By Douglas McElheny
I feel there’s a reason why ancient cultures gave such importance to astrological events like equinoxes, solstices, full moons and such things as planetary alignments. Basically they’re days of power, a day you can get a boost for your sadhana or your dream life if you’re receptive. Usually for me, if there’s any effect at all during these times (and a lot of times there isn’t), it’s on the level of dreams. I’ll have a powerful dream or a lucid dream. However during the last summer solstice, which was paired with a full moon, I had a little spiritual uplift that I think was shown in a dream I’d had the night before. The part I’m going to share however is just the end of a much longer dream since it’s only the end that’s really relevant as far as the spiritual uplift that day was concerned.
I put my backpack on and walk down the street and eventually find myself in some woods. There’s a stream there and in the water I can see these birds, about twenty of them, that have the heads of peacocks but bodies more like an ostrich’s. They’re about as tall as a man and in the dream I regard them as peacocks. One of them comes up and peers at me curiously though a gap in the trees. I can see that we’re at a delta where this stream meets the ocean. I go down into the water which is only about a foot deep and a very beautiful bluish green. The whole scene is very beautiful as well. The peacock/ostrich birds are moving out into the ocean, and I’m walking with them. Though the birds are big they don’t seem aggressive nor do they seem to be bothered by me. If I remember correctly their ostrich-like bodies are black or greyish black. It’s getting close to sunset and I want to watch the sunset with the peacock/ostrich birds.
One thing I’ve started to notice recently and have shown in a couple of recent blog posts is how a beautiful natural scene in a dream seems to be showing a nice ‘scene’ trying to manifest inside you in your waking life that day or a day or so afterwards. I believe that was the case here. So let me tell you what happened. On the day of the solstice, in the late morning, I went for a ride in my kayak. While I was out, I encountered one of my favorite water birds around here, a roseate spoonbill, roosting in a mangrove tree. I don’t often see them when I’m kayaking so I just sat there for a while admiring the bird and its beautiful pink plumage. When I returned home I noticed I felt cleared out as I often do after a spin in the kayak, since I can get fully immersed in nature. I noticed also that my thinking was elevated, and I found myself naturally pondering some things I’d recently read by Medhananda and Nolini Kanta Gupta and was looking at the world through the lens of those ideas. It didn’t require any hard mental effort or tapasya though. It was just happening naturally and spontaneously. For the most part I can’t remember exactly what I was reading at the time, but I do recall one little aphorism by Medhananda that was on my mind:
Spirit is tremendously solid.
It is like diamond.
matter is only a cloud
A little later I took our dog Rosie for a walk. As we walked I was really feeling the stillness in the plants, and while that’s not a common experience for me it wasn’t the first time that’s happened, and I’m sure a lot of people have felt the stillness in plants. This time though, I could also feel the joy that was in the plants, and I caught it a bit by contagion and was feeling joy inside me as well as I walked. I was also appreciating how beautiful and unique the plants were, seeing them the way you might when tripping on psychedelics but to a much much lesser extent. There was one group of plants I encountered that were nothing but huge leaves on stalks which had been planted to hide a fire hydrant. When I looked at those plants, there was something so delightful about those big leaves that I couldn’t resist the urge to go over and touch one, giving a little laugh as I did so and feeling delight similar to what I think a small child does when they do something like that. That delight continued on the walk, and the uplift continued after that. It might have still been there a little bit when I went to bed. I honestly don’t remember now. It wasn’t there the next day when I woke up though.
So what I think happened here was I was able to open to the amplified energy that was available that day and benefit from it in this altered state of consciousness, which was foreshadowed by the beautiful sunset scene in my dream. This idea that a beautiful dream scene is symbolic of a beautiful uplift in waking life is still a working hypothesis for me, but one I’m getting more and more evidence to support. Recently, I had another dream where I was looking at a beautiful blue lake ringed by breathtaking mountains on the far side, and two days later there was a definite shift in consciousness in the evening, a state of peace and quiet. It wasn’t as strong as other experiences like that I’ve had, but it was definitely there.
One thing that I feel is important to point out is the beauty of these dream scenes is beyond the greatest beauty you can see in the physical world or even in normal dreams. I can’t really explain it any better than that, but if you start to have dreams like this I think you’ll see what I mean, see that it’s a certain class of dream or has a certain type of dream substance that can embody that beauty. It might be a glimpse of what Sri Aurobindo calls the subtle physical, but I can’t say for sure.
Regarding the peacock/ostrich birds in the dream I should point out that Sri Aurobindo has said that a peacock is a symbol of spiritual victory and that fits with the fact that I had a little spiritual opening. The fact that the rest of the body was like an ostrich is interesting since the thing that most quickly comes to mind when I think of the symbolic meaning of an ostrich is sticking your head in the ground. If I’m remembering correctly that the color was black that would indicate a hostile force. So I’d guess the element of spiritual victory is still marred by an element of sticking my head in the ground and maybe also a hostile influence. I think the birds in the dream were also connected to the encounter I had with the roseate spoonbill even though the dream birds were completely different. I always enjoy the sight of a roseate spoonbill because pink is the color that symbolizes the psychic being or soul in the integral yoga.
So in closing I think it’s important to try and keep yourself clear every day and not just on days like full moons and solstices. Knowing, however, that you can get a little boost on days like that is a good motivator for keeping yourself clear especially on those occasions.
- On the threshold of a new age with Medhananda, pg 165 by Medhananda