Wendy wrote: “I had a weird dream last night and I can’t remember much of it. I have noticed I have had a few dreams with some common elements though. The common elements are that I have to climb upwards through a very small passageway in the ceiling to my apartment as in a ladder but then it is like a small tunnel. I feel very uncomfortable in passing through the passageway as I can barely fit but it is the only way up into the apartment. Then I have it where I have to pass through a very small passageway that is horizontal and doesn’t seem to go anywhere but I have to go. I feel very uncomfortable like I can’t breathe at points (as I did above). Sometimes it is a stairway to my apartment that is very restricted as far as space. Sometimes my family of origin is involved and sometimes it is just me. I have really tried to explore my feelings about the symbols in my dreams and I am not getting anywhere as it is too vague. I did read what your site said about stairwells and that might apply but it didn’t really resonate entirely.”
Thanks for your question and all the information about your dreams. You have identified a common element in all you dreams as having “to climb upwards through a very small passageway in the ceiling to my apartment as in a ladder but then it is like a small tunnel” and that you feel very uncomfortable, that you don’t fit, but that you “have to go.”
The first element of you dream I would like to address is the passageway, or tunnel. Passages take us from one place to another, but there are neither here nor there. We cannot stay indefinitely in a passage – we must pass through. Passages in dreams can be symbols of our journey into the subconscious itself, or our attempts to reconcile what we know subconsciously with how we live in our waking lives. Passage dreams may come when we start to do dream work or meditate, or when we have some inner process to begin.
This may indicate a period of transition in your life, that you are moving from one state to another. This could be an actual “rite of passage” – such as marriage, leaving home, having a child or retiring. But rites of passage are also essentially about maturing – when the girl becomes a woman there would have traditionally been a special secret ritual and celebration. In our current society we often neglect this most fundamental need to recognise transition, but this does not mean we do not have a need for it at a deep level.
I would ask you: when you first felt you were becoming an adult, a mature woman, what circumstances were prevailing in your life? Was this a difficult or easy time? What lessons did you learn from that time? These might be helpful now. Also, what do you believe was left unfinished, or could have been done better at that time? Can you use anything in your current life to revisit those feelings and make improvements in your life?
You may be going through another significant rite of passage now, seeking a new level of maturity but one you do not feel entirely ready for. I would ask what in your current life do you feel you have outgrown – what ideas of beliefs no longer “fit” you? I would also ask you to explore what is making you feel enclosed, restricted and “unable to breathe” in your life? Is it work, a relationship, a behaviour or belief that no longer serves you well? That your family are sometimes present could mean they are a source of strength, but also anxiety for you. What are you afraid of leaving behind in order to move on?
If you still feel you aren’t getting anywhere and the analytical approach is too confronting, perhaps you could try engaging your subconscious directly. You could try performing your own personal “rite of passage ritual.” This will be celebrate all past transitions in your life, and to honour the current one, however obscured from your consciousness it may be. Find some time alone, and begin by showering or bathing with your favourite scents – all rites of passage require a cleansing and make use of sacred herbs. Then gather a small collection of special objects and put them into two piles – one that represents your past, being a young girl and innocence; another that represents your future, being a woman and wisdom. Starting with the past, take some time to look at each object, hold it, revisit the memories it brings up, then pause to be grateful for what you learned and how you grew from that experience. Then put the object in a box or bag. When you are finished, tie the bag or box up with ribbon or string and tell yourself this stage is over. Next work through the objects for the future, thinking of the attributes you wish to grow into, the qualities you seek and so on. Then place these objects around your home, your office, your car, in your handbag or wherever – places where you can see them and be reminded of your amazing future. When you are finished, get dressed, put on make up and go out to celebrate – if you can find somewhere to go dancing, great, if not, go eat, drink and be merry. Be part of the world and amongst it. Embrace the change that is struggling to occur in you.
And think of how small a passage a cocoon is that a caterpillar must first pass through! Your journey should bring great rewards. If you begin to dream of open spaces, new rooms, babies, fruit or flowers, you should feel confident you dream work is having a deep effect, and you have effected your life at a subconscious level.