Dark Dreams

I don’t typically remember my dreams very well. Usually if I write it down within an hour of waking up I can get it all out and then I can remind myself of it later. However, I don’t generally have time to do that in the morning unless it were to occur on the weekend, so unless it seemed to have significance to me or was just exceptionally bizarre, I probably wouldn’t do it.

That said, last night I woke up several times following dreams that I found to be somewhat disturbing. To set the stage a little bit, a couple of weeks ago I had received some icons that I ordered. As not everyone reading this is going to be familiar with what that is (though I’m not going to share this one on Facebook), google “Orthodox icons” and you can get an idea. Essentially they are images that represent Christ, or saints, or specific events in church history. Within Orthodoxy, they are used to show veneration to those depicted. I had ordered 4 of them. What they are is of no particular consequence in regard to the dream, so, I won’t get into that here. What I suppose is relevant is that I don’t have a proper icon corner at this stage… for the moment the four icons are laying on an end table in my living room. I’m in a small apartment and so the difference between my living room and my “bedroom” is just some dividers that I put up.

I had the same basic dream with slight differences 3 different times, each time waking me up in the end. The first dream was significant in that it felt the most real. In the dream, I got out of bed and went out by where the end table with the icons is. Strangely, they had all fallen onto the floor. I was concerned and went to pick them up, and as I picked them up I found that they had been defaced – a strange oddity in this first dream was that it was as if the images had previously been mounted on and were removed, leaving just a solid color beneath, and then in the place of the image were placed words – I can remember an image in the first dream, just a silver background and the words “Fallen Angel” written on it. I could feel like I was being pressured to show veneration, and I refused, and, I think it was at that moment I started to suspect I was dreaming, because I remembered something my priest had told me in a catechism class, that when something appears to you in a dream you should cross yourself. It was a passing comment about something we were discussing so I can remember the full context, but in this case I crossed myself 3 times in the dream and verbally refused, saying that I serve Christ. I woke up at this point, and did the same in wakefulness before going back to sleep. As an aside, I had no sense of any presence while I was awake.

The second time was much the same. It felt real at first but I recognized it much more quickly as I remembered the previous dream. The icons were again on the floor, but this time it was more like they had been painted over. Instead of solid colors with text, there were images – Just like in the first dream, the only one I really got a good look at is the one that I picked up. I just remember it was a somewhat grotesque figure, a dark brown being the predominant color. I also remember that there was a name written on it, which I took to be the name of the demon that it represented. I actually actively tried to not remember the name. At the time it seemed like remembering the name would perhaps be detrimental in some way. All I remember about it is that it started with an “e”. This time I woke up as I began to cross myself in the dream, and again in wakefulness I crossed myself 3 times and refused again.

The third time I recognized it as a dream the moment I saw the icons on the floor. This was the most different because while I still felt that pressure in the dream to venerate I didn’t pick up any of the icons and so I don’t remember what they looked like this time. But as before, I awoke, crossed myself 3 times, and refused.

I did have another odd dream following this, but it wasn’t quite the same. It was pretty much about me going to church and finding myself arriving there improperly dressed and I had accidentally brought the wrong clothes with me. The three dreams that woke me up really struck me as being rather dark and disturbing – this last one seemed more like just a bizarre dream.

When I got out of bed this morning, I decided to try to google to see if I could find anything about someone else having a similar dream. While there’s plenty of things written about people who either have or believe they have had dreams with demonic influences in them, I didn’t see anything in regard to icons specifically. That said, it’s not like I did extensive research, I looked at a few different results that came up.

One of the things that I found was the idea of “hell icons”. According to the few things I’ve read about them, it sounds like it’s unlikely they ever actually existed, but the legend goes that these were icons where a beneath the image of Christ, or the Theotokos, or a saint, would be an image of Satan, or a demon. You can read about it here: https://russianicon.com/mystery-russian-icon-art-hell-icons/

I’m not sure if I think there was a true demonic presence in my dream or not. I’ve watched a couple movies recently that could have theoretically influence my subconscious in some way… but I don’t know where this idea of icons being altered into demonic icons could have come from if that were the case. I also earlier in the day yesterday had said to myself that I really needed to make a decision about what I was going to do in regard to a sin that I’ve struggled with for some time. That being because if I’m really going to join the Orthodox Church, and I do intend to, then I want it to be because I am serious about it, and about becoming like God.

Open to hearing any thoughts someone reading this might have.