Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In Dreams We Learn To Fly

Videographer, James Cookman
As I mentioned earlier, I was confirmed this past weekend in my belief that dreams are fascinating and that many people find them so

I see dreams as the zip line of the soul, how we’re connected to where we came from and where we’ll go after we shuffle off the proverbial mortal coil.  Our culture as a whole ignores dreams, unless it’s in therapy or analysis, where dreams are usually surrendered meekly to the “experts” for interpretation.  Many people feel that dreams “mean” something psychological, many fear dreams in a vague way. Either through religious association or Hollywood distortion, lots of people shut the door on the dreaming experience. 

Since both dreaming and sex are a totally natural and ubiquitously human experience, I’m amazed at the number of people who remain inexperienced on purpose, like celibate dream virgins.  But all kidding aside, my fire pit waking dream of last weekend just confirmed for me that people love the possibility of connecting to their dreaming and I'm happy to offer that to them as a dream teacher, especially because AD is such a “juicy” avenue for dream exploration.

Active Dreaming (AD) developed by Robert Moss frees dreaming from the constraints of a purely psychoanalytic perspective.  Reaching back into the ancient past, blending indigenous wisdom with Western cultural ideas and weaving it all with the best of modern dreamwork, AD is a practice, not a theory.

Robert teaches how the ancient Egyptians viewed a dream as a place the spirit body visits, how the Egyptian word for dream actually means to awaken; in AD, a dream can be a place and the dream a memory of an experience in that place, like a postcard. Dream Re-entry, one of the main practices of AD, teaches the dreamer that a dream can be expanded and explored in a wide awake relaxed conscious state.  I often write my re-entry adventures along side the dream that inspired them in my journal, they’re that good.

So when my new young friend this weekend tells me that she often dreams about the same intriguing spot, sometimes it’s pleasant, sometimes not, I see this “place” in her dreams for myself as a launch pad for consciously re-entering the dreamworld in a state of relaxed attention and continuing whatever dream adventure I choose in my imagination.

William Buhlman is a contemporary leader in the field of “Out of Body” or OBE experience. Although he's a master of OBE experience, many others, myself included, have experienced a conscious OBE at least once.  For many like me, it creates an absolute certainty of the capacity of our consciousness to survive physical death and of the diversity and complexity of experience on other planes of existence that are "non-physical."

For me the practice of AD spans the entire spectrum of dreaming: sleep dreams of ordinary life minutia that might prove helpful in managing routine waking events; unexpected numinous dreams heralding life changing events or shining a beacon through the turmoil; lucid dreaming where I'm aware of my dream self dreaming and my ability to shape dream realities and OBEs, where I experience my consciousness outside of my body either in sleep or meditation and consciously explore the multiverse that I know to be as solid a reality as any other I live.  These experiences have taught me to be the authority of my own life, now and after death, to determine my priorities accordingly and to fear death way less, rather, to use it as my ally instead. 

In AD, the only authority of a person's dreams is that person, not me, regardless of how much I know about and love dreaming.  Being my own spiritual authority is incredibly freeing.  Someone who is trying to interpret another’s dreams is just projecting their own understanding, which is fine, as long as they own that projection by saying “if it were my dream” in preface and only using the personal pronoun when discussing thoughts on that other person's dream.  It seems a simple guideline but I’ve seen how very powerful it is in practice.

For instance, regarding the dream my new friend told me which I mention above, I’d say, "if this is my dream" I’d call on my imagination to take me there someday when I have the leisure to daydream or some night when I can't sleep.  I’d pay close attention to what I see, just as if I were looking around in a waking world wooded area.  But here’s an important difference, if I felt unsafe at any point, I’d call in one or more allies to have my back and fearlessly continue with my exploration.  Dream practice has taught me to use my imagination for my own good, which believe it or not, is a rare thing in our contemporary culture.

The negative scenarios and narratives that we entertain regularly in our inner dialogue are less than healthy for us.  I’ve adopted the habit of stopping myself and asking, “Really?  Is this the story I want to tell myself? How does it serve me?”  Thanks to the wonderful work of Eckhart Tolle, more people are aware of how the ego, the “I” we speak of and usually identify with, creates unnecessary drama, pain and stress for us.  Dreaming connects us with who we are beyond the ego, what Jung called the Self. Dreaming is organic spirituality for that very reason, there’s much more to us than meets the “I”.

A dream practice can be whatever an individual wants it to be, though keeping a journal and recording your dreams, frequently or infrequently, is key, as dreams are ephemeral.  Think how looking through a photo album recalls life experiences and people for us. It’s the same with your dream journals, only more important because we’re dealing with experiences in the Unconscious, as Jung puts it, or according to Robert Moss, in the Multiverse. Waking reality experienced in a “conscious” state gets forgotten; experiences in the “Unconscious” are harder to recall if we don’t record them asap.

So, I invite you to allow dreaming more space in your life and perhaps double your life experience. Open your awareness to who you are dreaming, to what you do and what you learn. Step into your dream world with curiosity, focus and not a little awe.  Begin with whatever dream comes to mind, old or new, write it down; dreams are timeless because time is only relevant in the physical. Give the dream a title as if were a story.  Notice your feelings and champion your own cause; you are the ultimate creator of this story, so take charge.  Nothing can harm you in the dreamworlds unless you let it harm you, and even then, you’ll bounce back if you try. 

I always add a note about PTSD dreams which often repeat psychic wounding from physical trauma. A person who suffers from PTSD nightmares may need a healer with dream skills to help them transform their negative dream experiences. Nightmares, which are common to human experience, can be a stepping stone to personal growth when approached through a practice like Active Dreaming and other wonderful experiential paths of dreaming.

As Robert likes to say: “We were born to fly, and in dreams we discover that the soul has wings.” 

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Waking Dream Or How I Spent Labor Day Weekend

I hope everyone who reads this post can recall at least one magical waking dream from this weekend.  I’m sharing one of mine I really enjoy.

It began with a wonderful tribute to a sister healer at her birthday party on Saturday.  It was beautiful in every way and by the sea, in my neighborhood. I enjoyed sharing the love that poured out to her for hours in our circle and meeting her amazing friends, some of which I friend as well.

