“You know what this is going to do to your own dreaming, right?” I asked myself, concerned.
“Yep. I can handle it,” I lied right back.
I knew it would ramp things up. Sometimes, I must confess, I don’t enjoy it. I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. I remember as a small child not understanding there was a difference between dreams and waking reality. I thought they were both equally real. This is all good when the dreams are of bird songs and sunlit yellow brick roads; but we all know that yellow brick roads eventually lead through shadowy forests full of lions and tigers and bears, “oh my.”
The dreams descended on me en force last night. I had asked myself a question before I went to sleep. My night was busy answering it. The problem is there were so many remembered, they were lost in the chaos of their own images. But one remained; the last dream before waking:
I was renting a large Victorian-style house. I was aware of the presence of my children in other rooms, and although now grown, their presence was still that of little children. I was feeling restless in the big house, the urge to explore pressed me on from room to room. I didn’t want to be on the lower floors. I felt uncomfortable there; haunted. As I slowly climbed the stairs, the oak railing was smooth and cool to my touch, easing my anxiety with every step. It felt like a living thing urging me on.
As I reached the 4th landing all the walls were green; the same shade my bedroom walls are in waking life. I decided I’d stay there. I had the fleeting awareness of my kids nearby again.
Night time descended and I heard sounds coming from behind a door. This was the door to the attic. No one should-be up there. Feeling a little frightened I opened the door. To my relief and delight, I discovered three grey kittens with blue eyes tumbling about in play. I knew the boys would be happy but I worried if the landlord discovered these strays, he or she wouldn’t be. I needed to do the responsible thing and quickly find them new homes, but I was so comforted by their sudden and unexpected presence I lingered and watched them play.
Then something intangible changed. The kittens abandoned their play and fled the stairs seeking hiding places out of sight. Something was coming.
I felt the cold grip of fear but was helpless to move; I was rooted in place. That’s when the tiger cub appeared out of the shadows, stalking purposefully down the steps, eyes fixated on my own. I was the prey. But this wasn’t an ordinary cub. It didn’t seem flesh and blood. It was ethereal, emitting a faint glow, intense. Its eyes didn’t speak of babyish innocence, they burned with such depth the breath was startled from my lungs. My heart was hammering. I wanted to run. It was a fearsome little thing.
My mind kept whispering, “it’s only a baby, it’s only a baby,” but those eyes weren’t the eyes of a baby, they were timeless. Finally I found legs and ran.
The dream wavered. Another night descended. Again the kittens returned in their bouncing and tussling and I watched, smiling. Again the fearsome tiger cub appeared. This time the kittens didn’t flea. They only sat still, watching. The cub disappeared.
Moved by something beyond my will, I ascended the stairs to the attic in pursuit. Curiosity was overtaking my fear. I was pleased and surprised to find the attic bright and painted with the color of the sky. Nothing at all like the dark cob-webbed shadowy place I expected.
The cub was standing in the far corner, watching with those eyes. I stopped and watched back, neither of us moving for a long while. I would be the one who had to make the first move in this particular chess game so I slowly drifted closer. The tiger mirrored my own actions and stalked slowly towards me, matching my pace, eyes burning unblinking into my own. Its presence was rife with a crackling ozone smell.
Then I found myself face to face with the tiger. I cupped its head in my hands and pressed my forehead against its soft forehead. I was overcome with love. The cub’s eyes mirrored my emotion and then it was gone.
But I didn’t wake peacefully. My emotions were in a storm. I found myself weeping, then angry for no clear reason. There was just a flood of negative feelings and it was a little hard to deal with. I took a cold shower to clear my head. (I really detest cold showers!) I wondered about all this. The dream wasn’t a bad dream, but it sure kicked up a thick layer of subconscious “dust”. I thought about researching the symbol of the tiger in dreams but my inner voice reminded me. With all the talk recently of it being the Chinese New Year my subconscious chose my Chinese zodiac sign to talk to me. I am the Tiger.
The dream is about integration. I made peace with something in myself and made ready for a new life phase to come. Some unknown fear was faced. Some heart wound closed. Now I have to be patient and see what the little tiger with the fearsome eyes has ushered in. Sometimes that’s harder than waiting for Christmas morning. At least my question was answered.