Praying Amid the Damage: Dreams, Nightmares, Visions

Jaguar Medicine
~ Karen Mutter

After the election in November 2016 and then the inauguration in January, there was a sharp increase in the number of people who seemed to be taken down by illness. Some of those illnesses were life threatening. When those needing help came to me asking for assistance, I asked for dreams. Several helpful dreams for individuals came through, but the call for help escalated faster than I could keep up. In the beginning of April 2017, I asked for a dream that would address the root cause of illness, regardless of the diagnosis.

This dream came that very night. This is an abbreviated version.

I am with my friend Sharon (who in waking reality was trying to navigate her way through a diagnosis of metastatic pancreatic cancer). She has asked me for help to further her understanding of a vision that has come to her. I drop into a trance and her vision comes clearly into view.

Sharon is in the jungle lying in a hammock reading a book. Suddenly, a very large wild cat—a magnificent spotted jaguar— leaps over the hammock, narrowly missing Sharon, and knocks Sharon’s glasses off of her head. They fall down into a ravine over which the hammock is perched, lost forever. Sharon is startled both by the abrupt, close presence of the jaguar and also, that her glasses have been ripped off her face. The jaguar reappears at the edge of the jungle and clearly speaks this message: ‘You must see with new vision.’

I was awakened briefly by my alarm then fell back deeply asleep. The writing that follows came upon awakening. This is the essence of my understanding of the dream.

This dream is for all of us who are seeking a path towards healing and true health. It is also a dream for the medicine people, the ones who hold the space for healing to happen. It is imperative to see with new eyes the previously hidden possibilities, the encrypted ways forward, the metaphor in the test result. The startle factor itself is essential—as we need to be startled into awareness. The glasses come off so that we can really see what is before us to be met.

No matter what the medical reports say—CT scan, pathology, bloodwork—there is an entirely different way to see them. It is the one-dimensional black- and- white medical way that incites such fear in us because it is not natural to move through the world without the imaginal realm. There is no imaginal realm in conventional medicine and because we are fluid creatures born of that realm, conventional medical treatment creates a panic response that only worsens the illness and keeps us firmly under the control of the people who create and perpetuate the medical language.

This is our dominant thinking: Illness happens to us. We are like sitting ducks when it randomly descends. Then the medical establishment with its published studies says, “Here is the science. Do it our way or die” (And by the way, you might die anyway.)

Science will never catch up to the mysteries of the natural world. There will never be a way to unlock, decode, map out each and every miraculous unfurling that nature produces in every nanosecond. But we can tap in, merge with mystery. Include ourselves emotionally and mentally. We don’t have to ask, we already ARE a mysterious force of nature. Without conscious recognition, however, we have become frightened outsiders. Afraid of the dark, afraid of the Not Knowing. Not knowing is a great fear of most doctors. Many patients are in fear of the not knowing what is going to happen next when the dreaded diagnosis lands on them. So often we become lodged in the fear of dying, the fear of pain and suffering or becoming dependent. This is understandable. And also, in this state of mind, it is most difficult to see beyond the diagnosis to the deeper wisdom that often only can be realized when we are taken out of our ordinary reality through illness.

But imagine now if “the diagnosis” were offered with an understanding that the illness that has appeared has hidden within it an extremely particular and specific roadmap that will unlock an unseen aspect of your truest nature and path forward. What if the illness has come to reveal to you an entirely new perspective about the life you are living and the places that need healing? One must delve deeply into the mystery, going through and beyond the CT images or the cells on the slide. If we pay close attention and also allow the mind to gather up the strands of the story that have woven the life to this point, the exact path that the illness is asking us to explore will emerge. This process requires companionship and community. It requires stepping out of old patterns of thinking and then listening deeply to the language of our bodies, dreams and signs.

Can we allow ourselves to step out of fear, both patient and doctor? To step out of the dominant scientific way and stop long enough to rest in the hands of a life force that cradles us in a web of love so profound that fear cannot penetrate. A web so omnipresent, omnipotent that the natural response can only be love for the thing that has shown up in our bodies to help us find our way back home.

It may be the greatest challenge before us: not healing from an illness but pulling ourselves out of the magnetic field of the mental construct that rules our culture, our minds—the illusion that science is supreme over nature. That is the illness to be healed. In order to do so we need to break the spell that keeps us separate from our very truest nature.

Science tells us that we are at war with our environment and our bodies have become battlegrounds. Our governmental leaders tell us that we must live in self-defense at all times.

In Sharon’s case, she understood that she was being asked to give up a war against the microbes in her body and a worship of the scientific method. It took a life- threatening illness, a complete surrender to following the guidance of the natural and spirit worlds, and a community of humans, animals and ancestors to radically transform her worldview and way of life. To find a way to live in peace with all beings. Today she is alive and well and seeing all of life with new vision.

From across the ravine in the heart of the jungle, wild leaping Jaguar has come to set us free.

Karen Mutter

Karen Mutter is a practicing physician in Clearwater, Florida. She founded Integrative Medicine Healing Center in 1998 to pursue the exploration of healing outside the confines of western medicine. Informed by specialty training in internal medicine, she relies on shamanic practices, dreams, the natural world, nutrition, osteopathic practices and principles, compassion and love as her primary healing modalities. She is an aspiring writer, peacemaker and policy changer of medical education and practice.

