In waking life, I recoil from scorpions. Their shiny, segmented bodies and barbed tails quickly instill fear in me. But this year, I befriended a scorpion, one that came to me in the Dreamtime.
This past February I had surgery to remove a cyst from my left ovary, the second such surgery I’d had in six months. It was the optimal time to include dreams in my healing and, luckily, I’d gotten Dream Tending by Stephen Aizenstat, which includes a chapter on dreams and healing. Within his book I discovered a technique that helped me foster a new relationship with Scorpion.
The Dream Tending technique draws from Jungian dreamwork. One of Aizenstat’s main tenants is to see dream characters as alive and having their own agency. This means using active imagination, a Jungian technique for bringing forth images and characters from the unconscious.
The important piece of the Dream Tending technique is to imagine the dream character and allow it to do what it will. If it wants to sit and stare at you, allow that. If it has something to say, listen. If it wants to dance around the room, watch. The dreamer’s role is to be a passive and receptive audience to what the dream figure wants to convey.
The point is cultivating a relationship rather than taking something from the character. So often in dreamwork practitioners only see dream images as one-dimensional representations of metaphor. Aizenstat’s method recognizes that the dream image is a vital, living force of the unconscious that one can have live interaction with.
To bring about healing, Aizenstat adds a step to active imagination. He asks dreamers to create an imagined, or dream-time elixir, salve, or other healing medium to apply to the character and themselves, an act which spreads the healing throughout the psyche.
During my recovery from surgery, I decided to work with a particularly vile character from a recent dream I’d had, a character I called spider-scorpion.
I’m in a house that belongs to a woman. The front door and entryway, which is somehow both inside and outside, is covered with sticky yellow cobwebs. On the cobwebs are bats and creatures that look like a cross between spiders and scorpions. The spider-scorpions have purple-black bodies and pale yellow legs.
I am horrified and grossed out by them, but I don’t run away or hide. I ask the woman if they are spiders or scorpions, but she doesn’t answer. It seems like they’re there to scare away any men that might come calling. I go into the kitchen to get food. When I walk back into the living room, I see a giant web sack and in it are a mother spider-scorpion and many babies. I yell to the woman that she has to get rid of it and take care of it now.
To work with the dream, I got into a meditative state and asked the spider-scorpion to come forward. I saw it in all its alien glory. It sat before me and I focused on allowing it to be there with me. After getting more comfortable with the character, I gradually attempted more contact with it over several days, and I created a healing elixir to apply to it.
Following Aizenstat’s recommendation, while in meditation I put the elixir on the spider-scorpion and then on myself. After a few days, the spider-scorpion morphed into what looked like a waking-world scorpion. It wanted to crawl into my lap. I let it, and I continued to apply the elixir.
After a time, the scorpion grew larger and eventually became the same size as myself. I watched as it stepped into me, our energies merging. I’d integrated the scorpion and its medicine.
And, you’re asking, what exactly is Scorpion medicine? Darkness, sex, death, rebirth, passion, and transformation, according to Ted Andrews in his book Animal-Wise. He sums up the medicine by saying it is “dynamic transformation through secret passions and desires.”
Without bearing too much of my soul here, I’ll say that I’ve definitely harbored several secret desires and passions for much of my life. As soon as Scorpion merged with me it became more difficult to hide and suppress them until eventually many of them burst out of me.
I went through one of the most challenging periods in my life between April and October, only weeks after integrating the Scorpion medicine. Structures and ideas I’d held tightly collapsed, and I was left with an immense amount of space. Scorpion gave me the tools to navigate with grace both the collapse and the void left behind In fact, she told me her name was Mother of Grace, a fitting title.
Now I am in an active period of exploration and I’m allowing my desires and passions to come forth in a healthy way. I’m grateful for the role Aizenstat’s method had in facilitating my healing.
photo by mikebaird