Welcome, inward explorers. What is your relationship with your dream world? Do you use dreams to inspire you creatively? What are dreams and how can we use them to improve the way we live and create?
This edition is dedicated to the exploration of dreams. I strive to record and understand my dreams, they capture me like nothing else. In an attempt to better understand what dreams mean to me and other humans, I opened up this edition of Wake up Screaming for communal exploration of dreams and their relationship to creativity. Matt Witt
– Matt Witt – Crab Tree – Dream / Illustration
– Wes White – Dream group – Article
– Ariadne Tzounakou – Illustration / Article
– Daniel Pateman – Poem / Article
– Tree Carr – Film
– Buloonehead – Illustration
– Gia Strauss – Painting / Film / Piano
– Leanna Moran – Illustration / Article
– Simon Richards – Film
This edition comes with accompanying soundtrack, a piano composition by Gia Stauss:
Crab Tree – Words and illustration by Matt Witt
The following short story is inspired by a dream I had in September 2017.
I had wandered without aim into thick jungle via winding tracks that grew rougher and narrower as the day grew older and darker. My attention was drawn towards the intimate twitching of a forest crab scurrying around the base of a tree.
It was night, yet the tree base and its roots were well lit by gradients of blue produced by the bioluminescent behaviour of surrounding mosses. The crab itself had a delicate, transparent shell allowing me to see its organs which produced a bright orange shimmer just below the surface.
It was night, yet the tree base and its roots were well lit by gradients of blue produced by the bioluminescent behaviour of surrounding mosses. The crab itself had a delicate, transparent shell allowing me to see its organs which produced a bright orange shimmer just below the surface. The trunk of the tree was broad and grew straight up, it’s bark was smooth and its roots wound outward across the surrounding terrain forming repeating ridges and gorges, growing shallower as they expanded outwards. Each of the ridges was dotted with dainty white flowers, that looked like miniature street lights peering in on the stage. They overlit the gorges, revealing smaller moss-coated valleys that glistened with dew and were spotted with tiny mushrooms.
The crab scuttled busily, in and out of the root valleys, seemingly unaware of the deep jungle darkness that dwarfed its dwelling space. Consumed with its work, digging just below the surface to nibble on the tree’s tiny root hairs, clipping them precisely with its pincers as if tending a garden and bringing the pieces towards its nibbling mouth. All of this was occurring at an itchy, hurried pace.
The little crab went about his business wholly unconcerned, he behaved as if no danger could beset him. His transparent shell revealed his colourful meat, almost bragging about his predatorily unladen state of affairs. It was as if evolution, fate, or favour had somehow allowed him to live an untroubled life of isolated foraging in amongst the roots of this tree. It was as if he was protected by some overseeing benevolence that we were both yet to grasp.
I lost track of time as I became enchanted by the delicacy of the little crab’s actions. The scene was a joyful, intimate and caring exchange; purposeful and naturally pleasing to the eye in all its pulsating night-time technicolour. Brightly bold and full of ideas, I looked in upon this unfolding romance, intrigue inviting me still closer.
As the focus remained on this tiny piece of unfolding story, a rich black vignette shrouded the scene and brought into focus an impression that would linger into my waking world.
I was aware of being lifted upwards, with the crab, high into the tree’s canopy. The glistening valleys abruptly cascading into a pinpoint. The story and the characters remained, but a profound alteration enveloped the scene. The open expansiveness turned inside out and regurgitated itself as something altogether deeper and more complex.
As my bearings steadied I caught glimpses of the emerging scenario. From small visual cues, I was able to deduce that we had ascended, with the help of the tree itself, in the grip of what seemed to be prehensile, telescopic branches. The nimble tentacles plucked the crab gently from the floor as if it had been practised a million times, ceremonious in its intricate attention and delicacy the crab was lifted proudly heavenwards.
Then, with a sudden shift of focus towards the tree, I witnessed strands of crab meat hung over a gaping black orifice, lined with dozens of tiny clinging, tweaking and picking claws, all fiddling and moving fully independently yet working in complete harmony. Robot-like, but organic, they manoeuvred with such speed and precision that dismantling a crab could be their only purpose.
