Monday, December 26, 2011

Hope for the Future: a Dreaming Society

What a wonderful year of learning this has been. My adventures in the dream world have taken on more dimensions, literally. Lucid dreaming and OBE experiences have heightened my passion for dreaming as a daily practice, as if I needed more reason to love my time in the dream worlds. I promise to keep sharing anything I find out that might prove valuable to you, too.

I want to comment about the year that’s dawning because it’s accompanied by mythical apocalyptic doomsday fame, even for people who aren’t practicing Mayans. Why is it so much easier to imagine the gods doing away with us than helping us? Why do so many religious paradigms consider a terrible, gruesome end to this beautiful world the only way out? Why does their deity deem this a fitting punishment for the wicked creatures He supposedly loves? I think we risk creating self-fulfilling prophecy scenarios when we adopt doomsday religions or beliefs.

So, at the dawning of this auspicious new year, the year of the Black Water Dragon in Chinese astrology, I propose that we set our intention on realizing our best dreams and that we view whatever crisis we might face as an opportunity to make beneficial changes.
And most of all, let’s set our expectations on good things happening; let’s collectively dream the future we want into being.

Many authors and teachers I admire share the opinion that we’re experiencing a spiritual revolution, a revolution in human consciousness. Perhaps the next evolutionary shift for humankind is not about technology but about paradigm: who are we, where do we come from and where are we going? In such a climate, inner exploration and personal change can manifest as positive ripples in our communal circles. We can each make a difference, even if it’s just by changing ourselves, expanding our own awareness. Of course, to me, dreaming is each individual’s portal to self-awareness and personal development.

Recently, I had an ultra-vivid dream that I wake up, get out of bed and head down the hall to the bathroom. I see through the bathroom window at the end of the hall a spectacular morning sky. I’m filled with excitement and know that I want to be down at the beach with my camera. I decide to get dressed and leave Jim a note telling him where I am. As I’m writing the note, I wake up again, this time into actual waking time and realize I’m still in bed and it’s raining outside.

When I woke up the morning of November 28th, just before dawn, the memory of this dream guided me to the beach, allowing me to honor it with these pictures.

I wish everyone continued adventures, insight, entertainment and blessings in both the dream and waking worlds throughout 2012.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Revelations and Everyday Dreaming

Recently I met a lovely new friend who is awaiting the birth of her first child, a son. We talked about names and she mentioned she was considering Samuel, but didn't like the nickname, Sam. A dream from March of 2006 snapped into my consciousness. Today I searched and found it. I also found a previous dream incarnation of my little boy in this drawing, a blond version, but otherwise, much the same.

I'm sharing it as a gift to her and with you because it illustrates well what I mean when I say that my spirituality is fed by my dreaming.

Sam My Son

A friend of mine has a baby, but she doesn’t want to or can’t keep him, so she gives him to me.

I get him at party. I learn his name is Sam, a name I wonder at, Do I like calling my son Sam? Who named him? At the time I’m introduced to my son at this party, he’s about 2, but he could be younger.

The woman who raised him until this age took care of him very well. Now, at this party, I’m introduced to him and my new role as his mother. I’m in awe of just how beautiful he is. He has large dark eyes and beautiful wavy brown hair. He’s wearing a short set with a short sleeve shirt; I instantly fall in love with him and accept the responsibility.

He’s playing with other children as I’m talking to a woman about becoming a mother; I can’t remember his name. I ask someone and they say; it’s Sam isn’t it? I wonder who named him and if I have to keep the name. I’m talking to Sam and I ask him; do you like your name? Is there another name you’d like more? He says he likes Sam but he would also like a name that means “ONE WHO LOVES’ I’m amazed at this and feel very blessed that this is my child.

Then I’ve left the party, talking to a friend. All of a sudden I remember that I forgot Sam and left him at the party, I know that it’s a group of good friends that I know are taking care of him, after all, it’s where I got him, but I go rushing back to get him. I feel badly that he’s a little chilled, not feeling well and hungry. I cuddle him and carry him home and realize that I’m going to have to get used to being a mother.

I wake up feeling joy, sure that this dream is a gift and recognizing my little boy from other dreams.

The next day, Jim tells me that he Googled for the meaning of “Samuel” and it means “I Am God”. My knees went weak and a big smile spread all over my face. I met “I Am God” who doesn’t mind being called “One Who Loves” either.

This seems like a fitting Christmas story, too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Movie Magic

I don’t know if Martin Scorsese is interested in dreams in particular, but one of the things I enjoyed most about his fabulous new movie is the key part dreams and dreaming played in it. Treading carefully to avoid a spoiler moment for anyone, I’ll try to explain why.

First, there is a marvelous focus on the history of cinema. Sir Ben Kingsley is stunning in the role of one of the early great artists in the field, Georges Melies, who used the inspiration of dreams for his images and film plots, at least this is the picture Scorsese paints of him. Seeing excerpts of his actual films in Hugo, it’s easy to believe that it's the case. Besides Melies’ work, it’s wonderful to watch classic clips of original old footage of the great silent movies and stars from the cinema’s nascent days. All this great film history is woven into the main story of a little orphaned, abandoned boy and the young, orphaned, adopted girl who befriends him.

But the icing on the cake for me comes in the dream sequence, Hugo's dream, that leads to the climax of the movie. Bravo, Martin! Whether you meant to or not, in my opinion, you got it right. Plus, it was absolutely fabulous cinematography, everything!

The 3D did give the movie more of a “magical” surreal and, yes, even dreamlike quality, but I’m still annoyed by it at times. As Jim puts it, “Even with the glasses, some things are still slightly out of focus so your eyes have to work to adjust.” My eyes were strained after 2 plus hours of it. I don't think the technology is there yet, so it doesn’t add enough viewer value to justify the expense or the wear and tear on my vision.

I wish I could talk more about Hugo’s dream, but there’s no way I want to lessen the impact or the pleasure of the experience for you. I recommend the movie. I think it has its corny moments, but the acting was superb all of the time. There was drama, humor, tragedy, love and redemption; most of all there was the heart, courage, imagination and curiosity of two children, Hugo Cabret and Isabelle. Both roles were superbly played by Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret and Chloe Grace Moretz as Isabelle.

When the movie has been around a while; I’ll probably write about Hugo’s dream more specifically. I'm interested to hear what you think of it, if you see the movie.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Watcher Dream

In my dream last night, I watched a scene from a movie; that’s how it felt.

A woman lies in her bed. She’s wearing panties and a tank top and has a lovely, young lithe body. Her straight, shoulder length light brown hair floats around her on the pillow as she lingers in that dreamy in between of sleep and waking. It’s a double bed, from the look of the covers, she didn’t spend the night alone.

Into the room walks a man, obviously older than her by at least ten years, her lover. He’s dressed in a red flannel shirt and jeans. He’s not a handsome man, really rather ordinary looking with thinning blonde hair and workman’s features. He’s telling her that he’s leaving, for good. It obviously comes as a painful surprise to her. She does a languid backward somersault off the side of the bed, which is near a wall, and stands to face him.

It’s as if that incongruous physical gesture allows her to register her emotions. She stands, back against the wall and speaks her truth to him. I don’t remember the dialogue in detail, just the tone of it. She’s recounting their brief affair and what it meant to her. She’s describing him, his behavior, lamenting his inability to grasp the depth of emotion she opened to him. At one point I’m amused to hear her say sadly, but without bitterness or irony; “the truth is, you’re not that smart.”

Then another man is in the room; he’s a friend of the other one, stockier, white haired and definitely hostile. I got the impression he’s the impetus for her lover’s departure. He is physically aggressive towards the woman and lunges towards her, as if to attack her. I think she’s either going to kung fu his ass or get hurt herself. Instead, she embraces him, pinning his arms to his side, and unleashes her grief in a torrent of wails and tears. The man is helpless in her arms.

I wake up. The feelings that lingered for me were wonder and satisfaction. I witnessed the power of true emotion expressed. I honor the power of women to channel emotion and perhaps to open that door for men. I also take home the beauty of speaking my truth, however emotionally messy it might be.

My training in psychotherapy leads me to ask what does this dream mean about me and my emotional life and my relationships to the men in it? But recently I’ve been reading a fascinating book by Jurgen Ziewe, Multidimensional Man, in which the author relates his many journeys out of body, (OBEs) into other dimensional worlds. He believes these very dimensions are the places we’ll all travel to after physical death. Here’s a thought provoking quote from his book regarding ordinary dreams:

“I was talking to people in my dream, becoming fully awake and aware while maintaining my conversation…I was distracted only briefly from our conversation by the realization that many dreams are probably as real as waking life, except for our lack of awareness. I wondered how many dreams were real.” Pg. 173

Robert Moss frequently states that a dream is a place, one that the dream self, free of the physical restraints of our three dimensional world, explores and experiences, just as the waking self explores and experiences events in daytime life. A psychological interpretation of dreams is what our Western, rational oriented world accepts as the most plausible. As Robert recently reminded me, it’s not the approach favored by ancient and indigenous cultures, nor is it his.

