morning: 
I was with some friends, helping clean out an attic. We found documentation in some newspapers and other documents of a very awkward situation during World War II. Apparently both in the United States and Germany, there was a charitable fund for war orphans that was inspired by the same saint: in Germany, “Sankt Ludwig” and in the U.S. “Saint Louis.” Because the historic symbol of Saint Louis was a globe with the letter “L” in gold, in old Gothic or Germanic script, superimposed over the globe and surrounded by a wreath, both sides used the same symbol. It was a genuine charitable cause on both sides, but when Americans learned of the “Sankt Ludwig” campaign, they refused to donate money to the “Saint Louis” campaign, because they feared that their money was going to support German war orphans. 

It was very sad to me that people would refuse to support a charitable cause for this reason. 

I wondered which had come first, Sankt Ludwig or Saint Louis. I supposed that the Sankt Ludwig campaign was older because the historic symbol used Germanic script. I found it odd that Germans recognized Sankt Ludwig, since Saint Louis was a king of France.

Certainly the dream addresses the theme of provincial loyalties (and competition) vs. broader humanitarian concerns. The main storyline in this dream is reminiscent of the story in Luke chapter 9, where "John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us" (verses 49-50). Here, the concern should be helping the vulnerable, not worrying about "which side" the vulnerable are on.

That idea is highlighted by my wondering, in the dream, about the origins of the "Sankt Ludwig" campaign (French, German, American), and by the (mildly unsettling) possibility that it originated with our "enemies."

The story was churned up as my friends and I were rummaging through an attic, a place where old things are stored. In other words, needing to examine an unconscious prejudice.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Here's an interesting dream I had in Minneapolis, on December 21, 2013, about my passage from this world to the next:
I had died after the end of a fairly long illness. My spirit was up and walking freely about, and I was seeing all the various people I had known in my life who had been important to me. Their lives were continuing on in the usual, expected ways. I witnessed some grief and sadness over my loss, but not excessive, which pleased me since I did not feel unhappy or sad to have passed on.
At some point I think I saw my body. I thought it was odd how it looked; not like me at all any more. I was curious about it, but only slightly. I knew that there were people in charge of taking care of it, and I knew they would handle it the way it needed to be handled. I found that if I approached people and came close to them, I could speak to them. They didn't necessarily understand every word I was saying to them, but they could feel emotions. So what I spoke to them, I comforted them by telling them I was OK and everything was all right, and I was looking forward to moving on, and that seemed to help give people peace.
One of the last people I spoke to in this way was the wife of [an attorney I work with who is a devout Catholic]. I watched a kind of light or sparkle enter her eyes when I spoke to her this way, like she felt lightened and relieved. There were some tears in her eyes, but I could tell they were tears of happiness. She gave me an orange, and said this was a gift for me, something to eat as I was passing through the veil.
I began walking on down a path that led through some darkness. I was grateful for the orange, and I thought I would very much like to eat it. I began peeling it and as I did, it looked muddy to me, like it was rotten or dirty. I was thinking of discarding it, but I thought of [the attorney's wife] and how kind she had been in giving it to me, and that I ought to at least try it before throwing it away. So I gradually found a way to open the orange up and pull off one of the slices (it was difficult because it was a bit squishy) and I ate it. It didn't taste bad to me; it had all the sweetness and tanginess of a good, fresh orange. I chewed it and enjoyed the taste of the juice and swallowed it, and continued to peel off slices and eat them. Finally I arrived in a place full of light, and I looked at the orange and saw that in fact it was not dark or muddy or rotten at all, it was fresh and good, and I ate the whole thing and just discarded the peel when I was done.
I was at the edge of a huge highway, and was met there by my spouse. We were old, two old people. And we got into a car and started driving. It was an old car, some model from the sixties, faded aquamarine in color. My spouse was at the wheel. As we drove, I saw that we were heading right into the heart of a storm. I said to my spouse we ought to drive carefully, as the storm looked like it was getting worse, and I wasn't sure how safe it would be to drive through it. There were many other cars on the highway and they were all driving in the same direction, toward some large, magnificent looking city.
As the storm began to increase in intensity and furor, I saw things flying in the air over us. I realized that it was debris from highway lights that were towering over us. The storm was so fierce, it was causing the lights to break into pieces, and the pieces were being caught in the wind of the storm and flying overhead, carried on by the wind. Gradually, some of the pieces were hitting other cars, and causing the drivers to lose control and crash. I said to my spouse that perhaps we ought to pull over and wait for the storm to subside, but he pointed out that it wouldn't matter, because the only place to pull over would be a narrow highway shoulder where we might be hit by oncoming traffic, and where we still wouldn't be safe from the flying debris. It was best to keep going and hope for the best, so that's what we did.
We saw one final piece of debris that was flying straight for us, and I thought for sure this was going to fly right through our windshield and it was going to be over. But somehow my spouse managed to speed up to avoid it.
We found ourselves in an enormous factory. There were lots of people there, men and women, all helping in one final task of helping to sort broken glass from the storm. There were matching glass sets of dishes: big dishes, small dishes, bowls, tumblers, stemware, and so on. Each set was a different color (every color and shade of the rainbow), so that's how we knew which broken pieces to sort together. Pieces that were intact were being stacked neatly on top of each other, and then the broken pieces and bits of shattered glass were being piled on top, into machines that looked like dishwashers; except that I knew they were going to melt the glass and reform it into new sets. I was fascinated by the process.

