At the Gym

Dream: I’m in a gymnasium with a bunch of guys exuberantly sprinting from half-way down the court, like “suicides” for basketball practice. Each time I get to the line at the end, a large obese woman lunges toward me and grabs me in a frontal bear hug. She scares me and I yell out. This happens several times. When it’s time to leave the gym, I sprint to the door and the lady reappears again, seemingly from out of nowhere, and grabs me in a big bear hug. I scream again. She reminds me of a homeless lady I used to see on the subway in NYC.

Years ago, when I as living in New York to do my clinical pastoral residency, I would frequently encounter two particularly intriguing homeless persons. One was a man and the other a woman. One black, one white. I never saw them together, but what immediately struck me about each was their stature. Both were very large—tall and hefty—which I could never determine if it was from obesity or from the many layers of dirty, smelly clothing they wore. I’d run into them in various places, usually with their bags and cart loaded with personal items.

One weekend in early cold February, I was in the process of moving my belongings from Queens, where I had been house-sitting, to Manhattan, where I had just found a place to stay after being virtually homeless for almost five weeks. It would take me three long rides on the F Train to haul all my stuff in one jumbo suitcase and a small side kick. I made it to the last car on the train just in time before the doors were about to close. As I boarded, I noticed everyone making a beehive out of the car, but I was too out-of-breath to notice what had happened. I thanked the Universe for a seat with plenty of room for my suitcases, and I was especially grateful to have escaped a long wait for the next train in the bitter cold. As I settled down, I became aware of a terrible odor growing exponentially. It smelled of urine, feces, dirt, decay, spoiling food—the worst odors you could imagine, all emanating from a single source. I looked around and noticed that the homeless woman I used to see around town was on the train. Oh, that’s why everyone was bailing out of the car when I got on….

We stopped at the next station, and I noticed how riders would continue to avoid the car. They’d step off and walk to another car as soon as they entered, or change cars through the gangway doors once the train was again in motion. I had planned to change cars, too, but seeing that everyone else was doing so, I somehow wanted to stay present and not “abandon” the homeless woman. On a side seat facing her, I beheld a head slumped down in slumber and safety out of the cold. I felt relieved that she had found respite, at least for a while. I stayed for several more stops; however, being unable to bear the stench any longer, and I changed cars feeling sheepish that I had “done charity,” then baled.

I eventually got to my destination, emptied my suitcases and head back to Queens for my second load. Off the subway at Sutphin Station, onto the Q44 bus, walk a half mile to the house and load up my suitcases, walk back to the bus stop, back on the Q44, back to the train station, but definitely NOT the last car this time. I sit in what I think is a vacant car and look around, and wouldn’t you know, the same lady is there, again! And people heading into the car would head right back out after seeing her and/or smelling the odor. I began to wonder if I was undergoing some kind of cosmic test, or something. I decided that whatever it took, this time I would stay in the car, for the entire l-o-o-o-o-n g ride back to Manhattan. I did just that, breathing as shallowly as I could to prevent the stinging stench from reaching my lungs.

I made it! The train was still in motion when I stood up and rolled my suitcases to the door. There’s a still moment when I look at her as the door opens. She raises her covered head exposing her matted bangs framing her dark chocolate face with eyes strangely gleaming light. She smiles, exposing startling and unexpected dimples; and then with seeming capriciousness, she winks at me.

How interesting, that of all the people I’ve ever known or seen, she is the one who shows up in my dream while I’m sprinting with a bunch of boys back and forth on the basketball court. My association with physicality and being in the gym bring unpleasant memories about my body. I was sexualized at an early age because of my body shape. Boys not knowing anything about who I was inside taunted and battered me because of my ample calves, thighs and derriere. I felt powerless, singled out, humiliated. My five siblings were lean with more equally proportioned chests and hips, although I ate exactly what my siblings ate. My mother posted height-weight charts all around the house and projected her fear and shame onto my body, endlessly tugging at my tops and dresses that would “ride up” because of my heavy bottom. Somehow, she was always trying to cover it up and clamp it down—making me wear a girdle around age 11. By that time, the rape that I had suffered in terror, silence and secrecy had already occurred, so I was very self-conscious, and instead of celebrating the body God had given me and the changes around coming into womanhood, I internalized that my body was bad and a source of betrayal.

