Most have one or more recurrent childhood dreams. I had the typical one of flying, and a nightmarish one as well.
I climb up the pull-down ladder to the attic. As my upper body enters the attic, I fall. The ladder and floor disappear, and I fall through darkness. Suddenly, below me I see a large cauldron stirred by a witch. She looks up and grins at me.
The pull-down ladder to the attic was in the house I grew up in, and it was always exiting – and a little scary – to climb up it and into the attic. I would wake up before falling into the cauldron, with the image of the witch grinning up at me etched in my mind.
In Process Work, the childhood dream is seen as representing a central dynamic we may work with throughout our life. And as I look at my own dream, I see that it quite nicely captures a process that has happened in a big way a couple of times, and in a smaller way many times – even within the same day.
I find it most clearly in the process going from initial awakening (Ground + oneness + soul level) and life within that awakening (oneness + soul level), and then the fall (dark night) and the dissolving (letting of go habitual identifications) within the dark night. I climb up the ladder (awakening), then fall (dark night), and dissolve in the cauldron (wearing off identifications). (In the dream, the dissolving happens when I allow myself to fall into the cauldron using active imagination.)
In smaller ways, and in daily life, it happens whenever reality and beliefs clash (aka my stories of what is and should be), or experiences come up and are resisted. I climb up the ladder (attach to a story or state) and fall down (stories of what is and should be clash, or undesired experiences come up).
If I shift out of it, as I did when I woke myself up from the dream before falling the cauldron, that is where the process stops. But if I allow it to continue, as I do when I explore the dream through active imagination, the process continues. I dissolve in the cauldron. Into emptiness. And also so these elements – within form – can reconfigure in new ways.
I dissolve into (noticing) what I am. And I dissolve as who I am, as my human self, so new relationships between the elements can emerge and be lived for a while. (As a caterpillar dissolving in the pupa before turning into a butterfly.)
If I resist this process, the woman stirring appears as a quite evil and nasty little witch. If I welcome and allow the process, she is no longer sinister and instead appears with clarity and a deep, earthy, unsentimental wisdom.
As usual, there is a wide range of ways to explore this, either directly with the dream or in how it shows up in my life.
I can explore the dream through active imagination. (I fall into the cauldron and dissolve, into and as emptiness, and also so my human self can reconfigure. I interact with the witch, and she shows a clarity and deep earthy unsentimental wisdom.)
I can become the witch, move like her. Pick up her energy and see how I can use it in daily life, in a constructive and exiting way. I can speak as her, and hear what she has to say.
I can find my beliefs around it (I shouldn’t fall. She shouldn’t cook me! I shouldn’t die.), and inquire into them. What happens when I believe those stories? Who would I be without them. What is the truth in their reversals? What is more true for me than the initial story?
I can ask the witch what she needs (be seen, felt, loved, appreciated), and how she would feel if she received that deeply and fully, and then feed it to her.
And in daily life, I can notice these dynamics and explore them in similar ways.