Dream Group Transcript
Freya driving her chariot of cats. Artist is Ludwig Pietsch, circa 1865.
This is a transcript from a dream group I hosted in October 2020. The image above will make sense at the end, I promise. For anyone curious about dream groups and not quite sure what they entail, this post will demystify everything that happens during these sessions. They often remind me of AP English classes in high school, where we would discuss the symbolism and hidden meanings in classics such as Heart of Darkness, Beloved, and Moby Dick. The only difference, of course, is that the symbolism in dreams are directly applicable to waking life (not that books aren't applicable, but dreams contain messages that are far more personalized and immediate. And dare I say that books mimic the language of dreaming).
*Names have been changed to protect privacy
1. Introductions/ Everyone shares a very brief description of their dream (we call them headlines):
Remy: Okay, lets get started! Try to boil your dream down to a headline, and we’ll go around and share them. Afterwards we’ll vote on which ones we want to discuss. Mine is “A seat at the table, but also with whales”.
Rachel: It’s more of a sentence- I was at my family cabin and it full of like random children and like, some friends. The walls had some shelves with a bunch of empty seats, like chairs and stuff on them. That was it.
Janae: So here’s my headline: “Trump supporters oblivious to the actual armageddon, go about daily lives as the masses hide and flee.”
Quinn: Um, my headline is “Reproducing cats invade a bedroom rehearsal.”
Quinn: This is not a sex dream!
Group: (More laughter)
Remy: Now we’ll vote on which dreams we want to analyze. Lets pick two and then we can go around and say which ones we want. I’m gonna vote Janae’s and Quinn’s.
Rachel: I was going to vote Quinn’s and yours (Remy’s).
Janae: Um, I’m curious about the bed rehearsal (Quinn’s) and hear more about the tables and chairs (Rachel).
Quinn: My vote is for Janae’s and Remy’s.
(Group finds a tiebreaker between Janae and Remy- they choose to use Janae’s dream)
2. Dreamer shares dream in first person. Other people can ask questions.
Remy: So what we’ll do next is, Quinn, lets start with you since you’ve done this before, and then we’ll do yours (Janae) next. So basically, whats going to happen now, is Quinn is going to tell us their dream. At this point, I find it really useful to take notes on things, because in a minute we’ll be projecting ourselves into the dream. It’s helpful to write down anything you think would be useful to remember, you can also ask Quinn questions, and you (Quinn) will be saying it (the dream) in the present tense, and the rest of us will all just imagine ourselves in the dream.
Quinn: This dream was from last night, so it’s fresh. In the dream, I am in my parent’s bedroom, which has red walls with little gold leaves lining it. I’m trying to host a rehearsal, it’s quite a large bedroom, so theres a couple dozen people in it and they’re like, dressed in different costumes, and it’s kind of a music rehearsal, but it’s also like we’re practicing a play. It reminds me of an interdisciplinary project I did a couple of years ago, but it’s not quite the same thing. And then, all of the sudden, there is a mountain lion cub outside of the door. He doesn’t look that young, but is like, half the size of a normal mountain lion, and keeps trying to push against the door and use his claws to unlock it. I keep pushing it closed and locking the door. And then the mountain lion unlocks it, and tries to sneak under the crack, even though it’s too small. And I’m worried the mountain lion is going to claw my neck or something because thats how mountain lions attack, (laughter) and I keep pushing it out of the room. And then, suddenly, there are cats everywhere- not mountain lions- house cats, and there are hundreds of them and my mom Im allergic to cats, so I’m like, ‘oh shit, they can’t be in here!’ and I keep trying to fetch them, and I’ll carry them outside and chuck them outside, but then there are like more and more cats. Then, the rehearsal time ends even though we didn’t do anything. The actors are like ‘well, I gotta go now, like bye!’ (laughter). My mom comes home and she’s like ‘Oh it’s my fault about all of the cats, sorry, I was in Greece and I got all of these spores on my clothes and brought them back to the U.S. and now they’re reproducing and that’s why there’s cats everywhere!’ She points at two of the cats and is like ‘it all started with the two of them’! One of them is this black cat that has so many nipples to feed babies (laughter). And yeah, thats the end of the dream.
