I Put A Spell on You: Melissa Daum Interprets Your Dreams

This space serves as a place of healing and wonder, redeeming the cast-out witches, queens and goddesses in you, the modern woman.

Dear Wondrous Advice Readers,
Thank you so much for your honest and insightful questions! I can’t wait to get to more of them. Check back every Monday to see if your submission has been selected.
And one reminder — when your submission is selected it will be posted along with my response. Please write only what you’re comfortable having made public, or note what you’d like taken out.  — Melissa

This month, NY-based “therapist for creatives” Melissa Daum, LMFT, sets up her couch for Free People. In her work, Melissa draws from ancient symbols, Greek mythology, fairy tales, and alchemy to shed light on modern-day conundrums. This realm of feminine magic and symbolism is easily overlooked, on a cultural level and in turn, within ourselves. In an effort to better identify and explain some of this magic, Melissa wants to field questions from YOU! Feel free to share with her your deepest secrets, strangest dreams, most absurd single behavior. This space serves as a place of healing and wonder, redeeming the cast-out witches, queens and goddesses in you, the modern woman.

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS/DREAMS/SECRETS to: cyotter@freepeople.com

We’ll be addressing YOUR thoughts for the next 2 weeks, so please don’t be shy!

Our second question comes from MB:

I was in a forest. There was a large, tall tree with its stump raised above the ground. I looked beneath the stump and saw a brown owl, looking at me. 

Later in the dream I was walking with friends, and expressed what I saw (“I saw an owl!!”). When I looked again, the owl was gone, with roots in its place. 

Because the owl is becoming a repeat theme for me, I am wondering the significance.

I have had a challenging year. I was laid off from a (good) job in February, only to take a job six months later with a company for whom I am increasingly realizing I do not belong. In fact, I feel quite bummed about where I landed. 

Dear MB,

I always feel like I’ve been given a gift when animals appear in my dreams. It sounds like you feel similarly with these recurring owl dreams. Oddly enough, I received a few submissions that had to do with owls, so I hope this post, uh, kills two birds with one stone…?

Owls, being a nocturnal bird of prey, have been fascinating cultures around the world since as early as 3,000 BCE, with common symbolism having to do with clairvoyance, the underworld and wisdom. My personal favorite of all owl lore is the connection between owls and the biblical demoness Lilith. Lilith translates to mean “night-monster,” “night-bird,” and “screech owl.” Some ancient texts suggest that Lilith and Adam were created simultaneously, of the same dust. She is considered Adam’s first wife, not Eve. Yet when Adam tried to claim her obedience by force, Lilith erupted in a rage and flew away. Lilith, an original femme fatale, went on to seduce men in the night to inseminate herself, spreading evil throughout the land with her army of demon children. With the dawn of feminism in the 60s, Lilith was reclaimed as a cultural icon, personifying female rage and the refusal to be made subordinate.

Keeping its affiliation with the cult of Lilith in mind, perhaps the owl’s commonly understood wisdom is less of a bookish wisdom, but rather a body wisdom. That which by day we like to think we’ve forgotten always seems to return in our dreams. For you, MB, I wonder if your pain of being laid off has gone relatively “beneath the stump” for you. Then, in your dream, when you shared your owl sighting with friends, it was gone, just like an owl vanishes once daylight comes. The thing trying to make itself known to you seems to disappear if you try to look at it too directly. Being laid off is a sort of Lilith situation — it’s a kind of banishment. Perhaps your rage has taken “root” somewhere in your body and the owl is trying to draw your attention to this rejected place.

Eye to eye with the owl, you saw something. What would the owl want to say to you, if it could speak? See if you can dig up some of the roots and face what’s been buried, and you may find the flight you need to land on a new path forward.


Melissa is a therapist in private practice in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her work is grounded in psychoanalysis and Jungian theory. For several years Melissa was a therapist at an eating disorder day hospital program in Manhattan and she continues to work with men and women struggling with eating and body image issues. Illustrations are by Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist and designer, Erica Prince. Through drawing, sculpture, installation, relational projects, functional housewares and more, Erica’s work presents opportunities for speculation and exploration of potentialities. Her works have been featured in T: New York Times Style Magazine, Vice, Artsy, NPR, Wallpaper and Canadian Art. 
Erica and Melissa were college roommates at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and have continued to collaborate, inspire, and encourage one another. From Sex and the City Psychoanalysis Club to ladies terrarium nights, experimental performance art projects, and regular dates to discuss research projects, life, love, and book ideas, Erica and Melissa are excited to collaborate with Free People to bring you this magical advice column. 
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This is awesome! I’d love to send in some of my recurring dreams and find out what it means. Dream interpretation has always drawn my interest!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

6 years ago

Love this!

6 years ago

Wow, Ms. Daum seems to think very deeply : ) Her owl explanation is very fascinating. I never knew that story of Lilith, so intriguing.