Sunday evening I attended a wonderfully uplifting concert of classical music, art songs and spirituals in honor of Black History Month. “Sankofa” was the title of the event—a word in the Twi language of Ghana that means to “go back and get it.” The program note read:
“Sankofa teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.”
I thought to myself, “Wow, this is what I do as an Archetypal Dreamworker…this is what my own experience has been!” It’s been about going back through the annals of the past recorded the unconscious to get clarity and heal that which needs to be healed, and fetch and reclaim one’s Soul force, one’s primal essence…the most powerful manifestation of oneself in this current life. Sankofa describes what the “now journey” is, what Now Journey Home is all about.
Very often, our primal essence—our innate, spontaneous natural “juice”—gets locked up in trauma, often traumatic childhood experiences that reshape the way we view the world and experience ourselves in it and with others. Sometimes those traumatic experiences connect to experiences from the “great past,” i.e., prior lives or through our ancestral lineages. Our dreams, even the universe will come to our aid to awaken us to what’s hidden, not to re-traumatize us, but to help us move through blocked energy and bring opportunities for clarification, healing, clarification, new insights and the retelling of the story in a more conscious context.
I remember one of my earliest dreams that began to pour in following my divorce in 1989…
I’m out west with Dee (a man I was dating at the time) who has a big scar on his thigh. He says his leg was “slashed open” in a skating accident that happened a long time ago and he covered it with a towel. “My wife is a nurse,” he adds. He then puts on a pair of roller skates and zooms past us (I’m with a group of friends) with his head tucked between his legs and his arms wrapped around his lower legs. He zooms through big water puddles and we’re surprised that he doesn’t try to avoid them. His face gets wet and covered with mud. Is he showing off, trying to be comical? No one laughs. He does not stop—he just keeps going and never returns.
I remember my total befuddlement following the dream…my curious alarm and sadness evoked by very visceral feelings that stay in my body for several days. My only relief is to make the dream about my waking life relationship with Dee, to worry that he would break up with me and never return. Of course, I now understand that Dee was standing in the role of the Animus, the Male Divine archetype who often appears in our dreams as a loving, supportive or teaching presence; and other times as the Animus Provocateur or trickster. In my dream, the Animus is showing me my wound. He’s provoking me to pay attention to a wound that was only superficially covered. Both elements of pride and shame are in the dream, both I knew very well…like twin siblings glued in my psyche. Of course, Dee’s “wife” would be a nurse! She would be the Anima, the Feminine Divine who heals us, especially from shame. This is a prologue dream, an invitation dream to several rounds of trauma work that, at least at an intuitive level, I’m ready to face into with the help of my inner Divine Parents.
However, at the time, my intellect doesn’t know what to do with the dream. I’m not working with a counselor, therapist or dreamwork analyst, so projecting all over it about my status with my boyfriend keeps me distracted for a while, but that doesn’t last very long. My interior world a perpetual state of disoriented days and restless nights. Shortly afterwards I have another dream…this one closer to “home,” set in one of my childhood homes:
I’m inside the house and feel trepidation. A man is there. He feels familiar…my father??? Prince, our pet cat is put outside with a bowl of milk, but somehow, it’s wanting to come back in. I can’t let it come back in because, for some reason, I feel suspicious about it; and besides, my sister is allergic to it. Large smooth round stones are stacked at the entry door so no one get in or out. I feel that something bad is going to happen.
I definitely do NOT want to deal with this dream. I don’t know what to do the haunting feelings my dreams are bringing me. I do some independent research about dreams, but nothing is resonating. I bury myself in my work and other outer world activities hoping the feelings will just go away.
Meantime, still in waking life, it rains one night. I slowly awaken to “drip…drip…drip….” Am I dreaming? Flat on my back I lay on my bed in the silent haze of the black night. I’m transported to some place deep within the coffers of my psyche, feeling utter powerlessness, vulnerability and abandonment which adds to the malaise I have been avoiding from my recent dreams. I fully awaken only to discover that it’s not a dream. My beloved sunroof window is leaking onto my bed! In disbelief I ask, “Where are you God? Why cannot you protect me from the elements from your heavens imposing themselves on me drip by drip? Why are you doing this?” Where, how will I get the money to fix this? I’m already struggling…why? Why? Why? That was a Friday.
Two days later it’s Sunday, September 30, 1990 at Christ Fellowship Church, a non-denominational charismatic church that I recently started to attend. This Sunday, John and Paula Sanford are the guest ministers. Stationed in Northwestern U.S.A., they lead an inner healing ministry through which they help individuals transform painful effects of early life trauma on the present through guided imagery while facilitating the presence of Jesus or some other significant faith figure into the process. Wow, everything they’re saying resonates with me…so thankful I came to church today…I almost stayed at home!
