There is a term in dream-study called Big Dreams: these aren’t like kinda sketchy super-symbolic vague wisps of dreams, nor are they nightmare-filled anxiety dreams, or even yummy sort of wish-fulfilling dreams. No, Big Dreams are, as it the name suggests, BIG DREAMS. Archetypal dreams. Dreams that change your life. Dreams that you sometimes can bring back to the village and maybe tell the others over a fire or perhaps turn into a video game or something.
The following are five Big Dreams I’ve had since I started recording them, 25 years ago. They’ve really made an impact on me, even though I don’t understand fully what some of them mean. I’ve had other dreams that’ve been important to my life, but they have often contained really obscure/personal symbolism that I don’t think would have much meaning to people outside myself.
Because I’m a writer perhaps, some of these dreams ended up sounding like actual stories—one almost sounds like the summary of a complete novel. So maybe think of the following as just fiction to read:
I. THE PARABLE OF ROSE AND SHEM – 1992
Notes: I had barely started college when I dreamt this. My knowledge of esoteric and religious subjects—outside of after-school Bible study school stuff when I was a kid—was very small.
It is a post-Apocalyptic future which looks a bit like the Middle Ages. A sickness has hit a town, and crews go from house-to-house clearing out the dead bodies. Whole families are dead in these houses; these sorts of “dog-tags” placed in their mouths for identification. In one house, all the members of one family are dead, except inexplicably this one teenage girl (who spits the dog-tag up as she suddenly wakes).
This girl, Rose, is adopted out to a family in another village; orphaned children are common and adoption is state-mandated.
The scene switches to a coliseum of sorts, very pagan in design but filled with believers of the Cross and Lamb. The fighters themselves wear large masks, made of plaster, that resemble their own faces. During the course of the match, the plaster would break off in chunks or a thin stream of powder, depending on the impact of a particular blow. A good hit would expose the wire frame of the mask and the bloody head inside.
The warrior to keep an eye on, Christian, is tall, muscular and blond. He was a favorite not only of the crowd that gathered on the carved granite benches but of his own family. Rose’s “family,” the one who adopted her. Christian’s mother kept up a steady torrent of prayer from even before his conception in order to produce such a beautiful child. In attendance for this particular match were his mother, younger brother Shem, and of course Rose.
Then: treachery! Someone stabs Christian in the throat with a spiked gauntlet before the fight even starts, before he could even get his mask on. His family is in shock. Neither the fight’s organizers nor the authorities assigned to the coliseum are forthcoming with any answers.
Shem, gloomy and distrustful by his very nature, considered it a conspiracy.
Christian’s mother never really gets over her son’s death, and becomes somewhat insane because of it. She works the tables at the market with Shem and Rose, their father away on trading business in other lands. Their mother arranges beads on the table in such a configuration as to bring her dead son back, and Shem is disgusted by her blasphemous and unstable actions (frankly, it all seems rather savage and pagan to him). But Shem’s difficulties with his mother go deeper than that, in that he also knows she had loved Christian more than him; that he was considered sickly and “difficult.”
The boy’s relationship with his adopted sister is strained as well, for he in his deepest and most secret heart was attracted to her. But that attraction, besides the obvious overtones of incest, was held by Shem to be on the level of the diabolical tortures inflicted on St. Anthony.
One day, a disturbed man suddenly approaches the tent, declares Rose a “demon,” and begins to chase her. She runs into the empty stall of another merchant and there he knocks her down and strangles her. During this violence he never stops his loud declaration regarding Rose’s true nature—that she is an agent of Satan and has to be destroyed. Shem, who had followed the two into the tent, stabs the man in the neck with a large knife to get him off of his adopted sister.
Regardless of the justification for Shem’s bloody deed, the boy feels they have to flee. As they run away from their little village, each one carrying a small cloth bag of possessions, they pass by one of the large wheeled machines that transports the dead. It is Shem’s idea to steal identification tags from a dead couple, and for him and Rose to impersonate them.
