A Curiosity from the Workshop of the Unconscious

Joseph Dana
6 min readNov 10, 2022
The Pleiades, Elihu Vedder

I am in a large house that seems to be my grandparent’s home from many years ago. I spent a lot of time there as a child. The house is airy and quite dark as if it exists on an astral plane. I have just completed major renovations. Construction crews have finished their work, leaving me alone in the bare space. The biggest renovation was extending the ceiling upward.

The ceiling is now so high in the sky that the house feels like an ornate train station like Grand Central or the Milano Centrale. In order to extend the ceiling skyward, the construction crews had to demolish nearly everything in the house. But all the work is done and I walk over to a corner in the main part of the house where there is an American diner-style table complete with bouncy booth seats.

As soon as I sit down, my maternal grandmother joins me out of the darkness with the help of a caregiver. Once she is seated, I proceed to tell her about the renovations. I seek her approval. She tells me that the place looks great but she doesn’t really know where she is. The combination of the renovations and her age means that she is quite confused about the surroundings. It makes her feel unsettled but not upset. With a soft smile, she says everything is great.

A vacuum of consciousness

I had this dream about two weeks ago and recently presented it in a dream workshop facilitated by an Ecuadorian woman at my neighbor’s house. (Yes, I live in a part of the world where this type of thing is common.) I volunteered this dream for an exercise in active imagination, a technique I have written about previously and plan to explore in much more detail.

This is how the exercise went down. Sitting in a circle surrounded by eight other people (all women, mind you), I recounted the dream in the active tense. The facilitator then had me relax and close my eyes to descend into the dream. At first, this was difficult, as I could feel everyone looking at me. The facilitator asked me to become various characters in the dream, starting with the house itself. As I tried to quiet my thinking mind, I said the first thing that came into my head as the house: I felt neglected and could feel the paint cracking on my deteriorating walls.