One of the more powerful ways to work with death and rebirth material is through our dreams and the practice of alchemy.
This powerful process allows us to tap into that inner terrain of the soul and ultimately give us a glimpse of who we are and what magic stuff we’re made of. For those interested in dreams as a spiritual practice, locating and working with alchemical processes can be a life changing experience.
So let’s start with the most primal, highly charged and shameful yet most natural material on the planet.
You guessed it! Poop.
Why Do We Dream Of Poop?
One theory is as children, potty-training is very traumatic because we believe a part of our body is actually being flushed down the toilet. My nephew was so terrified when he started toilet training, he had us sit with him and tell him stories as he nervously “did the deed.”
If this is true then what could be more poetic and symbolic than a poop dream? That disgusting part of ourselves that we are both repulsed by and yet strangely attached to and too terrified to release.
The icky act of defecation was actually celebrated by the Alchemists. It’s what we need to let go of–what is repulsive and shameful— unconscious material that needs to be looked at and transformed.
It’s fertilizer after all and what is more potent for growth than that!
The Mysterious Dung Beetle
Sometimes animals were the prima materia in dreams like the (gold!) dung beetle that feed partly or exclusively on feces. But as the holy scarab in Egyptian myth of death and rebirth, the dung beetle is tied to Khepri (“he who has come into being”), the god of the rising sun.
This creative aspect of the scarab was also associated with the creator god Atum because they would roll balls of dung as a place for their eggs. The larvae would then use the ball for food. When the dung was consumed the young beetles would emerge from the hole! The scarab-beetle god was also associated with the Sun being rolled across the sky.
An Example of a Poop Dream
I am with two young girls and we are entering a building that is made for healing. We try to find a bathroom but it is not private. There are people here and the stalls have no doors or privacy. Then I find that the door to the bathroom leads to another door that is more private bathroom. We can all go in together.
The toilet is almost three feet above the ground and I climb on top and to my shame fill up the bowl with poop! What’s even more mortifying (Alchemy!) is that I cannot flush it down. The girls come over to investigate which makes me uncomfortable though they are not. They want to help. I realize that I pushed the half flush button (which is black) like you find in Europe and I needed to push the full flush white button. I push it and it works! The girls are happy and I am relieved…
If we look at this dream as a symbol of what needs to be looked at and released, we get a few clues. A building for healing, need for privacy, the younger parts of the self (girls) and the need to do a full flush (not halfway).
The good news is by having this dream, I am ready to work on this material! All I need to do is follow the dreams after this one for more clues and understanding.
And that’s what the Alchemist call the Great Work!