A while back I posted a few ideas on archetypal images and animals. I mentioned the death of a close friend which precipitated my experiences. I’d like to share those events, as they were important in later connecting me with Jung’s studies on symbols. They show how archetypal ideas are expressed through personal circumstances.
My friend and I had traveled and worked together for years before he died in a car accident at twenty-six. He hit a telephone pole late one night while driving home alone.
For months before, I’d had such oppressive feelings of death, I interpreted them as portents of my own. That I was unable to make sense of them was a mystery afterward. I had two dreams in those months which attempted to clarify what was going on in both of us.
In the first dream, I was in a desolate country looking up at an old run-down house on a hill. I knew there was something foreboding in it, and I ran up the hill in a panic and through the front door. Lying on the floor was a dead man. Though I didn’t recognize him, I ran to his body and knelt over him with a sense of urgency. As I leaned over, he suddenly sprang up to my face, eyes wide open, leering: “April fool!” he shouted. I woke up with a start.
In the second dream, my friend and I were in an old van we’d traveled around in years before. He was driving as we passed over a bridge and lost control of the steering wheel. The van began to jerk erratically from side to side. I was hanging onto the open passenger door and jumped off. Again, I woke with a start.
In retrospect, some of what the dreams expressed was self-evident, though I was unable to relate them to his impending death. Instead, they found me somehow trying to prepare for my own, even up to the dream I had the night he died.
That night I dreamed I was sitting in a clearing in a forest. Dozens of small, furry animals approached from the surrounding trees, and suddenly they were upon me. Rabbits, squirrels, puppies, all licking me with excitement. I was so ecstatic, I was shaking and trembling, half trying to fend off their swarming affections. I cried out in my excitement, “God is coming!“
I went back to sleep, only to be awakened by a loud bang which seemed to come from the corner of the ceiling behind me — early in the morning. Well before dawn, I heard an urgent knock on the door, and the police informed me that my friend was dead. It was March 29, and he was buried on April 1, April fool’s day.
Later, I looked at the empty six-pack he’d brought over the afternoon before, when we’d watched a ball-game together. My eyes were drawn to the serial numbers on it. They were all elevens and thirteens. I thought about other numbers: phone numbers, addresses — all added up to thirteen. My friend was born on June 11, and I somehow associated thirteen with his death and eleven with his life. Some of the numbers had been in place as long as a year before.
My wife and I drove to his mother’s house in Virginia to be with his family for the funeral. We slept in his old room that night. Though I wasn’t religious, I was inexplicably consumed with the three days between the death of Christ and his resurrection. I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I thought of the dream I’d had about April fool’s.
I was convinced I needed to see my friend in the funeral home at ‘four’ in the morning, ‘exactly’ three days after he’d died; to be alone with him before the service. I called the funeral home. They were gracious enough to consent to it at that very inconvenient hour.
As my wife and I prepared for bed, I went to set my friend’s alarm clock to be at the funeral home at four. It was 10:30. The clock was one of those old ones with the numbers that flipped over on four separate cogs, before the modern digital ones. When I picked up the clock to set the alarm, the numbers suddenly flipped to 11:56. I saw the five and the six as eleven, though I didn’t know why, and it half appeared as 11:11. It flipped back to 10:31. I thought something was wrong with the clock.
I said to my wife: “Look at this…” and I picked up the clock without touching any controls. It suddenly flipped to 11:58, which I saw as 11:13, five and eight adding up to thirteen. It flipped back to 10:32 as I set it back down, and we both looked at it. Suddenly, the cogs (which kind of resemble eyes, for those of you who remember them) flipped to 12:01, tilted half-down. I saw thirteen as the “eyes” seemed to stare at the floor.
We both thought how curious it was as the clock flipped back to 10:33. We even watched it intently, but it seemed to be working again as it flipped the minutes. We went to sleep, and I had a dream:
It was dark and raining as I approached the railroad tracks near the funeral home in my friend’s small town. The arm came down, and the red light flashed — a train was coming. It flashed the number two (a symbol of opposition, division), and I felt panicky and woke up. I thought about the clock, and it suddenly dawned on me that my friend was telling me that he was here in his old room: the eyes of the clock at 12:01, staring down. He’d passed over the midnight hour. I called the funeral home and told them I wouldn’t be there.
The emotions I experienced that night needed no clarification. There was much more to the numbers than I’ve related. They appeared again at crucial times in my life long afterward. But, one experience my wife had later put them into perspective.
My friend’s name was Bill. My wife had a dream in which a voice said: “13/11 is Bill.” The next day, doodling on a piece of paper, she happened onto the configuration, “13- 1-11”. When you put the one and three together, they form a “B”.