The gymnasium in my dream reminds me of the gym at my junior high-school. I hated going to P.E. Our girls’ P.E. uniform was a romper style with elastic in the legs. My very generous thighs caused the elastic to ride up and painfully cut into my crotch. My derriere filled all the space and every bit of ease in the seams. I was constantly pulling down the elastic bands which would only ride up again, leaving raw, tender welts in the creases of my thighs. I remember doing forward rolls when we started tumbling, and I lost momentum and got stuck at the top with my bottom in the air. Coach Edwards swatted me on the butt with her paddle to “push” me over and everyone laughed. I was mortified, while at the time grateful that the boys were on the other side of the gym and had not seen it. The 7th grade boys teased me unmercifully, not just at P.E., but also in French class (we went to French on the days we didn’t have P.E.) where they would gang up on me taunting, “elephant legs” and other things. P.E./French were at the end of the day, 6th period, and every day as soon as the dismissal bell rang, I would gather my belongings as quickly as I could and run across the school yard to my bus crying from embarrassment and misery and wiping away my tears to appear as normal as I could when I got on the school bus to finally go home.

So back to my dream. I’m now back in the same gymnasium no longer being persecuted by the boys, but actually on the team with them in all my vitality and uninhibited expression. I am not deferring to them nor hiding in shame and veiled misery, but equal and sprinting with newness. These boys are my allies, my new teachers. And of all people, the woman from the NYC subway entering my dream as the Divine Feminine to redeem me from the place of my shame and celebrate my becoming. On the subway, I saw her humanity underneath her wretched condition, and so with reciprocity, she comes to witness mine. I wonder if, in waking life, she may have known something similar to my particular struggle.

I wonder why, in the dream, I projected my fear onto her each time she greeted me with her bear hugs—an indicator of more work for me to do?? Ah, the lesson: I needed to embrace my own humanity underneath my own wretchedness before I could truly accept her celebration of me. The dream gave me an opportunity to reclaim a part of myself that I had separated from during those difficult middle school and junior high years. It’s interesting that in a subsequent dream, excrement flows from a hermaphrodite’s body, turning into ashen turds that transmute into pure gold.

Dream: I’m in bed with a man having a very intimate and sensual encounter. We’re both naked. He turns over on his stomach, exposing that he also has a vagina. I’m startled by this…very curious, this odd discovery. Liquid stool begins to seep from his anus. Somehow, I’m not repelled, and the sight stirs a deep place in me. Another man is nearby… I can’t see him, but I can feel his protective presence. I see grayish turds that turn ashen white, then they turn to brilliant gold nuggets. Am I witnessing a miracle? Something washes over me, inside of me, filling me from my gut upward to my heart, then to my head, outward to my shoulders, my face and nose, downward through my legs and my feet. Oh my gosh, my fingertips. Every cell in me is buzzing.

This dream reflects a big clearing of shame that used to be tied to my body and body functions. More than a cognitive reckoning, but an alchemical cellular transformation that restores energy and life force that can now emanate everywhere because all the channels are cleared. My shame is now transmuted into gold. The energy of both dreams stayed with me for several days. I can still feel some of it in my hands and fingertips as I write this post. Dreams can heal, things can change. I feel energetically different, and I can receive from and celebrate with the woman, those hearty, robust bear hugs.

Another episode in the “healing theatre” of my dreams. Truly a continual and miraculous journey home.

. . . .