When the party was breaking up, a friend says she’s headed down to the small fire pit that had been lit on the beach to burn her journals.  Intrigued, I follow.  Soon she realizes that fire pit won’t do and went to the neighbor’s fire pit.  A circle of friends invited she and I to join them and burn the journals, if she liked.

After much fun discussion among all six or seven, my neighbor in the circle and I began a conversation about dreams. She talked about a recurring dream, about a place that I felt might be a portal for frequent dream reentry. Exciting stuff which we discussed for quite a long time.  One by one I had the most wonderful conversations about dreaming with each member of that group. 

Two days later, on the beach, I spoke to one of the members of that group; when a neighbor introduced me he said; “You’re the Dreamweaver”.

I’ll take that, I smiled to myself; "Yes" I said.  A magical night and the essence of it so encapsulated in a casual remark.  The title of my waking dream is thus; “You’re the DreamWeaver.”

May your best dreams come true. 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Midsummer Dream

photo by A. Kaiser
I recently officiated for the first time at a very dear friend's wedding and was honored with the opportunity to give a short talk on their behalf to introduce the grand event.  What a wedding it was.

When I give a talk, my first care is for those whom I'm addressing; how do I speak so as to give something that might be of value to the good folks in front of me?  In this case, it's also, how do I honor my friend and her wonderful guy; I want them to be happy they asked me.

I produced several drafts of my speech, searching for meaning and brevity combined so I have some bits left over I can use here.  What I left out was mostly about projections in romantic relationships, realizing, though I find this topic fascinating, my audience might appreciate getting on with the ceremony and perhaps to the cocktail hour.  At least reading is voluntary, so here are those thoughts:

Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist of a hundred years ago said that for many people, romantic love and sometimes even marriage is really a fantasy based on the perfect picture of the other that each person is projecting.  “My prince, my princess”, but as the shine wears off over time and they gradually fail to live up to each other’s projected expectations, the fireworks begin.

It takes time to find out who another person is at the soul level; many people are too caught up in building a fairy tale life to take the time to know each other.

The naked truth of marriage is not that “the two shall become one” but that the two shall become three, whether they have children or not, the two becomes three.  I have my soul journey to walk, my husband or wife has his or hers.  Neither of us has a right to impose projections on the other.  But there is a third in a good relationship, it’s the spirit of who we become together, the partnership itself is a life force, if we walk our soul paths together with love and understanding, it only gets better through the years.

What I love about following a dream practice is that it's easier to recognize and own my projections, thereby sparing myself and others much grief.  Here's a real life example:

Last September I had the absolute good fortune of attending a Michael Franti concert at a very small venue where I was in the front of a crowd of just a few hundred adoring Franti fans, myself included.
In my opinon, Michael Franti has it together and is an emissary of Love. Most Franti fans are pretty cool, they're on the same vibe.

But there was this one woman right behind me who had obviously been to a long cocktail hour before the show and who had a passionate, therefore drunkenly unleashed, projection on to Michael's drummer.  She was screaming for the drummer, lost in the fantasy that he would complete her if only he would return her singular devotion.   As she was screaming the poor guy's name through Michael's songs I finally gave her a look that said, "please be more respectful of all of us"  and she did quiet down some, thankfully.  She was lost inside her own projection that night and she wasn't really present with the crowd, the music and the artists.  

Perhaps this woman, lost inside this pigment of her own infatuation, really wants to be African and play the drums like that?  She's plainly not aware that she doesn't know this man who may have a perfectly good family/love partner to go home to and may not appreciate silly, screaming, inappropriate fans.  This is an example of a relationship projection that's pretty common in pop-idolatry culture, but it can also serve to illustrate the dynamic of personal relationships, up close, in the family model
As a therapist and counselor and as a friend, the issues I've heard related again and again are about relationships, especially, romantic ones, happy or ones gone bad.  The counsel of dreams, in my experience and that of countless dreamers I've heard say the same, is that you must, as Jung would put it, mind your own Shadow first, the dark and the light. I've written an intro to the Shadow archetype here.

What made me truly happy as I officiated my friend's wedding is that she and her partner have been together for nine years and have stripped away much of those early mutual projections.  I don't know how else it can be done.  It takes time to know another and to know oneself.  The good news about relationships is that loving is a lot lighter and more fun when the personal projections are cleared.  

I had such a wonderful time at this wedding and so did everyone else there, that I thought you'd enjoy seeing a picture of my young friend with her beloved.

Wish you all a very blessed Summer Solstice season. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

You Have A Dream

by Tom Feelings
I love people who inspire me to hope and dream.  Maya Angelou, one of the great dream prophets of our age, crossed over last week.  People's hearts are singing her praises all over social media.  I say she was a dream prophet because with her poetry, art and oratory, she called on all of us to dream from every cell of our existence and to sing our hearts out to the tune of that dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is another dream prophet I honor.  When I was in my late 20s and fresh out of seminary, (here's that story) I taught at an all girl's high school run by the then wonderfully progressive Sisters of St. Joseph.  I had the grand honor of helping to produce, with a caucus of African-American students, a kick-ass assembly program in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday.

The opening of our assembly was a spectacular dance performance to Stevie Wonder's tribute to MLK, Happy Birthday.  The dancers were among Garth Fagan's best students in his Rochester based dance school, (yes, the Garth Fagan of Lion King fame, and you can imagine how fortunate I feel that I got to learn from him and his A-list dancers, just for a few years, while I was teaching high school in Rochester).

My decision to open the school assembly with this dance was inspired by a dream.  In my dream I saw dancers silhouetted on a dark stage with the most amazing light show of streaming colors flowing out of their every move.  The waking dream performance had that magical, luminous energy.

Dreams inspire creative action in waking life.  Shaping your own dream according to your heart and soul's desire keeps life extremely interesting.  As Maya Angelou said with her succinct power:

" A person is the product of their dreams.  So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dream."

from "Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The World Day of Active Dreaming, 1.

