Dream Work: She Is Monumental

Unwrapping And Translating Our Dreams

CS Sherin, Feb. 25, 2019, updated 04.10.2019

Dreams speak to us in many ways. Sometimes dreams bring to our awareness meaning and messages via symbols and archetypes. Other times, the dreams we have can be an actual journey of consciousness and spirit. At times, dreams are layers and mixtures of many things. Paying attention to and responding to our dreams is beneficial and deeply nourishing, and quite evident over time. Dreams mostly seek to help us to process, heal, and grow. They are a key to greater fulfillment.

I have been deeply invested in paying attention to, recording, and responding to my own dreams for the last 30+ years. I have found that the other part of our lives, spent in dream states, is just as meaningful and important as the wakeful state. Not only that, the one constant within both states is that the journey of our consciousness is present in both — something that anchors us beyond death and our current bodies, and on into new and different life and/or lives. Deepening our present moment consciousness via dream work (and meditation) is a priceless practice that supports and enhances the mundane, yet also goes far beyond it.

I am going to provide you with a concrete example of a dream from the past that I have worked with, which was profound and pivotal for my evolving spiritual and emotional development, at that time, through and beyond wounds and personality weaknesses. The following dream is from work I did back in the Spring of 2011:

The Dream

Title: She Is Monumental

I am in a house we have just purchased. We are happy with it. Until someone who used to live here comes to the door. She comes in with a key she kept, and wants something. I am exasperated, and a bit angry at the intrusion. She leaves quickly though. I am near the door. I see an impossibly tall woman who is led around the house by an angel-type-being. I feel fear when I see this impossibly tall woman. With great effort, I look up at her face — way, way up. She has no mouth. I feel fear, which fades into compassion instead. I reach out my hand to her in friendship as she passes.

CS Sherin, Dream Journal Entry, “She Is Monumental”, May 2011

After so many decades of keeping dream journals, I have learned what most of my personal dream symbols represent. This is one of many important reasons for committing to a dream journal. Dreams really are cheated and mistreated when we use dream dictionaries, accept the general definition, and leave it at that. Tracking dreams and our own personal messages via journals reveals context, meaning, and timing that no dream dictionary can ever reveal. Just like a dictionary definition for a cat or dog could never come close to defining and expressing the who, what, why, where, and how of your specific animal companion. Dreams have life of their own, and some of it is indefinable.

PLEASE NOTE: While you may have an interpretation in mind when you hear someone else’s dream, the only person who can reveal the true meaning of a dream is the person who had the dream. Any meaning or interpretation that comes to your mind while listening to someone else’s dream can most accurately and respectfully be expressed as: what the dream would mean if it were your dream. This delineation and practice is essential.

The Translation

I will translate this dream. Translation is the best word for it, as my dream is in the language of my unconscious mind and my consciousness/soul. It is personal and specific. As I provide a translation for my dream, keep in mind that my translation and definitions for things in the dream are not in any way static. This is my official translation for this very specific dream. This specific dream is, indeed, a symbolic dream, yet, not all dreams are. For other dreams, these symbols may carry completely different meanings, or may not be symbols at all!

For me, in this particular dream, a new house is a new way of being. The new way of being is good. The previous owner intruding briefly represents some unwelcome old habits coming back into my new way of being. But, they only intrude briefly and are gone, let go. The woman who is being guided through the house by an angel-type-being is tall — taller than tall. She is graceful and silent. Her presence is like a walking monument. She is monumental. My fear turns to compassion as I see her missing mouth as a disability. This monumental “she” is the divine self linked to soul or authentic being. It took me “great effort” to become conscious of the alarming symbol of the missing mouth. The missing mouth is symbolic of my ego’s distorted belief of separation from divine love that took shape in the personality by age three. The missing mouth is ongoing silence, separation, even disability related to relationship and listening to/hearing the authentic self — who has never been separated from the sacred.


CS Sherin, May 2011, dream entry translation for “She Is Monumental”

As a child and young adult I was so busy tracking everyone else’s feelings, needs, and expectations that I had no idea what my own were most of the time. The pain of the separation-illusion from my own being surfaced in other dreams in my youth — via dreams of being blind, which had morphed in recent years into being mute. These dreams were telling me that my distorted ego beliefs and fears had created some serious fall-out for my inner being.

