Monday, January 21, 2013

NIGHTMARES and What Your Dreams Tell You

As a psychology major in college I learned about Carl Jung.

Carl Jung, protege of Sigmund Freud, believed that dreams were a way we could become acquainted with our subconscious.  He believed they could provide a window to solutions to our problems, subconscious or not, and assist us in achieving wholeness. I believed I would love learning about dreams and their meanings. I have had bad dreams that have come true, brilliant and bright dreams that I have turned into children's books and illustrations, and nightmares that have shocked me awake to a dark room and rapid heartbeat.

Some dreams seem prophetic, and certain individuals gained notoriety due to dreams coming true. For example, Joan of Arc predicted her death in a dream, Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his death only a few days before his assassination, and Einstein's theory of relativity came to him in a dream.

Jung believed, as do many others, that dreams can represent feelings, relationships, fears or any one of many situations that are occurring in your life. But unlike his contemporaries, he did not believe that each specific dream represented the same thing for every dreamer.

For instance, if I dream of fire and look it up in the Dream Dictionary on the web you will see several interpretations, but each of these would be the same for any dreamer. Jung believed many things had to be taken into account if one were to interpret their dreams. He thought there was not one single correct way for a dream to be described. Personal judgement is heavily relied upon, how the person feels, and the most significant interpretation of the dreamer is more important than what a book of dreams may say or another person.

To help a dreamer reveal the true meaning of his dreams, Jung developed and believed that certain symbols were present in all the dreams of men and women, and had universal meaning. These are ancient symbols, recognized across generations and locations, and derived from the collective unconscious called archetypes.

The main archetypes Jung considered were:

The persona is the image we choose to present to the world. The word is a derivative of the Latin word masca, which translated means mask, spectre, and interestingly, nightmare. It is a representation of ALL the masks we wear in social situation--a protector of the ego, a guard to help us from being hurt. Jung believes the persona can take many forms and can appear in our dreams.

The anima is the feminine inside the man that allows him to understand and communicate with women. The animus is the masculine in a woman, and allows her to communicate and understand men.
The shadow can be considered our dark side. It is the side we do not like to consider on a day to day basis. Jung thinks when we get to know our shadow side, only then can we truly know our whole selves. If the shadow appears in a dream it sometimes shows as a monster, demon or creature.

The self is a product of individuation, it represents the psyche as a whole--it is a unification of the conscious and the unconscious. The self is both the whole and the center, or the ego, as represented by the picture.

Jung did not believe there was a limit to the number of archetypes. He believed they were endless, and some other examples are the joker or trickster, the Mother or Crone, the wise Old Man or Wizard, the child or divine child, and the hero--or these days, the Superhero. Any and all can appear in dreams.

There are also many types of dreams. We discussed the prophetic dream, and if the dream is good we hope it comes true, but another type of dream we can have is a nightmare, or night terror. We have nightmares because of anxiety or fear, and it is said up to 10% of adults can have nightmares every month--or more. These dreams can cause rapid heartbeat, sweating, vocalizations, sleepwalking and waking up with an intense feeling of fear. Seeing a scary image, reading a frightening book or watching a horror movie or television show can all cause nightmares. Children can experience night terrors and moan and thrash while experiencing the dream. They may hallucinate and think they see the creature that is horrifying them in their dreams.

In a lucid dream the dreamer is aware they are dreaming and the waking mind gains control. Please visit The Lucidity Institute to learn to control dreams, remember them, and do experiments like the The Light and Mirror Test:

I have a friend who has dreams that cause her to experience a real  medical phenomenon known as sleep paralysis. (Click below to read a bit about her experience when a book caused it to rear its ugly head:

This is almost the opposite of lucid dreaming because the dreamer wakes but can't move a muscle. They are conscious but cannot do anything about the weird events taking place around them. My friend saw an evil man in her room during one of these dreams and could not breath. She knew he was evil, but could do nothing.

And he began to move closer. She was awake in her own nightmare, helpless.

Read more about sleep paralysis here in one of my favorite magazines, WIRED:

I remember as a child someone told me if you dream of blood someone will die. Not too long after I dreamt a girl I went to school with cut her father with a knife, and blood poured from the wound. Within two days a relative of a friend passed away, and I was SOLD on dream interpretation.

I read that water means anxiety, and the darker and deeper the water the worse the problems.  I read dreams of the devil mean you are sneaky and underhanded, and daisies mean a happy day will follow.