I'd like to share with you what I posted on my Lita Dreaming FB page today; a miniscule moment of bliss from the great experience of bliss that was our World Day of Active Dreaming celebration in Monroe, CT, hosted at the wonderful ARC Sacred Center on May 10th, "El Diez de Mayo".

I had asked my very musically talented co-facilitator Lynette Turner (holding my right hand in the picture) to sing her incredibly beautiful song, "Believe" as a meditation at the beginning of our dream cirlcle.

What a wonderful experience it is to call on spiritual guides through dreams in a circle of open, heart- fueled women.  This was an all women's circle by chance, I have had the same experience with men and children in dream groups.  It's all about the dreaming, the doors and gates and paths that open when we dream together.

I give thanks on this day for the life and work of Maya Angelou; may we dream her dreams of hope forward together.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day Homily at MUUS

I'd like to share with you the homily I gave this Mother's Day at the Mattatuck Unitarian Univer-
salist Society in Woodbury, CT, titled: "The Feminine Divine on Mother's Day." 

Today is Mother’s Day, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you about Mother. Actually, today in particular is the centennial of Mother’s Day in the US, first declared officially as the second Sunday in May by Pres. Woodrow Wilson in 1914.  This holiday, which probably has its roots in ancient Mother Goddess Spring festivals of Greece and Rome, was championed in the US by Anna Jarvis, who beginning in 1905, campaigned vigorously to establish a day where each family would honor their personal mothers in a special way at home and with church services.  Unfortunately, it took no time at all for the holiday to become so commercialized that she actually spent the rest of her life fighting to have the holiday removed from the official national roster.  Thanks, Hallmark.

What Anna Jarvis wanted was that on Mother’s Day we be reminded to celebrate the unconditional love, sacrifice, untiring care and selfless devotion of our personal mothers.    To give thanks to our mothers for having the courage to give birth to us, and thanks to every woman who after taking on that heroic biological task, in the majority of cases, did her very best to take on the moral/spiritual task of nurturing her children, as well. 

Moving from the personal to the collective, on this centennial of our national celebration of Mother’s Day, I’d like to invite you to remember with me not the personal mother of our own experience, but the archetypal mother of our collective experience as a human race, the Great Mother, the Feminine Divine. 

At the very core of our collective psyche as a human race on this beautiful, bountiful planet is the Great Mother, known throughout antiquity and across indigenous cultures as the Creator of all that is. Thanks to the work of exceptional scholars like archeologist Marija Gimbutas, we know that: “The Goddess is the most potent and persistent feature in the archeological records of the ancient world, a symbol of the unity of life in nature and the personification of all that was sacred and mysterious on earth.”

I was completely delighted to learn that Unitarian Universalists have for many years offered a very sophisticated curriculum about the ancient and indigenous Goddesses from history and diverse cultures, “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven”. I was going to spend some time with you sharing slides of many of these pre-historic and multi-cultural images of the goddess, until I realized I’d be preaching to the choir, many of you already know about HER.

Whether God as Mother is a familiar concept or a new one to you today, I’d like to invite all of us to reflect on the status of the Divine Feminine in our psyches, both personally and collectively.  Because for the last five thousand years or so, She has been persecuted, obscured, neglected and finally banished. This has had dire consequences for humanity.  The elevation of the masculine to exclusive divine status and the denigration of the feminine to subservient and inferior status has grave implications for our personal psychic health, whether we are male or female, for our cultures and for the well being of our endangered planet.

The Wisdom of the Feminine, personified in the many forms of the goddess, is essentially the understanding that Divine Light is not separate from creation, but inherent in creation, embodied and birthed over and over again by women.  For ancient peoples, woman was the matrix of creation, both literally and metaphysically. Moreover, to ancient and indigenous peoples even today, the Earth is our Mother, alive, sentient and interactive with our every thought, word and deed.  We are part of a physical and mystical web of life that is inter-dependent and inter-connected.  

History is the story as told by the conqueror and the stories we have learned are about the triumph of the masculine sky gods, giving birth without women, from Adam’s rib, the head of Zeus or even the spoken word.  Patriarchal mythologies have divorced divinity from nature, exhorting conquering, dominating and exploitive ideologies that have brought us to the very brink of our own annihilation.  It has placed divinity outside of matter and reduced matter to a mechanical science, devoid of soul. All ancient and indigenous peoples even today know this is a grave error.

But today, we are in the midst of a spiritual revolution. Enlightenedl teachers from all over the world, across cultures and disciplines are pointing to a new/old paradigm for understanding our world and our purpose in it.   From subatomic physics to new metaphysics we are hearing that we are essentially energy; we are spiritual beings participating in a physical manifestation and each of us has chosen this manifestation with a purpose in mind.  Today’s spiritual teachers point to the need to bring balance back into our psyches by once again honoring the Feminine aspects of Divinity and recognizing the sacredness of the Earth as the embodiment of the Feminine Divine.

They’re telling us that our world is in serious trouble and at the root of what ails us is the terrible psychic imbalance caused by the inflation of masculine principles and the devaluation of the feminine.  In Chinese Taoist philosophy, these principles are known as the Yin, the Feminine and the Yang, the Masculine.  Taoism teaches that these opposites are in a continual dance, an ebb and flow that results in balance; neither is superior or inferior, each has its time and its purpose.  When one becomes too pronounced, the entire system is thrown out of balance to the detriment of the whole.

Mother’s Day is a fine time to consider what the consequences of shutting the Feminine out of divinity are.  I recently wrote here about the new, celebrated Pope Francis who has firmly stated that he won’t consider finally ordaining women as priests, although he is very concerned about their level of poverty and exploitation in the world.

But it’s a Catch22; the majority of the world's poor are women because women have no status in patriarchal government, patriarchal religion nor as the Divine Archetype.  In patriarchy men rule, make all the decisions concerning women and children and God looks like one of them. In patriarchal paradigms, woman's power is stripped from her and to the degree that it’s justified by “the image of god” her situation can’t and won’t change.  You’ve only to look at the status and experience of women in the most orthodox patriarchal cultures.  As Jimmy Carter recently put it:

“The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women.  They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.  Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.”