I am so very excited to share this alchemical part of my journey with you. I really want you to know that you can be cleansed and healed by your dreams if you develop the practice of following where and how your dreams lead. I’ve been doing this for over ten years and it never ceases to amaze me, the capacity that is present for us to be cleansed of every shadow that lurks in the hidden closets of our cognitive and cellular memories. If you would like to ask me anything, or if you would like to know more about Archetypal Dreamwork as a form of spiritual practice and means for inward journey and inner healing, please reach out to me via email at nowjourneyhome@gmail.com, or use the form below. I am based in metropolitan Atlanta, GA, USA, but work with clients anywhere in the world via in-person visit, phone, or HIPAA compliant on-line video conferencing.

Much love to you,
Cheptu

Homecoming!

 

DreamI’m at train depot where lots of trains and buses are coming and going. If you miss one, never mind, because another’s coming. A man stands nearby as I walk around. I’m free and easy as I walk up and down the steps, not looking my feet, but at the luscious green landscape. An mannish-looking boy approaches me with a bunch of little kids saying, “See the kids?” He introduces me to each one, children from my childhood. Three in particular, a girl and two boys, I remember by name. All are younger than I—all child-like versions of their current adult selves. They surround me and hug me. I’m so happy to see them! The man-boy states that he gives them money each week and asks me if it’s okay that he does this. I tell him yes, it’s good thing, and the money will keep building interest.

My dreams have come full circle. I have written in the past about a recurring dream that catapulted me into dreamwork. Thankfully, when I started my dream journal in the late 1980s, I began the weekly practice of transferring my handwritten dreams to computer. Somewhere along the way I began to have a disturbing recurring dream, and when I searched on my computer, I discovered that I had the same dream, recorded three consecutive years, on the same date, recorded at the same time. The dream was about sexual violation that I experienced as a young girl. This dream addresses that.

When that happened to me, I was extremely vulnerable, incredibly naïve. Today, I still don’t remember all that happened because I blacked out. I lost a part of myself after that, and I never told a soul…not until I sought counseling as a middle-age adult. My smarts, organizational skills, musicianship and teaching capacity got me through life, kept me busy. I lived well, but I always felt “off,” de-centered somehow. I had a lot of creative energy that came out in bursts, but somehow it always got sapped by the inner shame I always carried. I lived “nice and safe” instead of “Letting it rip!” as the saying goes. I don’t think people really understand the full nature of this kind of violation–what it does to the soul of a person, and maybe it affects different people in different ways. But for me, it robbed me of my primal “juice.” I always felt I had a mark on my forehead…that I should always be diligent, responsible and stay in control of things…stay in the background, smile and be polite, and not step out too far in the limelight, lest I be found out for some kind of “crime.” As I said, I had counseling around it as an adult, but it has taken time for all the residue to clear, and now I feel totally free from the inside, not just in a cognitive way. Maybe this is what compels me to write about it now. Interesting, this is “Independence Day.” It’s all about freedom, isn’t it?

In my dream, the “man-boy” was the boy who raped me as a child. In the dream he is a teenager, but with an adult face and demeanor. Maybe I’m seeing him as a more evolved person. I’m not anxious in his presence, nor do I feel a compensatory urge to prove something to him…to prove that I have power (I felt that way in the past). I’m just myself in the presence of all my inner juice and energy represented by the trains and buses coming to and fro. No anxiety about missing my ride (I used to have anxieties about being abandoned, left behind)…not even looking down at my feet as I bound up and down the steps…no shame…nothing to pay attention to except the luscious new and verdant landscape in and around me.

It’s interesting that I had this dream during my recent pilgrimage to Senegal and The Gambia, West Africa, where I was surrounded by so many people, customs, culture that reminded me of my South Carolina childhood home. Also, so very interesting that this dream came the night after visiting Goree Island, a place of great humiliation and suffering where captured Africans were held in dungeons to be “processed” and shipped as cash commodity to the “New World.” On Goree Island, I remembered my Ancestors who passed through the “Door of No Return,” taking their final glimpse of homeland before embarking on slaveships. I stood in the quarters of insatiable colonizers who conducted their business, caroused, and had their way with African women, men and children in living quarters one floor above the sea of human suffering beneath them. I stood outside but refused to step into the church within a stone’s throw that sanctioned it all. Taking it all in, I paid homage, poured libation and claimed, “Ha! But I did return!” Little did I know, that after my somber witness and embodied acknowledgement of things that happened long ago, the Archetypes and my Ancestors would bless me in return, through the affirmation dream I would have that very night.

