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.