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    Thread: A Disturbing Nightmare

    1. #1
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      A Disturbing Nightmare

      My nightmare was about a very odd funeral ritual that took place late at night, in the middle of an open field. There were twelve identical monks, dressed in identical black mourning robes. Sitting in a circle, their eyes were closed and they were chanting. I happened to be standing in the middle of the circle and beside me was a coffin (it was closed, but strangely in the dream I sensed that it was empty).

      I tried to run away but there was a strong supernatural force surrounding the circle, preventing me from escaping. Suddenly a voice in my head told me that the only way to escape is to jump over the coffin. I was terrified because I thought it would be rude and disrespectful if I did that, even though the coffin was empty.

      At that moment, something immediately controlled my legs and made me jump over the coffin three times. Each time I jumped, it was faster than before, and the twelve monks also speeded up the pace of their chanting. After I jumped for the third time, their eyes suddenly opened. They looked really fierce, their eyes large and unblinking. I felt anger in the energy surrounding them.

      The weird thing was, just before I ran out of the circle, I heard the sound of what I think was Japanese shrine maiden bells (researched a bit and found out they were called mikosuzu). I also felt and saw out of the corner of my eye, a long white sleeve brush past my right cheek. Then instantly I was out of the circle.

      I looked back behind me but there was no one, except the circle of monks still sitting there with the coffin.

      That was when I woke up with cold sweat and a headache that lasted a few days.

      Strangely, I believe that the white-sleeved-entity was the one who helped me escape. It's presence calmed me and made me less afraid of this nightmare.

      After I woke up, I can't help but keep thinking about the entity that had "saved" me in that nightmare. Could the nightmare be related to Japanese funeral ruitals and shrine maidens? And could the entity have been a spirit guide of some sort?

      This nightmare felt very significant and I can't seem to forget about it. I'm curious to know what it means. Can someone please offer their advice and interpretations? Many thanks in advance

      P.S. Here's a bit of info about me that might help with the interpretation/be of relevance:
      I'm a girl in my early twenties, with a phobia of anything related to death ever since I'd attended my great-grandma's funeral when I was 11 years old. It was a small Christian funeral held at peaceful church (totally unlike the weird one from my nightmare), though I still remembered feeling very sad, scared and uneasy back then, when we had to place flowers in the coffin and I saw my great-grandma lying there. I love her very much and remember her as a very cheerful and friendly person...
      But my family members (myself included) don't really understand why I'd felt so scared and even developed this irrational phobia of death

    2. #2
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      The only kind of help I can offer is to suggest that the dream is showing you something you can and should work on in waking life - your irrational fear of death. And it's good that at least you recognize the irrationality of the fear - that's the first step already accomplished.

      All ancient wisdom that I'm familiar with, and I believe all the rest as well, includes the idea that we must get over our fear of death - it causes all kinds of problems and holds us back from growth and from connecting with other people. And there's absolutely no real point to it. Think about it -- death will take us all at some point, and nothing you do can stop it. But living your life frozen up with irrational phobias does no good at all, in fact it only causes lots of problems. So rationally it's clear a fear of death is pointless and causes only harm. It's far healthier to develop a respect for death as the inevitable end of life - it's the one sure fact of life after all - if you live you will die. But it's better to live than to never live, and a life shrouded by irrational fear is like a half-life - as if you never truly experience life in the fullest sense. It's sort of like a living death, if that makes sense, as if it makes you a shuffling zombie only half alive. I'm trying several different metaphors to try to get the point across - maybe one of them will connect.

      And add to that the fact that in modern society we have no respect for death and no experience of it - a hundred years ago people died in a bed in the home and everyone witnessed it as it happened, but today people who get ill are removed to clinical facilities where professionals take care of it. For most of us our ideas about death come mainly from horror movies. It's no wonder when suddenly we do face death it comes as a shock and we have no way to process it.

