Join Us at the Table: The Power of Story and DreamsJan 10, 2024
For information on Wisdom Tree Collective’s new Certificate in Dreamwork, please go here.
Laura Huff Hileman is Wisdom Tree Collective’s Director of Dreamwork and Spirituality.
I wanted the t-shirt that said, “A Story is the shortest distance between two people,” but they were out of my color at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Instead, I have a lovely blue one that reads, “Stories are our native language.” It’s just as true and completes the thought: “Stories are how we relate to each other. Tell a story and expect to connect.”
Right now, if you’ve got a story that connects people, that gives us alI a wider, more generous, more life-giving perspective, please get out there and tell it.
Here’s one of mine: A story that involves a dream.
This dream came nearly two decades ago, a few years after I’d finished my dreamwork training. While most of my time was spent in the delight and disorder of raising young children, I tended my dreams, ran a dream group and—in every minute I could wrangle—devoured all the Jungian dream books I could get my hands on. It was a formidable intellectual diet.
In the dream, I’m walking down a sandy road in a pine forest when I come to a little cottage. Inside, it’s dim. At the stove, I see a man with his back toward me, whom I recognize as a professor, a former colleague. He’s older now, with disheveled hair and a rumpled flannel shirt. As I come closer, I see he’s boiling turnips in a big black pot. I look up to remark about the turnips, and then I see that he is blind.
He knows I’ve realized this, and explains, simply and almost cheerfully,
“I was given blindness so I could see past my books.”
I woke up flooded with that deep shock of an Aha, knowing I’ve received a direct hit from the unconscious. Grateful, yet staggered by the impact.
This dream spoke exactly to my situation: I’d been living too much in the intellectual realm. The dream shows me both the consequences (blindness) and offers another perspective through the image of the professor, who in waking life had left academia to become a priest. The whole cabin is a crucible dedicated to psychospiritual alchemical transformation. Contents of my unconscious, the turnips, have been dug up. They’re now being cooked so that they can be shared and eaten or integrated, in Jungian language.
Dream wisdom showed me the limits of unbalanced learning about dreams. Study was blinding me to the living, transformative relationship with the dreams, with others, and ultimately with the Dreamgiver. As I worked with the image of the blind wise man/alchemist/cook, I began to more fully embody my dreams, and my teaching expanded.
These days, as the tough roots from unconscious push their way up—in your life and in the life of the collective—I want to offer you a place to cook your turnips. Bring those raw gritty weird-looking beautiful nightmarish “emergences” and let’s make them edible, with heat and water and time, with a grain of salt and lots of butter. Those dreams are soul roots that can make us wise. And when we share them, we grow strong together.
Please join me at the table, where we can tell each other, in our native language of story, in awe and laughter and terror and always with hope, the divine human story, dream by dream.
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