To change the status of women, we have to change the paradigm that devalues women by excluding the Feminine from divinity. This work begins at the level of the individual psyche, as psychiatrist Carl Jung taught.  The fate of humanity, he said, hangs by a thread, and that thread is the psyche.  As the mystical poet, William Blake, wrote, “mind forged manacles” imprison us.  What we believe at our deepest unconscious level is what really drives our behavior.

Like most of you, I grew up with the psychic imprint of God as male, God as Father.  Jesus, though his teachings espoused rather feminine values, was also a male representation of the divine and all his earthly ministers, up until the mid 1980s, were male, as well. As an on again, off again Catholic, Mother Mary did factor in, but definitely as an obedient helpmate, not a divine equal to His Holiness, Father God, and always a Virgin, despite marriage and motherhood, because another artificial separation of this paradigm is sexuality from the sacred.

I first met the Great Mother in a dream when I was 21, way before I knew anything about Her in waking reality. She came to me as “Howling Mary”; I talk about this dream here.

I woke from seeing Mary howling in anger and pain, heart pounding and completely baffled.  I didn’t know then the value of recording my dreams, but I’ve never forgotten this one. It was a Big Dream with a Big Message for my life that proved prophetic. In a manner I’ve come to recognize from following my dreams, my waking life unfolded in a series of one meaningful coincidence after another, until the Great Mother embodied in my Psyche, out of the shadows and into the Divine Light.

Though my original plan was to go to graduate school to study literature, I went to seminary instead, campaigned to be ordained a priest in the catholic church and when I realized that wouldn’t happen, despite the many other denominations opening the ministry to women, I abandoned Catholicism for psychotherapy and Women’s Spirituality and came full circle to marry my love of HER to my love of dreaming, where I first met Her. From my perspective today, I see what Mary was howling about.

On this day of Honoring the Mother, I invite all of us to examine our paradigms, our deeply held, knee jerk beliefs inherited from our parents, family systems, cultures and belief systems.  Knowing about the Queen of Heaven is an intellectual exercise; healing the Wounded Archetypal Feminine, the Anima and the Feminine relegated to Shadow is the soul-searching challenge of our time that each of us has to accomplish individually. Recovering a reverence for the earth and all life based on a deep, intuitive understanding of our Oneness with Gaia is the test we face.

But we can’t create the new order we need using the old logic that got us into the mess we’re in.  We need to use the principles we’ve been told are inferior, heart, intuition and instinct.

Here’s an example of what I mean; close your eyes and imagine a prehistoric time, cave people, cave man, cave woman.  How do they relate to one another? Is it hard to dispel the caricature of the caveman with the club, dragging the cave woman by the hair, dominating her way back then?  At an intellectual level, we know it’s not politically correct, but is it a knee-jerk visual?  Can we imagine a pre-historic culture where women were revered for their personal magic?  A culture that deduced the Creator of humanity from observing the creator of the personal world, a culture that finds no problem in revering a Divine Mother as ultimate Creator?  In this culture, people exercise their talents for the good of the group; knowing that sticking together and loving one another is the way to survive?  Oh, and a people who are constantly in and out of psychic experience, one to whom dreaming and dream adventures meld seamlessly with waking and waking adventures?  A culture far more advanced in spiritual practices than we are today.

We are plagued by the tunnel vision of interpreting all of history, at least 40 thousand years back, through the lens of the last six thousand years.  We have a patriarchal, war obsessed mindset that tells us it always had to be this way; human nature is naturally contentious, greedy and selfish, anything else is wishful thinking.

Amazonian and Mayan shamans teach that “the world is as you dream it.”  We create the realities we live through our communal expectations. We created this paradigm when we banished the Sacred Feminine, and in order to break free of its unconscious hold on our psyche, we need to re-instate the Great Mother as she is embodied in the earth and in all feminine characteristics we have devalued.

Here’s another example of how knee jerk our denial of the Feminine Divine can be.  I taught theology in an all girls’ RC high school, back when there were enough progressive religious communities, especially among nuns, to allow me to teach a course I called, “Christian Feminism.”  On the first day of class, I asked the students; “Is God male or female?”  They were prepared, and gave me the bonafide answer from the catechism.  "God is neither, God is Spirit."  "Fine", I said, "In this classroom, for this semester, when we pray, we’re going to say, Our Mother, and when we refer to God, we’ll use the feminine pronoun, She."  They were horrified; "We can’t do that!"  "Why?" I asked; "Because God is Father," they replied. The masculine divine has been imprinted in our psyches, both personally and collectively; it’s hard to reshape that image.

Until we heal our personal psyche, we can’t heal the collective.  Until we heal the collective, we remain alienated from the resources we need to create balance.  Here’s the good news as taught by Llewellyn Vaughan Lee, a contemporary Sufi master who wrote “The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul.”

“The mystery of the divine feminine speaks to us from within her creation.  She is not a distant god in heaven, but a presence that is here with us, needing our response.  She is the divine returning to claim her creation, the real wonder of what it means to be alive.  We have forgotten her, just as we have forgotten so much of what is sacred, and yet she is always part of us.  But now she needs to be known again, not just as a myth, as a spiritual image, but as something that belongs to the blood and the breath.  She can awaken us to an expectancy in the air, to an ancient memory coming alive in a new way.  She can help us to give birth to the divine that is within us, to the oneness that is all around us.  She can help us to remember our real nature.”
How do we reconnect with the Feminine Divine?  Turn off the TV and step out into Nature. Listen deeply to what you hear within you.  Be still and know that She is Divine, alive in the beauty of the simplest flower.  Follow the counsel of your heart over your head.  Listen to your dreams, your own organic spirituality, your connection to revelation and trust that you are part of the One, you are not separate and you are not Alone. 
I wish you all a very blessed Divine Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Sizzle in Lightning Dreamplay

On April 8th, I again had the pleasure of talking with Robert Moss on his inter- national radio show.  He spoke with several Active Dreaming (AD) enthusiasts, some professionals using AD as a teaching modality, all using it as a personal practice.

He asked us each how we introduce AD to people who haven't heard of it and for stories from our teachings.  Since our talk was brief, I didn't share this one on air, but here with you.

