It's been a week. Maybe a little more.
But the dream is still as vivid now as it was that morning when I woke up in a sweat with a case of the shakes. And the cold thought that maybe it had been real.
No. It had to be a dream. Nothing more.
A friend of the Desk... sorry. Old habit. A friend of mine said that maybe since I think into the keyboard better than I talk, maybe I should write about it.
We discussed the imagery, and she said that the fact that I knew I was dreaming was a good thing.
As if anything out of it could be a good thing.
It began innocently enough. I was in an amusement park. Evidently alone.
OK. Nothing unusual there. I've had dreams of roller coasters, and other rides and places before. Last year I dreamt I was at the Indiana State Fair with my grandfather. Grandpa Jimmy died in 1977 or so. I haven't been to the Indiana State Fair since before that. OK, it was a nice memory. No problem.
At this amusement park was a snake display.
There are Reptile Houses at various ones. The one that sticks out in the Desk's mind is the one at the Baltimore Zoo. OK. I don't like snakes. In fact. I hate snakes. Period. But if they don't bother me, I don't kill them. We have an understanding, snakes and me.
Part of this display was an Anaconda.
No I have not seen any movie that starred a legless reptile. Period. Don't even want to. I have seen nature specials about that particular brand of snake. I researched the hoax picture that was supposed to be one that swallowed some unlucky jungle guide, and proved the original was a large snake that had swallowed a goat. The picture had been doctored. Oh well. And no, I don't care if they taste like chicken.
In the dream. I watched them show off the snake for a minute. Then I went on my way.
At this point, things changed dramatically, and somewhere during this time I realized I was indeed dreaming.
I ended up outside an abandoned cathedral which I did not recognize.
Again. Nothing real unusual. I have done considerable research into church and cathedral architecture. Everything from Chartres, and St. Paul's, to San Sophia, and the National Cathedral in DC. I've been to the Stone Cathedral in St. John, New Brunswick, as well as several historic churches in the US. I'm planning, sometime in the future, to take a Cathedral and Castle tour of Europe, my wife can go shopping, I have a list of places I want to see. The fact I did not recognize building however is barely noteworthy. The fact that it was obviously abandoned may be.
Outside were all kinds of cops and Federal Agents. One of them handed me a pistol and said it was a .45. Then he gave me a handful of rounds for it. And I knew I was supposed to go inside, hunting, as it were. For this big snake.
OK. Here things get weird. Yes, the weapon may have been a .45 Govt. Except the rounds he gave me were .454 Casulls. The .454 is the most powerful handgun currently in production, it replaced 'Dirty Harry's' .44 Magnum. Also, the gun he gave me was a semi-auto, the .454, which I knew it to be, is revolver only.
I walked in the front door and proceeded up a long ramp toward the sanctuary. Inside a bend in the ramp was a huge old tree growing from far below and reaching up through the roof. I walked up the ramp and caught a glimpse of the snake. Except now instead of a standard issue Anaconda, it appeared to be something along the 'feathered snake' variety.
Oh joy. Now I have to kill Quetzalcoatl. Although in the dream I couldn't remember his name, I knew it was an Inca god. The only impression I got from the tree was that it was an Oak, but it didn't seem to be otherwise remarkable. I know all about the Kabballah's Tree of Life. This didn't appear to be it. But...
At the top of the ramp I could see into the sanctuary. It was just as abandoned as it had looked from the outside. Above the roof was gone and it was open to the night sky. Some pews were broken or leaning over. Others were missing. For some reason I was worried about this. The snake was way down front. Which was actually down a long incline from where I was standing. It seemed about to slip through an open door. I tried to aim at it, but it was moving, and I didn't want to miss. Then it was gone.
Graded floors in large churches is nothing unusual. And I have seen pictures and tapes of neglected or bombed out churches that looked like this one did. So that may have simply been stock footage dredged up from my memory. What did strike me as odd was that since it was obviously a Catholic building, there was no crucifix or alter. The place had been de-sanctified at some point. I know of churches that have been turned into schools, museums, or even a restaurant. But this one was different. Somehow, I knew it was still a place of worship.
I went through the sanctuary and toward the door the snake had gone through. Several times I saw, and took a few shots at the snake. But it was always one step, or slither, ahead of me. Now the gun I was carrying matched what I knew it to be. A five shot revolver complete with vented rib along the top.
Dreams of long passages with many doors are not unusual. Funhouse, or madhouse, depends on the type of dream, type scenes can represent many things to the head-shrinker crowd. How a good Freudian doctor would explain a person searching through a maze-like passage with a high-powered firearm looking to kill an ancient god is another matter all together.
In one room I came face to face with the crucifix from the sanctuary. It was the Christ figure, on the cross. Except His eyes were open, and He was looking at me with a face full of pain. He did not speak, I did not speak to Him. I went back out and continued my hunt for the snake. With a great sense of urgency.
Images of the Crucified Christ in a dream have sent people on religious pilgrimages to Jerusalem. I can't afford that plane ticket. Even though I am not a Catholic, and I don't play one on TV either, I recognize the power of the image of Christ on the Cross. Especially with open eyes that focus on you, that'll just flat out give you the chills. And although the snake image, combined with the Dying Savior is enough to make one take Holy Orders... that's not my style. Besides, nobody in the Bible used guns on the pagan gods.
I never found the snake. I never saw the icon again either. I wandered through ever darkening passages until I woke up. Sweating. Shaky. And with a lot to think about.
It was just after five in the morning. So I stayed up, and was almost half an hour early for work. Except I am still not able to shake some of the images from the dream. The eyes of Christ, the movement of the snake, the feel of the cold heavy gun in my hand. And the look of the ancient tree I walked past.
OK. So how many levels of meaning were operating in this one? How many ways can the symbolism be taken? Maybe it was nothing but a dream influenced by dinner.
[stand by for Dickens quote]
Marley: "Why do you doubt your senses?"
``Because,'' said Scrooge, ``a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!''
No. I am not saying that I was visited either by Christ or by Quetzalcoatl or by anything else. But, I am also not prepared to either read deep meaning into it, or to dismiss it as a 'blot of mustard' either. It is simply something that happened, that for some reason has dominated my memory for an unusually long period of time while remaining vivid almost to being tangible. Almost as real as actual experiences I have had. Almost. I do realize this was a dream, and remember it as such.
Dreams are powerful instruments of gauging one's own psyche, maybe they are a conduit for messages from... well, elsewhere and otherwhen, much can easily be made of what the subconscious decides to parade out across the 'theater of the mind' in the middle of the night.
I also realize I have been under an inordinate amount of stress lately. Personally, professionally, physically. Stress, too much hot sauce, a weird schedule, and a broken spring in the mattress may have all contributed to it.
I am not in a position to analyze it beyond the obvious.
I just hope that retelling what details I can remember, and I think I've gotten most of it, help me to put it behind me.
Thanks for listening.
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