Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Dreaming about Swans (Dream Anthology Series)

I thought I would search the internet and collect an anthology of dreams recorded online based around a randomly chosen theme or keyword. This is just for a bit of fun, but it might be a useful exercise in comparing and contrasting the various ways in which dream symbolism appears in the dreams of very different people from all over the world - or at least the English-speaking internet-using world, unless I am able to find translations or reproduced records of older dreams or dreams from different cultures. However, my main sources will be online dream diaries. I will be rewriting the dreams to the extent that the grammar and spelling is of the same quality as my own, but I will remain true to the content and specific language or phrasing in so far as possible. I will anonymise the dreamer (although they did publish their dreams in a publicly accessible medium), but will indicate gender, age and any other personal information I can because this will be an important aspect of how dream symbolism may compare or contrast depending on demographical factors.

My first theme/keyword is SWAN. I have chosen this because I hate swans and am afraid of them, but they seem to be a very admired creature, due to their (alleged) beauty, charm and grace. I think that if I had a dream about a swan, it would be a likely nightmare scenario, but I predict the majority of 'swan dreams' I discover on the internet will present them as a positive and enchanting dream  symbol.

Socrates, 'Socrates Swan' (470 BC)
Told to Plato:
Socrates dreamed that a cygnet (young swan) grew out of his chest. It settled on his lap and rapidly developed into a fully-grown swan. It then 'flew forth into the open sky uttering a song that charmed all hearers'.

Plato, 'Plato's Dream) (c. 347 BC)
Plato dreamed he had become a swan and was flying high above the land. When the people below saw the beautiful swan, they took aim at it with arrows and missiles, hoping to win a prize. Nothing struck the swan, which flew calmly onwards.

Anonymous, Untitled
I had this dream a couple of times. I go into the back garden of the house I grew up in and there is a swan on the grass. As I get closer to it I realise that the swan is actually dying and is being eaten alive by maggots and insects.

Anonymous, Untitled
I was surrounded by white swans which were also surrounding my house.

Anonymous, Untitled
There was a black swan swimming around a black lake, focused intently on me. It would not look away and was swimming close to me.

Anonymous, Untitled
I had a dream that I was riding on a white swan. It was floating in water and someone was there with me. It felt like someone was guiding us.

CW, 'Swan' (8.4.1995)
Male, age unknown, San Francisco, USA
I awake in a bare cabin and am amnesiac. I have lost knowledge of who I am. The only item of clothing in the room is a bright orange minidress, which is draped over a wooden chair, looking like a huge limp poppy petal. I discover that I am male, but have no choice but to wear the dress. I look into an oval-shaped mirror. The dress is tight, but just long enough. I think 'my butt is too skinny' so arch my back and push out my chest and butt. It looks better, but I still appear too skinny as I have no breasts. My legs are also hairy. My waist is not slender enough. I have a long horse-face, bony elbows and a big nose. The self-criticism continues to flow until I realise that these are not my own thoughts, but rather I was unconsciously reading them off the dress which has been dyed with a thousand scrawled insults. I can't deny their truth: I cannot live up to the dress, fill it, or be as cool as a girl. 

One of the walls in the room has a picture window. I look out, feeling sad. I see I am in Alaska - I can see for miles, the fjords of Sitka and the tundra of Nome. In the vast expanse of landscape I see three more versions of myself - all different races, ages and genders. They are wandering around in the wilderness, bewildered and wearing clothes like mine, covered with hateful judgements including: slut, stupid, drunk, lazy, illiterate, superstitious, weak, cold, sloppy, greedy, fat. I think that there has been some form of curse placed on us out of malice. Our minds are all blank. I think this state has lasted for years. I realise I may have one clue: I am an artist and I can trace the dye used on the dress. The dye comes from a small laboratory near Anchorage, which I break into at night. The lab reeks of curses, which someone has been brewing like coffee. This is the source of the misery. I start to look through the lab notes and records and just as I find the data on the dye used on the dresses, the Dye Wizard bursts in. 

