The Pegasus (Dennis Aubrey)

“Indeed during the Middle Ages there existed a sort of cinema in colors of which no trace has survived; just as in the sudden dawning of a larger hope amongst men who had not forgotten the dark age whence they had emerged but yesterday – a dawning symbolized by the great cathedrals soaring heavenwards – there was a splendid confidence in the future, not unlike that of America.”
André Malraux, “Voices of Silence”

André Malraux observed in Voices of Silence that medieval artists were not creating pictures or statues of Madonnas, they were actually creating a Madonna. They did not think that they were representing the reality, but creating it. They were saying “This is the Madonna” not “This is a picture of a Madonna.”

Notre Dame d'Estours, Eglise Saint Pierre, Monistrol d'Allier (Haute-Loire) Photo by Dennis Aubrey
Notre Dame d’Estours, Eglise Saint Pierre, Monistrol d’Allier (Haute-Loire) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

What must have life been like to create such an understanding. I think that we have made clear in this blog over the last few years that these medieval artisans were not in any way primitive or ignorant, but were instead capable of the most profound appreciations of the world and the most profound representations of their deep inner faith. I have come to suspect that they were capable of this because they understood the promise of that faith, they had Malraux’s “splendid confidence in the future”. In my own way, I came to that understanding on December 9, 1977.

On that night, I experienced an enormously powerful and vivid dream that comes as close to sustaining me with a life-giving faith as anything in my self-absorbed and solipsistic life. I still have the original middle-of-the-night transcription of the dream recorded in my journal, dated December 9, 1977:

“Violence dreams by the dozens lately – but the Pegasus dream made up for it. Having captured two men who turned into white horses, feeling threatened, the first horse leaping over the fence at me, I recognize that the second must be released – he is somehow in my power. The second horse climbs a 50’ wire fence and when atop leaps in the air – a beautiful white Pegasus – silver in the cloud-piercing moonlight. Transfixed by beauty – knowing that I can see it because it is there. The passers-by who mock my reverence cannot see it, but it is truly there – a vision of beauty. Donner, one of he men from the concrete pit, related to the Pegasus- stabs me in the back – it must be done – perhaps because I have seen the Pegasus – no malice. Knowing I will die soon I say – let me live for a week so I can see my parents. Death begins physically within, like an interior collapse. I go into the kitchen and see my father. I cry as I hug him and tell him I love him. The feeling of seeing Pegasus before I die, and when I see it I die … but having seen I can die. Pegasus comes from something I am punishing or lead to punishment … something I think wrong, but in reality it is a vessel for Pegasus.”

Study for Guernica horse, Pablo Picasso (1937)
Study for Guernica horse, Pablo Picasso (1937)

I still shudder with discovery as I read this. This was the last entry in my journal for about 17 months.

In the following nights I dreamt sections of the dream again. The first night the dream was complete, and the nights following I re-dreamt segments of the dream as if I were shooting coverage of a scene in a movie, explaining and amplifying different parts of the original dream – never changing, just amplifying. One of them was seeing the second white horse climb the fence, seeing up close how the wire tore into the living flesh of the horse, close enough that I could feel the hot gusting of his breath on my face.

But throughout this time of dreaming, there was a conviction, an absolute conviction, that this was a promise for my life – that I would see the Pegasus before I die, and having seen it, would be prepared to die. This has been my source of faith for my entire life, for my own “splendid confidence in the future”.

Sometimes in reflecting on my life, I wonder how a sane man can live his life based on such dreams? Where is the rational explanation for this disembodied voice speaking to me? I hear it clearly, but there is no visible source. Is this is a vision or a dream? At such moments I understand the Lakota Vision Quest.

Caravaggio, Conversion on the Way to Damascus, Santa Maria del Popolo (Rome)
Caravaggio, Conversion on the Way to Damascus, Santa Maria del Popolo (Rome)

I always wanted to have my sign, my vision from God to guide me, but have never admitted to it; to be transfixed by light on the road to Damascus where others may see the light but not hear the voice. I want to be in that beatified state where I don’t take photographs, but create churches.

20 thoughts on “The Pegasus (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. Thank you, Dennis, for sharing this inspirational post. I read it twice to absorb your interpretation of your dreams. Fascinating.

