Dear Professor,

I dreamt that I was in Indian kitchen, where a fishermen caught an endangered dolphin from the river through his open window. As he tried to set it free, it crumbled into a disturbing mess (very bloody). He put the head of the small porpoise in the kitchen garbage can under the sink. Then he threw the little dolphin’s body, which was skinless and teaming with parasites, on the shore of the river and a large mystical greyish-green cockatoo came down to eat the dolphin carcass. The man said, “all things must pass and return again in different forms.” Then I was suddenly a tiny kiosk where a very kind and happy Indian man gave me two antique hand drawn maps of India and free bus tickets. He told me I was to go to the Himalayas as soon as I could but that I only had three days there. He was like a brother to me. At the bus stop I saw a holy man surrounded by people. He was sitting cross legged and his head would change from man to dog to man again. He singled me out from the crowd and smiled warmly at me with his human head. I went to him with my husband and I told him my husband wasn’t a spiritual man. He told me it was because he spent too much time watching me. I thought he was making a joke that was lost in the translation. Then my husband motioned for me to take my daughter to the bus with me. As I was leaving he told me to get his phone off the bench and as I reached for it it rang and I answered it. It was a woman who said, ” oh is this Ns wife. You probably don’t like me calling his phone.” I was furious and a series of other women started to surround him. Then I woke up very angry for having missed my bus because of stupid drama.

What does this mean, Professor?




My Dear B.,

Your dream is what my colleague Dr. Jung might refer to as a “grand dream”.  Such dreams occur during significant transitional periods in a dreamer’s life.  These are the heavy hitters of the dream world, and tend to contain memorable symbols of exceptional depth and clarity. The reincarnation cycle, the destruction and consumption of mystical creatures by other mystical creatures, ancient maps and free tickets for impending exotic travel – all are portents of Big Changes in your waking life.  It is a good thing that you have a couple of dog-headed fellows to guide you through this with humor and grace, as it is well known that benign human-canine-headed beings are top-notch spiritual guides as well as brilliant (if not humble) interpreters.

Dolphins are symbols of intelligence, communication and connection.  The failed catch-and-release (and subsequent decomposition and consumption) of such a creature is almost certainly an indication that you have strong subconscious feelings regarding a perceived loss of communication in your waking life.  This presumption is reinforced by the knowledge that the dolphin in question is already “endangered” at the time of its demise, and that its destruction takes place unintentionally and at the hands of one who is somewhat clueless.  The grey-green cockatoo represents destruction – Swami Sivananda believed that such birds in dreams are portents of “sorrowful circumstances”, while Dr. Jung believed that such birds are indicators that the dreamer is overusing the thinking function at the expense of the emotions (i.e., rationalizing a loss in order to avoid confronting pain).  Dr. Freud would see the destruction and subsequent consumption of the dolphin (a most penis-shaped animal, as he would point out with glee) as a metaphor for the triumph of Thanatos, the death-drive, over Libido.  Thus, we have Archetype Numero Uno – The Cycle of Destruction.  The message “all things pass and return again in different forms” is at once a message of hope and a metaphorical shrug of acceptance.  It is a given that something has been destroyed by accident, and consumed with great gusto, and that it will rise again in another form.  We can only hope that the only form it takes will not be that of cockatoo poop.

It’s a good thing your dream doesn’t end there, because in the immortal words of one of our greatest modern philosophers, Dr. B. Lebowski, “that would be a bummer, dude.”  Fortunately for you, the dream moves on to Archetype Numero दो (that’s the Hindi symbol for two, in case you were wondering) – Transformation!  Travel is an excellent indication that the dreamer – that’s you, of course – has a powerful drive to create transformation in her waking life.  You are master of your own exotic destiny!  Or, are you?  In three words – yes and no (or in two words – sort of).  A map, particularly an ancient or mystical one, is an indication that you have a strong sense of destiny.  It is no coincidence that the words “destination” and “destiny” share the same root – the Latin destinare, which is to ‘make firm, or establish.’  The free bus tickets, too, mean that you mean business.  Your subconscious is telling you that it is ready to go – it is literally giving you a map and a free pass and compelling you toward transformation.  But it is also telling you that your journey won’t be easy.  Obstacles in dreams are sourced directly from frustrations in waking life.  In your dream, we find obstacles of place (the Himalayas are undoubtedly some of the most compelling but difficult terrain in existence), time (you have only three days to make your journey), and person (your husband, but even more pointedly – your feelings of jealousy).  The dog-headed wise man (a fine fellow he seems to be, if I do say so myself) is drawing attention to the fact that you must release your husband’s gaze in order for him to become a more spiritual man, even as your subconscious weaves a scenario in which your husband must be monitored and which, more importantly, distracts you from the pursuit of your own spiritual journey.

So, what is the Professor’s summary take on all of this?  Tricksters, in the form of incumbent jealousies, lead to disruptions in the spiritual journey.  Or – the Other’s gaze distracts the Self from the gaze of her own becoming.  Or, perhaps – get thee out of thine own way (or get thee off to India)?  But seriously, these are jokes that are likely to be lost in translation.  Whatever you do, don’t forget to feed the dog-headed man.  Word has it that he prefers curried cockatoo-vindaloo served by a street vendor at a certain tiny kiosk.


I remain your faithful servant and dream interpreter extraordinaire,