Zombie Dreams

Greetings, creative dreamers! Winter is melting here, with warm days and blossoms appearing overnight on the cherry trees.  What dreams are you exploring as the days grow longer?

Last month, my former student, Michael, wrote:

“I am aware the winter solstice is a very powerful and meaningful time for the psyche (in terms of intuition, spirituality…). With this in mind, could our psyches be rigged to always go through their darkest period during this time, and then move into the light (in terms of rebirth, starting over…)?  Could this be why the winter solstice is very important and powerful?”

We turn inwards more in the winter: it’s cold, we’re inside more, it’s dark, our bodies slow down.  Winter is a metaphor, too (the winter of our discontent…), used to represent aging, solitude, death, or a chilly emotional life in dreams, literature, and art.  If you’re seeking inspiration, try writing about winter, painting ice and snow, using the season’s images to create something new. If you haven’t already, scroll down to read about water (frozen and otherwise) in dreams.

A few days ago, on Candlemas, we were halfway to the Spring Equinox. Another cycle created, doors opening, light creaking in… But before it floods across the floor, it’s time for zombies!

I recently finished teaching a senior seminar where we interpreted movies, books, art, and so on. We got to talking about all the ‘undead’ creatures showing up across genres these days. Along with the surging fascination with vampires (a later post), zombie fear seems to be growing.  We dream about what preoccupies us, so what does it mean when we dream of zombies?

Well, never before have we had so many external brains: so many “i’s” without an I (or an eye, for that matter!).  How is our cohabitation with all these machines affecting us?  Have we become more machine-like?  Studies suggest we in the U.S. have become more self-involved and less empathetic over the past couple of decades; we experience more stress, more stress-related illness, more isolation, more loneliness.  We are prescribed an unprecedented amount of psychotropic medication in order not to feel what we feel. Our culture increasingly elevates thinking and devalues feeling, as if feelings were bugs or viruses or worms rather than what differentiates us from our personal machines!

No wonder, then, that creatures, including zombies, appear to be increasing in frequency in our dreams and nightmares (for nightmare help, look to the right!).  After all, what is a zombie?  A walking, moving, undead thing that used to be human, but no longer has feelings.

Are we the walking dead we fear in our dreams?

If you are troubled by such dreams, take your zombie to tea.  Talk to it in your imagination.  Tell it you understand it’s coming after you in order to show you that you are in danger of not feeling, of becoming a zombie, yourself.  Show it your determination to remain human by noticing how you feel, and expressing your feelings to those you love.

Create something. Creativity requires feeling.  Feeling is the zombie antidote.

Until next time…watch for the light, and sweet dreams!

About Veronica Tonay

International dream expert, Dr. Veronica Tonay, earned her masters and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1990s. She has been a licensed psychologist in private practice since 1997 (CA PSY 15379), and has taught psychology courses to undergraduates at the University of California at Santa Cruz since 1989.  Her work has been featured for over 25 years in many media outlets, such as Psychology Today, NPR Public Radio, abcnews.com, and The Chicago Tribune. Dr. Tonay was featured dream expert on the Discovery Health TV Channel's 3-episode miniseries, Dream Decoders. She has organized several dream conferences for the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and has published journal articles and three books, including: "The Creative Dreamer, Revised: Using Your Dreams to Unlock Your Creativity" (Ten Speed Press/Celestial Arts) and "Every Dream Interpreted," published in London by Collins & Brown.  She lives with her husband, Steven, in Santa Cruz, California, gardening, painting, writing, dancing, and dreaming.
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