Dreams are full of messengers and although it’s pretty likely you have dream messengers sending you signals, these messengers can show up in any form.
Determining your specific dream messengers will take a little investigation into the people, things, animals, and places that regularly show up in your dreams, as well as looking at repeating dream themes.
Although dream dictionaries might tell you that one particiular character is a messenger (a winged creature, a mailman, a telephone, the god Mercury, or other obvious purveyors of information) you may find that your most important messenger is something more hidden or unique to you.
Perhaps it’s a banana slug or a rusty nail or the beach down the street from your childhood home. Don’t rule anything out just because it doesn’t seem like a typical messenger.
For instance, maybe you keep dreaming about your junior high art teacher. You might see her in the cafeteria in one dream, on a beach in Hawaii in another, and trapped in a dark room in a third dream. Write this information in a separate place from your dream journal to keep track of the details, or get creative and highlight the information right in your journal with crayons or markers for easy reference.
Once you recognize a recurring character, pay attention to how the character acts. Does your art teacher run from you? Does she lead you toward something? Does she point out features of the landscape you didn’t notice? The actions of the character will be clues.
The dream settings will also hint at the message. The setting itself can also be the messenger.
After you’ve tracked this information for a while (it could be weeks or months, depending on how often the dream occurs) a message will begin to emerge. When taken in combination, the setting and the character’s actions will tell you a great deal about what your dream messenger is telling you.
And don’t forget to pay attention to where the messenger shows up in waking life. You may read about art teachers in an article, see a woman walking down the street holding art supplies, or hear an ad on the radio for an art class. These incidents can be included in your research.
Hawk and Owl Dreams
I’ll give you an example of one my messengers who takes a few different forms.
The first dream in which this messenger appeared was in the summer of 2008.
It is the night I am getting married. I am in a suburb in a beautiful hilly nature area.I go into a house and I’m supposed to be getting ready.
A hawk flies in the room—I am down in the basement.
At first it is elusive, but eventually it gets close enough to let me pet it. I see it has a cat head. A head almost like Jack (my orange tabby cat). The orange of the cat’s head matches the bird’s red-orange body.
The animal bites me—like one of Jack’s “love bites.” I have to pry its teeth off my arm. I think my right arm. I go outside and see an enormous orange full moon (like a harvest moon).
The hawk flies around and swoops down and bites me again and again. I have to pry off its teeth.
In this dream the messenger comes as a chimera, a mixture of a cat and a hawk. The animal bites me on my right arm, sending me a clear wake up call. The setting is the night of my wedding and it features a huge harvest moon, nature, and a suburb.
I worked this dream in a class and when we put together all the elements, we discovered the dream was trying to tell me to return to my creativity, to utilize the feminine, lunar energy to do so, and to balance my feminine and masculine sides. The dream spoke to this balance both through the wedding imagery and the chimera: hawks typically symbolize masculine energy, and cats usually hint at feminine energy.
This dream had a huge impact on me. But the messeger wasn’t done with me yet.
A month later I encountered my first wild owl. It let me walk within five feet of it and we stared into each other’s eyes for quite a while before it flew away.
The setting was important here: I had to walk halfway across a bridge over a dry creekbed to see the owl. It was telling me to connect the separate parts of myself to restore the flow.
When I got home I read about owl energy in Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak, and I nearly fell off the bed when I read this: owls are sometimes considered “cats with wings.” Here I had just encountered a waking-life version of my cat-hawk.
Working with Dream Messengers
Once you’ve established your dream messenger(s), there are several ways to find out what they are trying to say.
One method is the Gestalt empty chair technique. In this exercise, you place an empty chair in front of you. Imagine your messenger is sitting in the chair. Then you strike up a conversation, asking him/her/it questions you’d like answered. The results can be fascinating.
A slightly different Gestalt method is Steven Aizenstat’s Dream Tending. Aizenstat argues that every dream character has its own agency and personality and we owe it respect. Therefore, we should treat the dream character as if it were a waking-life being.
In this exercise, you sit in a quiet, comfortable space. Close your eyes, and imagine your dream character standing in front of you. Rather than asking any questions, you just allow the character to do whatever it wants to do. Perhaps it will look at you, do a dance, fly around, speak, or even morph into something else. Allow whatever happens to happen.
This method takes a little more time, and Aizenstat recommends you repeat the process in order to establish a relationship with the character. What it does in these meditations will change and grow as a result of your changing relationship.
A third method in the same realm is automatic writing. Get out a piece of paper and write a dialogue between you and the dream character. Write your questions in your dominant hand and use your non-dominant hand to write the character’s responses.
Other ideas include creating a dream art piece depicting the character. You could paint or draw the dream, sew a costume the character would wear, or sculpt the character. I sewed an owl cape to honor Owl as my messenger.
Who is Your Dream Messenger?
After reading this, do you have a sense of who your dream messenger might be? An animal, a person, an object? Or is there a place that appears to be a messenger for you?
Have you had strong messages come through your dreams?
Please share with us in the comments!