A myth re-told in a new way for healing effects, is what came to mind as possible medicine for me, relating to this dream. Our culture enforces the belief of valuing the external over the internal (and the visible over the unseen) with glaring manic force, in advertising, news, via experts, and in storytelling. When the movie Shrek came out, I deeply appreciated the radical re-telling of old fairy tale stories that had before accentuated external and unrealistic importance. Shrek transformed that distortion in our culture, thankfully. The ugly, disgusting ogres possess inner beauty, truth, and authenticity, and are hero and heroine. The old external-value archetypes of the past are seen with human flaws and distortions laid bare. The deeper inner being is valued.

C. J. Jung believed that seeing archetypes revealed in a story (like Shrek), even if we are not consciously aware of the deeper meaning, helps bring healing to the personal and collective unconscious. Knowing that, Shrek was a deeply needed re-telling for the personal and the collective. Part of my dream work response to this dream, back in 2011, was to re-watch Shrek.

In this dream, I know that as I overcame fear and reached out in compassion to connect with the monumental self — I initiated a vital change of pattern, which released personality/ego-based distortion about relationship to my inner core/being. This was an important dream, a turning point for healing and consciousness.

My dream also reminded me that a lot of the younger ages of my life were spent neglecting my own needs and voice. The dream told me that there is much yet to learn and connect to that is real and monumental, really. This is what I wrote about back in 2011, in conclusion:

That bright, silent, tall being of my dream may seek to be a voice for the voiceless, my poetry, and my compass. I know she has much to say and show. I know she has a mouth and a voice. My awareness and compassion for myself is the doorway to deepening that relationship, and it has already begun. It has already come to the point that even this personality and ego of mine have learned enough to yearn, and yearn again, for her voice, leadership, and presence. This is a reward for walking through all the pain so far and doing the work. The ego wishes to serve the soul…and joy, abundance, and love begin to overflow.

CS Sherin, May 2011, reflection on dream entry, “She Is Monumental” (above)


CS Sherin, Wild Clover, WildClover.org 2019©


A Tribute, In Loving Memory of Dr. Mary Oliver, Poetic Goddess

January 17, 2019
CS Sherin

Please Note: The article below was originally written and posted on a former version of this site. This article from 2012 has been edited and re-published in honor of Dr. Mary Oliver, who died earlier today.

Before you read the following article that I wrote after meeting Mary Oliver back in 2012, I would like to say a couple of things about her now, for today. Some of her childhood consisted of neglect, sexual abuse, and loneliness. Her life as a poet was the truest self she could be in this life, and the best. When young and throughout life, she found comfort, life, and what is sacred out in nature and with animals. She was a contemplative poet, with a naturalist’s passion for nature and simplicity. Every part of that encapsulation of her has given me hope and saved, affirmed, and encouraged me—as a survivor, poet, human, and naturalist soul. I send her well wishes on her soul journeys that begin today, and so much love and gratitude for all she shared with us. Shine on, dear Mary Oliver, holy voice for this earth—and what is so precious in this life.

The program for Mary Oliver’s honorary Doctorate at Marquette University on Nov. 12th, 2012; and my copy of “Swan” that Mary signed that night.

Nov. 13th, 2012
CS Sherin

Did you happen to feel a big bliss vibe yesterday?  It could have been from me.  I got to meet my favorite poet of our time, an inspirational goddess of poetry–Mary Oliver–yesterday.  Because of this, I have residual Mary Oliver bliss that I know must be radiating out into the rest of this place.  *big smile*  Read on to learn what it was like to: see her, listen to her read her own poetry, get writing advice from her via the Q & A, how it was to meet her, and what it all meant to me.

