In the Star
dreamed 1988/9/12 by Wayan
for the ghost of Emmanuel Swedenborg
Note the date; this epic dream was 24 years ago! For 24 years it's haunted me--the vast dim spaces, the hordes of souls trying on lives like clothes... but the plot seemed shapeless, and when I first built the World Dream Bank I wanted to emphasize that dreams could be coherent, could be stories with a (single) point. But dreamwork itself has changed and grown; with the growth of lucidity, I think there's a larger audience now for In the Star's view of dreams as open-ended spiritual experiments.
I listen to some tapes for adult children of alcoholics. They warn "Don't follow your heart! It's panicky and comfort-addicted. And new behavior IS very stressful, until habits change, and you accept the new situation as normal. Then your feelings will calm down. Keep change slow; don't generate more than mild discomfort." The only exception: with addictions you might as well quit sharply, in one go; then you learn what stress you're already putting yourself under, and (with luck) face withdrawal just once.
But that evening I also read a book on Emmanuel Swedenborg, that 18th-century glider designer, metallurgist, statesman... and visionary who let angels lead him in dreams to tour the stars. He demonstrated accurate clairvoyance (e.g. sensing a fire 300 miles away while at a very public dinner), making it harder for contemporaries to dismiss his visions, no matter how strange.
I wonder how my dreams will reconcile 20th Century pragmatism with Swedenborg's third eye?
1: Other Peoples' Dreams
I follow my guide through interstellar space. Ahead's a nebulous dark mass. A flash of heat, an impression of the deepest dimmest red. We've entered an atmosphere! My guide slows and I wait for us to land... but the faintly glowing air just goes on and on! Atmosphere without a planet? Like a grin without a cat...
At last I get it. We're inside the skin of an infrared supergiant, a star swollen a billion miles wide, cooled to mere hundreds of degrees! An embery glow from the core orients me now. We swim in dim ruby atmosphere, hot but very thin--fatal as deep space, I suppose, if I were in my human skin--but to my dream body, pleasantly warm.
The interior of this swollen star forms a habitat as big as our solar system...
And the ruby star's inhabited! Souls of the living and dead flock here to mingle in dreams. Billions from Earth, billions from many other worlds stream like rivers into dream-versions or stage-sets of their home worlds built of red plush gas. Consensus realities, each Jupiter-huge, yet mere pockets, froth-bubbles in this ocean of energy, gas and light. By flitting from stage to stage, bubble to bubble, dream to dream, you can find any environment, any person, any situation--can work out your obsessions till they're truly resolved.
That's what this star is for--to find out what your concerns are without the restraints of material limitations.
I wander alone through these virtual worlds. An endless drifting flight. The scenes below are just scattered snapshots I recall...
One constant: I ran into friends and relatives, all pairing off with new lovers! Back on Terra, they had to settle for who was available--single, the right gender, the right age, race, orientation, class or caste. Now, with their choices vastly widened, they all find new loves...
...except me. I fly on alone.
Is desire my great concern, then?
2: The Unicorn of My Desire?
At last I find myself in a room with a couple of strangers, flirting. Their excitement radiates like candle light--palpable across the room. Is this my desire? Playing attraction games, or finding a soulmate?
The door behind me creaks. I'm not the only one lured by this energy! A creature peers in through the crack. A unicorn mare! She looks excited.
But rather than nose the door open, she backs into the room, tail raised like a cat in heat. Her mane is scrawny, her head low-browed and animal. Her tail's long but thin, tufted like a zebra or cow. But it's so skimpy and ropy her ass looks naked--her cunt is bared.
Somehow that's not at all sexy--as if it's not quite part of her body, and sex is something stuck on, an afterthought--imposed.
And yet... my intense scrutiny (instantly ignoring the humans in the room) and my disappointment she's not sexy tell me I'm more interested in unicorns than humans--just not this species. Apparently there's more than one.
She's just not my type!
When the lovers notice her, the timid unicorn bolts down the hall! The door swings shut. She's gone.
The whole vignette felt so awkward! I suspected from my first glimpse that she's either the soul of a dreamer who's too nervous to know what she desires, or she's the embodiment of someone else's desire, not mine.
For I often do dream of unicorns--but my unicorn friends and lovers aren't little goaty things. They're more equine, with luxuriant manes and tails. And they're clearly intelligent people, not animals. Nor human minds trapped in helpless animal bodies, either: some are telekinetic, some have hands. And they're not shy--they tend to be characters with such force they make me shy!
My heart's desire is furry and inhuman and unreasonable--expecting unicorns!--but it's more complex than that. Only certain ones.
I'm left with the uneasy suspecion that unicorn's shyness and nakedness isn't what I want, but it may be what I am. Single, lonely, rather sickly... am I sure I didn't just meet me? As others see me? Or as I see me?
3: Nope, that wasn't it
After a string of adventures, each clarifying and discharging an obsession of mine--"nope, that wasn't it!"--I feel less driven. Now I can explore less urgent fantasies that never had a chance to get clear. Maybe one of them hides the path forward...
In the next bubble, I find a rainforest full of arboreal people: lemurs (or big tree squirrels? something furry, swift and lithe) who live in the three-dimensional world of the treetops. But... I can't climb as they do. What's the point of a visit if I'm cut off from their real lives above me?
It never occurs to me to will a transformation--to become one of them! They're too beautiful--I don't feel I can be like them. Mind you, these aren't the lemurs you see in zoos; I always feel disappointed when I see them. These are lemur people; Terran or alien, I don't know, but they've evolved to be way smarter than our current models--and smart means beautiful. So elegant. I'd just feel awkward among them, a fraud.
