(This Is) The Dream of Venus and Chuck: Guest post by welcomerain

Venus recently sent me a dream. I find that the gods, like the truth, are rude guests: They come unbidden, and unless they are forcibly ejected, they remain until they are satisfied. However, unlike rude guests, they often have good reasons for what they do, and I'm generally better off for their visitations. That was the case here. I won't claim to be happier for her visit -- it's more complicated than that -- but immediate happiness isn't everything.

I've come to recognize certain dreams as sent. I've had them for almost as long as I can remember, and I knew they were somehow different from other dreams, but I had no theory about why. The color palette would be bright, slightly oversaturated, and the shapes would be fuzzier than usual. Most notably, the content felt more driven by events in the dream than in the majority of my dreams, which proceed at the speed of my perception of details. Sent dreams don’t wait for me to form impressions.

This dream started at the headquarters of a company I worked for recently. This company was dysfunctional to a degree I’ve rarely seen. No team trusted any other team; all negotiations between teams proceeded on the assumption that everyone was trying to cheat everyone else. The company’s name was never mentioned in the dream, and the people in the dream weren't the people I knew at the company in real life, but it was clearly the same place and had the same problems.

{userlink(user=hartmans)} and I were hired to bring about a cultural change in the company. We explained to each team that they might choose to behave differently if they wanted to save their company, or if that proved impossible, simply to have a better experience as they worked there. We emphasized the symmetry of the situation — the other team feels the same way and has the same fears. We symbolized this concept with a yin-yang-like symbol depicting two people facing end-to-end. We rotated the symbol as a way of showing that the two people were in interchangeable positions. At that point in the dream, a voice sang: “Lover and beloved, one and the same.” (Venus may as well have signed the dream.)

We then led pairs of teams through an exercise. We’d find a recent instance where the teams’ needs had clashed and no one had gotten what they wanted. We then asked the teams to swap places. We’d make each team responsible for the other team’s tasks, and ask them to address the issue from their perspective. The teams quickly discovered that their counterparts had good reasons to act as they did, and began to understand that they were not being thwarted recreationally, but rather that the other team was responding to its needs and challenges. I wouldn’t call it a kumbayah moment, but there was a sense of muted conflict and thoughtful reflection.

There was more to this part of the dream, but as I said, it proceeded at its own pace and I wasn't able to keep up with everything. Perhaps some of the missing material would clarify the strategy or make it more workable in real life, maybe not. I think Venus’s intent was to suggest an overall understanding rather than to advocate a specific strategy for a particular group.

Venus then addressed me directly, and my vision faded away. I could not see her, nor did she have a physical voice; it was as if her statements appeared in my mind. What follows is an attempt to translate her statements into words, although I experienced them as overall impressions and feelings. My responses were in words.

Venus offered me something I’d heard of her offering another, and something Hermes had offered me before: To see myself as she sees me. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but said yes anyway.

She showed me a picture of a man pulling aside the skin of his chest to expose his heart and innards. His hands were trembling with the effort and the pain, but he managed a grimace of triumph through his tears. He refused to defend himself. I got a sense of approval and concern combined; she saw the risks in what the man was doing, but thought well of him for trying.

My immediate reaction was suspicious and hostile. Hermes’ vision of me was also generally approving, I recalled. I don’t think you’re real, I told her. I think you’re just some way I have of patting myself on the ass and pretending I’m something better than what I am. This is self-affirming bullshit, I hissed.

She wasn't angry. She was very gentle. My vision of you is not approving, she said sadly. I see strengths and weaknesses in you. It is only approving when you compare it to the relentlessly negative vision you have of yourself.

I cannot describe the grief and sadness that overcame me when she said this. Even now it brings tears to my eyes as I write of it. I'm sorry, I told her. I wish I hadn't attacked you that way.

She laughed merrily. You think yourself a godslayer? You can't possibly hurt me, she said. Sometimes I think that we gods exist mainly so that mortals can attack and abuse us.

I said I was sorry, I replied sulkily. I don't want to be made fun of.

She grew more serious. I'm not mocking you, she said. I'm explaining that you are free to do what you want with me, and I will not be hurt by it. You, however, may be. You can hurt yourself by attacking me, or by attacking yourself by refusing to believe anything good of yourself. Here she sounded sadder: Consider what you tried to teach people just now. Can you apply that to yourself? Can you view yourself with empathy and curiosity?

I don't know, I told her truthfully. Probably not today. I am trying.

I know, she said, and sent a wave of love so warm and intense I thought I'd pass out with joy.

I awoke with tears streaming down my face, full of joy and sadness alike. I'd been challenged to bring something new to my interactions with others and with myself. I'm not sure I'm up for it. However, it is clear to me that I have to try.