When I was a child, my mom told me that before I was born, she’d hoped I’d be twins, because she wanted to have another child but couldn’t endure another pregnancy. The idea gave metaphorical birth to an imaginary sibling, one who would take my side when my older siblings told me I was too young. I imagined a brother, because that would balance out the family nicely. He’s been my imagined companion in this life ever since.
The following dream, which I had in my mid-twenties, when I was an Assistant Big Fish in a Small Town Pond, reinforced my twin’s presence in the life of my mind.
The Corpse in the Cave
I am in the doorway of a cave, facing inward. The light is very dim, and I approach the back wall, on alert as I face the darkness. I reach a corpse. I stand beside it. The body is swathed in white, the uncovered face to my left, and as I look closer, I see that it’s more decayed than I first thought.
I turn away in a surge of horror and alarm, and flee. But before I reach the cave’s threshold, I remember. I’m supposed to turn and face my fear. I stop, with the awareness of the corpse and the fear crowding into my back.
I face the corpse.
It has vanished, replaced by an angel of light, tall and so magnificent that I have to squint.
“I’m Michael,” he says, “I wanted to be with you in this life, but I couldn’t.” Love, the most accepting love I’d ever known, washed through me from Michael, accompanied by the assurance that he wanted to be with me in the physical world, and bittersweet grief that he wasn’t.
The dream has stayed with me, a clearer memory than many from my waking life. I’ve found Michael’s company again and again through hypnotherapy and dreams and imaginings. Whether he is real isn’t even a question. He is a very real being who lives in my imagination. In my mid-twenties, with my mom reminding me that women my age were less likely to get married, the knowledge that Michael had wanted to live during my life had the tragic quality of romance-out-of-reach. Then I planned my big move, to graduate school, and before I left Small Town Pond I dreamed this:
I am in College Town, in front of a small house in a quiet neighborhood. Michael is there, sitting in a young maple tree, gazing down at me fondly.
I don’t remember now if we spoke. If I went digging through my archives, I could probably find the original notes about the dream, but no guarantees–my journals were hodgepodge then. But it doesn’t matter, because a few years later, my fiancé and I bought a house with a young maple tree that looked very much like the house in my dream. I knew I had Michael’s blessing, and he felt comfortable, without the romantic projection.
As I got into dream work, I projected onto my imagined Michael the archetype of Consort, Jeremy Taylor’s elegant choice for removing gender from Jung’s idea of Animus and Anima. The Consort is that energy that complements ours–what we metaphorically see as masculine or feminine energy. So for me, a heterosexual woman, the complementary energy, or my Consort, is a heterosexual man. My dreams keep bringing to my attention this meeting of the energy I habitually employ less, but now need. The integration of the masculine and feminine seems to me the next big step in how we imagine gender. By recognizing that we all share both energies, we allow for people to be who they are, in all their glorious, cheerful diversity. Where we fall on the spectrum of human characteristics is unique to each of us, so we might as well accept that other people will experience life a little, or a lot, differently than we will, and get over ourselves and on with the work of creating a world in which we all belong.
For me, the steps to doing that include facing my fears (which is harder in waking life than in dreams), honoring my imagination’s version of the energies I need in my life, and allowing the sense of spiritual support that Michael offers to really come in to my psyche.