      I recommend you study some form of ancient wisdom that includes a focus on acceptance of death. Personally I studied Stoicism and have incorporated it into my life and it's made a massive difference. And the nice thing about Stoicism is it's presented today in a form that's very acceptable to the modern mind - you don't have to try to live in some ancient belief system that feels weird and alien. In fact Stoicism is the basis for a modern therapeutic approach called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is known to be far more effective than many other systems.

      I'll come back in and recommend some good books - need to look into it and remember which ones were the best. There's also lots of info online, I'll try to sort through and list some good ones there too. The vast majority of people today have no idea that up until a point in very recent history all their ancestors benefited from wisdom such as this, but it's been removed due to this "modern experiment" where we all live as if none of that matters, and we wonder why people are so depressed and suffer so many psychological problems. Ok, give me some time and I'll pop back in with more info.


      Here's a pretty good article for an introduction to the ideas of Stoicism, with a focus on the teachings about death: https://shamelesspride.com/stoicism-and-death/

      But if you do decide to look into it, it's important that you absorb what Stoicism is really about - you need the core of it to really get it.

      I've found the core of Stoicism is contained in the Serenity Prayer:

      God, grant me serenity to accept what I cannot change,
      courage to change what I can,
      and wisdom to know the difference.

      Basically, you divide the world up into 2 categories - things that are under your control, and things that aren't. Stoicism means learning to accept the things you can't control - which brings peace of mind. The things that happen to us don't determine our emotions, rather it's our own judgements of those things. And once you really understand that, your phobias and irrational fears will begin to fall away. I found it took a lot of reading into Stoicism to really make these principles sink in and stick. Really though, they're the same principles you'll find in any ancient wisdom system, including Christianity, just under different names and explained in different ways.

      An amazingly good article by Ryan Holliday (the best one available online as far as I know): https://dailystoic.com/what-is-stoic...t-you-started/

      And also from his website, a list of some of the best books: https://dailystoic.com/books-on-stoicism/
      My favorites: I remember really liking The Obstacle is the Way, A Guide to the Good Life, and Stoicism and the Art of happiness, though I don't remember exactly why I liked them.

      Here's a pretty good introduction to what it is - The Stoic Handbook.

      And here's an article just about accepting the inevitability of death, not about Stoicism: https://www.innerself.com/content/pe...t-coberly.html
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 01-20-2019 at 11:27 PM.
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    3. #3
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      Is it the anniversary of her passing, and it is still hard to get over?

      Your terror came from thinking it would be rude and disrespectful if you jumped over the coffin, which sounds like if you got over the death, and means letting her go - in the physical way anyway.
      Did that fear trap you at that moment when death took away your sacred great grandma? Did you think it would be disresptful if you moved on from her passing?
      Then you felt anger when you could get over it, and it's ferocity was seen with wide open eyes.
      But the calm positive sprirt in you can cleanse you of what you've held onto for all this time. And the cheerful and friendly spirit like she was. Especially if her spirit lives on, that even may be guiding you.
      All this seems the process of grief, really.

      The whole thing I think stems from when 11 years old and getting over your beloved great grandma's death. A great impact to an 11 year old which explains the phobia, and the very significance.

    4. #4
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      It’s great that you’ve provided some important background information about yourself because that can result in a more accurate interpretation. Also useful are the mythologies, stories and beliefs etc. of people over the centuries regarding some images in your dream such as circles, monks, coffins/death, “supernatural forces” and the apparent presence of a Japanese Miko or female shaman. That’s because your dream is what Carl Jung termed “archetypal”. That is, it came from the deepest layers of your psyche at this important transitional period of your life (early 20’s) in order to show your objective situation at this time along with some advice on what to do next. It uses various deeply important symbols which are more “collective” in nature instead of “personal”. In addition, this dream appears go be connected with your earlier one from over a year ago about the attacking myna bird.

      Just to let you know that, although I’m looking at your dreams from the point of view of Jungian psychology (which I’m assuming you’re not familiar with), for the sake of simplicity I won’t be going into long detailed descriptions which could tend to put you off. Unfortunately, this might lend the interpretations too much of an arbitrary tone, so if you’d like to explore Jung’s basic ideas more fully, I’d recommend Man and His Symbols which Jung edited and for which he wrote the first long chapter on symbols and dreams.

