Depression, Dreams and Spirituality

Depression comes, depression goes, and I often have no idea why. Sometimes, I suddenly break out of it through mysterious dreams that wake my whole spirit up. Those are the unexpected blessings, no more to be explained than the sudden recurrence of this illness.

There are frightening dreams as well when I may be wandering through dark halls and rooms of enormous houses, mansions or castle-like structures. Usually, I open doors in growing fear, sensing that I am about to come upon someone or something that will kill me. I may follow a stranger from room to room until he turns and stares at me with death in his eyes. I run from that, if I can, but never find a way out of the great buildings and wake in terror at the moment of my inevitable destruction. These are fitting images of being lost in depression, seeing nothing but darkness and always fearing the worst.

But occasionally a powerful dream will help me break out of that pattern and recover, at least for a time.

In those dreams the enclosing buildings have a way of opening up and leading me to a spiritual awakening, filling me with a sense of wonder at healing forces far greater than my small zone of illness. Those are exciting moments when I know that a basic change has occurred within and some power is bringing me back from disaster. They are great gifts. I can’t summon them on my own. They are always unexpected, and each experience opens my disconnected psyche to the world again.

In one of these, I dreamed I was in a large hall full of people gathered for some kind of celebration or awards ceremony. I didn’t know anyone and had no idea how I came to be there. The hall had a cavernous ceiling topped with a great dome. Seats were arranged in rows on either side of a long aisle – they were really high-backed wooden benches, like pews in a church. The space was dark, pervaded by the sort of diffuse, brownish light you see during a solar eclipse. The rows of seats were full of expectant people, but they seemed distant from me somehow, and I could walk among them unnoticed.

A young woman I did not know stepped to the middle of the aisle between the benches and announced to everyone that she had to get something of great importance. Then she reached into one of the the pews and pulled out a long wooden box resembling a portable easel. She set it upright in the aisle and pulled a lever on the box with difficulty. As she did this, the box sprang open, and a team of eight or ten horses, arranged in pairs and posed in galloping motion filled the center aisle. I was close to them and awed by the sight. I suddenly knew they were the golden horses of Troy – looking alive yet clearly artifacts. They emanated a powerful spiritual force, and I rushed to them to get near that force, perhaps alone in the crowd realizing what they were.

As I touched them, they began to rise in the air and as they ascended toward that high dome I felt an unutterable spiritual fulfillment. They rose very high and lost their shape until I saw only golden streaks or cloud-like shapes in what seemed now the sky instead of the ceiling of the hall. It was a moment of great spiritual transformation as I watched them ascend – and then I awoke feeling that the spirit world had opened to me when I had least expected it.

It wasn’t long afterward that I dreamed about the key to unlock the secrets of time – quite literally. I was in a large house or museum filled with antique objects – much of it dusty – almost warehoused. One of these was a beautifully burnished bronze or gold disc, at least six feet across, with edges that appeared at times serrated, at times like the points of a star. I thought of it as a complex 17th century mechanized sun with ingenious but hidden internal gears and rods that enabled it to do amazing things. Somehow, this golden disc presented me with a key so that I could unlock all the doors in that great house.

As I opened each dark room, the clutter of stacked and warehoused antiques fell away. In their place were bright white walls and open space throughout the building. Everything glowed with a rich luminosity, and I heard a resounding voice saying the phrase “unlocking the mysteries of time.” And each syllable of that phrase seemed to flow into me and work some invisible change. It was exhilarating, because I felt I was cutting through the appearances of life to perceive it as part of a greater wholeness than I could have imagined. I was completely at one with the huge spirit space that opened all around me. Then I awoke, restored to myself, depression gone.

I have no idea what these dreams are all about or where they come from, but each awakening from this dark disease is a treasure. It may not be one I can keep for long, but it’s a treasure of spirit nonetheless.

This is an updated version of a post originally published in 2008.

Image credit: Some Rights Reserved by b5ml at Flickr