Very recently I had the honor of introducing AD to a wonderful group of about 50 adults, some helping professionals in integrative medicine, all soul explorers.  I always try to teach the Lightning Dreamwork game quickly, then do several rounds of it, commenting in between on things the dreams we share bring up.  On this night there was a lovely woman, probably in her late 70s, and her daughter and a friend in the circle.  She was the last to share her dream; it was deceptively simple.  "Fear" was the title.  She described how she, as a young nurse, one obviously fiercely committed to her profession's ideals, would have a recurring dream about somehow messing up a patient's medical records.   She described how in "real" (waking) life she would frequently double back to the hospital after a shift to re-check her day's recordings for accuracy.  She lived in fear of making a mistake.

One might think that this is an old stale dream that she hadn't visited for decades, since she'd retired, but it came to her there in that circle and she shared it. Dreams have energy, regardless of time stamp; they don't expire. I was delighted to hear a male psychiatrist in our group voice his dismay that, in his dream of her dream, she worked in a patriarchal, hierarchical system that often undermined female self-esteem. Several others offered her lovely "if it were my dream" images and analogies; I offered her what came to me.

I told her that one of the things I've been delighting in lately in my dream practice is time travel within this lifetime, visiting my younger selves and giving them love, support and good counsel, as well as listening to what they have to say to me, now.  I told her that if this were my repetitive dream in any particular period of my life, I'd choose that younger self, perhaps a wonderfully smart, pretty, funny, full of life and a sense of can-do younger self, and tell her what a great job she's doing and how much her patients love her for her consideration and understanding, not just her professional skills, which are also strong in her.  I'd tell her that another generation down the road, women wouldn't be feeling quite so constrained and repressed in their fields, that being a doctor herself is a distinct possibility in a parallel life.  I would assure her that she has nothing to fear, because I have her back, and I would ask her to be with me, in a renewed bond of confidence, curiosity and courage, in my present life.

I could tell as I was talking to her that she was really digging what I was saying.  It's as if she lit up from the inside and, filled with relaxed breath, became light as spirit; (a signal of dream gates opening in a person that Robert often talks about in stories of his own workshops).  When asked how she would honor this dream, she eagerly said she'd write that letter.  I saw her exiting with daughter and friend, all three vibrant with excitement about dreaming.

The sizzle in Lighting Dreamplay is that it's as easy to teach as your average five step board game, but because it harnesses the electric power of dream worlds and dream energy, it produces results as deep as any achieved in those "aha" moments of life, on a more regular and reliable basis.

I hope dreamers and wanna-be dreamers in the New England/CT area will join me and Lynette Turner in our celebration of The World Day of Active Dreaming on May 10th at the ARC Sacred Center in Monroe, CT, from 1-4PM.  Let me know if you're joining us.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Monkey Love

by Mally DeSomma

One of the cool things about an Active Dreaming practice is that it encourages a maximum creativity lifestyle.

The last step of the AD Lightning Dreamwork process encourages the dreamer to do something in waking life to honor a dream experience. Doing something creative, like drawing, painting, singing, dancing or writing a poem or short story about your dream are all excellent ways to honor your dream and wake up your imagination.

Synchronicity often follows on the heels of honoring a dream.   This little monkey is the exact replica of the dream monkey I met in a wonderful dream from 2005. I wrote about walking into my talented artist friend's studio just days after my dream and seeing the pastel portrait she'd done without any knowledge of my dream.

Here's the poem I'd written to honor my dream; it's titled "Monkey Love."

One night, in my dreams,
we came face to face.

I reached out my arms to you
and you poured yourself into them
with all your monkey love.

I was in a long boat,
drifting under your tree,
where you hung out
on a branch low to the water.

We came face to face.

The face of god is love –
Funny, monkey love.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dreaming With My 28 Year Old Self

My last post got me thinking about my past work in the campaign to ordain women as Catholic priests. The RC, was a religious hold out on the feminization of clergy world wide that had already taken place by the late 70s in most branches of Christianity and Judaism.  Though in the end the misogynist factions won out in the RC, there were many wonderfully committed women and men at all levels of the Church who wanted the psychic balance adding the Mother to God would bring about, so for  me at least, the struggle was worth it.

A recent invitation to address a lovely spiritual community on Mother's day this year led me to remember an article I wrote for a local RC newspaper as a 28 year old teacher of adult religious education and graduate student at Colgate/Rochester Divinity School.  I was passionately involved in the Women's Ordination movement and  I'd been asked to write an article for Mother's day.

I enjoyed typing my own words off the yellowed newsprint copy I've kept all these years.  It was like talking with a younger version of myself who liked formal biblical exegesis and was fiercely committed to the spiritual Feminine, who for me, since I was 21 and dreamed of Her before I knew Her, is called Howling Mary.  I am very thankful to that lovely young woman part of me for caring so passionately about changing the Male only paradigm of recent but bloody history.  It was fun remembering how steeped in Scriptural studies I was and letting those passages echo for me again.

This is what I wrote:

Wednesday, May 4, 1977
Article in Courier Journal
Adelita Menges, (Chirino again now, Menges was my first husband's surname)

(Ms. Menges is coordinator for Adult Religious Education at Blessed Sacrement Parish and a member of the Rochester Regional Task Force on Women in the Church.)

God as Mother?  A Biblical Reflection

How appropriate it is to talk about God on Mother’s Day is not immediately  clear.  Yet should we not examine in the light of Biblical faith our worship of God?  Have we made for ourselves a graven image God, all masculine, all male?

The Scriptures teach that God is not a glorified human being, male or female. “I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst” (Hos 11:9) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” (Is 55:8)  It is this understanding that governs the use of either masculine or feminine metaphor in Scripture.

In Israel’s patriarchal culture, the masculine pronoun was used regularly to denote God.  In Scripture, however, there are many qualities of God that are reflected with decidedly feminine imagery.  Feminine imagery illustrates the nature of God’s relationship to Israel in the Exodus and Wanderings.  God is like a mother to Israel who provides food and drink for pilgrim Israel in the desert. 

