Saturday, March 15, 2014


I've always found it a source of aggravation that I rarely have mythic dreams of the kind H.P. Lovecraft describes in his old letters.  Most of the dreams I can remember are depressingly bland remixes of everyday life, with only mild if any symbolism.

For instance, some time after I retired from my job at the end of 2010, I dreamed of my place of work as a desolate shell, which had been (so far as I reasoned in the dream) temporarily closed down so that massive work could be done on the plumbing, or something like that. That's practically Freud 101: "I'm not there now, so that means that they can't go on without me!" Eh, big deal.

Recently I did have an interesting animal-dream, which are a rarity for me.  I dreamed of a battle in which a colossal red shark was repeatedly battered into defeat and death by an equally colossal white whale. 

Immediately the logical assumption would be: "white whale= Moby Dick." Red sharks, however, don't have any major representatives in folklore or literature that I can think of, so I immediately thought of the tale of the White Dragon and the Red Dragon, as recounted in this entry for Wikipedia:

The tale is taken up by Nennius in the Historia Brittonum. The dragons remain at Dinas Emrys for centuries until King Vortigern tries to build a castle there. Every night the castle walls and foundations are demolished by unseen forces. Vortigern consults his advisers, who tell him to find a boy with no natural father, and sacrifice him. Vortigern finds such a boy (who is later, in some tellings, to become Merlin) who is supposed to be the wisest wizard ever to live. On hearing that he is to be put to death to end the demolition of the walls, the boy is dismissive of the advice, and tells the king about the two dragons. Vortigern excavates the hill, freeing the dragons. They continue their fight and the red dragon finally defeats the white dragon. The boy tells Vortigern that the white dragon symbolises the Saxons and that the red dragon symbolises the people of Vortigern. If Vortigern is accepted to have lived in the 5th century, then these people are the British whom the Saxons failed to subdue and who became the Welsh.
I'm certainly more than a little aware of this curious myth, and have occasionally seen it given abstruse magical or alchemical interpretations. However, I don't know any reason why I would have had that British myth, or concerns relating to that British myth, on my mind recently, aside from having finished reading T.H. White's BOOK OF MERLYN about a month ago.

One minor point of interest is that in my dream, the white behemoth defeats the red one.  But that detail may indeed be drawn from the fact that Melville's novel MOBY DICK is one of the few literary works I consider to possess the same complexity as real, "unauthored" myth-cycles.

Of  course, Moby Dick has been run through the mill of pop culture as well, and I'd be lying if I claimed that I was not aware of some of these instances, such as this Hanna-Barbera superhero-flavored cetacean from the 1960s:

Still, I will say that the white whale in my dream didn't resemble this cuddly fellow in any way whatsoever.  It's possible that my subconscious mind correlated both sharks and whales as some sort of "dragons of the deep." But the color symbolism doesn't seem to add up into anything, unless I was to go really far afield, into the domain of Tantric symbolism, where "the red" and "the white" connote femininity and masculinity respectively.  But that too seems to lead to no particular revelations, unless I cared to delve into the tedium of Freud 101 once again.

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