When Dreams Grow Old
Summer is a charged time for me. It feels like the air is crackling with desire and potential. Maybe it’s because we planted our hopes in the spring and the time for manifestation has come. Or because the moon has moved into Cancer and my watery spirit cries out in recognition. Old dreams spark to life, and I begin to think about making new ones. We’ve all had dreams since we were little kids. They evolved as we grew older, until we were finally old enough for the people in our lives to take them seriously. Dreams are a big deal in our culture, especially pop culture. We’re encouraged to follow them, to never give up on them. In fact, we get the message that giving up on dreams is giving up on ourselves and that abandoned dreams are a sign we’re living a life that’s less than the one we should be living.
Somewhere along the way, we decided that dreams are static things, forgetting about the fluidity of those from our childhoods. We’ve forgotten that the changes we observe in the world around us through each turn of the Wheel of the Year are infused into everything, not just the changing leaves and temperatures. Why would our dreams not grow and change as we do? Eventually, as we come to new places in our lives, the ground becomes fertile for new passions and, suddenly, new dreams begin to sprout from the ground. These times are ripe for growth and change, but if we’re stuck on the idea that it’s wrong to let go of the old, withered dreams, we won’t have the time or energy to pursue the new, vibrant ones.
In my life, I’ve had many dreams, some of which I was very attached to. But at times I’ve left them behind, even when it hurt. When I chose to marry my husband, I gave up my dream of becoming a missionary teaching orphans in Africa. Some would have called it a tragedy, saying I’d sacrificed my life purpose. Did I let my true, highest Self down because giving up that dream hurt? You could say “You’re a pagan now, so of course that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.” But I still could have spent my life as a humanitarian aid worker, helping African children, with or without the message of Christ. But I would say no. First, I’d made that decision in an instant, and held onto it for years. So while the image had accumulated energy that I’d fed into it every time I imagined it, becoming a powerful force to be reckoned with in my own mind, that didn’t mean that if I didn’t do it, I’d thrown my life away. When I was faced with making a choice, I had to give something up, no matter my decision. While I did lose something, I also gained an amazing relationship with my husband that I wouldn’t have today if I’d chosen differently. I’m at peace with this decision and the new dreams it has brought me.
Sometimes, giving up on old dreams is okay, even good. It’s a little far-fetched from some of our old perspectives, but just think about it, explore it. You might find that it has the potential to be one of the most incredibly freeing ideas you’ve ever considered. Perhaps you’re hanging onto an old dream, but it no longer fits you or your life. Or perhaps you have new dreams you’d like to pursue and the old ones are taking up needed space. Maybe you’ll choose to give up dreams because you’ve invested energy into so many grand ideas that you could never achieve them all in one lifetime. Whatever your reasons might be, letting go of old dreams is never easy. I think one of the reasons they’re so hard to let go of is because of the way they often take on a sort of hazy, glowing quality, showing how amazing such a life, such a dream, will be. They show the glory of show business, the pride of graduating with a degree, the glamour of achieving a role of wisdom. But dreams don’t show the actress who loves acting but is sick and tired of traveling from place to place. They don’t show the engineer who gets bored and frustrated with his job at times. They don’t show the Wiccan High Priestess who is on her last straw with her coven mates. They’re bigger than life, not showing real, everyday life at all. But the very best dreams are grounded in the real world and work perfectly with our everyday existence.
I can’t say there’s nothing I’d like to do before I die, and that’s a good thing! Desire, hope, that is what keeps us moving forward. But is life about chasing down one dream, from beginning to end? While it may work out that way for some, it’s not a necessary part a good life, or even a great life. Perhaps it’s okay to let go of that dream that just isn’t serving you anymore. Perhaps life is about living well, no matter what you’re doing. Finding passion and purpose and joy on your path, right now, and making new dreams as you go.
Dream Release Ritual
Dreams collect energy over time, and when it comes time to release them, even if it’s because we want to, it can be hard. This ritual will help you to release any dreams that no longer fit your path. Though you may agree that it is okay to let go, your emotional self doesn’t understand the severing of the attachment you’ve made. This ritual allows you to mourn the loss of the dream, expressing any feelings of guilt, regret, or grief that the idea of releasing it brings up.
What you need:
2 candles, one to represent the past and one to represent the future
Cauldron or fire-proof dish
Slip of paper
Begin the ritual in the way you normally do (i.e. call the elements, cast a circle, etc.).
Light the first candle, which represents the past. Write out the dream you wish to release on the slip of paper. Holding the paper in your hands, think about what it meant to you. Think about why you are choosing to let it go.
When you are ready, place the paper in the dish or cauldron and light it. Watch as it burns down.
Once it is burnt to ashes, blow out the candle. Any emotions you experience throughout this ritual are okay. Crying is okay.
When you are ready, light the second candle, which represents the future. Think about where you are now, and what you are moving into. Pray to your deities about your hopes for the future and what you are making way for.
When you are ready, finish the ritual. If possible, take the ashes outside and release them into the earth. The old will be made new, as your old dreams give way to new ones.