I Put A Spell On You: Dreams Revealed with Melissa Daum

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, has set 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, so please don’t be shy!


Question #4 comes from R:

Dear Melissa,

I had a dream where I was at a music festival in a forest. I was standing in a crowd with my friend, when someone grabbed my ass. I turned around thinking it would be some slimy guy but, when I turned around, there stood a bear. It kept grabbing me and I tried to scare it to leave. My friends and I contacted a forest official who did nothing. I then contacted a help desk made up of women using herbal medicine and thought maybe they had a bear repellent, but they also wouldn’t help me. Then the bear showed up at the help desk and again it “attacked” me. The weird thing was that the bear acted every bit as a man with no understanding of personal boundaries. They still would not help, so I started attacking it. The bear lay almost lifeless on the ground and my feet hurt like I had been kicking cacti. Then the help desk morphed into some kind of law enforcement. I did not want the bear to die and so they sentenced me to help it, which I really didn’t want to do. I protested but they made me. The bear became smaller and smaller throughout the dream, culminating with it shrinking into cub size when I had attacked it.

At the moment I am going through a lot of personal change and personal growth. I feel better than I have in a long time. But I am also working on my fear of rejection from men and in love. I wonder if that could be the connection? Or what else could the bear represent?

Dear R,

Your dream is both timely and poignant in light of what’s saturating the media right now with Harvey Weinstein and #metoo, where women are literally coming out of the woodwork (music festival in a forest) and facing the massive truth about these predatory, powerhouse men (bear). I find it sad and disappointing to see men like Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey, real heroes of the screen, taken down, their violations “laid bare” (The bear lay almost lifeless on the ground…it became smaller and smaller throughout the dream). Your dream reads like an allegory for what we’ve been experiencing in the collective psyche these past several weeks. However we can still take our exploration a step further and play with the meaning it may hold for you personally. Ideally dreamwork is done in the context of a therapeutic relationship, but since it’s just me and my laptop here, I’m going to take a few stabs at my own associations to your dream.

You know that saying “You wouldn’t know (fill in the blank) if it bit you on the ass?” Well, seems a bear grabbed your ass and you didn’t know it! I wonder if any experiences come to mind where you’ve been caught off guard or taken by surprise lately? What you expected to be a “slimy guy,” like maybe a frog or snake, turned out to be a bear — which, unless its salivating, is more virile than slimy. You mentioned you’ve been working on your fear of rejection from men. Perhaps you’ve been turned down by slimy guys and surprised at how much it hurt?

I’m also struck by the different defensive systems you called upon for help in the dream (forest officials, help desk, and law enforcement), yet these were powerless to come to your aid against the devouring and invasive bear energy. Have your usual means of support been less effective lately?

If we turn this idea around again, maybe it’s less that the help systems were powerless against the bear, and more that they refused to be complicit in your attempts to destroy it. The help desk of women doing herbal medicine may understand the bigger picture: What appears at first glance to be a wild and maniacal bear-villain, may actually be a manifestation of your own split off aggressive or primal wishes seeking integration. Trying to destroy it only hurts you as it’s such a source of your own power, akin to shooting yourself in the foot (kicking cacti?) Thus, they sentence you to help it, despite your protests. Maybe something you’ve been trying to fight off and repel, a burden you bear, needs your help.


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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Love this series. Always so interesting to read the answers.

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

6 years ago

Love this! x

6 years ago

This woman’s dream is so much more vivid compared to my dreams. Melissa’s interpretation seems very thought out : )

Mandie Fae
6 years ago

I also love this series! Hope it keeps going for a while! The dream interpretations are so fun and interesting. I’d love to send one in if I can remember it long enough to write it down. :)

6 years ago

I love the series! I’ve always thought that dreams meant something, so this is very interesting for me. Thanks for sharing!

5 years ago