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Dreamed l989/1/10 by Jenny Badger Sultan

I go to the house of a man who has a boy child. While I am there, more and more people of all ages arrive. He seems to be a very central figure for a lot of people. There are ritual aspects to what is going on--food, objects, etc. The house gets quite full.

Then I hear my name called, clearly, from outside. I go out, but no one is there. I notice a pile of young plants--corn, maybe. Some of them are attached to human skulls that look like they've just been dug up. I think I will plant a row of them. I select plants with and without skulls, and arrange a row, laying the plants out on the ground. But I keep moving the row. I should put earth around them, planting them properly, but I'm not sure if I do (didn't recall when I woke).

Later, I am back in the house. I look out into the yard; someone else has arranged a few of these human skull plants on a wall or ledge. I feel uncomfortable, as if this is working with demonic forces. I have the sense that the man's house is around the corner on Minoru St., like the Alta and Dena house (near where I grew up).

Dream-painting by Jenny Badger Sultan; a series of stone doorways leads into darkness. Faces and figures are carved in the doorposts. On the floor, corn plants grow from human skulls. Deep in, a figure bearing a torch leaps toward the black silhouette of a second figure that seems to be upside-down, floating.


Jenny has studied Jung and has an interest in archeology; so she is familiar with images like the following (the entrance to the tomb of Rameses III, in Jung's Man and His Symbols prefacing Ch. 1, "Approaching the Unconscious").

Photo of the entrance to the tomb of Pharaoh Rameses III. Squarish post-and-lintel stone doorways decorated with hieroglyphs lead down a hall into darkness.
Jung treats such a passage not as a descent into death per se, but into the unconscious--the dreamworld itself. Not an ending, an initiation.

Associating corn and skulls makes archeological sense. When a new variety of maize adapted to the Mississippi Valley was developed a thousand years ago, it fueled the Mound Builder civilization culminating in Cahokia. There one finds low pyramids and inlaid skulls and evidence of sacrifice, all echoing the great civilizations of Mesoamerica. Maize brought its whole ritual complex north with it! And in this mythology, death is always seen as the soil from which life springs. When I study the Mayan and Aztec and Cahokian death-cults, I feel the same unease that Jenny feels; but that culture, that cult, that so emphasized "we too are food", bred the corn we eat.

--Chris Wayan

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