Archive for the ‘dreams’ Category

I saw Christopher Nolan’s latest film “Inception” with some of my tribe on Friday.  It was an amazing film complete with an intricate and fascinating plot, gasp-worthy special effects, and a riveting soundtrack*.  One thing that kept striking me were the similarities between the concepts of traveling into dreams in the film and the beliefs/teachings/experiences Pagans and such ilk have in meditation, trance, astral travel, and/or lucid dreaming.  I’ll just bullet a few.

  • The characters in the movie had personal totems that only they held and touched.  The intimate knowledge of the totem would help its owner determine whether or not they were in the dream world.  Many people who try to “cross the veil” have totems, charms, or talismans for protection, the facilitation of psychic abilities, a connection to “reality,” etc…
  • “Inception” used architects, or highly imaginative, visual, and spacial thinkers who constructed dream worlds.  This is similar to the belief of many that safe houses/circles/groves/etc can be constructed in the Otherworld, or that your will can manipulate it with enough focus.
  • Dreams are dangerous places.  In “Inception,” a person’s subconscious projections or memories can become hostile.  There are dangers in the Otherworld too.  Some Pagan authors, like Paxson, even suggest a practitioner go through therapy before beginning to trance** due to possible projections.
  • Cobb, Arthur, Ariadne, and company travel into dreams together as they all have a job and there is strength in numbers.  I’ve heard of people astrally projecting together, into other people’s dreams and the like.  I’ve never experienced it or tried it myself but the concept is there.  The casts’ teamwork also reminds me of spiritual teachers or guides.  Working with and developing a relationship with one is supposed to make your Otherworldly travels safer, perhaps even easier.
  • There’s one dream scene, when Cobb is first training Ariadne*** at a cafe.  He reveals to her that she’s in a dream and things start to fall apart.  Cobb tells her to relax, but the dream shatters. I’ve never been able to dream lucidly, but everything I’ve read about it speaks of the practitioner realizing that he or she is dreaming and using that knowledge to manipulate the dream, to seek inner information, or to connect with Otherworldly beings in the dream world.
  • As many of us already believe, and as is evident in the fictional world of “Inception,” the dream world and what happens there is incredibly influential on this world.
The film has me thinking more about the concept of the Otherworld.  What exactly is its nature?  Is the dream world the same as the Otherworld?  Are they connected so that one can lead to the other?  Could people who achieve states of insanity or coma be stuck in such a place?  If the Otherworld is really the dream world and we can manipulate it and create places there, are the fairy realms people stumble into something people made, Gods made, or the fairies made?  What came first?  Are we really just another island in the Otherworldly land of dreams?  Interesting and complicated questions.  They are the essence of many Pagan festival discussions, that’s for sure!

* The song “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” by Edith Piaf is featured which was amusing because the actress who played the French chanteuse in the biopic “La Vie en Rose,” Marion Cotillard, played Mal in “Inception.” 

** I think anyone who has had the usual ups and downs of life should be fine, especially if ones talents are average and one has minimal danger of getting in over one’s head.  If something really nasty showed up in trance, then perhaps…  but unless you have an unsettling background, I wouldn’t worry.  That’s just my belief.  As long as people can differentiate one world from the other and lead a productive life, things are peachy!

*** I loved Ariadne’s character and the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that the director drew on the original myth.  

(The photos are scenes from “Inception.”)

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I found out that the CUUPs group in Watertown was having a meeting last night. At first I really wanted to try and make it but then I realized how last-minute it was and decided to stay home and relax with my husband. I ended up getting on the ADF chat towards the end of the night which was a lot of fun and helped to remind me that I’m not alone, even if I’m the only ADFer in Northern NY (which it sometimes seems is the case…) We talked about the nature of deity, specifically whether or not Zeus was the same as Jupiter and Tyr, etc. It was a fun intellectual exercise but one we all agreed wouldn’t lead to any true conclusions. All the same, I believe that such discussions are important. They force us to contemplate our faith and even question it. This, I believe, helps to ward off stagnation and unflinching dogma.

Somehow, we ended up talking about the Fomoire, I admitted that I had an interest in them, in particular Bres. In much of the lore I’ve read, he is Brighid’s husband. Unfortunately, he turns out to be a horrible king. Bres is part Fomoire and part Tuatha de Dannan. He decides to enslave the de Dannans and favor the Fomoire. He was also not very hospitable which, to the ancient Irish, was a big no-no. After a war, The Fomoire are defeated and Lugh gets the secrets of agriculture from former king Bres. It’s a trade – Bres’ life for, basically, the secrets of taming nature.

I explained to my fellow ADFers that, while I’ve not made tribute to him and do not worship him, I have an interest. Perhaps I can compare it to the interest people have in someone like Iago from Othello. He’s the antagonist and I can’t help but wonder at his motives. More importantly, I wonder at Brighid’s relationship with him. Yes, in the myths, it was most probably symbolic of a political marriage and, perhaps, sovereignty. But, if the Gods have feelings like us, how did she feel? If it’s all just a metaphor, what does it mean to people devoted to Brighid? What does it mean to a feminist to worship a Goddess who married an asshat? Was he always like that? We know she invented keening when their son was killed. But that’s it. Brighid is such an important Goddess to me that I can’t help but wonder at it all.

Anyway, shortly after the chat I went to bed and I had a horrible dream. In the dream, I became aware of a shadowy figure watching me through the windows at night. No matter where I went he (because I somehow knew it was male) knew and fallowed. At some points he was just a silhouette behind a blind. Other times I felt his presence. Then there were times when he seemed to be reaching through the windows from the darkness. It was very frightening. Finally, in an attempt to flee I got into a car with someone else (I can’t remember who – my sister, maybe) and the person/thing chased after me. The car was going and I couldn’t get the door closed. The thing was at the door, a shadow, reaching through the spaces. I woke up shortly after that.

At work I ended up daydreaming for a bit. I was thinking about the dream. I hardly ever seem to remember my dreams and I suddenly remembered the discussion on the Fomoire. Was it Bres? Or was my mind still thinking of the “Outsiders” ( the term we often use in ADF to describe the “powers of chaos” like the Fomoire or the Titans)? Did I get their attention? If so, and if I had a dream like that as a result, I don’t think I’ll ever want to think about making offerings to Bres.

Tonight, as it gets darker, I think of Brighid, my patroness, and I ask her, as I always ask her, to protect my home and me in it. I can’t help but wonder what it means to ask the wife to keep the husband out?

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