The Skull in the Rock

I had a dream on Sunday morning (early).  I don’t often dream, as I’m usually not ever asleep long enough to reach REM sleep. On the rare occasion I do reach REM, I don’t often remember dreams. Therefore, when I do dream, and then remember it, it usually has some significance. So, when I dreamt on Sunday morning just before waking up to go to church, it got my attention.  Take it for what you will.
Basic details of the dream follow:

I dreamt I went to Israel, to the site of the resurrection tomb. I had been told by a friend who’d gone previously to look in the rocks around the tomb for some carvings – one of a lion, and one of another animal. When I arrived, there was a narrow and rough climb up a winding, rocky pathway to the tomb’s site.  I climbed the pathway, and when I’d almost reached to top, I walked into a walled area around the tomb, similar to a courtyard (for lack of a better description) in front of the opening to the sepulchre. To the left of the tomb opening, there was a steep drop off, and you were able to look over a short wall, across a valley, on the other side of which was the hill of Golgotha. To the right of the tomb opening, the mountain in which the tomb was carved continued upward for another 8-10 feet, and you were unable to see the valley beyond.

I immediately went to my left, to look for a carving in the rock near the opening. Facing north, was a carving of a bear’s head in the rock. It was not directly next to the opening to the tomb, but on the north-facing side of the rock drop off at about the same level as the doorway to the tomb. It was similar in look to a grizzly bear.  It seemed to be understood that the carving had been there since the creation of the sepluchre.  It didn’t seem that anyone else noticed the carving, but were instead buzzing about looking at the tomb itself.

 

I then walked around, past the entrance to the tomb, to the other side of the rock outcropping. I noticed a crack in the outcropping of the rock, between the tomb and the rest of the hillside, that was wide enough to look through. When looking through the crack, you could see Golgotha on the other side of the valley. Mind you, you couldn’t see Golgotha if you just stood on the southern side of the outcropping, unless you looked through the crack in the rock. When you looked through the crack, you could see, as the sun set in the west, a cross that had been erected on the site of the original crucifixion. As the sun set, the light reflected off the cross and caused it to gleam with such a bright, white light, that it was almost blinding.

Next to the crack in the rock on the south side of the outcropping, there was another carving, also understood to have been original to the creation of the tomb. This time it was not an animal, but a carving of a human skull.  Again, no one seemed to notice the skull, or the crack in the rock that enabled you to see the cross.

 

I continued to look all around the rock surrounding the tomb, and never found another carving. I looked thoroughly, because the friend that had visited previously had said one of the carvings he saw was a liion, and I wanted to see it, being that the tomb was the sight of the Resurrection of the Lion of Judah. Yet, it was not there when I looked. I never did look into the tomb, or approach the door like most tourists would. I, for some reason, was more interested in the carving – seemingly drawn to it.

After observing the carvings, and the sight of the cross on Golgotha’s hill through the rock, I woke up. I was not at all sure what it meant, but had a nagging feeling it meant something important. I got up and went to church, pushing the dream to the back of my mind.

When I got to church, sermon was on this text:

2 Corinthians 4:6-12  

6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  

8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;    

9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—  

10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  

11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  

12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

Pastor Ryan’s sermon on the text made me think again about the dream, and prompted me to look into the symbols in my dream a little deeper.   This is what I found, based on several sources, including Biblical interpretations.

Cross: (significant because it was brightly reflecting the light) signifies suffering, martyrdom, death, and/or sacrifice

Valley: (significant, as it was large, deep, and the backdrop for the site of the dream. The bear overlooked the valley.) Analogous to issues of death and dying. This death may be symbolic as in an end to something in your life. Alternatively, the dream represents life’s struggles and hardships before you can achieve some spiritual enlightenment or epiphany.  Biblically, battles are always fought in the valley. The resurrection of the dried bones (symbolic of God’s renewal of the nation of Israel) by Ezekiel was performed in a valley. There’s a lot to say in the Bible about valleys.. to much to put here. The most well known Biblical reference to a valley is Psalm 23:4 “Yeah though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death…”

Mountain: (signifcant as the tomb was elevated, carved into the side of a mountain, almost at the top.) Mountains denote a higher realm of consciousness, knowledge, and spiritual truth. Bibilically, mountains, when on resting on top of them, are a symbol of rest at the end of an arduous journey. Also seen as a place of significant events, especially with regard to the Divine interaction with God.  EX: Moses on Sinai, Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah

East: (significant as that is the direction the cross was erected from the site of the tomb.. to the east) Biblically, the temple faced east. It was a prophetic indication of the return of the Messiah. “Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the Glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and the sound of His coming was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His Glory.” (Ezekiel 43:1-3 RSV) (East is also seen in native american traditions as the beginning of the life cycle. The period of awakening and beginning the journey. A time of newness, birth, hope and promise.)

Skull: (significant as it was carved in the rock, AND carved next to the crack in the rock that allowed a view of the cross) Symbolizes danger, evil or death. Celtic culture viewed the head or skull to be the seat of power. Some texts point to the skull as the house of the soul. Archeological findings show us the Celts tossed skulls into sacred wells as offerings. Then, if skulls symbolize the seat of the soul and power, hurling them into the dark depths of sacred well water indicates an intent to cleanse the soul or offer divine clarity and renewal for the soul.

Bear: (Significant because it was carved into the rock, and because in order to see the cross, you had to strain to look over the bear head) Symbolizes independence, the cycle of life, death and renewal, and resurrection. You are undergoing a period of introspection and thinking. Native Americans respected the bear (especially the grizzly) as the keeper of the spirit during the “water time” of life – later adult hood.

North: (significant because that was the direction the bear faced) North symbolizes that you are making progress and moving forward in life. North is also seen traditionally as the final phase in life. The “wintertime” of the life cycle. The portion of the life cycle when age and wisdom is attained.  This is the time of life when we are generally most spiritual, preparing for the “winter” of our death, and the change from physical to spiritual plane of existence.

South: (significant because it was the direction that the skull was facing) Indicates life, expectations, and questions. Alternatively, the dream may symbolize love, passion and warmth. Or the dream may be a metaphor that a plan has “gone south” or gone awry. Traditionally associated with the “prime” of life. The portion of the life cycle where one is not still a child, but has not yet attained the wisdom and patience of older years. Generally associated with the strongest, and most passionate and fertile time of life.

West: (significant in it’s the direction the tomb faced, also the direction from which the sunlight that illuminated the cross came) Represents fulfillment, opportunities, and growth. Alternatively, west symbolizes old age or an ending of something. Native americans traditionally associated “west” with middle age-later life. A time for attainment of wisdom and acknowledgement of responsibility and inevitability of death.  It’s a time of settling in to prepare for the journey to the end of life on earth.

Incidentally, I did a search on the valleys listed in the Bible. I searched for photos of the valleys to see what each looked like, as this dream seemed very much like a real place… the valley very closely resembles the terrain in the valley of Achor. This is the valley that they took Achon and his family into (Book of Joshua) and stoned them to death for violating God’s orders not to touch anything in Jericho. (Achon took a coat and some money.) Achor was from then on called the “Valley of Chastening.”  The valley was also similar in some aspects to the Valley of Jezreel, aka Megiddo, which is believed to be the valley in which the battle of Armegeddon will unfold.

 

Valley of Achor

 

Megiddo Pass/Valley of Jezreel

This dream has left me contemplative and perplexed.  But, I feel there is more to the message, and that whatever the final message is to be, it will be significant.

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