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Ebon Ebon Thalud

Dreamed 1800/11/28 by Samuel Coleridge

A most frightful dream of a woman whose features were blended with darkness catching hold of my right eye and attempting to pull it out--I caught hold of her arm fast--a horrid feel--Wordsworth cried out aloud to me hearing my scream--heard his cry and thought it cruel he did not come / but did not wake till his cry was repeated a third time--the woman's name Ebon Ebon Thalud--

When I awoke, my right eyelid swelled.

--Samuel Coleridge--


That extraordinary name, Ebon Ebon Thalud, makes me suspect this is no garden-variety nightmare. Ebon means dark, and her face is "blended with darkness", and she tries to blind him. Does she think Coleridge (a visionary poet, after all) has seen too much? Or threatens to do so, if left sighted? I've certainly met dream-cops and borderguards who forbid me from seeing visionary levels they consider off-limits; but mine rarely get this nasty!

Thalud suggests salud, health in Spanish. Dark, dark health? Illness. He wakes ill.

Ebon Ebon Thalud tries to remove Coleridge's right eye. If you're reading this in translation, that won't suggest much, but native English speakers will hear a double pun: "right I." Proper sense of self, true identity, healthy ego. Again, this is the sort of attack that shamans and visionaries often describe, as hostile spirits (however characterized in their cultural tradition) try to keep them ignorant--or at least to keep them from spreading enlightenment. Again a hint this is a spiritual struggle.

And a vital one. Ebon Ebon Thalud doesn't just gouge Coleridge's dream-eye; her attack affects his waking body. Dreams leaving apparent physical traces can of course be explained away (at least in modest cases like this) as the result, not the cause, of an illness--here, an infection his dreams sensed. But a simple dream of having a very sore eye would be enough to warn him to apply a poultice in the morning. Such a specific, dramatic, named enemy warns that more is going on here than a subliminal dream about a minor illness.

And Ebon Ebon Thalud had friends. Poor Coleridge was cursed with vision-killing intruders. Remember that Person from Porlock?

--Chris Wayan--

LISTS AND LINKS: nightmares - violence - blindness - Natalian dreams (dreams leaving physical traces)- the power of names - authoritarians and bullying - - that person from Porlock: see Coleridge's Kubla Khan - poems and poets

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