Right after the jhana practice with the vision of the baby, and after the tarot card reading, I crawled into bed and went through my usual statements of intention to remember my dreams and to become lucid in the dreams.
Soon I was in that hypnagogic liminality between waking and sleeping. Suddenly, as clear as can be, an image of a figure in a black robe and a black bird mask appeared. He was draped top to bottom in black, and he held a cane or staff, like this: http://jhanajenny.com/post/141070787372/plague-doctor-image
Like the baby I saw during jhana, it persisted–not by repeating but by staying. It was looking above my right shoulder, or would have been if I had stood facing it.
This vision infused me with a strong, sort of thrilling creepiness. It was so familiar! But where had I seen it? I vowed not to forget the image and went on into sleep.
The next morning, as soon as I woke, I recalled the image exactly. I think it is unusual to remember dreams that happen right upon falling asleep. I had followed the birdman into dream space, but I don’t recall any actual dreams. It is more like I recall the fact of dreaming, without remembering the content.
This afternoon I told DreamWalker about the vision; he and I searched images on the Web, and I quickly found precisely the figure in my vision. It was a plague doctor from the Plague, the Black Death. The bird masks held lemon balm, spices, rose petals and such to beat back the stench of rotting corpses. At the time, it was believed that the Plague was brought by evil spirits, so the doctors were made on purpose to look creepy.
Strange. On my birthday, too.