A black panther came to me in my dream a few nights ago. It was the most frightening dream I’ve had in a long time, and so real that I woke up with my heart pounding.
It went like this. I was at with a group of people I knew in a hotel room, where we were all staying. One of the people had a black panther as a pet. I was very nervous about having this cat in the room with us and voiced my concern about it being dangerous. I seemed to be ignored and was told in some off-handed remark about the cat being safe as long as it was fed.
We all left the room, and later I found myself coming back to the room alone. It was dark. I opened the door and stepped inside. I heard a growl. It sent chills down my spine and the next thing I knew the panther was on my back with its teeth and claws attached to my neck. I was doomed and knew it. I looked down and saw a little dog whom I thought might cause a distraction so I could escape, but knew it was hopeless. I woke up before I experienced my death.
I tried to go back into the dream and rearrange the story. I pictured my friends coming back in. I pictured the dog trying to help me. No matter how I tried to put the dream back together, it ended up the same way. The panther would destroy me and everyone else.
When I started to put the pieces of the dream together in meditation, I realized that the panther stood for deep fears that I was not totally facing. The idea of keeping those fears fed like keeping the panther fed was giving me the false illusion of being safe. We cannot keep our fears abate without them eventually catching up with us. If we keep thinking about our fears and doing nothing about them, we will eventually experience them. As the sayings go, what we focus on grows and what we resist persists.
We have to face our fears and walk through them as our True Selves. Our fears are illusions of parts of ourselves that we have not fully embraced and released. They show up as people and experiences in our lives as we continue to feed them.
What are my fears? Do I have the courage to face them and know that I am greater than any fear because of who and what I am? Do I know I already have everything within me to walk through any challenge?
In my meditation, I reconstructed the dream of the black panther. As he pounced on my back, I reached back and pulled him down with all my strength. We faced each other looking deeply into each others’ eyes. All fears dropped away. There was calmness and peace. The panther licked my face gently.
So, what I know is that when we face our fears they lose their power. They dissipate into the nothingness from which they came and we are free to move through life in a greater more powerful way. I believe there is a panther in each of us just waiting to be transformed into our good, to live freely.
Oh, there is one more thing. In my meditation, after the panther licked my face we ran through an open field together. I invite us all to embrace our fears and know that we have all the courage necessary to turn them into our greatest power. As we dance with our fears, they become partners in our spiritual evolution.
Love and Aloha,
Rev. Rita Andriello-Feren, Spiritual Director CSL Kaua`i, Spiritual Coach