In my previous blog I mentioned Arnold Mindell's visit to my dreams as a reminder to heed the Magpie's call- Not long after Mum had passed away and whilst I was still recovering from Pericarditis I had a visit to my nightly dreams by Arnold Mindell, the founder of Process Oriented Psychology and creator of 'The Dream Body' concept. I woke from the dream feeling honoured to have been visited by Arny (Arnold Mindell) I saw it as a reminder to get back in touch with all that I had learnt many years ago from reading his great books and taking part in one of his fabulous workshops.
It was unforgettably life / dream body/ spirit affirming. I often recall and constantly retell a personal story from the workshop where Arny asked us to partner up with someone we didn't know and to find a space that felt 'right' for us, it was an exercise in trusting one's own intuition, we were a few days in to the workshop now and so were getting familiar with this kind of territory. Arny said, that when we found that place that felt 'right' for us that we were to take turns at being a facilitator and the dreamer, and that who ever was going to be the dreamer first was to then enter into a sentient space and let a body symptom emerge and express itself in what ever way felt natural- a dance, a poem, a song - a word - whatever..... My partner and I decided on a sun dappled shady spot under a tree outside. I had tension in my shoulders and decided to focus on that. I closed my eyes and let my shoulders do their thing. I went into some kind of bird dance and it felt wonderful. When I opened my eyes my partner had to ask me how this related to my dreams of late to which I responded, "I'm not sure, but last night I dreamt I could fly and I was joyously flying across the sky and landed on top of a tree and decided that I should snap of a twig and put it in my pocket so that when I awoke I could prove to everyone I could fly" as I said these final words I looked down and in my shirt pocket was a twig with leaves on it. All the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Tears welled in my eyes. It seemed strangely miraculous - uncanny somehow. My partner explained that whilst I had been in my dance flapping my arms around I'd snapped the twig off and she was blown away that it had somehow managed to fall exactly into my shirt pocket. We were both speechless and held hands for a moment communing with this overwhelming other worldly experience, then with tears still in our eyes we made our way back to the main room to share our miracle with the group, but before we could share it Arny spoke and said , "now let's talk about time travel" and his explanation grounded our magic. He described for us in clear words the exact experience we had just bore witness to - something about dreams coming to us in a pre-cognitive reality, a space of the yet to be formed, the subconscious and that in this space we may catch a glimpse of reality before it was fully formed. To have such an experience of something so dreamy brought right back down to earth was and shall forever be something of deepest gratitude for me. I wrote Arny a poem on the last day of the workshop and when I handed it to him, he must've recognized my need for approval I guess, and said, "you are very insightful, you need to know that I know that" - I used that quote at the start of one the 'IRIS' EP 'Distance till Empty'.
So having Arny in my dreams enabled me to reflect on my body symptom of inflammation to the pericardium, (the sack that protects the heart) and it made sense that the thing protecting my heart would become inflamed around the time that Mum was in her final struggle for life or rather preparing to be born to everlasting peace.
Now on to the Magpie.
So more recently I had a dream that I was standing around talking to a friend and a magpie swooped down on me and bit my right hand - now i hear you saying, "magpies don't bite, they peck" - well this was a dream so the laws of reality are stretched somewhat- in fact the magpie's beak was so large that it wrapped around my whole hand and forced it back toward my forearm, locking it into that position.
I tried to flick the magpie off. I was very annoyed, but the bird was relentless and held its position.
I was impressed by the power of it's force. I couldn't even use the strength in my wrist to flex and push back to straighten out my hand. I became quite frustrated and started trying to shake the bird off.
Still it held strong and refused to yield to my will.
I found a broom stick and gave the birds beak a gentle tap to ask it to let go, but the bird was fixed in it's determination to keep my right hand bound to my forearm in the bondage of its force.
I begun to hit its beak a little harder thinking it would eventually capitulate, but to no avail.
Eventually I hit the bird's beak with so much force that it begun to crack and crumble, and by the time I was finished I had in fact killed the magpie.
I was distressed by it all.
"Why did you make me go and do that?"
I said to the dead bird.
"Why did you make me kill you? I didn't want to do that, but you wouldn't let go would you?"
I was clearly upset by the experience. It woke me up.
It disturbed me. I knew it was significant but couldn't work it out. I was considering the pied look of the magpie, the black and the white, was it some kind of yin yang? The good in the evil, the evil in the good? Some kind of balance?
For the whole next day it played on my thoughts, till the next night I fell once more into sleep and surrendered to a whole new night of dreams.
I was woken again the next morning at 5am, like I have been on so many nights since Mum passed, and in fact like I am right at this moment. I tossed and turned in bed for a while before I finally gave in to my thoughts and said, "Ok bugger it, if you're going to be so demanding I'll get up and write you down!"
Like on most of these mornings when I'm woken at 5am, I was thinking about my Mum and my older brother Paul who passed away many years ago when I was only 21.
I started writing stories about Paul and Mum, anything that I could remember. For years now i have often day dreamed about writing a novel exploring my early life with these two eccentric and colourful characters, but on this occasionI noticed most of my stories about my older brother were all about his bullying and use of violence to control me. I thought, "well that is an unfairly negative picture you are painting of your older brother, you are making him a monster, what about all the lovely pieces of who he was?"
And so I begun trying to recall all the tender moments I could remember sharing with Paul, focussing more on what a protective big brother he was, how encouraging and how his encouragement had shaped the very person I am today.
I recalled my very first day of school and how I had been swooped by a magpie and how it had really upset me and how I was crying uncontrollably and how my teacher had sent for my older brother to come and soothe me in my traumatised state.
At the time this memory came to me I was writing it down in my journal with an ink pen.
I haven't written in an ink pen on paper for many years. In my twenties I use to fill book upon book with written words of reflection and poetry, but since our immersion into the world of personal computers and iPhones etc I've typed most of poems and songs into a gadget so much so that writing pen to page was a somewhat unfamiliar experience.
It was at this moment though, this moment with pen to page that I wrote the word magpie that the meaning of the dream came to me......"This is it!" I thought, "Like Arnold Mindell's time travel."
The magpie had swooped down in the dream forcing my right hand into submission, the same right hand that I was now using to pen my memories freely to the page. "This is my liberation", I thought, "This is my broomstick to bash the magpie's beak- This is my pathway to health and freedom. All I need to do is write down my thoughts, write down my experiences and express my grief. This is my pathway to health- to letting go and moving on - self expression- the transformation of what is subconscious and niggling away at us into the fully formed awake light of consciousness where I can better reflect on it and see it with some kind of objectivity."
It felt like a revelation to me.
It was something simple sure, something I should've known, something I've talked about the benefits of to others in my teachings and yet here it was once more for me to learn from- the simplicity of paying attention to all that is pre-cognitive and in the periphery of our conscious awareness and by so doing, bringing it into focus and allowing us to see more clearly the process of our own personal metamorphosis.
To be able to read the symbolic language of our own personal mythology and bring it to light within the meaning of story and art- ah what a gift this truly is!