Tuesday, February 18, 2014


One thing that was rather peculiar about this dream is the fact that I had completely forgotten it until I started my morning scripture study. That's very unusual! Usually if I have forgotten a dream by the time I get out of bed, it's gone.

But I was reading Deuteronomy 18, verse three, the phrase, "and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw." That phrase triggered a vivid memory of a dream I had had just before waking up that morning that involved cannibalism.

Here's the text as I recorded it in my dream journal:
I was at some kind of firm family party put on by [the law firm I work for]. As usual, [our firm administrator] had a variety of activities available for the whole family, but we were starting with a communal meal. We were in some kind of log-cabin lodge, and there were service tables set up for a meal with servers dressed in white. The idea behind the meal was that we could each create our own soup. There was every kind of food imaginable, and many things that I had never seen or heard of or imagined going into a soup. I got in line, and saw some raw cinnamon, and some beans, diced tomatoes, and little apricot wedges. I dished some of each on my plate and continued along. I came to a server who was standing in front of a large bubbling pot of something.

She asked me, “So, what kind of soup are you making?”

I said, “I really don't know. I have no idea what kind of soup to make. Can you make any suggestions?”

She suggested I try something like “Rancher's soup.” I asked her how to make that, and she said it was very simple, but I already had some wrong ingredients if I wanted that. She said nothing sweet or fruity would go into that so the cinnamon and the apricots I could put back. She said it was a basic sort of meat and potatoes type of soup, with whatever herbs or spices I wanted for flavor. But the most basic ingredient was meat. She offered me meat from the pot she had in front of her. I reached out my bowl and she ladled a big piece of meat into my bowl.

I continued down the line, but as I looked at my meat, I realized it was a human calf and foot. I was repulsed, and disposed of it. But when I complained, a number of people replied, “We all got human meat. It's the only kind of meat they have available.” Some offered that it wasn't so bad, and I ought to try it. So I got back in line, and got another serving of it. I got another calf and foot, but this time quite a bit smaller. I wondered if I would get enough meat from this one, it looked so skinny. I took it over to a table and started to work on it a bit. I skinned the meat and stripped it off the bones, and put it into the soup, and tasted some. It tasted quite good and nutritious.

In dreams, eating means incorporating some aspect of whatever it is you're eating into yourself. And what is interesting here is that the dream is basically about a huge smorgasbord. I have the option of eating absolutely anything I want. My choices are so limitless that I'm not sure what I want. A woman dressed in white suggests something specific, something with lots of meat in it, and I accept her suggestion, only to be temporarily put off when I discover that she has served me human flesh -- in this case part of a foot and leg. In the end, however, I try it and find it to be "quite good and nutritious."

My first impression, upon remembering this dream, is that it is about my sense of the human condition itself. It's about "being human." (In dreams, "You are what you eat.") And my basic evaluation of the human condition at this time in my life is that life is good. I am glad to be who and what I am and where I am.

The fact that the food servers were dressed in white has religious significance for me. In Mormon scriptures and in modern-day accounts of angelic encounters, angelic messengers are typically described as being dressed all in white. When Mormons are baptized, or when they go to the temple (where important rituals related to eternal life and eternal marriage take place) they dress all in white. So the food server in my dream may have represented some sense that the particularities of my life -- even the more inconvenient aspects such as being gay -- are actually a gift from God, intended specifically for me.

The dream had some rustic themes in it. We were served this meal in a log cabin lodge in a rural setting, and the type of soup I was offered was "rancher's soup." Perhaps reflecting a sense of condescension. Ranchers raise cattle, and one would expect the main ingredient of "rancher's soup" to be beef, not human. I think this suggests a sense (a message perhaps?) that human beings share a common condition with animals. We are all sharing the same planet, and sharing this fundamental condition of life and death, spirit and flesh inhabiting the same realm.

The key to interpreting this dream I think had to do with the part of the human anatomy I ate in this dream. Our legs and our feet are our main means of transportation through life. They relate to walking, moving, progressing. And my skepticism about whether the leg I got was sufficient might reflect some self-doubt. In the dream, I worry that the leg that I'm eating is "too skinny," that it won't provide "enough meat." I'm in effect asking myself, "Do I -- in this physical body -- have enough of what it takes to get where I want to go in life?"

