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The Bear's Rip

Dreamed late 1990 or early 1991? by Xanthe

I dreamt we were just moving into new working quarters; a multi-roomed Victorian house. But after renovation, this one seemed to be made of metal, with gunnite sprayed on the walls.

I asked Tia, our supervisor, for a room of my own, explaining "I'm an insomniac; I don't want to keep all of you awake with my light late at night." She assigned me a room with a window.

As I explored the room's nooks, the wall just outside the room cracked open and in walked a black bear!

A bear rips through the wall of a room: sketch of a dream
I said to myself "Let's see what happens if I accept this bear as a reality, not an hallucination."

So I stepped through the jagged wall-flap opened by the bear, and suddenly I was in another space! Wild flashing lights in shifting abstract forms like an animated, three-dimensional Kandinsky painting accompanied by the crackling sounds of electrical arcs.

sketch of a dream of a surreal space full of bright colors like a Kandinsky painting
I found myself going a bit cross-eyed and unable to control my vision, but it began to gradually calm down on its own...

It stabilized into a peaceful scene: an intensely, richly yellow house appeared, standing in a park. Next to it, a lovely tree with leaves and flowers as yellow as the house.

sketch of a dream: a bright yellow house and a tree with equally bright yellowish leaves

I thought that my "vision" might have passed but left me with a heightened awareness of the "real" world, but I wasn't sure. Perhaps it wasn't my eyes; the color of the house and tree might be that extraordinary yellow, unlikely though it seemed.

To test it, I went walking through the park where the house stood, asking people I met what they saw. It was true: I saw differently. The intense color I saw did not appear to them; they saw an ordinary, dull yellowish house and tree.

sketch of a dream: a dull yellow house and a tree with equally dull yellowish leaves

The bear's rip into another world really had changed my vision.


ON LUCIDITY: This isn't a lucid dream exactly, yet it has all the traits of one: conscious choice, a leap into a higher plane crackling with energy and psychedelic color, and lasting heightened perceptions. Xanthe chooses how to see the bear and its rip in her world, and follows its lead into shamanic space, without ever worrying whether it's a dream. It's not unique to Xanthe; I've done this too. Anyone else out there?

It brings up the question: is lucidity really that important? Or does something deeper let dreamers like Xanthe do the same thing without lucidity?

THAT DARN BEAR: Xanthe's always had animal animas, so it's no surprise to me that her guide into the spirit world isn't some humanoid figure. Why a bear? I was working in the same library as Xanthe around this time, and she did have a bearlike energy... and hunger, though the food she was hunting wasn't strictly physical! If you see that tackily remodeled Victorian house (repression?) as a honey-tree, and Xanthe as the honeycomb the bear's trying to free from it... well, the rich honey-color that Xanthe ends up seeing so vividly may not be a random hue! This color recurs in Xanthe's dreams, and always guides her toward power and health: Slithy is a good example.

--Chris Wayan


These illustrations are hybrid reconstructions. Xanthe penciled notes and sketches when she woke, but never painted them. The original sketches burned in a house fire, but she'd sent me xeroxed copies--rough, but better than nothing. I scanned those copies, shaded and tinted from her description. So where text and picture conflict, trust the words!

LISTS AND LINKS: bears - guides - There Are Doors - astral plane - shamanic dreams - true lucid dreams - vision - light and color - collaborative dream art -

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