Remy: Thank you for sharing
Quinn: Okay wait, I have a follow up- my alarm went off and then I promptly turned my alarm off without setting another one and fell back asleep. In the next dream I had, I was telling someone about this dream, and I was like ‘I wonder what it means! What does this dream mean?’ And then I was like ‘Maybe it’s connected to Freya’, because she shows up as feline, and I had been working Freya and Freyr recently, so maybe thats relevant, maybe it’s not.
Remy: That’s interesting because cats in my dreams connect to warnings, it’s like ‘hey you need to evaluate the relationships you have in your life and be aware of them”. So now we can ask Quinn any clarifying questions, and then we can go into the part where we project ourselves into the dream. So Quinn, my first question for you is who is Freya? I don’t think I really know.
Quinn: Freya is a goddess in the Norse mythology and she is apart of the Vanir set of gods, and in Norse cosmology there is two sets of gods, one are Aesir, and are like sky gods, and the Vanir are a different race of gods, and I associate them with fairy folk, like earth dwelling elven creatures. That’s my relationship with them. Freya is like, a slut, she sleeps with everyone, she rides a cat. She brings people to the summer land, which is one of the afterlife places.
Janae: I have a question, how did you feel about the mountain lion cub, besides not wanting it to come inside. Is there a fear or is it more like you’re trying to hold the room together?
Quinn: Yeah, it felt like more like fear for my life. I don’t think I was thinking much about keeping the rehearsal on track, I was just like, ‘why is this mountain trying to get in the room?! How are they unlocking the door?!’ So yeah, it felt like more survival fear.
Rachel: Do you have a cat?
Quinn: No, I don’t.
Rachel: Do you want a cat?
Quinn: I like enjoying cats a lot. I like enjoying other people’s animals because then I don’t have to be responsible for them when I wanna go on vacation or something. I like being able to pick up and leave.
Remy: Did the mountain lion ever come back in? Like, when the, whenever the cats were everywhere, was the mountain lion there?
Quinn: I don’t think so, it was just house cats.
Remy: Okay. And how did you feel about the house cats being there besides worried about your mom?
Quinn: Yeah, I felt kind of overwhelmed, I think if that happened to me in real life, I’d be like, ‘oh cute! Cats!’, but for some reason I felt obligated to move them all and there were so many and they were coming from everywhere and I was like ‘how do I do this?’ But I didn’t feel scared, just overwhelmed by that point in the dream.
Remy: And at that point, were the actors still there?
Quinn: By that point that was around the time they were leaving. And I think I was half about to ask them, ‘oh can you stay another hour?’ But they were like, ‘no.’
Rachel: Do you dream in first person? Are you the one doing the actions, or are you watching yourself do the actions?
Quinn: This dream felt like it was in first person. But not every dream does.
Remy: When your mom came back in, and was like ‘oh, it’s my fault’, were you relieved or still overwhelmed? Was there a shift in the mood?
Quinn: Uh, I think I was a little perplexed. And I was confused about how plant spores relate to cat reproduction?! (laughter)
Janae: One more question, do you remember who it was you were telling the dream about in your second dream?
Quinn: I don’t have a memory of that.
3. Members project themselves into the dream, offer up suggestions in the “If it were my dream . . .” model.
Remy: Are there any other questions? So the next thing that we’ll do is we’ll project ourselves in the dream as if it were our own dream, and now we can start to piece together some things, for example, ‘the color red reminds me of the root chakra’ and then every time you say something like that, Quinn can say that it resonates, or no it doesn’t, but thanks anyway. And there will be a lot of times where you’ll say something and it won’t resonate with Quinn, but the more that we do this, the more that it will narrow down what the dream really means. Definitely project, thats my best advice. It feels really weird, like I’m intruding on this dream, but that’s what I want you guys to do.
Quinn: Can I add a couple of things? So this model is based on the assumption that my dreams are also all of your dreams, so this process is inviting all of you to if this was my dream, what would it mean to me? That’s why I like this process so much, is because it’s like I collect more dreams, and I can say things that resonate with me, and my version of the dream is mine to decide what it means to me, but now you get to have your own version of the dream, and you can decide what that means to you. So, to some extent you try to thread your reflections into things that resonate with me, but it doesn’t necessarily matter if they resonate with me, because they might resonate with someone else, who’s like ‘oh, yeah!’.
