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Box of Dreams

A series of dreams 2007-2009 (mostly 2009) by Jenny Badger Sultan
jennybadgersultan.com

The Box of Dreams was an experiment. I saved up canvas scraps trimmed off finished paintings, plus scraps covered with painting and printing experiments, and used these as textured grounds to sketch dream scenes on. I accumulated quite a hoard of these painting-scraps so I could choose one that fit the mood of the dream.

I believe it worked. Starting on a multilayered surface helped to get me past the moment of hesitation and shyness one feels when faced with a blank canvas.

Lid of the Box of Dreams, a wooden box containing twenty small dream-paintings, by Jenny Badger Sultan Inside lid of the Box of Dreams, a wooden box containing twenty small dream-paintings, by Jenny Badger Sultan

As is mentioned in one of the dreams, during the time I tried my experiment, Jung's famous illuminated dream-journal, the Red Book, was finally published (after only a century!) I do not think this was a coincidence.

I was compiling my own Red Book. Or Blue Box.

--Jenny Badger Sultan Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Snake Package'.

THE DREAMS

Snake Package

2007/5/27

Both the dream and this little painting come from an earlier time. I am given a dehydrated package of dried snake to insert in my vagina. Inside it will unfold and come to life.

At the time, I saw this as a positive Kundalini energy image, but after my surgery and lymphoma experience I wondered if it indicated a problem in my abdominal area. Could it be related to my later rattlesnake dream? (2009/3/15) Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Tony digs up the Red Earth'.
Tony Digs Up the Red Earth

2008/2/23

This was dreamed on my birthday, but in the dream it was Thanksgiving.

My mother wants my brother Tony to come help with the heavy kitchen tasks. He is out in back, digging up dark red earth under the trees. He is angry and annoyed at being asked to stop.

Tony was often the adventurous troublemaker in the family, stirring things up--here he is excavating the red earth which is valuable, a source of life, creativity. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Dad Falls Asleep at the Podium'.
Dad Falls Asleep at the Podium

2008/3/8

My dad is onstage, behind a podium. He is supposed to speak. But I see him falling asleep. I try to rouse him, but I also fall asleep!

Later I find he has been taken to a bed to rest.

Maybe a relaxation of the father archetype (critical faculty?) Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'A Fire Entirely Without Heat'
A Fire Entirely Without Heat

2008/9/11

A young friend of ours is learning how to weld from his father. He is welding a sink and a watering can together--two vessels that hold water. He is enveloped in a red glow but is not burned.

This dream came on September 11, and shows the need for regulating our fire, our heat, our anger in a way that is constructive and does not destroy. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Two Gorillas in the Field, One Waves to Me'.

Two Gorillas in the Field

2008/12/5

I saw two gorillas in a field. One waves to me; then they come toward me. It is a little scary but exciting.

Seeing them is a very meaningful soul encounter. Gorillas are maybe the most important animals to me. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Nibbling Fruits'

Nibbling Fruits

2009/2/3

I am given a gift of "nibbling fruits" A ritual in an indigenous community. I am honored by this gift. These fruits were for me alone, not for others.

I knew the dream meant I'd been feeding everyone but me. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Hank and the Bengal Tiger'.
Hank and the Bengal Tiger

2009/2/27

Another animal encounter. We are at a party. My husband Hank was sitting outside. I went out and found him facing a tiger! I am alarmed--is this dangerous? I worry "Should I inform someone?" as I often do.

But Hank is a Leo. They're both big cats. They'll get along. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''Weaving Mats.

Weaving Mats

2009/3/15 (the same night as Will I be bitten?) In the camp women are weaving mats. Will I try it?

I was puzzled by this part of the dream. Later, I came to see it as symbolizing the healing of the open wound after my abdominal surgery. Over the course of time I got to observe it changing from a large open incision to a beautifully closed line. I also see the weaving as the web of love and support I felt from my family and friends during this time.

Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''Will I be Bitten by a Rattlesnake?
Will I be bitten by a rattlesnake if we sleep in the caves?

