Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I sometimes refer to myself as Pagan, (which comes from a lovely Latin word for person of the earth, or country). Pagans recognize Feminine, as well as, Masculine divinities. Feb 2nd, now affectionately known as “Ground Hog Day” was once the pagan celebration of Spring. Imbolc, as this holiday is known in Celtic traditions, is dedicated to Spring and the Goddess/Creatrix, Brigid. Brigid is patroness of many things, among them, art in all its manifestations. She is the fire of creativity deep within our souls. “Imbolc” means, “fire in the belly”. It’s the official pagan beginning of Spring.
This year in the NE, it’s easy to believe Spring is here; years like last, it was more of a leap of faith. But even with snow on the ground, country people recognized that seeds are waking up under ground, the sap is flowing in the maples and animals are getting frisky. It’s no surprise that February has a Valentine’s day, a celebration of erotic love. According to Wikipedia, the month’s name derives from Februa, a Roman Spring purification ritual performed on the February full moon. Wiki also says; “Some sources connect the Latin word for fever (febris)…” To me Spring and February connote libido in all its glorious manifestations, erotic and creative, heating up existence, as in "you give me fever".
Taking advantage of this fire in Nature’s belly I’d like to wax poetic about one of my favorite topics, sex in dreams. The delicate or faint hearted among you may want to stop reading here.
I’m of the opinion that when women aren’t having happy orgasms, they get grumpy or depressed. I’d say it’s that way for me and for many of the women with whom I’ve discussed this, (the same may be true for men; I don’t know). I define “happy orgasm” as an orgasmic experience that leaves me feeling good about myself and, if I’m with a partner, good about that person, too.
I wonder how many people feel deprived of such joy and release in life; and I wonder how different it might be for many if the sexual pleasure dreams offer were to be accepted and explored. I know this is a touchy subject :-), but there is such potential for healing here. It’s a personal healing that doesn’t need to be shared with anyone; it’s kind of like what happens in Vegas...this is the dream world (or worlds). I can experience things on different levels of reality, differently.
Without guilt, for one. One of my favorite jokes is; religion is guilt with different holidays. If I can fly, breathe under water, walk through walls and experience the Light in dreams, then why should I deny a good orgasm when I’m offered it?
Each person has his or her sexual paradigm founded on many personal conscious and unconscious factors, but our cultural paradigm is a shared, consensus reality. Let’s face it, sexual paradigms in our culture suck. There’s extreme repression in the religious/moral camp and extreme exploitation in the sex sells consumer camp.
In dreams we're offered alternate scenarios; our dreams may offer a playground for sexual healing and release that is completely personal, private and the safest of safe sex.
As Dorothy Sayers famously said, “The only sin passion can commit is to be joyless.”
In dreams, we can be safe, be loved and be free of material world consequences. One caution, I would never submit to any entity or any character in a dream state that is asking me to do what I don’t want to do. But if a fun opportunity presents itself, I feel free to explore it.
How each woman gets her happy orgasm is her business; I am here to say that for young and old alike, never underestimate the power of a dream to get us over that rainbow not just once, in the dream, but in countless private re-entry sessions, (like the fantasy script one could use while one makes love to oneself). It’s easier to be a good lover to another if we’ve embraced our own sexuality.
I don’t mean sexiness; I’m saddened by the epidemic of insecurity and uniformity I see in many women trying to replicate cultural icons. I am very excited, though, by many young women who are taking their lives and talents into their own hands, despite social pressures, like Adele.
Dream orgasms may freak some people out. Maybe, in your dream, you were making love to the pope or somebody else totally inappropriate. (OMG, I just thought of a fabulous reference to this that I read many years ago,a short story titled, "Pope Innocent XV: Scenes from a Dream" by Rose Solomon in the wonderful anthology, "Ladies Home Erotica")
There are plenty of ways to ponder erotic dreams that can prove very healing.
First, of course, eliminate from the erotic category any dream that is a replay of a traumatic waking event, a Post Traumatic Stress Dream. No dream with waking reality traumatic, repetitive content should be handled lightly, and best not alone. A trained therapist with dream experience should be able to offer the guidance necessary to use such dreams for healing.
