A Solitary Dance


Dream #4360:  A Solitary Dance
I’m in a large room that feels like a living room or study in an old house.  Three men around my age are in here with me. They are somehow familiar and it feels comforting that they’re here. They’re doing a slow, solitary dance around the room, each in his own way, in a counter-clockwise circle.  One man passes in front of me wearing a dark gray robe with a sash and a hood or floppy hat.  He’s holding an open manuscript in his hands and seems to be reading it as he glides gracefully by.
He makes a slow turn and I see that he’s extremely stiff. He pulls something out of his robes that looks like a long pen and tucks it vertically behind the sash, as if to brace his spine.  I feel sorry for him and turn to the blonde-haired man on my right to say, “He’s in pain!” but realize he’s looking at the man in gray with compassion and understanding. He knows. So does the silent man I sense behind me.
I wonder why these men are doing this. It’s like a ritual or contest they’ve been involved in for a long time and still feel they must do. Why, especially, does the man in gray keep doing it if it causes him such pain?  How important could this be if he is risking injury?  He approaches the silent man and they confer about their training and strategy for an upcoming event. I am impressed by their dedication and somehow grateful that they intend to pursue their goal, as if their continuing is important to me, will somehow be in my best interest.
Oh, my. I almost didn’t write this snippet down this morning as it seemed so unimportant, but now I find it deeply moving. The clothing of the man in gray (the color I almost always wear to honor the overlap of black and white), the fact that he carries a manuscript, and the pen he uses to brace his spine, all point to my writer animus: my WiseMan/Warrior/Magician/Scholar! The fact that he’s in this slow dance, always moving to the left, counterclockwise, points to committed inner work.
What is so puzzling and unexpected is that he’s obviously in pain, yet he persists as if it hasn’t occurred to him to quit. He will see the dance through no matter the cost. Yes, he is like that. A Warrior, for sure. Oh, how I love him, yet I feel very sad for him too, as if he’s making the utmost sacrifice for his cause. It gives me comfort to know he has faithful companions to give him help and encouragement. Even more comforting is the knowledge they’re doing this for me.
But why this dance? What is their goal? What’s the pain about?  How does this dream pertain to me and where I am now? Tears spill onto my cheeks as I write this. They are my body’s evidence of a bone-deep, abiding pain which my ego usually prefers to ignore. I know the costs of going within, of carrying the burden of a strong sense of responsibility to my cause. It is a lonely way. I sense the misunderstanding and barely disguised boredom, feel the silent criticism and rejection in the shoulder shrugs and exasperated sighs of strangers or casual acquaintances, sometimes even friends. These come with the territory.
But the man in the gray robe does not let this deter him, nor will I. The way of individuation may be a solitary dance, but he and I are not alone.
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0 Responses

  1. Just beautiful, as always. Thank you so much for what you do. I hope you know how appreciated you are…..

  2. I have a different interpretation.
    The pen inserted into the spine RELIEVES the pain, which means that the answer to your work and dance in this life is to write, write, write. The pen is your source of healing.
    If you remember, in the reading I did for you, I believe there was a suggestion to write something different?

    1. Yes, my writing is therapeutic for me. I hope it is for others as well. Moreover, it is my primary spiritual practice. For that reason I will always try to use it with utmost awareness of my responsibility to my audience, no matter the subject matter. Jeanie

  3. Terrific thought-provoking post, especially relevant as I learn the solitary dance steps of the writer and the widow. I love the idea that using the pen to brace the spine relieves the pain and makes it possible to continue the dance. Writing heals. Write on, Jeanie, for yourself and all of us.

    1. I love that idea too! “Bracing” the spine also speaks to courage, doesn’t it, as in strengthening one’s “backbone?” I feel that healing effect of my writing too. Thank you for your encouragement. Jeanie

  4. “They are my body’s evidence of a bone-deep, abiding pain which my ego usually prefers to ignore. I know the costs of going within, of carrying the burden of a strong sense of responsibility to my cause.
    It is a lonely way. I sense the misunderstanding and barely disguised boredom, feel the silent criticism and rejection in the shoulder shrugs and exasperated sighs of strangers or casual acquaintances, sometimes even friends. These come with the territory.
    But the man in the gray robe does not let this deter him, nor will I. The way of individuation may be a solitary dance, but he and I are not alone.”
    Ohhh Jeanie, I wish I was there hugging you…in recognition and solidarity! Sending you love via writing and airwaves, Thank God for your writing and companionship on this journey! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and earned wisdom. San

  5. A beautiful post Jean. Thank you for sharing those facets of your animus. The Hermit must endure the solitude in our outwardly focused world. He can’t live without it can he? When Sallie Nichols talks about the Hermit card in her book, “Jung and Tarot An Archetypal Journey,” she says, “In our world there are no fixed paths — no central illumination usable by all. Each of us must find some way to strike his own spark.” You are obviously accomplishing that task very well with your writing.