I bought a dream book and spent many afternoons looking up my own dreams and dreams of friends.

Although I do not look up my dreams any more, I sometimes try and interpret some dreams that are recurring.

Read 15 Interesting Facts About Dreams below--bet you didn't know that not everyone dreams in color...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The OUIJA BOARD--I Still Want to Use It

In third grade a girl named Margie brought a Ouija Board to our classroom. It would be a perfect addition to the Halloween festivities we had planned for the day.

The room was decorated with grinning Jack O'Lanterns and we celebrated in our costumes while Disney's The Haunted Mansion record played in the background. A few kids were on line for the Spider and Web craft, several more waited for the caramel apples, but the longest line was for the Ouija board. After quick instructions the first kids to try did not have much luck and quickly gave up. I tried with Margie and we got the planchette to move a tiny bit but not enough to spell out any cryptic messages from beyond.

Then the board seemed to warm up. Everyone that got a chance experienced some movement, but it never pointed anywhere--in fact it never stopped. It swung around and eventually moved in larger and larger circles. Sometimes it went off the edge. We took that as a sign that the 'spirits' wanted new participants.

About a half hour later we began asking question and got some answers. Our new friend from the great beyond was male and he was angry that we were bothering him. (We knew this because our teacher asked.) We asked what his name was, and the board did spell out a name, but I cannot remember what it was. Someone asked if he was stupid. My teacher said, "Be nice," and everyone laughed. But that was the last answer we got from the board. No one felt any motion after that and we all quit soon after.

The Ouija Board thrilled me. I went home and told my parents about how much fun we had during the day. They told us we had a board in the basement and they could not get it out fast enough for me.

Needles to say I was hooked. I played with my sister, friends, and neighbors. Then we started having seances. And we did levitation.

Soon after we moved to a new house and made some new friends. Our new basement was perfect for conjuring the dead. Of course we were scared a few times...we would have been scared just sitting down there with a single candle burning. It was huge and had plenty of creepy nooks and crannies. My obsession with the occult had officially bloomed. I guess Ouija is the gateway drug to more intense occult experiences.

Several years later my friend and I were wandering around NYC one afternoon and stumbled upon Weiser's Bookstore. Walking down a few steps we walked into what we discovered was a large and relatively famous occult bookstore started in 1929 by Samuel Weiser. (Weiser's still exists as an online bookseller and now publisher of esoteric and occult literature. ) . That day I purchased a pendulum for divination and spent many fun nights at parties reading fortunes.

Then I moved on to Tarot cards. I had a knack for them and people began to ask me to read them again and again. The results were oddly accurate. Although I just said whatever popped into my head, half the time it meant something to the person I was talking to. People began to offer me money for the reading, and not a little bit. I began to study them more and more, and found them fascinating.

If you have followed this blog at all you know I have had my share of strange and seemingly supernatural occurances in my life. The house I lived in before this one seemed haunted. We would hear the silverwear shaking in the drawer, the television would turn on and off by itself, and worst of all my husband and I thought we were having conversations with one another, but no one was there.

I came home from work one day and saw my husband looking out our master bedroom window at the woods across the street. I was waving and trying to get his attention when the automatic garage door started opening, and my husband stepped out.

I got very upset and I don't think my husband paid much attention to my story until the night he was having a conversation with me in the laundry room and he turned around and I was not there. He called my name and I answered--from our third floor master bedroom.

We had the house blessed. In the very last room of the blessing (the master bedroom again) as the final blessing was said my jewelry box with a small angel fell off my dresses. The minister turned around and asked me "Did you do that?"

No. I did not.

Things slowed down then came to a stop after the blessing. We were happy and planning to start a family. We have since moved to a new house. Not too long ago I woke in the middle of the night. No windows were opened--it is cold here in October. I watched the bathroom door slowly open on its own, and stop before it could hit the bookcase.

They're hhhhhheeeeeerrrrreeee......

I think American Horror Story would have a wonderful season if they based it on divination, but they certainly had fun last night with the circus theme.

A page from 100 Unfortunate Days about the dangers and delights of the occult:

Day 27

I went to a store in town whose name that implies the things sold there will help you be successful.

When you go in the store you can smell the burning sage and other incenses— you can smell this all the way down the block. They sell books for alcoholics and drug addicts and people who want to commune with God or spirits. They also do tarot card readings and angel interpretations and anything else you can think of that will attract spirits or angels or demons into your life. I thought this seemed cool. The card reading said pertinent things to me.