Moses poses this rhetorical question of the Lord; “Did I conceive all these people?  Did I bring them forth, that you should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries the suckling child to the land which thou didst swear to give their fathers?” (Num 11:12) No, it was God that conceived Israel.

Second Isaiah also depicts God liberating Israel from Babylon as a woman giving birth to a child.  “How I will cry out like a woman in travail.  I will gasp and pant…” (42:14).  Third Isaiah further employs the maternal metaphor for God: “Shall I who causes to bring forth shut the womb? Says your God.” (66:9).

“As one whom his mother comforts so I will comfort you.” also is in Third Isaiah (66:13)  It is within this tradition of God as the mother of Israel that Jesus in the Gospel of Luke depicts himself calling to his unheeding people; “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused.” (13:34).

The biblical witness with its rich mixture of masculine and feminine symbol, exhorts us to obey the commandment to make no graven images. (Ex. 20:4).  We witness in Scripture god acting as Mother and Father, creating and redeeming, giving birth to and protecting Israel.  Yet God is not male or female.  These are all symbols, metaphors that we can use to describe the way God acts towards us.

On Mother’s Day, then, it is fitting that we should pause to reflect on the Scriptural revelation of God as Mother.  God taught Israel to walk, lavished love on this people and fed them . (Hos 11: 1-4).  In our human experience, it is often our mothers who perform such caring acts for us.  Why should we exclude this maternal quality from our own understanding of God?

Surely there are those of us who long to know a loving and tender God who delights in our joys and comforts us in our sufferings.


I no longer choose to address the Goddess; the Feminine Divine, within the Christian religious paradigm, but I am so very grateful to  my 28 year old self for laying the foundation in me that she has.  It is really nice to feel her around again.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone

In a "USA Today" story recently, a woman reporter relates the Pope's opinion on women priests, which is No. She concludes:
"Women priests may not top his list, but perhaps Francis is serving women through his focus on global poverty and hunger. Is that enough?" Uh, no; it's not enough.
Theology professor Alice L. Laffey makes a similar point in her op-ed, saying: "Throughout the world, women and their children make up the greatest percentage of human beings living in destitution. Their main concern is not women priests but food, health, education and physical safety. Francis' genuine concern for the real lives of the poor and suffering warmly embraces women."

In other words, Francis is serving women through his focus on global poverty and hunger, because for some obscure reason, the majority of the world's poor are women and children.  So look how much he likes women; he's going to talk more about what they need and maybe see if he can get them some management positions in the Vatican, (although most Vatican positions of authority require high ranking clerical ordination).

Here's my take on Francis' position: The majority of the world's poor are women because women have no status in patriarchal government, in patriarchal religion nor as the Divine Archetype.  Patriarchy is an old fashioned word for men rule, make all the decisions concerning women and children and God looks like one of them, an old white guy.  In patriarchal paradigms, woman's power is stripped from her; consider that it's been less than 100 years since American women got the right to vote  If you wonder what it took to get the 19th Amendment passed, watch Hillary Swank's portrayal of Suffragist leader, Alice Paul in "Iron Jawed Angels."  You may have to close your eyes during the part where jailers force feed the prisoners on a hunger strike; it's gruesome.  But that's what our grandmothers had to do to get us the vote in this great country.  Now when do you think women in some Muslim nations, or in Orthodox Hebrew communities or in the Catholic Church will get equal rights? By the way, American women are not guaranteed equal rights under our constitution, as we somehow couldn't manage to pass the ERA.  

Women are poor because women are on a sliding scale of denigration in patriarchal cults around the world, so don't tell me that the head of one of the big 3 global patriarchal cults is doing enough for women by talking about how they are poor and need help.  By the way, I think he talks in general, about poor people, not poor women, but we all know how inclusive patriarchal language can be.

So then comes an interview in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Ash Wednesday, (the infamous time of penitence for Catholics that kicks off, wisely enough with Mardi Gras) with the Jesuit editor of the Catholic magazine, "America", James Martin.  Headline: "Women Could Have Greater Role in Church, Pope says." (Sorry, it's a little hard to watch with a straight face because he has a big black cross smudged in ashes on his bald pate.)

Gee whiz, I wonder what Pope Francis has in mind for our new roles in the church?  Ordination?  Making Pope Joan known to the world or apologizing and asking the church to do penance for the millions of victims. the majority women, of the bloody Medieval and Renaissance Roman Catholic Inquisition? Gee, what could the Pope have in mind, because he already said ordination is off the table because he doesn't want to see women "clericalized," huh?  Now that's sweet; he doesn't want to see us bothered with those long black robes and stiff white collars, but maybe we can run the Vatican equivalent of the PTA or go help the poor like Mother Teresa.  Besides, he says, we've talked about ordaining women in the Church before and decided against it; there's no need to revisit this pesky little subject.

Now, according to Father Martin, the Church has already said no because...(No, not because we don't have a penis like Jesus did, that wasn't the reason he gave), because if Jesus had wanted women to be priests, he would have started off picking one as an Apostle, which he didn't; so there, women can't be priests now.

OMG!  Did he just say that?  Despite the volumes of scholarly exegesis on John 20:11-21, in which Jesus appears first to Mary of Magdala on the third day after he's crucified? She doesn't recognize him  (most departed appear looking terrific and I'm sure that's not what she was expecting), until he says her name, and she knew him.  (Did they embrace?) "Don't cling to me" he says,  "because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my god and your god."  Jerusalem Bible

You see, the word "apostle" is derived from the Greek, "apostolos"; John wrote in Greek. It means messenger  or ambassador.  Now whom did the Lord choose as his first "messenger"?  To whom did He first appear, though Peter and the Beloved Apostle were duly fetched by Mary when she found the tomb empty.  Yeah, they searched around, found the linens and went running back to establish a religion based on artifacts.  Mary stuck around and was rewarded with the real thing; she was first to see the Risen Christ and the first to "take the message to the brethren, "Jesus is Alive.  He is Risen;" Mary of Magdala was first to proclaim this message.  The first Apostle to the Apostles was a woman, selected as his ambassador by Jesus himself.  She was also made a disciple by Jesus, (Luke 10: 38-42; since I know the good Father Martin might argue that one can't be an Apostle without first having been a disciple) the day she and her sister Martha were supposed to serve the food for the hungry dozen, but Mary was sitting there at Jesus' feet listening to Jesus teach.  Martha complained, but Jesus replied, "Mary has chosen what is better and it won't be taken away from her."  Did I mention that the word disciple is derived from the Greek word that means "to sit at the feet of a teacher" and that it was a crime punishable by death to defile the Torah (the holy Hebrew laws Jesus was purportedly teaching) by teaching it to a woman?  

