Plague Times

Because of the nature of this pandemic, many are drawing allusions to the plague, meaning the Black Death of the Middle Ages. I dug out my plague doctor mask and took some photos and may use it later for a painting. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect during quarantine and finally enough time to fix this broken site and consider what I want to do with it.

There’s a part of me that has a lot to say, and more than a few people have urged me to write a book about my life when they hear of its events, but I’m not ready for that yet. Some have suggested that it would help inform my art to hear my words about it, and that is probably true. Some feedback has told me that my work is far too opaque, and that they can’t figure out the meaning, while others have said that the symbolism is far too obvious. I’ve come to the conclusion that the symbolism just is, much like dream symbolism, it can be hard to understand at times or baffling and other times it is clear as day.

The reference to this pandemic as the plague and my returning to an old habit of dream journaling made me recall one unforgettable dream I had when I was a teenager, the one that started me dream journaling in the first place. I was in a village long ago, one with huts and simple dwellings. I remember the intense rush of emotion as those close to me died one by one. My brother, with whom I had carried on an incestuous relationship (in the dream, I am an only child in this life), had just died of the plague and my nurse had too (I think this was the housekeeper or nanny) and in rage and grief, I spit on her dead face and ran into the forest to a space that was dear to my brother and I.

It was a small stone circle, much smaller than Stonehenge, and it was where my brother and I we went to be alone. As soon as I arrived, however, a vortex-like portal sucked me in and transported me to the present day (my teenage bedroom) where I lay in the bed with all those who had passed away around me, all living, and concerned over my well-being standing at my bedside and so pleased that I had woken up. I was so alarmed to see them alive again, that in a panic I ran from the room and into the street. A car approached me at speed and I remember being stunned–in the dream I did not recognize what a car was–but I recognized the face inside as my brother, then he ran me over and I woke up.

Animosity, 2001

The resonance of this dream was so strong that I remember telling it to friends in bars in college years later. It planted the seed for my belief in reincarnation, as that is exactly what the dream seemed to convey to me, the complete believability that souls carry on through various lifetimes. I experienced it as reality in the dream. Over the years I have had many dreams of a dark-haired man, who I believe to be that brother, from what I recall, he is often an aloof figure but at other times, a pursuer, murderer, villain. I don’t remember ever seeing his face, I’m just being chased, held hostage, threatened with death, or escaping, but I sort of knew it was the same person.

The way I’ve come to understand reincarnation and soulmates is that we don’t just have one soulmate. We have whole soul families, those who have spent many lifetimes with us. They are often our friends, lovers, co-workers, enemies, family. As soul families they are kindred, essence of our essence, and thus feel deeply familiar and resonant. It is said that soulmates are aspects of our higher selves–contained within the same Oversoul, which is also an emanation from Source. They are part of us.

After this teenage dream, I started to read about dream analysis because the number of nightmares I was having was disconcerting. I picked up a book on my mother’s shelf, Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. I read about the anima and animus, and the shadow. I realized this dream figure was my animus, the masculine energy force that was everything that I was not, the yang to my yin. I came to understand the constant nightmares I had of this murderer over decades was my animus coming for me, looking for integration.

In time, I would come to paint about this subject.