Red Hen

I dash through the hallways of a professional building, as if being chased through the tunnels of a maze. Janitors, security guards, accountants, IT specialists, and one surgeon dressed in a blue gown. None of them seems to notice me nor care much about my comings and goings.

I arrive at a chapel with a domed roof, a round room of copper and gold, the perimeter of which is lined with pews and tall white candles in gilded ceremonial holders. In the center, an older woman, who I mistake initially for my aunt, the matriarch of my mother’s family. A stately woman, regal even, with short, fiery red hair, impeccable makeup, and a dress of flowing black robes. She moves as if on air. Beside her stand two younger women dressed in identical long black skirts and white blouses whose sleeves billow at the wrists. One of them is holding a large book. They would act as our guides during this rite of passage ceremony, akin, I suspect, to a confirmation, an initiation of an altogether uncertain variety, after which we would eat from a pot of hen stew prepared by the high priestess herself.

It isn’t long before the group of us is asked to undress. The request doesn’t bother me, as I stand quite comfortably naked beside a former co-worker, the only woman who balks at having to remove her clothing. Another woman tells her, not so politely, to suck it up. The chapel is now full of people. Family, former colleagues, classmates, some alive, some long deceased. And I stand next to a small cardboard box—my cardboard box—and see, to my astonishment, that it is filled to the brim with money. Wads of cash stuffed together with rubber bands. I deferentially explain to the priestess that this money—what appears to be thousands and thousands of dollars—could not possibly be mine.

“It has been more than a year since I’ve opened this box.”

I turn to the crowd and offer the cash to whomever would claim it as his or her own. Because it is not mine. It cannot be. This box that has remained closed for so long could not possibly contain a windfall. The room is silent until, finally, a former elementary school classmate raises his hand and speaks.

“It is from God,” he says. “When God wants your dreams to come true, he gives you what you need to keep them alive.”

The priestess smiles, and this explanation appears to satisfy me. Without warning, the crowd begins to genuflect and pray. The ceremony has begun. Through the back door of the chapel appears another former classmate, this one from high school. He wears a green coat and a stocking cap. He looks much younger than he did the last time I saw him. I remember feeling sad when I learned that he committed suicide a few years ago.


On waking, my first impulse was to flip on all of the lights and make sure a priestess wasn’t hiding somewhere in the rafters. My second thought was, what would Carl Jung say about this? I felt as if I had just been haunted and had a horrible time falling back to sleep. It was one of those dreams—one of those exceptionally dramatic, vivd, and detailed dreams—whose images unfurl like a film reel and seem to imprint all of their oddities in the back of your mind. So that you wake with the unshakable feeling that you’ve just visited another dimension. Welcome to the jungle, it seems to say. Get ready to ride.

I have never been particularly interested in interpreting my own dreams. As I read Jung’s The Red Book, I continually remind myself that I am not witnessing a series of hallucinations or spontaneous visions, but intentional imaginings. Active imagination. Which is what I would like to do with the images in this dream. Not attempt to interpret them just yet, but to create with them. Turn them into poetry. It’s own kind of criticism, I suppose. Perhaps if I engage with the all-knowing priestess, she will be more talkative. I am curious to know what she has to say.

8 thoughts on “Red Hen

  1. What a dream! There seems to be so much in the images to create with. I admire how you remain faithful to the dream and treat it for what it is: a dream.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much. What a dream, indeed! I awoke feeling so shaken. I think it will be interesting to create from some of the symbols, perhaps construct an entirely different kind of narrative. Thanks again for the positive feedback!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Will be interested to see what you create from it. Lucid dreaming…… like you said the scenes stay in the back of your mind like part of a permanent film reel.
    I think it is important to either create from or interpret a lucid dream in some way.

    “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” C.G. Jung

    Liked by 1 person

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