I grew up in a house saturated with art and craft, along with dreamwork. I learned from a very early age that dreams and art making go hand-in-hand. There is a long history of artists and makers taking inspiration from their dreams, including many indigenous and aboriginal traditions. From the pre-Raphaelites, to the Impressionists, to the “Manifesto of Surrealism”, artists have been weaving together their dreams and reality. Salvador Dalί In his 1948 book 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, explained in detail how he used the hypnogogic and hypnopompic states to invigorate his work. Modern poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, and film-makers have also spoken of the value of dreams for their artistic inspiration. Even those who are not seen as “creative,” like famed dream analyst Carl Jung, created vibrant, colorful drawings and paintings in their dream journals.
Along with her stunning artwork, Leonora Carrington wrote one of my favorite books, The Hearing Trumpet, which deals with aging and the female body. It follows the story of older women who seeks to destroy the institutions of world. She’s given a hearing trumpet, “grandly curved like a buffalo’s horn,” and this hearing trumpet helps her hear her family’s plot to put her in a retirement home. In the book, stories build within stories within stories so similar to the layers of a dream. It’s really Leonora Carrington writing her own personal myth, and that’s something we all can do as well, in working with our dreams and our waking life experiences. It’s also believed to be one of the first books to tackle the notion of gender identity in the twentieth century. It includes greek myths, Celtic legends, and classic fairy tales.
She actually started writing The Hearing Trumpet when she was in the asylum her father committed her to when she was a young woman, and she used her writing to establish her personal map of mystical symbols and co-opted tales “to stay alive in the hellscape I was living in.”
Sometimes on waking, I don’t want to write a whole, long dream segment down, so I do a sketch instead. These simple drawings can bring enormous insight, all on their own!
The mandala above came from the dreamwork I did with the dream (and quick sketch) I made around the dream I had about my dead husband showing up as a Mystical Merman.