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My Ritual Beheading

Dreamed l996/3/24 by Jenny Badger Sultan

A line of people is about to be ritually executed. It seems to be a religious rite--Buddhist (Nepalese, Tibetan perhaps?) I see it happen to one after another in the row.

A group of monks or religious people, in robes, stop in front of the person. One of them paints a black arc at the joining of the neck and shoulders. Then another person, from behind, I think, puts an arm around the person's head, covering the eyes and holding the head still. Then, with a sword of some kind, the head is cut off. I believe that there is chanting or some kind of verbal part as well.

Painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan. A line of people in white robes passively wait to be beheaded.
I am in the line. I am next. The black line is painted on me. I have closed my eyes. I am breathing very hard. I am trying to commend my spirit to God. I wait for the arm to come and steady my head, then I know that the cut will come. Painting of a dream by Jenny Badger Sultan. Eyes closed, she quietly waits her turn to die.

I keep waiting. The arm does not come.

I wake up.

--Jenny Badger Sultan


I have two simultaneous, contradictory reactions to this dream.

  1. The verdant scene, the weapon of choice, the meekness of the victims, and the shaved heads of the men, as if they're Buddhist monks, all suggest the Cambodian Holocaust.
  2. But the Buddhist ambience also suggests Zen's struggle to get us out of our heads, and attend to the now. This dream seems a drastic solution, but then dreams are drastic. This one may be urging nothing more (and nothing less!) than "get out of your head, silence your thoughts, be here." And Jenny does. She commends her spirit to God. She need not face the blade, for she's let go. The monks have already taught her what she came to learn.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: blades, blood, and heads - violence and dying in dreams - passivity vs. initiative - letting go - Buddhism - meditation - dream-paintings - more Jenny Badger Sultan - throat-cutting saves a life in: A Knife at his Throat

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