The Seven Jars
~ Anne Bergeron

I sit cross-legged on the floor, among a dream council of thirteen women, in a warm stone house, high on a quiet New Hampshire hilltop. It is early April, a night of cold wind and falling snow. We are gathered here to listen to the Earth and to our dreams so as to understand how best to act and heal in the knowledge that hard-won environmental regulations are being eviscerated daily, along with women’s rights legislation, both in public and behind closed political doors. Together, we are here to dream and speak a language of survival.

We encircle a medicine mandala representing Mother Earth whose diameter extends five feet and is aglow with candlelight. At the very center of the mandala, lavender amethyst sparkles, and flowering verbena, ferns, stones, and antlers cast soft shadows. Fanning out in all directions on cornflower silks, terracotta mud cloth, blue-green linens, and russet velveteen are the inhabitants of nearly every ecosystem of the earth, hundreds of tiny ceramic, glass, plastic, and stone mammals, reptiles, avians, insects, amphibians, and fish. I feel tears well as the candlelight illumines women who live both in fear of these ecosystems’ demise and in belief that it is possible to work in concert with the Earth to restore the systems that support all life.

In entering this circle, I cross a threshold into a place where the veils between waking and dreaming are translucent, where the language of our dreams holds the answers we need to survive. Right now, in our world, there may be nothing more important than this.

In the next two days, time suspends as we flow from sleeping to waking to drumming to speaking to dancing to singing to eating to walking, to visioning, and ultimately to waking once again.

On the last morning of our council, I wake at 5:00 am with this dream.

I stand in the kitchen of my old cabin in front of my 1920 Glenwood gas stove. An ample warming bin stretches across the top. Standing on each side of the stove and facing me are two Native women, both taller than the stove. They look like the medicine women who represent wind, rain, sky, bird, buffalo, birth, and death in Frank Howell’s paintings. The woman on the right side of the stove wears a white flowing dress that seems to be fluttering in the wind and her long white hair is wiry, loose, and streaked with bright blue. The woman on the left side wears a red flowing dress, and her long black hair, also loose and streaked with white, seems lifted by the breeze. The women exude calm, warmth, and benevolence, and it seems that they have flown into my cabin on the wind.

I step toward the stove, and I open the door to the bread warmer. Inside, the warmer is divided into seven small cubicles, equal in size and open in the front. In each compartment is an identical, pint-size, white mason jar with a white cover on it.

The medicine women are looking at me and smiling, and somehow I understand whom the seven jars are for and what I am meant to do with them. Each jar will be given to each continent on the earth, and I have been given the task, the honor, of giving one jar to one representative of Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America, Australia, Antarctica. The medicine women remain on either side of the stove, hair and clothing billowing, and then seven children appear from the shadows and from all directions around us and walk toward us. Each child comes from one continent on the earth. The children appear to be genderless, approximately seven or eight years old, and are barefoot and simply clothed in white or gray. They have all different colors of skin, hair, and eyes.

Without speaking directly to the medicine women, I come to understand that in each white jar is everything that we need to survive, to continue on and through these times. One at a time, each child steps up to me, and I take a jar from the bread warmer and hand it to the child. The process takes a long time; it feels like is meant to be slow and deliberate. As the children reach their hands for the jars they are silent, but our eyes meet and there is recognition. Once each child has a jar in hand, the medicine women and I watch as the children are lifted by the wind and spirited back to their continents, holding their jars close to their chests. The two women and I remain by the stove, standing in the kitchen.

In this dream, the contents of the jars will ensure our survival. The knowledge stored inside of them must be both protected and shared, and in this dream it is the female lineage, the women, supported by native teachings and earth medicine, who hold the knowledge and who have been reminded where it is stored and how it can be passed on. The knowledge of how to survive lies deep in female consciousness, in female awareness, and has been occluded and buried. Yet, it remains. We have kept it stored, its contents protected in jars, in a place we knew was safe. In the dream I am every woman on the planet.

It is up to women to give this knowledge of how to live and survive beyond these dark times to the children. Women know deep down how to appreciate the earth’s nourishing gifts, and how to feed the earth in return by protecting all species of plants and animals that live with us. The survival of the next seven generations is in peril, but we hold the knowledge of survival in our hearths, in our kitchens, in our wombs, in the places most sacred to all women, who create, carry, birth, and nurture all life on earth.

We must tend, create, carry, and birth, as we have never done before.

In the language of dreams, a jar may symbolize a womb and fertility, and the act of bringing a jar to another person can represent a gift of respite or safety from a trying situation or a place of danger. Women are the stove tenders, the fire builders, the protectors of our one true hearth and home, the Earth. We store the food that the Earth gives us in jars so that we may survive the winters of our future. We have the skills. What we are doing now is remembering and sharing these skills and the language of persistence and protection with children everywhere so that we may all continue to live.

In my dream, the jars are white, a color that represents purity, safety, and protection. One of the spirits is clothed in white and has long white hair. She is a protector, a hearth tender. The color red, the dress of the medicine woman on the right side of the stove, may signify blood and violence. But red is also the color of warning, of stopping and recognizing the danger we are in. There is a harsh beauty in being able to see and name the peril so that we may open the jars of knowledge stored deep inside of us. Right now, sharing that knowledge may be the surest way to restore our humanity and regenerate the Earth.

Anne Bergeron

Anne Bergeron, M.A., I.M.A., is a teacher, writer, and Thai Massage therapist who lives in Corinth, Vermont. Much of her writing explores rural living through the lens of our changing climate. Anne lives off-grid on a homestead that she built with her husband, where she tends gardens, sheep, and chickens. She also teaches yoga to people of all ages, and is a 2011 recipient of a Rowland Foundation fellowship for her transformative work in public education.

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