dreams of african animals


One night this past week I dreamt I was in an open field of dry grass, in a savannah someplace in Africa.  There is a chain-link fence to my right and I watch a mother zebra climb the fence holding her baby by the scruff of its neck.  I think the zebra is spooked by me and wants to escape.  I walk a bit further then I see two  elephants running quickly across the savannah in a panic.  I am frightened by the spooked elephants.  A tree line appears in the distance and I run for it, thinking I will be safer weaving between trees as opposed to the wide open savannah.  I sprint through the forest, waiting to find a big enough tree in a cluster where they elephants won’t find me.  Nothing is right and I keeping moving.  Eventually I cross a barbed wire fence and come to a tunnel which I enter.  It is square with light grey walls and litchi red carpet.  I follow it through, feeling a bit like alice in wonderland, and it opens to what feels like a bookstore at a nature center where people are completely calm and unaware of any spooked animal activity happening outside.  But now I feel miles away from the savannah and elephants.

The next night, I am walking through a sparsely forested savannah, seemingly Africa again, this time with my brother Claibourne.  Strangely enough, there is a cherry picker that is plucking a herd of lamas from a tree where they have grown up from babies, and dumps them down into a watering hole where they all land on their feet.  There are a few people in safari vehicles with walkie talkies making noise.  We continue across the savannah and are shaken by a ferocious commotion ahead involving elephants and a leopard.  The leopard charges us full speed and lets loose a raucous feline roar.  Frightened, I freeze.  The leopard, sweeter than cherry pie, sidles up to me, passing the top of her head under the palm of my left hand.  She runs the length of her sleek body against my body as if to say hello to an old friend.

Dreams interest me, and in particular when the sub-consciousness of  being in a new land surfaces in one’s dreams.  It is our conscious mind that switches on and off; the sub-conscious mind is always on.  Within the first couple of days in Africa, I had a powerful dream during an afternoon nap about a circle of animals and felt an electric sensation from touching them.  Aside from that, this is one of the few times I have had dreams that take place in Africa, where I have been for nearly a year.  Otherwise, when I remember dreams, they are of places and people I know from back home.  It is interesting to me how long it takes to incorporate one’s new surroundings into dreamscapes and how often one dreams of the new environment.  Are some parts of the world more likely to enter the dreamscapes of visitors?  Is there anything one can do to bring on these dreams?  I remember a friend I lived with in Peru, Caitlin, telling me about visiting the Amazon and how she felt the atmosphere pervade her consciousness and affect her dreams nearly instantaneously.  Does this happen to most people who visit the Amazon?  Is it a quality of the place, or more of the person visiting and her disposition to exploring consciousness?  Surely it’s both, but are there areas in the world that cause more dream activity than others?  If so, why?

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5 Responses to “dreams of african animals”
  1. Eytan says:

    I think also the language you dream in when you are bilingual is a pretty amazing thing, and being able to dream in another language is compelling. It does make things appear differently, especially since some words just don’t translate. It is really cool how your mind wanders into dreamscape and tells you a story of another life, so different yet so similar to your own…
    I know that whenever I take an adventure, I find that my dreams are so different and vivid, as if the change of scenery compels a new subconsciousness.

    Are those both pictures you took? The leopard? Your description made me think of my cat Shadow, always angling her head under my hand as she slithers across my body looking for attention (usually more so when she spies me giving Ginji some affection). Cats are very dreamlike animals. Another shout out here for Avatar — the Na’vi (the 10 ft tall natives in the movie) are very feline, and their graceful, almost dance like movements through the woods definitely bring the thought of cats slithering through nature. And the dreamstate, I wonder how that manifests in Avatar. I don’t want to give away any of the movie but maybe you will understand what I mean after you have seen it.

    The image of a cherry picker plucking not just a llama but a HERD of llamas from a tree is cool. Made me think of a great print I got in Indio, CA this past fall — a llama wearing a lizard mask and wearing peacock feathers that look like fish. Now that is something I could imagine also showing up in a dream!

  2. Both photos were taken by me in Moremi Park, the Okavango Delta, Botswana, with Dragonfly’s lovely camera.

  3. David Frierman says:

    Let’s drift off…

  4. Erin says:

    I’ve experienced vivid dreaming in particular locations, but not necessarily having a subject related to that place. I’ve heard about people having location-specific dreams in countries like India, where travelers have said a particular location causes many there to experience the same type of dreaming.

    Thankyou for sharing your dreams. They are such a personally reflective event. And I agree, our subconscious is taking in so much more and processing continuously, more than we can know.

    What I would love to know about is lucid dreaming….

  5. Kenneth says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing these amazing dreams. I love the idea of jeeps full of tourists coming out to see a cherry picker pluck ripe lamas from their nursery tree and plop them down at the water hole where the tourists can see them. It’s like the wildlife preserve is growing eye-candy for the tourists. Loved the bit about you running from a real wild experience, chased by elephants, into the back of a bookstore where people are reading about experiences like that. You could make these into scenes of a movie. I’ve dreamed about other lands from time to time, and always wake up feeling like I just had a free trip, especially when I used to dream of seeing the Grateful Dead and Santana in Spain, which I seemed to do several times. Always loved that one. One time I visited Zimbabwe, which was very cool. Walked among the ancient city ruins, felt the stones, smelled the grass, saw wildlife along the banks of the river as I traveled along. I hope I’m still having so much fun in my dreams – I think I’ll start journaling again.

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