Spiritual Psychology
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Excerpt from:

DREAMS
Exploring the Secrets of your Soul
by Marilyn C. Barrick, Ph.D.

Chapter 5
Dreams and Visions of Soul and Spirit

This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.
Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.

—Henry David Thoreau
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
A Dreamer's Talking Horse Makes Sense

      Anne, a middle-aged woman, was at home alone because her husband was on a business trip. She is fairly used to it but told me she always feels somewhat apprehensive when he's gone.
      A rainstorm came during the night that aroused her briefly to sleepy wakefulness. She said to herself, "It's storming outside, but the windows are closed." Almost immediately, she fell back into a deep sleep. When she awakened again, she remembered a dream that definitely caught her attention.
      As Anne described it: "I'm riding a horse on the desert when a huge lightning storm comes up. I'm worried that I'll be struck by lightning. I crouch down and head for a gully where we can get lower down. In the gully I dismount and try to get the horse to lie down. He's not interested in lying down.
      "Suddenly my horse says to me, 'Don't be stupid; it's just a lightning storm.' I'm surprised the horse is talking to me and say, 'I didn't know you could talk.' He says, 'Someone around here has to keep his head.'"
      Anne went on to tell me her thoughts about the dream: "The horse represents my instinctual nature, rather unpredictable at times. The desert is familiar to me. I grew up near the desert. It's kind of desolate but familiar. I don't like the idea of riding on the desert because you're too exposed to the elements. It's a long distance between places, and you can get caught in a storm or flash flood.
      "The storm in my dream wreaks havoc, the same way my stormy emotions do. Lightning is scary to me. It strikes suddenly and can kill you or at least fry your brain. I can get that angry, in such a fury that I strike out unthinkingly at whatever upsets me, just like my dad. I'm actually afraid of my own anger because it can get so out of control.
      "The gully in the dream is a lower place where I won't be as apt to be struck by the lightning. It's also nature's storm sewer, a channel for water when there's a storm. Metaphorically, it would keep my emotions from running all over the place. What I'm feeling in the dream is a deep fear and sense of apprehension, as if something awful is going to happen.
      "The horse in the dream reminds me of a funny movie I saw about a talking horse. But I'm not laughing in the dream. I didn't appreciate being called stupid just because I didn't want to be struck by lightning. Being in the gully is like being lower down, more protected. That makes me think of getting the lowdown, getting some kind of understanding.
      "I suppose I could say that horse is giving me the lowdown, even if he is being insulting. The way he said, 'Someone around here has to keep his head'--that's my husband's kind of talk when he thinks I'm getting hysterical or out of control because I'm scared about something."
      What is the dreamer saying to herself? "I really was afraid of that rainstorm even though I went right back to sleep. If it hadn't bothered me, I wouldn't have dreamed about it. A childhood friend of mine was killed by a lightning strike years ago. It still upsets me when I remember it.
      "Maybe that memory and the storm outside prompted the dream. That's one level of it—processing my feelings about that storm at night, my husband being away, and remembering my friend who had been killed by lightning. I'd have felt safer if my husband had been home. I always have some fear and a sense of desolation when he goes on these long trips."
      "It's odd that a talking horse is the one making sense in my dream. I guess I feel two ways about my instincts, especially my anger. On the one hand I'm somewhat afraid of them because they're unpredictable. Yet I respect 'horse sense,' basic instinctual understanding.
      "In the dream I'm trying to overcome fear of my basic instincts, like the unpredictability of my lightning-like anger. At the same time, I'm jesting with myself about being scared. A sense of humor is a way I try to handle things I'm scared of. Taking a humorous perspective kind of disarms the anger and dissolves the fear. It's certainly a lot better than coming unglued. I think that's what the horse, my instinctual nature, is telling me."
      Anne's dream is a good example of what can be triggered by a physical happening in the night when it relates in some way to unresolved subconscious or unconscious issues.
      Such dreams are typically couched in a symbolic language that needs the dreamer's associations to be fully understood. In this dream Anne's consciousness was symbolized as a desert because she grew up near a desert and because her fear and anger and the absence of her husband created a sense of desolation.

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