In my dream, the man-boy who raped me acknowledges his wrongness. He does this by asking me if it’s okay to pay for the damage he caused. In my dream, the children collectively stand in the role of my Inner Child…my unfettered and unfiltered Essence before the trauma and all its fallout and compensations occurred. I’m saying, “Yes,” while acknowledging that the amends, the healing and reconstruction process that takes place over time, i.e., “keeps building interest.” My dream is showing me how I am now different on the inside, how I have evolved. I’m standing in my own power and have no need to prove anything to him or anyone else. I may or may never see the guy again, but the “charge” of his violation no longer exists. I forgive his ignorant and unguided youth. I am free from the residuals of it all. ALL GONE. IT IS FINISHED. This is my homecoming, a big WELCOME HOME to the reclamation of my essential self-ness.

“See the kids?” he asks. YES, I see them!!! I’m so happy as I hug each one and they hug me in return. I feel this burst of energy inside of me as I write. Internally, I’m in a place that I can honestly say I have never felt before. I know I came into the world with this, but I got separated from it, and now I’m fully back. I’ve completely landed, and I feel as if I’m going to burst if I try to hold this energy one moment longer!  HALLELUJAH!!!!

Very often, traumatic experiences in our waking lives tie to wounds from our ancestral past. Healing work is so critical…we can survive from the rupture of our wounds or we can heal ourselves and live more authentically and powerfully from the healed and whole self. Healing work is also transgenerational. I believe that as we allow our personal wounds to be cleansed and healed, we open the way for the cleansing of our family lineage and the healing of our ancestral wounds. The work I’m talking about is more than purely cognitive acknowledgment or collective remembrance. It’s about the process of peeling away the layers and looking deeply at our personal sacred story…trusting our inner support systems…our inner “cast of characters” and the Archetypes who show up in our dreams…always beckoning us to pay attention and look at our challenges; confront our personal shortcomings and the unconscious ways we collude with the energy that continually seeks to beset us. The “Now Journey” is about surrendering ourselves to receive the inner love and support that accompanies us through deep and sometimes murky waters until we emerge victoriously on the other side with our minds clear, our hearts intent, our feet set, and our spirits soaring. I have no science for this, only my experience…but I can say that our dreams (sometimes referred to as “God’s Forgotten Language”) have the capacity to move us through our valleys of confusion and chaos, to the alchemical waters of restoration and rebirth, while utilizing an incredibly clear and unique “taste” that is recognizable and trustworthy to the dreamer. The only pre-requisite is the willingness to follow where they lead and partake of the “medicine” they offer along the way.

Thanks for allowing me to share my story with you…it is truly a blessing. Growing is a lifelong process that I’m loving every day, and I “wouldn’t take nothing” for the slightest nuance of my journey, because there is nothing, I mean NOTHING… like Home, Sweet Home.

Celebrating on this liberation day with much love from me to you,
Cheptu

©copyright Grace Cheptu, 2019. All rights reserved.

If you would like to embark on a journey led by your dreams or if you would like to know more about Archetypal Dreamwork, please use the form below, or email me directly at nowjourneyhome@gmail.com

 

“Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine”

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the African Renaissance Monument is a 161 ft tall bronze statue located on top of one of the twin hills outside Dakar, Senegal. Designed by Senegalese architect, Pierre Goudiaby, it symbolizes Senegal and Africa—emerging from centuries of slavery and colonialism.

