In drugstore dream dictionaries we are told that water, as a dream symbol, is about emotions. Well, ye-es, it maybe, but what you find in your dream waters and what I find may be very different things.
As with any dream, a dream of water may be symbolic, literal, or an experience of a separate reality. I have dreamed, over decades now, of being able to travel to the sea floor without any breathing problems and of encountering a Mother of the Deep and various other characters who seem to embody the elemental powers of the ocean. I have dreamed of healing in sacred pools, and delight in mermaid coves, and the kind of inundation that brings fresh new growth bursting into the world.
I have also noticed that some of our dreams of water may be both literal and symbolic. We dream of a tsunami or a hurricane – and that event turns out to be both a natural event that is played out in the world and a terrific emotional storm that blows up in our personal lives.
How water moves or fails to move in dreams is a very important source of guidance to me on the state of my body and my creative energy. Clogged pipes and logjams – in physical reality as well as in night dreams – alert me to the need to do some clearing and free up energy that needs to be in flow.
Water transforms, and it goes through its own transformations, from vapor to liquid to solid and back through the sequence. We come from the water, and our bodies are mostly composed of seawater. Our dreams may open us to the teachings of water: to flow rather than to push, to stream round an obstacle rather than charge it head on.
The waters of dreams offer entry into a different element, sometimes a different universe. In the deep, we may receive deep healing or encounter sacred powers.
In one of my workshops, a scientist from Virginia shared a wonderful dream in which he plunges deep into the ocean and then up into space, doing the butterfly stroke, repeating the motions until he is circling the planet. We didn’t analyze this dream. We plunged into it and enjoyed its energy. With the dreamer’s permission and the aid of shamanic drumming, our whole circle accompanied him back into his dream in a marvelous adventure in group lucid dreaming. Some of us met creatures of the deep beyond those chronicled in National Geographic, with mutual respect. Some joined dolphin pods. I enjoyed skimming the Pacific, in waters around my native Australia.
When I think of water, and the need for flow in any satisfying and creative life, I remember my favorite statement in the Negative Confessions that were made in the Halls of Osiris in an ancient Egyptian passage to the afterlife. In the presence of grim assessors, the traveling soul is required to swear that he or she has not committed various crimes and immoral acts. This is the affirmation I love best, as recorded in the so-called Egyptian Book of the Dead, whose literal title is The Book of Coming Forth by Day:
I have not obstructed water when it should flow.
I want to be able to say that on any day.
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