“It was a horrifying dream,” began Simon, “but I know enough about dreams to know it’s not what it seems. “I was swinging an axe down hard on a kangaroo’s head, but that’s not the worst of it.”
Simon has worked with me on his dreams for some time, and invited me to share this one to encourage people who may be reticent to admit to such violent dreams. As you’ll see, the interpretation of Simon’s very short dream is extremely revealing, positive, and potentially life changing.
“In the next scene,” Simon continued, “I was swinging the axe down hard on my niece’s head. The axe kept missing the spot, so I had to keep chopping. My niece, Sasha, was in pain, and pleaded with me to keep going. She had a headache, and this was the cure.”
Can you imagine how someone who knows nothing about dream interpretation would feel about a dream like this?
I knew kangaroos are also known as thumpers, so I could see one connection within the dream. I knew Simon must have thumping headaches. But I knew there was much more. I decided a question and answer approach would be best. Here’s how it went:
“What kind of kangaroo was it?”
“A Big Red.”
“How would you describe the personality of a Big Red?”
“Not very intelligent.”
That surprised me, so much so that I needed verification. “Why?”
“They jump out in front of cars, don’t look where they’re going.”
“And what about Sasha’s personality?”
“She’s smart. It’s taken her years, but she’s finally recognised that she’s smart and she’s doing something about it.”
I knew there had to be a connection between the kangaroo and Sasha, because the dream basically repeated, substituting the kangaroo for Sasha. It’s an example of a recurring motif. They’re very common in dreams once you know how to look.
So we have a kangaroo that’s not very intelligent, Sasha who’s finally recognising her intelligence, and a dream that focuses on heads and headaches.
Somewhere in here I knew that Simon was ready to ‘open up’ a painful issue about intelligence.
“Do you have headaches often?” I asked.
“Yes, terrible headaches,” said Simon. “Like being hit over the head with a blunt axe,” he chortled.
“How old were you when you had your first bad headache?”
“Thirteen. I needed reading glasses.”
“Did you get them?”
As you have probably guessed, Simon got glasses but he didn’t wear them because he didn’t want to look intelligent. He knew he would get bullied. Although he was smart, he decided against university and made career choices that challenged him physically and emotionally but not intellectually.
“People always expect me to be more intelligent than I am,” Simon told me.
“And how do you measure that, Simon?” I asked. “What if you expect them to see through you, to know that you’re more intelligent than you allow yourself to show?”
“So I’m like this big, lolloping, stupid kangaroo, and I could be more like Sasha?”
“Far from it,” I said. “You’re very far from stupid, but your dreaming mind has come up with a dramatic symbol for how you feel about the past, now, looking back. The dream came from you: you see yourself in the past as a bit of kangaroo when it comes to being smart. Somehow, though, I think there’s more. By your definition, all kangaroos are “not very intelligent”, because all kangaroos jump in front of cars. What makes a Big Red different from other kangaroos?
“From my early 20s I was known as Big Red.”
“Let me guess, you got glasses when you were in your 20s?”
“Yes. I wore them a bit. The others ribbed me for looking clever, but it didn’t bother me too much.”
“Do you think your headaches might be connected to times when this issue of intelligence comes up for you?” I asked. “Your dream shows the part of you that wants to just get on with being smart – like Sasha – pleading to be freed from those thumping headaches. Maybe the axe is slipping in the dream because you’re not yet totally done with the issue. Could it be time now to let it go?”
Our physical bodies hold painful memories in painful ways. Simon’s dream suggests he has held painful memories about his intelligence as headaches from, perhaps, the age of thirteen. Whenever waking life touches on this issue, Simon gets a thumping headache.
The dream has come up because Simon is close to resolving this issue now. He has just to steady his focus and stop slipping back (like the axe). The point of the dream was not to kill Sasha, but to cure her of her headaches. The point of the dream is to cure Simon of those painful memories, the issue, and, as soon as he focuses his intent, the headaches.
Simon has consulted doctors over the years about his headaches, and the diagnosis has always been stress. Dream interpretation helps get underneath stress, to the cause.
Simon’s dream alchemy practice involves making peace with his thirteen-year-old self, making it okay for him to be smart. And any time that he feels a headache coming on, he will stop and examine what he was thinking and feeling the moment the pain niggled. His task is to observe and simply release.
[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, February 2010. First published as a Dream Sight article.]