I awoke from this dream with very positive, pleasant feelings. There was my sense of acceptance of the ultimate unknown (death), to the extent of being able to comfort others. There was the gift from the Catholic Attorney's Wife, food for the journey that proved nourishing in unexpected ways. There was the reunion with my husband, and our ability to maintain our composure even as we passed through a terrifying test, and then our arrival at the Magnificent City (Heaven?), where we were involved in a work of recycling, creating new order and beauty from the detritus of the old.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Here's one of my shorter dreams. I had this last night.
I was in some large building, wandering down long corridors and climbing stairways. I was in a hurry to get somewhere. At some point, I met some of the friends I made in Mexico City last February. One of them, a gay man who was recently baptized into the LDS Church, handed me a book. It was a very important book. It has a smooth, hard, black cover that was shiny. The book looked almost translucent, like there was light inside of it. I knew there were important instructions in it for me. But I didn't have time to read it, as it was urgent for me to get out of this large building and get to my appointment.

I believe this was actually part of a longer dream, but this is the only part I was able to remember.

The setting of the dream was, like the last dream I shared, essentially subterranean. Dark long corridors, winding stairs. To me, that's the nature of the world we live in.

The book handed to me by my friend seems to me to be a symbol of faith. Sacred texts are a symbol of faith in many religions, certainly in mine. Some other details in the dream reinforce this. The book was handed to me by someone who recently chose to be baptized; in other words, someone who has embraced faith. The book was dark/black on the outside, but it was also translucent, and light was shining from it. Faith is like this. Faith is like light in darkness. It requires us to pass through darkness in order to follow the light.

In my dream I perceived this book as containing instructions that were urgent for me. A call to exercise faith in some way in my life.

What is significant to me is the way in which this call to faith was received: as a gift from a friend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Sometimes I wake up from a dream feeling that I've spent half the night exhausting myself in some frustrating, meaningless ordeal. This was one such dream. But as soon as I started to reflect on the symbolism of the dream, I realized it was significant, and the details re-emerged with clarity.
It was the end of a work day and I was at home waiting for Göran to arrive. We were going to a play downtown together. I was looking forward to a relaxing evening at the theater together after a hard day's work.

When Göran arrived, he seemed distracted and in a rush. He was accompanied by an older, heavy set, blond man with thinning, graying hair who wore a dark suit, white shirt and tie. He was also accompanied by a young, attractive woman wearing a colorful dress. Göran introduced me to them, though the man seemed rather self-important and didn't pay much attention to me. He asked me to get him something to eat, and then said he needed to refresh himself and went upstairs to our bathroom with the young woman. Göran hastily explained to me that it was a lawyer from the law firm where he works, and that he had invited himself to go to the theater with us. The woman, Göran explained, was his secretary. This lawyer had relocated to his present law firm -- the law firm where Göran worked -- from some southwestern state (New Mexico or Arizona), where this woman had also been his secretary, and the Bossy Lawyer had insisted she come with him and continue as his secretary. Göran said that of course he and other secretaries in the firm's secretarial pool had speculated that this woman was also his mistress.

In order to be a good host, I went into the kitchen and assembled some food for the Bossy Lawyer and his Mistress Secretary. This was, of course, an imposition, as we had limited time to get ready and go to the show. I was only half dressed myself, and needed to finish putting on my own suit and tie in order to be properly dressed for the theater. I got what I could -- some flatbread, crackers, cheese and juice, put them on one of our wooden serving trays (the green one), and emerged from the kitchen just in time to see the Bossy Lawyer arriving from the bathroom. I handed him the tray and he ate voraciously.

