I had the most amazing dream this past week. Now before you hit the snooze button on me, hear me out; I promise that its retelling is relevant to the subject of this post. I had been given a beautiful, handcrafted clock that was made from a very light colored, grainy wood, but it folded up the way the old Timex travel alarms did. It was about the size of a book, and when it was open, it had a round white dial with black numbers on it. It wasn’t working, so I took it to a clock shop where the owner oohed and aahed over it and told me it was truly a work of art. He pointed out a round engraving on the bottom edge that contained the initials of the clockmaker. He told me that he could most definitely repair it, and I left it with him. Upon leaving, I visited a coffee shop where I found my good friend Ellie sitting at a table with many, many papers in front of her. “I’m working on a big project'” she told me, “and I’m just going to sit here until it’s finished.” Those of you reading who know Ellie are fully aware that this is exactly something she would say. In fact, she has said those very words to me quite a number of times. In the dream, I answered in the same way that I always did in real life. “Let me sit down. I’ll help you.” We ordered coffee and a cheese plate that came out on a round wooden board. After that I woke up. In the past I would have immediately reached for my copy of 10,000 Dreams Interpreted and looked up all the symbols in the dream: three circles, time, something handcrafted of value, coffee with a friend, and an act of service. I would have tried to turn the dream into something predictive and useful for my waking life, but my perspective on dreaming has recently changed. Do you wonder why? I hope so, because I’m about to tell you.
Just prior to having the dream, I was listening to the first episode of a podcast called Soror Mystica entitled “The Symbol of the Dream” and found myself to be completely smitten with the podcast itself, as well as with the ideas presented within it. We all have dreams, and when we wake up remembering what they were, we often become obsessed with the thought of interpreting what guidance they might be offering us. In the psychoanalytical world, both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung see dreams as the means by which the unconscious mind informs the conscious mind through symbol and metaphor. Inherent within this concept is the indication that the night world of our dreams is somehow subservient to the day world of our actual lives where all the important things take place. James Hillman, an American psychologist who wrote the book The Dream and the Underworld in 1979, sees night and day to be as equally essential and real to our souls as they are to the physical world we inhabit. Without night, the entire cycle of nature would collapse, and as I talked about in my last post, our understanding of light, in both the symbolic and literal sense, would be incomplete and irrelevant without darkness as a contrast. Rather than viewing dreams as metaphors, messages, or illusions, Hillman suggests instead that they are actually part of our own underworld, an imaginal place within us with its own landscape and topography into which we descend on a nightly basis to walk amongst forces both powerful and transformative. Rather than capture our dreams and wrangle them out of the darkness of night and up into the bright light of day to be poked, prodded, and thoroughly interpreted, Hillman would have us leave them behind in the world where he believes they belong.
What exactly are these forces, both powerful and transformative, that the “sisters in mystery” and James Hillman would expect us to meet as we remember our descent into our own private underworld each night? Although they would vary for each us, we could certainly agree that they would have to be the elements that shape our interior landscape, the stories we are most proud of and the ones in which we feel we have failed, our deepest hopes and our unspoken fears, the visions that drive us each and every day, and the worries we succumb to when we know we haven’t prioritized our lives properly. If we use my dream as an illustration, we might conclude that held within those circles that appeared are the three balance points of life: work, relationships, and sense of self. Closely related to these three might be the concept of time: how and where it is expended, how much of it is left over after all the demands are met, and how much of it can be held or should always be given to others. What are the things that we find to be most valuable, and in what ways is value measured? Is it craftsmanship, beauty, rarity, or something else? Who are the people that we meet in our personal underworld, and what do they tell us about who we are or what we wish we could be? In my dream, having coffee with my friend Ellie reflects the admiration I’ve always had for her as a mom, and the intense importance that I place on my family and being able to be there for them in whatever ways they might still need me. And finally, what is the life purpose that drives us? Do we need to be of service, or to express kindness, to teach, or to learn, or to stretch ourselves beyond what may seem humanly possible to others? To regard dreams in this way, to see them as rich and vital stories understood only by allowing ourselves to walk along side them, rather than merely as tools that serve the conscious mind in its goal oriented approach to life, is to allow them their part in elevating us to the highest state of consciousness, the only place where a true connection with the soul can ever be found.
For today’s cocktail, I began with a base of Koval Cranberry gin paired with St. George Spiced Pear liqueur as my main flavor profile. Although it is August, and summer still has her hands on the reins, we have begun to dream of fall and the changes it will bring. Additionally, cranberries are a symbol of peace, something we search for every night, and pears represent divine feminine energy as expressed through intuition, the only real way to understand the places we visit when we dream. I added lemon juice and a star anise simple to brighten the drink and enhance the spice profile respectively. In folklore, star anise will conjure only good dreams and bring us restful sleep if we place it under our pillow at night. Finally, I added some DRAM Wild Mountain Sage bitters both for wisdom, a symbolism most of us are aware of, but also for a lesser known meaning for sage that sees it as a the gift of remembering. Cheers everyone. Happy Saturday! I wish you sweet dreams.
Long shake over ice.
Double strain into a Nick & Nora glass.
Express a lemon peel on top and discard.
Garnish with a star anise flower.
*Crush a star anise flower with a mortar and pestle. Make a simple syrup with 4 oz water and 4 oz sugar. Add everything to a mason jar. Allow to steep, but check often. It’s a quick infusion.
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