Recurring Superman Nightmare

The first time it occurred, I woke up screaming in mortal fear!



by Roger A. “Pete” Peterson

The secrets of the universe are hidden in the details of our experience. – Pete

In my first year of Catholic school, the nun teaching Catechism read Genesis to the class, the story of God creating the world in seven days. On the sixth day, he created Adam and Eve, the first humans to inhabit the earth. The moral of the story is, if you disobey God, you have committed a mortal sin and are basically evil.

According to the story, Adam and Eve ate an apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil against God’s express wish. Therefore, we were told, all men are evil, tainted by the original sin of Adam and Eve, mother and father to us all. My Recurring Superman Nightmare symbolizes my personal struggle with the Catholic church to regain control over myself , to rediscover my own power and basic goodness.

I call this my Superman Nightmare because it was, until I faced up to the fear it represented.

It started when I was eleven years old. The first time it occurred, I woke up screaming in mortal fear! I continued to have this same dream, periodically, well into my forties. It was always the same. It’s getting dark, and even though I’m Superman, I can’t fly because of a thick rope (2-3 inches in diameter) tied around my waist. Like some mythical silver cord attaching a soul to its body, it allows me some movement but keeps me from flying. I know it’s attached to something at the other end but in the heat of the moment, I don’t feel free to investigate.

I feel the weight of the rope as I run out of the park, across the city street, and start climbing up the side a tall office building. Right behind me, a huge man, like Frankenstein’s monster is chasing me. He has many thick, ugly scars on his body, as though he’s been roughly cobbled together from the body parts of many different people. About a third of the way up the building, I feel him right behind me and turn my head to take a look. He’s in the process of reaching up to grab my ankle. In utter panic, I wake up to avoid getting caught.

This frightening experience not only happened once, it happened again and again and the outcome was always the same. I would wake up in mortal fear at the last second to avoid getting caught.

In my mid-forties, after many years of frustration and disappointment in life, I decided I’d had enough with this dream. The next time it occurred and Frankenstein reached up to grab my ankle, I was going to be ready for him. I wasn’t going to run any more. When the dream happened again, instead reacting in fear, I reacted with anger and determination. I turned around and beat the crap out of him until he fell off the building and hit the ground with a dull thud. With my victory over fear, new strength and resolve surged through my body and I was able to fly again. Rope and all, I flew out from the building to see a large crowd gathered at the edge of the park and in the street below.

One particular group of people caught my attention. They stood in a circle, around a tall man standing on a grassy knoll just inside the park. He was wearing a stylish gray Fedora hat and dark gray business suit. Around his shoulders he wore an elegant black velvet cape with one flap turned back to reveal bright red inside. Both of his hands were resting on the gold handle of a shiny black cane as he looked up at me wearing a wry smile on his face. The white collar around his neck told me he was a priest. Uneasily, the crowd looked back and forth from him to me to see what would happen next.

The priest reminded me of the actor, Christopher Plummer. Quietly looking up at me, he slowly reached up with his right hand and touched the brim of his hat with the first two fingers of his right hand, clapped his heals together and abruptly turned and walked away. Was he admitting defeat, or applauding the fact I  eluded his trap. Watching him as he walked away, I knew he was responsible for giving “Frankenstein” the order for pursuing and capturing me. Why, was it his job, as a priest, to harness my energy, tame it so to speak, so the leaders of society could force me into a state of mindless servitude? What about the people in the crowd, were they hoping to see me fall from the building in defeat like them, or were they hoping to see me escape the clutches of those who would control me as a sign of hope for themselves? The expressions on their faces revealed little of what they were thinking.

As I slowly drifted through the air above the crowd, my eyes followed the rope around my waist to see where it went. Slowly, it dawned on me that the rope symbolized my attached to the earth and represented my commitment to live an earthly life. Now that I knew that, I could live with it. 

Many questions about this experience still remained, so I asked my Inner Self, through Lefty, what it all meant on June 6, 1993. (“Lefty” is my left hand, which accesses information through the creative (right) side of my brain. I write questions with my right hand and answer them with my left, something I learned to do after I broke my right arm in a motorcycle accident in 1968. It’s a form of automatic writing, which helps me get answers from outside the box of my usual thinking.)