While waiting for him to eat, I had time to finish getting dressed: put on my black socks and shoes, finished buttoning my white shirt, put on my black tie and made sure my hair was combed. I already had my black suit on, and buttoned it up and brushed off excess lint until my dress was flawless. Also, Göran and I had a Young Precocious Son and a Young Precocious Daughter who had been dressing and preparing themselves. I inspected their clothes and made sure they were ready (they were). I was very proud of our children; very proud to be a father. I and my family were ready to go, just as the Bossy Lawyer and his Mistress Secretary had eaten their fill. There was still food left on the serving tray, and he had tossed a newspaper and napkins and other things onto the floor and the coffee table. Not wanting to leave our home a mess, I told Göran to go ahead with our kids and our guests to the bus stop, and I would quickly tidy up and run to meet them.

So they all went out the front door while I quickly grabbed the food tray, picked up the napkins and other personal effects and the newspaper left by the Bossy Lawyer. I figured it was enough simply to put everything in the kitchen next or on the counter next to the sink, and then clean everything up after we arrived home from the theater. I tossed the napkins into the garbage and was about to do the same with the newspaper, when I noticed in the newspaper an announcement about an event planned by a group called, "Christians for a Happy and Safe Halloween." I noticed that this event was being put on that very evening, at the same time as the show we were going to see, and that it was even being held in the same building where the theater was located, a building called "The Exchange." I shook my head and smirked a bit. I figured this was one of those silly alternative Halloween events planned by judgmental, conservative Christians who thought Halloween was evil. I tossed the newspaper into the garbage, looked around to make sure everything was properly tidied up, and then hurried out the front door, locking it behind me and then heading down the street toward the bus stop, where I hoped to rejoin my family.

From a distance, I could see that no one was at the bus stop. I was a bit surprised, as I figured that had the bus arrived before I could make it, Göran and the kids would have waited for me and we would have caught the next one together. But then it dawned on me that the Bossy Lawyer would probably have insisted on taking the first bus and leaving without me. I ran to the bus stop on the corner of 32nd Street and Chicago, and looked north to see if the bus was visible. I did in fact see a bus that was just one block away, and figured that must be the one that Göran and our kids were on board. I thought I'd call him on my cell phone and ask him to ask the bus driver to wait just a minute while I caught up with them, and I started chasing the bus.

As I ran, I was trying to pull Göran's number up on my cell phone so I could quickly call him but I was having trouble finding it. I went into the "contacts" menu on my cell phone and then had to scroll down through my contacts until I found Göran. But for some reason, something seemed to be wrong with my phone. I clicked on his name, and it opened up some very complicated looking information screen that was green and gray and looked rather mechanical. It had the name of some person, a "Dolly Lee" and a lot of personal information about her, but nowhere could I find Göran's number nor even a place where I could click a button to initiate a call even if I had been able to find it. I figured I would just have to run faster and catch the bus on my own.

It was starting to rain. As I ran, I thought I must be getting my suit sweaty, which I thought was a shame since I had been so perfectly dressed for the theater. Luckily, the bus seemed to be moving slowly, and as it pulled over to the bus stop on Chicago and Lake Street (two blocks north of the bus stop where I would normally have caught it), I saw there was a long line of people waiting to get on board. I got to the bus stop just as the last couple of people were getting on.

But then I noticed a problem. This was not the 5 bus, but some sort of express commuter bus numbered 256X. My family was nowhere on board. I figured at this point, however, that it was no matter, as long as the bus went downtown at least somewhat close to where the theater was. So I asked the bus driver, "Does this bus go downtown?" The bus driver glared back at me with an unfriendly expression, and acknowledged that it did. He mentioned some downtown landmark where the bus normally stopped, and I realized this landmark was just 2 or 3 blocks away from the theater, so that would be good enough. I got on board and swiped my bus card on the card reader. There were a couple of other people ahead of me, paying with cash. They were counting out their change seemingly a penny at a time and were taking a long time. I was glad I could just swipe my card and get on, and then went to find a seat. As I passed him, the Unfriendly Conductor glared at me again and muttered under his breath. Apparently at this time of day, no one ever got off at the stop I was asking about because on a commuter bus everybody was leaving down town. He seemed tremendously put out that he was going to have to stop at this stop just for me. Before finding my seat, I asked the Unfriendly Conductor if he could announce when we were approaching the stop as it was very important I not miss it, and he answered back gruffly that he wouldn't and that I would just have to watch for it and figure out when to get off myself.

I made my way toward the back of the bus. I saw that this being a commuter bus that serviced suburban passengers it was larger, cleaner and more luxuriously equipped than the buses that normally serviced the inner city. The bus was wide, and that seats were very comfortably upholstered and were arranged around some kind of service table where people could eat and drink as they rode. The seats were arranged in a wide row so that people could sit as a group and socialize if they wished. I found a comfortable seat next to the window and started to watch carefully to make sure I didn't miss my stop.

