In the last two weeks, I have been plagued by stress dreams. There are some huge changes happening in my life right now, all major positives, but as change does, it causes stress and my dreams have been rocked because of it. Last night my dream was epic. I won’t go into all of it here because most of it was pretty typical stress dream stuff, but there was a part that was very out of the ordinary.
In the dream, I had about twenty or so dogs in my backyard, or, rather, an old backyard of mine. Three teenagers wearing respectively blue, red, or yellow T-shirts, came into the yard with knives and proceeded to stab at the dogs and chase them all out of the yard. When I got out there, yelling and screaming at the teens, the one in the red shirt stabbed my dog in the hind leg. My dog screamed in pain, which all animal lovers know is one of the most gut-wrenching sounds on earth. I laid down over my dog still yelling at them to go away. The one in the red shirt stabbed my dog again, this time in the side. I picked him up and ran with him into the house to get him away from the violence.
When I came back out into the yard, there were three elderly black people standing at the gate so close to one another, they looked like they were attached. It was apparent they had thwarted the teens and, as they stood there, all the dogs ran back into the yard. My dog came out of the house and ran into the yard perfectly healed. The three elderly people closed the gate.
I walked over to them and began thanking them profusely. The one in the middle was a skinny, scraggly man with a wispy gray beard. He wore a dark red shirt and a straw hat. The man to his left was a bit younger and much more robust. He wore a fine dark suit that was a bit dusty. This more robust man had his face turned away so I could not see it. On the scraggly man’s right was an elderly woman. She wore a crocheted shawl around her shoulders, high up to her chin, and wrapped around her head. As I thanked them, the scraggly man winked at me. The old woman said in a sweet, dusky voice, “It was our pleasure.”
She said, “We have been your neighbors for a long time.” She nodded to an old, white house next to mine. She said, chuckling, “You just haven’t noticed because we are very, very quiet.” The scraggly man threw his head back and laughed at this, hard but softly.
“But why did you help me?” I asked.
She said, “Because you are a good, respectful girl, that’s why. We like you.”
“Thank you,” I said again.
“Next time,” she said, “remember we are neighbors and call us if you need us.”
“Thank you so much.”
The old woman winked at me and the three of them walked down the driveway so close to one another still that they looked as if they were attached.
On waking, I recognized the old, scraggly man in the middle as Papa Legba who has made an appearance in my dreams here and there before. The other two I did not recognize so I did a little digging. In some schools Kalfu is said to be Legba’s dark aspect and, according to the depictions I saw, is often shown in the kind of accoutrements most often associated with barons. Ayizan is said to be Legba’s wife on whom he sometimes leans instead of using his cane. This explains why the three of them walked as if they were attached. Also dogs, I read, are sacred to Legba.
I’m pretty dumbstruck to have seen all of that in a dream and have it check out in waking life. I feel richly blessed not only for this, but also for their assistance and kind words in the dream. I’m still not sure I deserve it, but to doubt that I do is disrespectful to the gift-giver’s wisdom.
It’s funny. In my mind’s eye, I see Hermes and Legba wrestling and really enjoying themselves. Legba as an old, skinny, scraggly man, and Hermes in all his beauty and muscles. And it is a real match! A real go-round! A real donnybrook!
I think it is our human pettiness that keeps the gods so separate in our minds. These are MY gods and those are YOUR gods. MY gods don’t like it when a person belonging to YOUR gods talks to them. MY god is MY friend and can’t have any other friends besides ME and the people I say.
That’s nonsense. As long as you are respectful at your core and don’t attempt to command them, what does any god care whether you speak of them and/or pray to them or not? Especially considering, in my view, all the gods are at the very least cousins, if not more closely related. They all share the same divine blood. They all come from the same root, much as humanity does.
Then, along with being cousins, some are related by trade and have between them a professional respect and camaraderie. They go to the same conventions, so to speak. In dreams, I have seen Hermes clap hands with Legba, his liminal, messenger compatriot, and call him “brother.”
I’m not saying all gods get along and all pantheons are kumbaya with each other, but they are a lot closer to and interactive with each other than we realize.
Why would a god turn away one more sincere, respectful worshipper? Based on human conventions, human animosities, human short-sightedness, human pettiness? I don’t think so. And if the god does, it’s her prerogative to push that human away, to make her feelings known, to smite him, or, most likely ignore him. It’s not up to us to be gatekeepers for the gods.
Religion is another matter. Religion is a human construction and the people of that religion do have a say in whether it is closed to outsiders or not. Remember, however, that “religion” and “worship” are not synonymous and neither is prayer nor communication with the gods solely the province of religion. If a person wishes to pray to Hermes without following formal Hellenic prayer and so and so forth with all the clunky junk we’ve put between ourselves and our gods, it is up to that person to work it out with Hermes. Whatever the god says goes and it is not for us to question it.
Open your eyes. You may have some benevolent neighbors you missed.