    1. Thank you very much, Sarah. No, the Hermit can’t live a fulfilling life without solitude and too much enforced interaction with others can be torture for him/her. Of course, “too much” is a highly individual matter; some have more tolerance than others. I’m not familiar with Sally Nichols’ book on Jung and the Tarot, but I must have it. Immediately. In fact, I shall order it the moment I finish writing this comment! Her quote that we must each find our own way to strike our own spark is right on! My dreams are almost always the catalyst for adding to my own inner conflagration. I can’t imagine where I’d get the inspiration for my writing without them! I appreciate your thoughts and warm encouragement. Jeanie

  6. Hi Jeanie,
    Next up your book. With thanks, Joseph
    They slowly turn in their dance around the Light. Their flowing gray capes billow like water as they pass. The Light feels the soft wind as they move in a circle counter clockwise around her. One of the dancers appears to labor more than the others. He is less graceful as he dips in his turn. His back is clearly stiff and causing him pain. It is written in his face yet he smiles the smile all great dancers have, the one that says “Pain is necessary to the beauty.” And the Light watches. She notices the other two dancers are supporting the third as their outstretched arms swoop in the turn. And the Light marvels at their love and movement. Her gown of starlight ripples in their wake. Their gray capes flash in her reflection.
    And then a shout pierces the moment. The gray dancers glide unafraid.
    “Why this dancing around you?” The voice shouts. “You do not deserve such attention!” The shouting voice
    comes from a blackened corner of the room. The Light sees past the dancers and finds two sickly green eyes staring from the shadows. “Command them to cease!” The voice shrieks. “You are not worthy of this procession! It was meant for me!” And the monster stands and lunges forward towards the dancers. The one in pain sweeps his hand towards the beast in a gesture so gentle and kind you could hear the other dancers catch sobs in their throats. The monster is baffled and stands still for a moment, and then, with a sob of her own, she takes his hand and helplessly glides into their gesture and becomes one with the dance. Tears stream from her terrible face, and as she turns, her monstrosity softens into that of a lovely, beautiful child.
    “Forgive me,” she says to the Light as she passes.
    And the Light smiles and rises from her place and offers her hand to the child. The gray dancers slow their dance down to an almost complete pause. And the child grabs hold of the Light and the Light enters the circle of dancers and the gray dancers lift their hands as they resume the pace. The one in pain has removed a fountain pen from his cloak. The child, with a look of astonished remembrance, produces a scroll from her shirt and passes it to him. The gray dancer in pain begins writing as he turns in his dance. The child is amazed at his ability to dance and to write. The Light knows anything is possible. The other gray dancers support him as he leans towards the scroll. Together they turn as one wheel of interwoven shadows and light. Together they dance in their circle of friendship as the words from the dancer in pain lift from the page and form strings of music notes spiraling above them. They drift through the window and out into the late summer evening. Villagers lean on their shovels and wipe their foreheads as the sentences whirl through the trees and caress their faces. Women open shutters and stretch out their arms to try and grab hold of the roving garland of sound. Soon the villagers put down their tools. Pots of soup are removed from the stove. Children come running with handfuls of notes, for of course they can leap high enough to catch a few. And the stream of words pours from the scroll. And the dancers look at one another and smile. The doors to the inner chamber burst open and the walls of the room lean outwards gracefully and disappear, and the villagers pour in singing and laughing, joining the circle until it turns like a great ring of laughter and rejoicing. And the Light weeps as she sees the gray dancer in pain continue his magical writing dance. She watches as his words weave in and out of the circle healing everyone they touch. And the other gray dancers have spread through the circle and strangers around the dancing writer notice his pain and move their hands to his back and fairly lift him as they glide.
    And then the Light bows out to the center, taking the child with her and cradles her in her arms. And the dance continues without pause. And the circle flows in the open air. The moon appears and leans down on the trees to watch. Night creatures step from the forest and tentatively move towards the circle. The pulse of the dance thrums in their sinews and pads of their feet. The guards of the castle drop their weapons and seek to enter the dance. And the circle widens outwards, in great waves of hoof and armor. Even the king and the queen rise from their beds and emerge to join the celebration. Rivers of words continue to rise from the gray dancer in pain. They mingle with the stars and the stars descend and step into the circle as luminous angels.
    Deep into the night the circle flows and grows as the Light and the child watch, enraptured.
    “This is for you,” the child says to the Light looking into her eyes and stroking her face.
    “It is for everyone,” the Light replies.
    And as they turn their faces back to the dance, the dancer in pain is standing before them. He bows, and then hands the fountain pen and scroll to the child.
    “Me?” says the child surprised.
    He nods and collapses at their feet.
    The Light stretches out her hand and lays it on his crippled back. The other gray dancers have joined them in the center as the villagers and the animals, the soldiers and the king and queen keep the dance moving. The Light moves her hand over the fallen dancer’s back and then hovers over a place near the middle of his spine. The other dancers lean in closer and whisper prayers in ancient tongues. Closing her eyes she lifts a thorn from his back. He weeps with relief and the Light gasps as the thorn leaves her hand and whirls around her and pierces her own back.
    “Mother!” the child cries.
    “No dear one,” says the Light, “we must all take turns bearing one another’s pain.”
    “Then these are yours,” says the child handing the pen and the scroll to the Light.
    The gray dancer relieved of pain rises. His brothers take his hands and together they bow before the child and the Light and then leap over the circle and disappear into the night.
    “Where will they go?” the child asks.
    “To another village,” replies the Light, “there are villages everywhere in need of dancing.”
    “And what will you write?”
    “I will write about embracing pain, our own and each other’s, and how the dance of those gestures can heal the world.”