They now live together as “man & wife” in a modest home; with a stolen identity but seeming “normal.” The highly-religious Shem trains to become a righteous warrior like his brother, and Rose helps him make the warrior mask. He is no longer the sickly boy who lived and worked at the market; though even with all his discipline and training, he still maintains a somewhat melancholic nature.
There is something uncanny about this girl. She possesses a great power that the boy is only very dimly aware of. She can only discuss it with a painter of large religious murals in town; this painter being initiated in a secret society with greater knowledge that he encodes in his works. There is a whole underground religious movement, of which Christian was also secretly a part of (and most likely was killed for). If Shem found out about Christian’s connection to the movement—or Rose’s powers, for that matter—it would wreck his conception of reality.
But back to the home of Rose and Shem; it’s a brand-new home, and they seem as if they are upstanding citizens of their community. She gets up, walks to the kitchen, and opens a cabinet—in it are jars filled with very strange things, some labeled “Ouroboros.”
II. THE ENLIGHTENED ONES – 2000
Note: This dream scared the fuck out of me.
There is a very beautiful group of god-like creatures—they look like humans, like celebrities—called “The Enlightened Ones.” They live during our period of time, in an elaborate castle with all the latest styles and fashions. A new child is born—an androgynous child—and when s/he comes of age (maybe 7 or 8), s/he is “presented” to a banquet of the most powerful and fashionable people in all the world.
One of The Enlightened Ones, who is this very voluptuous and attractive heavy-set woman, escorts the child down the elaborate hall to the banquet. Along the way, the child spies, out of the corner of his/her eye, things secretly happening in side-rooms—”horrors.” The woman covers the child’s eyes and rushes him/her along, telling him/her that there is nothing to see there.
Finally, on a stage the child is lifted up in pride by the head of The Enlightened Ones, who is this strong, muscular male with long reddish hair. The child is presented to the banquet, which is filled with rich and powerful people sitting at tables, eating a sumptuous feast. The man says: “The new age has begun!” And everyone cheers.
But then a person in the audience starts to cough up his food. And then another, and then another. Everybody at the banquet—except for The Enlightened Ones on the stage—starts getting really sick from the food. It’s almost to the point like the food had “radiation” in it…their skin starts to crumple up and fall off.
The child pushes him/herself away from the man and runs out into the crowd; s/he is very upset at what is going on. These people have all been betrayed. This child does not want to be one of The Enlightened Ones. S/he wants to be a human child. S/he just wants to fit in. So s/he starts trying to throw up and be sick like everybody else.
There is complete chaos at the banquet at this point; sick people are running for the exits. They are running to planes to take them away from here, but the doors to the planes have barriers nailed over them.
III. LIONS HELPING LIONS – 10/23/04
Note: I had this dream while I was anxiously following the 2004 presidential race. I was sooo disgusted with George W. Bush and was really hoping for John Kerry to beat him and become president. So you can imagine how confused I was when I dreamt this. Also interesting: Joe Biden is the focal figure here, even though I barely knew much about him & he was not a very big deal (in terms of media coverage) at that particular time.
The respected Senator (who kind of looks like Joe Biden) does the lecture on the “New World Order” (he never calls it that, but that’s the impression that I get). He invites a bunch of people to come, including many senators and even John Kerry. Everybody thinks this is going to be a normal presentation and have no idea what is in store for them.
The Senator shows these slides that illustrate his points. One is one called the “Helping Twins” which shows Kerry & Bush winding around each other like snakes on a caduceus. Another is of lions and other big cats, about how they represent one class of people, and there is another, smaller group of predatory animals under them; and how these two relatively small groups feed on the vast numbers of the rest of the animal population.
By now some people in the audience are clearly uncomfortable. Kerry looks extremely uncomfortable to be there, and he keeps clearing his throat, tugging at his tie, and looking back at the exit. During a slight pause in the lecture, a bunch of people get up & head for the exit, using this as their excuse to leave. I stay as well as some others—most of the people who stay are everyday folks, they clutch the program brochure in their hands as if it contains valuable information.
IV. GOLDEN SLUMBERS – 2009
Note: This was an entire novel I dream of “in one shot.” If all writing could be this easy!
