At least I dreamt that I was. In the dream I had been out in the sun and I didn’t have sunblock on. I had remembered that I had been using skincare products that made me especially susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays. In the dream I panicked. “My face”. I somehow saw my face( in a mirror?) and it wasn’t just red it was a purplish burnt looking red. It felt permanent and that I would be damaged by this exposure. That was it, that was the entire dream. When I woke up it had felt like a nightmare. So what does this little dream mean?
Let’s start with where the dream begins: I was out in the sun. What does it mean to be out in the sun? For me, as an introvert with Irish skin, it means that I am in two places that feel a little uncomfortable in( out and in the sun) and in a place that I need to be protected from—I am vulnerable when I am out in the sun. The sun is out in the day time, when all the action happens. Hence the sun is more of an ego state( masculine) while the moon is symbolic of the unconscious( or the feminine. or the receptive). To get too much sun is to have too much ego state. Sun is light, warmth, and generative but it can also be burning, destructive and killing. The sun is the centre of our solar system. It is symbolic of enlightenment. Carl Jung theorized that the sun was an archetype of the human concept of the Self.”
My boyfriend, James Hillman, would look at this dream causally. He would say, ” When you are in the sun you become aware of your vulnerability. When you become aware of your vulnerability you look to your past to see why you should be vulnerable. When you remember why you should be vulnerable then you see your damage. When you see your damage you decide it is permanent.” Ooh, I had some light bulbs go off with this one.
The awareness of vulnerability because of things I had done to my face( trying to change it, make ie younger/firmer.etc)is especially interesting. What about trying to change my face makes me more vulnerable? Vulnerable to what? The masculine? The ego? To extroverted energies? When I try to change my face and look younger/better/prettier is it for the eye of the other or for myself that I make this change? Or, perhaps, is it the way that I feel myself in the eye of the other that is the real motivator for this change. The most disturbing part of the dream came in seeing myself. I was shocked at this bright red burn and was terrified of the long term implications of this unconsciousness( it felt like not putting on the sunblock was unconscious. or, was it rather a kind of masochism?). So waht are the ramifications of “being in the sun( the ego)” and how has my need to be perceived as attractive/young/firm put me at some kind of risk? What do I see in my self reflection that terrifies me? Hmmm…
Also interesting is that I recently dreamt of meeting my father’s son( son/sun, dreams love to use homonyms). I met him, in another dream, in Lake Forest. In the dream he lived in Illinois and I was surprised to learn this. When I shared my associations to this dream with Igor my imagining of how my father’s son might see me led to the following associations: “I imagine he doesn’t have any idea who I am. He doesn’t even know that I finished college or that I went on to grad school. He doesn’t know that I have depth. He doesn’t know that I am smart. ” So, is this dream saying that I am feeling burnt( and permanently marked) by this kind of perception? Has this kind of identification with surfaces burned me and made me feel fixed and unchanging in this identity?
To take the Sun dream image literally, to be red-faced is to be flushed with embarrassment or anger. I don’t identify with this meaning. I don’t feel embarrassed, ashamed or angry. It just doesn’t resonate. I do have a politically incorrect association “Red-faced”( which is a highly unfortunate slur that was used against Native American peoples) that came to mind as I thought about this dream. One Christmas, I think when I was about eight-years-old, I was in Hawaii. Everyone I met, during our trip to the Aloha state, I made a point of telling them that I was an “Indian”. I think I had just learned about my great-grandmother who was a full-blooded Osage Indian. I was very proud of this ancestry and so I shared it with every maid, taxi driver and hula instructor that I met in Waikiki. People reacted sympathetically when I informed them of my impressive ancestry. A few people pointed out that I didn’t look like an Osage Indian, that I in fact looked like a “Pale-face”. Not sure how that relates to the dream…but it is an association that came to mind and so I thought I would share it.
When I was telling Igor about a recent dream( which I won’t go into details of in this post), Igor made an interesting association. Igor said that something about that dream made him think of the Twilight series. At first I balked at his idea and then associations of my own started. “In Twilight the main character leaves the domain of the feminine( her mother) and the sun and goes into darkness( to be with her Father and boyfriend) in Washington. One of my many complaints about sunny Southern California is that it is ENDLESSLY sunny. There is too much sun here. And I, personally, find this kind of endless sun to be oppressive. It creates, I believe, a kind of manic requirement. One feels a pressure to be outside because “it is such a beautiful day”. When one lives in more cyclical climates one has weeks/months in which the weather is so bad/dark and dreary that no one expects them to be outside. I miss that about Chicago.
My other association, that I jokingly shared with Igor, about the “Twilight dream” was that I wish I lived in the darkness of Twilight as then I would always be young and have that radiantly glowing skin without any effort, which relates to another of my SoCal complaints and that is the unrealistic expectations about beauty that one has when one lives here. I know that I was much less critical of my face/body/appearance when I lived in Chicago. Living in L.A. can make one compare oneself to impossible standards of beauty. It can make one crave eternal/ageless and decayless beauty that is only available to goddesses like Persephone, Aphrodite and/or adolescent vampires.
I think this dream, the sun/sun-burnt dream, may be touching on this sun/darkness theme that I discovered in the last dream. I don’t know what it all means yet but something feels like it is moving towards the surface.