Each claw had a specific role; a flick or a twist or a scoop. In fact, the entire motion was somewhat crab-like. It ended in the complete devouring of all parts of the crab, in a very particular order, moving clockwise around the circular mouth.
As I dwelled on this scene I experienced the aching yearn of a breakthrough, a thought on the tip of the tongue, a truth sat huddled, hiding just out of word. Drifting closer into the horror, consumed by the careful carnage, four words permeated the entire space, stating simply, as if the explanation was intrinsic:
“They eat each other.”
The entire forest rapidly folded in on itself, like the retracting head of a startled snail, leaving me sat alone, repeating the words over and over:
“They eat each other?”
The End (or the beginning).
We received an overwhelming response to this theme, producing our most intriguing edition to date. Here are some examples of how humans are allowing their dream world to seep out into their lives and into their creative work.
For twelve months – the last twelve months I was living in Glastonbury, England – I was a member of a dreaming group. We met once a month in a sizeable yurt, surrounded by the symbols of the zodiac. In the winter months the fire would likely be going.
The purpose of the dreaming group was to talk about our dreams. In the same way that a writing group might share examples of the things they’d been reading that month, we would share an example of something we’d dreamed. And then, as a group, we’d discuss it.
I am interested in dreams anyway as someone who delights in the absurd and the surprising things that our imaginations present us with. Personally, I have had experiences with hypnagogic states and sleep paralysis that, despite my deeply ingrained scepticism, I cannot but count as spiritual experiences. Like many people who picked up a dream dictionary in their teens and found themselves disillusioned by its supposed ‘analysis’ of the symbols therein, however, I’d become resistant to the thought of reading too much into them.
On joining the group, two things happened: firstly, I found I recalled a lot more from my dreams, and more vividly. Knowing I had a group of people expecting to hear what I’d dreamed gave me that extra need to recall it. Even just a fragment of a dream or a solitary image was sometimes enough to get a whole discussion out of, and often, we found we remembered more as we began talking about it.
Secondly, we all found that we noticed things about each other’s dreams that the dreamer themselves was ignoring. Sometimes that came in the form of the other group members asking the right questions. Maybe they’d ask what the room was like that the dream was taking place in, and suddenly the dreamer had a wealth of rich detail that wasn’t mentioned before. Also, on several occasions group members had recurring motifs in their dreams that they hadn’t noticed – these could be glaringly obvious to the rest of us – for example, one dreamer brought different dreams that featured swimming to an island with lots of other people several months in a row, and hadn’t realised that they were describing the same thing for a third time!
These experiences together made me think that perhaps this kind of group sharing is what dreams are ‘for’. The moment where a dreamer ‘unlocked’ the dream – got the point of it, so to speak – would often be a revelation accompanied by elation or certainly a ‘wow’. And it would invariably be something that we were peripherally almost conscious of; dismissive of before we started talking about it.
One personal example – I had a dream which featured a gravestone with the name ‘JARWOOD’ on it. I told the group that I’d thought about it but that that name didn’t mean anything in particular to me. One of the other group members asked me to focus on that name, surely it must mean something? ‘Oh no’, I said – ‘the only vague connection I can make is that years ago I was nominated to apply for a scholarship from an organisation called Jerwood, and I got turned down…’ of course, suddenly in that moment, it was obvious to me that what I was looking at in the dream was a cemetery of lost opportunities.
Before we had TV and all manner of such entertainment, I can hardly imagine that our ancestors would not have gathered around a fire and shared the strange images they’d seen in their sleep, in this way. Find a group of like-minded people and talk about your dreams: it’s what they’re for.
Find Wes here: https://www.facebook.com/oilwaves
When I first read the title “An Investigation of Dreams”, I felt intrigued by it. Dreams and fantasies have always been my escape from life’s various challenges. Whenever I have felt mentally exhausted I close my eyes and try to let sleep create images and situations that restore me to a good, healthy place.