Angel wings would be a good substitute, but I lack them too. So I find a towel I can use as wings, and flap around through the local trees. Huge and lush, but somber, all bark and greenery, with sparse fruit, and although they're big, they're not quite big enough for me to live inside, like redwoods.
Not the forest of my desire!
But I keep exploring and perching and flapping. Hey, wait, is flight itself my true desire? It was for years. I longed so much to fly. But now I think "No, my obsession with flying is fading too. Flying's just transitional--a fast, fun, scenic way to get around. To my heart's desire. But what is it?"
I climb through huge oaks, and spot a little house up in a fork. I peek in a window and see tiny humanoid people inside. Elves?
I knock. They don't open to a giant like me. I can't blame them.
I feel... relief. Think "no, this isn't my fantasy either. I want to to meet nonhumanoid people--if not unicorns, then cats or otters, like Tan or Alshain in Fusion".
Why all these dead ends and false starts? I'm beginning to wonder if my job here isn't to find my heart's desire but to slowly weed out what it's not.
4: Miriel's beheading
I run into my sister Miriel. She's got a great new haircut, and turned herself taller and slenderer--nothing like a Swedenborgian star for a drastic makeover!
But she's about to get shorter again. Miriel interrupted a cult ceremony and they plan to behead her--of course, here in the realm of the star, this is not too gory a proposition; I'm sure she'll eventually pull herself back together. Maybe it'll be a good experiment for her; she has been living in her head a lot.
Still, getting beheaded has to be a short-term shock. Not one I can prevent, though; she blundered in. Their bubble, their rules!
Regretfully I fly on.
5: The last resort
I reach a resort town on an immense bay. I know I'm still inside the star, for the ocean is absolutely flat out to the horizon. No more curvature than Jupiter! No rocky world could ever be so big.
I'm here on vacation; it's my next-to-last day in the star. I'm unsure what I want to do. I've been passive so far today. Well, action didn't uncover my heart's desire, did it?
I watch the reflections in the bay, seeing dim silhouettes on the horizon. Are there islands out there? It's a little hazy and I can't be sure, but there are hints. Somehow I'm uncomfortable here... maybe it was that beheading.
Just beyond a small cape, a temple rises from the beach. I decide to go see. Feel bold just to walk a mile or two. How timid I've been!
It's a big, exotic temple with carved arches around a circular plaza.
Nice. Scenic. But not my heart's desire.
6: Lightning Pass
Here I meet my boss Judy who asks em to drive her to the next town, in my old hippie van. I agree. Find a child about six years old in the car too, and a baby. Judy acts as if they belong here, so I let them be. I drive down the hill on a two-way road taken over by traffic going one way, jamming both lanes. Judy takes a turn driving; she says "I wilfully neglect my car, my body, anything. For example, the car's low on gas; I put some in but not enough." As she speaks we pass another station. So she's not too broke to buy fuel, just reluctant? I've struggled with anorexia, but... anoroilia?
We climb into the mountains. Snow on the roadsides now, and the road shrinks to a single lane of gravel, then a dirt track. Cattle gates. Snowy pastures and dark threatening clouds above. Great peaks frown down. It's cold and creepy and the clouds worry me. Flickers of lightning and turbulent blackish whorls--almost as if tornadoes could develop.
Below, I see a city. It's unimpressive at first, and the child is crying and won't come out of the blanket, and the baby's howling. Down the slope. The clouds hover around the peaks behind us, but further down it's as sunny as in the last town! Peaceful.
Wrung out from the storm, I numbly seek a place to sleep. The town seems to be all about business, farm, and industry. Out of dream, back to practicality. Or is the practical, waking world just another bubble in the Star?
7: Eat for Yourself!
I end up staying at a conference-complex run by and for women. It has fleshy pink walls, though it's not as ugly as that sounds (or my sketch looks--sorry). But other things are ugly. My parents are here too, and they've grown obscenely obese. They insist on advising me, and I keep complying to placate them, instead of trying things for myself. They want me to face my lack of appetite, press me to accept their view that I've neglected food's contribution to my problems.
Finally I snap. "Those who can't do, teach!" I quote. "All I have to face is that I listen to you too much." I decide to cook for myself or go to a restaurant I like, from now on. Or I'll end up bloated like them.
They try to push a car-size slice of pie on me. Ugh! I push it back, uneaten. They push, I push... a full-on fight! Till they jiggle and flop with fury.
8: The Butterfly of Business Success
I meet a meek but rather psychic young man, much like Radar O'Reilly on "MASH". He's never had the gift of success in business, though.
I plan to give it to him. Odd, since I don't have it myself! How do I give what I lack? I don't know--I just give a fierce magical push and... he has it. What it is, I don't know. How it works, I don't know. I don't understand business!
But gradually, the gift I've given becomes visible, physical...
So that's how it works! He's the same old shy school kid in uniform. Hasn't changed a bit. But... this talking butterfly hangs around him, and it makes all his deals for him! He still can't handle business, but the bug acts as his agent!
He's making serious money--guided by the Butterfly of Business Success.
A better guide than Butterflies In Your Stomach, I guess.
9: Small Change is Enough
I'm in a store trying to buy something with a symbolic name. I know I can't afford it. I don't have enough. I know I have no change.
Dejected, I fish around in my pockets... and find a lot of small change in each. Heap it on the counter. Heap and heap...
A whole mountain of change! More than enough to buy it. Enough so I feel... rich.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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