      In the current dream, the location of an open field late at night suggests, instead of the presence of religious monks per se for the funeral ritual, the presence of “pagan forces” that also create an inescapable circle in the centre of which you find yourself along with the coffin which you sense is empty. The presence of the coffin, of course, suggests your unfortunate phobia about death, while the darkness suggests how you’re unaware (unconscious) of the causes of the phobia, as are other members of your family. The force which keeps you “confined” in the phobia is very powerful, possibly the fear that appears on the scene when anything directly or indirectly related to death appears on the scene.

      The twelve seated and chanting monks probably represent your inner so-called “masculine” side (termed the “animus” by Jung), which is usually characterized by such attributes as “mind”, the intellect, opinions, beliefs, focus, and being target-orientated etc. As with all inner figures and symbols, the animus is two-sided, one being positive while the other is negative.

      In this case, certain overly rigid beliefs and opinions might be tending to maintain the phobia (e.g. you can’t escape from the circle of monks). A ritual circle in dreams usually is a symbol of an overall potential wholeness of the mind and body where all innate potentials are developed as well as possible over a lifetime. In this case, the phobia is shown as interfering with the fulfilling of some potentials (i.e. you are “confined” by the circle instead of feeling “fulfilled”).

      A voice in your head then says you can escape if you jump over the coffin three times. Especially if the voice was female, it would be providing a “way out” of the phobia by probably in effect advising you to adhere to and believe in yourself as a unique person instead of, say, sticking too much with certain conventional attitudes and goals etc. which don’t really fit your own personality deep down. This inner figure was termed the “Self” by Jung, here possibly symbolized by a Japanese Miko, a description of whom you probably came into contact with earlier in your life but which faded easily into your unconscious.

      Just briefly researching this figure provided some interesting parallels. For example, in the distant past, a Miko was a female shaman who interpreted messages from the dead (that is, messages from the unconscious), and she wore a white shroud (white sleeve in your dream?) to signify she was married and in service to a “god”, i.e. to an inner psychological energy of high value (probably symbolizing the animus in his role as a vital link for a woman to her unconscious). So if you yourself have a phobia regarding anything about “death”, then this apparently could interfere with some kind of ability related to, for example, comforting people or yourself who are facing “death” literally or in terms of a difficult psychological “transition” (i.e. related to the painful “death” of old habits and ways of thinking etc.)

      For various reasons, the role of the Miko has diminished to the point of such young women being merely hostesses at Shinto shrines, as it were. The fact that the dream has created a link to this “back story” might possibly mean that an important potential within you is tending to be “demeaned” for whatever reason.

      It’s likely that you’re great-grandma, whom you still love so much, in some way symbolizes your inner Self figure. Maybe because of some innate nearness to the type of person she was and how close you felt to her, her death was extra traumatic for you at such a young age. The problem is that the fear of death which appeared at that time might still actually be disguising a fear of life. This is always totally understandable is such situations when the pain felt was so excruciating. It’s as if an unconscious thought or belief was formed which said something like “If this horrible pain is what life is going to give me, I don’t want any part of it”. So while you’ve probably succeeded very well in many areas of your life, some areas might tend to be excluded which relate to darker emotions and experiences. Without these though, we often can’t grow as totally well-rounded as is potentially within us.

      In the dream, it looks like the Miko-energy seizes you in an “unconventional” way (i.e. it makes you perform three jumps over the empty coffin, similar to three trials etc. in folk tales and not as related to Christian ideas). The extreme anger of the monks at you doing this and gaining freedom from the circle could mean that any such “leap of faith” in tossing aside your fear about death by following a rush of enthused energy from within (and in dropping old and unhelpful habits and trains of thought) could be followed by guilty thoughts like “I have no right to be happy”, “I must never do anything which might cause another person to be hurt” etc. etc. That’s because a kind of similar opinion tried to get in the way of escaping the monks, i.e. “I was terrified because I thought it would be rude and disrespectful if I did that, even though the coffin was empty”.

