ASILOMAR OF DREAMS
Dreamed 1986/3/5 by Chris Wayan
The world we know is just a high barren plateau, with a scarp dropping off to a warm tropical land called Dream. At the brink of the cliff of dream, I meet the Gatekeeper, who welcomes me. She's a major power here, so I'm always glad to get her advice before I climb down.
Meanwhile, in the sea off the land of dreams, giants walk between coralheads and sunken columns. Great fish come from the cloudy depths, jaws wide, ready to attack! No... they go on by. The figures walk on. Standing on nothing, they rise slowly out of the sea, onto a beach in a hidden cove.
I'm nearby now, half a mile inland, in the jungle, with a tour group. Five or six of us creep along the path, single file, in the humid hush. Dim surf echoes off the cliffs. We come out on a secret beach between two jagged cliffs. It looks like the city of Pacifica, but tropical. Our group leader gestures for silence. Ahead, low buildings sprawl--the Asilomar Of Dreams. The conference center where we'll meet the figures rising from the sea.
At the water's edge, several freighters rise and fall with the long waves. Rust red, and very old -- World War Two? Impossible! There has to be a preservation spell, holding all this just as it has been for decades.
We skirt a one-room pavilion, floored with sand, square, with transparent curtains for walls. They're made of time. Streaked images bleed through: still figures, seated or standing on the other side. These curtains are the heart of the spell on Asilomar.
A second tour group creeps along the edge of the jungle, and a third is leaving the far side of the pavilion. They can book these tours so densely because we're so far apart in time. I'd never make it across this room to the other group--no telling what world I'd end up in. Like spotting someone on the far side of Grand Canyon...
The groups are hushed and nervous, for dreamers are barely allowed to enter this valley at all--it's for dreams, not mortals. Our guide warned us repeatedly not to touch anything, especially the time-curtains.
Then someone next to me, deliberately and firmly, sticks a foot through time.
Did...did I help?
The vandal says calmly "It's time for catastrophe." As if it had to be!
And catastrophe there is. Of a sort. The figures in the room fade... and they're gone. The time-curtain pales to air. We can enter now; it doesn't matter. The spell's broken.
Footprints cover the floor now. They're unnaturally crisp, showing the soles of those here long ago--like tracks in moon dust.
Our leader is furious, but the curtain-breaker shrugs and repeats "it's time for catastrophe."
The leader says "But they made a contract--they were promised they'd last forever, if they stayed inside the curtain of spell. And these were the last ones--all the rest faded. We never knew why..."
I say "They were alive, then? Or ghosts?"
The leader hesitates till it's clear both could be said. "Ghosts, I guess... they faded away... though they were promised immortality." Taking a deep breath, the dream-figure says, as if waking up: "We might as well call them ghosts. They were trapped in one room: that's continuation, or haunting... not life."
Later, I'm sitting in a nook on a plaza with concrete steps. A dream walks up, reading an old dream-journal of mine! I feel embarrassed to have a dream reading my dreams. What if my picture of them is unflattering?
He says "Look at all these archetypes in your previous dreams." The notebook's really old--these are dreams from back when I rarely got much direct advice from sacred beings, or had much dream-sex, or flew, or had clear psychic dreams. They were vivid, but primitive.
The dream sees my disowning of my roots, and gets mad. "Are you complaining these weren't explicit enough?" He points to some early dream-comics I drew. "Look at these! Jung would go nuts! You have the Forked Tree! The Hero Twins! The Door to the Underworld! The Old Sage! The Anima! The Four Corners of the Universe!"
I tell him "I don't like those traditional symbols much -- in fact I don't like symbolic dreams much! I like my stuff direct. I want dream-friends and lovers and adventures, sex equality, sex changes and body changes and animal people and aliens and other worlds and other lives, and transcendental experiences. And just plain advice."
He gets mad and upbraids me: "You're spoiled! Expecting new religious or transcendental symbols is unreasonable -- humanity is wired for the old ones, and besides, how do you know your new ideas like feminism are valid to your unconscious, let alone the COLLECTIVE Unconscious?" I'm shaken that a dream figure is so skeptical, but I feel determined to keep trying to realize my dreams--the ones I have and strive for now. "Sure, my goals are way out of step with others but... I have to follow my own nature! It lures me on like a sea-bell, further than others have sailed."
The dream snorts "But that makes you neglect classic Jungian dreams!"
"So? Other people can dream those dreams. I'm capable of more!"
He walks off, thinking that over. I lie on the concrete, wondering if I'm just being stubborn. Am I insulting my hosts? I mean, they're letting me wander around their Asilomar like I'm a dream, not a dreamer.
I hear the soft splash of water. I open my eyes and find I'm lying by a swimming pool in the Complex of the Gods.
The Great Goddess walks up. The guy who read my journal summoned her. She wants to assess how advanced a dreamer I am; whether there's a chance I really could do what I want to do: break through to a new dreaming.
She asks, "Which of the other gods have you met, besides me?"
Thinking of the Warrior Twins, who in my dreams are usually one male and one female, I say "both!" They're good friends, in fact.
She says "'Both!'? If you only know TWO of the Great Ones, you got a long way to go before you can change the world!"
The Goddess made the same error I did! There are four major gods here: she's one, and the twins both count, but she thinks I don't know the fourth: the Gatekeeper! many dreamers struggle a lifetime just to meet her -- the hardest one there is. For she minds... transitions. Transformations.
But I've known her as long as I can remember! So familiar, I took her for granted when I answered. I'm that different, that backward from other dreamers. Hard is easy, easy's hard.
No wonder my dreams find me hard to interpret.
NOTES ON WAKING
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