My dreams are always vivid, always bright, always as real as my waking perceptions of "reality." Indeed, they are always indistinguishable from my waking consciousness. Bizarre events in dreams do not make my sleeping mind pause and recall that these things do not happen, ergo I must be dreaming. When dreaming, I'm virtually never aware that there is or ever has been some other me, the waking me, the day-to-day me that trusts contiguous reality to be more genuine than non-contiguous reality. Anyway, I'm getting a little off the subject. The subject being a dream I had this morning, not the usual state of my dreams. What I wish to say is that while my dreams are almost always extremely vivid, occasionally one comes along that seems at least twice as bright, twice as "real," and upon waking I find myself utterly disoriented for hours afterwards. And that's the sort of dream I had this morning.
Using my atheme, I was casting a circle around the trunk of one of my favorite trees, an old oak in Freedom Park which was struck by lightning last summer and apparently killed. However, in my dream the tree was alive and green. Turning counterclockwise, I completed the circle and began to prepare for some ritual which I cannot now recall. I've tried all day to remember what the ritual might have been, to no avail. I half suspect it may have had something to do with Ostara, as I was talking to Spooky about getting ready for Ostara just before I fell asleep last night. At the start, I was alone in the dream. Spooky wasn't there. The sun was setting and there were crickets and lightning bugs. The park seemed completely deserted except for me, and along the park's northern border, which is bounded by North Ave. NE, all the houses had vanished. Only, in the dream, I had no recollection of there ever having been houses there. Instead, there was the edge of a forest that seemed to go on for a long way.
Some sound came from the tree, and I looked up to see that it was filled with dozens and dozens of crows (we've had a lot of crows around lately). There was one particularly large crow and seated next to it was a creature which looked a bit like a tortoise and a bit like a very small black bear. It called down to me (I can't recall the precise wording of the dialogue from the dream, so anything here is an approximation). It said, "Come up, daughter. We've been waiting a very long time." I had no trouble climbing the huge trunk and reaching the low limb where the large crow and the tortoise/bear were waiting. I sat down between them, my legs dangling twenty feet or so off the ground, and, looking up, I saw that the stars had come out and the half moon was enormous.
"I didn't know you were waiting," I told them. "I'd not have taken so long."
"It's not your fault, grey daughter," the crow said. "You're here now."
Looking down again, I saw that the perimeter of my circle had begun to glow softly, as though some luminous liquid had been poured out on the grass.
"You've brought me something," the tortoise/bear said. "There's something I wish to hear you say, and I'm very tired of waiting for you to get around to it."
And for a while I had no idea what the creature was talking about, so I stared at the stars and I stared at the glowing circle surrounding the oak. And then, all at once, I did know. And I said something like, "The nature of magic." The crow cawed very loudly and the tortoise/bear told it (and I recall this very clearly) not to wake the dead.
"So, what is the nature of magic?" it asked me.
And, feeling suddenly very sure of myself and embarrassed that I'd not known what I was supposed to say from the start, I said (more or less), "Magic is communication. Magic is the one-way communication between any living organism and the cosmos. We speak and the cosmos doesn't listen, but we speak because there's nothing else we can do. We can speak without words. Magic is not the manipulation of the cosmos. That's technology. And magic's not an attempt to persuade the universe to do our bidding or tilt the scales in our favour. That's only wishful thinking."
I sat a moment, staring at my feet dangling above the ground, until the crow cawed again.
"Don't be so loud," I said.
"Finish what you started," the crow replied and the tortoise/bear nodded in agreement.
And I said, "The order of the universe is fixed. There's balance, which is sacred, but even when some portion of the universe is pushed out of balance, the order remains fixed. Magic is the preservation of the balance. The order is fixed and can't be swayed by any living being."
"See?" the crow said. "That wasn't so hard. Now, you climb back down and do what you came here to do." So, I began climbing back down the trunk of the oak, and that's about where I awoke.
We went to the park today, but I didn't go to the tree. I have a feeling I should have, but I'm still skittish about these things.
Postscript: I do hope this isn't TMI. I'm going with the results of the poll on this one...