Jesus was a Feminist; his treatment of women with respect and compassion probably contributed greatly to his condemnation by the religious authorities of his day. If he was running the RC today, we wouldn't be having this conversation, but he probably never intended the institutions that came after his death; he taught that "the kingdom of God is within you."  What's more, according to many ancient but non-canonical (meaning the RC won't credit their authenticity) texts, women had lots of authority in the early Church. Just one century into the "Christian Era, not so much.  How did that happen; ask Paul, a great proponent of keeping women silent and veiled.  

There are lots of skewed reasons for not ordaining women, beginning with the mythical fact that women are guilty from the get go; if it wasn't for Eve, we'd all still be living in paradise.   In reality, women threaten the very bedrock of the patriarchal RC church, that God is Male.  When I was a divinity graduate student and a candidate for priesthood in the RC through the "Women's Ordination Movement" of the 70's and early 80's, our motto was "New Women, New Church."  We weren't going to lie; you have sexist repressive dogma and we're here to take ink to that parchment and make some alterations.  For one, we will call God "Mother" as well as "Father" in recognition of the great historical and ancient Goddess traditions that were all but silenced by patriarchal brutality; we will bring back the full Divinity of the Feminine Archetype and represent that archetype in our priesthood. 

Okay, so it's no surprise we didn't get ordained; we were and are an open threat to the misogyny that has reigned too long. 

I can understand the Pope-u-larity of this pontiff; he's definitely a relief after the tight ass party line toters we've had recently, but he's got to walk the walk, not talk it.  Religious theater like foot and baby kissing doesn't do it; neither does unexpected papal humility, charm or ordering your own pizza. Francis says he can't change what Pope John Paul II (J2P2) said on the subject of Women's Ordination, despite that he's been contradicting that particular predecessor on other matters, like Gay inclusivity and letting divorced Catholics take communion.

"For now, though" the news reports, "Catholics have to settle for slow, subtle shifts, which, to give Francis credit, are already occurring."  

Really?  Why do women and men who support women's ordination have to settle for anything?  It's crucial I think to speak out now; there is no reason not to ordain women and every reason, including historical precedent to ordain them.  If Pope Francis wants to earn his picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone ("the thrill that will getcha when you get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone." playing in the Vatican?), he needs to act to bring real balance not just to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the Modern Collective Psyche that cannot function, as Carl Jung warned, in such a state of disequilibrium without creating the collective psychosis we are clearly experiencing today.  Raise women to equal status with men, physically by ordaining them and psychically, by restoring the Divine Feminine.  If there was ever a Pope who could accomplish this, outside of John XXIII, it's Francis; I hope he wants to.  Let's all focus on sending him the message: "Ordain Women, Hail Mary, Save Humanity"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's My Story?

In a recent interview I say that we're in the midst of a spiritual revolution and that dreaming is at the center of it.  One aspect of the Consciousness/Awareness movement that we're experiencing right Now is the individual practice of "Mindfulness." Mindfulness encourages us to be the watcher as well as the do-er; the Self as well as the Ego, Jung might say.  More and more people are learning to "watch yourself."  Dreams are Magic Mirrors that let you see your "little self" your ego, as your Self, your Observer does.   In his latest book, "The Boy Who Died and Came Back," Part IV: At Home in the Multiverse, "The Double on the Balcony," Robert Moss writes some very fun stuff about this topic.

I've written here about one of my all time favorite dream sequences, In the first, I hear a voice that says, "Can the Ego be dissolved?  What is the role of the Observer?"  Dreams are often koans, mental jigsaw puzzles or parables.

Two months after this dream, I got my answer by way of a lucid dream, perhaps an OBE because of the hyperconsciousness of the experience. I was in what Robert Waggoner calls the Clear Light, though I hadn't read his books, yet.  I always chuckle that I had this transcendent experience as an unexpected dream gift. I came awake from the dream saying, "I'll never be able to explain this, not even to myself."  In my dream my sense of "I" was in that Light, as I came to, the sense of Oneness I experienced began to fade, my separateness became stronger.  As my ego took charge of waking life, I could re-enter my dream and feel the sense of awe over and over again.  Today, these many years later, that dream is my portal to the Light; the feeling is still strong.

What I learned from the dreams and where they took me in my studies is that the Ego needs an Observer to keep it in check and to help it really blossom.  In my two previous posts reviewing Robert's new book, I talk about the power of story.

As human beings, maybe even in some animal clans, we love stories.  "Tell me a story"is frequently the request we hear from young children.  I love to hear stories or to read them, but what this dream koan and the many wonderful teachers of Mindfulness, like Eckhart Tolle, have taught me is that my thoughts are frequently telling me stories that aren't really that groovy.  I might quite unconsciously be telling myself the story of a puny checkbook and a robust bill basket while I'm brushing my teeth.  What I've learned to do is say; "Aha, listen to that story!  Where does that get me?  Is this the story I want to entertain.  Duh; no."

By listening to what I'm really telling myself all the time, I can choose the best story for me.  Okay, "all the time" is perhaps not realistic; the drunken monkey, as Buddhists call the ego/mind, is a tricky and slippery little devil.  Luckily, Monkey isn't hard to please once you get to know it through Observation.  Dreams hold up a mirror that helps us see Monkey working.  Dreams knock on our inner doors and ask us to open to our own Wisdom and connect to the Light.

