Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reality, What a Concept.

Once you get into playing with your dreams, in my experience and that of many others who count on dreams for awareness, the concept of "real" vs. "just dreaming" tends to blur. Popular usage sees reality as conscious experience and dreaming as little better than fantasy; nothing a rational individual need attend to.

Of course, bread on the table and a roof over your head is a bottom line necessity; the material world does exact it's energy and attention. Care of body is a waking task to achieve; care of soul is also a life task, running parallel, perhaps manifesting most clearly in sleep states.

Different realities form our whole reality; waking reality and sleeping or dream reality. Another way of saying we are physical and we are spiritual. I'm an advocate for paying attention to both.

People say of death, "Well, you can't take it with you." They're talking about all one can achieve materially on this waking plane we typically call "reality." So, from birth to finish, you can do and achieve, etc, etc, etc, but what can you take with you?

I think the one thing you can take with you is the sum of what your soul has become because of what you've chosen to do. Simply put, for me, if I learn to love, if what I take away from these years on this material plane is transferable to a non-embodied state, because it's not material, so much the better.

Winter proves one thing; die we must. There is a natural cycle of birth, life and maturing until you fall off the tree and rot back to the earth. What's left?

If winter and death are the grim realities of waking life; what are the parallel dream realities?

These holidays are about hope. Whether you're pagan, Christian, or Jew; hope and deliverance prevail. What is the hope?

If that is something we must each answer, my hope is in my dream source and in my dream reality. I've received the comfort of knowing that I'm not alone and that this isn't all there is through dreams. I hope my holiday post, previous to this, says this much more eloquently and speaks for me.

May you never feel alone. Every blessing for the new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Greetings Dear Readers

"I Can Hear the Angels"
Podsafe Audio

The Shadow Knows

In Carl Jung's paradigm on dreams, facing the shadow is the first significant bit of dream work a body can do on the road to individuation. Individuation is his term for enlightenment, self-awareness and union with the Self, or so I believe. Saying hello to your shadow is I imagine what Jesus meant when he said to take the beam out of your own eye before you endeavor to remove the mote from your neighbor's.

You meet your shadow when you catch yourself criticizing someone's faults and honestly ask yourself, do I do that, as well? Am I that way, too, sometimes?

If you haven't arrived at that much self-awareness, your dreams might prod you on this road.

One of my favorite shadow dreams is from over 20 years ago - I'm in a coffee shop with a friend, sitting at a booth. She's much more attractive than I am and the handsome Greek man behind the counter of pastries is flirting with her.

I often do dream drawings because they are such delightful surprises. This one is extraordinary in that I never intended to draw myself as a cat. I practice a technique in which I work very fast, broad strokes, no forethought; I lay my materials out and go to work spontaneously.

I had to laugh when I saw it for the pun it is; catty. I'm able to picture this image any time I feel jealousy. This helped me understand that jealousy is really a feeling of boredom, lack of engagement and isolation that can easily be remedied by taking positive action to entertain oneself, something that cats also do well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Surprised by Joy

Another wonderful reason to follow dreams is that they can open the door to our truest spiritual metaphors, the most direct roads to the Center, the God/Goddess we may each yearn for.

"Surprised by Joy" is actually a title by the renowned Christian writer, C.S.Lewis. To me, it describes the spiritual moments in my life and ("gracias a la vida") they have been many. Among my most powerful spiritual experiences are some big dreams that have sustained me for decades.

One such dream was "Howling Mary". I'll share the whole dream with you sometime, but the image that I take from it is of Mother Mary coming to life, howling with pain and rage. I was 21, about to graduate from university. I was in pre-feminist consciousness then; but that dream was the door to so much that followed; it's still one of the most holy dream gifts I've received.

Another was a very Zen dream series at the beginning of this decade that, in my mind, was like an instant course in enlightenment and nirvana. I came back from one dream with the questions; "Can the Ego be dissolved? What is the role of the Observer?" I had a follow-up dream of such blissful experience of Oneness that I came back saying to myself - I am I, but not I, and I'll never be able to explain this, not even to myself."

As you can imagine, that's given me a lot to think about.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Starting Over

One of my favorite dream play rituals is bringing my new journal into being. Around this time, I start looking for the actual three ring binder that I like to use. It gives me a flexibility that bound journals deny; I can add all sorts of extras to the dream records, from drawings I've done on different paper to pictures I've found or created that capture my dream images more tangibly. I do own a 3 hole punch which facilitates my additions.