I was there in this dream place, watching the events unfold but not interacting with the characters directly. Are these Shadow and Animus figures acting our a drama for the benefit of my psychological growth; or are these other dimensional people, living out their own dramas, flickering on my dream screen for this one scene? Do they know I saw them? Was I meant to watch, to learn?

Since the beginning of this month, I’ve been absorbed in renewed studies of OBE, lucid dreaming and ordinary dreaming experiences, my own and those of authors I’m reading. I’ve attempted many times to post something meaningful about exploring these dream dimensions and have been daunted by the mind-boggling quality of this subject. This morning, this simple dream experience featuring this brave and honest woman tipped the scales for me. I offer it in its simplicity as the beginning of a conversation I’m eager to entertain, on this dimension and on many others.

What is a dream? A dream is a place.


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Time Is Now

Remember code yellow, orange and red? What would you say the emotional code is on people's fear these days? Dear Turkey, Haiti, Japan, Chile and New Zealand devasted by earthquakes and nuclear leakage, Libya and other Middle Eastern crisis points. Hurricane Irene, here in the East coast, fires in Arizona and Texas. And there is more.

Yet, I am still on my soul's journey here; I have work to do, work I specifically came here to do. How do I feel the world soul and my individual soul at the same time? How do I reconcile the needs of many with just my one person's needs?

The answer is I don't know. But here are my thoughts:

Fear is a black hole best avoided.

In my dreams, I experience time past, present and future out of sequence. Sometimes I'm in Medieval places, the 19th century west, outer space or as I see myself in waking life. What that says to me is that outside of this existence time is different, perhaps it doesn't exist.

All spiritual teachings emphasize being in the NOW, the present moment we are living. In moments of fear or crisis, this is essential. Let me breathe deep, ground and focus on my heart. What can I do now, today, this moment to give and to receive comfort? One step, one act and a focus on hope are the provisions emotionally that bring us through hard times. Bathe fear in love and trust, believe in a divine outcome and move forward, one step at a time.

Our heavily guilted patriarchal paradigms have taught us to imagine the worst and fear retribution from God. Lots of religions gleefully teach about doomsday scenarios that the sinners had coming to them. Well, some God of Love that is.

This is just what happens every so often on the amazing planet Earth; She shifts and moves and causes great upheavals. Is there a Divine Plan behind it; perhaps, but it certainly can't be the mean spirited preemptive strike of a supposedly kind and loving God. It's geology; geology happens.

Unfortunately, we're caught in the eruption, the flood, the tornado or whatever else the elements create that is so much mightier than our human strength. It doesn't mean we're bad or had it coming. It means we mourn and rebuild and we grow stronger in wisdom.

If this is my dream, which it is, I realize that this is the dreamscape I'm in and that it matters what I do, how I feel, NOW. I know that I can dream it lucidly; I'm aware that regardless of how great the monsters, the allies are even greater. If I'm brave and face the monster, it might turn out quite differently than I first expected.

The time is Now. Regardless of the seeming hopelessness; I am the seed of hope. Regardless of my impotence in the face of the present, I have the power of my original purpose. I asked to come here, Now. I trust the little I do, to be just the little bit it takes to tip the scales in favor of the Good.

My dreams confirm this; they are the doorway to the More than Now. They lead to more than this dimension, opening the dream gates to a more certain existence of Love, Truth and Hope than what I can tenuously hold on to in this Earthly dimension.

(The picture is of the harvest from my garden this year. It's simple beauty is stunning; it tasted great. Long may we grow and eat our food on this planet; long may we live to love and defy all odds).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dream Games With Children

A dear friend told me a story I love, about her grandson's first reaction to the concept of the "tooth fairy." After he lost his first tooth, she said to him, "Honey, if you put your tooth under your pillow, the tooth fairy will take it and leave you some money. He looked earnestly into her eyes and said; "I don't want that woman in my room."

I howled with laughter when she told me this and thought, we just have to pay more attention to the wisdom of children. Frankly, I never understood why the same protective adult who told me not to talk to or go with strangers expected me to be thrilled to sit on Santa's lap at some department store or let a clown hug me.

Children's instincts are usually spot on; the more they're encouraged to trust them, the better served they will be all their lives. Now I'm not talking about letting kids choose their menu or bedtime; I'm talking about listening to their thoughts and reactions and respecting their intuitive behaviors. And of course, listening to their dreams and encouraging their dream play.

Children find Active Dreaming techniques easy to incorporate into their flexible paradigms. They have no trouble acting out a dream character, drawing a picture or making up another ending.

You know from previous posts that I enjoy playing with nightmares; I find little kids can get into that easily. Did I tell you about the little boy (5?) whose big brother, (maybe 10), wanted to borrow the movie, "Jurassic Park" from the library? Browsing the shelves near by, I heard the little one say to his brother, "I always get nightmares when I watch that." Unable to help myself, I stepped up beside him, and said, "I get nightmares, too, when I watch scary movies. But you know, I can sometimes make them not so scary." He was shy, but interested; "How?" he said. "Do you like dinosaurs?", I asked him. "Yeah!" he said. "What's you're favorite one?" I asked him. "TRex!" he said. "Well, if I have scary dreams about dinosaurs chasing me, I would want to draw a picture of my favorite one, TRex, and give him a name and make him my buddy. I'd put the picture next to my bed and I know that if ever any dinosaurs chase me, my buddy TRex will protect me. And, I might even want to draw a story book about what we do together so I can remember and make more stories when I'm asleep." He looked at me, eyes wide, big smile and said, "Thanks!"

Not to be creepy, I stepped away and went on with my own library reverie, but you can bet my smile did not fit on my face.

Let's play dream games with our own dreams and then we'll know how to guide our children.

(The picture was drawn by another dear friend of mine, Allie Leigh, when she was maybe 12 or 13. She'll correct me if I'm wrong. She let me use it for "The Way of the Dreamer" DVDs so I'm guessing she won't mind my using it here. Again, she'll correct me if I'm wrong:-)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Waking Dreams with Bernie Siegel

Once you get the hang of playing with dream images, plots, characters and happenings, you start to play around with your waking life. There are some moments in life that deserve to be viewed from a dream perspective.

I just finished a three part workshop with the wonderful Dr. Bernie Siegel, a great pioneer in the art of integrative medicine, a visionary and a spiritual man. His books are worth reading; his work puts heart and spirit back into medical care. That's why I took the workshop, because of who he is and what he's done. Here's his website;

In my waking dream, I come into the room, find friends in the group of perhaps 29 women and one man, and sit down beside them. Bernie invites all 30 people to introduce themselves and the reason they're here. It takes the better part of an hour for everyone to speak, but I'm amazed at the stories in the room, the suffering and the hope. When I get home the first night, I write this poem in response:

The Crucible of Our Suffering: Reflection on Class Introductions

Tempered beyond endurance by pain,
we Endure.

What Dreams fuel our will to live?

What Wind buoys our shaky flight?

What Light warms our tattered hearts and
tells our lungs to Breathe.

What do we See?
What do we Know that keeps us going?

The second workshop was about how drawings reveal our unconscious, inner needs and perspectives. I've posted before about dream drawing, how the more spontaneous and fast you let yourself draw, the more comes to the fore from the dream that hadn't been noticed or even imaged quite that way. (I actually just had a doozy of a revelation drawing a recent dream scene and will definitely be sharing that with you in a future post.) Bernie asked us to draw a self portrait and a landscape, the picture above is my self portrait. I like it a lot; it makes me feel happy because I'm dancing.

I believe that images surround us in waking and dreaming that speak volumes to our psyche on a constant basis. The ego, perhaps the part of us that has been schooled in words and logic, balks at simplistic, pictorial communication. With the shield of the Persona, the Ego seeks to keep control with words and theories, but drawing knocks it off it's perch. Imagery is the pictorial language we used when we first hit the planet as a species, or individually, as a baby. Imagery cuts through the subterfuge of mind and goes to the heart of our truth.

The more willing I am to give up ego control and free-fall, the easier it is to navigate the wild waters of the "unconscious", (Ursula LeGuin calls it "inner space"). Robert Moss's Active Dreaming places great emphasis on dreaming, synchronicity, intuition, and imagination, practices that help us bridge the waking and dreaming worlds.

