Saturday, February 23, 2008
Draumr Journals or Dream Journals
All through my childhood and adolescence, I kept journals. I usually kept a separate Dream Journal as well. Somehow, the discipline of that habit has deserted me in recent years. I always enjoyed them retrospectively, however and very often was inspired by thoughts or visions I had experienced in my dreams... Perhaps it is time to return to the discipline of writing about some of my more interesting dreams at least...
Last night in my dreams, I returned to Nepal. I was not living there, but was a visitor at a wedding of all things. It was a Western wedding, either American or British... possibly British. The kernel of this probably was a silly film I saw recently where a guy invented a bogus condominium in Nepal in order to appear a more fascinating character to a girl. Anyway, I shan't go through all the many details of the dream or the people with whom I was involved. They were friends, albeit not close friends. In some parts of the dream, I was at the age at which I lived in Nepal in my real life. In other parts of the dream, I seamlessly converted to adulthood.
What I enjoy most sometimes in my dreams are the cities and the incredible wealth of detail in shops and city streets. This dream was no different. I expect it was Kathmandu but it was a dream Kathmandu, quite unlike the real city I knew, although some of the shops were the same. In fact, in my dream, I asked about a shop that I knew when I was a child. It was named the 'Blue Bucket' and was run by some expats. They sold imported goods, among them Cadbury's Chocolates... In the dream, I asked a Nepalese shopkeeper about the 'Blue Bucket' but the guy was not familiar with the name.
In the dream, recent 'real' history had changed the city I had known and there were rebels and more Chinese influence than there had been in my time. I was supposed to be dressing for the wedding (where I was a guest) and to be interacting with the other wedding guests, but instead, I wanted to see the shops. It had been so long since I had been in Nepal, and it seemed inconceivable that, only being able to spend one day there, I would spend the whole day at the wedding and not even SEE the city I had loved as a child...
So I wandered the streets a little and marveled at the offerings at the shops and bazaars. Waggons and stalls had proliferated in the dream Kathmandu. Some of the goods were similar to the goods sold in the real Nepal, but others were strange and wonderful. In particular, I was interested in a construction that consisted of the head of a horse, transformed into a costume for a shaman or...? I wanted to buy it but it was extremely expensive. It seemed to me that it would be a very powerful item to have in spiritual terms, but I knew there would be problems with the customs authorities if they saw it...
My dreams tend to be very realistic! Why couldn't I simply snap my fingers and have the horse head masque sent miraculously to my own home in the dream? But no, I had to stand at the stall, gazing at it, wondering if I could take it through customs!
I knew in the dream that many people moreover would be revolted or appalled by this item that I found singularly beautiful and powerful. (In real life, I have many such items, from necklaces made from animal teeth to a wolfskin... I treat them all with reverence but many consider my shamanic tendencies 'politically incorrect'.
In any case, the dream progressed and there were many plot details that are not worth recounting here. What I wish to remember from this dream is the horse head and the city streets and stalls... Heaps of extraordinary items for sale, and buildings and constructions that sparked the imagination.
I expect that my dream of Nepal mirrored some of my feelings both about William Gibson's novels and Second Life. I feel that I was blessed as a child with the opportunity to travel through the world and to experience other cultures, to actually immerse myself in them to some extent. I never liked the idea of 'tours' because they are so superficial. I would rather travel to one spot and spend a month there than see a dozen cities in that space of time.
Yes, I do miss Nepal and I wish I could return for a visit. Perhaps the inspiration for this dream is a small segment on BBC news last night about current conflict in the southern part of Nepal with what the B.B.C. called an 'ethnic population' there. I wondered why they didn't specify the 'ethnic' group in question. The Newars are the ruling class in Nepal and indeed are the inhabitants of most of the big cities. The actual Nepalese could be considered an 'ethnic group' I suppose... If I really want to know more, I suppose I'll have to access more detailed news on the internet, but to what purpose really? I am thousands of miles from Nepal now, both geographically and in terms of my own life.
Nonetheless, I am going to search for the horse head masque that promised a new perception in the dream... or at the very least, a small window into a new reality.
It is an object that has great historical symbolism in myth, legend and fairytales.
There is the tale of the Goose Girl with her faithful horse. Killed by a jealous servant girl who took the place of the princess, the horse head remained sentient and was able to speak to the deposed princess to give her advice and to protect her from further evil. There is a similar Palestinian folktale actually. One version of the popular tale of Jbene features a faithful horse with the same fate and the same powers.
In ancient Celtic Europe, horses were sacrificed to the gods and one of the rites of kingship at least in ancient Ireland involved the submersion of the proposed king in a cauldron in which the body of a horse was placed and cooked.
My dream horse head was nothing like the horse's head made infamous by the film, 'The Godfather'. It was made from the actual skin of the horse, but very supple and soft, and included a cape that would fall over the shoulders. The head itself was intended to be worn as a masque or helmet, and the human would be able to see through the eyeholes. In the shop, there actually were two of them, one a basic version and the other a deluxe version as it were! Interesting, that detail...
If I were extremely clever, I could recreate the horse head in a virtual reality like Second Life. There are artists who create animal avatars actually. No doubt one can become a horse if one wishes... but that was not what this object was. It was a shaman's tool, like the great drums of old. (In real life, I have an enormous drum made from an elk's hide. Alas, it was destroyed effectively by a tiny mouse who gnawed upon its sinew support one winter until it snapped. Someday I would like to have it repaired, but by whom??? It is not an instrument that is available at the corner shop.)
It is not in a virtual reality that I need the horse head but in my real life, however. And yet, as any true adept would be able to tell you, tools are simply objects that are infused with power summoned by the user. If my Lion's tooth and my Hawk Feathers cannot lend me strength and power, a horse head would be equally ineffectual. A true artist, moreover, can sit in an empty room and let his/her imagination soar like an eagle, without a single feather in hand.
A quick aside: I often thought that the old quill pens had a power of their own, in that they were made from a feather with the power of flight... Nonetheless, letters tapped on a keyboard can travel farther and faster than those words penned with a quill. Will they survive as long though? Only time will tell.
An amateur or even professional psychologist probably would dissect the dream in his/her own fashion. To me, according to traditional symbolism and mythology, the horse head represents hope in death, rebirth of the soul and protection beyond death. To wear the horse head probably would create immunity from loss or death... easy enough to decipher why I dreamt about it. Nepal represents the magical aspects of my own childhood and the ability to travel through time. When I was a child in Nepal, I felt as though I had gone back in time to medieval Europe, to a culture only accessible to me previously in literature but which I was able to LIVE in Nepal. Villages without electricity, men who carried knives on their belts, sacrifices of goats and chickens at every festival and the landscape itself with its rows of houses with intricate wooden shutters, rice fields and above it all, the great Himals or mountains of the Himalayan range... Never mind that the people with whom I actually lived were ghastly, that I hated the entire colonialist mentality... Nepal was fabulous.
N.B. I have included a photograph of a contemporary ritual of the sacrifice of a horse in India, according to ancient ritual, known as Awsamedh Yagya (simply means horse sacrifice actually)... these sacrifices are described in ancient Vedic literature but still are practiced today in some parts of India.