Remy: Thank you for saying that so elegantly! I need a second to think about this, so I’m going to read through my notes really quick.
Quinn: And typically, when I’ve done this in the past, you can start your reflection by saying ‘in my version of this dream, I am blah blah blah’, use it in the first person, like it is your dream now.
Remy: I find that super helpful because you can really put yourself into it and make it your own.
(Group gets off track and discusses the resident ghost in the Bean Cycle, where the dream night was hosted). Want to know more about the ghost? Let me know, and lets discuss ;).
Remy: Alright, so one thing I keep coming back to is this mountain lion cub that keeps pushing against the door and you keep having to push it back and you're scared and it also feels like a distraction, to me it feels like a huge distraction. I cannot focus on what's going on because I keep having to close this door because I'm afraid that this mountain lion is going to come and endanger not only me, but all of the lives of my actors that I really need for this artistic thing that I'm trying to do, um I don't quite know what it means for me yet, but I keep coming back to it. It’s something in my dream, in my subconscious that is like “Hey, hey, don't forget about me, hey I think you're trying to ignore me. Look at me, listen to me”, and that's what that mountain lion cub is, and you're really scared of it, and I don't know what it's something, and I would be aware of it.
Quinn: Yeah, that resonates a lot.
Remy: Or maybe even, there's this mountain lion cub, and then suddenly there's cats everywhere, it's almost like the mountain lion cub idea exploded into a million cats and now they're just like, little distractions running around. So it's like this one big festering problem that is suddenly a bunch of little problems, and now you're overwhelmed and trying to figure it out. When I imagine myself in this dream, I imagine myself stepping over cats, and picking cats up. Cats everywhere. Cats on curtains, cats on the bed, cats on my shoulders, I've got ten cats on my arms. Somethings going on, there's a bunch of tiny problems that are becoming one big problem, or there's one big problem that's becoming a bunch of small problems.
Janae: I'm drawn to the nuance between the outside force and what's inside the room, and in my version of the dream it’s really a lot about inconvenience and almost this like, super feral wild presence, and it's my responsibility to control it and reign it in and take care of my parents because it’s their bedroom and their space its now something that I have to fix and while other people step away, like the actors and actresses, it's kind of like “well, I can't step away here”, and it's very internally focused.
Remy: I like what you said about taking care of the parent's space, because I also get that sense a lot. You're really concerned about keeping it nice, taking care of it, even like the red and gold leaves; it’s very ornate and I want to keep it nice, it almost feels kind of Roman or Greek. Which is interesting because you mention Greece later with your mom.
Quinn: Yeah definitely. It feels like their bedroom is a temple, or something. And then it leads into the bathroom and there's sandy tile.
Janae: There's such a sense of play and openness in this space, for me like you said it’s a big space and it’s a setting for a theater, for a show, there is room to explore different states of being and feeling, and then of course that gets disrupted.
Quinn: In my version of this dream, the mountain lion represents something that feels like it's threatening my survival. It's interrupting my art, whether or not that's illusion, because then the mountain lion disappears, and the house cats coming represent things that I'm responsible for.
Rachel: I feel like your mom's reaction is what interested me. The fact that she wasn't really worried, and you were more worried. You were kind of like “why aren't you freaking out as much as I am?!”. If it were my dream, I'd relate it to expectations that I think my parents have about me or about family life, or my career. The cats are the responsibilities that I've got to remove or hide. Yet when she (mom) sees them, she doesn't seem perplexed.
Remy: I definitely resonate with the parental expectations. I would be super perplexed at my mom's reaction too. Also you said your mom said she brought back spores and they turned into cats? Is that what I'm getting?
Quinn: Haha, that's the logic she was trying feed to me, yeah.
Remy: And then, did you get any sense of Freya in your first dream without the knowledge from your second dream?
Quinn: No, I didn't.
Remy: So Freya can be associated with cats, so can Bast, the Egyptian goddess. You said mountain lion cub, and I immediately thought “leo!”. In my version of the dream, the mountain lion cub is my spirit animal, and he's just just a nuisance.
