Last night I had the strangest dream. I was driving in an SUV, ran over a lovely flower bed on some private land and momentarily got stuck in a man-made trough or pond. A trough the size of a coy pond but square in shape. I got out, but as I did, another vehicle coming down the drive impeded my progress. I thought we were in trouble. There were others in the car with me, although, they were just sort of there; I don’t know who they were or what they may represent (just yet). I stepped out of the vehicle, thinking I was about to receive a lecture on the destruction of private property. As the driver of the other vehicle and I approached one another, an enormous bird began a slow descent from on high. At first, I thought it was a bald eagle. It wasn’t. I asked the unknown entity next to me, “Is that a condor?”: enormous, shimmering, portentous. It glistened in the sun and changed shape and color, but somehow retained its identity as a condor. As the question was asked it approached; it halted its descent not far above us, wings motionless, hanging there, a totem in the sky. It’s back a deep ocean-blue; its underbelly bright white. On its chest and belly was emblazoned a hunter poised to throw a spear. It hung suspended there for a few moments, enchanting, and the dream ended.
This was so vivid. I thought nothing of it at the time. I woke, performed my usual routine of checking my phone/social-media, got out of bed (ugh! I know, right?), made coffee and putted around the house. I picked up Andrea Wulf’s book The Invention of Nature and read the following line: “I saw the ruin of the anatomy tower in Jena in Germany where Humboldt spent many weeks dissection animals, and at 12,000 feet on the Antisana in Ecuador, with four condors circling above and surrounded by a herd of wild horses I found the dilapidated hut where he has spent a night in March 1802” (9). No fucking way this is a coincidence! Right?! I immediately jumped up, wrote an entry in my journal, grabbed my Penguin Dictionary of Symbols and tried to satisfy the brief obsession of doscovering the meaning of this vision. So, like I’ve been doing this past year when I feel the need to discover something, I sat down and started writing.
First, the hunter, or the hunt. The Dictionary has it that,
Naturally enough the symbolism of the hunt has two aspects. There is the slaying of the beast, which is the destruction of ignorance and the tendency to evil, and there is the search for the quarry and its tracking, which bear the sense of spiritual quest.
What kind of quest am I on? This journey began as one in which I was hoping to hike toward health and wellness. I’m wondering what the natural world will teach me about myself. In no way do I feel anywhere near my goal; I am, however, well on my way—I hope. I’ve also left that goal undefined, emphasizing the journey, rather than the destination, matters most.
Then, the condor (vulture).
The Maya made the royal vulture, feeding on the entrails, a symbol of death (METS). However, the bird might well have been regarded as a regenerative agency for the life forces contained in decomposing matter and refuse of all sorts from the very fact that it lived off carrion and filth; in other words, as a cleanser or a sorcerer who ensures the cycle of renewal by transforming death into new life. This explains why, in their cosmological symbolism, the vulture was associated with water-signs.
Have I achieved some benchmark? Or is my subconscious reaching out to try to warn me about an episode yet to come? Have I slayed some beast, some ignorance within myself? Or does this represent a coming trial, a tribulation, some evil yet forthcoming?
The dream may be a call to vigilance. The fact that I am “stuck” in the dream may mean that I am stuck somewhere in real life, or at least, I’m in danger of becoming stuck. I am in danger of losing whatever spiritual or physical progress it is that I have made over the last year. I’ve been sober since October, 2017. Is that in danger? I will confess that, while I haven’t really thought about picking up the bottle per se, I have wondered, lately, what it would be like if I did. I also destroyed, or nearly destroyed—they seem to have been particularly resilient—flowers in the dream, the calix of which represents the “receptacle of heavenly instrumentality”. This may mean that the proverbial garden I’ve planted over the last year is still, and may always be, fragile, and that it is ever in danger of being trampled. The flowers, as a blooming of spirituality, ought to be understood as the gifts bestowed upon me by Nature and not some personal god. I think I’ve become agnostic on that front. Otherwise, I must be careful not to spin my tires, not to get “stuck” in the familiar routines that got me into previous messes. Be the hunter, not the hunted. Slay the beast. Know that your demons are ever present, but don’t be controlled by them. Don’t forget your past; transform its detritus and decay into new life by forging meaning out of the lessons learned therein. Don’t run, walk. Walk through, not away from all the shit in your past. These are the things I must tell myself.
This is how I interpret dreams. This is the story I tell myself. Now get out there and tell yourself an awesome, kick-ass story.