Friday, November 20, 2009

Dream: The Gray Goose

A few weeks ago I had a dream. The actual visual imagery was not as vivid or powerful as in many of my dreams, but the verbal and then tactile/kinesthetic experience was very clear. I was in a sled race in the snow. The sled seemed like the sort that would be used with a dog team, but I have no memory of dogs in the dream and it seemed more that I was pushing the sled (which was perhaps reddish orange in color and which now, several weeks later reminds me in color and structure of the Golden Gate Bridge [which I was planning to walk across as I usually do in visiting San Francisco where I was to go the week after the dream]). At some point, I turned off the main trail to take a break and perhaps drink some water. I then heard a voice say—“Keep going, there is something you need ahead”. I did keep on for quite a while, although I was beginning to worry about being out of the race for so long and falling behind. I eventually came to a small lake (again the visual imagery is not powerful), but the voice said something like “There, catch that goose. You need her”. I was surprised, but I went to the edge of the lake and managed to scoop up this rather large grey bird. The voice then said, “Hold her tight. Don’t let her get away. Tuck her under your jacket.” I did all this, still bewildered. The voice then said, “Now she’s going to show you some affection, just relax and accept it”. At that point, I felt the goose stretch her neck a little and she began rubbing her beak gently on my neck and cheek. If the voice hadn’t prepared me for this and given me an interpretation of it, I probably would have found it mildly unpleasant and disconcerting or annoying, but as it was, I was able to experience it as something (mildly) positive. I then thought or said, “I have spent too much time away from the race and I am going to lose.” The voice said, “No you need to have the goose with you. She will be of help. When you get back to the race, you will be at the top of a big hill. With the goose’s help you will be able to make it directly to the top of the next hill and you will not have to go down into the valley. This will put you ahead in the race and it will give you a chance to win.” The next moment, I was indeed, on top of a high hill, my sled was perched on the summit in front of me and I was both holding onto the sled and clutching the gray goose tightly, still under my jacket. I seemed poised to take off for the crest of the next hill in the distance in front of me (again the visual imagery was not very vivid or clear) and then I woke up.

Two weeks later, having returned from the visit to San Francisco to see my son and grandchildren and my first ex-wife, and having told the dream to them, I was reading some novels my son had given me. The heroic, nature, masculine themes in these novels reminded me of some heroic/romantic books written in the 1920’s by James Oliver Curwood, that my father had introduced me to as a child. I had purchased a few of these books on the internet in the past few years and re-read them. I decided to send one of these to my son and I looked at them on the shelf and eliminated three of them for various reasons and decided to send him one called “the Valley of Silent Men”. It was about an adventure and love story in the Canadian Wilderness in the 1920’s as were most of Curwood’s novels. I decided to quickly read the book once more before sending it to my son. I was astounded to read, about 2/3’s of the way through the book, after the hero has been rescued by the woman he falls in love with, she speaks of the three major rivers of that part of Canada—and she says “The Athabasca is Grandmother, the Slave is Mother, and The Mackenzie is Daughter, and over them watches always the Goddess, Niska, The Gray Goose. The Gray Goose blood is in me, Jeems. I love the forests”. Throughout the rest of the novel, the hero calls his Love his gray goose, his Niska. (I did some research on the internet and discovered that in some very obscure Canadian Indian language the Canadian Goose is indeed called “Niska”).

A few weeks later I have remembered that my mother told me that as a toddler she called me the “spruce goose”, because I had a long neck and I reminded her of Howard Hughes’ giant wooden aircraft (which flew only once). The press called it the spruce goose, a derogatory name which Hughes hated. He named it the "Hercules".

I am still working on understanding and integrating the messages of this dream into my consciousness and life. It did suggest to me that I might yet complete some of my life tasks if I recognize the help I need and hold onto it tightly when it appears. That help might keep me from making an unnecessary and perhaps time- wasting descent into the “valley”, and the time and effort saved might keep me in the race. (I also had an association of an experience that occurred in Austin Texas during the year I was riding my bike everywhere and almost never got into a car. On my way home from campus there was a Creek, at the bottom of a ravine between two steep hills. To get home, I had the joy of soaring down the hill as if I was flying; followed by the very challenging task of pedaling up the steep incline on the other side. After a time, I realized that I was letting the fear and worry that I couldn’t or might not get up the hill, destroy my ability to live fully the moments of joy in racing down the hill toward the creek. It became an exercise in letting go of concerns about the future to stay in and enjoy the present. I was able to do this, by taking away any expectations or goals about the trip up the other side. I gave myself permission to get off and walk my bike up to the crest if it was too hard to pedal up. My experience of this nightly journey changed dramatically and the lesson as always served as a model to help me let go of worries about the future that destroy the enjoyment of the present.


  1. I really enjoyed this account. I have always been fascinated by dreams. In high school and into college I used to keep a dream journal, which I still have. As I wrote down dreams more I remembered them better until I would have quite lengthy and detail accounts of my like you have done here.
    I still have vivid dreams, but quickly forget them because I don't write them down.

    The other night I did wake up with what seemed to be an amazing statement from a dream that I had. I got up and wrote it down feeling like it was important to remember. The next morning I went to my desk and saw that I had written in barely readable scrawling: "When you hear the r---- call from others you must act immediately" I could not make out the word that began with "r" but remember that in the dream it was the key work and made a huge impression on me. What I wrote looks like "riventing", but I don't know what the word really was supposed to be.

    When you were describing the "grey goose" under your jacket, my initial image was a bottle of grey goose vodka. I'm sure your reference from the book is much more accurate in your case.

    Hope you do some more dream narrative accounts and analyses as I think they are immensely interesting.


  2. Lee,I enjoyed your response. I use a number of techniques for "intepreting" dreams--mostly from various psychotherapy traditions--Jungian, Gestalt, Freudian, etc. I won't go into all that right now, I will just add my association to your dream. Your name is Arlee--and the Ar, might also be taken, in dream language to be "R". Thus, the reading of the dream could be, When you hear the AR (Yourself? someone like yourself, a part of yourself?......)call (called? calling?) from others, then you must act immediately. Even if there are other "meanings" to the "r" (and most dreams communicate on more than one level), the dream seems to alert you to listen for a special call from others (outside yourside yourself, outside of your usual self, from the "r" side of yourself?...) that you then need to respond to.

    When I googled "goose" searching for other meanings, I did, of course, find the Vodka. Since I don't drink, at that level, the dream seemed to indicate I was to embrace something which normally I might avoid or ignore or which I might think is not good for me.
    Since I had a long Jungian Analysis and often work on dreams from that perspective, I also thought of the Goose as a feminine principle, my own inner feminine side. In that respect the dream could be indicating that my journey needs to supported by those feminine qualities which I sometimes avoid or have undeveloped (gentleness, receptivity, patience, nurturance, instinctive wisdom?......). Or it could be that I need to find support from a woman for some current developmental task. Thanks for the plug on your site. Harris