Bernie uses dreams and drawings to help him diagnose illness in his patients, and also to help his patients understand themselves better, giving them powerful tools for spiritual, emotional and physical healing. He may be a reincarnation of some ancient physician who knew that illness is not just a somatic phenomenon, that healing has to address the whole person.

The third meeting focused on some questions that Bernie asked us all to answer. These were questions born out of his personal experience and studies that he's answered for himself and posed to many. Do you want to live to be 100? How would you introduce yourself to God? What would you do in your last 15 minutes of life? There were some 80 questions and 7 essay questions. I did my homework.

In class, Bernie shares with us his own responses and some stories they evoke. Now that I'm not handing my answers in, I think I'll go back and answer them again, even more honestly. The course is thought provoking and soul searching. One mother of a child with special and demanding needs is there also as a professional healer. She asks, "Why is it so much easier to agonize over our failings than it is to accept our accomplishments; why is that so much a part of our human nature?" Indeed.

I like to think of myself as sent to this particular parallel universe with a mission. To me the ultimate freedom is, as Jesus put it, to be my own authority. By who's authority do I believe what I believe? By the authority of my own experience, especially, my dreaming experience. So I think it's the nature of this particular reality level to be in constant struggle to get out of the muck and I trust that it gets better some incarnations on. Still, what that mother/healer said, or rather, the longing to know that I felt from her through her question, leaves me pondering.

In this waking dream, I experience learning like throwing a pebble into water and watching the concentric circles of impact spread across the surface. It's Bernie's intent, I believe, to radiate love, (a fitting metaphor for a physician whose innovative healing practice with cancer patients is legend). "Love is The Answer" is an acronym I've used for years in my jewelry design business, LITA Designs, just to get that thought out there. I think Bernie has distilled from the alchemy of his practice as a healer this very same lesson, and with all his credentials and accomplishments, that simple lesson is what he teaches.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Big Dick: The power of Dream Imagery

A wife dreams that her husband has an enormous penis, like that of a horse or an elephant. Seriously. But, that’s all I can tell you.

I can discretely comment, this image has huge potential. After determining that her feelings surrounding the dream were positive and doing some reality check (which did not need to involve the actual size of her husband’s penis) to make sure it wasn't a health warning, I played the “if it were my dream” game with the image.

“If it’s my dream, it may be about channeling my inner dick.” She liked that.
Truth is, I could use doing that a little more, as well, and I like the image.

In Jung’s view, the Animus archetype can manifest as male characters in women's dreams. A closely related to me male dream character may be a male aspect of myself. Instead of or in addition to being my actual husband, brother, father, son, etc. this may be some quality I project on to loved males that I may want to cultivate in myself. This image, if it's my dream, inspires these questions: "Don’t I realize I have a big dick? Do I recognize my power?"

Now in all love and deference to Jung, he could be chauvinist at times. His description of the Animus archetype seems rather scolding of women “with balls,” especially in his discussion of animus possession, but his many contributions to the field of dream work and psychology make me rather tolerant of him.

The Animus, Jung said,is a woman’s inner male, one she often projects on to a man she falls in love with, thus giving credence to the adage, “love is blind.” If a woman’s Animus is completely projected outside of herself in waking life, it can lead to unhappiness and trouble for her. Dreams give us insight into this archetypal energy’s working at any given moment and provides metaphors suited to the lessons we need to learn.

“Big Dick” is just an example of how one itsy bitsy (well, not in this case) image can manifest its energy in our waking lives.

In much of western culture, we are very timid about the sex organs, yet, they're everywhere in our advertising and entertainment. India, on the other hand, reveres male and female sexual energy at temple sites; many Indians have home altars set up to honor the Lingam and the Yoni. It’s a much franker approach, to appreciate sexual organs on an archetypal level as the forces of creation. If, as a woman, I dream of my penis/Animus, AKA, presence and power in the world around me, growing much bigger of late, well, perhaps it’s good news. Perhaps it's time for me to step into my own..

Is it time for women to notice how much power they do have, at least right now, in our country. Well, there's a lot to suggest that. This image sprang from one woman's dream source, but I can easily see it helping many achieve a new cockiness.

I found this wonderful yoni/lingam anthuriam on wikepedia, credit to Thaejas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Honoring Dreams - Dreams Require Action

Active Dreaming is a direct, accessible approach to building a dreaming life for just about anyone of any age. I'd like to emphasize how important “honoring a dream” is in an Active Dreaming practice.  Using indigenous peoples' understanding of dreaming, AD teaches the value of of listening and responding to dreams in conscious, waking life. 

Robert Moss has written extensively on this topic, so I refer you to his books for more information, and if you prefer audio/visual learning, to the DVD series that Jim and I produced with Robert, presenting Active Dreaming, The Way of the Dreamer with Robert Moss

People who live/lived much closer to Nature than we do now had lots more time on their hands for introspection. Not necessarily because their lives were less stressed than ours, (try hunting and gathering for a living) but because they didn’t have or need our distractions. Visualize the phenomenal amount of hours the average American man, woman and child watch television or other devices, the lack of sleep that afflicts many and the “hurry sickness” that infects our conscious lives. Who has time or energy for introspection or dream work? But for our indigenous ancestors, dreams provided a lot of their entertainment; they also connected through dreams to the worlds of Spirit.

I'm not saying honor your dreams by doing whatever you think your dream is telling you to do, fly, beat up your boss or go to church naked. Honoring a dream is about: 

1. Listening. Paying Attention.  I just heard the old song, “Elusive Butterfly of Love” by Bob Lind, which is about a love struck romantic chasing his beloved into her dreams through his. (Hmmm, sounds good to me). I use this example because he’s obviously tuned in to his dreams, even though he’s telling her in the song not to let his flitting in bother her, it’s just a dream. (Actually it's very bad etiquette to flit into someone's dream without permission.) Still, his dreams are a happening place.  When I go to sleep, I know I’m going somewhere. I’ll be doing something. Sometimes I “incubate” what I want from my dream by asking for a dream about a desire or need, but when I don’t, I still know I’m going on a dream journey, just like when I get into my car, I’m headed somewhere. 

2. Recording, Journaling. I’ve posted some ideas on recording dreams previously; what I wish to emphasize now is  the pleasure of this exercise. Your dream journal becomes your book of life. It contains stories that you’ll grow to love and see as part of who you are. All it takes is developing the simple practice of writing your dream story into your journal. This practice not only honors your dream, it honors your soul, for as some of our indigenous ancestors taught, dreams are the secret wishes of the soul.

3. Engage and Dialogue.  Once I record my dream there are many ways to play with its story. I can do stream of consciousness writing or drawing, I can copy a dance or song from a dream.  I can also engage characters from the dream in dialogue.  My favorite dream play practice is to re-enter a dream and continue it's action to my satisfaction.  Dreams bridge the gap between waking and sleep, the two portals we enter and exit daily that are equally part of our existence on this planet. Just as we use our conscious mind to navigate our waking world, we can use our imagination to navigate our dream worlds.

4. Gratitude. In gratitude to my dream, I consciously honor it in my waking life by acting on its message or manifesting its symbols. I may share it with a person who was part of my dream by contacting them, whether I share the dream or not. I may follow its inspiration in writing stories, songs or poems. I may draw a picture or find one to display prominently, to evoke the dream for me as I go about my daily affairs,  Sometimes, I just ponder it for days, turning it around in my thoughts, letting the symbols dance in my mind’s eye until it reveals something of itself I’ve missed.  

It takes building a relationship with our dreams to know just how to honor one in waking life; the more we play with them, the more we can live our lives creatively. Dream play, honoring your dream, is like sex, if you can make time for it and enjoy it, you don’t regret it. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Now What Was That Dream Again?

I may rehearse the mantra, "just write it down", but it doesn't always mean I practice it. I still, after all these years, resist some dreams when I wake up from them. I find myself just sidling on past the journal writing part, into my morning prayers and ablutions. Sometimes, I even feel angry at my dream source; "I"m not writing it down, too bad." But I've dialogued with my dream worlds long enough to recognize these ignored, repressed and dismissed "icky" dreams for what they really are, sheep in wolf's clothing.

In my vocabulary, an icky dream is one that I knee-jerk don't like because it shames me or makes me feel otherwise, icky. They're not nightmares. Nightmares are different; they scare the pajama off me and I always write them down and work with them. But icky dreams often don't make it on to paper right away.