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I visited the monument during my recent pilgrimage to Senegal and The Gambia (that’s me at the bottom). Despite controversies that surround this monument, I could not deny the power of its presence and the energy field that surged through my body as I stood beneath its spectacular grandeur.

I like the monument because it depicts the strength and valor of the African family in its own primal Essence and in direct relationship with the Creator,  without allusion to religion or other intermediary constructs. While I can appreciate Islamic disapproval related to standards for corporeal modesty (Senegal is 82% Muslim), I like the man’s bare and rippled chest which exudes raw strength and virility. I like the supple beauty of the woman’s body that exudes fertility and sustenance.

Lastly, I like the alignment of the three figures with the Child who points the way, due North. I study dreams from an archetypal perspective and the Renaissance child reminds me of the Child archetype who represents our raw, unfettered, unfiltered, un-copted  Soul and Essence. It causes me to reflect on my primordial African-ness, my true Essence naturally ordained by the Creator—the primal energy, force, creativity, autonomy—my “Nguzu Saba-ness”—before the trauma of colonialization, enslavement and all its subsequent chaos and compensations, on both sides of the Atlantic. The Child points the way to a now and future that can be most functional and bright in every dimension.

I hope the heart of Senegal and the heart of all Africa, including her diaspora, will come to embrace this monument to the African Renaissance. May religion, dogma and creed divide us no more.  UMOJA (unity) and AMANDLA (power)!

Love,

Cheptu

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Grace Cheptu is a minister, dreamworker, spiritual guide, teacher, musician and writer who addresses the spiritual concerns of those who are journeying back “home” to their essential selves.  Please feel free to email me at nowjourneyhome@gmail.com if you would like to unpack the power and messages of your dreams.

Breathing Under Water

𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑛𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐼’𝑚 𝑖𝑛 𝑑𝑒𝑒𝑝 𝑤𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑐𝑙𝑢𝑡𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑎 𝑟𝑜𝑐𝑘 𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑎𝑛𝑘. 𝐼’𝑚 𝑡𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝐼’𝑚 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑚𝑦 𝑔𝑟𝑖𝑝 𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑢𝑛𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔. 𝐴 𝑙𝑎𝑑𝑦 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑠 𝑚𝑒. 𝐼 𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑟, “𝑃𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒, 𝑝𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒, 𝑔𝑒𝑡 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑚𝑒…𝐼 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑜’𝑠 𝑏𝑖𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑔…𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑢𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑚𝑒 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟…ℎ𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑦, ℎ𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑦, 𝑝𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒!” 𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑡𝑎𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑑𝑦 𝑠𝑢𝑐ℎ 𝑎 𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑦 𝑏𝑜𝑑𝑦 𝑖𝑠 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟…𝑜ℎ 𝐺𝑜𝑑, 𝑜ℎ 𝐺𝑜𝑑…. 𝑊ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑖𝑓 𝐼 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑘 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑒? 𝐼’𝑚 𝑠𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑙𝑦 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑑𝑜𝑤𝑛, 𝑑𝑜𝑤𝑛, 𝑑𝑜𝑤𝑛. 𝑂𝑀𝐺! 𝐼’𝑚 𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔! 𝐴𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑟 𝐼 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑘, 𝑦𝑒𝑡 𝐼’𝑚 𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑛𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦. 𝐼 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑠𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑠, 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑔𝑢𝑛𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑒. 𝐼 𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑢𝑝 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑓𝑖𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑏𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑡𝑠 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑛𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑠𝑘𝑦 𝑎𝑠 𝐼 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑟𝑎𝑝𝑖𝑑 𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑒. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒’𝑠 𝑎 𝑤𝑎𝑟 𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑠 𝐼 𝑟𝑒𝑡𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑒𝑝𝑙𝑦 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑓𝑒𝑡𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑚. 𝐴𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑎 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑒 𝐼 𝑟𝑒𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑎𝑛𝑘 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎 𝑙𝑎𝑟𝑔𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑠𝑤𝑜𝑜𝑝𝑠 𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟. 𝐼 𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑙 𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑚.

