erplexing, is it not, why the information in dreams has to be imparted in such illogical, symbolic, and opaque a manner? Would it not be easier for the ‘dream self’ to simply, say, drive down a highway and see a billboard, or a series of billboards (anyone who’s driven I95 toward the SC/NC state line knows what I mean!) with the message spelled out in clear, bold capitals: “THIS JOB IS WRONG FOR YOU! THIS PARTNER IS THE BEST YOU WILL EVER HAVE!”
No. Instead we get things like women walking through orchards with bears at the full moon, carrying iron mermaids and broken branches, and we are left to scratch our heads and say, “Erp?”
Well, if you will bear with me, and my pun, for a bit I think I can show you that this is the significant development of a theme that, upon reflection, has been hinted at in ‘Melissa’s’ previous dreams. I am posting this today because the theme points to Saint Barbara and December 4th is her feast day.
Saint Barbara’s story, basically, is a story of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the patriarch. Her father shut her in a tower to suppress her desire to practice her faith. She defied that. He removed her from the tower and had her tortured, participating in that torture and delivering the death blow himself. He was subsequently struck and killed by lightning. For this reason Saint Barbara is invoked as a protectress from lightning. Over the centuries she has also come to be considered a protectress of those in explosive fields – artillerymen and miners, for example – and the patroness of those constructing fortifications, such as masons and the Army Corps of Engineers.
She was dropped from the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church in 1969, perhaps a ‘side effect’ of Vatican II, perhaps not.
She is a virgin and martyr, and is still venerated in the Orthodox Church, I believe, while the Roman Catholic Church considers her one of the fourteen Holy Helpers. In iconography she is variously depicted with a palm branch, the symbol of her martyrdom, a tower, a ciborium, and/or a peacock.
That peacock, as you see here, has appeared in one of ‘Melissa’s’ earlier dreams. That dream, I must note, was also located next to a body of water. ‘Melissa’ asked in that dream if a woman could be a peacock; considering the iconography of Saint Barbara it seems the answer is, ‘Yes.’
The tower and ciborium in Saint Barbara’s iconography both appear in this most recent dream, blended together as a lighthouse – a tower that shines light into the darkness. I first encountered this association of a lighthouse with Saint Barbara in “A Salty Piece of Land” (Jimmy Buffett) which also offers a light-hearted version of her as perched upon a cloud throwing lightning bolts.
This most recent dream also points to a lovely ritual associated with Saint Barbara, known to have been practiced in Silesia, in the southwestern region of Poland. Every December 4th, her feast day, the people collect barren branches, take them home, and place them in vessels of water in the hope of reviving them.
I cannot help but think this is the ritual ‘Melissa’ witnessed and aided when she filled the Mason jars with well water.
What of the verses the woman and the Bear chant? Those are insights that have come to me over the years and they’ve become my philosophy. “A bruised reed He (you) shall not break” (Is. 42:3) is pretty self-explanatory, I think. Not so, “Nor broken branches forsake.”
It is based upon Romans 11:16-17 (NKJV): “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump also is holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the fatness of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”
My understanding, my belief, about these lines is that they refer to family trees. Everyone is a branch on some family’s tree, perhaps grafted onto it. You do not break them. You do not forsake them.
So, the focus of ‘Melissa’s’ dream is this ritual which points to Saint Barbara and the reviving of family trees, but I must note that an analysis of ‘Melissa’s’ dreams shows that Saint Barbara is not alone. There is the significant presence of the Bear, Artio – this is actually her third appearance – the symbol of Fierce Femininity. This time she brought along a mermaid. The ‘Tigre,’ a South American symbol for the goddess, has also appeared.
I don’t know about you but tigers and bears and women associated with lightning and artillery, or made of iron, are definitely to be considered symbols of Fierce Femininity.
Notice, however, the compassionate nature of their mission: “A bruised reed you shall not break, nor broken branches forsake.”
Barbara Butler McCoy, 2012, Text and Photos