My dear son, (I don’t know why my Inner Self referred to me this way, unless in some psychological or spiritual way I’m its offspring as well as the offspring of my biological parents.)

Your Super Man dream serves as a metaphor for your (ambivalent) feelings about life – its physical expression. Frankenstein symbolizes your perception of physical reality – a mishmash of various and questionable source components (belief systems) forced together and trying to act as one. The result, of course, is a mostly angry, vengeful entity trying to find a victim, who, in this case, is you!

There are two “unseen” forces holding each end of the rope. One, is the earth and your commitment to live an earthly life. The other is you/me. We’re holding the rope* by letting it remain tied around our waist, not realizing we can untie it. This “hampered” Super Man represents your ambivalent feelings concerning your commitment to be in your current reality with its particular array of values, and the magnitude of the challenge you chose for yourself (changing the world for the better).

At the end of each Super Man/Frankenstein dream you would turn around, see the monster and awake from the dream in terror. This dream portrayed you as a Super Man with limits, but a superman, nonetheless. Repeated many times, it served to wake you up to your power. It also provided you with the willingness to endure the more difficult learning times of your life. Now you know who I am, who you are, and that we work together. You also learned that Frankenstein isn’t such a bad character after all. He’s simply a device to help you learn. By waking up and using your inner resources you have become the Super Man you sensed you were all along.

“Super” man or “Super” woman are useful perspectives to have because each symbolizes one who is using “inner” as well as outer resources and abilities to actualize his or her reality or experience. When you use your intuitive abilities as well as your intellectual ones to perceive the larger reality, you enrich the quality of your life and empower, not only yourself, but those around you.

– Lefty

Lefty’s reference to “you/me holding the rope” confused me at first because the focus of my concern was always on the end of the rope farthest away from me. In the final dream when I saw it was attached to the earth like an umbilical cord, I still didn’t think about the end of the rope tied around my waist and what it might mean. Even when I typed Lefty’s statement into the computer I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t until I was taking a shower later in the day that the realization struck me. Until then I had completely overlooked the fact that one end of the rope was tied to me. In effect, I was holding the rope by letting it remain tied around my waist! Why didn’t I think to untie it? I could have untied it and let it go at any time during this series of experiences. Was I given a hypnotic suggestion to ignore it? Did I suspect it was my connection to this recurring dream and, possibly, my earthly experience as well? Did I think that untying the rope would end the dream and, perhaps, my life on earth too?

I’ll never know because I didn’t untie the rope and the dream hasn’t occurred since. According to Lefty, the dream was meant to toughen me up so I could perform what I came here to do: share my Inner experiences with others to help us expand our concept of who we are and what reality is so we can evolve beyond our current level of consciousness.

This brings up the role of the other players in this drama. If Lefty is right and the purpose of this dream was to help me develop character and strength in ways that would help me fulfill my purpose in life, is it possible that the other players in this dream are friends or angels in disguise? They certainly demonstrated infinite patience and infinite love by reliving this drama over and over again with me, until I learned my lesson. As each of us creates our own version of the universe in physical terms, is everyone who participates in it with us a teacher or angel in disguise? If so, it lends new meaning and importance to the relationships that exist between us.

Another important element of Lefty’s response is the way he refers to “you/me” as if we are both one and separate. The dream reflects this as well. In the dream it’s as if my Inner Self and I are both one and the same. However, when I “wake up,” we separate. I become the outer “me” (outer ego self) with my own individuality and experience, while my Inner Self continues on as my “Inner Self” with its own unique identity and experience. How amazing! We seem to be able to switch between our Inner and Outer Senses, our Inner and Outer Selves as easily and naturally as we breathe yet we take such little notice of these processes and abilities. Why? Do we see no value in doing so or does survival in waking reality blind us to the nature of our Inner Self and reality? This dream raises many important questions.

Finally, what do “Superman” and “Superwoman” of comic book, television, and movie fame represent? Compared to mere humans, they have superior strength of body and mind. In my dream, when I was both my Inner and Outer Self combined, I also had superior strength of body and mind. Is it possible that the comic book creation of Superman and Superwoman is a message to ourselves that if we discover and develop the connection between our Inner Selves and Outer Selves, we too will become Super Men and Super Women? I think so! What do you think?

© Copyright 2007, Roger A. “Pete” Peterson

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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