I had this dream a few years ago, shortly after returning from a beautifully educative and nurturing pilgrimage in the land of KMT (Ancient Egypt). It was the final months leading toward the 2016 presidential election when political noise, deception and rhetoric paraded with grandest fervor that reiterated terrifying events and memories of the past and unfortunately ongoing. I recall the sense of dread I felt as I and others in my travel group expressed as we passed through Customs and re-entered the cacophony of U.S. culture staccato-ed on suspended television screens throughout the airport.

Are there things that deeply scare you and you do everything within your power to bypass your fear and vulnerability? Are there ways you hold onto and manage your fear, try to stay afloat, on top of things, in control of your and emotions instead of own your real feelings? Eventually, it can become tiring.

In my dream, I’m losing my grip trying to hold myself together, as if I have the power to do so all by myself. I’m panicky and know that I’m in trouble…my efforts absolutely futile and my only choice is to let go. Thank goodness, a part of me that knows to do just that! There is a Great Current inside of you and me that can carry us through the noise and ruckus in the world, the threat of loss, illness, the death of a relationship, social struggle and hardship. In my dream, the strong Undercurrent, the Woman and the Man are standing in the collective role of the Divine…call it God, the Archetypes, the Source…whatever is the language you use for the Highest Power greater than your own mind and ego. It’s a force that can seem terrifying when you’re used to being in control.

The Woman takes her time to come back to me and the Man is not going to show up until I let go. They are with me all along…but I have to let go of my own devices in order to know my need for Them. We can stay in the panicky place of trying to hold it together on or own, or let go, and surrender to the Love and Support that’s greater. As citizens of this world, we are not guaranteed lives without disappointments, loss and terror. But we are guaranteed that we do not have to suffer alone and ungrounded. We can say, “I’m afraid, I’m feeling insecure, I’m embarrassed, I feel judged and ashamed”…all the taboos that society says, “Don’t feel!” And from the place of our soul’s honesty we can know and receive the support in and for us that comes from the Divine. Allow that support to carry you to new depths of consciousness so that you can become more empowered, resourceful and truly passionate in whatever is your role or purpose in this life. Yes, back on the shore there will be rocky boulders, and noise, and chaos AND you will be different in it as the one who is carried by the Great Master, the Divine Teacher and Healer, the Archetypes…the Ones who alchemize our fears, suffering and insecurities into the Calm of acceptance, self-love, internal order and balance, real joy,  real power, and radical change. Are you learning to breathe in deep waters?

If you would like to know more about Archetypal Dreamwork or discuss one of your dreams, reach out to me at email me directly at nowjourneyhome@gmail.com.

Love,
Cheptu

My Second Grade Teacher

Back at my childhood home last week, I found something else. As I wrote in before, my mother saved EVERYTHING! She served as Clerk of our community church for 33 years and saved all the church records and bulletins from special programs and services. She kept the programs for every funeral held at the church and all the funerals she attended elsewhere. Well guess what I found? The memorial service program for my favorite childhood teacher, Mrs. Johnson, my second grade teacher at Parkersville Elementary School! I LOVED Mrs. Johnson!

Mrs. Ernestine Johnson _thumbsize

Second Grade was quite a transitional year for me. I attended three different schools in three different states. I started out at the school on Stewart Air Force Base in Tennessee where my dad was stationed…just a week or two, though, because we were reassigned to Florida, where I attended most of second grade. We (Mom, siblings and I) left Florida after eight months because of our troubles due to my father’s struggle with alcoholism. It was an abrupt departure with many mixed emotions . . . forbidden to be spoken of.

It was the last couple of weeks of school year when I arrived in South Carolina.  Mrs. Johnson was my teacher and she was very kind. The entire school was in a flurry of final preparations for the school-wide end-of-year program where each grade had a song or dance presentation. And how lucky for me that my teacher played the piano! I’d never seen anyone play one up close and my eyes were always glued to Mrs. Johnson’s fingers as they magically frolicked across the keys.