But I don’t know if this is healthy.

After this I took a class in hypnosis, and then one in acupressure, and then I carried the little Angel Cards that I picked at each session with me. And something bothered me about it every time. My marriage was terrible and getting worse. I could feel my hatred for my husband growing by the minute. BUT I was being open minded and I thought reading cards and knowing the future and reading about the devil was a good thing because I was enlightened. I stopped reading the book about the devil dead-smack in the middle and took a train south. I pushed past any exhaustion I felt. I threw away the cards I’d kept tucked into my wallet—they had demons attached to them and so I prayed to St. Michael. I should pray to him every day—twice a day. I wanted a shell of protection like I read about in The Screwtape Letters—somehow I got it. I know I am safe now and I will not stray again.

Ha ha. Even as I say this I realize I am full of shit, especially when there is a full moon and I’ve had too much wine. I feel surrounded by spirits at night. They can be there and I can be safe. I think. I can laugh at them and know I am with God—and as I write those words I know I am lying. I don’t think I am one of God’s favorites. The insidiousness of it all is the most evil. It creeps in and finds a place with a pillow and cuddles up and you are not even sure it is there at first. You don’t know when it starts to creep in, but it’s funny how you can tell when it’s gone.

At least for now.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Dark Visit

I watch Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State.

My son and his friends would watch A Haunting when they got home from school, and I got hooked into that one too. The entire time I watch there is a little voice in the back of my head that keeps me sane and un-scared. I shake my head with a smile on my face at 99% of the Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). (Please listen here to what is touted as "The Most Horrifying EVP Ever Recorded: )  It seems I can never hear the words they claim they are hearing. "I will kill you," usually sounds more to me like "kkkkkkk--static--kkkk", but maybe something is lost in the translation. The investigators hear many things, they swear that someone touched them, and they get lots of pictures of orbs floating around.  My father is a photographer and has explained why orbs actually happen (bits of dust or particulate too close to the lens that reflect light from a flash), so I am a bit skeptic of their paranormal interpretation.

And yet...

There is an even quieter voice that tells me some of what I am seeing may be true. That reason I smile while I watch these shows is because on some level I believe some of it. I have contemplated calling the Long Island Medium just to see what she says and to give myself another reason to either believe or disbelieve.  Here she is: 

Dozens of not-quite explainable things have happened to me throughout my life, the most remarkable being the exorcism of my best friend. This was not interesting, or cool, or amazing--it was terrible and frightening. It is still scary to think about almost 35 years later. You can read about it here:

I had an experience that I would not consider paranormal but terrifying none-the-less.

Lambert Castle is located on a scenic hill Paterson, NJ, overlooking the New York skyline, and currently operates as a museum accessible to the public. In the late 80s I visited Lambert Castle with a friend late one night on a personal ghost hunting mission. We had previously visited graveyards and a supposed haunted house, but we never had anything to report other than being chased out of a cemetery one night by the police. Our Lambert castle visit was to be a bit different.

I drove my car up the long driveway, and parked past the gaslight lanterns. A fox scurried out of our way as we exited the car. We looked around the back towards the woods, but it was so dark I could not see a foot in front of myself, and we decided to climb the stairs around the front. The walkway and steps up the front of the building took us past windows and showed us opulent rooms filled with furniture covered with white sheets. The stair path wound around the side of the structure and we stopped momentarily to look at the view. I saw motion out of the corner of my eye coming from the back of the castle and turned to look to see where my friend was going. But this was not my friend. This was a figure in a hooded black robe, something from your bad dreams, something from hell. This was not a ghost or apparition, this was a person dressed in a black cloak moving slowly toward us. I could not see his face. I quickly turned and saw my friend about halfway down the stairs already, and I began to run too.

The figure never followed us, and after we got in the car and locked the doors, my hands shaking so badly I had a hard time getting the key in the ignition, we looked up at the steps and did not see the hooded figure any more.

I tell this story often as one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. We still wonder if we interrupted a coven, or a mass, or that was a way Lambert Castle prevented hooligans from hanging around at night. I really do not want to know. Well--I want to know a little bit.

Part of me wants to attend a TAPS session and experience a paranormal expedition for myself, but the other part tells me NO!--don't mess with it, because I seem to have an uncanny ability to attract trouble from the dark side. Or that voice just might be my sister--she yells at me about this all the time.

Next weeks blog will be a bit scarier, and much more paranormal. Opening bathroom door including...