Moving Beyond Depression Through Dreamwork: The Battle of Dumbledore and David Bowie


Within the dream, there was a movie called Taro that centered on a battle between Dumbledore and David Bowie. In it, Dumbledore plunges into the river after a bridge collapses and gigantically rises again from it and rescues people as he does. I am standing on the level part of the bridge and two school buses have been launched from the broken part of the bridge. They are flying through the air and I think I will be underneath one. I don’t move though; I just watch and they land away from me…. When they duel and come together, a giant supernova will be born.

Images of collapse, downfall and disaster in dreams often portray the first step of a new psychological beginning. In the phase of collapse, the person may feel depressed or lost for a time. But if there is an active learning process underway – symbolized by the flying school buses in the above dream – the depression can be seen as a healthy response to a temporary loss of direction. It is a natural part of personal growth.

In the above sequence from a client’s dream, the bridge is part of a road in a city. For the dreamer, it represents a well-worn mode of getting somewhere in life that has worked in the past but is now non-functional. Dumbledore represents a wise father/teacher. He dives into the wreckage to save what he can of the old order. But David Bowie, who represents the dreamer’s creative, rebellious side, rises up against Dumbledore. The conflict between these two forces depicts a huge inner clash within the dreamer, between adherence to what seems wise, and surges of wild creativity.

The dreamer is a songwriter, musician, performer, and newly trained classroom teacher. After her first two years as a teacher, she had learned to be more disciplined and to keep order in her classroom. She’d worked to develop caring relationships with students. But she struggled to keep her creative life alive, and this was difficult. By day, she instilled the values of responsibility and honest work in students. By night, she howled homespun lyrics and danced with abandon. In the dream, these dual lives come together in a conflict of wills when Dumbledore battles David Bowie. Instead of one killing the other, a supernova will be born.

The word nova means new. A supernova looks like a very bright new star. This bright light is actually produced by the explosion of a dying star. It is an apt symbol for an old worldview that is dying and a new one being born.

For this dreamer, the new approach is a combination of the best qualities of the two characters – Dumbledore and David Bowie. Instead of each of these having a separate time and space in her life, the two combine creating a potential greater than the two aspects apart from each other. The dream tells her that she should no longer live in two separate worlds but should foster a dynamic integration of creativity and wisdom/discipline both by day and by night.

The transformation process portrayed in the dream involves first disorientation and depression as an old worldview loses its effectiveness. The next phase involves growing awareness of the conflict between discipline/wisdom and creativity. Finally, a reorientation includes a renewal of zest for life, and a new capacity for passionate, daring creativity that is infused with wisdom.



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