Suddenly the bus was a subway train and we were zooming through some dark underground tunnel. The train came to a stop at some subway station that looked to me like it must be somewhere down town. I rushed to the front of the bus. There were two homely, dark-haired college girls in Halloween costumes waiting to get on. I remembered, "Oh, yes, tonight is Halloween." I figured a lot of Halloween celebrants would be out on the streets tonight. I asked the Unfriendly Conductor if this was my stop, but he glared at me and refused to answer my question. I figured my stop must be the next stop, so I found a seat close to the entrance, sitting on the edge, getting ready to jump up. The subway train pulled out of the stop and began zooming through the dark tunnel. As the doors slid open at the next stop, the Unfriendly Conductor growled back at me, "You missed your stop at the last one."

I realized this man was determined to mess with me, and that my best bet was to get off as quickly as I could, get up to the street surface, and find the theater as quickly as possible, although now I didn't know where I was, and it would take me longer to get there. I was experiencing growing anxiety that I wouldn't get there in time and that the theater doors would be shut before I could get in, and I would miss my family. There was no convincing the Unfriendly Conductor to back up and drop me off at the proper stop, in any event. 
I got off at a bleak, abandoned subway stop, dimly lit by a flickering florescent light. There was a single shady, shifty-looking man there who looked like he might be part of the city's criminal element. I looked around and didn't see any exit or stairs that might lead to the surface. I realized that my only option was to try to make my way down the tunnel to the next stop, where hopefully there would be an elevator or a stairway to the surface. The Shifty Man seemed to be studying me, calculating. I figured it would be best to get out of here as quickly as possible. I saw a sort of catwalk close to the walls of the subway tunnel that might lead on to the next stop. I followed it a way until I reached a section where some sort of ceiling cave-in had blocked the path. I didn't want to jump down onto the subway tracks... Too dangerous! I turned back. Avoiding the Shifty Man at the Bleak Subway Stop, I followed the catwalk in opposite direction, toward the preceding stop and found that this path was clear, all the way to the next stop. The way was very dark and frightening, and I was nervous about what might happen if another train passed while I was on the catwalk, as there was not much space in the tunnel. But I was making good progress. I finally made my way back to the stop where the Homely Halloweeners had boarded the train, the stop where I should have gotten off in the first place. I felt a sense of relief that I was making progress.

This stop was rather dingy and inhospitable looking as well. I searched around me for a likely exit. I saw a set of narrow stairs with a railing, leading up to a rusty metal door. Just as I reached the door, it opened by itself and a sexy young guy with black hair, wearing black eyeliner, dressed in black leather and a spiked dog collar emerged. He seemed slightly intoxicated and distracted, and passed me without seeming to pay me much heed. I asked him if this door was the way out, but he ignored me.

I went through the door and found myself in another dimly lit corridor. There was another young guy there. He was mostly naked, though he was wearing some sort of leather harness and some kind of a collar. His hands were cuffed with iron manacles. His hair was brown and bedraggled, about shoulder length. He had bruises on his body and he seemed to be limping, and there was an expression of great sadness on his face. I noticed he had a rather large penis. I asked him, "Are you all right? Do you need help?" Like the Black Leather Clad Young Man, he seemed distracted or intoxicated, and he ignored my question. I realized I was in a terrible place. I continued down the corridor and saw some kind of atrium. There was a table with various rusty chains and implements of torture. There was a coat rack where people had hung their street clothes, and there were leather costumes and outfits on another rack nearby. I also saw a pile of ebony black books. I picked up one of the books and examined it up close. In gold letters the words "Holy Bible" were embossed on the covers of these books. I wondered what these people would want with bibles. The corridor continued on into darkness. At the back of the atrium was another rusty metal door. I hoped this was a way out, so I went through it.

On the other side of the door was some kind of rough hewn cavern. I was standing at the head of an iron-railed stairway that led deeper into the cavern. Down below me I saw a crowd of people. There were two types of people below. There were older, fatter respectably-dressed people, men wearing suits and ties and women in respectable dresses. These people were all holding the same black bibles I had seen in the atrium, which they held in one hand. In their other hand they had implements of torture that they were using on the other class of people. The other class seemed to be enslaved, scantily clad or naked, manacled people. Some of the respectable people were sexually abusing the slaves, some were partaking of food or alcohol from serving trays presented to them by the slaves, some where using the implements of torture to sadistically hurt the slaves. I realized this was some kind of club for the wealthy, respectable people. I did not want to spend one second longer in this nightmarish place, so I immediately turned around and exited through the door I had come in.

