‘Fallen leaf litter in a mountain stream near Ophir, Colorado, USA’ Photo By Semiautonomous Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

This is from an issue of ECLIPSE from 2014, slightly modified and added to. Thought it might be useful, right about now. I was prompted to share this because of a dream I had last night. In recounting it to my husband, I realized that the whole thing, a long story about hospital personnel who had poisoned someone and were trying to dispose of the evidence, could be boiled down to a single sentence: Someone claiming to be a healer was trying to get away with murder! This offers interpretation of someone’s activities of late, activities I had brushed off as either innocently engaged in or as this individual’s misunderstanding of the Universe itself; this dream tells me that the grift is quite deliberate.

The idea of knowing with whom we’re communicating in any situation was brought up, and the short answer to that is, we just can’t know. I’m talking about those times when we interact with others and something about it leaves us wondering, or unsettled; we sense something about the messenger, because that’s what they seem to be. More than just random encounters, these interactions seem to offer information beyond appearances, information that seems to be of greater import than we might think if we are living ‘on the surface’. We’ve all felt this from time to time, the interaction, often with a stranger, that shakes up our thinking in the moment, and sometimes affects our entire world view.

That stranger we’re speaking with, who says something so innocently profound that happens to resonate completely and specifically with our most recent problem, could be anyone at all—and in speaking influences us in ways we can’t be totally conscious of. We try to know who that is making a remark, whispering in our ear, coming into and out of our life, but the obvious labels we can apply (“man at the bus stop”, “salesman at the door”, “person who appeared out of nowhere and had just what I needed”) don’t suffice to explain the import of what they offer. It’s human nature to attempt to classify the extent and type of our own experiences—and we have so many encounters, in a day, in a week, that push us this way and that, it’s as if we’re a leaf on a stream’s current, being moved and turned in ways we may not even notice.

There are some effective ways to break down our encounters, to put them in a mental kaleidoscope that rearranges the parts enough that we get a different understanding of what we’re meant to take away from the interaction. Here are some possibilities, for your consideration:

The Mirror  This concept follows the precept of ‘As Within, So Without’. Those with whom we interact literally mirror facets of our internal perceptions and of ourselves. It’s ‘What We See Is Who We Are’; this should probably be the first, or at least an early, go-to for understanding encounters, as no matter what our external world will reflect our inner landscape in one way or another.

The 180 Degree Test  This is found in someone who embodies exactly what we shouldn’t do or be, and we find these encounters often coincide with points in time when we are faced with making big adjustments and choices in the life. Often they will reflect the unconscious inclinations—that is, they show us before we’re even thinking of it consciously what the consequences might be. These people also come in another form, typically someone consistently in your life before whom you can float an idea, and whose reaction will tell you to do the opposite. These kind of people can be invaluable, and can be recognized just by observing where their own judgments have taken them: if it’s not similar to where you want to go (and especially if they clearly yearn for more/ better) you know to do the opposite to what they advise, as their thinking and judgment are not working in such a way that their choices are capable of getting them where they want to go. People with bad judgment can reveal the flaws in your own plan–and I mean this in the mildest sense; they are not outright disasters that everyone knows not to listen to, but those who are getting by but not living the life they want, and who consistently are unable to make ‘it’ happen.

Interpreting an Actual Dream In the case of an actual dream had while sleeping, the symbolism and situations must be filtered through one’s own recent experiences and one’s own personal dream and symbolism vocabulary. One helpful thing can be to recount the dream as if it really happened; that can help us remove the unreal qualities and focus us on those facets of the experience that our minds have deliberately magnified, hoping to get our attention. Or, as in my dream described in the intro, we find the whole story can be reduced to a kind of instructional picture, mandate, a single sentence, saying, or concept, or even a rebus (you remember, those puzzles where saying the names of a series of objects creates another, sometimes larger, concept).

Life as a Dream  This offers us a little distance from what we’re trying to analyze, and a stronger orientation toward seeing the symbolism in a situation, and so offers some objectivity and perspective. For this way of seeing we simply narrate the experience as if it’s happened to someone else—or as if it’s happened in a dream–and we observed it. This can be tremendously useful when our own part in things is confusing, or when someone tries to persuade us of something; we can apply the ‘distance’ viewpoint and see just what energies are at work, and just how reasonable others are being.                        

The biggest bonus, though, seems to be the way symbolism becomes so much more obvious when we cast the situation as a dream one. We can get some ‘Big Picture’ messages if we are willing to consider what elements of the experience can stand for, as well as considering what personal meaning these elements might have. For instance, opening an old box and finding a completely worn out pair of ballet toe shoes will have a totally different meaning for someone young and starting her dancing career, another meaning again for someone who doesn’t and never has danced, a third meaning for someone at their ballet career crossroads, and another meaning again for someone with bad memories of childhood ballet classes who has hated ballet ever since. With this method of understanding, context can mean quite a lot.

There is a dream analysis theory that states all parts in the dream are actually parts of the Self; this can at times be illuminating, especially when we sense that the centerpiece of the incident is ourselves and our behavior, but is in my experience only occasionally applicable, as though life certainly concerns each of us from our own vantage point, there is far too much input coming at us that concerns interaction, choice, and that informs us, to label everything ‘me’.

This also comes in another version, which we’ll call Tell It Like It Is, where you tell your own story as if it’s the experience of someone else. Or, you can recruit a friend to tell you your story as if they’re talking about a third party. This offers tremendous perspective, and can be incredibly harsh, as those things we make excuses for or soften in our own minds are laid out under a very unforgiving light. This is helpful when we are trying to see why something’s not working, why we may be getting the reception that we are, or why our lives have reached a stalemate. Seeing our lives as if they’re splashed across a tabloid, or as if our life history is being recounted by someone who doesn’t like us (and so is unwilling to emphasize the good) can help get us moving in significant ways—but be prepared, because no matter how accurate, the bald Truth can still hurt.

When trying to parse the meaning of encounters or experiences day-to-day we should also pay attention to our totems and other ‘familiars’ (including objects/ symbols) along the Path. When these pop up, and especially when they repeat with us seeing the same thing or hearing the same word or phrase, or we undergo any form of deja vu, this suggests you’re closely in the ‘stream’ of meaningful events. This is the principal behind the Daily Image—when I began to notice that it seemed to have meaning not just for me but for others as well, I started to include it in posts. I happen to believe that all events have significance, and that we can never actually be outside of our own Path—but we can fool around along the way, become confused and stuck, and can be mislead into a kind of ‘siding’ (like rail cars are shunted to along the tracks) that prevents forward progress we can recognize as our own, find meaningful, and embrace.

Now a note about the possibility that we encounter angels, demons, supernatural guides, or other entities in our lives: be very careful about casting what by all measures is a flesh-and-blood human being in one of these roles. We may want to see someone this way (especially if they meet our idea of how that entity would interact with us) but the reality is that if we’re actually encountering something like this we are unlikely to recognize it. I believe there are many energies taking many forms and interacting with us all the time—but I know there’s no way I can be sure when that occurs. This reduces the ‘angel experience’ to a very personal level—which I think is where it should be, as that’s the level at which we can recognize it, but not really share it with others, because it is so personal—and because who wants to bust an angel, who’s only there to help?