The North Pole

Jul 26, 2022

Dream from episode 223

Images of snow and ice abound in dreams, sometimes speaking to us of emotional coldness or frozen feelings. In this dream, the inhospitable blizzard raging outside contrasts with the warm, safe space of the cabin.

Following is the transcript of the dream discussed in Episode 223 — The Imp of the Perverse: Struggling with our Fiendish Shadow.

Lisa  00:02

Today’s dreamer is a 36-year-old man who works as a judge, and here’s the dream.

“I am with my wife and child on the North pole. We are in a small cabin. I don’t know why we are here or how we got here. It is not a familiar place, but I’m not surprised to be here. There is a blizzard raging outside. Inside it is dark; a fire is burning in a traditional cast iron stove. We huddle together by the fire. I am responsible for the fire. The door blows open, and I can see the white blizzard outside. I fear that my daughter will somehow be sucked into the blizzard. I manage to close the door. I search for firewood, but the cabin is dark and unfamiliar. I venture out into the storm and find some firewood. I return inside to tend to the fire. I find my wife and daughter asleep by the stove.” 

And for context he notes, “I’m on paternity leave, and will be for about six more months. I’ve been pondering a change of career once the paternity leave is over.” And he says the main feelings were a fear of the blizzard and worry that his child would be hurt. He felt pride and satisfaction when he was able to attend to the fire. And he notes, in terms of associations, that the cabin and the cast iron stove remind him of his father’s lodge in the very north of the country. The stove is very simple and traditional. He says, “I associate blizzards with my military service, which I served north of the Arctic Circle. Firewood is essential in that climate.” The wife and child seemed like his actual wife and child, and he has no further associations. And he notes that the North Pole is ice, snow — barren and deadly.

Deb  01:50

What comes up for me as is the very first part of the dream, which is the psychic situation as it is. I’m with my wife and child on the North Pole. And very often, scenes where it’s snowing, where it’s cold, where there’s ice, absolutely descriptive of the North Pole, are situations where feeling has been frozen. It’s cold. We talk about that all the time in relation to feelings and emotion. Somebody is a cold person versus a warm person. So, there is a psychic situation in the midst of a very new, very challenging life situation. It is a really big deal. To start a family and have a baby! You are responsible. You must provide. You must, in this dream, bring in the firewood and heat the home. And I think for many men, as much as they love this baby, it’s also very scary. It’s scary for moms to have this little, tiny, vulnerable human being. And all of a sudden, we have been saddled with a giant responsibility.

Lisa  03:32

I appreciate your lifting up the setting of this frozen land and it is interesting. Why did the dream get set there? I mean, there’s a couple of different ways to go with that I suppose. But I do find myself curious about this and wondering about a career change. If I had the dreamer here, I would be so curious about that. Somehow, here he is on paternity leave and my imagination is that in the dream, he’s finding it satisfying in some way to be the protector, playing that role and doing it effectively. What is it like then, to have this perspective on his career, now that he has a chance to step away from it? So, I’m wondering whether the setting in some way relates to the career. I might be wrong about that. Just a question. I also think it’s very interesting that he says “I am responsible for the fire.” It’s a wonderful image, right? I mean, in some sense, the fire in our lives is kind of an inner hearth. It is something that we all have to attend to. We have to attend to our fire, we have to keep it stoked, and here he is responsible for the fire of the family. On one level, I think this dream shows this life situation of recognizing that now you’re the kind of Pater Familias as it were, and you need to provide for this family and protect this family and care for this family. The dreamer is really rising to that occasion. And he’s doing it with courage and care, and I believe that he’s enjoying it while finding it a burden. But I also wonder about another possible way to read the dream, which is, what’s the marriage like, and why is he responsible for the fire?

Deb  05:46

It’s a really interesting question of the hearth and the warmth, which is traditionally an image of the feminine. Hestia was the garden goddess of the hearth, for example. But as we wend our way through and around the dream, I wonder if he is so enjoying his paternity leave and being able to be a tender of the fire, providing warmth and emotional warmth and care. That what is really the North Pole is just exactly what the dream says. It’s out there. In here we are okay, I can close the door and I can tend the fire. He has two female images here, his wife and daughter, a baby and his wife. And I wonder if it’s the career change that feels like the blizzard out there, that does he dare to go out in the cold and contemplate a career change. It’s the external world.

Lisa  07:00

But it’s interesting because that’s where the firewood is.

Deb  07:04

Yes, of course You have to go out to get the firewood and there’s the dilemma. But the inner home is compelling. He would like to not only be home and enjoying the paternity leave, but those elements of care, protection, tending the fire, intimacy, connection, all of that stuff inside versus the external world feeling harsh.


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