In a time of grieving, I received a dream image that I thought was a harbinger of death. To my great joy and relief, I discovered it was something else entirely.
Our sister-in-law, Victoria, died of lymphoma last fall. She was 57 years old, and this isn’t the way anyone expected it to go. At first, the disease seemed eminently treatable, but after about six months it became much more aggressive, and her health deteriorated.
In late November, right before we flew down to California to participate in a celebration of her life, I had a difficult dream.
“I am standing naked in our bathroom. Dark red blood covers my body from my face all down my torso and legs. I need medical help right away. I call the OB-GYN clinic, or maybe I go in in person. The woman I talk to goes off to get help. She’s gone awhile; she needs to find the right place to send me.”
This scared me – did I or someone I know have cancer or another life-challenging condition? I often have telepathic and precognitive dreams – depicting situations that are actually happening or about to happen in the physical world that I couldn’t know about through other channels. Victoria’s death was vivid in my mind, and I was the same age as my mother was 34 years ago when she was dying of metastatic breast cancer.
Because we were heading into a profoundly emotional experience, I tucked the dream away. My practical way of dealing with it was to schedule the routine cancer screening tests that I was due to have.
Just before one of the tests, I was in a state of deep grief about my mother’s relatively early death. How much she and all of us lost. I had only one model in my immediate family for women living to old age – my father’s sister Grace, who died in her sleep in her mid-80’s. My mother’s mother died at age 26, in the 1918 flu pandemic, and her stepmother, our “Gammy,” died, also of breast cancer, around the same age as Victoria. What was my fate? Would my life also be cut short, or would I outlive them all?
I decided it was time to journey back into the dream that frightened me so.
“I stand in the bathroom facing myself, looking at myself covered with blood, and immediately realize that I’m like a newborn baby who’s just emerged, before she is bathed. I embrace and hold this adult self who is coming to birth. That’s why I called the OB-GYN department in the dream! I need to stay aware of the birth process and remember to hold, protect and nurture myself through it.”
I was stunned by and overjoyed at this very different understanding of the dream’s message. In a few months I will retire from long-time employment in health care and enter a new phase of my life – a rebirth.
At times when we emerge into a place of growth and exploration in our lives, we may be vulnerable, like newborns, and need to be held, protected, nurtured. How can we best welcome, honor and love the new selves that are coming to birth? This is the core energy of Imbolc, celebrated Feb. 1 in the Celtic world.
For a deeper exploration and celebration of this process of emergence, participate in the Imbolc: Initiation Workshop Feb. 5-7. For more information, click here.