Rarely have my dreams been realistic. I am fascinated by the supernatural and the paranormal and that’s what my mind generates in order to survive. Sometimes this may include a power fantasy, other times it revolves around horror, but rarely is realism the basis for my fantasy.
By investigating my relationship with my dreams, I realised something. They never feel real enough. Even the ones that go deep under my skin can’t go deep enough for me to get lost and never return. There’s a wall that keeps us separated and forces me to experience my dreams from a safe distance.
I think this is because at some point in the past I realised that my approach to dreaming was as much of a medicine as it was a drug. Early in my teenage and adult life, I found myself visiting the dream world too often and not truly letting go of it, even when I was awake. I kept my distance from the real world and soon I found myself alone. When I understood how harmful this was I tried to keep myself grounded in reality, to the point where now I don’t think I can go back to the old ways.
I tried to describe this experience through my illustration in two ways: first, its theme. I created an unrealistic image, with dragons and dinosaurs, in a landscape with just as unrealistic proportions. Furthermore, the person representing myself, the small girl in the centre, has wings that are not big enough for her to fly. This is my way of saying “This is as close to the action as I get. It’s not only a matter of will but also ability”. Secondly, the use of colour. The upper section of the image is much warmer than the lower one, which is an effort to reinforce the contrast between the two, the realness of the former and the detachment of the latter.
Find Ariadne Tzounakou here: ariadnetzn.tumblr.com
Dreaming of Deja-Vu
I enter a disparate terrain, bristling,
Register emerald burnished-gold and blue
‘For Sale’ signs which smile mute,
Having once gone thunk-thunk-thunk into ethereal earth,
A building. A home I had forgotten until it
Materialised. A place that hadn’t existed
Until I remembered. Like the earthy pulse
Which ebbs and flows in my absence.
It embellishes itself as I approach.
Grasses and wheat seeking ceilings,
Vines adorning doorframes and windowpanes
Like endearing impositions;
Distant relatives come to stay.
Successive invisible veils withdraw
And I know this as the set of a film
James Dean never made.
The poster by the worn picket fence indicating
Him in white cardigan ablaze
Besides the fields his fiery beneficiaries.
Giddy confusion. The bounty of a glorious
Deja-vu. I returned to this place
I didn’t know I knew (or did I?).
This never-never land which had persisted,
Transformed, insisting on its own existence.
Dying, flowering and perspiring without me.
Surviving in a shifting landscape of memories.
But becoming a sacred museum (interregnum)
When I come back to visit in my dreams.
In response to the theme ‘An Investigation of Dreams’ and my poem’s take on it…
Dreams are vital, potent distillations of lived experience, that I think, are able to articulate areas of life that the rational brain and rational society repress. Personally, they can be incredibly recuperative. A good dream can be healing, bringing parts of your emotional life to light and encouraging their expression. In their manifestations of the ostensibly illogical and nonsensical, they are liberating and enlightening, privileging emotion and imagination in playful ways often derided in our waking adult lives.
Dreaming of Deja-Vu was written in response to a dream in which I experienced the sense of returning to a place I felt I’d visited before in a dream many years ago, and that only seemed to have an existence in this sleepy realm. It appeared changed somehow though as if it had fallen into ruin in my absence…though the longer I was there, inside the overgrown location of a film James Dean had made, the more a doubt grew in my mind that I’d ever had this dream before. The cause of this dream was, I think, a pencil. A souvenir I’d picked up at the James Dean Museum in Indiana a few years ago, and had that day plucked from my pencil case to sharpen.
The poem expresses the diffuse logic of dreams, and the collision of two mental phenomena; dreaming and deja-vu. It explores how dreams are products of desires and memory, a ‘conversation of consciousness’ taking place between the past, present and future on a horizontal plane. Dreams can be places of refuge from the vagaries of the ‘real-world’, and seem to have their own reality, as our emotional life has it’s own reality (‘dying, flowering and perspiring’), our inner landscape transforming throughout our lives.
