Welcome to this week’s Tending Tuesdays offering! Tending Tuesdays was inspired by a pull to sustain the value of what happens when we come together as a community. Each Tuesday, an email will come to you with a link to a new video on a Dream Tending or depth psychological topic in the form of current writing and research, interviews, discussions with colleagues, and clips of tending dreams.

Dear Dream Tending Community,

Animals in dreams captivate your delight and/or your fear. A grizzly bear chases you in a mountain setting. You wake up afraid and agitated. A snake appears in your dream. At first you are quite startled, but then—something else. You become curious, as if something “other” is about to happen. Or when a deer with her fawn crosses your path in a forested area of a dream landscape. Notice their grace and presence. You wake with a sense of wonder and ease, a heightened sense of your animal body.

Frightening or friendly, animals are frequent visitants in the realm of dream and imagination. Their images are part of myth, story, and art. Most dreamwork approaches connect animal imagery to aspects of yourself (lionhearted, bullheaded, having horse sense) or personify the images as external figures (mentor as wise owl, boss as predator wolf, child as fawn). While these depictions hold some value, Dream Tending suggests an additional approach. When an animal visits in your dream, take the time to notice the figure in its special capacities. Witness its animal powers. In Dream Tending, we have a saying—“When an animal appears in a dream, follow the animal.” Accept the invitation. With safety and protection, follow White Rabbit, walk with Bear, spread your wings and fly with Eagle.

Tending Tuesdays is about supporting one another in listening to dream and imagination in a different way. Together, let’s discover what is being asked of us now. Let’s listen to the stories embedded in the living images of dream and imagination and offer back to the world their generative sparks.

Until next Tuesday . . .

In the dreamtime,

Dream Tending Exercise:

  1. Begin by anchoring in your sense of presence, feet on the ground, and safety, in the company of allies.
  2. Notice the animal figure in the dream along with the landscape it is situated in/on (ground, sky, building).
  3. Take the time to look carefully at the animal. Bring your attention to its distinctive color, shape, and size.
  4. Use your discernment. How is this dream animal (bear, snake, whale, bird) different from the generality of its species?
  5. When feeling secure, ask permission. Can I walk/fly with you?
  6. Follow the animal, one step, one flight at a time. Take note.
  7. Write or sketch what you discover in your journeys.
  8. Repeat the process with the dream animal over five days. There is no hurry, nothing to conquer. Let your curiosity awaken. Offer gratitude to your animal companion/guide.

Inside The Curious Mind

A poem that resonated with me this week…

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

—Mary Oliver

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Stephen Aizenstat

Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the founder of Dream Tending, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences. He is a world-renowned professor of depth psychology, an imagination specialist, and an innovator. He has served as an organizational consultant to major companies and institutions, and as a depth psychological content advisor to Hollywood film makers. He has lectured extensively in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. He is affiliated with the Earth Charter International project through the United Nations, where he has spoken. Professor Aizenstat is the Chancellor Emeritus and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has collaborated with many notable masters in the field including Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and Robert Johnson.