Dream: The Old Turtles

Dream 20020601, 7:30 AM:

The Old Turtles

I am at a well, in the middle of a bunch of buildings. The well has a cap on it, and I take it off; I try to put it back on, but can’t seem to get it back on. I do something with a thing that looks like putting together a hose-end sprayer; it has something to do with trying to get the well back together.

Then, I’m watching the history of this place, before the buildings came to be. They seem to be like some sort of church compound. I’m seeing as if from above, as a man mows circles in a green grassy field; there is a voice narrating as I watch, telling how the first founder cleared the land, and cleared the circles around the Dragon’s Eye Well. He mows two concentric circles around a spot on the ground, and they look like concrete paths once he’s done with the mower. I recognize them as the paths around the well where I am standing. There seems to be the outline of a dragon laid out in the field, and he’s clearing parts of it. The well is at the Dragon’s Eye.

Somehow, my messing with the well has broken some sort of spell of protection, and creatures start coming up out of the well. One of them comes up ears-first, and the ears are pointed on top and split, and they unfold as he rises through the surface of the water; he’s multi-colored, and as he comes further up, I recognize that he’s a bear. He’s a Bar Bear. He rises to the surface and walks out of the well. Then, another one comes up – this is a woman dressed all in pink, something like a fairy costume – she says her name is Pink Stuff, and she has a bottle of bright pink liquid with a foam of bubbles on top, and she keeps offering people a drink of it. I am standing with several people around here, and we all quickly and surreptitiously make sure that our glasses are full, so that she won’t pour any in. I get the feeling that it would make me very drunk, and I’d be very sorry later on.

Different beasts and characters keep coming out of the well. They are some sort of Otherworld creatures, like a cross between Faerie and caricatured demons. I see on the ground nearby, a shovel suddenly appear blade-upward out of the ground, as if someone is digging up from underneath. I look in the hole, and I see Balm the turtle, but much larger – like the size of a person. He comes out, and I look further into the place where he was, and see that there are dozens of turtles in here, of all different kinds. Some are box turtles, some water turtles, some snapping turtles. They are packed in like sardines, and slowly start moving out through the hole. I help them get out. I realize that these are the Old Turtles; they are the spirits of the people who have lived and died in this place. Each one comes out singly, pausing at the entrance to the hole for just a moment as if to introduce himself. One of them looks like some sort of mask, not like a real turtle at all – and I hear a woman’s voice as she introduces herself. It looks like a mask made from a turtle’s shell, with leather on the inside, and a red ball where the head should be. When they have come out, they are like people, not like turtles – they look like they did in life. It seems very sad, yet reassuring, for the people who live and work here, because they are seeing people who died long ago, but they also know that they are there taking care of them.

The Old Turtles begin to fight the demons. They are inside and outside of the various buildings, and they finally fight the demons until all are gone. They disappear when they have been vanquished. They manage to get the well re-capped, so that no more can come out. Their work complete, the Old Turtles start to return. As each one re-enters the Otherworld, they sign their name to a piece of paper. Someone looks at me, and hands me the piece of paper – I realize that it means that I will be going to the Otherworld with them, that I can’t stay in the world of the living because of what I did at the Well. I am saddened, but also excited about the journey. I remember talking to several of the Old Turtles, asking them who they are, and when they died. “When did you die?” seems like a perfectly reasonable item of conversation, and is answered with a date and a brief story. I remember giving one of the Old Turtles some art supplies, so that he would be able to enjoy them in the Otherworld. The emotional sensation of this dream is intensely, sweetly melancholy.

CODA: When I lay back down after recording this dream, I had another little dream snippet.

I am looking at a rolling carousel with names and pictures. It starts out with all these swimsuit shots of men, and each one has a name beneath; I realize that these are the same Old Turtles. As the carousel rolls around, the pictures are all dressed, and then turn into little dressed dolls of the people. I am looking for my name to show up. Then, I’m on a bus, and talking to a young-looking woman. She’s one of the Old Turtles, and I’m talking with her about the Afterlife. I say, “Tell me what it’s like,” and she replies, “I can’t tell you. That’s part of it.” My face falls, and I feel like I’m going to start to cry, and I tell her, “Just don’t tell me that it sucks, because I’ve worked my whole life thinking that it would eventually be OK, and the after part would be better.” She smiles, a little sad but sweet, and says, “It doesn’t suck.” She seems to be consoling me, like it will be all right in the end.

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