Viewing the entrapped Eagle provided undeniably powerful motivation to change my life. As I pursued the studies that helped me understand this phenomenal dream experience, I entered into forms of therapy and healing that I had previously glimpsed only from afar. Each experience challenged my former belief systems about the functioning of the world and my part in it. Incessant dizziness, one symptom of my many undiagnosed physical abnormalities, was intensified as my mind spun with new paradigms and personal experiences.
My behavior was undergoing dramatic change, both with and seemingly without my willing consent. A diagnosis of hypoglycemia at the onset of my physical problems had forced me to abstain from alcohol, thus halting my steady progression into alcoholism. Seven years later, after quitting smoking and losing control over food, I joined a recovery program for compulsive eating. Though I had long pridefully described myself as a “militant”(and obnoxious) atheist, this program of recovery provided a spiritual perspective I had never envisioned. Because of a wide variety of powerful, non-rational experiences since the Eagle dream, I surprised myself by comfortably embracing a profound level of spirituality. I opened my mind to the possibility that a non-rational happening, an intuitive awareness, a decision resulting from active imagination or meditation or a dream could be, indeed was, as valid as any knowing achieved through my five senses or through rational channels. The deadening, fearful beliefs and principles of my past were slowly replaced by a life supporting philosophy accompanied by the means for practical application provided by my recovery program.
In her book, The Vein of Gold , Julia Cameron perfectly describes what I was learning during this transformational time.
“As long as we remain closed to the possibility of spiritual help in our unfolding, we are choosing to operate off the battery pack of our limited resources. When we open to spiritual assistance—however tentatively, however experimentally—we tap into unlimited supply. No longer restricted by the circumstances of our birth, (or our current life, for that matter) we are able to receive sustinence, guidance, and even material resources that support our dreams and our flowering.”
This spiritual unfolding was the point at which the despair I experienced after the Eagle dream began to melt, one frozen block at a time.
Six months after consciously shifting my commitment from ego-dominated control to a spiritually directed life, I finally met the dream character for whom I had been searching for more than 20 years. Is it too big a stretch to suggest this when/then? When I have taken a major step into recovery and a spiritual perspective of life, then I finally connect with the sought for energy? This vital life force? Here's the simple dream.
January 16, 1984: Recognition at Last
I'm attending a high school reunion. As I enter a room I see many kids from my class sitting and chatting. I feel very excited about seeing the person I've been looking for all these years. Will he be here? I look around and see the back of his head across the room. I know him instantly. It's Vic Biento. I'm thrilled!
My journal records nothing more than this. It seems impossible now that I did not celebrate that dream as a resolution to the more than twenty-year search. Today I would honor such a dream event with a major ritual and surely a call to the high school friend with whom I had shared the dream series. As far as I can now recall, I did nothing more than journal recording.
In August of the same year I receive this dream.
August 28, 1984: Taming the Rebel / Teaching the Rebel
I'm teaching Vic Biento to read. He is allowed to be in my class because I'm so good with rebellious children. I'm sad for him because he doesn't know anything about anything. However, he wants to read about history. I become excited when he sees pictures of men in wigs and identifies them rightly as Tories, men of the British Parliament. I therefore realize he knows more than is obvious.
Again, little attention was paid to this piece when it was originally written. As with many of the dreams that follow in this long series, I must now work with a "cold" dream, one with which the dreamer of the time, the person I was then, cannot cooperate. But to understand the steps laid down by psyche, there is no choice but to analyze with the skills I now possess, much as a detective would study clues from a long-ago crime without the aid of the victim. What did psyche want me to see, to know, to do, to be, dream after dream, that might help repair a physically ill body, an emotionally battered, grief-stricken self?
If every dream can be considered one stepping stone on the path to wellness, to wholeness, why was it important, in 1984, to tame and teach a rebel who wants to know his story (history)? We know now that an important energy (Victor) had been reactivated and needed the cooperation of dream ego in order to learn. Since teaching and learning are two sides of the same process, I, the conscious self, will learn as well. This learning will soon return to the vital theme of rebellion.
At the time of this dream, four years after the Eagle dream, my outer and inner life had begun to change dramatically. Though I was discovering definite patterns in my dream journals, I had not yet consciously connected to the character named Victor. Until this day in September, l984, I had dutifully written the messages from my psyche but I had yet to transfer the dream learning to the conscious realm. The day had finally come for this connection to be made.
September can be an extremely hot month in Central California. An intense Indian Summer banishes the fog from my coastal town creating unusually hot, dry weather from early morning to dusk. Thus, I was sitting outside writing my dreams from that morning.
September 4, 1984: Embracing the Orphan
Vic Biento is a student in my class. He's being very cooperative and cuddly. I'm going to take him home because he has been displaced and does not live with his parents. I am saddened by his orphan status.
Vic follows me into the coed restroom at school. It consists of toilets and showers mixed together. Newly under construction, it is disorganized, ill-planned. When finished, I leave the toilet unflushed to wash my hands. The new school principal teases me about his need to flush for me.