Frank Level, a cop in a future where humanoid robots are commonplace, witnesses the horrible aftermath of a terrorist attack at a subway station and acquires PTSD. His work-appointed doctor prescribes him a medication which inspires Level with the notion that the robots actually have “souls.” When a series of robotic prostitutes are found mutilated and destroyed, Level pursues the perpetrator with a vengeance—believing the automatons are, in the eyes of God, “real.”
His insistence on the sentience of robots ends up getting Level committed. He is weaned off the anti-anxiety drug and thus ends his “delusion” about the robots. But when he has to go back to the same work-appointed doctor who prescribed him the initial drug to get a physical, the physician reveals himself to be a robot himself. The doctor literally forces the PTSD drug down Level’s throat—once again making him “see” that these humanoid machines are almost human.
The doctor takes Level to an agrarian commune where rogue automatons live in harmony, staking out their own humanity and planning a peaceful “robot rights” movement. Level can live here too—but will need to stick to a strict regimen of taking one of the pills every day. He takes a “wife” from among the robots and settles blissfully into his new life.
However, one day while making love Level’s wife suddenly becomes limp and lifeless. As he steps out of his dwelling he realizes to his horror that all the robots have lost their “humanity,” becoming lost and servile in the face of a lack of “instructions.” The doctor has also turned into an empty vessel, giving pre-recorded health tips and offering to take blood and stool samples.
And all the pills are gone. There is not one pill left in the entire commune.
As the robots start to shut down all around him, falling like overturned mannequins on the commune grounds, Level suddenly gets a flashback to the terrorist bombing. There were dead people and body parts everywhere; they looked so lifeless and empty. Depersonalized. “Things” instead of people.
Months later, Level is now weaned from the pills; the robots no longer alive to him. One night he goes to a sex robot brothel. In the room with his doll, he takes off his clothing, then produces a pill from his pants pocket. He takes the pill. Suddenly, the doll is alive: they embrace and the room erupts in this glowing, technicolor awesomeness, getting brighter and brighter until you can no longer see anything.
[Cue “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” by the Beatles]
“Boy…you’re going to carry that weight…
carry that weight a long time…”
V. BLACK BUTTERFLY – 2/2/14
Note: My dreaming recall has, by this point, not been as great as it used to be. I think some of this is just bad sleep routines: phone/computer screen messes with pineal gland, working late on projects & drinking tons of coffee. So, less Big Dreams. This is the closest one I’ve had recently. I should probably fix all that.
I am sitting in some sort of airport or train station. A middle-aged Asian lady comes in with this baby and asks me to watch it for a second while she takes care of something. She leaves the baby but never comes back.
The baby—which has to be kept in a clear plastic bag with water in it—is this mutated, scary-looking hybrid of human and “amphibian” (reptile/insect). A true alien hybrid baby, but not “cute.” (more than one mouth, for example, and scaly skin). But it is still a baby, though—acts like a baby, and needs love and nurturing.
So I have to take care of it and make sure it gets the care it needs, regardless of its origins. Later, this “thing” turns into this “magical” insect or even a small, worm-like “living ring” that everybody wants to be in the presence of. Like it is something irresistable, or a type of powerful religious/occult relic. Everywhere it goes, people crowd to be near it and interact with it.
At one point I drop by the old comic book publisher I used to work at, and they are preparing a series of comics with silver covers based on this magical thing—they prepared them right away as soon as they found out & were rushing them out. I ask if they can hold some copies for me before they come out.
I then go back to where all the to-do is happening about the magical creature. It has now gotten the attention of official-looking people w/briefcases & suits.
I “smuggle” the creature out, away from all the craziness.
It has now taken the form of a delicate black butterfly, and has the name “Muse.”
AND SO THERE YOU GO: this is the type of crap I dream about, and probably why I’m so tired all the time! Maybe I’ll turn some of these into real stories one day.
More to read about on Butterfly Language:
“Waking Life,” the Movie That Got Me Hooked On Philip K. Dick
Review: The Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick
Divine Invasions: Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and “Alien Contact” In The 1970s