photo courtesy of kevindaly.us
We’re examining a short waking dream about an army of ants appearing in the dead of winter. We’re using the dream to explore the role animals play in our lives. We know them as pets, as nuisances, as food that we consume, and occasionally, as threatening presences.
What is less-well understood is the role animals play in delivering messages to us. The Native American concept of the totem is entirely valid; animals come to us as dream symbols, even when we’re wide awake, going about the normal business of our day. They function as vital waking dream symbols in our lives, even if it means they die in the process. Of course, like all of us, they would usually prefer to keep living. But they are willing to sacrifice themselves IF the message they bring is successfully delivered and understood.
In the case of our waking dream about ants, the message is succinct, clear and poignant. The dreamer and I looked at the symbols, and then she made metaphoric associations with each one. Below, we have reassembled the dream replacing the original symbols with her comments about them. The only thing I have added are phrases like, “There is a part of me…” to remind the dreamer that all facets of her dream represent aspects of herself.
The reassembled dream about ants
There is a part of me that is ordered, disciplined, faithful to my cause. This part of me does things by rote and habit. This part of me has countless numbers. The sheer numbers can be intimidating. Oh yeah, and I once heard this part of me described as “automatic negative thoughts.” This part of me usually makes its appearance when the Earth inside of me is waking up again in a seasonal way. Everything is coming back to life in me, and that’s when I’d expect the automatic negative thoughts to be on the march. But now, it’s my most asleep time of the year. I find these thoughts in the place inside of me that I use to release waste and toxins, either through elimination or cleaning. The thoughts meant business. This wasn’t just a couple of scouts. They found something in my cleansing/cleaning very interesting. The thoughts were exploring all the fixtures I use to clean and cleanse. I take care of myself and my surroundings in an adequate way. I do things in the same ordered way I always have; I haven’t made any sudden shifts in my behavior. So I had to ask myself, why me? Why now?
Further discussion about the role of animals in our lives
Even before we’ve discussed this waking dream with the dreamer, a quick reading brings a powerful theme of conflict to light. We’ll be sure to talk this over with the dreamer tomorrow. But for now, another message is clear: Yes, on one level, finding ants swarming around one’s bathroom in the dead of winter is a frustrating, unexpected annoyance. But the ants are not only a pest; they are the dreamer’s teachers. They are a totem, specifically sent to the dreamer to deliver an important message about her process of growth. And they’ve done a magnificent job!