Dream: I have a couple of days off. I’ve taken Dad to show him where I go camping, way far north, in a beautiful wooded area that’s secluded and quiet. To get there we have to pass through college buildings and through various rooms there, including a chemistry lab. Several people ask us what we’re doing there and we tell them it’s OK, we’re just passing through on our way somewhere else.
Then Dad is driving to get to the road that leads to my special camping place. I recognize everything and I’m very excited, looking forward to being back there. Then an official guy that we meet tells us we can’t go there today—the land has to rest for 3 days. Today is the third day, so we’d be allowed to go tomorrow, but we know that it will be raining then. I tell Dad that it’s really not fair that they only told us that when we were only half a mile away—we can see the place from here—so we decide to go on anyway.
We get closer, and I see the turnoff. We drive a little farther and I see that the land has been clear-cut and they’re building houses on it. I’m completely shocked and can’t even cry out. Dad drives on a little way farther and I tell him he should just take the shortcut out of there. I start to cry but then can’t. Dad doesn’t seem too surprised or disappointed, and I sense that he’s expecting me to fall apart completely. Then I wake up, and I still can’t cry.
There is a lot of information in this dream about my relationship with my personal father, and we will discuss some of that later in the course. For Week Four, though, let’s focus on the archetypal elements.
Additional material for Week Five:
For many years I’ve been fascinated by 19th-century fashion. The night before this dream, I had I spent an hour or two looking at web sites on Victorian costuming, and by the time I quit, my tongue was hurting like crazy, which it had not been doing.
That was interesting! I realized that it had to do with the fact that those lovely silhouettes required truly brutal restrictions, even disfigurement, of women’s bodies and of their freedom. Intriguing. And yet I still love the look! To me at the time, the juxtaposition of these images with the pain suggested that I needed to examine the connection. Lace and ruffles are all very well, but I need to keep my freedom of movement, thought, and action—none of which were available to the ladies who wore those costumes.
The epitome of the restrictive fashions from that era was what was called the “Natural Form” that emerged in the late 1870s. The bustle disappeared for a while, but instead of the bustle, women had their legs virtually tied together by narrow skirts and their bodies encased from bust to below the hips in steel and coutil called the “cuirass bodice.” Natural form, indeed. For no woman ever born was THAT a natural form.
That night, I asked my Guides for a dream. Be careful what you ask for…. The “Devastation” dream was the result. The next morning, my journal reports,
I woke up from that one and all I could do was lie there and think, “oh my god.” The parallel with the Victorian fashions is so clear to me! It was a shocking dream, shocking in its content and also in its timing. I had asked for a comment on why my tongue was acting up so badly; here it was, utterly clear to me and so powerful.
I lay there and thought about the complete absurdity of the hoop skirt, for instance: how did one attend even to one’s most basic bodily functions while dressed in one? Not to mention the discomfort of drafts on more or less bare legs, covered only with drawers that were open at the crotch. And that’s not to mention the danger of the hoops—more than one woman was burned to death when her skirts brushed a fire—and the embarrassment of tripping and falling, hoops skyward, and being unable to get up. Steel below, steel above. The weight of the steel and ten yards of fabric must have been enormous. No man would ever submit to dragging all that around.
The connection with the natural world is so clear: Corsets were to give “support” to women, whose morals, like their bodies, were weak. Women needed to be cared for, or so it was said; the actual effect of all of it was to abuse, enslave, and suppress women for generations. The men in the dream are taking such good care of the land—letting it rest for three days—and all the while they’re raping it, clearcutting it, building houses on it, devaluing and destroying its natural strength and beauty. Wow.