It was 2007. I had just begun my inner travels as a student of the Consciousness Studies program at Goddard College. I was stirring up all sorts of psycho-sludge from the bottom of my restless, ever questioning soul and I had this dream:
I’m alone in my room at Goddard. It seems as if everything is made of shadow. Looking out of the window, I see tree branches, outlined by murky, inky night, bouncing wildly in the wind. Somebody runs past the window; a small, wiry man! In an instant, he’s at the door, pounding with the force of a battering ram. He’s trying to get at me and I’m breathless with terror. The door itself becomes a wall-sized tome made of old leather binding, with rotting straps instead of hinges. Flakes of ancient hide and glue puff out violently from the sides and corroded buckles rattle as the pounding continues. He’s determined to get to me. I realize in a flash that the man outside my door is Mick Jagger. I back into a corner and slide down the wall. I cannot believe that this is happening to me. What does he want? I think that he wants to kill me.
Upon waking, I wrote the dream down as quickly as I can, knowing that it was somehow significant to the search for my shadow. I turned the dream over and over; why would Mick Jagger be trying to get to me? I was always a fan but….the dream was fading and the sharp rays from the light of my ordinary reality poured into my mind, obscuring that unsettling darkness.
Eleven years, two Master's degrees and many, many incredible inner and outer experiences later, this dream stays with me. Looking back on my first interpretation, I saw it as a sort of reckoning with my own shadow archetype. The Rolling Stones occupied a lot of space on the soundtrack of my awful adolescence. After the dream, I revisited the music:
Back at home, I place Beggars Banquet into my CD player and press PLAY. The tribal, rhythmic introduction fades in, there’s a series of primal, howling screams and Mick begins to intone…”please allow me to introduce myself….” a sneaky smile creeps across my face and I begin to dance.
I understand several things at once. Firstly, I begin to feel the same way I felt back in those dark, tortured days. It makes me feel empowered to understand that.\ I have a darkness that is as much a valid part of what forms me as any other psychic component. In being repressed, the darkness rebels with the fury of a rock and roll classic and manifests as, let’s say…hostility-an aspect of myself I have always struggled with.
And so, I thought I was integrating my shadow. And yes, that was part of it. But now, obligatorily older and wiser, I can add more meaning, and elevate my perspective to the bigger story; the mythological!
When one looks back on the 50+ year career of The Rolling Stones, it's easy to see that these men have tapped into an energy that has been in existence for a very, very long time. I call it Dionysus energy because I tend to lean in the direction of Greek mythology. This is powerful stuff and quite provocative. Dionysus is the god of wine and orgiastic frenzy. His followers are female and 'feminine' men who have, in states of temporary ecstasy and madness, been rumored to rip apart and eat cows, sheep, deer and the occasional non-believer human who happened upon the party and dared to condemn. Man, that is some seriously intense shit. One can easily access footage of the Stones early audiences and see that crazy D energy building and building. Altamont anybody? The great philosopher, Frederick Nietzsche posited that Dionysian energy will always rage to the surface when there is imbalance in a culture that bears too much Apollonian energy. Apollo, as you may know, is one of the more "straight-laced" I daresay, uptight residents of the Olympic Pantheon.
Now, without belaboring the many ways of how this balance is important, I will offer a reminder that darkness and light are for sure, two sides to the same coin. Musically speaking, in the instance of the era to which the Rolling Stones phenomenon came around, there may have been a bit of an imbalance happening. Ya think? I love, love, love the Beatles but for all of their contribution to the musical mythology of the time, they were not quite scratching the crazy-making itch for lusty, dangerous forays to the other side of the tracks. The Stones came much closer to satisfying that itch.
I am not the first, nor will I be the last to point up the striking similes of the Apollo vs Dionysus and Beatles vs Stones conversation. And it has and still can go deeper and further, revealing more and more about us and our connections to music and the big mystery. But for the sake of economy (and blog character limits) I'll bring it around to the point.
Last week, Mick was in my dream again. This time, we were just chillin'. We jammed a little and talked about how good life can be. I woke up smiling :) Feeling ...balanced. What's changed? Very simply put, I believe that I've overcome much of the Apollonian influence that was once so prevalent in my life due to it's prevalence in my culture. And once again, growth, change and clarity- catalyzed by music and mythology.
How has music impacted your story?