The Dream, “Alone in the Desert – The Pain of the Soul”

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Alone in the Desert

I was alone traversing a desert of red sand that burned my feet.  A woman came in front of me and sprinkled something white, a powder that covered the ground and the burning stopped.

Dream Journal Entry: February 10,1998

 The thought of aloneness, being marooned on a deserted island for example, or the punishment of solitary confinement, is terrifying to most humans.  Yet, this is how we begin life and will surely be the way we leave it…ALONE.  In mythology, ALONENESS is the beginning of every holy person’s quest for enlightenment, and is the heart of individuation.  The journey to becoming one’s unique or authentic self (which is implied in the term individuation), is an intensely personal, and sometimes a very lonely experience.  It is not a group phenomenon.  Considering the dream, Alone in the Desert – The Pain of the Soul, is a sharing of my own inward solitary journey.

A few years before having had this dream, I made a very difficult decision to leave the religion of my upbringing.  And so began a very lonely period in my life; a separation from friends and relatives who did not understand or approve of my decision.  More devastating than this, was the emptiness I felt without a prescribed way of connecting to God.  Through this period I thought of myself as agnostic, not being certain of anything.  I was lost and every step along the way was excruciatingly painful!  In my waking reality I had two teenagers who demanded answers and guidance, that in my darkness and confusion I felt inadequate to give.

“Who am I?”, “Why am I here, in this place and at this time?”, “Where is life leading me?”, were questions that compelled me to seek counseling and through this process I began to realize spirituality was very much a part of my truest nature.  I began to see the difference between religious conditioning and true spirituality.  I began to read and study everything I could on this subject.  Most of all, I began to both tingle with my own inner sense of truth and to trust my own feelings and intuition.  It is no accident that it is a WOMAN who sprinkles the white or sacred powder bringing relief to my burning sole/soul.  I began to listen to my inner knowing and to honor the divine feminine power within me.

I find a strange similarity in the white powder of my dream and the Biblical story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.  In the story, God provided a white substance called Manna, which appeared on the ground in the mornings like dew. It was gathered as food and had sustaining power.  It was also referred to in texts as “the grain of heaven” teaching that man needs more than bread to stay alive.  To sustain not only means to nourish but to keep from falling or sinking.  The relief I received to my feet prevented my eventual fall in the desert by giving me inner strength of spirit and helping me see those principles I stand for.

Red is the color of the desert.  It is also a symbol of a passionate need to find meaning again and a way of being that would carry me forward.  “According to Jung the urge for meaning is the prime mover through whose impetus all other aspects of the psyche, including ego consciousness itself, are brought to birth…Man’s overpowering need is to feel passionately about something-to dedicate one’s life and energies to the service of a higher authority.”-Jung and the Tarot, by Sallie Nichols (Chapter IX,-The Hermit)

Desert light is very bright, creating great contrasts between light and dark. Shadows really stand out here, and there is great opportunity to see clearly the qualities in ourselves that we have disowned before.  We may also encounter creatures who live on the dead, like buzzards and jackals; symbolizing those inner demons who haunt our unconscious and need to be seen and accepted.

It takes courage and determination to stand this lonely journey.  If you are experiencing a painful soul search, or have been ALONE in this way, it is comforting to know that, “When you repose in yourself, you have come home.”- Tarot, Mirror of the Soul, Ziegler (Chapter IX, The Hermit}

Published in the Rocky Mountain Dream Journal, Apr/May 2004 edition

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