I went to Marquette University with some of the best poetry loving friends, in order to witness Mary Oliver receive an honorary doctorate there. Mary Oliver’s smile, in reaction to the donning of the Doctorate robe, was such a revelation to me! In general she has a serious and drawn face.  And quite suddenly, it burst open like a shimmering flower of tropical sunshine.  It was a jolt–an amazing joy to behold.  We then listened to Dr. Oliver read her poetry to us. It was an hour, which passed like a few minutes. After, there was a Q & A, and then a line formed for book signing.  My best poetry buddy, Marci, and I got to speak with her briefly together, when our turn approached for signing—more on that later.

The main and briefly summarized impression I had from the poetry reading itself was of: Mary Oliver’s affinity and compassion for nature, her dog, and for the real connections of this life that she expresses in ways that soothe, affirm, and stir my soul.  This is why she is beloved–her poetry is transpersonal and deep, yet accessible. The whole experience was holy.

In person, Mary Oliver is small, and she is older now, so she has a cane and white hair.  She was very much like a fairy-godmother presence, especially while delighting in choosing which poems to read to us. She seemed to me to be mostly: witty, cute, wild, rebellious, tender, open-hearted, bold, wise and magical. Also, Mary Oliver’s heart and mind seem to have beams of focused energy, clear and strong, that are able to shine out upon the world–wherever she may be sitting, standing, or speaking in the moment. There is an air of serious concentration about her. And, it is clear, she adores the natural world, and has a passion for it beyond simple observation—she is in deep relationship.  It is also clear, she deeply cares about people, no matter how humble, shy, and introverted she is. She made a tremendous effort to transmit her love and appreciation to us with grace, humor and oomph.

During the Q & A, a fiery passion came forth as she responded to a question, giving advice about how to be a successful poet. I can’t quote her word for word, but it was something I can paraphrase as this:

Forget about being successful! Spend every day caring about your writing. In this economy, forget about the nice car and nice apartment.  Focus on doing the best you can, writing every day! 

She did answer my question, which was something like, “Does poetry flow from you in the same way it did 10-20 years ago?”  She revealed, in not these exact words, that inspiration doesn’t hit as hard as it did once; that things have slowed.  And yet, there was a new book in front of her and she mentioned another was on the way.  She told us that she never had trouble with writer’s block.  That if there was a little of it, she knew the answer was always connecting with the earth and being grateful, and it would come back, and flow.  She also mentioned that, if anything, she wrote too much.  I could tell that having inspiration leave her would be like an athlete suddenly becoming immobile with no hope of future mobility.  It would be devastating.  But I don’t really think that will happen.  Her very being has become poetry, just as Whitman had described.

Her eyes are full beams of mystical presence…they struck me as powerful, yet gentle–a concentrated energy that I really haven’t ever seen in someone before.  Her eyes are full, with presence–that is it—fiery, grounded, watery, elemental.  Her life has been a discipline of not only presence, but deep relationship with all presence.

Speaking of those poetic goddess-like eyes, I had a chance to look right into them, across a table, at the book signing.  I was feeling extremely shy and in awe, but I managed to say awkwardly, but honestly, “Thank you Dr. Oliver.  I love you.”  There was a significantly silent pause as she looked down at the book I had given her, before she wrote in my copy of Swan, then she said quite slowly and deliberately, “Well…I don’t know you, but…I love you too.”  Then, she looked up and gave me the gift of presence, looking intently into my eyes–really looking.  All I could do was smile at her with love and gratitude.  It. was. awesome.

This signature in my copy of “Swan” represents a powerful memory I have of  encountering a person who improved my life, and inspired me, through poetry and parts of her life she was willing to share. I am thankful for that day and time.

What I have always known, since I was 12 years old—was presented to me in the flesh yesterday, as pure and utter gift:  A great poet speaks for and to the soul, as much as to the person.  She is voice for the soul, for presence.  She is also the medicine.

”For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”  ~ Mary Oliver

Those words of Mary Oliver’s came to me as we all listened raptly to her, reading her poetry to us.

I felt, indeed, that I was hungry and cold, and maybe even a bit lost, and that she was feeding me (us) and my deeper self–like a mother bird feeds her babies. Yes, I felt that yesterday with Dr. Mary Oliver, and it was bliss.

CS Sherin, WildClover.org 2012, 2019©