Grief is a sacred journey

Do You Trust Your Creative Self?

DSC05917I walk along a country road with a woman writer, a seven-year-old girl, and a boy who is three. The children run ahead, down a steep dip in the road, out of sight. A huge truck comes from behind me, barreling over the hill toward the spot where the children disappeared. Panicked about the children, the writer and I run to the top of the hill. I look down into a valley and see the girl sitting on the ground next to the road. Her arms circle the boy in a firm protective hug. The truck has passed. The kids get up and run toward us. We laugh and hug.

DSC01233-002I wake up with a pounding heart. Whew! The dream kids are all right and my seven-year-old dream girl is back for a second visit. She appeared in a recent dream as my young Feminine Self born when my husband died.

I don’t have a clear image of her or the boy. I simply know I love them and must protect them. The black truck coming from behind feels like Darth Vader or Hades who drags the young Persephone into the Underworld in Greek Mythology. Dark, destructive, and unstoppable.

What happens when the fiery girl born when I was widowed goes out of sight or into the unconscious? I can’t protect her and don’t trust she can protect herself or the young boy. I expect carnage.

My son David when he was three

My son David when he was three

Since I’m walking with a writer I admire, and because of his age, the boy makes me think of my book Leaning into Love. Three years ago, my life shifted from writing for personal healing to publishing. Why is my book energy masculine? The focus and skills needed for publication and promotion demanded development of my inner masculine or animus. In Jungian psychology, we all have masculine and feminine aspects. I projected much of my focusing and manifesting power on my husband. The dream shows I’ve developed a new male energy since his death.

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The truck has a crushing momentum like the inner critic I face when I lose sight of my creative feminine fire and don’t trust it will return. “I’m a lost cause. I don’t have anything more to write. Nothing good can come of this life.”

When that deflating voice takes over, my ego is flattened, hit by a truck.

wiki image

wiki image

Dream Elaine, walking down an unknown country lane with a writer friend, can’t save the children when the truck shows up, but the dream says my young feminine knows how to get out of the way and protect herself and the young masculine. The dream says, Trust her.

DSC05937In waking life, I fret as my focus shifts from my first book to a new, still amorphous writing project. My dreams reassure me. Let my young creative self explore and experiment. She will protect any new project that arises.

Am I brave enough to take the leap and let her take me where she needs to go? Or do I fret about my writing with an anxious eye on that annihilating truck?

It’s time to make a decision.

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Do you trust your inner creative self? How does she/he show herself to you? How do you encourage and respond to her? I hope you’ll enjoy reading She’s Seven Now: When Dreams Lead the Way. It’s about the first dream I had about my seven-year-old feminine muse, born when my husband died. For another popular post about dream guidance and creativity, see A Message from the Moon. I also recommend Susan Scott’s excellent article about Dreams which begins with this quote: “An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter.” The Talmud

19 Comments
  1. Thanks for linking to my blog post about the animus, Elaine. I’ve had the same struggle empowering my animus when it comes to promoting and marketing my books and have had many dreams of boy babies and children who need and want my attention and care. I suspect this is a common dream of women who are finding their own voices and establishing their own standpoints: in other words, who are withdrawing the projections of their animus from their male partners and activating it in themselves. Recently I had a streak of dreams about very close and positive relationships with very attractive and appealing men. I’m interpreting that to mean that at last I’m developing a healthy relationship with my animus! May it be so!!!

    • I’m glad your article is available as a helpful guide. Thank you, Jean.
      I’ve also had reassuring dreams of competent helpful adult men as I’ve made my way in a new world. I think this dream particularly refers to the anxiety I feel because I don’t see a broader view now even if I know the next step. I’m walking in the dark which brings me back to a dream I had nine years ago about trusting my bare feet to know their way in the dark. Not only can I trust the feminine born at Vic’s death, but I can trust her to protect the new inspiration.

  2. I believe our dreams strongly reflect what lingers in our subconscious Elaine. Sometimes they portend things to come if we are well versed in extracting their meaning, and sometimes they summarize what is presently going on in our lives.
    I definitely felt the masculine energy while reading your book. I think that all came from the strength you gained through the difficult journey and grief, and the strong bonds you share with your sons, and of course, Vic’s imprints left in your life. 🙂

    • Debby, dreams give me another perspective on what’s happening in deeper layers of the psyche and give hints about what I need to do to live a more balanced life. I’ve learned over many years that paying attention to dreams clarifies and changes things for me. I don’t have to understand in a rational way. I just have to pay attention to the images and understand the best I can. Sometimes the meaning of a dream is only clear much later. It helps to talk about dreams with an experienced dream worker, and I know a few of those.

  3. A few weeks ago I dreamed of losing part of my right leg, which I believe could be linked to the subconscious fear of losing the ability to move my life forward. Or perhaps this image is alerting me to the fact that I am taking risks that could jeopardize my future.

    But, ah, here’s an alternative thought: maybe taking that risk could also enrich my future.