Now that these binders come in all sorts of colors, I like to change that up, too. In the last decade or so, I've taken to printing the year on a tab I insert in the spine, making it oh so easy to find later. I also like to use tab dividers to separate the book into the twelve months; I choose interesting paper for my pages.

I reflect on the image I want for the front cover. This new year it will be a black wolf guardian which has visited me in several dreams throughout 2009. I have a wonderful picture that I'll insert in the front panel; it'll serve as a constant reminder of the powerful dream gifts I've received over the past year. I'll also make copies of the dreams in which an aspect of black wolf visited me and keep those at the front of my new journal.

Eventually, I'll find another charged image to use for the back panel. This is a work in progress for the month of December.

Creating my dream journal is a ritual of starting over that I really enjoy. My old dream books become valuable reference sources while my new one looks ahead to what dreams may come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Safe Sex

One of my favorite selling points for dream exploration is what a fertile opportunity dream play provides for a truly "safe sex" experience.

Have you ever had an "erotic" dream? I'm talking a truly enjoyable erotic dream, even if it may have flaunted some personal taboos.

This is such a wonderfully rich and complex topic that I'm only introducing it in this post. My premise is that dreams are an incredible playground and a safe Temenos in which to experience sexuality at it's most healing and sublime.

I was flipping through a journal from twenty years ago and found not one, but three very intriguing leading men in a series of consecutive dreams. It was like hitting the cheesecake lottery to find them after all these years. They are resources for my imagination, truly personal and fulfilling.

I suggest the same could be true for you.

I'm only breaking the ice on this topic. More to come:-)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Meaning of Dreams

There are two questions that people often ask me, lots of times, back to back. Knowing my penchant for dream conversation they'll tell me about a dream they had. If they didn't already preface their account with, "I had the weirdest dream..." then it's likely they'll finish their report with, "Isn't that weird?" followed closely by "What does it mean?"

This phenomenon always makes me smile to myself. Here's how I usually respond:

When you learn to understand the language of image and the imaginal logic of the dreaming mind, then it doesn't seem weird in the same sense. It's like visiting a culture/country very different from your own where language you consider very difficult to learn is spoken. At first it's alien and weird; a few years there and it's normal. Same thing in dreamland; spend enough conscious time there and you catch on.

What does it mean? This one really cracks me up. It's like what does love mean? What's beauty? There are so many levels, so many possibilities, so much to play with in each dream. I find I live my way into understanding the dream. Sometimes I intuit some meaning right away; even before I record it, but I know that's not necessarily all the dream has to offer me. It either comes back into my mind at some revelatory moment or I go digging years later and it reveals another layer. Dreams are treasure maps; the treasure is your own whole, healed, joyous Self.

Add to that what Jung and most teacher's I've worked with emphasize, the dreamer is the only authority on the meaning of the dream, and you might see why I find the question amusing.

I can be of help to a person who is trying to understand a dream; dream teacher is a calling I love to practice. It's like giving someone a fish to eat or a fishing pole and teaching them how to fish. I do consider myself a decent dream guide, but with the ultimate respect I've learned for the relationship of each dreamer to their dreams, the only simple answer to the question is "I don't know; you do."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nightmares Can Be Great Gifts

The other topic (besides dream recall) that always comes up early on in a dream group is "nightmares." I put icky dreams in the nightmares category in my last post as a way to identify them with unpleasant dreams, but I agree with Robert Moss's view that nightmares are frightening dreams that are so scary to us we wake ourselves up rather than go on with them. In my experience, nightmares are the great wake up calls of the psyche.

I want to distinguish what I'm addressing here from dreams that are born of severe trauma to the human psyche; what is called the post-traumatic-stress dream. These are typical of psychic wounds of war survivors or to those who survive personal attack, accidents or natural catastrophes. I think the psyche is so severely impacted by these experiences that it takes loving therapeutic assistance to cross the bridge PTS dreams might offer to healing. It's not your everyday dream work or play, in my estimation.

