When we say that a person in love is glowing it may be more than a metaphor: There is a physical radiance palpable in each of us at times when we are open-hearted and fully alive to our surroundings. Recently I’ve begun to notice this radiant quality in some of my dreams. The imagery of these dreams glows golden (even if the background is dark) with light emanating from the dream figures as well as from dreams’ landscape. Within these dreams I often feel a gentle swell in my chest, a lift, an opening, that is not present in other dreams – or in other parts of the dream. A feeling of love pervades these dreams.
The feeling and golden glow may not last long, but the radiance stays with me as I go about my day. The types of loves expressed is wide-ranging: the golden glow equally present in dreams of a loving relationship with a teacher or healer, a romantic love, a joyful reunion with a child or long lost friend or a choir of singing angels. Conversely in dreams where I am reactive or preoccupied with some plan of action or anxious worry the glow is absent or disappears, and the atmosphere of the dream turns gray.
Maybe this is a peculiarity of my own dream life but I suspect it is not. Just before the pandemic, I was introduced by a friend to the writings of Jacques Lusseyran. Blinded in an accident as a young boy, Lusseyran describes the inner light which persisted in him despite the loss of his eyes and guided him in his work with the French Resistance movement as well as through the hell of Buchenwald, a concentration camp where he was held prisoner during World War II. Jacques’s capacity for joy and love are deeply inspiring, and his writings have been an important touchstone for me. In his essay “Blindness, A New Seeing of the World,” Lusseyran writes of the connection between the intensity of the light and his state of being:
Since my childhood I have been impressed with a phenomenon of surprising clarity: The light I saw changed with my inner condition. Partly it depended on my physical condition, for instance fatigue, restfulness, tension or relaxation Such changes, however, were relatively rare, The true changes depended on the state of my soul. When I was sad, when I was afraid, all shades became dark and all forms indistinct. When I was joyous and attentive, all pictures became light. Anger, remorse, plunged everything into darkness. A magnanimous resolution, a courageous decision, radiated a beam of light. By and by I learned to understand that love meant seeing and that hate was night.
The connection Lusseyran makes between love and light feels very real to me and seems relevant to my own experiences in dreams, even though I can’t possibly explain it.
In an interview of the late physicist David Bohm (See “The Super-Implicate Order” in The Essential David Bohm, ed. Lee Nichol) Bohm describes matter as frozen light, and speaks of light as the foundation of the universe: “Light in its generalized sense (not just ordinary light) is the means by which the entire universe unfolds into itself…light is this background which is all one but its information content has the capacity for immense diversity. Light can carry information about the entire universe.”
Little wonder light is connected to Spirit and Love in so many wisdom traditions.
As I write these words I hear a voice asking, “So what? How is this helpful?”
To the skeptic in me ( and in others), I give the following answer:
The beauty and joy I experience in these dreams is a gift that nourishes and enhances my sense of well being. The concordance of light and love has helped me to recognize the presence of dream teachers and moments of open-heartedness that I might otherwise have glossed over. As I step back into my dreams, I can feel them more deeply and expand my sense of what it means to love. This concordance also informs my understanding of the nature of love: That love is a force, like light, not created, not destroyed. We can let it in or block it out.
A couple of years ago I had the following short dream:
I am working unclogging heart arteries. I tell a man who says, “That’s the bulk of it…”
The man who spoke was late middle-age, portly, receding hairline, unremarkable in dress or manner. Like many of the figures that show up in my dreams, he spoke quietly, stated the facts without trying to convince me of his view. I listened, without at first recognizing the full weight of his words. Coming back to the dream later I understood better what he meant: opening the heart is our most important task – it’s the bulk of what we are after – with our dreams, our relationships, and our spiritual life. Perhaps light is simply a metaphor for this love and open heart, but I suspect it is more than that: In opening our hearts, in waking life and in dreams, we ‘unfreeze’ the light.
Keren Vishny originally trained as a physician, and practiced Internal Medicine for 10 years before retraining as a psychotherapist and NaturalDreamwork practitioner and teacher. Her exploration of her own dream has led to the re-emergence of her poet, in hibernation since age 14. She is affiliated with the CG Jung Center in Evanston, as well as the Marion Woodman Foundation.