In this age of instantly answerable questions, there is very little mystery left intact. Governed as we are by the great scientific quest which pulls things apart to get at their mechanics, we are desperate for that which returns us to cohesion.
One of the greatest challenges in approaching dreams, which is but an echo of our relationship with the Earth, is allowing mystery to work upon us. There are certain questions which, as the poet David Whyte puts it, ‘have no right to go away.’ There is a delicate alchemy which brews in our not-knowing and which is essential to our becoming worthy of the dream’s revelation.
As Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells us, there are those ancients who referred to the dreammaker as ‘The Riddle Mother’ because when you carry your question into sleep, she responds to it with a riddle. Like any good fairy tale, the task is not to find an answer, but to become the kind of person who knows which way to go.
If you feel dissatisfied with Dream Dictionaries, which reduce your symbols to mean something other than they are, like “If you dream of a butterfly it means new beginnings” it is because your living mystery is being objectified. Symbols are living, breathing beings who change depending on the eyes who see them. As James Hillman puts it, “Like the fox in the forest is not mine just because I see it, so the fox in the dream is not mine just because I dream it.”
I believe one of the great challenges of our time is our coming back into relationship with mystery. Rather than making an expectation of our needs being met, let us make a courtship of that which we admire. Let us make our lives alluring enough that the mystery might become curious of us! Let us stand with a respectful distance and make an invitation of ourselves, such that wildness might decide to approach us. Let us find ways to pray ourselves to the forest, even when we hear nothing back. Let us keep returning to that silence and allow ourselves to be shaped by our yearning for answers.