At seven or eight years old, I had this dream, a single scene of surely a longer dream, which periodically floats up in my mind to this day:
I’m standing alone in a lane on the edge of what appears to be a marketplace filled with people selling their wares. Each merchant’s booth or stall is an open, square structure composed of four tall wooden poles with a covering at the top, probably sewn together dried animal skins. Large cloths hang from the poles and along the coverings, like decorative banners, only they are all drab in color. None of these stand out in any way. The two rows of booths extend behind me before fading off into the background. The whole scene is cast in shades of brown-red, gray-tannish hues, as if we’re somewhere in a desert of the Middle East or North Africa in the late afternoon. People are wearing baggy clothing and many heads are either covered in long cloths or turbans, but this is vague and my mind may have embellished these details over the years. I can’t recall faces and I am too far away from anyone to see any clearly. The ground is a hard packed red and brown-gray soil. The spareness and Eastern feel of the scene harkens back to some time in antiquity.
I feel far away from anything familiar to me, like I am a visitor from somewhere else. But, as I stand sideways on the path, I see behind me, perhaps fifty feet or so, a wondrous site. A tan-yellow snake with ribbed, wing-like extensions unfolded outward from each side of it’s head and neck levitates a few feet from the ground. The creature is about as thick as both of my small arms combined, and at least ten feet long, but probably longer. I cannot accurately tell, given the distance between us. There is an unspoken understanding that this is my guardian. Following me, it hisses soothingly against the stillness and silence. Nobody goes anywhere near the hovering serpent or myself, for they are caught up in their own business of commerce and, very likely, would not dare to cross the path of this guardian being or the child it protects. I feel safe and secure. I am not alone. I also feel moved that this creature is looking after me wherever I go.
I wake up.
This dream piece is loaded with meaning, to say the least. Where I was at in my life when I had the dream leads to “making sense” of it even more. However, while I have personally analyzed and contextualized it a-plenty over the years– and many of you readers may naturally feel inclined to analyze it as well– what comes through most powerfully are the beauty and magic of the scene itself. That’s what ultimately matters. In the end, a painting is a painting. Some paintings leave one deeply moved and you never forget the overall sense of them, even if many details are certainly not recalled. This dream image is a favorite personal painting of mine produced by my mind, only it is three dimensional, given I was transported there during sleep. Briefly, I was in that ancient marketplace, but my serpent guardian still lives there. And every time I remember this mysterious scene, I feel I revisit an old friend.