What typically happens is that I wake from an icky dream and just skip it; don't write it down, even though I remember it. It haunts me from time to time until, maybe a day or two later, something pops into my head about it, usually an image that escaped my attention. All of a sudden a light bulb goes on and I see the potential in this dream for healing gifts, gifts I've actually been asking my dreams for before going to sleep.

So, I sit down, a little chagrined for my silliness, and write it as clearly and honestly as I remember it. I remind myself that this is for my eyes only, to serve my memory, so I can mine the gold that I now see, but failed to recognize fresh from the dream experience. From there, I'm off and running with it. I can re-enter this dream and gain the understanding it offers. I can carry it around with me until I get it. When I get it, the ickyness is always transformed, replaced by awe, gratitude and usually, a good laugh.

Thoreau is often quoted as saying; "The unexamined life is not worth living." He also said "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined". I'd like to add that in order to do that, it helps to go confidently into your sleep dreams, because they are gifts, gateways to self-knowledge and self-love. They help us free our imagination in waking life so we can follow our bliss.

Jesus is quoted as saying, "The truth shall set you free." That's precisely the reward pursuing the trail of an icky dream offers me. If at first I resist, that's okay. I know my truth pursues me in my dreams until I have the heart-courage to face it. It might take me a few days to, as Robert Moss puts it, "brave up", but because my dreams have never let me down, brave up I do.

I'm offering these thoughts on the heels of owning and writing down an icky dream from earlier this week. As I wrote it out, I knew I had to share the experience with you. Maybe it'll help you claim dream gifts that come looking a little icky at first.

(Sorry about the dead sand shark, it was the ickiest picture I had handy:-)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Strange Case of Me and Not Me

I’ve loved public libraries since I was 15 when I worked in one after school; recently, I've taken to frequenting my neighborhood library again. I’ve especially enjoyed access to a great selection of literature on audio CD. I can listen to wonderful stories while I’m making jewelry, driving or cooking. Sometimes I listen to contemporary works, other times I select a classic. Often, I'm delighted by the energizing synchronicity of finding myself listening to the exact inspiration I need at the time.

I just finished Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", wonderfully narrated by Scott Brick. I was mesmerized by the story of a brilliant man who experiments with splitting himself from his Shadow and consequently reaps the tragic results. Stevenson wrote the story prior to any publication of Jung's famous work on the Shadow and what's even better, the story was based on his dreams.

In a recent post from Robert Moss's Dreamgates blog, Robert includes these great quotes about the story from Stevenson and from his wife.

'“For two days I went about racking my brains for a plot of any sort; and on the second night I dreamed the scene at the window, and a scene afterward split in two, in which Hyde, pursued for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers.”

His wife related picturesquely how one night Louis cried out horror-stricken, how she woke him up and he protested, “Why did you waken me? I was dreaming a fine bogy-tale!” She also related how he appeared the next morning excitedly exclaiming, “I have got my schilling-shocker — I have got my schilling-shocker!”'

You can read the rest of Robert's post here:

Stevenson entertained a vibrant dialogue with his dreams and believed his very livelihood depended on it. An active dream dialogue is key to unlocking many of life's essential mysteries, not the least of which is how to achieve balance within our imperfect humanity.

According to Carl Jung, the characters we reject or that repulse us in our dreams, especially when they are the same gender as us, are our Shadow parts. These are the aspects of our personalities that we don’t want to own, aspects that we deem undesirable or socially unacceptable. Sometimes, we also reject our "bright Shadow," admirable characteristics or qualities which our low self-esteem won't let us claim as our own.

The thing about the Shadow Archetype is that in waking life, we often project on to others what we reject and fear in ourselves. When we're hyper-critical and condemning of others, we may be animated by our unconscious Shadow blindness. But when we're actively in dialogue with our dreams, we have an opportunity to interact with Shadow aspects of our personality in ultimately rewarding ways.

Case in point is my Jeze-bella, whom I've renamed after getting to know her a bit.  When she appeared in my dream, I saw her as opposite to me, the Whore to my Madonna. But it was that gut feeling of rejection that led me to seek more interaction with her in a dream re-entry. When I met her in my night dream I was indifferent to her; I was willing to let her take my risks and suffer my dangers without so much as a thought for her well-being. Then I re-entered my dream and really met her, talked to her and came to understand her life strategy. Maybe she's down and dirty, but she’s a survivor, with a survivor’s stealth and wile. I’m learning a lot from her. Now, I love getting together with her for continued extended adventures in the in-between spaces of dream re-entry.

Dreams teach us introspection. They put us in dialogue with dimensions of ourselves that we've unconsciously rejected but that our dreams show us we must consciously integrate. Jung believed that the Shadow Archetype is critically important to our personal development and saw it as the first gateway to individuation. He also posited that integrating aspects of our Shadow selves is the secret to unlocking our true creativity. Creativity is the goddess/god given faculty of living life with imagination, a sense of humor and an accurate compass to where our bliss lies.

Each time I react negatively to a dream, especially to a female character, each time dreams leave me with feelings that are icky, scary or embarrassing, my dream radar says, “Darling, do you think this may have some valuable teaching from your Shadow?” Owning the "not me" parts of myself allows me to navigate my waking life more consciously and responsibly, with fewer blind spots to trip me up.

Now, what do you think Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry would say about their inner Jezebels or Mr. Hydes? In the same sense that we project our evil and taboos on to others individually, we collude with other one-dimensional personalities and project as a group on to other groups all our denied short-comings, fear and doubt. This was characteristic of the Nazi fervor in WWII, absolute Black and White; we’re Good, God is on our side; they’re Evil, Satan on earth. If you think this is a past phenomenon, just look at what, besides money-greed, is fueling our scary world conflicts today.

Instead of buying our own ego hype and living in a rigid Persona, we come to realize through dream-play that we’re capable of many personalities, some good, some bad (in our own judgments anyway), some we see as "me" and some we insist are "not me". Establishing a dialogue and living consciously with our rejected parts guards us from the lure of polemic ideologies; we become rooted in our own spirituality. Without this insight, we sit in judgment of people whom we believe are opposite to us; we list the faults of others and criticize their choices. But when we have experience meeting and dialoguing with our own Shadow through dreaming, we recognize the complexity of the other person's existence, and though we may still not agree with them, we don't need to villanize or exterminate them.

I think that the more of us get chummy with our personal Shadows, the more of us will recognize the Shadows looming behind the ideologues that seek to rule us. We can point and say, “I’d like you to turn around and answer to that Shadow behind you, and when you’ve found your humility and compassion, you can speak to me of your god, your right and wrong, and your vision for our country.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dreaming My LIfe

This is a picture of the statue of Kwan Yin, Asian Great Mother of Compassion, that Jim gave me for Christmas many years ago and of roses from my garden just now.

In a comment on my previous post, "Howling Mary" my dear friend and former student, Lisa, took me to task for doubting myself.

When a young woman from a generation before says, Hail, it's all Grace, let's keep it going, and tells me it was I who inspired her, then who am I to give up?

I wrote about that dream with such pleasure. That dream is 40 years old! Yet, it's so fresh, vibrant and guiding now that I have to howl with pleasure.

Those of you who are veteran teachers, as am I, can appreciate the joy of hearing from a former student that we continue to make sense to them.

I think we're all on to something and if we collectively dream the future we want, we may get it.

I look to Mary. What would Mary do?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Howling Mary

I’m excited to tell you my Howling Mary dream from May, I think, 1971. It was the end of my Senior year at University of Rochester. I only wished that at that time I was recording my dreams in journals. I didn’t really start till 1976 with another BIG DREAM.

What’s a BIG DREAM? Oh, it’s like the diving horn on a submarine or like the in your face divine apparition.

Howling Mary was the middle dream of what I call a triptych dream - three dreams in a row that transition from one setting, etc to the next – tied together by the fact that they all happen in succession.

I don’t remember the first and have vague image recollections of the third, but even though I didn’t write and draw HM till 1982, eleven years after the dream, she was as vivid then as she is to me now. ‘

The telling of this dream and the image I created for your pleasure of it are both the contemporary versions.

I’m inside the small Catholic church I knew as a teenager, “Our Lady of Good Counsel” (The picture above of the statue outside this little church was taken on a family visit back a couple of years ago.)

I walk in and instead of going up the center aisle towards the altar, I turn and go up the left side aisle, by the stained glass windows and the Stations of the Cross. Mass is in process. I’m probably the 21-year-old self I am while I’m dreaming this, dressed as I would be usually, entering the church by some compulsion.

I take to the left side, drawn by an overwhelming pull, something calling to me inside my heart. Ignoring the worshipers following their lines, I quietly make my way up to the statue of Mary that is to the left of the altar, if you’re facing that direction.