Find Daniel here: dan1pateman.wordpress.com
Tree is a Dreaming Guide and has been deeply exploring her dream realms since she was a child. The film she sent to us is a personal reflection on how her dream life has influenced her creativity, self-exploration and expansion of consciousness.
Find Tree here: www.luciddreamtree.com
A freelance artist in many mediums. Illustration, mural, sculpture.
Find Buhloonehead here: facebook.com/buhlooneheadart
“My dreams are part of my daytime, I remember them every day, I keep a diary of those I believe that are meaningful. Dreams are fascinating phenomena for me, they have no concept of time, whilst dreaming we can’t use any of our senses yet we believe every moment of them and they can have a profound effect on us. My dreams inspire my paintings, my films and my piano compositions.”
Here is an example of Gia’s film and composition on the piano: Waltz with the Devil
Find more from Gia Strauss here: giart.co.uk
‘In the Windmills of my Mind – Oil on Canvas – Gia Strauss
Tell us why the theme interests you and how your work relates?
There are horrors skulking within the bedroom and imaginings of a little girl overwhelmed by a harrowing and troublesome world. This symbolises multi-layered concepts and expansions of time. The ‘bedroom’ has become a duplicated emblem and continues to be revisited throughout my practice, a powerful map which allows exploration when articulating conceptual references of life, childhood and personal experience.
What is your relationship with your dream world?
I use my dreams as a tool; linking my subconscious reality with current reality. Dreams are powerfully informative, whether they advise you on a current situation or relationship. When I awake from a dream I consider the allegory or symbolism, I then apply the dreams ‘message’ to daily life.
Do you use dreams to inspire you creatively?
My practice has journeyed through the story of my life and I have now reached a point where the creation of art has become a method of healing. For me, dreams really assist when surrealistically approaching creative outlets.
What are dreams and how can we use them to improve the way we live?
I really believe dreams are the gateway between sub-consciousness and consciousness. I think life can be overwhelming and all-encompassing, not giving us time to really process thoughts, emotions or personal reflection. Dreams are the minds way of communicating deep inner turmoil. I always surprise people with how appropriate, specific and meaningful my dreams have been. If we listen to dreams they may guide us objectively as opposed to acting on basic human response. Dreams may show us how to better react to situations or process past issues.
Find Leanna Moran here: www.leannamoran.com
Inside Out – Leanna Moran
We leave you with a film submitted by Simon Richards.
“Failed musician Vanessa comes home from her stale office job one evening to find a version of herself already inside her own house, and descends into a nightmare from which she struggles to awake.”
Find Simon via his vimeo account or twitter: @karaoke_
A big thank you to the artists who have shared their dreams with us. I have been left with the conclusion that dreams are an important focal point for communicative exchange between humans, perhaps the window through which the inner speaks to the outer.
Dreams are a means to process experiences and emotions, like the creative process, when combined they create a force for emotional development and spiritual progress.
I hope this has been an informative exercise and encourages us to use our dreams as a point of focus for expression in many mediums.
Issue 7 is open to submissions, the theme will investigate Myths. Find out more.
If you would like to contribute to Wake up Screaming, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with some examples of your work. If you are a therapist then contact me with your website and we’ll look at how best to present you.
About Wake up Screaming
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Wake up Screaming. I am Matt Witt, illustrator, artist, writer, musician… a human that likes to indulge in his creativity. Wake up Screaming is an e-zine that encourages personal investigation of themes related to the expansion of consciousness, to waking up and embracing our creativity as a tool for personal growth.
Using the New moons as release dates, Wake up Screaming is intended to encourage us to research new themes and to create new work on a regular basis. We use the cycles of the moon to provide an inspirational and motivational focus point, providing four week periods in which to study topics that are calling for our attention. Editions are released and a new theme set with each New Moon.
Personally, it’s also something to help me overcome isolation, to catalyse collaboration and to satisfy my yearning for self-knowledge and drive to connect with other creative types. I am always keen to hear from other artists about collaborating.