I remember the melody and dance steps to one of the songs where girls wore brightly colored skirts of paper flowers…

Step front, back 1-2-3
Step front, back, and-a 1-2-3!

And although I wasn’t able to participate in the program, I didn’t feel left out or isolated. Mrs. Johnson and the warmth of Parkersville welcomed me. It was like the Balm in Gilead for my hungered soul.

 

Aunt Lucy’s Coat

Over the weekend my sister and I were at our family home continuing to purge closets and endless boxes of items my late mother had collected over many years. In Mom’s “Inspiration Room” closet, we found two fur coats she had inherited from her dear sister, our Beloved Aunt Lucille. One was an adorable custom design trimmed in fur with matching hat… a fitted bodice with a pleat and a bow… so Coco Chanel… so fashionably Aunt Lucy!

Aunt Lucille was my favorite aunt…generous, kind, open, trusting, sensual and comfortable in her own skin, with an adoring husband who was a reflection of God’s generosity and love. As my sister and I poured over grateful memories of Aunt Lucille, I silently reflected on her many lessons. I, unlike Aunt Lucille was very independent…fixated on it in such a way that I felt that my success solely depended on my effort, and not experiencing success somehow indicated a failure or shortcoming on my part. It was difficult for me to be open to certain unseen opportunities and other good things that were also possible. Of course, I’ve since gained insight concerning some of the factors that reinforced those tendencies, and part of my earthly “metamorphosis” has been about learning to surrender in order to receive… to let go so that more can come in. Truly, no small thing for a “do-it-yourselfer.” In a recent dream the Archetypes remind me about trust:

I have an itch in my back and can’t reach it because my arm is injured. A man builds me a short bristle brush attached to the wall so that I can rub my back against it. There’s a shift and I’m wearing a short cloak like Queen Ramonda’s in “Black Panther.” I’m wondering how I’m going to relieve my itch while wearing it. Then I’m wearing a full-length fur coat…luxurious, gorgeous… but how will I relieve my itch while wearing it?

Duh, it’s not about the itch, Cheptu! I chuckle seeing myself in this dream. Of course, my arm is disabled because it’s all about me learning to be in the adequacy of the One greater than me. My gosh, if my Beloved cares about the little itch on my back, won’t he care for me in the cloak of my empowerment? The cloak and even a full-length fur coat don’t present any problems for my itch…it’s just all in my head.

Sometimes we must surrender the need to figure things out and simply accept the gift. Trust that you are being led, that you are being shaped and formed, and your needs supplied. Untighten some of that grip and allow the Universe to step in. Allow the path that is uniquely yours to unfold. We are in many ways like Wakandans. No two had the identical path or role. You just pick up yours and wear it. Walk in your own skin and trust the Universe to do what it does with generosity, power and provision and even a little comic relief when you need it. Wear the cloak and Journey Home.

Love,
Cheptu

HOMEGOING

Dream: I’m with a large group of African people…hundreds…walking through an underground passageway to a dock where we’ll board a ship. It feels so familiar, as if I have been here before. We’re all walking in the same direction with a sense of purpose. Large metal rust-covered planks on the ground connect us to the massive vessel before us…not a ship, but more like a ferry boat. It’s crowded, with hundreds, maybe thousands, and still more to get on. I feel anxious, hoping there’ll be enough space for me. A lady is near me…tall, large, bold…like a Nigerian market lady in one of my children’s storybooks. She shows me how to call out to someone far away by using her powerful diaphragm muscles. “Yaa-Yaa!” she shouts in a gutsily strident tone. I call one syllable as loudly as I can, but not nearly as strong as hers. I finally get the hang of it and call both syllables heartily with my full voice. Mahershala Ali appears. He’s standing right beside me! I feel comforted by his presence and know he’ll be with me for the rest of the journey. I like being both near him and the lady. I feel full, celebrated and connected to everything and everybody.

