This post is at the rigorously honest, introspective and probably tangential end of the spectrum. 'More for me than for you' kind of thing. But included on the off-chance.
Not one but two dreams about bears last night. In the first I attempt to herd wild bears back into the paddock by the primary school where they have been at play. I ride on the back of one, and friends shoosh the others, and (knowing bears) I am fearful for my friends and also my legs. Hair-raisingly, because no-one has alerted the primary school, a nursery-room is full of little children playing. The most violent of the bears makes his way in and hides, or is pressed by my friends behind the furniture, as I progress towards him, scooping the children out of the room one by one with an urgent 'Go!' as I do so.
In the second dream the Buffy DVDs I've been watching set the tone. It is power-hungry teachers calling up the spirit of a great and vicious bear, and knowing not what they do, and I (which reveals a flexibility I certainly don't share with Sarah Michelle Gellar) leaping to the top of the symbol-rich wooden framework that they have constructed in order to summon the animal. I drop onto the back of the enormous bear to thwart it. Again I am fearful of a mauling. The bear is somehow a spirit seeking wings, and when I throttle it the spirit is still at large. I trap it between two picture frames, 'so that it can look at itself in Hell for all eternity!', but the frames break and disappear, leaving the spirit invisible, untraceable (and a part of me?).
What to make of these dreams? I'm being far too heroic, but at least I'm dreaming that I'm with friends. I want to identify with the bears in the first dream - I've been reading Brody about shamanistic dreams as intuitive means for hunters to know the animals they hunt, by meeting them, even becoming them. This is about the possibility of incarnating. These beasts are not being anything other than observably wild bears. The bear in the second dream is more problematic. The spiritual dimension of the bear is apparent - its urgent aspiration heavenwards. I am the one who throttles it into submission and who seeks to cast it back the way it has apparently come. But I am left uneasily aware that the spirit is probably in me, and I need to live with it.
Conclusion: my waking life has to be open to expressing this 'bearfulness', without unleashing it on others, including my friends. It fits with the work I've been doing around being fully myself, and reminds me that with passion comes responsibility - a good, if predictable lesson. The Christian word is maybe 'holiness', in the sense of 'wholeness'. And there is the sense, to pick up the Brody quote from Sunday, that as well as 'a profound and intelligent uncertainty' to the hunter-gatherer life, there is an unavoidable engagement with it.
The force of the dream, perhaps, is to take these truths 'out on the road', which, sorry Whitley, means stretching my 'essence of bear' muscles around here.