Over the past few days I've been wrestling with a particular nightmare I had when I was around eight years old. Despite sounding relatively innocuous on the surface, it left me with such a strong impression of fear and horror that I remember it to this day and deemed it important to interpret.At the start of the dream I was sword-fighting a dragon. Somewhere in the midst of battle, I discovered that the dragon was in fact my father, at which point I lowered my sword. I jumped upon the dragon's back, and we leapt into the sky. As soon as we were over the treetops, however, I realized that the lion Aslan's castle was in danger. I yelled at the dragon to fly faster, but as we approached the castle, the building started to crumble. Among the first things to collapse was the bell tower. The giant bell fell, banging against the castle walls during its long, drawn-out descent. I jerked awake, filled with terror. The sound of the bell was so distinct, I could not stop it from ringing in my ears, and I laid there in fear for what felt like hours before I could get back to sleep.
So what did it mean?
When I was brought home from the hospital after being born, my dad erected a bell on a poll, which my sister rang in celebration. Because of this, I would wager that my childhood self would have associated the bell with my birth and life. This caused me to first wonder if this dream arose as a consequence of me contemplating my own mortality. This may be true, but then I realized that this interpretation alone ignores the significance of Aslan and the dragon.
Aslan clearly represented goodness, imagination, courage, nobility, and strength. His castle, crowned by the bell, represented the part of me that embodies all of these qualities, that part of me with which I identify.
The meaning of the dragon I had a harder time putting into words: I knew it was dangerous, and that it was somehow associated with a part of me that I regarded as masculine. Today I finally thought to google "dragon dream interpretation" and one of the interpretations struck home; the dragon represented a fiery temper.
Suddenly it was clear to me what this dream was about: fear of anger, and, more specifically, the consequences of letting it take control. In the dream I explore the idea of embracing my anger and riding it out instead of resisting it, but when I do so, I witness as everything in me that I regard as good, strong, and noble starts to crumble.
My father and sister often got into power struggles when I was young, and so I knew firsthand how the happiness of a home can be threatened by anger. Other attempts in my life to get "my way" had also backfired, and I wonder if this all led me down the path of consistently setting my wants/needs/desires aside in order to keep the peace and preserve my positive self-image. As long as the fortress stood tall, I could pretend the dragons didn't even exist.
I'm in a better place now. I've grown enough to know that anger can and must be worked through while still maintaining integrity. I didn't always understand that this was possible, though, and I couldn't help but shed a little tear for my eight-year-old self upon realizing what this dream was saying about her mental and emotional space that night.