I’m reading Stephen Aizenstat’s book about dream tending and the part so far that has really grabbed my attention is his advice on connecting with one’s animal body. He writes: “When I work from my “animal body,” greeting dream images in an embodied way, they, in turn, respond to me in the same way. It’s as if a dream image is actually a kind of person or animal with a body of its own, albeit imaginal.” He goes on to speak about grounding oneself in the present moment, the “here and now.” According to Aizenstat, these actions prepare us for encountering the images from our dreams in a direct way, but I’m not there yet. I’m still swirling around, trying to be in my “animal body” in the “here and now.” I’m finding this psychic combo very liberating.
When I went to bed last night, I lay there and wiggled my toes and felt the way the sheets touched my feet and the rest of my body. I felt the warmness and safety and softness of my bed and my sweet dog’s warm body gently breathing next to me. I listened to the crickets making their evening songs and heard the wind rustle the leaves on the avocado tree outside. I glanced around the room and saw the light of the full moon streaming in and, somewhere in my heart, I sensed the reality of the coming lunar eclipse. Once I allowed the prerogatives of my animal body to determine the boundaries of experience, there was no way to be anywhere but there, in that moment. The thought factory in my mind would chime in every now and then, but the spell of the animal moment was too strong for it. A thought would arise, say something silly, and then vanish, like ghosts do in old cartoons. It’s not that thoughts can’t contribute something useful, it’s just that in the purely experiential space that simply being an animal seems to inhabit, thoughts are superfluous, everything is grasped instantly and intuitively.
I fell asleep and had a fabulous night of dreaming. I’m writing my final paper on Macbeth this term so I dreamed all night of different Macbeths. I spoke with Michael Fassbender (who plays a terrifying Macbeth in a 2015 film adaptation) about his performance, and interestingly, I dreamt of my father, which I have not done in a very long time. As I astral walked through that waking and sleeping time in very early morning I kept saying or thinking: “ Banquo, Banquo . . . ” and “Why is masculinity equated with aggression and violence?” When I finally woke up, I let my metaphorical feathers fluff up and I luxuriated in the warmth and safety of my little nest. I did not immediately look at my phone and I did not immediately turn on the roaring tap of the thought factory. I quietly fixed my morning tea, and Georgie and I went to the park where a light wind was blowing under ominously black clouds. With my animal nose I smelled a rainstorm coming. I allowed the image of the morning dew glinting off the grass, now a darker green under heavy clouds, just settle on my eyes without making any mental pronouncements on the fact.
Being an animal in the world, just living my life because I must, suddenly feels so natural. I still drove the car to the park, and I am using my computer to write this, but I am also just an animal in the world, aware of the bird song right now, sensing the storm brewing, smelling that, in this moment at least, it is safe enough to commune with images from my dreams.