I continued on, down the darkened hallway. I crossed what seemed to be some kind of a bridge with more iron railing that led over to another cave. There I saw another rusty metal door which I opened and passed through. I found myself in the Bleak Subway Stop where I had gotten off in the first place. I was desperate to escape, and thought I would follow the catwalk forward to the next stop, leaping down and running along the subway tracks if need be. The danger of being electrified by the tracks or being hit by a train didn't seem to matter any more as much as getting out of this place. However, to my surprise, I found that the catwalk was no longer blocked, and the way ahead was clear.

I finally made my way to a less dismal looking subway stop. All of the subway stops had white-tiled floors, walls and ceilings, and, unlike at the other stops, this stop appeared to have been well maintained with clean, new white tiles. This stop was well lit, and there was a kind-looking, gray-haired woman wearing a modest grey dress standing there, as though she had been waiting for me. She asked me in a friendly voice, "Are you here for the party?" I was about to ask her what party, and then I saw posters on the wall for the "Christians for a Happy and Safe Halloween." Suddenly I felt a tremendous sense of relief and gratitude toward these good, Christian people, and I realized I had misjudged them. Now I understood how it had been vitally necessary for them to put on an "alternative" Halloween party. I said to the woman, "Do you have a phone? It's urgent you call the police! I just escaped from a terrible place. You need to call someone and do something about it!" She looked at me with an expression of concerned empathy. "You mean the S/M people?" she asked. A bit surprised, I nodded assent, and she said, "Don't worry. We know about them. We're already trying to address that situation."

I asked her how I could get out of here and back to the surface. I told her I was trying to find and rejoin my family. She pointed toward the wall behind her. She said, "Any one of those can get you out." I went over to the wall she was pointing to, and saw what looked like a series of doors and portholes with glass doors and brightly colored thick, plastic trim. The trim of each was a different color of the rainbow. There was a porthole with bright purple trim above a porthole with bright green trim. I opened each and looked inside. I had expected to see some kind of small elevator, but they looked like washing machines. I considered crawling into one of them, but they seemed too small -- perhaps the right size for a small child but not me. It occurred to me that these washing machine/portholes would be the way young children would arrive at the party. To the left of the portholes I saw a large glass door surrounded by bright orange trim. I opened the door and looked inside and saw what looked like a large shower, with a place to sit, and with scrub brushes, soap and shampoo. This seemed too large and elaborate for me, and in any event I had been expecting an elevator, not a shower. It occurred to me that this one was for elderly people. Finally, I noticed another smaller glass doorway with plastic trim in the primary colors, yellow, blue and red. I peeked inside and saw a smaller shower with only enough room to stand, one that seemed just the right size for me. Also, it was bobbing up and down slightly, and I realized that it was both a shower and an elevator. I realized this was just what I needed.

Just as I was climbing into the shower, I saw another woman arriving to join the Gray-haired Christian Woman who had greeted me. I overheard them talking, and I realized that their "Safe and Happy Halloween" party had not begun yet, but was just about to begin. I realized that, since their party was beginning at just the same time as the theater presentation, I was not too late. I thanked the women and climbed into the shower and pressed an elevator button. The shower head went on, and water started raining down on me, and meanwhile water started rising up from the floor, flooding the enclosed space, rising up to the level of my pockets. To my relief, the Shower/Elevator also seemed to be rising like an elevator. I was finally escaping the subway tunnels. I had been hoping to keep my suit tidy and dry, but I realized this was no longer possible and it no longer mattered to me in any event. What counted was getting back to my family before the theater doors closed and I was locked out. When the Shower/Elevator came to a stop, the water had all drained out, and I opened the front door and found myself in a building toward the east end of Hennepin Avenue.

I passed through some glass doors and found myself out in the open air, on the street. I wondered if the theater managers would turn me away for having a wet suit. But it was raining out. Heavy rain was coming down and making everyone wet, and I realized that they would have to let wet people in or there would be no show. I wanted to call Göran and let him know I was on my way, and to save me a seat at the theater. I reached into my right pocket and fished out my cell phone. I wondered if the cell phone had gotten soaked and become inoperable. The cell phone seemed waterproof and dry, but when I opened it up, I was still having the same problem figuring out how to call Göran I had been having earlier. I gave up on trying to use the cell phone and ran toward the theater, which I knew to be just around the corner, in the same building ("the Exchange") where the Christian alternative Halloween party had been held. So I was sure that I would be able to make it in time. I could hardly wait to see Göran.


My first feeling upon awakening from this dream was a bit of disappointment, I had been so looking forward to finally catching up with Göran in my dream. Waking up had been anticlimactic. I wanted to be able to return to the dream and finish it, finding my family at the theater!