This is a celebration dream that means so much as I compare it to a much older dream, the first one I recall having that directly referenced or took place on the African continent. In that dream of seven years ago, I’m a girl child who gets separated from my tribe. I’m assaulted and transported to a Nigerian marketplace where I surreptitiously try to communicate to others that I’ve been abducted and need help. Men are lying around lackadaisically, as if in a daze. They can’t help me. Some women attempt to intervene, but gunfire breaks out and I am killed. About a year later I have a dream about being manacled by my wrist in the bottom of a slave ship. A dream of abject pain and misery that left me with waking life physical symptoms that took 2+ years of qigong and bodywork to clear.

Of course, the two dreams are trauma dreams referencing my ancestral past related to the transatlantic slave trade. I understand today that the people in the marketplace couldn’t help me in the dream because they are also captured and traumatized. I carried the memory of all of it in my cells and bones. I spent years working through the trans-generational shame around my blackness because of the legacy of colonization, chattel enslavement and constant beating of pervasive American racism. I underwent processes of eradicating the shame, deconstructing faulty thinking, and re-educating myself from a healthier African perspective. I studied and traveled near and far in the pursuit of primordial wisdom and experiences to set my mind on a different path and learn how to remain grounded when my trauma gets triggered. It was powerful, dedicated, persevering work.

Those dreams paralleled additional layers of my inner work. I also had to look at my “shadow material,” the ways that I had co-opted with the lies I had learned and the ways I covered my shame and vulnerability with my “go-to” shells of aloofness, false pride, pseudo-independence and over-responsibility. My dreams also showed me my blind spots and shortcomings…after all, it’s about setting the soul free from ALL its shackles and bondage. AND it’s a continual process of becoming, hence, the Now Journey. In my ferry boat dream, not only am I returning to my geographical and spiritual home, but I’m also returning home metaphorically. “Home” in my body, “home” in my psyche…home in my inner support systems that more accessible to me now because I’ve worked through my trauma. There’s no abandonment or captivity here!

I’m enjoying the gift of feeling alive, celebrated and reconnected with throes of support all around me and in me (it’s been there all along, but now I am more conscious of it). Mahershala Ali (an actor who I greatly admire, respect and love) stands in the role of the Divine Male. He is not lackadaisical or traumatized, but very present. And the Divine Feminine (represented by the Nigerian market lady) is not trapped, but free and bold and gutsy. In the beginning of the dream, there’s a part of me that feels separated, although I’m in the presence of the many others. When I feel separated, my anxiety rises and my old fear kicks in that there won’t be enough, or that I might get left behind. Somehow, I intuitively know to go to the Market Lady/Healer because I end up right beside her. It’s when I acknowledge my vulnerability and know my need, that I know to seek help. And isn’t it interesting how in the dream, as soon as I call out with my whole heart, the Mahershala/Divine Male shows up. He was there all along, I just couldn’t see him when I was in an anxious state of mind.

Many persons are born with the immense capacity to hold embedded memories and the energies of their current and past lives and ancestral stories. These stories tell of greatness, but also tell of tragedy. Our dreams reveal, with astonishing clarity, the conglomeration of all the things we’ve had to do to survive trauma. They also reveal the ways we quell the dissonance in our minds when snippets of truth come to us that we feel safer to not see, not feel, and not know.

My cultural/ethnic background and historical experience gives my dreams a particular flavor. Your “flavor” may be different because of your historical or ethnic background, but what’s common among us is that our dreams are always leading us “home,” back to our true nature, before the terror, separation, humiliation and deprivation. Our dreams are sometimes sweet and compassionate, sometimes confrontative. Sometimes somber, sometimes engagingly comedic. Sometimes tender, sometimes with awe-filled force; however always serving our highest good. When we pay attention and open ourselves to their messages, and partake of the “medicine” they bring, we can be led through the tunnel of all the trauma and the “hiccups” back to higher ground to reclaim our primal, authentic juice…back to true and lasting joy.

HOMEGOING . . . that’s what the Now Journey is all about.

With Love,
Cheptu