So...the third dream/vision came. And it was every bit as powerful and as detailed and earth-shaking as I thought it would be. It's taken me a few days to think about it. I still don't totally understand it all, though some parts of it are very clear.
And some of my friends and community have asked some questions about it and made some good observations about it. And I want to think about those things too.
The point where I reached the bottom and stumbled of the stairs and then began moving forward - forward is questionable, in that darkness; began journeying. In the darkness we are all to inclined to go in circles as anyone who has ever walked in darkness can tell you - I am suddenly confronted with that wall of fire. Hermit raised a good question - why was my immediate response to back up and charge through it? Most people would have tried to go around it, tried to avoid it - tried anything but going into it. (as a gamer, in a role play game, one always explores options! LOL! I did not react as a gamer in this, but as one in a vision, I guess!) My thoughts on this are one - I had already, in the Abyss dream where I began this journey, been told that I needed to go this route and that my way led through it and out the other side. (“You may choose not to go today, but you may not avoid this journey forever. It is your road. You must go naked and alone. You will cross and come back into the light. But, you cannot not go. Eventually you must go into the dark.” ) The implications there are that there is no side trip, no multiple options. To come out the other side, the way must be ahead, the journey must move forward. So perhaps I knew on a certain level that to "cross" meant THROUGH - out the other side of the fire. Also, the implications of fire here is that of a test. Not a test of avoidance, but of faith. And fire in this to me was one of the elements, even here at that frightening moment. We all fear fire. Fire is a metaphor for what we endure - how many songs or poems or sayings have used fire in this way - "face the fire" "go through the fire" "trial by fire". A priest does not avoid the "fire", his own or someone else's that he must journey with. My life has already included many "trials by fire" - death of loved ones, loss of relationships, changes, crisises of faith, medical difficulties. Fire and I are old friends. So a leap into the fire seemed to me the way through, taking the responsibility to face it.
Hermit also understands dreams in terms of the past. When she can't "see" an interpretation, or a meaning, it can mean that it speaks of the future. When she "followed" what she was reading of my dream, at the point of the fire, her connection to interpretation stopped there. Dreams can have many layers - this dream is clearly initiatory in the here and now - but does it speak of the future as well? It certainly could. I have no doubt that I am not done with "fire" in this life. Also, it could be that this intense dream was meant for me to walk alone. Not a comforting thought. But perhaps a true one.
There is not much surprise that beyond the fire the rest of the four elements - air in the form of the wind, water in the wild rain storm, and earth in the form of the climb up the side of the hill in the dark - that all of them come to me, that I encounter all of them extremely personally and powerfully. Earth, air, fire and water.... the four sacred things. Alchemist in centuries before, not knowing of the molecular structures of things, took these as the building blocks of the world. In a way that is not wrong, because while with modern science we may delve down to the smallest particle of creation (and there may be things smaller yet - new physics will warp your mind), it is through these four things that we experience the world still. Air we must breathe, water we must have to live, fire that we use and transform things with, earth our foundation that we stand upon and build with. And since those centuries ago, the four elements have become symbolic too, of our lives, our temperaments, our connectiveness, our affinities, our emotions. They are descriptive of us - we say someone has a "fiery" temper, or is "solid as a rock" or "air - headed" and so on. And however small those atoms and molecules and subatomic particles are...when they are added together, they become once again, the four elements. So it's not surprising that they have come to have so much symbolism in so many philosophies and faiths. So it does not surprise me that these symbols came to me in this journey.
I state in the dream itself, that I have the realization, even as I am in it, that what I am experiencing is being built out of my own symbology and subconscious imagery: "(I know on some level that where ever I am, what I am experiencing is also called forth out of my deepest symbols in my subconscious, however real my aches and scrapes and burns may feel.)" This is true of any dream for any person - whether or not it is a "process" dream with no great deep meaning, or a dream that is pulling from our unconcsious intuitions, or a "Lucid Dream" where things in our subconscious become visionary. A psychologist who wanted to tear it apart and find where each separate element comes from - and debunk the metaphysical - could do so. I can myself, track where things come from. But the fact that what I experienced builds on what exists in my subconscious or conscious mind does not negate the importance of what all these things combined become - something greater than the sum of it's parts. Dreams HAVE to build out of what lies within us and our sum total of experiences - that's where they come from - from within us. I feel a great connection to the four elements and what they mean. So yes, they have become a part of this dream journey. That's important.
Somewhere in the dark I come to a great rise of land - a hill is too small a word. And on top is a great stone ringed circle - a henge of tors. That also has great meaning for me and always has, since I first heard of the great stone rings in Europe, got my first look at a picture of Stonehenge. Such places are sacred ground to me - to find this in the center is to see where my heart would lead me. Divinity speaks through that which is sacred to us. But - oh the stars! I feel as though I have been granted a wish I have had my whole life long - to see the night sky as my ancestors saw it, without the haze of "civilization" dimming it, darkening it. And I have had these dreams very shortly after the Summer Solstice - but the sky I saw IN the dream was the winter sky, clearly. In the dream it had become cold enough to see my breath, and the constellations I saw were the great winter stars of the northern sky when the sun retreats, Orion in particular. Does that have some meaning, beyond that it is my favorite time of year, beyond that Orion is my favorite constellation? Maybe - Divinity came to set me on this vision road in the form of the Horned Lord. And winter is His time. And I have always had incredible affinity for the legends and stories and myths of the Lord of the Forrest; even as a small child, without knowing myself very well, my favorite chapter in "The Wind in the Willows" was "Piper at the Gates of Dawn". Why should I be so drawn to that, even then? So perhaps in this vision I was there in His time and hour, even though the outer world that slept around me was in summer and the time of the Goddess. As a woman, in theory, my connection should be in pagan terms, to the Goddess. But it has instead always been to the God. Knowing that I am GID, this now makes a whole lot of sense! For me to feel a call to be a Priest, rather than a Priestess fits the inner truths of myself, irregardless of outward form. It even shows in my connection to Christ as a Christian.