I also felt a bit exhausted by the rigors of trying catch up to my family and escape the subway tunnels. The unpleasantness of that part of the dream was making me want to forget about the dream, get up and go about my day. (I realize writing this now, that unpleasant dreams may be more likely to be forgotten, as our conscious minds prefer to get free of them.) But then I realized that the subways were not just a mode of urban transportation, but subterranea, a very important dream symbol, and it was recognition of the importance of that symbol that brought all the details of the dream back to my conscious mind with force. I realized this was a very spiritual, important dream, and immediately wrote it down in as much detail as I could remember.

James Hillman has argued that ancient Greek and Roman mythology about Hades -- the subterranean habitat of the dead -- was actually the product of dreams. In the ancient mind (and perhaps in our modern mind too) sleep and death were closely associated. In our dreams we often encounter individuals who have been long dead, and so it seemed self-evident to the ancients that dreams were a venue for entering and interacting with spirits in Hades.

But as Plato's "allegory of the cave" suggests, subterranea in dreams may actually be more symbolic of this life than of the after life. In Plato's allegory, a dark cave where our view is restricted to shadows from the upper world is symbolic of the limited point of view humans have here in mortality.

Clothing was very symbolically important in this dream. In this dream I encountered three types of clothing: formal dress typical of the American corporate world; subterranean "Halloween" wear that included sadomasochistic leather gear; and then the plain, modest dress of the Christian women I encountered toward the end of the dream. The first two forms of dress represented the oppressive class structure of a world divided between powerful rich and impoverished poor, the first form of dress symbolizing hypocritical conformity to standards dictated by wealth and power, and the latter form symbolizing enslavement and objectification of human beings by that power. By contrast, the simple, modest gray dresses of the Christian women at the end symbolized abstinence from that oppressive culture of wealth and power.

In the dream, the Bossy Lawyer is clearly aligned with that world of arrogance, greed and dominance. He treats everyone around him (including my husband Göran and me and his Mistress Secretary) as his personal slaves.

It was interesting to me that in the dream my family consisted of me, my (same-sex) husband Göran, and our two "precocious" children, a boy and a girl. Göran and I and our children represented a unity that was broken up by the Bossy Lawyer, and that I was constantly trying to recover in the dream. For what it's worth, the dream revealed my partnership between my husband and me as a procreative union, and as my ultimate happiness.

If the dark, dismal underground caves and tunnels were symbolic of this-worldly existence, the reemergence at the end into the open air represented the after-life. The fact that our end goal was a theater was perhaps symbolic of the fact that after we die and enter that new life we receive answers to all the questions of this life. It's maybe significant that we were planning to attend live theater, not a movie (which would have been, after all, nothing more than the projection of shadows, à la Plato's cave).

Much of the rest of the symbolism in this dream speaks for itself, for example, the fact that I became lost because of the perverse laziness of the Unfriendly Conductor, or the fact that my communication with Göran had to be in person and not by cell phone.

But the central symbol in the dream, perhaps the main point of the dream, was the contrast between the two churches. It was significant that the evil people in charge of the Torture Cave were respectably dressed, clutching a Bible in one hand and implements of torture in the other. The dream was a warning against false religion, which uses symbols of respectability, but that does not respect human beings, that deadens our sensibilities and alienates us from ourselves. It is important that in the dream the slaves were intoxicated, lacking self awareness and lacking ability to communicate with others.

Just as, on the one hand, the first (evil) church involved a kind of deadening of self awareness and an alienation of its victims, the other (good) church made no attempt to control or guide my behavior in any way. I was simply shown the means of escape by the modestly dressed, kind women, and availed of the opportunity to use it. They were aware of what was going on in the evil church and were seeking to address it, though I saw no signs that this might imply any sort of force or violence. The way out involved a requirement of baptism. I was struck by the Noachian symbolism in my dream of water raining down from above and flood waters rising up from below.

I have some ideas about the significance of the rainbow colors, or the fact that my way out involved entering a portal surrounded by primary colors of blue, yellow and red, or the fact that it was still raining outside when I emerged from underground, or that the name of the building housing the theater and the True Church was called "the Exchange." But that's enough dream interpretation for the moment.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Meeting Jesus Christ

A friend recently shared with me the following dream about receiving a priesthood blessing from Jesus Christ. (For the benefit of non-Mormon readers, a "priesthood blessing" involves receiving laying on of hands and a blessing from someone ordained to the priesthood. Mormons often seek such blessings at difficult times in their lives or for healing from illness or injury.)
Several years ago... I had a dream that I was being given a priesthood blessing by the Savior. Instead of being dressed as I often imagine him to have been dressed when he was alive, while giving me this priesthood blessing, he was dressed in a white shirt, a dark tie, and white slacks. Almost, he was dressed instead to have been baptizing someone. ...
It is literally almost 3 decades since I had this dream, and it was not until after I read your dream from March 4 that I even remembered this dream. While writing about it to you, it became very clear what my dream meant for me. Still, I am curious as to how YOU might interpret this dream and what it might mean to you.
The individual who shared this dream also shared with me the context of the dream. It came to her at a time in her life when she was dealing with extremely difficult emotions in therapy. She shared her dream with family members and, while some validated it, others (including her parents) dismissed it. They "asked how could someone like me... even dream that she was being given a priesthood blessing by the Savior."


