I’m all for traditional dream interpretation but I’ve had a few midnight adventures that would sizzle the pages of a dream dictionary. There are nights when my pillow converts into a sleek 1050 C Class astro vehicle that instantaneously teleports me to Lands Unknown. I’ve dreamed of places that look nothing like this planet, or the next six over. I’ve dreamed of life forms so beyond our biology they’re a regular George Lucas wet dream. Just last week I had a strange bird circling my dreams.
The Second Dream
The dream was very lucid. It was one of those where you wake from one dream into another. Since my bedroom carpet had transformed into river stone I knew I hadn’t returned to hard reality yet. In the dream, I turned to my husband still in our bed and said, “This is a dream. We still need to wake up.”
Feeling as if I might as well explore, I walked to the window of our bedroom and saw the large bird soaring overhead. It reminded me of a predatory bird, with an eagle like head, a vulture like body and an impressive tale. Its head and underside were white with blood red feathers covering its neck and back. It was clearly aware of me and set to circling… circling… circling over our backyard. I got the distinct impression we were connected and it was waiting for me to join it.
Three days after the dream…
and I still wanted to go to the window to see if that bird was circling. My curiosity got the best of me; I turned the mystery over to my favorite detective: Google. My search did not start out promising but I finally came across an image of a white bird with a bright red back that was identified as a phoenix. This mystical bird is well known for rising out of the ashes; a symbol of rebirth, made infamous in our time by the Harry Potter book series.
It’s the history of this bird that struck me. The origin of the phoenix started in Egypt but quickly spread across the whole of Europe and Asia; as far as Korea, India and Medieval Europe. Although each culture identified the bird under a different name the idea of a bird that reincarnates from its own ashes never faltered. No one has been able to explain how an animal that has never existed become a common myth in so many cultures at a time when information did not travel quickly. I’ve got a crazy idea; maybe everyone was dreaming of them.
You see, this isn’t the first time I’ve dreamed of the phoenix.
The First Dream
I was walking around a large pier. People were screaming as a rambling rollercoaster dropped while others enjoyed the carnival games. I found myself alone on the boardwalk when a group of teenagers approached me. I asked them if they wanted to fly with me. They said they would rather stay and ride the carnival rides. They were afraid to fly. I explained to them how it was more wonderful than any man made ride but they still wouldn’t come with me. It was disappointing but did not stop me from leaping off the pier and flying up into the sky. Below me was a shallow, teal colored ocean. It was peaceful, jubilant and stunningly beautiful.
I soared for a long time, traveling far, when I saw a cluster of trees growing in a shallow spot on the ocean below. I landed in the tree that had a flock of white birds roosting in it. They had long tails like a peacock but thick heads like an eagle. One of them hoped over to me, offering its back for me to climb on. I said to it, “We can fly even higher now.” It shook its head and replied, “That’s the problem with you; you always want to fly higher.”
The Phoenix and the Palm
When I did my first search to identify “all white bird with long tail and eagle head” I was shocked to discover the bird was not only a phoenix but that many legends around this mythical bird have it roosting in a tropical tree, the Phoenix dactylifera, a palm species. The bird also has a strong association with the tree of life. Seeing that image of a white bird in a tropical tree gave me a hard shiver.
Explain to me, in a logical manner, how I came to dream about a bird that does not exist in my personal experience beyond a best selling book. If dreams are only based on our knowledge then the phoenix in my dreams should look like the flashy rainbow bird in the Harry Potter movies. I’d have recognized it on some level. If dreams are only a matter of the brain processing the emotion and stress of our daily lives then why was I chatting it up with a bunch of mythical birds on their preferred perch? How can we logically explain that almost every major ancient culture knew of the phoenix, a bird that is still being Googled by 2,900 people around the world each month? Do you think these people are dreaming of an eagle headed bird?
All of us have the every night dreams where we process through the mucky emotions and stress of our day but then there are these dreams that take us beyond all that we know or will ever know. Yes, this dream is full of insight into my unconscious mind but it’s also an opportunity for me to experience life’s mystery in the confines of a three dimensional body. The trick is to know the difference between a processing dream and the magic astro ride. The trick is to believe that there is deep magic in our reality, and yes, you have the capacity to immerse yourself within it.
Have you ever dreamed of something that is beyond your experience, something not even the Google gods can identify, maybe some mythical thing people were dreaming about 5,000 years ago? Can you tell the difference between having a regular processing dream verses one of these mystical, lucid experiences? Are we capable of traveling in our dreams where our bodies can not go?
Monica Wilcox is a regular contributor for Care2.com, OwningPink.com, and FemCentral.com. Her work has been featured on McSweeney’s.net and in Parent:Wise magazine. When she’s not editing her first novel, she’s blogging about women’s issues, living green and everything woo-woo. She’s been advised to publish a dream journal. Until then you can find more of her nightly drama at Femmetales.com.