The denizens of my dream universe are many. Consistently, most are representations of people and entities I’ve actually been exposed to in waking life; however, there are some recurring entities that I have no first-hand experience of.
In nightmares, that strangeness and unfamiliarity adds to the distress and terror. It’s difficult for my dream self to rationalize a “thing” away if I can’t draw upon experience, and so seemingly mundane and harmless things can seem dangerous and evil because there is that unknown. These next two recurring nightmare entities fall into that category. I’ve never actually had bad experiences with them in waking life, unlike the Black Dog, but they are a consistent source of fear in the dream universe.
I can’t recall just how long I’ve been having dreams about bears, but I know that they never intersected with the Black Dog. The dog was long gone by the time the bears made their appearance. It was definitely before the movie The Edge, because I recall feeling uncomfortable with the film for it’s similarity with nightmares.
As I child, I had a Davy Crockett toy box that depicted a bear defending its cubs that good ole Davy Crockett was about to kill with a knife. On the top of the toy box, he’s shooting a Native American with a rifle. ‘Murica. I could always see the bear from my bed, but as I said, I didn’t have this dream until I was older. Just an interesting parallel.
As I will detail in a post to come, there are many recurring locations in my dream universe. The detail of them is so consistent that I can almost construct a map of all the places and how they fit together.
The dream version of Colorado is not so far away. The mountains in that dream space are either wooded and rolling, or snowy and craggy with lots of cliffs. It seems that I’m always skiing in the snowy/craggy bits, and always with a large group of people. Inevitably, I either tumble down into the wooded area, or successfully ski down. Without fail, there are always bears.
The nightmare sequence usually begins with the realization that I’m in bear territory. There’s no actual cue for this—I just know. Knowing triggers a bear in the distance, or perhaps an ursine bellow echoing through the trees. I think bears, therefore bears. I’ve only seen bears in zoos and in documentaries, but the bears in my dreams are always large brown bears, never black.
It doesn’t always become a chase. Sometimes I can dodge the bears and remain safe. More than once I’ve jumped off a cliff into water to avoid them. The bears in my dreams don’t swim. On occasion I can avoid the bears and get back to a safe area and continue a nice dream, but often the bears kill the dream, either when they catch me, or some exterior stimulus pulls me from the dream.
The most intense bear nightmare I ever had began in the usual fashion. I was high in the mountains, in the snowy bits, and skied down into the trees. I immediately spotted five to six bears roaming through the trees. I was able to avoid them for a while, but more and more kept appearing. Eventually they saw me, and a chase ensued through the trees. When I need to, I can actually run in dreams, and this was one of those dreams. I was able to stay ahead of them for quite some time, and eventually came to a chain-link fenced-in area that protected a cabin. There was barbed wire along the top of the fence, but I found an open gate that I was able to lock behind me. I escaped into the cabin, which was full of bunks with flimsy mattresses.
Peering out one of the windows, I could see the dozen or so bears trundling down the mountainside through the trees until they reached the fence, but they were unable to get past it. Thinking I was safe, I relaxed. And that is when I heard a bellowing roar unlike any I had heard before.
If you’ve seen Annihilation, you have an idea of what I saw next. I had this dream well before that movie was even conceived, so you can imagine my discomfort when I saw the film.
A zombie bear, three times the size of the other bears with decaying flesh hanging off its bones, came crashing through the trees and barreled through the fence. When it hit the cabin, it destroyed an entire wall, and kept coming. It knew I was there.
Ineffectively, I grabbed a mattress and pulled it over me. The bear tore the mattress away, and bit down on my head. I could feel it’s teeth scraping across my skull like a fork across a plate. And then I woke up.
In my last post, I detailed a dream that water moccasins appeared in. Most of my snake dreams occur in either water, or high grass.
The earliest snake dream I can remember came to me when I was between eight and ten years old. I was at my friend’s house down the street from the house that I grew up in. The dream version of his house was very accurate to waking life. For whatever reason, I was playing in the bushes in front of the house when I noticed a snake, its body intertwined within the branches of one of the bushes.
It always begins with just one, but there is never just one.
I then noticed the bushes were full of snakes. Scrambling out of that hell, I found my way to the driveway, which was also littered with snakes. Looking to the grass, it was all just moving snakes. There were snakes everywhere.
They rarely ever bite me, and when they do it’s not like I am poisoned in the dream. It’s just discomfort, and sometimes only annoyance. They qualify as a nightmare denizen because they induce that feeling of panic.
When I dream of swimming in water, the water is almost always full of snakes. I can always feel them touching my legs and torso as I desperately try to swim away from them. There are a couple of recurring locations in my dreams that I always recognize as being snakey. Once is a literal swamp that I always end up falling into from a plank walkway, and the other is a lake that I usually am just happily swimming in, forgetting it has snakes. Always when I realize the snakes are there, I tell myself, “You knew! How did you forget?”