The best medicine…?

Two nights ago, I had a dream that would land squarely as yet another installment in what seems to be an ongoing series of dreamtime visitations by animals…  Here’s how it went:

I was standing on a green lawn.  A friend of mine who I know out here in waking life was seated on the ground nearby, his back to a wooden fence, and two kids who don’t exist in real life, but who were neighborhood children in the context of this dream, were playing not far off on the lawn.  The yard sloped downward over by the kids, and from what I could see, they’d decided to take it upon themselves to poke, prod, and generally annoy and aggravate a dog that was sleeping there on the downward slope.  I couldn’t see much of the dog from my vantage point — just enough to know that it was a dog, and that it was minding its own business and dozing peacefully until the kids began irritating it.  And as most sensible creatures might react, the dog roused itself in a fairly foul temperament, displeased at being abused in such an uncalled-for way.  However, when the dog stood up to make its displeasure known to the children, I could suddenly see that it wasn’t actually a dog at all — not the domesticated kind that we all know and love, and often keep with us as pets and members of our families — rather, the “dog” was a very respectably-sized Hyena…

Jeez, dream-kids, do you really want to be poking *this* thing with a stick...??
Jeez, dream-kids, do you really want to be poking *this* thing with a stick…??

Baring its not-inconsiderable set of choppers, as Hyenas are wont to do, the angered beast oriented itself toward the hapless children.  I felt immediately obliged to intercede, and to try to protect the kids (even if they’d honestly brought their predicament down upon their own heads), and I called over to my seated friend to help me with this unpleasant but necessary task…only my friend wasn’t interested!  In the dream, he very purposefully waved off my request with this totally dismissive gesture, and leaned his head back against the fence, closing his eyes as if intending to drop off to sleep, despite the imminent carnage.

Knowing I was on my own, I cast about for the baseball bat that I suddenly remembered we’d all been using earlier in the day, and that had to still be around somewhere — I didn’t want to have to hurt the Hyena if it could be at all avoided, but I also didn’t want to try to fend off those teeth and claws with nothing to stand between them and my tender flesh…

I was hoping one of these was still lying close enough at hand so as to serve as effective Hyena-repellent...
I was hoping one of these was still lying close enough at hand so as to serve as effective Hyena-repellent…

Fortunately for dream-me, I was able to quickly spy the bat, nestled in some long and very green, green grass.  Scooping it up, I then interposed myself between the Hyena and the frightened kids.  I said something to the Hyena, along the lines of, “I know these kids offended you for no good reason, and I really don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t let you kill them…”

I braced myself for the flurry of fur and fangs and talons that I was sure was about to whirlwind up around me…

And the Hyena suddenly transformed into the kind of happy, tail-wagging, good-natured domesticated dog that I’d assumed it was in the first place, and it just wandered away, off down the street.

At that point, I awoke, almost literally scratching my head in wonder…

Yay!  Everyone is happy again...
Yay! Everyone is happy again…

When I related all of this to a friend of mine, she reminded me of that one approach to dream interpretation which holds that every person in a dream actually represents a facet of the dreamer.  Following this line of thought, the children would be the innocent, unschooled parts of myself that blunder out into the world, unknowingly testing boundaries and risking dangerous consequences…my seated, disinterested friend would be a part of myself that actually feels no need to protect that childlike inner core…and the main dream-me, the one that took up the baseball bat and stepped in to protect the children, is a more willful self that will rise up to protect what needs to be protected, even if doing so brings peril down upon that self as well — and this latter protector-self would seem to outweigh the more apathetic self that either doesn’t believe that parts or even all of the overall me would be worth saving, or just can’t be bothered to try (and the more valiant protector-self being the greater, stronger element is actually pretty good news, all in all)…

So I have to say that I don’t subscribe wholesale to that kind of rigid interpretation — I don’t believe that every character in a dream necessarily must always represents part of the dreamer — but it’s a very illuminating approach that does shed lots of light on any given dream, even if you ultimately reject some of what that interpretation might be putting forth.

For my part, I’d been wondering what the dream says about my own subconscious view of my unhelpful friend (who actually would almost certainly be right there with me in real life, facing down a threat to save an innocent)…and as is my usual tendency, I’d been focused as much on Hyena symbolism as anything else — I have this natural impulse to find great meaning in appearances by animals around me, both in dreams and in waking life.  Briefly, then, the Hyena can symbolize the ability to work well in groups, heightened communication skills, the importance of humor, and a blending of different or even opposite characteristics (the Hyena features traits from both the feline and canine families, for instance, and this animal was also once believed to be hermaphroditic, merging both female and male qualities).  I’ve never in my life felt any special kinship with the Hyena — I’ve never rejected it as “not me,” either, but there’s never seemed to be any special bond there — so it surprised me that this animal would take such a prominent role in one of my dreams.  If taking this more shamanistic kind of approach in interpreting the dream, it could possibly be viewed as a message for me to try to work more harmoniously with others (although I’m more likely to just work alone rather than to breed any special disharmony…), to try to do more to communicate what’s going on with me of late to the people who need to hear it, to make more of an effort to reconcile disparate elements of myself…or maybe it simply meant that I should relax, and laugh more.  Maybe the very first thing people think of when they hear mention of the Hyena is laughter — so this could have been a very basic message about taking a lighter approach in general, and to find the humor in life more than I have been (not that I’ve felt especially dark or somber of late, aside from my bout with strep throat, but it’s all relative, and we also don’t always notice exactly what’s going on with our actual selves at all times, so this is totally worth considering…)…

So all of this makes for excellent food for thought!  I’ll be contemplating all of the above over the weekend, and also keeping a sharp lookout for any additional Hyena messages…and may your own weekends be marked with at least some laughter — that very best of medicine — if not the other primary Hyena traits!

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