Dream Work with a Sacred Image

I received a letter recently from a life-long contemplative who described a dream she had shortly after receiving a print of Sacred Bond. “I’ve been pondering a frame [for Sacred Bond] and last night in a dream I saw her in a dream catcher.  The icon was within the dream catcher.”  Her image of “the icon within the dream catcher” suggested to me that perhaps “dream work” could be a way to enter more deeply into the meaning of Sacred Bond. 

This intuition was supported by my experience of painting which was similar to a “waking dream.” I had an initial plan for the painting, but as the creative process unfolded, I made changes to the night sky, landscape, and faces of the Mother and Child as my imagination fashioned new images that transformed the plan in unexpected ways. I was “dreaming the image onward” as I painted, “catching” intuitions, images and feelings as they emerged from my psyche and then making changes in the painting that some of those inner inspirations suggested. 

As this process continued day dreams and stories began to emerge.  I began to wonder: Why are the mother and child were on the road before daybreak?  Where are they coming from?  Where are they going?  The path behind them disappeared as it descended into a valley blanketed in thick fog.  What was beneath that fog?  A village?  Their home?  Many possible answers presented themselves.

Similar questions emerged as I imagined their future: Where are they headed?  Since they stood in the forefront of the painting, I could see nothing in front of them.  There were no visual hints as to where the path was leading.  Are they leaving home? Are they on the road as immigrants?  Later, I had the thought that what was in front of them was the room in which I kept the painting.  Were the mother and child visiting me? Were they about to step into my space? Why? What was the purpose of such a visit?

More interior questions also presented themselves: What are the mother and child feeling at this moment on the journey?  Can I read their feelings from their faces?  How different the faces of the mother and child are!  What are these faces saying to me? Again, many possibilities presented themselves.

This approach does not attempt to analyze or interpret the painting, but to enter into it through imagination, to allow the feelings, intuitions and fantasies evoked by the images of the painting to lead the way.  Dreaming the painting onward creates an inner space for meanings and feelings to emerge that are uniquely personal to each individual. 

I invite you to experiment with this process.  See where it takes you.  After each “dreaming it onward” meditation take time to record in writing, drawing or some other medium what came up for you.  Sit with it for a while.  Feel free in future meditations to pursue themes that feel unfinished or that appear to hold further possibilities.