But once I get down to work on it, I discover that it is quite sufficient. So the dream seemed to confirm the principle of "my grace is sufficient." However inadequate I may feel in the journey I am on, I will -- my dream assures me -- be able to get there with what I have available within myself.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dream On!

I've always been a vivid dreamer. I still remember dreams I had as a young child -- fighting monster spiders crawling up from the basement, and watching their innards burst into vegetable soup when I hit them with a wooden spoon; watching with horror as a vampire convention boiled Frankenstein's monster in a vat of acid; seeing a little girl in a pink frilly dress skipping down the sidewalk holding her parents' hands, but being puzzled by the sight of a penis underneath when her dress flew up; being Robin, the Boy Wonder, having to be rescued by Batman from the Joker's clutches. In seventh grade, one of my teachers bought me a dream journal after hearing me recount numerous unusual dreams. Over the years, from young adulthood on, I would periodically write down the most vivid dreams, the ones that somehow "felt" more significant to me than others. Every once in a while as I'm going through old papers I still find one of these dreams hastily scribbled down or typed out on a piece of paper, which I'm now collecting all in one place. In January 2006, I finally began in earnest a dream journal where I make a disciplined effort to write down every dream that I can remember. Since then, I have recorded almost 1200 dreams.

Whether dreams actually "mean anything" is something dream analysts have debated for millennia. Whether they do or not, they are fascinating. And anybody who pays attention to them can't help but view them as some kind of a window into the soul, or even as an oracle of the gods. Freud saw them as a reflection of our psychology. Jung saw them tapping into a collective subconscious. I am fascinated by James Hillman's thesis that dreams are our our way of communing with death, or rather, are death's way of communing with us.

I will lay my biases out on the table now. I believe in God, not just as some kind of metaphor, nor as some kind of extension of our super egos. I believe that God is real in some objective sense, that he is a person we can come to know. I am a Christian of the Latter-day Saint variety. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the world of spirit. I believe that some part of us is eternal, and will survive the death of our physical bodies. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in life eternal.

I grew up in a family where it was taken for granted that God could communicate with us, through the Scriptures, through living modern-day prophets, through the Holy Spirit, and through visions and dreams. Growing up I remember hearing my parents talk about dreams had by other family members, and telling stories of dreams that had been received by ancestors of mine that had given significant instruction in spiritual matters that had become part of our family lore.

For a time, during a period of personal exploration, I took the liberty of questioning everything that I had ever been raised to believe. Even though, from the time I was a child, I had had numerous, very compelling personal spiritual experiences, I allowed myself to question where those experiences might have come from. I explored the question of whether spiritual experience is just a manifestation of our psyche, of our subconscious.

It was a very compelling personal spiritual experience I had in the summer of 2005 that jolted me back to an awareness that at some very deep level I could not deny the objective existence of God and of a transcendent world of spirit. My (nearly 20) years of personal exploration and questioning had allowed me to sift through everything that I was raised to believe, and claim for myself what I had tested through my own personal experience and intellectual wrestling. And I found myself returning to the church and the religion of my upbringing.

Having laid my biases out on the table, however, I will say that this blog is not just for people who have a particular set of beliefs -- about God, dreams or anything. The purpose of this blog is the objective -- perhaps even scientific -- exploration of dreams and dream symbolism. 

If dreams have anything to teach us, we must take them on their own terms, without any preconceived agenda. A good place to start if you're interested in dreams is with a dream journal. And the only way to record dreams in a dream journal is as accurately as one possibly can, in as much detail as one possibly can. In other words, as much as possible, as a scientific observer of them. Dreams often shock us or startle us with symbolism that we find jarring, immoral, or embarrassing. But our approach to dreams must be fearless. It is often the jarring, immoral and embarrassing in dreams that has the most to teach us.

On this blog I will share dreams in all their gruesome, hilarious, unexpurgated detail, and I will share some insights I've acquired from recording some 1200 of them. I don't always analyze my dreams. Sometimes I just record them. But I always find dream analysis interesting and profitable, and dream analysis is a major interest of this blog.

I also invite all you dreamers out there to submit dreams of your own, which I will gladly publish, and which we can unpack together if you wish.

So... Dream on!