The Ancestor Dream

The Ancestor Dream by Eden Bloom

Some Notes – ‘The Ancestor Dream’ is an attempt articulate my perspective on ancestral relations. I am uncertain if others have similar experiences. The piece and this introduction are a monologue on the welcoming invites to ‘draw strength from ancestors’ or call their names into collaborative spaces I visit. Ancestral recognitions are often powerful, beautiful and, for what it matters coming from me, I perceive them as integral to cultural identity. This is not a critique; and a curse the audacity to offer one. Being ‘estranged’ from family while working to address social and political impacts of supremacist ideologies frequently finds me in meetings where I am one of a few, if not the only person who represents as ‘white.’ This being the case, I am hesitant and unsettled by invitations to bring ‘my people’ into the mix. This covid-influenced rendition of a recurring dream may foster understanding of why. ~Eden

The ancestor dream always ends the same way. I had the dream again last night. It is the same dream with variations on themes I have been having all my life. They tend to come when I am ill or in some form of transition. I find it interesting that I never remember what is going to happen when I am dreaming. I always buy into it completely.

Last night’s variant was a long-drawn-out adventure involving the storming of a mountain fortress. The interior revealed a 90s Fort Lauderdale high-rise/cruise ship with all the thrills of a 70s disaster flick, elemental, water, and fire, like ‘Poseidon Adventure’ or ‘Great Inferno’. High stress; having to navigate underwater tunnels, fires, and explosions. It is not always a mountain, sometimes it is a castle, or even a city.

I made it through. I always do and the calm should be disturbing after the struggle, but it is not. I step off the destroyed elevator into the penthouse and everything is washed away. It is always this calm here. There are transparent plastic walkways on the white carpeting. It is not bright, but well-lit and very continental; ornate frames white-washed. I am clean, wearing a sweater. As I make my way across the plastic, I see all the forms gathered are wearing sweaters.

I am greeted by my father’s mother who is a smile and a frown all at once. Her head, powdered cheeks, and rounded nose shaking “no” eternally. No love there, but contrary to the tick of her chin, acceptance. She is the gatekeeper and fades into the background once I am through. She is the only woman in these dreams. My father’s father is next, and he is all business; “‘bout time, boy!” He is short, round, and rough all over.

There is a hug and a slap reminiscent of a punch that pushes me and transforms the space into their basement office. It is all sweaters, stubble, cigars, and guns. The brick and iron gated wine cellar from the basement of the family home is perfectly replicated in every iteration of the dream. I touch the bricks hard every time, cutting small scrapes that bleed on the tips of my fingers every time. My father walks out of the cellar door, and we embrace.

It is sincere and it is always so real. We weep, howl, and hold each other for a long time. It is so good. All the conflict, all the violence, pain and suffering are just washed away and there is peace. Imagine, for those of you blessed with a frequent father’s hug, doing so for the first time; after never knowing it before. A guttural sigh/vibration that I only know in these dreams.

This part here, this is something special. There are more sweatered ancestors, grandfathers upon grandfathers. I am welcomed back into the fold. The things I negated are released, I am forgiven for my transgressions and the world is born again; washed in love and light. I bask in it for an extraordinarily long time. One could insert variations of the concept of paradise here; family, the gods, community, unity inside this mountain/castle/city.

It is incredibly healing. The warmth, the familiarity, the unity has rekindled my own skills and abilities. Though in this iteration of the dream we are still wearing these stupid sweaters, across the dream series we all become bigger physically, and there are more of us. It is slowly revealed that the mountain, the penthouse, the woodwork, even the plastic on the damn carpeting is threatened. Organized and militant, the call begins to rise: “now, that we’re back together we finally have the strength to protect the mountain for good!”

It usually hits me all at once, full force. I remember the rest of the dream. I know what is going to happen. I know how it is going to end, and it breaks me, hard, every, time. Suddenly the entire mountain is preparing for war. Thought it really is not war, it is mass murder, it’s genocide. All the villages and towns around the mountain are targeted. This is what we do to protect our peace, for unity, for warmth. I want this warmth more than anything. I just got it back.

From the time of this realization in the dream, it is always rough, disjointed, drawn-out and overdramatic. It is a painful unfolding. I sometimes attempt to negotiate; to appeal to their humanity. Sometimes I fake it and try to sabotage their efforts. I have dreamt this dream so many times. The ancestor dream always ends the same way.

Last night, I thought it was my grandfather that killed me, which is the easiest. He is so brutal. Sometimes it is my father who takes me out. Those are the worst because its straight up childhood trauma relived. But long story short, I always refuse to fight. They always kill me. My ancestors always lose the mountain, and I always wake in terror and grief.

The Ancestor Dream by Eden Bloom, © Eden Bloom 2024