Dream Gates

Samoan snake charmer (1880s chromolithograph)

She shows me the story of her life, in a room richly decorated with golden serpents. I am fascinated by the fine definition of their scales. Some project from the walls like water spouts, others are coiled, some interwined, each in a different posture. Some are as big as boas, others small and sharp as stilletos.

As she speaks, I realize that all the snakes are alive. I shiver with excitement, not fear. I realize that her story is not only of one life, but of many. A golden serpent with two heads darts at me, level with my eyes. Deftly, without haste, she catches the twinned serpent with both hands, gripping its two necks. She instructs me that it is important not to let the two heads of this snake look at each other. This would be some kind of game-changer. When she is sure that I understand what she wants me to do, she transfers the role of snake-holder to me, and I grip the two-headed snake with both hands. Its skin is dry and warm.

Now she tells me that long ago she was banished from this room. The key was stolen from her and after long exclusion she forgot that she was once the mistress of this place, and the powers it contains.

I woke from this dream just now still charged with the excitement I felt in the room of the golden serpents.  My mind went to the ancient rites of the mysterious god Sabazios, of the Phrygians and the Thracians, which (according to Clement of Alexandria) involved letting a golden serpent move over the body. I thought of all the snakes in Egyptian myth, that can be allies or adversaries,  the uraeus of psychic power, an energy body for a traveling soul on either side of death, a form of the goddess or of the primal self-creating god Atum, rising from watery chaos. Words from the Pyramid Text of Unas (c. 2400 BCE) reverberated in my mind:

A serpent is entwined by a serpent, the male serpent is bitten by the female serpent, the female serpent is bitten by the male  serpent.

Heaven is enchanted, earth is enchanted, the male behind mankind is enchanted

And I recalled my intention prior to traveling into the dream lands last night. I had asked for guidance for the workshop I am leading this weekend on Shamanic Lucid Dreaming at a dream address, the Dragon’s Egg, Mystic CT. I believe I received exactly what I requested. A vision of woman’s ancient and primal power, both chthonic and shining, once lost but now in process of being remembered and recovered. The woman in the dream is a friend who is in this weekend’s workshop, but I believe she represents all women, including the feminine in the dreamer, and in all men.

The province of the shaman is soul, and helping souls – of both the living and the dead – to get to where they belong. A primary theme of my shamanic workshops is re-connection with aspects of our vital soul energy that we may have lost or left behind, including the connecion with our animal spirits and ancestral soul.

There are mysteries here. Freud would have loved trying to unlock this dream with his sexual key (and also because he adored Egyptian stuff and surrounded himself with hnndreds of hem in miniature). No doubt there is a Freudian aspect. But there is vastly more. Magic rides on sexual energy, but is about far more than sex.

I don’t yet understand the two-headed snake whose heads must be kept looking ahead, or at least away from each other. In a myth of the Pacific Northwest, the way to deal with the monstrous sea-sepernt Sisiutl is just the opposite: you must get the heads to look at each other, and so freeze the beast. Maybe there is something here about keeping the game in play. As with many dreams that go deeper than our everyday world, this one does not allow itself to be turned into a set of wan abstractions; it demands to be embodied, and dreamed on.

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