    Regardless, I am saying “Boo!” to the fear and proceeding with my writing life. I hope soon I’ll dream of darling children I must protect and nurture. You photos are powerful and instructive, Elaine, as is the message of this post.

    • Hi Marian. When I think of the right leg, I think of moving into the world from the rational or willful side. These are the kinds of questions I’d ask: What did it feel like to lose part of your leg and what was the context of the whole dream? What were you doing the day before you had the dream? Maybe you need to move forward with more or less of that rational willful side. We all have our own associations and that’s what’s important. I’m not a believer in canned dream interpretation.

      I laugh at saying Boo! to fear. Seems the best choice to me, but I have to tread carefully. Most of my dreams aren’t this clear. I had a few intense dreams this week with many dead or dying things. In one case, it was something I wasn’t caring for. I’m paying attention to what needs to be nurtured and kept alive in me.

      • My sisters reminded me that the dream followed my being stung by bees while I was working in PA at Grandma Longenecker’s house. It could be as simple as that – ha!

  4. Isn’t interesting that the girl, who seems to symbolize your creative side, protected the boy, who seems to represent your business side? I will spend the rest of the day pondering the meaning of that, but it’s clear that your subconscious has something interesting to say.

    • Ann Marie, in this case the definition of the masculine or animus energy that I learned from early women Jungian writers worked well for the boy. I think the dream assures me that my focused projects are safe along with the creative new feminine. She feels related to Soul and new life and he to the manifested results of my focused work. They’re both safe. Dream interpretation is subjective and I’m always open to new ways of looking at things. In sharing a dream, I write a few sentences about ideas that took much exploration and questioning to figure out. I’ve had active dreams for many years. They don’t steer me wrong.

  5. You’ve captured what’s in my head these days as I contemplate starting the process of querying with my revised manuscript. I wish I had a strong dream figure to guide me. Mostly I have my doubts. But it is good to hear of all that roils around in your mind. I’ve been following in your footsteps for a long time now and you have never mislead me. Cheers!

    • I just wrote in response to a comment that my dreams have never misled me–and then I read your comment, Robin. I’m glad I haven’t misled you either. I created an altar for my manuscript while in the querying process, to help me relax and to hand it over and up since the work was in my hands, but not the outcome. What would you put on your altar? You could do it in your imagination? The manuscript surrounded by symbols of your hopes and fears for it. I wish you the courage to write those queries. I know it isn’t easy.

  6. In my last dream, my mother and father were having a retirement/anniversary/ farewell party of some sort in which my mother was being “uncooperative,” as my dad would put it, and then had a “fainting spell” naked in the reception hall (“fainting” is what my dad would call it when she was having problems this past winter and we thought it might be TIA’s), and I couldn’t lug her to somewhere more private. I am rather afraid to open that letter, Talmud or no. I think I shall read yours instead. It’s been awhile since I’ve embraced a Jungian approach to anything, but yours fascinates me; I may have to reconsider. Much love and light to you, Elaine.

    • Thank you for commenting, Paula. I understand why you’re afraid to open that message. I often explore dreams with the support of a dreamworker/therapist.
      I first studied Jung (and meditation and many other things) with a teacher in Ithaca in 1967. Jung gave me a language for self-understanding and reflection.
      I’m giving a workshop in March at the C.G. Jung Society of Sarasota, FL with Jungian writer Jean Raffa about mythology and dreams as guides when we’re facing mortality or grief.

  7. I’m certain you have the courage to let that creative young girl lead you to the place you need to be with this new project. She’s a wise, brave, and very strong presence in your life. How wonderful that you were able to deconstruct your dream and realize her power. Sending love, dear friend.

    • Thank you, Ann. It helps to work with a dreamworker in sorting out meaning. I go to a Jungian therapist every other week with the primary purpose of working on dreams, and I’ve been seeiing her since just before Vic’s death. We dig into these dreams and take the time they need. Sometimes they’re easier to understand such as this one. That’s often true when the dream feels immediate and pressing–like this one did. She also and connects dreams I had in the past when I’ve forgotten them. A good friend to have!

  8. Dear Elaine,

    Thank you for this insightful post about your dream. I too am working on unleashing my creative self, in the form of writing short stories, and perhaps, one day, getting back to my novel. But my inner critic is constantly at my back, on my shoulder, in my head. I just need to keep attending to her (my creative self) in order to overcome that truck.

    Thanks again.

    Tricia E. Bratton

    • Oh, that damned inner critic! I know that one very well. I’m glad you’re working on your stories, Tricia. Our creative fire is still with us, maybe stronger than before.
      Do you know the Russian story of Vasilisa, the maiden who is forced to go into the deep dark forest to get fire from the Baba Yaga (an underworld Death Goddess or witch)? Baba Yaga has the light and the girl has to go into the fearful helpless darkness to get it. We know about that journey into darkness. Vasilisa’s name means The Beautiful or The Queen. She has been through the great initiation and now carries Light.
      Thank you for your comment and for making me think of Vasilisa’s story.

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