She is Mother Mary of Mercy who in her compassion steps on the head of the snake so we don’t have to worry about it so much anymore.

As I approach her, the statue animates, like in Fantasia; she looms 10 times her size above me and howls. I rush to the foot of her howling form and place my hand at her feet and bow my head in reverence and awe. I know she is howling from outrage and pain, I just don’t know what that outrage and pain is.

However, when I look to my right, the priest has finished consecrating the Host and is about to commence the giving of communion to the congregation. I know I must intervene. I rush to where he is poised in front of the first communicant and snatch the chalice from his hand.

Looking in, I’m horrified to see that there are worms in the chalice, but as I take one out it becomes a rubber band, which I hand to each person to take away with them.

My dream ends. After the third dream I wake up in my room at college and marvel at the images and complexity of the dreams. It was Howling Mary, though, that I remember in detail, the way you do with a Big Dream.

I’ve had lots of time to see this dream manifest.

First, I was on my way to graduate school in English Literature and had no idea I’d end up so involved in the Women’s Ordination Movement of the Roman Catholic Church in the mid 70’s and 80’s that I pursued my Masters in Scriptural Studies and Pastoral Counseling from Colgate Rochester Divinity School instead.

And I certainly didn’t anticipate discovering that my beloved patriarchal Christian paradigm had such serious flaws that it really wasn’t worth bolstering with my efforts. Especially when Mary shape-shifted thanks to Erich Neumann’s “The Great Mother”, Mary Daly’s “Beyond God the Father” and Merlin Stone’s “When God Was a Woman” to name but a few paradigm-blowing master works.

Who knew? Apparently, Howling Mary did.

I was only 21 when that dream created a Divine Theater for me of things to come. As a great Mother archetype, I can’t imagine any finer. She is pissed off; she is aching. She howls like a wolf calling the troops that will hear her, come to her and run with her. In the last two years, I've had many wolf dream visits; She’s back. Howling for justice; howling for compassion and for innovative, loving and creative ways to fix this mess, She is my direct connection to the Divine. She can be Mother Mary, Kwan Yin, Isis, Demeter, Yemaya or so many of the Mother Archetype manifestations that have graced our humanity since the beginning of time.

It occurs to me that the job of a rubber band is to hold something together by first stretching to contain it. It stretches and contracts according to the need. What a beautiful symbol for the life-giving sacrament of communion. Expanding to nourish us and give us what we need to hold it together and continue to grow until we finally get it and Mary doesn’t have to feel so frustrated any more.

Latinas always have their patron Mary. Mexicans love Guadalupe and La Caridad del Cobre is the beautiful Ochun of Cuba. My Mary is Howling Mary. I don’t need to keep her to myself, but she is the Archetype who first announced to me a mission She hopes I’ll lend a hand in while on the planet. Don’t know if I’ve done much yet; but, as long as there is breath in my body, I will honor her and do what I think she wants me to do.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The word archetype derives from the Greek, archetupon. meaning something like, first-molded. It combines arche, the beginning and tupos, a pattern, model or type. (My source is Wikipedia.)

According to one on-line dictionary I used, it’s come to mean:

1. the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.

2. (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.

I bring this concept up because my husband, Jim, and I have a favorite "discussion"; "What is an archetype?" We often lapse into it lying in bed, waiting for sleep; I love when the room is dark and we talk. If I bring up our archetype discussion he’s likely to pose the question; "If there were no people, would archetypes exist?"

I think he believes that "archetypes" are human constructs. For instance, he'll say, "our pre-historic ancestors are out in a terrifying storm, the lightning blazing and the thunder booming so loud their teeth chatter. For that ineffable power they’ve experienced, they create an archetype, the God/Goddess of Thunder or Storm, the ultimate source of all this power.

Well, it makes sense. The purpose of it, I suppose, is to interact with this power in some approachable form in order to see if you can get IT to go easy on your neighborhood.

No people, no archetypes seems to be his thinking, but maybe it’s no people, less pressure on the Archetypes to make it better. Here's how I see it:

Archetypes are Energies that have been intuited by humans from the dawn of our habitation here on earth. They are energies experienced universally by woman and man of any race, in any culture, at any time in history. I don't think we create the Energies, although I think we create the forms they take in our personal or elected cultural mythology. These Energies can shape shift into many forms and can be recognized in stories, myths, religions and now, the mind-bending science of contemporary physics.

Because the Archetypes are actually Energies not subject to one permanent form, I think it's a waste of time and an invitation to trouble to fix the Energy, say of Divine Love, into one immutable aspect of itself. Especially when that concrete image excludes other aspects of that same energy vital for it to flow and do its job. For instance, God the Father definitely suffers from a lack of God the Mother.

In our dreams, the archetypes show up in many forms and communicate a lot of useful information. Jung identified some common ones as: the Self, the complete person, integrated in her or his many aspects, body, mind and soul; the Animus/Anima, the opposite gender aspect of each person’s psyche, one we’re likely to project on to the person with whom we “fall in love.” In dreams, this archetype can be tracked in the opposite gender characters peopling our night adventures; the Shadow, which contains the disavowed aspects of ourselves we commonly project on to others, shows up in characters we dislike, envy or of whom we are in awe, usually the same sex as the dreamer; and the Persona, is the mask to meet the faces that we meet, the one Ego dons to face the public. Sometimes when we dream of ourselves naked in public, it may have to do with how we think we’re perceived or how we desire to be seen.

There are many Archetypes; the Major Arcana of the Tarot is a gallery of universal archetypes preserved through centuries in a pack of playing cards. The greater the Archetypal figure in our psyche, the stronger the energy that accompanies its appearance. How I feel about a figure in my dream is often the first clue to who I’m really dealing with.

In my next post, I’ll tell you my Howling Mary dream. This is a Big Dream in my life story, a visit from the Mother Archetype. It came some forty years ago, before I had any idea what its message was, but to this day, it’s my moral compass and spiritual paradigm.

Although we may name the Archetypes, we don’t invent them and we certainly don’t control them. In my opinion, religion tries to bottle these archetypes and sell them under their brand name. I see no point in denying that the Archetypal Energy manifests in a myriad of metaphors and shape shifts according to each persons needs. That is normal. What's not normal is trying to claim absolute TRUTH status for one manifestation.

Being in tune with personal revelations in our dreams can save us from believing the projections of those whose intentions may be to manipulate us where we are most vulnerable, our imaginations. Dream work helps us claim our imaginations for our own ends, making us far less vulnerable to the myths of others.

What are “archetypes” is a popular conversation with many people, in and out of bed. The wonderful astrologer, Caroline Casey, suggests that we consider “composting” the word; her Trickster Redeemer is a wonderful manifestation of her composting work with archetypes. I’m grateful for my own on-going dialogue with such a wit as is Jim; and now, I’m opening the discussion to you. Your comments are most welcome.

Video courtesy of Jim and Chango.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Expect An Answer

Dream "incubation" means that the dreamer went to sleep focused in an open hearted way on a question or a request to the Dream Source. In both the ancient cultures of Egypt and of Greece, dream incubation was a sacred practice that anyone who needed spiritual help and physical healing could access by going to the temples as a pilgrim in search of a dream cure. Gods and goddesses spoke to the dreamer and intervened on her or his behalf through dreams.

So if you need the answer to a problem or a question; just ask. But expect an answer. Not always that night and very often not the answer you might have anticipated. The pact I make with my dream guides is that no matter what comes through, icky or not, I'll write it down.

This has proved over and over again to me that my dream guides love me and have a superb sense of ironic humor. On the surface, the dream may seem distasteful, irrelevant or embarrassing; but when I sit down with a dear dream friend and play with it, light bulbs go off. I love the sheepish joy I feel; "Oh, I get it." That "aha" always floods me with gratitude for the unconditional, loving guidance of dreams.

I love telling my friend my dream as dramatically as possible. The theater of it, speaking the dream out loud, begins to release some of the emotional charges of particular images and characters in a first wave of enlightenment.

I also love to hear my friend describe to me her experience of my dream; whether it applies to me, or to her, I gain insight. She emphasizes different things; I hear another perspective. She uses only the personal pronoun, shares with me her feelings, associations and intuitions and opens wonderful new vistas in my dream for me to explore.

Re-entering the dream through my imagination in a dream journey, alone or in the good company of a dream friend, is my favorite form of dream exploration.

In a dream I recently explored, re-entering allowed me to find a close, unexpected ally in a Shadow figure (in the Jungian sense) whom I referred to in my dream as "the buxom blonde" but after an exciting re-entry conversation, she became my dear friend, Jezebelle.

