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Dream of the Fate of the Earth

Dreamed l999/4/28, painted 2008, acrylic on canvas, 55 x 48.5", by Jenny Badger Sultan

I am in some kind of outdoor compound. I see some activity and go over and find that a very large sea mammal--long, grey--is being towed down a chute or an incline and is being taken away. It is some kind of whale--very long, but slender. Although it shows some sign of life, I think it is dying and perhaps being taken to be buried.

Painting by Jenny Badger Sultan, 'Dream of the Fate of the Earth'. Two women steady a huge spiral nautilus that looks ill. Inside it are all the creatures on Earth. Click to enlarge.

Then I am with two large women. I tell them of what I have seen. They tell me "It is a primeval animal--an ancient and rare survivor. It is not expected to die, but will be taken to a special preserve somewhere in the South Seas" (Papeete? unsure) "where it will regenerate a part of its body that has lost its vitality"--some kind of connective tissue. The creature is a mollusk, and the material between the turns of its spiral is the part that needs to regenerate.

Detail of a painting by Jenny Badger Sultan, 'Dream of the Fate of the Earth'. A huge spiral nautilus. Inside it are all the creatures and peoples of Earth.

These women are privy to some important secrets. This special preserve is connected to the survival of the earth--there are creatures there that are vital in this respect. I ask "Is it privately owned?" They say briefly "No." If not, then what kind of government?

But it is secret, they cannot easily tell me. We speak of the survival of the earth and its people, and of its possible destruction. These women are very much connected to both possibilities; they are close to the heart or the secret center of the fate of the earth.

Detail of a painting by Jenny Badger Sultan, 'Dream of the Fate of the Earth'. One of two women guarding the fate of the Earth. She's in a white robe, seen in profile, ancient Egyptian style.

I ask "But how do I fit in?" Because I sense that I am not just a bystander but am connected, through them, and have a special place historically that I did not know about before. They begin to explain it to me... having to do with some old family connections and legacies.

DREAM-PLAYS

Although I had this dream in 1999, and gradually took on more and more importance for me, I did not paint it until 2008.

I had been involved for several years in a group process called “Culture Dreaming” at the Dream Institute in Berkeley. For Earth Day, we enacted a series of dreams concerning the earth, including "The Fate of the Earth". Painting it was a way to feel the levels of meaning more fully.

I had just visited Egypt; the art I saw there influenced how I portrayed the women flanking the nautilus.

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