Last night I had a short, frightening dream that I could use help interpreting. I dreamed I was walking down a side road in some town, apparently in the South, because the sides of the road were sand. There were various small tin trailers (like Airstreams) and tiny little houses painted aqua and other fifties colors around in that area. I wasn’t sure if I was lost in the dream. There were no people around and no cars going by. It was silent, and the light had an odd quality, like either near dusk or before a storm. I was coming towards a main road when down that road a ways I saw a huge black dog trotting along in a business-like fashion. It was a heavily built, muscular black dog. I am not good with dog breeds. It had short hair. I didn’t see a collar.
When I saw the dog, I realized that I had seen this same dog before in a previous dream some time ago, and in that dream it had attacked and killed me. I thought this dog must have been stalking me through dream all this time and now by accident or design had finally found me. But I corrected myself and said no, dogs can’t stalk people like that. It’s just a dog. But I didn’t believe that either. It was no ordinary dog.
I looked around from where I’d come but could see nowhere to hide. I didn’t think of calling for help because I knew no one could help me. Danger was too imminent, for one thing. I knew I could not run fast enough to get away from a dog. There were trees around, but they were the kind of tall pine trees they have in the South that don’t have any branches until very high up–impossible to climb. I walked toward the main road thinking maybe the dog wouldn’t notice me, but it did, and it came right towards me, not trotting any faster, but with determination, its eyes fixed on me.
In this dream I was wearing a fatigue jacket like one I had in high school in 1971. In real life, that jacket had the image of Thoth in his ibis-headed form embroidered on the sleeve. In the dream, though, there was no Thoth on the arm of my jacket. It was plain. I thought maybe the jacket could somehow protect me but realized it would be no protection against the teeth of a large attacking dog.
As the dog neared, I could see that around its mouth and jaw where white hairs, as if it were not a young dog at all. Yet it in no way looked decrepit or elderly. It was a mature dog, a dog that had seen some stuff. The dog came down the side road right at me and leapt, snarling. I raised my arm and turned partly away to shield myself, knowing it would do no good. I wondered if this were my fate, to die by being attacked by a dog. It was a disappointing thing to think I would die in such a pointless way. The impression of the dog’s paws on me was intense. The dog’s claws were long. I could also faintly smell the dog. Its head was huge, and it opened its mouth to bite me, but instead of biting me on the face or head, the dog bit the air to the right side of my head, as if something was there. I knew I was alone on the road, though. I thought, I cannot be so lucky that the dog will be unable to bite me. I jerked back from the dog and woke up, having jerked myself awake. End of dream.
Black has become a really important color for me and maybe has been important for me for a long time magically. The Dark Spirit of the Crossroads who spoke to me in dreams years ago was a black man. The familiar that has helped me recently is black and silver. And of course the one recurring black thing in my life is black jimsonweed, the Datura Spirit, which has in the past appeared as a black/green spikey figure and also as a black dwarf–completely black, like licorice, not the color of a black person. That was a terrifying vision in which the black dwarf creature considered ripping out my spine for the hell of it as I lay there on my bed. This dream of the black dog was frightening but nothing like that in terror level. And finally, this summer I determined to work more closely and deliberately with the plant I call the Black Toad: black nightshade, Solanum nigrum. I planted 30 seedlings a week or so ago. I intend to make wine from the berries as a magical act. Maybe it will make me sick, although it shouldn’t harm me at all, according to all I have read. Last night I decided I would combine it with elderberry, which I can get dried in large quantity, because I thought I might not harvest enough black nightshade berries to make a wine.
Re dogs, I should say that in real life I was menaced by a large dog a few months ago while out walking at night, but it was a brown and white dog of a different type, and it went to grab my ankle when I turned my back. I was frightened to walk at night for a while but have since gone back to it. I’ve had dreams of a dog-thing (the were pup) trying to get into the house, but it was quite easy to push out and it was not black. I’ve dreamed of a gray werewolf that I came to accept as an aspect of myself as witch. The one black dog that comes to my mind is, of course, the black dog that is supposedly killed when harvesting mandrake, a plant I love. I have always thought this black dog death was a reference to previous rites to Hekate associated with the mandrake, since the black dog is her animal, or one of them, and black puppies were sacrificed to her in ancient times.
So I’m wondering–is this black dog a spirit and if so, what kind? It doesn’t help that when I went to look up the symbolism of black dogs in dreams, that it is mostly something bad, like an impending disaster in one’s life, or death itself. But then why does it bite the air beside my head? It doesn’t feel like it’s protecting me. It feels like it just can’t quite get where I am. Like it’s targeting is a little off.
The image I chose to go with this post is by Goya, fittingly enough from his so-called Black Paintings, the time when he also painted that very famous picture of the goat thing talking to the circle of witches. This painting is called simply The Dog. I have no idea what it is supposed to mean, but I have always felt it was quite sinister.
I’d appreciate any feedback about what this dream might possibly mean.