This was a new house, I realized, and it was nestled inside a fence. Inside the fence, outside the house, there were five animals—sheep, maybe? Goats? Whatever those hazy creatures were, the grass was just fine for food, thank you.
When I came out of the house, they surrounded me, jostling, gentle and happy to be there.
And then the cow came, jumping in, I think, where the wooden fence, in front of the house, was lower. What a beautiful animal it was; sleek and black and healthy and HUGE. I was nervous, at first, but it didn’t seem hostile or dangerous.
It didn’t want to be petted or fussed over, either.
But, unlike the other animals in that paddock-y yard, the cow needed more than grass. It would jump outside the fence and snort, and it would not come back in until I brought it food from inside the house. It liked, I think, homemade bread and jam.
And then another person arrived, a nice, opaque woman whom I didn’t trust. She had a basket; she may have been selling eggs. She was long-haired and lean-faced, a weathered kind of person, and she had that kind of frozen serene aura that makes me want to shatter it, to shout and scratch and dance around. A woman of the earth, she was, and she offered to take that black cow back to her farm, where it would be fed and brushed and treated very, very well.
I looked at that sleek and hungry, gleaming black creature and something shifted inside me.
“No,” I said to the opaque woman. “I’m going to keep this cow. I need this cow at home.”
“Well,” she said, and her face scrunched disapprovingly. “Well. Then you’d better learn how to feed it.”
Often I wake up and my dreams will linger in shreds and snippets, but that black cow was very, very vivid. What does it mean, I wondered, to dream about a cow?
I remembered the story of Joseph the dreamer in the Old Testament…Joseph, who’d been thrown into jail, and there, had a dream of seven sleek and beautiful cows. Then seven lean and mangy cows appeared, and those ugly creatures devoured the healthy ones.
Joseph knew what his dream meant—seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of famine…those seven lean years would eat up all that had been gained.
He shared his dream with the overseer, and his dreams bought his freedom and granted him prestige.
So, hmmm. Could my one black cow signify a year of plenty?
Ages ago, someone gave me a dreamer’s dictionary, which was, I thought, a very cool thing. But it sat on my shelf for years, truly; once in a while, I’d pick it up and look up some dream image, and I’d share what it said with someone—Mark, or a friend,–and we’d laugh at the crazy randomness of all that.
And then for some reason, at some point, I decided to start a dream journal; I must have thought there were hidden nudgings I needed to address. I kept a notebook by my bed and scrawled down the dreams first thing on waking, and later in the day, I’d pick out images and look them up.
At first it was just fun: oh, I’m dreaming of dogs, and dogs symbolize friendship and protection. That’s nice, I’d think. But a day later, I’d have a vivid dream about something completely unrelated, and I’d look that up, and the book would relate that image, too, to friendship.
Patterns emerged; it was fascinating. What do you know about THAT? I would think. Friendship is clearly on my mind. Or, my dreams are telling me I’m feeling anxious. And I would think about the why behind those patterns.
And then, for some reason—marriage? Motherhood? The need for that deep-sucking kind of sleep that precludes dream remembrance?—I stopped writing down my dreams.
In some move or other, the dreamer’s dictionary got left behind.
So I look up ‘dreaming about black cows’ on line, and behold, there are millions of hits. Cows are, as Joseph could have told us, ancient dream symbols. Auntyflo.com says that “…the cow itself is a powerful animal and symbolic of nurturing and of a new life.”
Dreaming of a cow, she tells me, entwines with abundance, and grace, and protection of the soul. Dreaming of a cow talks of caring and of nurture.
I like that, so I dig further, and Aunty Flo tells me that a black cow in a dream tells us of hidden thoughts and talks to the dreamer of connectedness with others. A black cow, she says, hints at possible transformation. “There is also,” says Aunty Flo, “a focus on being mature when you don’t have to be.”
Hmmm, I think. Permission to be indulgent? That doesn’t sound so bad.
I rove over to dreamlandia.com to see if there’s more on the black cow of my dreams, and I learn this:
The black cow represents “…a deep unconscious desire to progress in life.” Often, Dreamlandia says, the cow appears in our dreams to deliver an important message.
I don’t like what it tells me about feeding the cow, though: this, says the source, suggests the dreamer will have to face people who envy her—that there will be damaging gossip that could cause conflict.
I can’t think of reasons for envy or fodder that might fuel gossip. But still. That’s a little chilly.
Dreamlandia also tells me that a dreaming of a healthy, well-fed cow is a harbinger of ‘functional changes,’ of an opportunity to alter the way things are. Be careful, warns the site, not to miss your chance…
Huh, I think, and I am darned glad I didn’t let the opaque lady take my cow from me.
That night, I head to bed early and slip soundly into deep sleep, but the morning leaves me with no memory of dreams. But I take the notebook out of my nightstand anyway, and make sure there’s a working pen.
What the heck, I think. I might as well start writing down my dreams again. Because, while of course, I don’t believe in all that hocus-pocus stuff—of course I don’t—if that black cow’s got a message for me—if there’s a transformational moment tipping toward me,—well then. I sure don’t want to miss it.
And maybe, in my dreams, I’ll learn how to feed the cow.