I also see nightmares in childhood a little differently in that they may be a reflection of the child's standing, much smaller, vis-a-vis the world around, in addition to the control issues that come from being a dependent being. It's a normal experience that creates scariness forgotten by adults, perhaps; so, children's dreams may produce more monsters, etc. Helping a child in waking to confront monsters and create protective allies that make them feel safer in the dream world can carry into waking benefits for kids.

But your average nightmares are uniquely interesting roads to personal psychic healing. They are like red flags for us to pay attention. Even people who typically ignore their dreams take note of a nightmare.

I've found that when I've re-entered nightmares and addressed the dream threat in my journey, it's led to personal transformation and immense growth.

One favorite is My Huge Bear Nightmare of Memorial Day, 1984. Working with this dream, one of those real heart pounding, pinch yourself when you wake up nightmare experiences, was incredibly fruitful. This wonderful healing totem led me to address sore issues in my heart that needed to be aired and mended. In my dream re-entry, I cried my heart out. It was one of those amazing experiences when crying washes you clean. Breathing and meditating after this emotional experience, a beautiful chant came to me, a song. I've used it frequently ever since to capture the same divine cleansing of emotional tension.

Nightmares can be great gifts.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Icky Dreams

In the category of dreams I resist recording falls the icky dream. The, "Oh yuck, you've got to be kidding me dream." Images that make me squirm or that just plain piss me off, or feelings that are unpleasant or complex. Who needs dreams like that?

I retaliate sometimes by not writing the dream down. Or, I just tell myself I'll write it later, no time now, fully knowing I won't. Well, it's human. DeNial is not just a river in Egypt.

When in my brighter moments, I've seen myself clear to just writing the dream down - no judgments, no analysis, no recoiling from the journalistic perspective of recording the events the way I saw, felt and heard them, I'm always grateful for the lesson I eventually get. Often I'll just write it down, date it, give it a title and shut the journal. Now I don't have to think about it until I'm ready. What gifts these dreams can turn out to be in time.

One favorite example I have is a dream where a large boxer type dog standing on it's hind legs sticks it's tongue in my ear; ugh. I write the dream down and as I do, I write god instead of dog. So God Dog became the title of my dream.

To get over the ickiness factors the dream included, I decided to draw god dog. Here he is, so funny and lovely now to me. I have done great work with the dream and this image represents to me the transformation of feeling for the dream once understanding dawned.

There Are Places I Remember

That is such a beautiful Beatles song. It's a nice way to look at dream locales;

All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all.

I visit some dream locations over and over, don't you? I like to go back through my journals and see which dreams take place in the supermarket, for instance. I have several, including one very intriguing one I just found from June of 1985 that promises great fun and great connections these many years later.

Another example is when I visit a
childhood home. It's wonderful to follow the thread of these shared locations in dreams past, re-read them and note the details; how they're similar and how they differ.

It's also wonderful to travel into dream spaces on a dream re-entry journey. It's much easier to journey into a
dream location you can see in your mind's eye; you know where you're going. It's a scene you can slip into in a waking trance to continue your dream

So now I'm busy playing with old dream books; a good end of the year thing to do. Locations I recognize from other dreams; people or people types that recur and noting how I (my dream self) seems to be faring and feeling in these dreams are all questions I entertain in this dream game.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Thing About Keeping a Journal

Sometimes I just curl up on the bed, surrounded by an assortment of dream journals and go on a quest. A question I'm pondering leads me to remember various dreams. I remember approximately when I had them and, because my journals are dated and pretty organized, I usually find what I'm looking for.

Then I cozy up with my book and read. So often I can't believe what I'm reading; it's a revelation I would have missed had I not written the dream down.

Another joy my journals afford me is a gallery of drawings and pictures I've made or collected that represent my dream images.

A favorite example is also a wonderful synchronicity.

I dream that I'm floating down a river, in lush tropical surroundings with vines and trees dripping into the surface of the water. As my little boat floats gently by the banks, under a lovely tree, I look up and see the most beautiful, sweet little monkey hugging the branch and looking at me. I outstretch my arms to the little creature and it melts into them and we embrace in loving bliss.

A bit later I'm visiting my wonderfully talented artist friend, Mally DeSomma, and see a pastel painting of my little monkey hanging in her studio. I'm stunned by the exactness of the likeness, especially the attitude that shines from it. I tell her my dream and, to my pure and utter delight, she gives me the original. It's in a place of honor in my home. I am forever grateful to my dreams and to Mally.