    On 4:17PM, Fri, Jan 4, 2019 Via Lucis Photography Dennis Aubrey posted: “”Indeed during the Middle Ages there existed a sort > of cinema in colors of which no trace has survived; just as in the sudden > dawning of a larger hope amongst men who had not forgotten the dark age > whence they had emerged but yesterday – a dawning symboli” >

    1. Thanks, Harushi. As you know, I am primarily ruled by the rational part of my being, but underneath it all is this dream that has provided so much of the meaning to the rest.

  2. Thank you for sharing your dreams, both real and figurative. You are touched by the Eternal and bless us in turn with your art.

    1. Thank you so much for writing, Beverley. Sometimes it is hard to know if I go too far for a blog on Romanesque architecture, but life is all of a piece, isn’t it. Happy new year

  3. Thank you again Dennis for having the courage of sharing your most intimate visions. Is anything more human than the reality of our dreams?

    It is said by scholars of St Paul that he never mentions having met a disciple or a witness of the life of Jesus, but that he only refers to his  »revelations » or visions.

    Yet he built an entire religion out of the certainty of his visions…

    Where else can we find beauty outside our dreams and your pictures?

    1. Thank you, Joel, as always. I love what you said “Where else can we find beauty outside our dreams and your pictures?” I am lucky to share my dreams and pictures with PJ, and that is what sustains me in the difficult times. I had a recent health encounter where fear was paralyzing but when that fear was removed, my life transformed in a moment. It was then that I recalled the dream again and the promises it made.

  4. I truly believe that deep inside our brains is a place where we create our own vision of what happens when we die. That place is influenced by what we are taught, what we teach ourselves, our dreams, our environment, and our concept of divine existence. Near death experiences draw from this place. Dreams draw from this place. Time can seem to stand still in this place (Note how time in our dreams has no relation to time in our awake hours.) For whatever reason,the concept of Pegasus became a part of that place for you somewhere in your life. The fact that your dreams play out this drama only reinforces it for YOU. For others, it will be something totally different, but still as remarkable.

    We’ll never know the extent dreams influenced Paul, or Jesus, or Buddha, or Mohammad, but it’s obvious to me that, considering the lack of scientific understanding in those times, each of these humans were even more guided by their dreams than modern individuals. Consider the imagination of da Vinci, and the things that must have come to him in his sleep.

    Thank you for this post. It compels all of us to think deeply about who we are and why we are here. The power of dreams is real, and without them, we would never grow.

    1. Vann, your comment moved me so much. I agree with you about the power of dreams. One of the problems that I have had in the health struggles for the last two years is that I had not been able to sleep for over an hour at a time and never got to the dream state. It was as if I had been robbed of part of my consciousness – all I had left were brief, feverish interludes. In the last three weeks I have actually slept again and dreamed. I find now that I am so emotional and profoundly moved by the simplest things. It is almost as if my being is reintegrating somehow. I seem to feel more and understand less.

  5. Thank you, Dennis, very very powerful. Art and the transcendent spiritual life merge into one. Very powerful.

    1. Thank you, Steven. Sometimes it feels like I’m just groping to get out of the darkness. In this case I didn’t know how the post would end until I wrote the last line, which just appeared on the screen.

  6. It is your vision that draws me to this site, sir! What Karen Armstrong would call “an affinity for the unknown….”

    1. Thank you, Judy. Interesting that you mention Karen Armstrong, because as I responded to the previous comment, Armstrong’s “Spiral Staircase” came to mind. Years ago, one of my primal dreams was of falling down the middle of a spiral staircase and it always terrified me. After the Pegasus dream, the spiral staircase nightmare never returned.

  7. Thank you, Dennis, for your words and your images, both those on the screen and the ones you create in the viewers, readers, minds. It is through you that those of us, less skilled with words and gear, can see that Pegasus, those glorious creations from craftsmen long past, that faith. Stride on, and let us follow.

  8. I loved this post, Dennis. I have had a connection with Pegasus since I was a child and later with Lung-Ta, the Tibetan wind horse. Your post is the third reference that comes to me since yesterday to the flying horse. I must pay attention to it then. 🙂

  9. Happy New Year. I am not a great one for comments on posts, but it is a rare post which opens so deeply that it elicits such responses as we see here, and not least the replies then prompted from yourself, Dennis. Thank you.

    1. John, you are so kind. As you know, this project is so personal to the two of us that sometimes we blur the line between the work and our selves. This was one of those times, and I must confess that I worry every time it happens. Responses like yours give me courage. Thank you.

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