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Hélène Cardona

A citizen of the United States, France and Spain, Hélène Cardona is a poet, actor, literary translator, and dream analyst. She is the author of the bilingual poetry collections Dreaming My Animal Selves, Life in Suspension and The Astonished Universe.


". . .luminal, mystical and other-worldly. This is a poet who writes in a rare light."

– David Mason

". . .an intriguingly surreal journey through myth, legend, fantasy, and more... a book centered in joy, rooted firmly in the wild landscape of the imagination."

– Brian Turner

"This is shamanic poetry, poetry as magic, poetry as a gateway to the unconscious and to the dream world, liminal poetry, poetry as alchemy, poetry as healing.”

– Robert Wilkinson



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Dreaming My Animal Selves

Dreaming to (Be)come Alive


For Australian Aborigines, the beginning of the world is the ‘Dreaming’ (or the ‘Dreamtime’). Here the ancestors became manifestations of all living creatures and the elements. The Dreaming is the sacred seat of the Earth and infuses and inspires all aspects of tribal life; it is this network of complex relationships with the natural world reflected in the creation myths and songs that makes, evolves and informs everything.

In the way of the shaman, led by her own totemic animal guides (her animal selves), Hélène Cardona takes us on a journey through her inner-world, into the labyrinth of the poet’s unconsciousness where anything and everything is possible.

The dream opens forgotten worlds of creation.

(“Pathway to Gifts”)

In dreaming is the Divine created.

(“From the Heart with Grace”)

This, of course, is Jungian territory; yet, Dreaming My Animal Selves, does not offer conjecture on the meaning of dreams, there is little interpretation here; this is a poet’s personal metaphysical journey of discovery, where, by tapping into her ‘collective unconsciousness’, she reveals her ‘truer’ inner-self and begins to unravel the alchemical symbols of her very existence.

In the words of Jungian scholar, Marie-Louise von Franz, “If a man devotes himself to the instructions of his own unconscious, it can bestow this gift, so that suddenly life, which has been stale and dull, turns into a rich unending inner adventure, full of creative possibilities.”  These, it seems, are the forgotten worlds of creation that Cardona is re-discovering, re-awakening.

And, through the Dreaming, the reader is informed that these forgotten realms may well be what the real time is (is there time on the outside?).  As the poet tells us, you can’t capture a dream, you can simply move into its stream. The dream world is not only more real. It is entirely effortless.

…it’s so easy on the other side.


The mind flows through like wind.

(“Breeze Rider”)

The more the poet explores her childhood at the foot of the Alps, on Lake Geneva, the more her fragments of memory intertwine and interweave to reveal a poetically invigorated mythology, a mythology built upon the bricks of both ancient archetypes and her own modern visions.  Like the shaman, with the help of her animal selves, Cardona is conjuring herself (back) into life.

Through the glow I witness / the melodious dance of the wistful / wizard, statuesque sleek crane.

(“Isle of the Immortals”)

Eagle teaches / me to hunt … raptor / uncovering secret codes …

(“Parallel Keys”)

The dream is the wellspring of her creative healing process, the creature voices (now eagle, now coyote, now Peruvian horse), her guides—transmuting familiars who may be herself, or may, indeed, also be her ancestors.

In dreams like rain

my mother visits.

A bird in the shower

takes messages …

(“In Dreams Like Rain”)

And, who help her find her way without a map:

I’ll […] rely

on memory embedded in my mother’s embrace

on stormy nights at the foot of the Alps.

(“Dancing the Dream”)

Oh, but there is a map.  The map of Cardona’s inner world is the book itself.

For the Indigenous Australians, ‘songlines’ are tracks across the land that mark the routes created by their totems during the Dreaming. Bruce Chatwin explores this in his interviews with tribal elders in his book The Songlines: “Aboriginal Creation myths tell of legendary totemic beings who wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path — birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes—and so singing the world into existence.”

Cardona’s imagistic dream poems are timeless artifacts, little ‘songs of innocence’ from a primordial / universal age. Cardona’s Dreaming My Animal Selves is not only a poet’s spiritual awakening, but a sacred journey whereby each individual poem (or song) serves as a marker within the larger map of her inner geography, a map which, in turn, guides her through and breathes her back into her physical world with a renewed vigor—

On the cliffs where the wild ones come

to show themselves.

(“Pathway to Gifts”)

Reborn again, Cardona,

. . . seeps into sand in search of treasures.

(“Shaman in Residence”)

This is the poet as enchanter. We can’t resist the urge to follow her inside.

Her voice will not be silenced

for it is formidable

and echoes those of all beloved.


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