I am going to share a secret that I have shared with only three people in my life. But first, the context.
My husband, who I call Allen in this blog to maintain his privacy, and I set out on the spring equinox weekend last month to camp. We ventured into an area of central Oregon around 3,000 feet in elevation, near the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The stunning reds, oranges, purples, pinks, greens, yellows, whites, tans, and blues that color these hills have developed over millions of years by natural processes.
We set up our tent in a primitive campsite on BLM land. The only signs of people in our valley were the gravel road and two campfire rings assembled from stones by previous campers. We’d brought water. It was below freezing at night, which was as we intended—the ticks and rattlesnakes were unlikely to be active yet.
The next day we hiked for over four hours, including on an old wagon trail, in a dry ravine, on an elk trail, and cross-country where there was little brush—just scrubby junipers, rocks, dry grasses, and occasional wildflowers. Our destination was a summit from where we could get a better view of one of the colorful hills that appeared to have purple horizontal stripes.
After our evening dinner of stir fry, we huddled by our campfire as the temperature dropped. Our dog wanted the warmth of the tent, so Allen let her in, and then followed. I stayed by the campfire to enjoy the starry night for a long while, knowing it had been far too long since I’d paid full, sustained attention to the sky, and longer still since I had seen the Milky Way in its glory. There were no artificial lights for miles, and the lunar cycle was only in its first hours, its crescent of light an uncertain newborn.
Once I went to bed, I do believe it was the hours I’d spent staring at the sky that rewarded me with a wondrous dream.
I shot effortlessly up into the air, with a dozen astonished villagers watching me from between their small medieval houses. Once I returned to earth, I explained to the people that I had three additional magic powers. In truth, I knew I had more than three, and selecting which three to tell them was arbitrary. Then I picked up a communication from someone who had previously crossed over to death. I realized that communicating with the dead was among my most important magic powers, right up there with flying, and I should have told them.
I tried to help the villagers understand that they could also develop any of these magical powers, if they wanted. They just needed to believe it was possible for them, and then practice.
I woke up delighted. Not long before, I had lamented to Allen that it had become rare for me to have what I refer to as one of my magical power dreams. But this was a spectacular one indeed, because I had never had more than one magical ability in any one dream.
So this is my secret I promised to tell you: I have experienced many dreams of having magical powers.
My fear of telling this has been that it might seem braggy, or even as if I have delusions of grandeur. Anxiety about this is what comes from having grown up with a mother who once told me–during years when she spent most of her time in bed–she was the reincarnation of Jesus, and she was to lead the world in a New Age. (Strangely, I’m more comfortable sharing that family secret.) But by this point in my life I am confident nobody who knows me will think I harbor such an out-sized sense of myself.
If I consumed more super-hero comics, and fantasy books and films than average, perhaps I would not be so surprised at having such an empowered dream life. Or if I felt more confident and indomitable during my waking life. But as it is, I feel very fortunate that for whatever quirky reason (and I’m sure being my mother’s daughter is part of that reason), I have an amazing dream life that bolsters me as I struggle through my waking life.
My magical power dreams started with flying. Many people have flying dreams, but mine did not come easily. As a young child, I frequently dreamed I strove to fly away from my scary, violent father, and I would flap my arms frantically to escape him, often climbing up onto the top of a wooden fence so I would have the advantage of starting six feet above the ground. But as I clawed at the air he would grab my feet. In those early years, I never got free.
I graduated to glorious flying dreams. For many years, especially in my young adulthood, I extended my arms in front of me Superman style. I swooped down and often gave other people rides on my back, or held their hand to ferry them along through the air.
The next magical power I had was floating in air. These took place inside a building, and I hovered just below the ceiling, watching what was going on with the people in the room who were not aware of my presence.
Occasionally I had magical swimming dreams, and though swimming can be ordinary, these dreams had the same joyful, exhilarating quality as my best flying dreams–zooming under water, or skimming the surface, torpedo speed. Which is nothing like my paltry real-life skills in the water.
Then I experienced an explosion in the variety of magical powers. By day I was humbly working at a desk or sorting family laundry, and by night I was turning invisible, walking through walls, shrinking tiny to dart around undetected, or being able to step out into the air off the upper floor of a skyscraper and hover, returning safely to the floor next to me at will. Some of my dream-time encounters with loved ones who had died left me deeply contented with a sense I had genuinely connected with them during my sleep.
The dreams were not always pleasant. Several times I dreamed I was thirty or so feet tall, and in a couple of these my size made me an easy target for an angry crowd intent on stoning me. The flying dreams in particular could be frustrating, as sometimes I still faced obstacles that inhibited my travels as when I was very young, and often I found myself confined to flying only a few feet off the ground. But in a couple dreams I was able to easily leave Earth for outer space, even to visit other planets.
After our second night sleeping in a tent, Allen and I broke camp. We hiked the enchanted hills of John Day Monument.
Grateful for so much magic.