    1. Oh my, oh my, oh my, Joseph! Once again, another of your exquisite stories has brought me to tears. I’m sitting at my desk so deeply immersed in powerful feelings that I have no more words. I shall remain submerged for a while and let the feelings flow through me, for they are my spiritual sustenance and the source of my spiritual meaning. Blessings to you, my dear inspiring friend. You’ve just taken your turn in bearing another’s pain and bringing healing to another soul. Jeanie

      1. From Joseph Anthony’s reply, “I will write about embracing pain, our own and each other’s and how the dance of those gestures can heal the world.”
        Wow, witnessing “embracing pain, our own and each other’s” with your post Jeanie and Joseph Anthony’s reply to you – wow – I feel mostly wordless.
        Last year I entered a wordless state of “embracing pain, our own and other’s” during some brutal chemo treatments. I discovered the profound power of diving deep and entering and “being with my pain”…AND when someone was empathically WITH me in that pain (although these experiences happened to be wordless) … literal healing, renewal and restoration occurred. It was nothing short of miraculous. I discovered the wondrous and miraculous power of entering deeply my pain (including my inner pain), embracing it AND I experienced the power of another entering that space WITH me. It created astonishing healing, renewal and restoration.
        Since these experiences, I find myself reading less and experiencing more via meditation etc. (More right brain, less left-brain, more heart, less head – you have talked about this too – heart first – then head). Years ago, when I worked as a therapist, I felt a strong desire to just “be present.” I felt the potential healing power of that kind of presence; however, I so often fell into feeling a need to explain as proof of substantive value.
        Anyway, your post and this reply…powerful sharing, powerful stories and healing.Thank you both for such wonderful, nutritious and healing food for the soul.
        And also…I woke up that morning wondering what the “joker” meant because I found that card in an airport recently. Then in Sarah’s response she mentioned the book “Jung and Tarot” – voila I have that book – there was my answer to my question that morning…synchronicity never ceases to amaze me! 🙂

        1. It’s such a delight to read your comments, and so heartwarming that you find my sharing of my dreams and experiences so helpful. Thank you, Sandy, for joining me here and contributing your thoughtful perspective when you feel moved to do so. And the amazing synchronicity of the joker and Jung and the Tarot! (I guess all synchronicities feel amazing, don’t they?) Thank you for sharing that too. I love it. Jeanie

  7. Hi Jeanie,
    I just want to mention that I was curious of the difference between the feeling in the dream (“comforting, I wonder, I am impressed… grateful…”) and the emotional pain evoked reflecting and associating while conscious (bone-deep, abiding pain…burden, responsibility, lonely, misunderstandings, critical, bored, solitary.”)
    The setting of my living room seems significant, as does his extreme stiffness. Pain has been associated with his condition. What else could this stiffness and pain be a symptom (symbol) for, in me?
    And the pulling from his robes of a long pen, which he seemingly uses as a brace/reinforcement. Could it also be an instrument to draw our attention (point) to an area of malaise, kidneys perhaps? something serving the function of filtering? or do I need to stretch? my backbone? structural support? (Wow, I’ve just noticed MY lower back has begun to ache…) My dream ego “feels sorry for” while my blonde animus feels “compassion and understanding.” You dream an understanding of, “He knows.” What is it that “he knows”?
    The notion of a “sacrifice” appears in this dream. I have been exploring the sacrifice theme in my own work. I don’t have a good grasp of it, or when I think I do, it transforms. Has the theme of sacrifice appeared in other dreams and has it led to new insights?
    At the end of your associations you mention “he and I are not alone.” What is it be “not alone?”
    Perhaps this dream and your associations have been too emotionally draining today, and answering all of my amplifications & questions is just too much to handle – I completely understand. I’ve just held your dream all day, as I read this late last night, Pacific Time. It, and your associations, I have held and experienced all day, could you tell? My back can tell, lol :/