That said, if it’s my sexy dream, I’d ask myself these questions: “How do I feel waking up and in my dream? What do I like about this dream lover, setting, action, image? Am I witnessing a relationship in another life, past or future, or on another level of reality? Is there dream content about unconscious feelings I might wish to address compassionately with myself? Do I want to call an ally and re-enter in a conscious dream to dialogue, get information or experiment with other outcomes? Is this dream a ten on the level of my favorite sexual fantasies?
It’s always important to assess how you feel; is the story disturbing, titillating, horrifying or absolutely pleasurable, even if it’s weird and freaks my ego out?
I admit, I prefer the uncomplicated sexual dreams that feel just plain good, like when Eric Clapton and I had a lovely affair while he was here giving guitar lessons to Jim. (Shortly after I dreamed this, Clapton’s yacht, the Blue Guitar, anchored outside of Charles Island, CT, probably on his way back from visiting Keith. A musician friend rang our bell early that morning to tell us it was there and we marched to the beach, just feet away, with binoculars. What are the chances of an Eric citing if you don’t live next door to him?).
I especially value my dreams of a lover that is a stranger, a person clearly in another dimension, a parallel reality. In my dream, I meet him and get to know him; the fire heats up between us. I can enjoy that dream adventure to the (cli)max; yet still, transfer that energy, that positive feeling, into my waking dimension on this material plane. When my dreams grant me such pleasure, whoooo, baby, I can use those scenarios for years. Lucky for me, new ones come along frequently enough, keeping it always fresh.
All I’m saying is, why suffer in misery when you can look to your dreams for a little excitement? As many have heard me say, it’s the safest sex there is. Keeping a journal ensures that you’ll always have access to your own best material. And who knows, dreams might help you write the next great bodice ripper. Hmmmm, now there’s a thought.
Happy dreams, my friends.
This sensational nude, fittingly titled "Dreaming" is painted by award winning pastel artist, Mally DeSomma
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Coming up, just after Valentine's, is President Lincoln's Bday. One of my favorite dream stories from history is that Lincoln had a precognitive dream about his assassination ten days before he was assasinated. Here's the account told by his friend and bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon. (taken from Lehrman Institute website)
"In the last month of his life, Mr. Lincoln had several strange dreams, one of which he related to his wife and Ward Hill Lamon shortly before he was assassinated: "About ten days ago I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully, 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers. 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin!' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since." " Mrs. Lincoln was shocked by the story: "That is horrid! I wish you had not told it."
I ask myself, "What if Lincoln had lived in a dreaming society? What if I am president and this is my dream?"
I wake up in a sweat and say, "Holy Shit. This is serious." I calm down, take slow, deep in the belly breaths, I tell myself to calm, focus. I thank the dream source for this warning. When I feel ready, I re-enter the dream in a conscious, twilight state so I can ask some questions. I see myself before the catafalque facing the soldier who just gave me the news. I say, I am your president, tell me everything that has happened here. I engage that character until I've gotten all I can, then I turn to myself in the coffin and say, "Abe, what happened, tell me everything." After that, I raise the alarm; get all the guards organized and put everyone on the alert that an attack on the president's life is imminent"
Now, I'm ready to take action in waking life. I rouse Mary and summon Ward. Sitting at the table with tea, I share my dream with my dear, clairvoyant wife and my trusted friend. I see fear in Mary's eyes turn to resolve. She'll dream on this, too, she tells me, and consult her dream group now. Ward has summoned all the Captains of the Guard for an emergency briefing.
Indeed, the alert works. Instead of low security at the theater, the security is covert and intense. JWB is recognized as an intruder, arrested for drunken vagrancy, and kept a few days in the tank. After his hangover wears off, that moment in time is over, he gives up his lunatic ways and goes home.
This is my dream of President Lincoln's dream.
If only he hadn't said, it's only a dream. If only Mary had recognized the jolt of power in that dream instead of cringing before a possible nasty patch. If only Ward had said, so reality check, Abe. What feels most real to you about this dream? What did you find out when you went in? You've got my word I'll put together the guard, see that they all hear the dream and are on the alert. This dream's a gift, Abe.
If only Abe had lived in a dream sophisticated society. I can't help but wonder.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
There are few activities more pleasurable to me than teaching anyone who wants to learn about creating a dream dialogue in their lives and taking it to the level of a spiritual practice. Often a student raises an issue that I want to write about here.
