The Shibboleth

Okay, I think I must have been in one of those what-cha-ma-call-ems: a fugue state, or something. But in my drafts folder I found this decidedly peculiar unfinished post, written a month or so ago, called “The Shibboleth.” This was the entire text:

  • A girl named Frank
  • Mom praying with her phone
  • Trying to find the way out, through an empty church at a recreational park, a different entrance, something about a Twelve Step meeting
  • Listening to the mockingbird talk


I have no idea what any of this means. Well, I understand the mockingbird bit—the mockers hereabouts sing lustily and long, and once in a while I fancy I can understand what they’re saying. But I don’t know what that has to do with the other things.

At any rate, I’m guessing it was a dream I’d just had, and I wanted to jot down some notes that would later jog my memory. They didn’t. So I’m left with a few rather surreal images (especially when taken together) with no clue as to their import.

I can’t figure out why I’d call the post “The Shibboleth,” either. A shibboleth is something that betrays one as an outsider. It can be a particular word or pronunciation that isn’t used by the majority, perhaps a phrase that is identified with a particular group or cause—even a mode of dress that is distinctive. It comes from a story in the book of Judges where the army of Gilead used the word “shibboleth,” which means a stream, as a password; the Ephraimites, who were fleeing from them, couldn’t pronounce the “sh” sound and said “sibbolet” instead, which neatly revealed their identity.

So, any clues about these images? If this was all you could recall of your dream, what would it mean to you?

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Categories: Dreams | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Shibboleth

  1. As I was reading before the jump, my first thought was that these were images and impressions jotted down of things you heard and saw while sitting in a park – no dream, just the connected/disconnected things that made an impression on you from all that was happening there. The shibboleth I’d automatically attach to the meeting because of the group aspect, but the girl with the very traditionally masculine name is a thought, too.

  2. A friend phoned me with an interpretation. She says the girl is the Spirit, the feminine voice of the universe, speaking frankly, as it were. Mom praying with her phone: we can only respond to God or Spirit on the same channel on which we hear it speak to us. The church in the recreational park: what started me on this journey was a realization that church had become a place where people congregated for recreation and socializing, not for real spiritual growth (it was “empty” for me), so I needed to find a different entrance — or exit. The Twelve Steps, if you remove the language about alcohol, are a pretty fair guidebook for the spiritual journey, particularly for shamanism. And listening to the mockingbird talk: it was one of the indicators that I had been called to study shamanism. It was, in fact, a shibboleth, marking me as an outsider.

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