  8. Hi Therese,
    I just spent about an hour writing a response to your wonderful comments above, then posted them. Then I realized I’d essentially written another blog post! So I removed my reply from here and am preparing it for publication on Friday instead. Several of my readers subscribe to these comments by e-mail, so I apologize to those who received and read my reply before I removed it. I don’t want to be redundant, but most people don’t come back to read comments and I wanted to be sure they read what I wrote. My thought was that my response, combined with this post and your observations, make for a marvelous example of the value of working on your dreams with another person or group. So be sure to come back on Friday! Much love, Jeanie

    1. I suspected there was a lot more to be mined in this dream, and I will testify to the value of working with others. I look forward to your next post. In the meantime I’ll share that I had a quite a fascinating sacrifice dream last night; uncomfortably grief-ridden and awash in tears. Here’s to constellations! Another aspect of the value of working together.

  9. Again and again the words repeated in my head as I read, I Understand.
    And sometimes (often), want to let the man in grey sit, rest, Be in the stillness of being. But then I guess that, to him, is exactly what he is doing. He can not Be if he does not dance, it is inherent to who he is.
    And so we dance…tears and all.

    1. Beautiful and so poetic. Yes, there are certain things we must do, regardless of the cost. Our souls demand it. Thank you, Natasha. Jeanie

  10. Jean,
    Thank you so much for your posts. I’m in graduate school–the second to last semester–and although I completed my thesis, I stayed on for four other courses I wanted to have credits in. My thesis was on comparing Jung’s individuation with the Bhagavad Gita’s Self-realization. This study came out of 30 years of self-discovery, self-reflection, and en enormous amount of self-work with God’s grace. I knew 30 years ago that this was my path, and though all of the “Do something worthy with your life–make money!” and “Don’t you think you’re being self-centered?” and “Let the past be gone, come up to the future!” comments, I stayed on the journey. The gratitude I feel for having done so is immeasurable and absolutely priceless. Plus I’m a writer, so I’m quite familiar with solitude. Years ago I heard a man in AA, who was also a drug and alcohol therapist, say that whenever he was alone in his home, he always had the TV or radio on since he couldn’t stand to listen to his own thoughts. I remember feeling really bad for him, and also, making it a goal to get comfortable with my own thoughts. Now, the solitude isn’t bad. I actually prefer it most times considering the chaos and alienation of the world in which we live.
    Thanks for the nudges forward!

    1. Thank you very much for writing, Eileen. Congratulations on your graduate work. Your thesis sounds fascinating! And congratulations also for not acting on those negative voices.
      As for solitude, this summer I haven’t turned the television on for over a month! I’m very lucky to have a loving family, but I’m also very lucky to have a lot of time to myself most days. I understand my peronality type, INFJ, has something to do with my needing so much time to myself!
      You’re welcome for the nudges. I hope you’ll visit here often. I appreciate the comments. Jeanie

  11. Dear Jeannie,
    I thought it rather interesting that you selected those three Tarot cards to go along with this post. Let me provide a brief reading, in addition to this observation, which relates to “The Hermit” card: This morning I was reading Chapter 10 of Dr. Jung’s _Modern Man in Search of a Soul_, in which he describes the truly modern [hu]man. He emphasized that the truly modern [hu]man is a remarkable and rare person. He says that [s]he will be solitary and proficient (somewhat moreso than most). [S]he stands on a peak, with the history of our species beneath her feet, the uncertainty of the future in the vastness of the space before [her], and the skill to bring acquired wisdom to that future. Perhaps he was describing The Hermit in you.
    The Three of Swords indicates a certain idealism, which is unwilling to follow traditional paths, but seeks new and untried paths.
    This particularly beautiful rendition of the Ten of Wands suggests bringing the light of wisdom to long calcified organizations. It’s a big juggling act to avoid being burned at the stake, or burned with ego’s hubris in thinking this is even possible, but the Ten of Wands has always been associated with success, and the cards themselves have always been associated with a certain mystical practical magic. Your posts are often like that–candles in the darkness.
    Best regards, Skip

  12. Thank you, Skip, for expanding my understanding of this dream and these images. Thank you also for the great compliment of attaching their most positive meanings to me and my work. May I prove worthy of your interpretations and opinion of me! Jeanie

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