a dream about a garden gate...

the dreamer...
birthyear: 1974
gender: female

the dream...
My recently deceased father is standing next to a wooden garden gate, and is holding it open for me.
He looks like he did when I was a child, young and handsome.
His expression is free of worry, and he is smiling.
This is all I can remember.
I never went through the gate, and the colors in the dream are all very bright, nearly glowing.

kristo’s dream interpretation...
Well...
In my opinion...this is a pretty straightforward dream...
but it’s not without a depth of meaning that is both archetypal and filled with Paradox...
and therefore, of importance to us all.

Garden gate
Here we have Dad holding open the gates of paradise...
and yet...it’s not clear to me which side of the gate represents what.
(but this is something I’ll get back to later.)
The only thing that is very clear is that we have a threshold.
And while it’s also clear that Dad has already passed the liminal phase between life and death...that threshold we must all eventually cross...it’s now up to the dreamer to decide whether she’s willing to do the same sort of thing...
i.e. cross a threshold of her own.

Now there’s no reason to believe it must be the same threshold as Dad, you know....
Fercrissake...he’s not inviting her to have a “Twilight Zone Moment!!!”
Instead, she’s being invited to transition through whatever state she now occupies (i.e. the state of loss and grief), and enter what seems to be a very vivid new phase of her own life.

Grieving
There’s nothing easy about the grief process.
We have absolutely no say in how long it should or shouldn’t last...
or in how painful it’s likely to be or become.
And while it’s difficult to know how long it might properly take us to complete, we DO know (from watching others) that it’s possible to get stuck in it.
Not by agreeing to enter into it (something again, over which we are apparently powerless)...but by the curious concept of refusing to cooperate with it.

No worries
Dad appearing as he does...so young and smiling...says that the dreamer is being emotionally brought back to her own childhood.
A time when Dad was meant to (and probably did) give her the sense of calm and confidence he seems to embody in the dream.
Transposed to today, I sense that Dad is reminding her that she can stop being a tough-minded adult...tenaciously and responsibly holding things together...and simply rest assured that it’s okay to let go.
He’s offering a silent but potent guarantee that by surrendering to her grief, she will come through it into a more radiant world than she has ever known.

Cooperation
Very importantly, the dream seems to be a gentle reminder that she is not yet fully cooperating with the grieving process.
Otherwise...why would Dad have to lure her on beyond the emotional state she currently finds herself in?

The dream (and her Dad) seems to be telling us all that grief itself is a very small thing compared to what it can actually do for us...if we’ll just let it.
(not to mention what it can do for those for whom we grieve...who apparently have to act like patient boddhisatvas, waiting around for us to finally get with the program!)

Grief then, is apparently neither the garden, nor the space outside it.
Once the shock of death and loss has passed, not crossing the threshold and entering the garden would be to leave ourselves in the dark space of refusal and denial.
i.e. the refusal to let go and cooperate with the painful reality of death and loss.

And so...
the dream tells us that the very short distance that needs to be crossed is the real grieving...
and that it is quite miniscule compared to the dark, disturbing space before it...
as well as this oddly (and dreamily) promised land beyond it.

Reality
Okay...so I’m a huge fan of the Wire.
But what it depicts is humanity’s dark, complex shadow.
It’s a fascinating saga of greed, despair, anger, lying, cheating, and the abuse of power...
A Caravaggesque opus that paints an immense, dark background against which the relatively rare noble acts, decisions, and sentiments of these unforgettable (and realistically motivated) characters are more easily and dramatically isolated, highlighted, and appreciated.
A Chiaroscuro of everyday life, apparently.

But despite what the song seems to say...this is NOT the garden...
of Life...
of Eden...
or even of Grief and Grieving...

No...
the garden of this song is more akin to the space and time in which we find ourselves after the shock and always before we consciously decide to accept our loss...
before we consciously choose to cooperate with the grieving process...
i.e. before we let go...
and in other words...
the space of refusal and denial.

Liminality
In real time, it takes only an instant to cross most thresholds...
But while this dream says that grieving is a simple garden gate...
there’s no quick out in genuine grief.
Sure, there’s the quick escape offered by the various vices of the Wire...
but those are all short-lived, expensive, and dangerous.

Instead...
what really works...
is fully embracing our painful transitional state...
the state of Not Knowing What Comes Next...
i.e. saying yes to crossing this threshold that looks and feels like an abyss...
but is what Rudolf Otto called Sacred Time...
a metaphor for the Holy, in fact...
time that is outside of logical, linear space and time...

Now of course, it happens in real time...
and hurts like hell...
but guess what?
all of that pain, and all of that significant time it’s going to take is depicted in this dream as a simple, wooden, garden gate.
and it’s being held open in a most friendly, welcoming, and reassuring manner by the very person who caused it to be there in the first place.

The Sacred and The Profane
Mircea Eliade wrote an interesting exposition of the difference between what constitutes the sacred and what constitutes the profane...
and his descriptions parallel the difference between Logic and Feeling...or even Sensation and Intuition.
One man’s Yin is really another man’s Yang...and so the sacred is simply our own private garden.

so...getting back to my earlier confusion over which side of the garden gate represented time and space before the Fall vs. after the Fall...
I’d have to say that I’m no longer confused.

It’s neither.

We either let go to what’s sacred...
accepting, and even embracing our losses...
or we end up stuck in what’s truly profane...
A real Hell, in fact.

The Phoenix Project
I have to say that I learned a hell of alot of this through the many trials and innumerable errors of my own experience...
but it was Jack Miller and the Phoenix Project who gave me the wherewithal to accept and cross some of those frightening and painful thresholds...
Helping us all to let go properly is Jack’s particular specialty...
and invaluable gift.

My best regards and sincerest condolences to the dreamer...

kristo

 

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kristo is Curtis Cates, M.D.
artist, alchemist, astrologer, and physician
his main interest is in Dreams, Fairy Tales and the Fine Arts
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