My mind clears a bit and I realise that I know him: he had cursed me so I could not be able to think about certain things, including him. I got around this by thinking in different languages, but this caused me to feel lost, forgotten and ashamed. The Dye Wizard said with pleasure: 'you just keep remembering don't you? You cause me too much trouble as a man. Let's see if you interfere with me as a swan!' I climb onto a lab bench and grab flasks to throw at him, but my arms start melting as he chants: 'TEHANU, GOHA, TENAR!' There is a cloud of steam and my bones stretch and feel hollow. I feel a shock of searing clarity. I hiss and cackle and look through my new eyes, but I feel relieved. The curse of the Dye Wizard was laid on a human, but now I am a swan and able to think freely. The Dye Wizard does not seem to notice what he has done. He laughs as I shriek in my swan-voice and fly out of the lab away from him. I have to hunt for food with no hands and can only eat raw, squiggly fish, which is 'yuck' but I can fly. I will find my other selves and unite.

CW, 'Swan-Scatter' (9.10.1998)
Male, age unknown, San Francisco, USA
I see a lagoon with pebbly shores which hump occasionally into outcrops where birds nest - mainly gulls and small divers, but also some huge white ones, which might be pelicans, geese or swans. I start walking around the bay, but decide to try flying, although it has been difficult lately. I go through the motions, flapping my arms in imitation of the big birds and feel my arms cupping the air. It is working. There is no long stretch of beach as a runway so I risk running straight down to the water and skim the surface, working hard and rising slowly until I can see the entire lagoon. It is a clear day and I glide a bit, enjoying the view. I keep circling the bay, a few yards in the air, to practice. I feel confident enough to sail right up the face of a big wave. The far side is a spectacular long steep drop with a fierce downdraft. Although I am scared I skim down the wave-face like a surfer. 

I skirt the land on the far side now, passing over a few swans' nests. The swans scatter, shrieking. I worry that the swans will not return in time and their eggs will get cold. I am not trying to steal their eggs, I am a new creature which they are overreacting towards. They will have to get used to me as I have as much right to fly here as they do. 

S, Untitled (2.4.2012)
Female, age unknown, British Columbia, Canada
Dream 1
I had two dreams where I saw swans fly past outside a window and I became very excited. In one of these dreams I ran to the window to watch the swans. One of them stopped in mid-air, frozen. It's feathers seemed to shimmer brightly like it was transforming into something else, although I did not know what. I was aware that I was witnessing something magical. It reminded me of the scene in The Swan Princess when the swan was transforming back and forth between her human and animal form. I woke up before the swan finished transforming, in a happy mood.

Dream 2
I was driving through my former home town with my husband when we came to a deep pothole, which appeared more like a sinkhole. We were too late in avoiding it, but thankfully the car drove over it without getting stuck. Suddenly, another sinkhole appeared which would have swallowed the car if my husband had not been successful in avoiding it by driving around it at the last moment. Next, I saw myself sitting on a bus with strangers. I saw swans fly by and became very excited. I screamed with joy. I dropped to the floor to see the swans better, but realised the other passengers on the bus were staring at me weirdly. I felt embarrassed and smiled awkwardly, but felt happy to have seen the swans. 

M, Untitled (12.3.2013)
Male, age unknown, location unknown
I dreamed of two swans: one was ugly and without feathers, whilst the other was pretty. Me and a male I do not know/remember were transporting the swans somewhere. We entered an underground tunnel or station where it was showering water. I place the ugly swan in a net-box which I am holding. Water drips onto the ugly swan and 'roam[s] around the place' [author's phrasing]. We notice that the pretty swan is getting away from us. I decide to get the pretty swan and put it in the box with the ugly swan.

RG, Untitled (10.4.2013)
I have had this dream three times. I am walking down a familiar road when I see two 'witchy' ladies tying swans into baskets with wires and ropes. They inform me that they are heading to the slaughterhouse. The two ladies leave and I am able to free the swans, which fly away. I then argue with the two ladies and two men who have air rifles and are pleading with me about how I have 'ruined their bread and butter'. This is a very vivid dream which shocks me awake each time.

TS, Untitled (1.8.2013)
I dreamed of beautiful white swans with red trimming around them.

Anonymous, Untitled
I had a dream that I owned two swans: one young black swan and one old grey swan. I was worried about the grey swan dying and the young black one being lonely. I bought more (white) swans.

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