The Labyrinth is perhaps the least suprising of all the images I encounter on the path. That has become one of the central symbols of my life, ever since I set my foot on one and walked it in the plain light of day in 1998. It has come to mean all of life's journey, both real and metaphysical for me. This blog is named after the Labyrinth and the idea of walking one. So in the vast center of the stone circle, I come to the great Labyrinth that perhaps all this symbology and the real ones of earth and stone lead back to and reflect. On the walk out of the Labyrinth towards the end, I see what I have always seen when I have walked one, or drawn one, or studied one - that as one walks the beginning track in that leads all over the place away from the center, the path DIRECTLY into the center lies exactly next to the beginning. And as one comes out, reversing the journey in our exact footsteps, the path to the center now lies next to the path in. Stepping sideways is cheating. The journey is not about the destination, but the path itself, yet the destination is a fulfilment we receive only after we have wandered far. I wrote a song about this several days after that first journey around the Labyrinth at the church and the second verse of this song expresses what I am trying to say best:
"Hold your hand above the center
Feel the power throbbing there
As the spiral draws you outward
Away from all you long to share
See your steps next to the ending
Know how close forever is
Yet the spiral pulls you inward
Away from unimagined bliss "
Life and death, beginning and ending, Alpha and Omega. Does the Labyrinth become the symbol, or is all our life's journey the symbol of the Labyrinth? In my dream did I see the Primal Reality, that the world is but an image of? It's a thought...
In the center of that great Labyrinth - and I cannot begin to convey how big this was in the dream. Scale and size were huge - dwarfing any attempt to create any sense of time or distance. I do not know if I conveyed that well in my words or if I could even begin to! - in the Center I encounter, perhaps not fire, but energy....living Light. And when I step into it, I make the statement that it is life - community, people, the world that I become connected to and a part of it, one with it, feeling that I am to serve it with my whole heart - and that is the Priestly vocation surely. But Hermit asked why did I sense life and the world and community and not Deity? Surely that was the moment when a person called to the Priesthood would have connected to their God in whatever form that was to take - Moses encountered a burning bush and God and was told to serve his people. Elijah felt the wind and the rain and the fire and the earthquake and God in the stillness and was told further how to reach Gods people. Isaiah answers the call and experiences God through fire and then is told to serve his people. So, why did this seem to skip the encounter with Deity and instead take me straight into the heart of that which I am to serve? Two thoughts here on that - one is that I had already encountered Deity on the path and accepted the call to this journey. Had already experienced that overwhelming connection even further back with the Harvest Dream in the church that came last year. Have been deeply connected all my life to the Devine, both in Christian churches and Pagan circles and perhaps just in the good earth that I walk on, the value I hold of the human spirit.
So maybe I had already had my encounter with Divinity, with "God" and now I was meeting my call - to serve this great connection to all living things, and to do it specifically as a Priest. I have mentioned the ideas and concepts of the Four Elements - I think what I encounter was the Fifth Sacred thing, that is spirit and Spirit, Life and all things Living, and the act, the process of Living itself. And if I encountered in the center this specific connection to the Fifth Sacred thing, that does not mean Divinity was not present. It is Divinity that transforms all else into the that which is sacred. I did not need to have an encounter with God (pick your form); He already walked with me in both Pagan and Christian Symbology. What I was meant to experience in the center of all things was what lay beyond - the Call that I have always felt on my life, now made "real" to me in this vision.
And at the end of the encounter, I curl up in a cave, and rest and sleep - and feel warm and safe as though in a womb. I may be called to Priesthood, I may find my connection with God, be it n Christ, or the Horned Deity, given that I am masculine in heart and soul. But I am also aware of the Feminine nature of Divinity - It is present in the very language of the Bible to the extant that I feel that God exists as a male/female duality, no matter how hard patriarchy has attempted to "edit" her out. And every other faith and myth and tale honors the Goddess. And She - that Sacred Femininity is here for me too, as the Mother of all things. For I am a woman, I am very androgynous, I feel a connection to many things feminine about myself. It is the endless dichotomy of this and my masculine self that makes life so - shall we say - interesting! LOL! The Goddess is every woman in all her stages of life. I had a sense of the duality of God of the Feminine and the Male as sacred long before I found this blend of Christianity and Paganism, long before I found that Hebrew words spoke of a Feminine Deity, that The Holy Spirit is Feminine in the original Greek. I do not feel that so great an encounter with myself and Divinity could exclude the Goddess, for all that Deity in the form of the Male issued the call upon my life. Perhaps it is to say that Male and Feminine are contained within the Devine in ways that are so transcendent, that we must separate them apart into duality to comprehend them. So both must always be present. Even in ourselves.
In the dream, I leave the great Stone ring and the Labyrinth and go back into the dark. And my journey out is yet to come - perhaps in another dream. Perhaps in how my life plays out as I answer this call and live daily one step at a time. The final surprising image was the Spiral that became a permanent mark upon my chest on my masculine body in the dream. Dreamweaver said "you must have waked up and expected to actually see it upon your chest when you looked down!" Indeed I did! It was so very real in the dream! A mark of who and what I am or am called to be, or of the spiral journey I am on...the Spiral is as big a symbol as the Labyrinth - what is the Labyrinth but an elaborate Spiral. So now in the vision I wear it over my heart.
We will see where the journey leads next, in either vision or waking life. Anybody who is following these dreams and blog, I would welcome thoughts and feedback.
Barucha - be blessed,
and Blessed Be!