The Phoenix Bird – Art by Vladimir Dolgov
My nights are full of vibrant, pulsing dreams. Many times, they are wrought with such real-life feelings that I awake emotionally drained, as if I truly experienced them.
Dreams have fascinated me from the time I was quite young and had recurring nightmares about robbers breaking into our house. In this dream, I would hurriedly try to find the most secluded, safest place to hide. Inevitably, it would be under a bed or a table in a room where the robbers would be scurrying around in. I always held my breath and lay frozen.
When I was six or so, I also had a recurring dream in which I’d be holding a sunflower that would grow gigantic and heavy until the weight of it would begin to crush my body. Interestingly, a sunflower symbolizes spiritual joy.
I’ve died twice in my dreams. Once from a gunshot and once from stab wounds. I still recall the intense pain of the stabbing and watching my husband sob with my lifeless body in his arms. In the other dream, I lay on my grandmother’s kitchen floor as my mother held me and cried. I floated above the scene and out the screen door to the back porch, as I said to myself “I cannot die. I haven’t even gone to college yet or gotten married. There’s still so much to do!” I immediately returned to my body with a deep gasp of air.
Two nights ago, my dream was just as intense, albeit not involving death. Or perhaps it was…
I was pregnant and attending some type of conference associated with a hospital. Me, my husband, and hundreds of other pregnant women sat in auditorium style chairs in a multi-story theatre-in-the-round. The hospital staff enthusiastically asked us to participate in an ice-breaker type of activity in which they asked us to quickly write down our feelings, or words that came to mind, about our impending hospital birth. I got the feeling they were expecting the pages to be filled with phrases like “Excited, Nervous, Anxious, Happy, Joyful, Safe, Ready”. Instantly, I began to scrawl words at a furious pace. My pencil could barely keep up, and in what seemed like mere minutes, my paper was full of words. Only hints of white paper showed through the curves and lines of the graphite letters. Then, a hospital staff member asked for a volunteer to share what they had written. My arm was already in the air when she happily called on me.
I stood up and read my words, increasing my pace quickly to prove a point: “Unsafe, forced, devalued, fear, robbed, pain, confrontation, wrong…” And the word in capitalized letters, in the middle of the page: “PHOENIX”. While I was writing these, I remember Jason asking why I had written that word…
I proceeded to climb up on my chair, fists pumping in the air in the quiet, echoing auditorium, and give an impassioned impromptu oration that went something like this: “Birthing women of the world: we will no longer be taken hostage, forced under the vulnerability of our emotions, and robbed of our births. We must stand up, link together, be brave, and show the world how strong we really are, how we were made to birth with the raw power of the goddesses. And, like the Phoenix, we will rise from the ashes and greet the dawning of a new day, a new era. One in which our birthing secret is unleashed – that we are perfect…”
The room fell silent. Then, I could hear the muttered, nervous whispers of the hospital staff attempting to figure out how to respond and what to do with me. Behind those whispers were small voices of women, questioning, asking, beginning to believe…
In the next scene of the dream I found myself and my husband in a warehouse sized hospital triage room. It seemed to be serving as temporary quarters. Hospital beds covered the floor, and at each “station” was a doctor, nurse, and pregnant woman, and her partner. We were all on our backs. We were all about to have C-sections. I knew we were coerced into them. It seemed like we were part of some government project. The environment was sterile, important, busy, and hushed. The light, the walls, and the floor were bare and white and uninviting. There were no windows.
I pulled myself to sitting quickly and began to speak decisive directions to my husband: “The doctor WILL let me help lift Kaia from my belly. And she’s going to be laid on my chest and with me until her cord stops pulsing. And I’ll nurse her. Then, he’s gonna let YOU cut the cord and I want no IV…” My pulse was racing and I could feel my blood course through my pregnant body. Finally, the doctor arrived. He was a creepy looking guy with a scraggly beard, long salt and pepper hair, and round glasses. I immediately began to repeat theses instructions to him with my finger waving in his face. He sat on a stool, crossed his legs slowly, and before I could finish said: “Okay, no worries. I’m okay with all of that.” I stopped mid-sentence, shocked, and said “Oh…I didn’t’ realize you would support that…Great then.”
And, as dreams go, the next thing I know I’m standing next to another pregnant woman on a hospital bed. I’m holding her hand and stroking her blond hair. Tears stream down her face and I tell her she’s going to be alright. I tell her that she has a choice and she doesn’t have to do this. She looks up at me and says “Thank you….i never knew…” She sobs. Her name was Brooke.
I awoke to my husband saying “I can’t sleep”. The dream stayed with me all day long. It was so powerful and mysterious. Of course, there were remnants and reflections of my own birthing experiences in the dream. There was a feeling of renewed confidence, and yet sadness too. As I retold the story of my dream to my husband, I laughed at myself as I demonstrated the passion of the speech I gave. I couldn’t believe how easily it all came back to me. It was serious stuff! After that dream, I must say I’m glad to be back in this realm.
For what it’s worth, my dream symbology book says the following about some of my dream symbols:
Pregnancy: Signifies an embryonic stage of a specific type of awareness or enlightenment. May point to the beginning of a plan or idea.
C-section: Reveals and immediate action needed to save a new beginning
Hospital: Denotes rejuvenation and the fear of not being the same afterward
Warehouse: exemplifies storage. May refer to one’s memory.
Theatre-in-the-round: symbolizes behavior in full view of everyone
Writing: Reveals an inhibition to express oneself outwardly
Pencil: represents an intention that may or may not manifest; tentative plan.
Phoenix: Is something’s purest form. May emphasize a powerfully determined personality who bounces back and refuses to be defeated or blocked. In ancientEgyptian mythology and in myths derived from it, the phoenix is a mythical sacred firebird. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises. The new phoenixembalms the ashes of the old phoenix in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in Heliopolis (“the city of the sun” in Greek), located in Egypt. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible — a symbol of fire and divinity.
White: White represents purity, perfection, peace, innocence, dignity, cleanliness, awareness, and new beginnings. You may be experiencing a reawakening or have a fresh outlook on life. However, in Eastern cultures, white is associated with death and mourning.
Confinement: advises of an inability to proceed. Marks a time frame when pause or delay is required. There is also another meaning for this symbol, and that is a warming that one is confining oneself in some way or holding oneself back.