2009/3/15

On a camping trip, a friend, who has had lymphoma for several years, suggests we sleep in the caves. I am apprehensive, sense danger, but then feel it will be all right, that I will be able to get medical help if I am bitten.

In retrospect this seems like a precognitive dream about the lymphoma which showed up in an abdominal surgery May 28. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''Little Brown Rabbits in the Meadow.

Little Brown Rabbits in the Meadow

2009/3/20

We visit a friend. Her home is ramshackle, with trees growing through the walls. But she invites us to see the glorious view out the window.

This was dreamed on the Spring Equinox, a day when the Obamas announced they were putting in a vegetable garden at the White House. A celebration of spring, life, growth. Also, I'd been out walking in Chain of Lakes (in Golden Gate Park) and seen dozens of rabbits; I also saw some Asian art with rabbits Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''My design for the inside of the dome.

My design for the Inside of the Dome

2009/5/1.

No one is paying attention to my design (for the dome of a place like City Hall), so I decide to leave.

On the way out, I meet a woman who will actually be the one to make the choice and she seems very responsive to my design.

Being quiet and leaving the contentious competitive process actually leads to success. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Bear in the museum'

There's a Bear in the Museum

2009/6/7

It seems positive, the large animal in the museum.

But I do feel I have to warn people.


Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''Foot Crevasse.
Foot Crevasse

2009/7/11

I look down at my foot and see this large crevasse. This image combines two health concerns--the open wound from my surgery and the strange deformation of my toes which worries me. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''.
Later in the Day, We Will Cross Over to the Inner City

2009/7/16 (the day before my first chemotherapy treatment)

We were in a city and I know that later in the day, we will cross over the water to the inner city. The city was Jerusalem, but it was moated between the outer and inner city.

Crossing over made me think of my death--that I was facing my death, but realized that it was not yet time.

The inner city also seemed like my soul center, that I was making preparations to enter that centered place. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''German at the Door.

German at the Door

2009/7/19

This young German man shows up at my door. Why did I invite him? Where will he sleep? And he has brought along two large dogs.

He may be the young Carl Jung, who was big and intimidating, not the sensitive man seen in the photos of his old age.

The fact that he is accompanied by two dogs reminds me of a dream from 40 years ago about Dr. Jung's dogs. I invited him, yet was uncomfortable when he arrived.

When I dreamed this I'd just learned that Jung's "Red Book", his dream-journal, would at last be published; so I think this signals the re-entry of Jung's ideas into my life. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: ''Verity's Wings.

Verity's Wings

2009/8/21

We go out of a house one by one onto a field of billowing white cloth to receive something that will be part of our costumes.

My friend Verity is given beautiful wings. I am jealous.

Yet I'm also aware that they might symbolize angel wings, and thus my concern for her declining health. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Herm'.
Herm

2009/9/8

In a tall glass room this rather classical male torso is floating, like a Herm on a plinth of air in a tower with a dome like the Pantheon.

Someone asks "Is it floating there, or is it stable?"

I reply, "it's floating."

A puzzling image. Representing Hermes, the psychopomp, protector of the crossroads? Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Look up, Joe!'.


"Look up, Joe!"

2009/10/17

A dream of wonder.

My son-in-law and I are wandering in a beautiful landscape where people are enjoying themselves. The vision of the high peak with the waterfall is astonishing. Detail of acrylic painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Laura'.
Laura

2009/10/24

I am on a steep mountain with Laura, sliding down, grabbing clumps of plants.

I ask her "Do you want to have another child?"

A meditation on pregnancy.

Also, even when things seem dire and dangerous, grabbing onto the green plants can slow the falling.

A NOTE ON THE TECHNIQUE

Jenny achieves the strange textures seen here by using an old Surrealist technique called decalcomania--applying paint to one surface, slapping it down on another, and peeling it off, leaving complex maze-like textures not inherent in either surface. You see it in the paintings of Max Ernst.

--Chris Wayan



LISTS AND LINKS: diagnostic and health-advice dreams - predictive dreams in general - Jungian dreams - balancing the personality: thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition - experimental art techniques (decalcomania) - dream paintings - more Jenny Badger Sultan -

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