In a recent extended-family drama, the kind of thing that has the phones ringing and different relatives chiming in, I found myself feeling fearful, protective of the Me and Mine.  I asked for a dream of guidance; "What can I do?"  I dreamed that two of my nieces, (one was purely a dream niece), wouldn't allow me to use their make-up; yet, all I needed was a simple eyebrow pencil. I felt they were shallow, heartless and careless of my feelings.  I woke up feeling the sting of rejection.  Reality check: real niece, but not the relative involved and unlikely to deny me an eyebrow pencil, dream niece not someone in waking.  As I lay there feeling the strong emotion this dream evoked and trying to fit it with my question to the dream source, I saw what my dream was saying.  "What can I do?"  I can focus on my heart; I can marshall my kindness, (when I first typed the question, I found I'd written, What kind I do?:-).

As often happens, these nieces were Shadows my Ego was casting with its fearfulness; their behavior mirrored an unconscious story that could dictate my conscious behavior. I relaxed and focused my awareness on my heart chakra and bathed it in emerald green light. I expanded my heart center with every breath.  My dream gave me the perfect answer.  As I wandered through the emotional land mine (I wrote "land mind") of the crisis, I was predisposed to close down in fear.  I focused on my heart and trusted that step by step, in the moment, things would work out.  And they did.  The outcome opened a door that had been shut in anger and created new possibilities for personal growth on everyone's part.

This is one reason I think dreaming is at the forefront of the Spiritual Revolution.  If Self-Awareness, Mindfulness is at the heart of Enlightenment, really of Being, then dreaming is a vital practice.  In dreams we get to talk to and listen to the Observer, who has a much bigger picture to offer than the blinkered Ego.  What's my Story?  I'm writing it as I live it.  I write as consciously as I can and look to my dream stories for the best suggestions, the best plot ideas for my waking ego to use.  I stay connected to my dreams so that my Big Story, the reason I joined this human experience again, will inform all the little stories, the personal dramas that can take too much time and sap too much energy, unnecessarily.

Each of us has a Story.  Together, we  are the Book of Life - All of Nature included.  No one can tell us what our story, what our purpose is, but we can lose the thread and go off narrative if we're not connected to the Watcher, our own Soul Mate in the Multiverse.  Dreams are an organic, innate avenue to Spirit.  All we have to do is pay attention, listen and learn; then we'll each find our own story and how best to live it.

May it Be So!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Power of Story II

I finished Robert's new book and wrote the following as a review on Amazon; since most of it is new thoughts on my reading experience, I'm sharing it with you, as well.

Robert Moss’ new book “The Boy Who Died and Came Back” is reminiscent for me of reading Carl Jung’s “Memories, Dreams and Reflections.”  It’s not quite an autobiography, it’s more like being allowed to follow a seasoned explorer of the dreamscapes through the life memories, events and encounters with the Unconscious, in Jung’s case, more like the Multiverse in Robert’s, that have shaped their teaching and practice.

Robert Moss is a master storyteller. The many stories about dreaming adventures in his new book open new windows for anyone interested in lucid and conscious dreaming. The book offers possibilities like dreaming our way into ancestral realities that can be accessed through the parallel universes of dreaming where all time is NOW.

It’s a very easy read, especially for someone who finds dreams and dreaming a fascinating topic. Robert Moss began teaching his own dream approach “Active Dreaming” in the mid-80s and has been refining this rich synthesis of modern dreamwork with ancient and shamanic dream practices ever since in the workshops that he teaches around the world and in his numerous books on the subject.

This book allows us to travel into the dreaming of people around the globe; it’s global Active Dreaming in action. As a certified and practicing teacher of Active Dreaming, I appreciate the many examples of journeys he’s led in so many lands because they inspire new dream plans for my own workshops.  As a dreamer, I appreciate the inspiration I’ve found in these pages for conducting further experiments of my own in the dream worlds 

From this book, I’ve also come away with a deeper reverence for Nature and learned new ways to connect with Her in waking and dreaming. Many of the stories Robert shares illustrate how we can dream with the land we inhabit. What some might call Eco-dreaming today is part of Active Dreaming as a practice remembered from indigenous peoples, ancient and contemporary, around the world.  Nature speaks through signs, symbols and dreams, listening to these helps us attain the balance our race must reach and maintain if we’re to survive on this planet.  If we pay attention, we dream with the land we inhabit and perhaps we visit the lands our ancestors inhabited in order to return with wisdom and healing to apply in our waking lives and in our communities. 

Robert calls his method  “Dream Archaeology.”  My favorite chapter on this wonderful theme is chapter 40: “Dreaming with the Goddess” where he pays tribute in beautifully compelling and poetic prose to both the Goddess, Mother of all Lands and all People, and to the great scholar of ancient Europe and Goddess traditions, Marija Gimbutas. The stories of his dream adventures conducting workshops in Gimbutas’ native Lithuania in this and the following chapters are among my favorite in the book. “Dream archaeology gives us ways to grow her (Gimbuta’s) vision, to enter into authentic communication with keepers of ancestral wisdom, to find clues to meaning and leads for original research – and to help heal the collective and cultural soul loss that blights our age.” RM P. 284 

The Boy Who Died and Came Back” is both a dreaming primer for beginners and an esoteric dream map for seasoned dream explorers.  It’s a rich read for the senses, too; his descriptive prose is beautiful. Telling us about a dream circle he led in the Adirondacks, on a wonderful Garnet Mountain during a lunar eclipse he writes:

“We danced until the return of the light.  The sun’s light, reappearing at the bottom of the moon’s disk, rolled up like a drop of liquid gold over the face of a bronze mirror.” P.292

As a long time student of Robert’s, I know that a central focus of his work is resurrecting the Art of Dying for our modern Western society. Making Death your ally is an ancient teaching and one that he writes and teaches about frequently. This book takes you “Through the Moongate” and into the Multiverse. It lights the way in the cultural darkness that is our Western heritage to the possibilities that await us once we learn we are infinite spiritual beings living in these finite physical shells, but living with a purpose, a story, a contract we came to fulfill. Robert shows us how his dreams led him to this knowledge and how our own dreams can enlighten us.

Here’s the endorsement Robert receives from the renowned author of “Life After Life” Dr. Raymond Moody: Robert Moss' extraordinary life story, told with beauty and passion, confirms that there is life after life and will inspire all who read it to transcend the fear of death and live richer deeper lives."