It bears pointing out that even the dismissals of the dream were a form of validation -- a recognition of the power inherent in a dream involving deity.

Before approaching the question of what it means to have an encounter with Jesus in a dream, I'm interested in the significance of Jesus' dress in the dream. He appears wearing modern clothing. A white shirt and dark tie is the expected standard of Church dress for Mormon priesthood holders. The white slacks are, as the dreamer commented herself, the expected dress for performing a baptism (or for performing ordinances in the Mormon temple).

In ancient Christian writing (in the first few centuries A.D.), clothing was often a symbol of incarnation. We see this particularly in ancient noncanonical texts such as the Gospel of Thomas. "Putting on clothes" was a symbol for being born into the earthly realm, and "putting off one's clothes" was a symbol of death (i.e., the spirit puts off its "mortal clothes").

In this dream, Jesus' appearance in modern dress suggests Jesus' active involvement in this person's life today; not as a historical figure clothed according to the customs of the time and place of his ancient mortal existence, but as a real living figure who is actively involved in our world today. And the context of Jesus' involvement in the world today in this particular dream is specifically in the context of the Church. Jesus appears wearing clothing that is typical of priesthood holders in the modern-day Mormon Church.

This should certainly give pause to priesthood holders in the Church. It's a reminder of how sacred that role is. In essence, when we act "in the name of Jesus Christ" -- a typical, every-day act in the Church that occurs in baptisms, confirmations, blessings, ordinations, at the sacrament table, and even over the pulpit in sermons or prayers -- it is as if Jesus himself is performing that act. The dream lends a sense of urgency and power to activities that are easily taken for granted. At the very least it's a reminder of the humility required of anyone called upon to play that role.

For the individual who had this dream, the white slacks -- which she herself immediately identified with the ordinance of baptism -- is suggestive of all the symbolism that comes with baptism, namely death and rebirth. A break with an old, painful past, and entry into a new life; something that she was certainly trying to achieve through therapy and other work to deal with past trauma.

Jesus' presence in the dream is powerful. No serious dream analyst would dismiss the significance of this. There could be no blessing more powerful than from the hands of Jesus himself. And not just a dead, historical Jesus, but a living, resurrected Jesus, alive and at work in our day, in this person's life.

But the dream also presents a challenge of faith. Only faith would allow us to understand the dream as more than a yearning for validation. Faith would grant the individual who had the dream confidence to know that Jesus Christ walks with her in the particular challenges of her life, challenges that ultimately only she and Jesus can know. Faith might help her find courage she didn't know she had, or courage beyond what she, in some ordinary sense, has.

Her account of her family's reactions to her dream reminds us of something else important when it comes to faith. Her account of family members dismissing her dream, or suggesting that she wasn't good enough to have had such an encounter with the living Jesus, is tragic. But it also reminds us that true faith comes from within, not from others.

The lack of family validation is sad, but it makes this person's own faith in God and her own belief in herself that much more meaningful.

