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Sunday, July 23, 2006

DREAMS AND JOURNEYS

"The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens into that primeval cosmic night which was soul long before there was a conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach."
Carl Gustav Jung 1875-1961
Ibid p 45; vol 10 "The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man." 1934


A few days ago, a friend of mine sent me a web site that has information about a trek in Turkey along the old Lycian Way, which was the route taken by Alexander the Great's army on it's journey to and from Persia. The Lycian Way is a 509 way-marked footpath around the coast of Lycia in southern Turkey, from Fethiye to Antalya.

The modern trail is mainly over footpaths and mule trails with many ascents and descents as it approaches and veers away from the sea. It's suggested to start the trek at Fethiye which is the easiest part of the trail. There are camping places and pensions in village houses along the way.

Lycia is the historical name of the Tekke Peninsula, which juts into the Mediterranean on Turkey's southern Coast. The mountains rise steeply from the wooded shore and tiny bays, giving beautiful views and varied walking. The Lycians were a democratic but independent people who absorbed Greek culture. All along the route are many historical sites.

The mention of this famous route to and from the East in ancient times, reminded me of a dream I had a few years go, a dream that has stayed distinctly in my memory.
In the dream I was travelling with the Macedonian army on a mountain trail, going north up the Asia Minor seacoast (the Lycian Way) toward distant mountains. I can still clearly recall the soldiers who I was with, what they wore, the activity with outriders going up and down the long ranks of cavalry and footsoldiers encouraging them along. The commander pointed out to me the five snow-capped peaks in the distance. He said they were "The Five Sisters" and we were going to ride beyond them to Macedonia.

In August 2003 I had a chance to relive that dream. I was travelling by bus down the coast of Turkey toward Fethiye with my friend Patrick . When I glanced out the bus window, as we passed through the mountains, I immediately felt a sense of dejas-vu. I remembered that dream, and recognized the scenery, the mountain terrain, pine forests, occasional glimpses of the distant sea.

Fethiye was called Telmassos in antiquity and is located on a lovely bay strewn with islands. The town is built up the hillside, just below the famous Lycian rock tombs, but there are many sarcophogi in the town itself. The ruins of a crusader's castle crowns the hill, built by the Knights of Rhodes. The rock tombs dominate the town, representing the facades of Doric-style temples cut into the cliff face. For years I had been looking at pictures of those tombs and longed to see them. On that visit, I climbed the steep hill and the two hundred steps up and stood right in front of the most predominant of these marvels, the Tomb of Amyntas, which dates to the 4th Century B.C.

(To find out more about the trekking route on the Lycian Way go to www.trekkingturkey.com )

It happened that we were having a discussion at my writer's workshop last week about using dreams in or as stories. I have several times used my own dreams as dreams of my characters if they seemed appropriate. One is a dream that Roxana, Alexander's widow, has about a snake. I had that dream myself but knew it was really her reoccuring dream, a kind of omen which foreshadowed the future.

Another time, back in the '70's, I had a vivid dream with an exotic technicolour setting in which I seemed to be a 'captive' in a small stone-built room. I remember the little room clearly, especially the large turquoise urn that stood by the window and the narrow bed covered by a jaguar pelt. The man who I was with seemed to be a royal person. He was brown-skinned, dressed in a kilt and plumed head-dress. His name stayed in my memory, something that sounded like "Cho'oc". I recall his urgent warning. "You must go. I will help you escape."

There was a commotion outside, and I recall looking out over a green jungle-like area with other stone-built buildings. My companion (or captor) was urging me to leave by the back entrance.

The dream stayed with me becuse it seemed to have a special significance, almost as though it were a memory flash-back, very real and yet quite fantastical. A year after that, I was in Mexico, travelling for several months with my boyfriend. We went to Palenque to see the Mayan pyramids. As I climbed the steep steps of Temple XII, I noticed at the base of the pillars, the stucco relief of the Mayan death god. As I entered the small stone room and looked out over Palenque, I immediately had that dejas-vu feeling again as if I had been there before. I instantly recalled the dream that had haunted me before I came to Mexico. And I knew that this was the place. The room was much smaller than I remembered from the dream and yet it was the same room, empty now, but the windows did have a view over the tangled jungle where once there had been lovely gardens. The spirit still remained there. I had an overwhelming feeling of peace at being back there, but it puzzled me, and I wanted to find out more. Who was the young 'prince'? Where did he go? And why was he, in the dream, urging me to leave? I learned that the excavators found the bodies of a prince-priest and a girl near Temple XVIII but the jungle was overgrown too much to locate the path. Palenque has also been called "Na-chan" City of Snakes, so I decided to turn back. Just then somethiing caught my eye: a brilliant irridescent green feather. I remembered then, that "Cho'oc" had worn a fabuloud head-dress of emeral-coloured plumes. Was this an omen? An answer to my questions? Later, when I developed my photos, every picture that I took of the entrance to the room, with the skulls on the base of the pillars, there were strange streaks of purple light reflecting in the corner. Eerie!

Later, I did some research and found that there had been uprisings in Palenque and young men, especially priests, were commonly sacrificed to appease the gods. I found a name "Cho'oc Bahlum" which meant "The Young Jaguar". What had happened that long-ago day in Palenque? For now, the jungle keeps its secrets.

I've had a great many dejas-vu experiences, epecially in Greece, but these were especially profound because they were connected to dreams. So, pay attention when you dream. Write down the details of the significant ones. Who knows? They may be telliing you something about your own past life. Or, perhaps they are telling you something about your character's.

"Of all peoples the Greeks have dreamt the dream of life's best."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832 "Proverbs in Prose"

4 comments:

Sam said...

Deja vu is such a strange thing - and everytime it happens to me I get prickles up and down my spine. Very interesting post!

Debra Young said...

Fascinating post! I have picturesque story dreams sometimes, but none with that kind of resonance. And I'd love to travel the Lycian Way some day. d:)

Adrian Swift said...

Indeed, a fascinating post! From the way you wrote this, I can hardly imagine what your historical fiction must be like! You have a real gift.

Love your quotes.

Wynn Bexton said...

Euxaristo poli! Gracias. And thanks for the compliments.