One aspect of Active Dreaming is honoring the dream. Robert's work with indigenous American cultures led him to incorporate this practice in his teaching. It means doing something actively, perhaps creatively, to manifest the energy of the dream in waking reality, thereby respecting the dream dialogue the way one might respects a wise friend's advice.
An obvious thought might be that if I dream of a person I know, I might share that dream with them as a way to honor my dream, right? Yes, but not without a caveat or two.
The art of dream sharing is a delicate matter that needs discernment; I believe it shouldn't be done as a matter of course, for several reasons:
Dreams need digestion. Writing them down paints a picture that evolves as I contemplate it. Unless the dream is uber funny and I know my friend will enjoy the laugh, I don't share it right away.
I want to know what it means to me first. I start, as Robert suggests, with the emotional tone of the dream; how do I feel waking up and how does my dream self feel?
I ask myself when I dream of another,is this the actual person or some aspect or idea about that person that applies to me at the moment? I might want to re-enter the dream, consciously, like a daydream, and talk to that person I recognize and see what they have to say to me. This might help me determine whether I share the dream with the person in waking.
Some dreams can have a negative transference effect when shared, even unintentionally. If in your dream, I'm upset about my hair falling out and you tell me this dream, I might think that cancer treatments cause your hair to fall out. I might worry that I have cancer, unless I'm in touch with my dreams and already have a good handle on what I need to know about my health. If this didn't occur to you before sharing your dream, you really didn't ponder it enough.
It's so easy to project ideas on to others, especially when conveyed in the language of dreams, images. Images stick with you (just ask Madison Ave) and unexplored negative images tend to be icky-sticky, the stuff of icky dreams. I've written a couple of times about how to work with these, so suffice it to say that images of this nature require exploration by the dreamer.
Dreams are in the service of health and healing. Any dream I do consider after pondering may convey a warning about another person's well-being requires me to use great judgment. Is my sharing this with them going to prove helpful to them or cause them anxiety? How can I best help if I feel I should? I may decide to incubate another dream for clarification of what I can do. Perhaps I'll be watchful for an opportunity to present to the person, not necessarily the dream imagery, but some support or suggestions that can be useful and positive. (There's another tool in Active Dreaming called Dream Transference; it's a powerful way to help people deal with difficulties using dream images. I'll save a more detailed description for another post.)
If I don't feel a dream will be immediately helpful, I record it so I have the fresh account, but I don't share it until I feel it can help. And, if I am sharing a dream health warning with another person or if a person shares a dream I suspect may carry one, I'm extremely delicate about probing this possible meaning. I might gently suggest, "If it's my dream, I'd wonder why I'm losing hair. Is this a transition I'm going through? I think I'd like to re-enter my dream and speak with my dream self about what's going on." I would not necessarily bring up cancer and hair loss. I trust a person's intuition to arrive at the conclusion they need from their own consideration of the dream.
Another possibility when I dream of a person I know is that this dream character presages a person I'm going to meet in future waking reality that reminds me of the person I'm dreaming about. Or, perhaps as I've been pondering with you in previous posts, it's an experience I'm having with this person on another level of reality or in the dream reality. In that case, I may want to pursue the relationship on that plane and not necessarily seek to manifest it on this one, unless synchronicity makes it so.
There is nothing wrong with sharing dreams with someone. My husband and I star in each other's dreams regularly and share our dreams often; I choose which dreams I'll share and to what extent, as I'm sure he does, too. I know of dreamers who have shared a dream that meant nothing to them with a colleague or acquaintance they've dreamed about and the dream has carried great meaning for that person in waking. Some message may indeed come through in a timely and beneficial way; we often know through our own intuition when to tell someone a dream. Still, there is a dream diplomacy, an art to sharing and co-working with dreams. That's why I teach and write about Active Dreaming; it has some of the most valuable tools for playing with and honoring dreams individually or with others that I know. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to do this and lucky when a student helps me teach.
(This beautiful photograph was taken by my dear friend, Nancy Hammett, on her visit to the Grand Canyon recently and used with her permission. It's an amazing waking dream scape and I couldn't wait to share it on my blog. Here's a link to her NIA studio: