There is something very electric about dreams that walk us up to a powerful threshold. We awaken filled with awe, wonder, true thrill, and a stirring uneasiness/fear of what the deep unknown it’s left us before holds for us. Though initiatory in their own right, typically these dreams act as doorways into deeper work within the scope of a larger initiatory process already underway. It’s a deliberate maneuver on behalf of your psyche/soul to deepen, open, and strengthen you. Kind of like “This is where we’re going now! Get ready!” You can be sure that if these kinds of dreams come to you, the Deep Self knows you are ready for the sacred ass kicking that awaits you! (Though you will rarely think so) These dreams make you feel exactly as you should in the face of that kind of terrifying honor – deeply grateful and thrilled, yet completely daunted.
So what do these kind of dreams look like?!
Here are a few of my own.
I am in a car with a former coworker, Levi, going to pick something up…or something? We are driving through a country landscape and ultimately end up in a field, driving a little out of control, dodging cows and taking the hills in the field a little too fast in my opinion lol. We come up to one hill and hit some serious air time and as we are plummeting down towards the valley below, a mouth to an underground cave appears in view and we are aimed straight for it! We fly right into it and the car kind of hovers at this point as it descends deeper and deeper. There are cows fleeing this cave with sheer terror in their eyes. I say out loud to Levi nonchalantly, “well, this is pretty much the worst place I’ve ever seen.” There are bones, guessing cow bones, all over the ground. And the vibe just gets continually darker and more sketchy the further we travel. Eventually, the car comes to a stop. It stops right at the mouth of an even deeper section of this cave, one that eventually just fades to complete darkness. There are zombie like cows and even human zombies down there that are walking deeper into the cave, as if entranced. Levi, at this point, turns into a woman news reporter. She jumps right out of the car and begins walking towards the mouth of the cave. I follow her, mainly because of her total bravery, but probably partly because I don’t want to be alone down there lol! There is a rock stepping stone path into the darkness. She was just ahead of me with a woman zombie and zombie cow to our right a small distance. As we walk, I can hear her telling her story of being down here, as if she is being interviewed or delivering a breaking news report. And back an forth, I’d be in the cave, then I’d be in a studio watching her recount her story, then back in the abyssal cave until I wake.
This dream came just a month after I had made a very uncharacteristic move in my life, based on other dream prompts, to quit my long standing job – without much of a safety net at all. I had begun work with the victim archetype earlier that year in my waking and dreaming life and that job was a big power leach. In hindsight, I can see how this dream really initiated my very deep descent into the victim energy (which will make sense just below). As being so far out of my comfort zone, and being pulled even farther out, the longer I remained jobless, the more that victim arose.
At the time, I was attempting to have a lucid dream to call my victim into the dream and offer him the healing he so deeply yearns for. It would be another four months, from the dream above, before I would be given that opportunity. And every lucid dream I would have, during that time, when I would ask my victim to join me, I would be met by what I refer to as “primal fear.” The kind of fear that ungrounds you to your core. That fills you with pure fright! The kind of fear seen in the eyes of the cows fleeing for their lives from the cave. The kind of fear that grips a person as they enter a space that slips into complete, engulfing darkness.
This dream walks me down into a personal underworld of mine – to a threshold of utter darkness. Cows are a very powerful symbol of nurturance and it’s clear that this zone in my soul suffers from a deep lack of self-nurturance. The dream as a whole carries an impressive amount of feminine symbolism, which is adds to this aspect of nurturance (a cave, woman reporter/zombie, and the cows). The cows fleeing can be seen as how terrified I have been to brave the depths and to love and nurture that part of myself this cave symbolizes (a dead zone ravaged by a deep, unconscious lack of nurturance – which would appear to be the undermining cause of the victim issue). The dead cows reinforce very vividly this dreadful lack of nurturance, shown as bones, as if having been long dead/absent. But, death in dreams always holds the seed of rebirth within and through braving these depths (the victim), I have the profound opportunity to recapture my ability to nurture myself, as I would finally learn to nurture and care for myself through the very act of facing and healing him.
My admittance of this being “the worst place I’ve ever seen” is a very powerful statement and very telling of the level of awareness I would soon discover about the reality of the victim’s expression within me. It being the worst/most unfortunate place I’ve ever discovered in my soul.
And like is common with dreams like this – there often is a character, maybe even yourself, that wants nothing more than to go where no one would ever dare to go. I feel these characters embody the true spirit of the Deep Self. The Deep Self knows no fear and revels in wanting nothing more than to boldly forge into the areas we have put up unimaginable amounts of energy to look away from and bar from our consciousness. Because in those zones is where our greater Being is recaptured, as these splintered, wounded, broken, forgotten, abandoned zones/aspects of our souls, once re-membered, revitalize areas within us that have been lost. Our expansion is often less dependent on us discovering some sublime aspect of ourselves, as it is breathing life and awareness into the lost zones of our being, as we can’t truly become whole if these fail to be integrated.
And sometimes the dream gives you a taste of what will be the outcome of facing such an initiatory threshold. The woman’s account of this experience is the testimony of my own soul. I don’t recall anything she says verbatim, but I recall a sense that she faced her depths, her deep dysfunction, and returned to tell her story of her humbling triumph. That it changed her in a profound way that nothing else could have done. And in hindsight, I can smile that it was all in fact true.
The dream begins with my hand on the Excalibur (King archetype)! There is something tricky I must do, that could essentially be my demise. Possessing the sword, I would have to confront the Devil, as the sword, depending on how it was wielded, could be used for good or evil. And as a test, it would seem, by taking the sword I would have to prove my resilience against the darkness. It was understood, like the Ring in LOTR, the darkness would threaten to consume me and I would have to overcome it. So, I thrust the tip of the blade into the Earth and the dark magic begins to seep into the soil, killing the grass around it. Utterly blackening it and creeping outward, it is so gnarly! Some police force comes to stop me. So I begin twirling the sword, as if to open a portal to Hell. One of the officers gets too close, I need to stop him cause I can’t let him try and stop me. So, I raise my hand in his direction and the dark magic kills the grass underneath him in the same manner, kind of as a warning to stay back. A portal begins to open and the dream scene flashes forward to me having had returned from Hell. I am in an apt and two older women that I “know” greet me and congratulate me on passing the test and being victorious! I am so beat up and borderline broken, but I did do what I needed to do. The women take care of me and I wake up.
This dream is so major and it’s implications on my life at the time were pretty dire, to put it politely.
To begin, let’s talk about the archetype of the King. The King began appearing in my dreams after I had my lucid dream of reconciling with my victim archetype (mentioned above) and just as my individuation journey was beginning to move more so into the anima work from the shadow work. It was as if since I finally found the capacity to go so deeply and bravely into my grief and pain (victim) and reconcile with it, I was finally acting kingly within my soul. The Victim is the source of all our powerlessness and the True King, in a man, would represent him coming into his true power and sovereignty over his inner kingdom – the King is the symbol of the fully initiated man. But, that was just the very hints of him beginning to arise. My anima (the feminine aspect of a man’s psyche) would waste no time in personally assigning me to undergo a rite of passage in a lucid dream just two months into starting her work and the King showing up. She would see to it that I finally became a man worthy of the crown, let alone that of his Queen. This rite of passage of the arising of the King will become understood to be the bulk of the anima work, of which is still in progress.
This dream came about 9 months into this process after already enduring some of the most trying months of my life. But, things were about to get worse before they got better. This dream opened kind of a mini window into the upheaval I would experience the following month. I was on the verge of losing everything and everyone in my life and this dream prodded me deeply to test me to see what the King in me would do.
When faced with the total annihilation of his livelihood, how would the King react? Here we see I am wielding the glorious Excalibur! Which, in the context it appears, feels like a symbol of the King’s power, as it has magical connotations of being used for good or evil. It has an incredible association to being likened to the ring from Lord of the Rings, that the dark magic attached to it could overtake me. Like Frodo, I am being tasked to carry this symbol of power into the heart of Hell (much like Mordor) and face the Devil himself (Sauron) and return victorious. Such a great example of a very clever retelling of myth within dream symbolism.
One of the shadow aspects of the King is the tyrant King. And who better a symbol of the tyrant King then the Devil mashed up with Sauron. This dream shows the necessity of the true King having to face his tyrant shadow self, the urge within the King energy to rage and take for himself. The Tyrant King severs his service to the divine, like the Devil, because he actually is a weakling that fails to trust in a greater Will. He flails and scrambles for power and forsakes God when he feels that life is dealing him a shit hand, instead of standing firm and unwavering in his faith that he will always be taken care of and has the strength to brave whatever life deals him because his power comes from a source greater than him.
This journey/initiation has demanded a complete surrender from me. Staring down the barrel of losing everything and everyone in my life was by far the hardest test of trust and willingness to surrender my will to the greater will at work in my life. Is this going to finally break me? Am I going to say “you clearly don’t know what you’re doing God” and give a big middle finger and think that I could somehow do better exerting my puny will? Or am I going face it as gracefully as one could, square up with that tyrant within me, overcome the consuming darkness plaguing my life, and say humbly “I trust you, please show me the way through”?
For two weeks, I felt like I was in Hell. I would go through waves of intense anger at the fact I could possibly be asked of this. That it seemed like I was suppose to just walk willing to my own destruction (with any real initiation there is a complete death and rebirth that must be undergone, so in a sense, yes I was). Just brutal, as was it for everyone in my life. And I would recognize the tyrant’s voice coming through that anger and desperation and I would have to reconcile with him and move diligently and compassionately through all his dysfunction and power issues. By the time those two weeks were up, I felt like I did in the dream, just utterly wiped out. Much like Frodo as he’s carried off by the great eagles. This began the process of breaking the tyrant’s desire within me to seize the throne by will and force, instead of being divinely granted it and this set me up to face my great death with a strength that bewilders me now.
Other similar dreams have carried symbols of a massive storm coming; about to climb a terrifyingly steep mountain that no one but me wants to climb; being ushered to a gated entrance where warriors enter to face their greatest challenge and wake up before I enter (currently at work in my life); sending my brother on a jetski out into a menacing looking, swelling ocean, but saying to someone that “he needs this.”
Look for dreams where you are on the precipice of some kind of great undertaking and you can be sure you’re probably at a threshold.