Friday, March 7, 2014


I had this dream last night after giving a lecture on Native American history. In my lecture, I pointed out how, when Christian missionaries were confronted with the choice of siding with Natives in the grievous wrongs that were committed against them or siding with their colonial masters in the process of destroying Native culture and forcing Natives into the colonial concentration camp system known as the "reservation system," the missionaries by and large sided with their colonial masters.
I had been on a long itinerancy, travelling from one city to another along the east coast of the United States. During my travels, I had been meeting with anybody who would speak to me, to deliver an important message on the impending doom of the nation. I had been working my way south on foot through the towns of New England and had just crossed a bridge, entering a mid-sized town on the outskirts of a large city (New York?).
When I had arrived in the town, local religious leaders sent for me and asked me to meet them in their offices at a high-rise building at the center of town. I arrived just before sunrise. I was escorted by security guards through the entryway to elevators that brought me to a polished conference room with lavish mahogany furniture and glass tables. There I was met by leaders of all the major Christian denominations in town and had been asked to share with them my lectures on American religious history.
I had my teaching materials with me in three black backpacks, two backpacks that I actually use in real life (one with my laptop computer, and one with my lecture notes and books), and a third black backpack that I don't have in real life but that had my scriptures and other supplies that I needed for my itinerancy. I delivered my lecture to these individuals, explaining to them that a revolution was coming and that the current order of things would soon be overthrown, and that they had best be prepared for it. They were very kind and respectful toward me and listened to my lecture with interest, and at the end they said, "You certainly have given us some things to think about."
At that point, I looked around me and saw a beautiful view through the windows of the highrise we were in, from which it was possible to see the entire landscape all around us, all the rest of the city, and in the distance hills and rivers, and the coast. The sun was rising and the sky was turning gorgeous hues of pink, orange and red.
Suddenly, an escort of security guards arrived in the conference room. Without saying a single word, the security guards placed a machine gun next to each of us, and then moved on. They appeared to be giving machine guns to everyone in the building. I looked at the gun they had placed on the table next to me with horror. It looked sleek and smooth, very expertly designed and balanced. Everyone else at the table looked at me, stricken with fear. They grabbed their machine guns and silently left the room. One of them motioned to me to pick up my machine gun and follow them. I realized that revolutionaries had arrived at the highrise and had entered the building. They were probably working their way upstairs, and we had been given the machine guns in order to defend ourselves. I had no idea how to use a machine gun. I was surprised that the security guards seemed to assume that I would know how to use one; or maybe the machine guns were designed in such a way that the method of using them was self-evident.
At first I did as I thought I needed to. I picked up my machine gun and started to follow the others. But then I realized, I had left my three backpacks behind. The others were keeping deathly silent, because they were afraid that the revolutionaries might be near and didn't want to give away their position. They signaled to me with hand gestures that I needed to forget about my teaching materials and come with them to some central location where we would make a last stand. They seemed to be gesturing to me that I could come get the rest of my stuff later.
I thought, if I leave my black backpacks, I can't complete my mission. I went back and grabbed the backpack that had my lecture notes and books and put it on. I was trying to figure out how I could pick up my other backpacks and still keep my machine gun, which was big and heavy, and seemed to require that I carry it with both hands. I realized that I had to choose between my other backpacks and the machine gun. I put the machine gun down.
In the meantime, in the few seconds I had been making up my mind, janitors had arrived and were starting to move the tables in the conference room around and stack the chairs on the tables. I realized they were getting ready for a siege. I was upset that they had moved my stuff from right under my nose. I began searching, and found the backpack that had my scriptures and other itinerancy supplies. The backpack was no longer black but red. I began searching for the other backpack that had my laptop in it, but now the machine gun was gone.
In my mind, that settled the matter. I found the third pack, grabbed it, and moved in the direction of the building entrance, opposite where the others were going. I realized it was time for me to leave the building.

To me, the meaning of this dream is all too obvious.

In my dreams, if the theme is the end of the world, my dream is almost always set in the North -- in north Minneapolis, in northern Minnesota, in Canada, in the Arctic. In my dream scape, the North is associated with the future, prophecy.

On the other hand, dreams I have that take place in big cities (including downtown Minneapolis), in the East (the eastern United States, usually in big cities like New York or Boston; or Europe) usually revolve around themes of corrupt political power and idolatry. In this dream, I was traveling from the North with a mission of doom, working my way south announcing the end of the world to the cities of the East Coast.

The three packs I was carrying with me on my travels also have a fairly transparent meaning. The pack with my scriptures represented my spirituality and my faith, including the prophecy we find in many world religions that the order of things as presently constituted will eventually come to an end, and we must repent before that happens. The pack containing my laptop was a symbol of my mental capacity. A computer I carry with me everywhere in a pack is basically my brain. It represents my higher reasoning faculties. The third pack contained my teaching supplies (my lecture notes and books), and obviously symbolized my sense of mission in life which is closely connected to my role as a teacher.

The highrise office building in my dream is not that different from "the great and spacious" edifice in the dream of Lehi in the Book of Mormon. It obviously symbolized the pride and power of the world, the powers that be.

In the dream, I was presented with a choice: to stay true to my mission, or to take up arms in defense of "the powers that be." It became evident to me in the dream that -- try as I might -- I could not do both. I could not carry both the machine gun that had been given to me by the building "security forces" and the backpacks that represented my spirit, my mind and my heart. So ultimately I abandoned the weapon and chose my soul.

In the dream, the red sunrise, the arrival of a revolution, and the interesting change in color of my spirit backpack from black to red all symbolized that crucial moment of choice that most of our lives must be some kind of preparation for.

Namely, they symbolized that moment we all face in choices large and small between what is morally right, and what is politically expedient.