Electric Dreams

Exploring Dreams through the I Ching

Hilary Barrett

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  Barrett, Hilary (2001). Exploring Dreams through the I Ching.  Electric Dreams 8(4). Retrieved March 29, 2001 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Dream Title: Snake to Man, Artemis Browndeer Dream: I was trying to rid my house of a poisonous snake that just kept coming back, even after I threw it out of the house. Eventually, I looked closely at the snake, particularly the head area, and the snake morphed into a sharp-featured man, and we began hugging and embracing.
Comments by Dreamer: Snake symbolizes evil, does it not? I was embracing evil?

Snakes symbolise all kinds of things! In the Judaeo-Christian tradition they are evil, true, but in other traditions they represent change, wisdom and eternity. But more important that all that, imho, is the role played by the snake in your personal dream. This snake is something dangerous you keep trying to get out of your life (your house), but without success. And yet when you look at it closely in the dream, it becomes something you want to be united with. So what is going on?

The I Ching describes your dream with Hexagram 36, Brightness Hidden. This hexagram shows the sun hidden under the earth - appropriately enough for a dream. The light that is hidden represents clear awareness and perception, and also something shining and true. So there are two meanings here: that awareness is hidden, and we are in the realms of the unconscious, and that something bright is going unseen and unappreciated. In fact, 'hidden' can also mean 'banished' or 'injured': there is a story associated with this hexagram of a prince who refused on principle to serve the new ruler and was imprisoned for it. Unrecognised and misjudged, he nonetheless kept his own light shining. 'Brightness hidden. Hard struggle and persistence are rewarded.'

I think that this is also the story of the snake in your dream. You banished it - 'brightness hidden is denounced and forbidden' but it persisted. What you still reject in waking life can survive in your dreams, just as the prince survived in prison. Now you're awake and reflecting on the dream, you have in effect banished the snake yet again because you associate it with evil. In the dream, though, you looked at it closely and changed your mind.

The contrasting hexagram to Brightness Hidden is Progress - a time when the sun shines on you, and you seize every new opportunity. But there is an encouraging side to this: Brightness Hidden also *follows* from Progress: 'making progress necessarily creates the opportunity for injury.' So the fact that you're having this dream, being brought face to face with something you have tried to banish from your life, is in itself a sign that you're moving on.

Hidden within this hexagram, and within your dream, is the possibility of release. (Hexagram 40, Release, is the Nuclear Hexagram of 36.) This is like prising tight knots apart, or the relief you feel after a thunderstorm. It also lets you make decisions quite simply by releasing your sense of purpose: 'With no place to go, coming back brings good fortune. With a direction to go, set out at daybreak, good fortune.' Hexagram 40 is also about forgiveness: freedom from the 'net' of guilt. I think these possibilities began to emerge in the dream when you looked at the snake instead of throwing it out straight away, recognised it as a man, and embraced him. The darkness of a dream - when the brightness of consciousness is hidden - has the potential to bring release and understanding. Maybe this is because it's the precise opposite, in the I Ching, of Arguing, when you fight for what you need and protest openly against injustice.

So the snake represents something that you are trying to banish from your life. Of course, only you can decide what this is, but here is one direction that you might like to explore... In the Christian tradition, the snake is evil precisely because it brings knowledge about sexuality, and tempts Eve to disobedience. The snake becomes a man, and you embrace. And I see that you are called Artemis - is this a name you chose for yourself? Artemis was the virgin goddess, who rejected sexuality altogether: when a man saw her bathing, she turned him into a deer, hunted him down and killed him. Perhaps this could be a place to start...

The I Ching is the ancient Chinese oracle of change. For a hundred generations, it has been answering people's questions, from dream interpretation to career decisions, across the whole spectrum of human experience. I have been learning from the I Ching for many years, and founded Clarity, a dedicated I Ching consultation service, to make the oracle's help readily and simply available to all who need it.

Hilary Barrett.
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