It’s the end of service, before the Benediction. They invite people to come to the altar for intercessory prayer. Oh, no, I don’t do this. Yes, I’m curious about all this Pentecostal, charismatic stuff, but there is a limit to what I will and will not do! I feel awkward. Here, for the first time in my life since I was 12 years old, I am sitting as a congregant in a church, not employed as a church musician. Here, I get to sit in the pews and worship and pray and be ministered to. Yes, Christ Fellowship’s understanding of spiritual gifts and dreams and visions, etc. innately moves me. But, no, I don’t run down to the altar for someone to pray over me…too much exposure. I can do that in my seat on my own!
People proceed to the altar and are prayed for and things begin to slow down. At some point, I believe it was Paula who calls for people to come who are in need of healing from childhood wounds. I say to myself, “That’s me,” but my “hmph-fy” attitude prevails, and I remain in my seat. I become distrustful of what’s happening, wondering if this is some kind of staged hoax. Then John takes charge. He closes his eyes and begins describing a scene…saying that he sees a young lady with a leaky ceiling and the rain is coming down…that he wants to especially pray for this person. By this time my entire radar is at full alarm and I’m sitting fully upright, saying to myself, “That’s me!” But I drift back to my quacking mind, wondering how did they find out about my leaking ceiling? I’m trying to recall who would know about it? I told no one…except the roof repair people…and it’s not even fixed, yet. I haven’t told anyone else because I’m embarrassed to disclose that I don’t have the money to repair something so basic…my house. My mind is spinning. I settle back into the pew, but still hyperalert and curious. John and Paula make a final appeal and with no additional seekers, John begins saying the Benediction. Suddenly, Paula interrupts, stating that their work is not finished. She asks to go back to the childhood trauma scene…to the lady with the leaking ceiling. Her eyes closed, she says, “I see this person, a woman….she’s laying on her bed and she’s being exposed to the elements, all alone and afraid.” She continues: ”There’s something about her childhood home….I see a man, maybe her father…who is drunk with alcohol and causing a major ruckus in the family home.” By this time, I’ve flown to the altar, for this is my exact history.
I felt that my prior dream had been about the chaos inside of my childhood home precipitated by my father’s alcoholism. That was a place where I felt vulnerable, helpless, trapped. I didn’t want to remember those scenes. I was young when it was happening…@age 3-7…and I witnessed unspeakably cruel emotional and behavioral domination and physical violence perpetrated against my mother’s body. Way, too much for my tender heart, which left me unimaginably confused and afraid of him…of all male authority figures. It made me feel dubious about my own body, my girl body. It shattered my understanding of what love is, what it should look and feel like. I had to hold two pieces…the Daddy who I loved and who I knew loved me when he was sober, and the cruel person he became when under the influence of alcohol. I had blocked it out of my memory so I could move on with my life. And years later when my dreams began to raise these things into consciousness, I avoided them because it felt too scary to deal with. So the Universe upped the ante through the synchronicity of my leaking ceiling and John and Paula’s ministry, to help me trust that a Greater power was at work for my healing, for my good.
I don’t remember what proceeded immediately after going to the altar. I recall both John and Paula laying hands on me and me falling to the floor…a now embodied understanding of what it means to be “slain in the spirit.” At some point I came back into my body and John and Paula were still there at my side. The ushers helped me to the front pew as the Benediction was pronounced and John and Paula ministered to me a little while longer in private. This was a major breakthrough past my pride and independence…an opening to a profoundly sacred closet in my soul that had been facilitated by this very powerfully and spiritually surrendered couple. From that point forward I became more focused on my inner life and committed myself to understand more about this mysterious “theatre” going on in my head at night when I was asleep. I sensed that I would be taking a step of faith while at the same time knowing that I had inner help through my dreams, outer help through specially called persons, and the cosmic grace of the Universe. I had nowhere to go but forward in the mystery of it all.
Do you have dreams that stir you deeply…sometimes difficult, fear-inducing dreams you cannot make sense of? If they are coming to you, then your Soul is communicating your readiness to deal with their messages, of course, according to your will. This work is about going back to move through the energies of the past that linger in your bones, your cells and psychic memory. This work is about releasing your Soul Child from the tentacles of the past that keep you twisted, blocked and “safely” smaller than you are meant to be. It’s about getting back your true potent Self so you can move forward with your life in a more authentic and glorious manner. It’s about slaying the demons of the past and emerging valiantly from your own Hero’s Journey!
If you would like to know more about Archetypal Dreamwork as a form of inward journey and personal “healing theatre,” please stay in touch via this blog or my Facebook page “Now Journey Home.” I’m just getting my social media coordinated and up and running, so pardon it’s imperfections, but we’re moving forward. If you need help with a dream, please reach out to me at my dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sankofa, and Much Love,