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Dear Melissa,

I had a dream where I was at a music festival in a forest. I was standing in a crowd with my friend, when someone grabbed my ass. I turned around thinking it would be some slimy guy but, when I turned around, there stood a bear. It kept grabbing me and I tried to scare it to leave. My friends and I contacted a forest official who did nothing. I then contacted a help desk made up of women using herbal medicine and thought maybe they had a bear repellent, but they also wouldn’t help me. Then the bear showed up at the help desk and again it “attacked” me. The weird thing was that the bear acted every bit as a man with no understanding of personal boundaries. They still would not help, so I started attacking it. The bear lay almost lifeless on the ground and my feet hurt like I had been kicking cacti. Then the help desk morphed into some kind of law enforcement. I did not want the bear to die and so they sentenced me to help it, which I really didn’t want to do. I protested but they made me. The bear became smaller and smaller throughout the dream, culminating with it shrinking into cub size when I had attacked it.

At the moment I am going through a lot of personal change and personal growth. I feel better than I have in a long time. But I am also working on my fear of rejection from men and in love. I wonder if that could be the connection? Or what else could the bear represent?


Dear R,

Your dream is both timely and poignant in light of what’s saturating the media right now with Harvey Weinstein and #metoo, where women are literally coming out of the woodwork (music festival in a forest) and facing the massive truth about these predatory, powerhouse men (bear). I find it sad and disappointing to see men like Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey, real heroes of the screen, taken down, their violations “laid bare” (The bear lay almost lifeless on the ground…it became smaller and smaller throughout the dream). Your dream reads like an allegory for what we’ve been experiencing in the collective psyche these past several weeks. However we can still take our exploration a step further and play with the meaning it may hold for you personally. Ideally dreamwork is done in the context of a therapeutic relationship, but since it’s just me and my laptop here, I’m going to take a few stabs at my own associations to your dream.

You know that saying “You wouldn’t know (fill in the blank) if it bit you on the ass?” Well, seems a bear grabbed your ass and you didn’t know it! I wonder if any experiences come to mind where you’ve been caught off guard or taken by surprise lately? What you expected to be a “slimy guy,” like maybe a frog or snake, turned out to be a bear — which, unless its salivating, is more virile than slimy. You mentioned you’ve been working on your fear of rejection from men. Perhaps you’ve been turned down by slimy guys and surprised at how much it hurt?

I’m also struck by the different defensive systems you called upon for help in the dream (forest officials, help desk, and law enforcement), yet these were powerless to come to your aid against the devouring and invasive bear energy. Have your usual means of support been less effective lately?

If we turn this idea around again, maybe it’s less that the help systems were powerless against the bear, and more that they refused to be complicit in your attempts to destroy it. The help desk of women doing herbal medicine may understand the bigger picture: What appears at first glance to be a wild and maniacal bear-villain, may actually be a manifestation of your own split off aggressive or primal wishes seeking integration. Trying to destroy it only hurts you as it’s such a source of your own power, akin to shooting yourself in the foot (kicking cacti?) Thus, they sentence you to help it, despite your protests. Maybe something you’ve been trying to fight off and repel, a burden you bear, needs your help.

*DISCLAIMER: Dreamwork is a collaborative process that relies entirely on the associations of the dreamer to create a dream meaning. Without the dreamer’s input, I can only describe my personal associations and amplify the dream images as they exist symbolically on a cultural level.


See original post on the Free People blog here

Illustration by Erica Prince

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