The answer to the dream questions we incubate may appear in many unexpected ways. Perhaps a waking feeling, perhaps a synchronicity. They'll appear in an unlikely dream that I faithfully wrote and pursued, and continue over a series of subsequent dreams until I get it.

I'm fond of Jung's point of view that dreams don't come to tell us what we already know. They don't call it the unconscious for nothing. So when someone prefaces their dream narrative with, I know what this is about, I always keep an open mind and suggest a little further play.

You asked, an answer will come. Focused intention and attention to dream material regardless of seeming insignificance pays off big time in dream exploration. Do you knock on a door, knowing your friend is home, and not expect her to open it for you?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Fleeting Glimpse

Talking to a friend yesterday, she described an image she woke with, the only remnant of a dream. The image is of a friend of hers laughing, a very pleasant image.

It made me think of a dream I had recently, also just a fleeting image of a friend that carried wonderful energy for me.

Just one image can unlock an amazing dream narrative. One image can animate when I re-enter a dream and accompany me through expanded adventures of active imagination. One image can give me a portal into a dream moment and continue to provide real pleasure and enjoyment in my waking day.

If my friend's dream were my dream, maybe I'll hold the image of this person laughing in my mind's eye when I speak to my friend; or maybe I'll just share the image with her, painting the picture of her I saw and sharing the wonderful feelings it evoked for me. In this way, the dream image becomes a gift for us both, a gift which may deepen our friendship.

The language of dreams is imagery. In her wonderful book, "The Dream Game," psychologist Ann Faraday speculates that imagery was our prehistoric ancestors’ first language, and very likely our initial language when we're born. Our first vocabulary in other words, (pun intended) would require a pictionary, not a dictionary, to decipher. Imagery is a powerful psychic language; it impacts the mind, body and emotions.

A picture’s worth a thousand words; why is that? Perhaps because imagery is the language we can understand instinctively, innately and universally. The phrase, “dream interpretation” may be a misnomer. Instead of asking the cognitive question, “What does my dream mean?” perhaps it’s better to ask, “What is my dream depicting? Do I get the picture?”

This is especially true when all we can remember is a single fleeting image from a night of dreaming. I encourage you not to dismiss that little picture fragment. Make a note of it in your journal; carry it around with you in contemplation. Make a drawing of it or write a poem. It might prove a valuable cipher to a previous or future dream. It may provide the key to unlocking an inner psychological struggle; perhaps it will shed light on a difficult waking life situation.

Get the picture?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thanksgiving in July

Today is the 23rd anniversary of the day my husband got "Rolfed by a Buick," as he puts it. We celebrate the fact that despite getting hit as a pedestrian while standing on the sidewalk outside the train station and spending six weeks in the hospital, he is pretty much unscathed today.

What also comes to mind is the power of dreams to give us a heads up, as well as, the reality of psychic resources that become available when the manure really hits the fan.

Jim didn't keep track of his dreams back then, but he was well aware of how important they are to me. That morning, as I dropped him off to catch his train into the city, he turned as he was getting out of the car and said, "I had the weirdest dream last night." "Oh," I said, "what was it?" He replied; "I don't remember much, I just know I'm supposed to stop and smell the flowers."

I can't help but wonder what warnings that dream may have contained, and whether, if we'd had the whole dream memory that morning, it may have given us some kind of clue to help avert this less than happy event.

Still, with the consolation of hindsight, many good things did come of it. One was the certainty that help is available from sources beyond ordinary reality. Jim recounts how when he saw the car barreling towards him at a speed he knew made it impossible to evade it, he told himself, "I don't want to be here for this." He witnessed the rest of the gruesome happenings outside of his body. He also told himself to get his weight off his feet, and that saved his life.

In the hospital, from ER to ICU, he relates how a voice, not his own, in fact one that from the timbre and accent sounded like that of an African American male, kept up a continuous narrative of everything that was happening to him and around him, making him feel much calmer. It would explain medical procedures being performed for him or tell him who was outside the room waiting to see him.

Every July 25th since that day in 1988 has been a day we both feel especially grateful and glad to be alive. It's also a day where I give extra special thanks for guides and teachers and dreams.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dream Humor

I love to pick a theme or image or guide or animal or something that I can trace back through my dream journals and see what comes up. This means I scan my dream titles and speed read the journal entry to see if what I'm looking for is in this dream.

On such a quest, I discovered this incredible gem of a dream from a year ago. I'm posting it just as I recorded it in my journal. I didn't do any more than write it down and I don't even remember dreaming it, but oh, what a wonderful laugh it gave me now. I also read it to my husband and several friends and we all love it.

For sheer sense of humor, this is a powerful dream, let alone, for the rich layers of meaning I can mine in the characters, plot and action; yet, it's not until now, one year later that I realize what a cool dream it is. Keeping a dream journal pays off in the short and long run.

April 12, 2010
My Pet Gorilla

My parents and I have a gorilla in our care. They tend to be really strict with him and deprive him of many things he wants to keep him in line. They go out and I’m in charge. I decide that what he needs is to enjoy some of what he wants, so I take him to the mall and give him some money and tell him to behave. I have to leave and I say I’ll meet him later., He’s a little more rambunctious than I would have liked, but, all in all, he’s well within reasonable behavior, I think.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Power of Dreams to Heal

I will soon facilitate an all day workshop for a very committed group of healers in graduate level training. I'm focusing the day on the healing power of dreams; dreams heal us body and soul.

In his foreword to Wanda Easter Burch's excellent book about her experience healing from breast cancer, "She Who Dreams, A Journey Into Healing Through Dreamwork" Robert Moss says this:

"Dreaming is healing. Our bodies speak to us in dreams, giving us early warning of symptoms we might develop, showing us what they need to stay well. Dreams give us fresh and powerful images for self-healing. Dreams are also the language of the soul; they put us in touch with wells of memory and sources of creativity and energy far beyond the clutter and confusion of the little everyday mind. Beyond this, dreams are experiences of the soul, and can take us - sleeping or hyper-awake - into realms where we can have direct access to sacred healers and teachers."

I know from personal experience that this is true; perhaps, you do, too. What I find so wildly exciting is the thought that access to this wellspring of healing energy may be in the process of going mainstream. Perhaps dreaming is reaching the hundredth monkey. If healers are practiced at dreaming and utilizing the benefits of dreaming, they will pass this healing practice on to the many people who come to them for help.

Once a significant number of people are paying attention to their dreams and acting on dream wisdom, a real healing transformation is possible for each dreamer, for whole communities and for Mother Earth. A dream connection teaches us to take responsibility for ourselves, for our own healing. It makes us open to new creative ways of solving our personal and planetary problems so we can dream a different future for ourselves than the dismal violence wracked apocalypse favored by patriarchal religions. A future where we're not motivated by fear and self-loathing because we're each directly connected to Spirit and have confidence in Love.

Possible or impossible? If an individual dream has the power to heal us, how much more can be accomplished by a shared dream?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sole Responsibility

Facing death, understanding that it is inevitable, leads to lots of philosophical questions. I particularly like what Ecclesiastes says in the Old Testament; “Naked came I into this world and naked I shall return.” To me this means that I have sole responsibility for my soul; this is the vessel I’ll ride out of here, so it’s up to me to steer, both here and once I cross over. I can’t let anyone else interpret the meaning of my life because no preacher, teacher or lawmaker is going to cross with me, let alone, for me. The dreamer is the only interpreter of her or his dream; my life, my soul, my crossing is my sole responsibility.

Dreaming is the bridge between these two realities for me. I live in this plane and I live on other planes, mostly at night, in dreams. It’s important to keep a balance, pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, recognize the laws of waking, material existence and thrive there. The Taoist’s philosophy of Yin and Yang teaches that opposites can be balanced and when they are, we exist in harmony. Yin/Yang is a dance of opposites constantly in motion, flowing from one to the other.

Waking/Dreaming is also such a flow, such a dance.

I don’t remember a dream from last night in words, I remember it in the afterglow of feelings, like I'm returning from a very enjoyable experience. I woke feeling contentment and that’s the feeling I carry into my day; it colors my actions and words, my outlook and thoughts.

I take from the teachings of this waking world, its religions and philosophies, whatever feeds my soul; I reject what I feel shrinks my soul. From my dreams, I get the strength, courage and humor to live the best life on this planet I can. I offer these thoughts in case they help you. Jesus got into a lot of trouble for claiming to be his own authority, but he was right. The kingdom of heaven is within; all we have to do is pay attention and trust ourselves. “Naked came I into this world, and naked I shall return.”