Quinn: In my version of this dream, the art that I'm trying to make in that bedroom feels like it's reaching to a past that I cant access anymore. The feeling of it being a temple and the costumes that people are wearing feel vaguely renaissance-y, like Shakespearean and stuff, and it reminded me of a piece of work I did two years ago that would totally not be possible in covid times. And then the cats; I am also thinking about the symbols of fertility and abundance, especially since Freya and Freyr are both associated with that. And then my mom was like “Oh yeah, these spores from the plants and now the cats are reproducing”, it's like excess, it's so much abundance and I'm like, “ugh, get this out of here! Why can't I just do this other creative thing I did in the past?”. It's like the cats are other ways I could be thinking about my creativity that are fertile and rich, but I'm like, “get out of here!”, I just want this old thing.
Remy: Why do you think you're kicking them out? Why do you think you don't want those new ways of creating?
Quinn: I don't know what those are yet. I mean, the other interpretation of the dream is that these are things I've committed to since I got back from New Zealand two months ago. I'm kind of upset about it. The cats could be responsibilities that I have that are getting in the way of my art or they could be other ways I could be doing art. There's this little kid part of me that's like “meh, I don't want to adapt my art to be online, I don't want to make it digital!”.
Rachel: I could also see it being there's all these possibilities, but if you take the responsibility of that cat, there's a possibility it will fail, and the cat will die.
Quinn: And yeah, it's just like way too many cats for one person to take care of, too!
Remy: There was this YouTube video when I was around 12, and in the video there's this woman, and she's like “This is my first eHarmony video and um, I just really like cats”, and then she starts crying a little bit, and then she's bawling saying “I just get so sad because I can't hug every cat!”. And sometimes, I randomly quote that video and say to myself that I can't hug every cat. Maybe you can't hug every cat. On another note, this dream and all of the cats make me think of this reminder in my calendar right now that says "Remy submit to Art Shows" and the deadline is tomorrow, and I don't know if I'm going to do it or not because I literally just don't want to go take pictures of my art with my DSLR camera and set up my tripod. That's it, that's literally all I have to do. And that comes up for me when I hear this about the cats. Like, I have options, but I might be trying to shoo them away because it feels more like a nuisance than an opportunity, even though it's actually a great opportunity.
Quinn: You can't take care of all of those cats!
Group: You can't hug every cat! (laughter)
4. Discuss collective issues in the dream
Quinn: I'm aware that we should probably move on to a different dream, but there is one more step in the process, should we discuss it?
Remy: Yeah, lets do it. There are so many global events going on right now that are really affecting all of us, I'm curious to hear what everyone has to say about it. So, the second part is see if there is any social or political commentary going on in the dream. A lot of times that can happen where these big events like Black Lives Matter, covid-19 and the election, happen on a collective level and are reflected in dreams. They're happening on this level that affects all of us, so now we'll be looking at the dream through this lens and see if there's anything that seems like a collective issue.
Quinn: I feel the symbols of fertility and abundance have a shadow side to that, and especially in this new age spiritual culture idea of 'abundance! manifest everything!' and capitalism propelling us to think bigger is better, do more and the shadow of that is like, you have a house full of cats that you have to take care of. There is such a thing as too much, you know? I feel like this dream is inviting to reflect on that. Which cats do you have time to hug and actually care for?
Remy: I wrote something about covid, let me see if I can find it in my notes. You mentioned earlier how your art was something you were grabbing from a past that you couldn't reach and it was loosely connected to a pre-covid art world. You mentioned it wouldn't be possible right now. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm getting covid vibes.
Remy: I think that's pretty normal, but I wanted to point that one out again.
After this, the group moves on to discuss Janae’s dream. I may add that dream in at a later date, but I thought that this would be sufficient to give a picture of what dream groups are, how they’re structured, and the general kinds of conversations that happen within. If you found this interesting, let me know! I have plenty more that I can post. Each discussion and dream are unique. If you had any insights while reading, let me know as well! As mentioned above, all dreams exist on some collective level. Everyone has valuable insight to add when it comes to dreams.
Another epic cat photo of Freya:
Artist is Danielle Zemba