I am with a woman (who, in my waking life, I do not recognize as anyone in particular). She is around my age - a friend or life-companion.
We go to a kind of zoo where we come across the most beautiful black panther in a cage. It is primitive, dark, ancient and utterly beautiful. Even in my dream, this panther evokes feelings akin to Rilke's poem 'The Panther':
('As he paces in crampt circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft stride
is like a ritual dance around a centre
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed')
I see that the panther has four young. And I realize that she must be freed from this closed environment and given a better home.
I manage to take two of her young in my arms and bring them out of the cage. I don't really know what better home I can offer, but I must do this.
As I approach the panther a second time, I can suddenly see that she feels her young are threatened. They cannot survive either in this or in whatever shelter I provide. And so, out of an ancient, heart-felt instinct, she seizes one of her two remaining kittens and begins to kill it, biting deeper and deeper into its neck.
I can understand why she is doing this, and yet, in the eyes of the young she is killing, I see a confused expression that rends my heart. Its eyes, so innocent and trusting, are looking to its mother for protection, and can't comprehend why this protection must take the form of being killed.
I turn away, overwhelmed by grief. I see the woman companion of mine standing before me, like an ancient Cretan or Minoan Goddess.
To express my pain, I kneel before her, and bring my outstretched arms together with their palms up. The moment my arms touch, I bend them up at the elbows, and then bend my hands out at the wrist, cupped and up-turned.
Through this ritualistic movement, my feelings of absolute pain and agony, of total empathy for the suffering of the young, are suddenly channelled and mysteriously expressed to the Goddess.