The story of the potential lion being loose in Essex over this August Bank Holiday weekend really got my imagination fired and sent frissons of excitement throughout my mind. Stories of Big Cat sightings such as these always have that effect on me and I can trace it back to my childhood and to some of my dreams.
Since I can remember there have always been two white concrete lions outside my parents’ house. They were given to them by my grandfather, Arthur, on my mother’s side, a man who I sadly cannot remember as he died when I was 4. The lions had red tongues and green gems for eyes. My dad put those in. They were always gleaming persil white and I had pictures taken of me beside them, on them etc.
They are still there, sitting like sentinels on point duty outside the front of the house but sadly, now they are dirty as Dad will not spruce them up because someone removed one of them once and put in the playing field accross the road. They are extremely heavy so they must have used rollers.
There was also a fabric toy lion that my mother used to keep on the back of the sofa and a strange thing that I have just remembered. She used to have these figures of lions and a tiger that she put on the fridge and she insisted that they were facing the back door. She said that animal figures should face the door as they guard and protect the entrance. So lions sure figured in my childhood psyche as we had figures of them at the front and back of the property. All of this was excellent fodder for my developing imagination and fantasy world.
I watched “Daktari” and was fascinated of course by Clarence the cross eyed lion and loved Aslan in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”. On one very memorable occasion we were invited for a private viewing at a zoo to see Simba, a real lion. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to meet a real lion. I remember him standing up in a huge cage on his hind legs and us walking past him, so close that we could smell him. He was towering above me and I remember being amazed that he was so tall on his hind legs. Dad has since told me that he didn’t expect such a close encounter as we had to creep past on a narrow pathway right past his cage and were told to keep very quiet. I still have a picture of Simba.
I recall going to a zoo on another occasion and standing opposite a tiger and deliberately initiating eye contact with it. The tiger walked slowly up and down and I kept pace with it, our eyes locked. It was quite an intense experience. These two visits were in my childhood whne I was taken along. I have since thought about things for myself and now firmly believe that these wonderful animals should not be caged but should live in their natural habitat.
In one of my big cat themed dreams, I was in bed and a male lion was standing in the doorway. At the onset of the dream the doorway was too narrow for the lion to pass through but in dreamland things can shift and I could see that the door frame was getting wider and I was clutching at my sheets in horror as the lion started to walk through. I threw a Twix bar to it hoping to give it something to do and to satisfy its hunger. The strategy worked as the lion laid down and started to unwrap the chocolate. Clearly this was about the security of doorways again. But why a Twix? I do know that the language that dreams use are often in the form of play on words. The unconscious likes using puns or words of similar sound and with a little lateral and flip out of the box thinking, it is possible to crack the code. Perhaps the door was betwixt me and the lion or it was a hint that my mind was playing twix on me (nowadays I would probably have given it a Lion Bar .. )
In another dream I was in my kitchen of a flat which I lived in and a tiger was standing on its hind legs concentrating intently on adjusting some pins on a net curtain. I felt that this tiger was female and was identified with my mother. The thing I recall is that I was trying not to move or breathe loudly or to transmit any vibrations of fear so that it wouldn’t notice me. I was so close to it that I could see all of its muscles rippling and hear its heartbeat and smell its what I can only describe as feral catlike odour.
Well, the setting was the kitchen and the window so it obviously linked to those figures on my mother’s fridge during my childhood. Pinning up net curtains? I know that they are also a security barrier to the outside world so that people cannot see in.
There was one dream where a male lion was loose in Oxford Street and Group 4 Security were trying to track it down. I used to work near Oxford Street and Group 4 used to collect money from us. I used to call Oxford Street and its environs” my hunting ground” and Group 4 were about protection and security so I suppose that the theme fits there.
The most memorable dream I had was that I was in the midst of a group of lions who were tearing apart and eating a fresh kill. I could smell the breath of the lions and the smell of the blood and intestines of the meal. I suddenly felt disgust and nauseated at being a part of this feast and then I looked down at myself and saw a tan body and paws. I realised that as I was a lion and counselled myself that my behaviour was natural so I just tucked in and participated in the meal.
It was years later that I found a book called “The Goddess Sekhmet “by Robert Masters. I thumbed through it and felt an instant sense of deep connection and bought it and studied it. I often go to the British Museum to see her. It’s nice to have somewhere where I know that I can visit one of my Big Cat Goddess favourites. I will write about things Sekhmet and related matters another time.