I've had nightmares for as long as I can remember. My mother says I whimpered and cried in my sleep as a little girl. By the time I was in my early 20's I was so afraid to go to sleep that I developed insomnia.
But over the past year, they've been worse than ever. I've woken up screaming, flailing, kicking (I once punched my poor sleeping boyfriend right in the nose).
Maybe I needed to talk to somebody about my nightmares, he suggested, probably fearing a future of similarly rude awakenings. I had to agree. Luckily I knew exactly who that somebody was: Karen Hollis, a professional intuitive and psychic medium. I was fortunate enough to work with Karen before (she did an amazing reading with Kurt Cobain for me), and I remembered that she also offered Dream Interpretation with the Tarot.
I was in for another amazing experience.
I've always been fascinated by Tarot cards. The symbols speak a truly universal language, almost on another level of consciousness. I've studied them a bit over the years but I'm nowhere near fluent.
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Karen, on the other hand, is a Master. She always knows exactly what the cards are trying to say.
When applied to dreams, Karen explains:
"The Tarot cards are used almost as prompts for triggering connections that help you understand what you experienced in the dream state ... In dreams, the mind/psyche communicates symbolically in 'scenes' that make it easier for you to cope with painful or uncomfortable memories, events or thoughts. It's not uncommon, when you are awake, to have difficulty making sense of symbolic dream imagery."
Rings true, doesn't it?
Before our session, Karen asked me to write down one of my dreams and break it down into segments, or scenes. I don't always remember details from my more violent dreams, but there are a few recurring themes that come up:
1. I'm swimming in waters that are slowly rising and rising and won't stop.
2. I'm in complete darkness. I want to move but I can't; I'm paralyzed. I hear a loud buzzing overhead; suddenly there's a hot, white light shining on me.
3. I'm in a labyrinth of some kind (there's been quite a variety!) and I can't find my way out.
(I should note here that I've never had a near-drowning experience or been caught in a flood or buried alive or lost in a corn maze ... none of these scenes correlate to actual memories.)
So here's how it went:
1. For the first scene (rising water), the card Karen pulled was the Page of Cups. "This represents you as a little girl -- not understanding where your mother was coming from," she said. "There's something about your relationship with your mom now that turns you into a little girl and paralyzes you. You're afraid of her judging you ... does that make sense?"
YES. "Definitely accurate," I said.
2. For the second scene (loud buzzing and hot light), Karen pulled the Queen of Swords. "Do you feel like you're constantly under attack?" Karen wanted to know. YES. "This is you trying to drown out everybody else's judgments," said Karen. "Yeah, that sounds about right," I said.
3. For the third scene (the labyrinth), Karen pulled the Death card. Yikes? Not really. "This signifies the need for complete and total change," Karen explained. Again, very true to life.
Then we talked, Karen looking at more cards through the course of our conversation. It was like a therapy session, except way better, because I didn't have to explain anything -- she already knew. Basically, it's the difference between "Tell me about your mother," and "Here's the problem with your mother."
Without getting too personal (although I suppose I already have), my reading with Karen made me realize that certain things about my relationship with my mother are far more upsetting to me than I let myself realize on a conscious level. In other words, I suppress my emotions, but my true feelings come out at night and yell at me: "Hey! We have something to say!!"
And as it turns out, once you listen to your subconscious, it lets you sleep at night.
"Hey, you know what? You haven't woken up screaming and kicking in weeks," said my boyfriend said the other morning.
Do you have nightmares? What do you think they're about?
Image via Jessica Mullen/Flickr