      Similar ideas appear in the dream about the black myna bird. It’s safe to say that birds and animals in dreams most often symbolize the dreamer’s overall way of handling natural instinctive emotions, vague feelings, intuitions and even cold thoughts and actions that are sometimes needed to defend ourselves in certain situations (just like a quiet mother bear etc. will suddenly turn very savage if her cubs are in danger). A bird has the extra special role of being a “messenger” to the ego about the state of her or his relation to the instinctive side. In your case, the bird is very “angry” with you, aggressively attacking your head.

      Without knowing anything about your close friend at the time and the nature of the argument, it’s not really possible to be specific, but Jung’s close colleague Marie-Louise von Franz writes about friends as follows:

      … we make friends with people who live out our shadow [a side of ourselves which we’d prefer not to have]. Friends can do the things we cannot do. Tell me who your friends are, and I have the whole panorama of your good and bad qualities. Our bad qualities as well as our good ones hold an attraction, a fascination for us. The friend is often the person whom one envies. The friend is more elegant, or dances better, or can move about better in outer life, or has depth, or has a better mind. So if one hasn’t worked on one’s shadow, there is always a kind of love-hate relationship with the shadow and with one’s friends.

      So it’s possible that you and your close friend had some mutual “shadow issues” which might have caused the blow-up. Jungian analyst Daryl Sharp defines the “shadow” in Jung Lexicon as follows:

      Before unconscious contents have been differentiated, the shadow is in effect the whole of the unconscious.

      It is commonly personified in dreams by persons of the same sex as the dreamer.

      The shadow is composed for the most part of repressed desires and uncivilized impulses, morally inferior motives, childish fantasies and resentments, etc. -- all those things about oneself one is not proud of.

      The shadow is not, however, only the dark underside of the personality. It also consists of instincts, abilities and positive moral qualities that have long been buried or never been conscious.

      Because the myna is black in your dream, it possibly could represent a part of your shadow to which you normally “don’t give a voice”, i.e. the myna doesn’t make any sounds. But the argument was maybe somehow related to something it’s really “angry” about because you might tend to ignore its presence too often, namely, something related to the “head” and “brains”. This leads back to the possibility of “negative opinions” etc. as related to the current dream which appear to be “hurting the instincts” as exemplified by the troubling symptom of the phobia over death-related issues.

      The earlier dream apparently also shows you as unwilling to accept the possibility that any message from the unconscious (or perhaps the outer world as well) could or should be negative (e.g. your friendly reaction to the myna in the hallway). But it’s possible that the argument the day before, as upsetting as it was, failed to have you come to see a kind of annoying habit or trait in yourself (as maybe mirrored in your friend), causing the myna to explode in rage, so to speak.

      The head and brain often symbolize where the animus lives, as it were. If it tends to be carrying on its activities mostly unconsciously, it can be very annoying to others. If so, such a state of your brain is only valuable as food in the myna’s view since it produces little else of value. “Worms” also suggest the idea of death, i.e. perhaps a need for certain unhelpful habits of thought etc. to be made conscious, to unpleasantly “die” in the process, and therefore to provide “nourishment” for future growth.

      “Banging your head against a wall” by firmly sticking to old habits of mind, instead of trying to genuinely accept what the myna is angry about, apparently can temporarily relieve certain outer life situations (e.g. the myna is hurt and flies away). But the area around your third eye is painfully hurt such that cries of confusion and fear are heard. The third eye is one symbol of the Self and from the dream’s point of view, any such injury is very “dangerous”, just like a fractured skull is dangerous in outer life.

      Anyway, without knowing much about you, this way of looking at your dreams might not fit your personal circumstances very well, but I hope that these ideas can be helpful in some way. Please feel free to comment on, or to ask any questions about, this particular way of looking at your dreams.
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