Thanks again to my dear friend, Mally DeSomma, who gave me permission to use her beautiful painting.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

When A Loved One Dies

I'm sitting here thinking about my wonderful neighbor who this week lost his younger brother to cancer, and who had to make the choice, along with other family members, to take him off life support. Will his brother comfort him in a dream? Can he help his brother gain better footing on the other side; is there anything he can do for his brother now?

So many people have told me wonderful stories of dream visits from their beloved, and even not so beloved, dead. I take it for granted that dreaming provides a solid connection for people on both sides of the great divide who want to get through to one another. When people don't pay attention to their dreams, the hope of connecting to their beloved is sometimes the catalyst to bridging that gap and, perhaps, becoming a life-long dreamer.

Last post I quoted Robert, "a dream is a place." Death is a place, too. Perhaps, as Shakespeare intuited, the places we go in dreams and the places we go in death share a lot in common. All things are possible in dreams; perhaps the same is true in death. Robert has written about our lack of an "art of dying" in western culture; he believes the art of dreaming true provides connection for those leaving and those grieving. I heartily agree.

I remember the dream support I was able to offer my own mom when a few weeks prior to her death, she told me a dream where my dad, who had died six years earlier, was lying with her in bed. I shared with her how if it was my dream, I would feel my husband's loving presence and know he was there for me, waiting to help me cross over. Dreams offer immense comfort for the dying and the grieving; they can also provide a bridge across dimensions that allow relationships to continue and grow.

An art of dying? I've read that the majority of citizens of this planet believe there is some "afterlife". How many believe it involves bliss or damnation, reward or punishment? Religions promote various dualistic scenarios which involve these concepts in some configuration; followers are encouraged to tow the party line or pay the price.

What if after our personal experience of death, we have a personal experience of the afterlife? (A wonderful discussion of this is to be found in Deepak Chopra's book, "Life After Death: The Burden of Proof"). What if it depends on how acclimated we've become to inhabiting non-material planes, a continuity of dreaming in some fashion? Can dreams rehearse us for a possible afterlife; can they help us choose what that afterlife can be?

From my perspective, living on this side still, I feel great joy when I remember the dreams that have shown me what my soul might want after the crossing. Eternally? I don't know; perhaps we just keep dreaming our path. That dream self I see in almost every one of my night dreams, she might be my avatar. The better I get to know her, the better I know myself. I've seen her fly, face her monsters and dance her spirit; she makes me feel hopeful and gives me confidence that I will be alright when the moment comes to leave the material plane of my beloved planet Earth.

I know that the experience of being left behind by some dear person or sometimes, a beloved animal friend, really, really hurts. I've lost my mom, dad and others who have meant so much to me. If I suggest to someone newly grieving to pay attention for a dream visit, I phrase and time that suggestion carefully. I don't presume to offer a quick fix for the pain. I know from my own experience and those of many others who've shared theirs with me, that there is comfort in dream visits. For me, these visits have offered so much more than solace, as you may have read in some of my previous posts on this topic. I'm also careful to explain that dream time is very different than our time; a visit may come instantly or take months, even years to arrive. Usually, if we're paying attention, it comes just when we need it the most.

May each soul who crosses find a path of joy and fulfillment; may each soul who remains stationed here on Earth find a link to his or her beloved dead in the safety of dreaming.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DreamTiVo: Dream Memory and Dream Juice

A friend emailed me that she had a wild and crazy dream the other night. All she remembers, she said, was that it was a musical, not a familiar one, something brand new, all original songs and lyrics. She found it funny and exciting. Even across cyberspace, I could feel the thrill this dream held for her. She said; “As soon as I woke up I wished I could have DREAM-TIVOED it.” Bingo, I thought; of course you can! Good handle for dream re-entry, DREAMTIVO.

Knowing her love and talent for writing, I replied enthusiastically; “If it's my dream, I'm going to sit down and write as many songs, even just the lyrics, that I can, in honor of my dream. Even if I can't actually remember the dream narrative, the spirit of it is enough to get me going. I'll give the musical a title and craft it's story. Maybe I'll design the staging, etc., too.” A good way to jump start this adventure would be to relax first and re-enter the dream, look around and dream it forward.

Sometimes all that’s needed to re-enter a juicy dream is lingering energy, emotion or images. Often, in my daydreaming state, new details return of the actual dream. It doesn’t matter how much or little of the dream I remember; it’s charged with energy. It's like getting a free pass into my own personal amusement park. Why would my inner creative child ignore this invitation?

Dream “juice” as Robert speaks of this energy, can last for days, weeks and even years. There are dreams that still thrill me; dreams I could re-enter alone or with friends anytime. I can also peruse my journals to find dreams with juice I may have forgotten. I’ve often experienced how time effects a sea change in a dream’s energy. Here's an example I posted in March of 2011, Erotic Dreams.

The possibility I hold out to my friend and to any dreamer is that, no matter how small the memory trail your dream leaves behind, you can slip through that little bitty dream gate and be back in the world of that dream. Robert often says, "a dream is a place". I invite you to think of the dream as a place, a locale you travel to, not a figment of your imagination (or as I prefer to call it, a pigment of your infatuation), but another dimension, a parallel existence, that you can re-enter at will, using imagination to fuel the journey. As with any cross-cultural travel, the more you visit, the more familiar you are with the differences from your normal existence and the more comfortable you are going there.

It all begins with our innate ability to sleep, perchance, to dream.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lesson of Rita’s Woodsman: The Dreamer is the Only Authority on Her or His Dream

A couple of years ago, when I was leading a wonderful group of women dreamers, all completely new to dreamwork, I experienced the powerful truth of Robert’s teaching on the absolute authority of the dreamer as interpreter of her own dreams, as well as the juicy power of Lightning Dreamwork to en-soul even an almost forgotten dream of power.

A lovely woman in her mid-forties, whom I’ll call Rita, shared a dream with us that came to her during the drumming. To her amazement, the dream was at least 20 years old, one she reported she’d often dreamt in her childhood and teen years, but had not remembered for many years.

In her dream, she’s in a very deep woods but she’s sitting at a lovely white vanity table in front of a mirror brushing her long beautiful blonde hair. In the mirror, she sees a very big woodsman coming up behind her. He’s a very big man, carrying an axe. Her dream ends.

She told the group that this dream puzzled and intrigued her until she learned it’s meaning from a psychologist friend of her husband’s. When she was first married, she related the dream to this friend at a social gathering; he enthusiastically proceeded to ask if she’d had the dream since she met and married her husband. Rita couldn’t recall that she had and told him so. “Aha,” said the psychologist, “the dream is obviously dealing with your adolescent sexual tensions. The woodsman represents your desires and fears about men and sexuality. You’re sitting at your vanity; that’s showing you your vanity as a young woman who wants to be desirable but is also afraid of male sexuality. When you discovered sexuality with a man in reality, your dreams stopped because the issues and tensions the dream signified were resolved.”

“Hmmm,” I said, “maybe, but I’m curious, how the dream made you feel – do you remember?” “Yes,” she answered, amazed at how clearly she could recall these feelings, “I was never afraid; he never seemed threatening even though he was huge and carrying such a large axe. I always felt calm that he was there.”

I didn’t do the reality check right then, that came later, but when I asked her what she wanted to know; she wanted to know who the woodsman really was and if the psychologist had been correct about him.

“Well, if this is my dream, I said, “a couple of things come very strongly to mind. One is the story of Paul Bunyan, although I don’t know it very well, I’d want to read about it.”

Rita sat up with a beaming smile on her face; “Paul Bunyan! I loved that story as a kid, it was one of my favorites!” He was the strongest and biggest man ever born!”

“Well,” that’s neat, I replied, “because it also brings to mind the biblical connection of hair with strength, pride and spiritual connections, hence the practice of not cutting the hair by Nazarenes like Jesus and also the dangers of cutting your hair and losing your strength like Samson.” So if this were my childhood and adolescent dream, I might see in it a way to access the birthright of my personal strength and power. I would like an ally like Paul and maybe Babe, the blue ox, so I’d maybe re-read those stories and think about how they made me feel, and I might also keep them around and call on them in times of need or to dialogue with them as guides and teachers. I might re-enter that dream and see myself at my vanity (or altar) in the woods, brushing the strength into my hair and feeling protected and safe anytime in waking life that I need to summon my courage for the challenges at hand.”

It turns out that Rita, (reality check) was facing some personal tests in her family that required her to be strong. She didn’t share much, since I gently discouraged too much personal revelation, but she said she remembered how her family had always praised her for unusual strength of character, something she hadn’t thought about herself in years.