After writing the dream I read it to see what associations would surface. Then I closed my eyes to let my face soak up the sun of the glorious day. I recalled the dream of a week before and checked my journal. Sure enough, I find a character named Victor again. I see that progress has been made because the dream rebel has become cooperative and intimate. It needs teaching and nurturing, a home. It must stay with me as I release old toxins. The new principle of my life (expanding and shifting paradigms) must flush away the old processed, toxic material.
I chuckled at this representation and then reflected again on the name of this character who has moved into my dream house.
As I contemplated the dream in the quiet of my sunny yard, I was zapped by an undeniable body hit. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as the zing coursed through me, announcing that something vital had happened which demanded concentrated attention. Like chasing feathers in a strong wind I could almost catch images of an actual person named Victor! The questions started. Was this Victor character someone from my past? Were there other dreams about this dream symbol recently? I read through my journal index. Yes! Zing! "What's going on here?" I said aloud to the Monarch butterflies resting on my hedge. "Who is this Vic guy?” Completely unsure of his reality, I felt fuzzy, doubtful and so intrigued that I decided to check my high school annuals for a name and picture that matched my dream character.
For some reason this decision scared me. Feeling tense, I plowed through an outdoor shed which holds the few remaining items from my past. Finding the annuals was quite a surprise, as I had divested myself of most sentimental clap-trap years before. But there they were and there he was, a handsome young man I could barely recall as I eagerly examined his face. He played hockey, I read. Yes, I could vaguely remember that. But who was this guy and why had he invaded my dreams?
Memories floated to the surface like a heavy object freed from an anchor at the bottom of the ocean. He was the class rebel, wasn't he? Yes, I began to remember. He was the rebellious charmer who frequently played hookey or arrived late to class but was spared consequences by teasing and charming the teacher. But what was "he" doing in my dreams? Unprepared for such questions then, my head reeled.
Today I experience the brilliance of my dream life with the same awe as watching a skilled Navajo weaver. It is said that the Navajo were taught to weave by Spider Woman, who provides an innate sense of design and the meticulous labor necessary to weave an intricate rug without aid of pattern. So, it seems, does psyche weave one strand at a time, exposing the truths we need to see in order to live an authentic life rather than a scripted one. It feels to me that this internal force sees the whole piece, but we can grasp it only one strand at a time, one dream at a time.
Standing in the hot, dark storage shed, surrounded by spiders and dust, I began the weaving process that continues to this day. In 1984, the loom had been strung with three dreams from that year, the only dreams in my awareness at that time. Had I been able to discern the pattern, I would have woven the three dreams like this: At that time in my development I had finally made contact with a force vital to my life, an essence with which I had been seeking reunion for twenty years. I needed to recognize that a relationship must be created between me and this energy described as rebellious, orphaned, illiterate, without knowledge of history (his story).
Reflecting upon what Victor did know, the Tories of the British Parliament, took me to two different yet similar historical perspectives: I thought of the Tories from both my American and Irish heritages. In both cases, I envisioned a struggling against a very old, controlling, repressive, conservative structure opposed to anything new. Finding the dictionary definition added appreciation of opposites for the name Tory came to demote “an Irishman who, dispossessed by the British, in the mid-17th century became a bandit!" In other words, Victor, the one for whom I had been searching for more than 20 years at this time, knows about both the repressors and the rebels! The brilliance of a symbol such as this one always causes me to marvel at the meticulous ability of psyche to show extreme specificity far beyond the ability of my awake self to create!
If I was to overcome the problems that beset me at that time I had to acknowledge the domination of an inner ruling force which was determined to maintain allegiance to the Old World. I envisioned a rigid man in black robes looking ridiculous under his precariously perched stark white wig. Indeed, my loyalty to a black and white, either/or kind of thinking (my way or the highway, no possibility of compromise) had created much of the stress that resulted in my myriad physical challenges. Tired of repression, an unconscious Irish-rebel force would frequently kick in and fight against this dictating power. One way of being was no better than the other. Neither compliance to nor flagrant rebellion produced the deep inner peace I so needed to heal.
I desperately yearned for a gently loving, guiding force to rescue me from this see-saw of the controlling/rebelling dynamic. I needed an enlightened ruling dynamic, a new pair of inner parents. Then, my conscious self would be able to parent this orphaned Victor energy which needed a home. Two months after the "orphan is embraced," I was thrilled by the last dream in the Plants Needing Care series presented in Chapter Two. I was clearly working on parenting and nurturing from more than one perspective.
There is another dynamic of orphan to be explored here. Robert Bly, in his book The Little Book on the Human Shadow, suggests that any part of us that we have abandoned in order to be acceptable and safe is orphaned. We kick these real parts of ourselves out on the streets, so to speak, disallowing them a home within us. Clearly it was time for me to welcome Victor, the abandoned rebel, into my heart and home.
There were only three Victor dreams in 1984, but each of them was potent. Psyche had given me all I could handle. The tasks of reuniting, taming and teaching, embracing and nurturing had been established. And so I did not hear from Victor Biento for four more year
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