The Bird and the Spider

9142447857?profile=originalTransformation is not linear. Imagine it like a mandala forming, but if you were looking at it from above, it might appear as a boiling caldron, each bubble blooming into existence to form a place in the mandala. The moment of the blooming is an awareness flooding, a new feeling opening, or perhaps alchemy happening. The mandala as transformation, becomes the love. Like nature, it is chaotic and unpredictable and yet still forms to an incredible, beautiful rendering of the soul. The human mythologies ripple through it, the cosmos tilt and spin, the natural world comes alive. One can feel the deep mystery at work. Now, imagine as you are looking at the mandala, that it shifts and reforms in a never ending bloom of transmutation of itself. And now you see that at the center is the still point, the girl/boy soul, which is infinity, unchanging, constant, whole, undifferentiated oneness...the boy/girl united.

I had the following dream while on an Archetypal Dreamwork retreat at Rowe Conference Center last month. The archetypal imagery of this dream is astounding as it presents a larger mythology of the journey of the spiritual warrior. The ultimate battle between good and evil which plays out in us all as individuals and as a collective. But it is my dream, so it is very specific and personal to me and my own struggle.

Dream: I am with a man and a woman. Suddenly a bird flies into the woman's mouth. And when she turns her mouth is sealed up like with skin that looks like scar tissue. Then I see her in profile and a huge tarantula crawls out of her mouth and lands on the floor. I feel terrified and run. Then we are in some underground sterile chambers that are small like berths on a ship but maybe some kind of surgical pod. I sense the structure is massive extending deep into the ground. I see the tarantula and it is being chased by the bird, but it is trying to get me. I start trying to get away from it and each time the tarantula tries to get to me, the bird dodges it away. But it is singularly focused and I realize that it will always be trying to get to back in its host and lay it's eggs. I think we will have to go deeper in the catacombs, but then I think there is no place deep enough that we can get to to ever truly be safe, that it would always find a way in because it is so singularly focused.

Of course, I was shown that this woman is the Anima, showing me something about meyself. The bird, the spirit, flies into me and I see how I have been silence, my mouth sealed. The presence of the holy spirit in me drives out the tarantula. The epic battle between the bird and the tarantula, or to use classic christian terminology, the battle between God and Devil.

For several days leading up to this dream and for several days after I felt very nauseous. I was sick and my body hurt. I have a tendency to feel my work very viscerally in my body and I knew that something was up. My dreams prior to this had been one where I was carrying a small sickly girl in my arms and another where an electrical wire snapped under my chin and shocked me at my throat.

To really begin to feel the Bird is new for me. Certainly there has been some intellectual understanding and certainly I have felt the presence of Divine Love on occasion, but to have it enter so abruptly, almost violently, with such a clear intention for me is new. I want to say that there was some great moment of love and beauty when the bird entered, but there was terror in the fluttering wings, my breath, unable to speak, and the expulsion of the spider. Apparently, spirit coming in does not always feel like love and light. And there is a hollowness that is created in the expulsion even as the bird works with me to open my throat and heart, to fill me up.

What does this all mean? Something in me is open to an even deeper healing and a deeper knowing of the divine presence and my connection to it. With that comes the terrible knowledge of what I am up against: a force so singularly focused that it will never give up as long as I am alive.

I want to tell you of the difference between the bird's “focus” on dodging this pathology away from me vs the spider's focus on getting back into its host. The bird, as an archetype, participates out of love and is of the girl in me. Like the crown which the girl Salome gives to Jung says, “Love never ends”. The bird is this. She is the Love that never ends and so she will always work with me to defeat the spider because I now know her and I can see the spider as separate from me.

The focus of the spider is zombie-like. While it may feel intelligent, there is no consciousness to it. It is mindless in its focus on getting in, laying its eggs. When it was in me, I could only see it as the outward manifestation of certain behaviors in my life and as even as reactions towards people, places, and things both in the world and in my dreams. For me, the spider represents the anger and nihilism that have dogged me, and the compulsive behaviors that have supported this. The nihilism is even there in the dream when I have the thought that no matter how deep we go, it will always find a way in. This is the work of the demon, it is a doubt-caster, spinning webs of lies to trick us into believing falsehoods about ourselves. It wants us to give up, give ourselves over to it. Let it lay its foul eggs so that instead of being the Bodhisattvas that we all truly are, we can instead be a mouth piece for this creature. This is the part of me that speaks from anger, resentment, lack of compassion, hubris, judgment, and the like. This is its singular focus.

The truth is, I will never be perfect, but I know this bird lives in me and is working in me.

I had this dream the following night:

Dream: I am lying naked on my back on a table with a sheet that covers me from the waist down. I have my right hand over my heart and my left hand over my womb. There is a man talking to me. Then Doakes (from the show Dexter, he's this real big, bad-ass black cop that is the only cop in the Miami homicide squad that can see through Dexter's facade, knows that Dexter's persona is a lie) comes over and starts giving me a massage touching my forehead with his thumbs. His fingers are making a crackling noise over my eyes. It feels really good and I feel waves of sensuality rise in my body. The other man asks me what I feel and I tell him it feels really good. I think that I will have to give Doakes a good tip.

To have my throat chakra opened by the electrical shock and then the entry of the bird/expulsion of the spider brings me to this place of deeper healing with the Animus. This is a very intense dream because it involves several chakras, the sacral, the heart, the throat, and the brow or third eye. The sensuality that arises is the Kundalini energy moving in me. People speak of Kundalini rising in a linear fashion as the chakras open, starting at the base and rising to the crown, as if this is a finite and definitive process. But I feel it is more like my mandala example above. It blooms where it needs to based on the feelings/spiritual openings that I am working with. The energy can move and yet, I feel the chakras expand and contract. This can feel painful. I am sure there is so much I don't know about all this, but I can't deny what my own personal experience has been so far.

My analyst suggested that Doakes is the Animus working to open the third eye, clearing away the cobwebs, as it were. The other man who is asking me what I feel is also the Animus. He wants me to speak from this place, from my sensuality, my heart. The joke about giving Doakes a good tip is an example of my joker/bravado that takes me out of the discomfort I feel in the vulnerability of having to speak what I feel. The dream wants to show me that I must learn to speak from my heart, my intuition. Perhaps when the heart is so combined with our wisdom, we carry a message of love. Perhaps this is part of the intention of the dreams to bring us to this calling in our lives, to always carry the message of the heart.

In the Chandogya Upanishad it is written (an interpretation):

“In the centre of the body there is a little shrine surrounded by a wall with eleven doors. Hidden within the shrine a Lotus blossoms, and within this there is a tiny, little room.”


“As great as the infinite space beyond is the space within the lotus of the heart. Both heaven and earth are contained in that inner space, both fire and air, sun and moon, lightning and stars. Whether we know it in this world or know it not, everything is contained in that inner space.”

This little room, this inner space, is the center of our mandala, our true self, our soul.

Image: Bird and Spider Copyright © Estate of Françoise Taylor, All Rights Reserved