It was clear to all in the group that Rita felt very differently about her dream and, judging from the energy she vibrated and the sparkle in her eyes, she felt differently about herself, as well. To honor the dream, she was going to do one of her favorite things, cruise the antique stores (again, a pleasure she’d not pursued for a while) and find her white vanity. Her bumper sticker; “My strength is inside me, always.”

Witnessing Rita’s experience, the whole group now understood how important it is not to project your interpretation of a dream that isn’t yours on to the dreamer; yet how powerful sharing your intuition of the dream as if it were your own can be. We all saw how dreams retain their juice over a lifetime and how they return when invited, to feed our souls just when we need it the most.

In my wonderful experiences as a teacher of Active Dreaming, I often find that the single most difficult thing about the Lightning Dreamwork process for many people is to hold back their judgments and projections and, instead of interpreting, tap their intuition in a genuine way, truly making the dream their very own. Playing “analyst” seems to be a role that’s easy to slip into, maybe because it’s so much easier to see the “speck in our neighbor’s eye and miss the log in our own.” as Jesus pointed out.

For me, the magic of dream sharing happens when I truly put myself in the moccasins of another’s dream and walk inside it myself. My feelings, my memories, my intuitions in symbol or thought form spring up spontaneously. I’m free of the responsibility or audacity of giving correct answers and appearing guru-like in my awesome powers as dream interpreter. Instead, I get to play in the landscape of another’s dream and bring back the gifts given to me, just in case they can be of use to the dreamer.

In this process, I’m conscious that there is more at work than meets the I, my personal ego. There’s me, there’s the dreamer and there’s that amazing third Participant that’s greater than just us. When a group finally experiences how this works, the dreamwork becomes rich and deep, fun and powerful. The energy of the dream moves like lightning around the group, crackling with genuine dream illumination, not only for the dreamer, but in some intimate way, for each person in the group.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Barnacle Ganesha: A Waking Dream Gift

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching Active Dreaming to a diverse group of professionals engaged in Masters’ level studies in experiential health and healing. It’s thrilling to be with such talented, accomplished and motivated people. It’s especially thrilling to share with them a dreaming practice I know will benefit them personally and aid them in the awesome work they do to help others.

If I were to coin a bumper sticker from this experience it would echo a theme that the program coordinator mentioned several times, the best things happen when you trust your heart and get out of your own way.

Get Out of My Way My Own Self

My workshop was titled; “Active Dreaming as Eco Dreaming”.

In an unpleasant synchronicity, while I was preparing my presentation on Friday, my neighbor was having a healthy maple tree professionally removed. Whatever the reason for cutting down the tree, witnessing the act, the men with loud saws, ropes and huge bucket truck, was a nerve jarring and saddening experience. I escaped to walk the beach just steps from my house and down 20 feet from street level.

I walked a mile to the pier reflecting on this irony. We're alienated from Nature without and from our own nature, our dreams, within. How fortunate for this teaching opportunity; perhaps I can help heal a piece of this disconnect through my dream work. Thinking this, I turn around and head home, offering my gratitude to Mother Ocean. As I approach the stairs to go back up, while crossing a small patch of shallow water with lots of seaweed and shells, I see a yellow object partially covered in the sand.

Curious, I bend to pick it up, realizing as I get a closer look that it’s none other than Lord Ganesha! OMG! Can the universe get any funnier? Elephant has been a dream animal guide to me for decades, as I’ve mentioned before. Here is this gift from the universe, a true synchronicity, a meaningful coincidence according to the man who coined the term, Dr. Carl Jung. It made me feel happy, blessed and confident. Plus, I just love the barnacles; baby barnacles!

The Hindu Elephant headed God, Ganesha, is revered in India. Did Lord Ganesha come all the way from India here, or just from across Long Island Sound? I Googled “Ganesha Lord of Dreams” to see if I got a good hit on it, but instead I found that Ganesha confers Success, presides over Beginnings, Education, and Knowledge, among other things. I took my marvelous Barnacle Ganesha with me to place as my elephant totem on my dream altar at the workshops.

In one of the sessions I led, during a group round of Lightning Dreamwork, a dreamer shared a dream that began in a gift shop. Gifts from our dreams and gifts from our waking dreams can inspire us as we work to transform our culture into one with a sustainable future.

Amazing Grace.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Attack Cat: A Nightmare Dreamgate

Rocking my 60's has been off to a slow start because I've had to deal with unaccustomed bouts of blues. Having grown up with a mom, goddess bless her in every way, who was subject to these late life blues, it's "My Mother/Myself" all over again. Remember Nancy Friday's brilliant book by that title published in 1977?

I've been listening to Pema Chodron's talk, "True Happiness", which does help; she's a wonderful Buddhist teacher. I'm not a Buddhist, though; I'm a dreamer. Sure enough, last night my dreams gave me the key I needed to unlock my missing inner resources. I'm so grateful for the beauty and the wisdom in my dreams. Here's how it happened.

Last night I had a nightmare. I went to bed early, tired out from weekend responsibilities and so happy to snuggle into bed. I woke up around 1:30AM from a dream I titled, ATTACKED.

I’m not ready to share it in its entirety, just that it involved an axe murderer and an attack cat. If you find this funny, so did my husband this morning when I shared the dream, and so do I now. But it wasn’t funny at 1:30AM.

If there’s one thing I've learned over the years, it's that your garden variety (non-PTS) nightmare is your best friend. My first rule is to write down the dream before I start searching around for it’s meaning. I padded off to the bathroom, because, of course, at this time of night I also had to pee. Taking my journal and pen with me, I put on the light and sat down, opened my journal to May and entered the dream with today's date. Doing this was important because, until I began to write the dream as a detailed report of my experience this night, I had forgotten a significant part. I remembered the attack cat, but had forgotten about the axe murderer.

Although in my dream I’d escaped the one and bagged the other one with the help of my entire neighborhood, when I woke up as we were about to drown the cat, I felt unnerved and dismayed. With my beloved cat sleeping next to me, it felt awful that a cat would actually attack me or that I would have to kill one in a dream.

The feeling you wake with is very important. From this two part dream drama, I woke with the icky feelings I mentioned heightened by a slightly agitated state closer to the terror and alarm a Big Nightmare can give you. Remembering the first part of the dream as I wrote it down certainly explained my feelings.

I knew there was only one thing to do. Brave up, as Robert Moss puts it, and face the terror, with an ally, if I need one. Dream Re-entry is one of the brilliant tools of Active Dreaming. Based on shamanic journeying practices from many indigenous and ancient cultures, it’s a practice of going back into the dreamscape of a dream and dreaming it forward.

Returning to bed, even though I knew this was what I had to do, I wasn’t enthused about doing it because it felt like something I didn’t want to know, an illness maybe? But I trust my dreams to give it to me straight, but with hope, so I did brave up and I did go in. Keeping my neighbors with me, I confronted the cat with the classic Senoi dream practice questions: “Who are you?” and “What do you want?”

It never fails to amaze me how my dream re-entries can completely surprise me. When the cat answered I called on more protection; from what the cat said, I knew it wasn’t earthbound protectors I needed. Again, I was amazed at who showed up; their presence helped me feel completely safe. I finished my conversation with the cat, who was the axe murderer, and realized this dream holds the key to my personal puzzle about my blues. Hallelujah!

I've found that the best time to re-enter a dream is right away, with the energy of it still pulsing in my heart and head, (although, I can and do re-enter old dreams regularly with great results). I don’t go back to sleep to do this; I’m wide awake, but relaxed and ready to launch back into the dream scene with the props or protectors I need to feel safe. All it takes is a willing suspension of disbelief, same as when watching a movie. Jump in and daydream it forward, the less you let your judgmental mind interfere, the greater the rewards when you finish. I then record my dream journey on the following page of my journal, indicating it's a re-entry, the sequel, to my dream.

I’m writing this post to honor the power of my dreams and the value of their spiritual, emotional, and physical gifts to me. I'm forever indebted to my friends, guides, teachers and experiences in the dream time because now I know what I have to do to be wholly myself, and also my mother’s daughter.

What I want to share with you most is the certainty that your own dream path has the same healing, helping potential for you that mine has for me. Dreaming is as ancient and universal as we are; it's an intricate part of our existence that we’ve shared from the beginning of time and beyond, as we dream our future, personally and as a world community.

I’m also grateful to Robert Moss for developing and teaching this simple, powerful approach to playing with our dreams.

I photographed to share with you an old leather banner that now hangs, out of sight, in my shed, but many years ago, hung near our back door. I was relieved it wasn’t my cat that attacked me in my dream, but a big scruffy tabby. While telling Jim my dream, I realized the "Attack Cat" looks a lot like our old “Protector Cat." I love the humor and irony of dreams.