Monday, October 25, 2021

A dream is a place, and an awakening


Notes on the nature and meaning of dreams from ancient Egypt, where they did a lot of dreaming. 

       Welcome, o dream, the one of goodness,
       which is seen in the night and in the day.

-          - Invocation to Isis in the Chester Beatty Papyrus

A dream is an awakening

Two terms for dream are used in ancient Egypt. The more recent (qd) is translated as slumber. The older and more enduring term is rsw.t whose root means “awakening”. It is written in hieroglyphs with a determinative, at the end of the characters, that appears as wide open eye with makeup. It first appears in Letters to the Dead in the First Intermediate Period. It continues in Coptic. Kasia Szpakowska writes, “In Ancient Egyptian a dream can be considered something one sees upon awakening during sleep or is perhaps the very state of being aware, while asleep.” [ 1]

Awakening in a dream is like awakening after death. It is written of the resurrection of Osiris, “A tired god is waking up.” [2]

The Other World is inhabited by three categories of beings – gods, the dead and dreamers. The sleeper enters the primal ocean of Nun. When he awakens he is “over there”, in the other world, able to interact with its residents. [3] 

 

A dream is a place

Rsw.t is a noun, a substantive, not a verb. It is a space and a state. You see something in a dream. You meet the Goddess, make love, feast or fight in a dream. The most common way to report is to say “I saw a dream” or “I saw in a dream” or  “It came in a dream.” When you have that sense that a dream is a space, it is easy to grasp that if you have been in the space of a certain dream, you could go there again.

There is no verb for “to dream” in Sumerian or Akkadian either. 

The geography of dreams is related to geographies of the Duat, the “Over There”.  A dream is another world.


The “New Kingdom Dream Book”

 Chester Beatty Papyrus, 13th c BCE

 It was written in hieratic – a cursive form of hieroglyphs - on the recto of a papyrus whose verso (the side with the horizontal fibers, always inscribed first) contained an account of a battle written in the 13th c BCE.

 It is not clear whether it was written essentially for the dream ritualist – the Scribe of the House of Life (or sesh per ankh) – or for a more general audience. Some of the items warn against entering the inner sanctum of a temple, and are plainly aimed at non-priests. But others prescribe apotropaic rituals for turning away psychic evil from “bad dreams” and seem intended for specialists. As with so many Egyptian texts, this is probably a collation of many separate documents. It may have been consulted by priests advising those who slept in temples to obtain dream oracles and to see the gods and the dead. 

Reading dreams according to the type of dreamer: 

In the New Kingdom Dream Book, dreams are read very differently according to whether they are experienced by “Followers of Horus” or “Followers of Seth” (who are given to violent passion and ill-regulated lives) 

If a man sees himself…. 

The arrangement is orderly. Down the right margin are the words “If a man sees himself in a dream”. The papyrus is read from right to left.

Next comes a summary of a dream. Then the pronouncement – “good” or “bad”. Then the interpretation. 

If a man sees himself… 

       Drinking blood: Good. It means putting an end to his enemies                                 

       Copulating with a pig: Bad. It means being deprived of possessions

       Seeing his face as a leopard: Good. It means authority over his neighbors                                                             

       Copulating in daylight: Bad. His crimes will be seen by his god

       Capturing a female slave: Good. He will get satisfaction.

 

“If a man see himself in a dream eating donkey-flesh: good, it means his promotion”

“If a man see himself in a dream shod with white sandals: bad, it means roaming the earth.”

 

There are instructions on seeing or interacting with the gods and the dead. The worst dreams are those in which the dreamer is judged to be “unjustified” before his deity, or has provoked the wrath of the dead. Some are the best are those in which the dreamer is judged to be moving into closer proximity to friendly gods – as in a dream where the dreamer is climbing a mast, or looking through a window or across a river (into the realm beyond).

 

                Climbing up a mast.                        Good. He will be elevated by his god. 

                Gazing through a window.           Good. His call will be heard by his god. 

                Seeing a god who is above.          Good. It means a great meal.

            His mouth is broken open.              Good. Something that is terrifying in his                                                heart, god  will break it open 

            Writing on a papyrus scroll.            Bad. His crimes will be reckoned by his                                                  god.

            Enfolding wings round himself.       Bad. He is not justified before his god. 

 

It is clear, as in the older non-interpretive texts, that the dreamspace is shared by dreamers, the departed and the gods. 


Ritual for dispelling the energy of an evil dream



The “Horus” section in the New Kingdom Dream Book ends with a ritual to be used by a person who has experienced a dream portending evil. This involves (1) a cleansing action: the dreamer’s face is to be rubbed with fresh herbs moistened with beer and myrrh and with bread, to remove the contamination of the dream. And (2) an invocation of the goddess Isis, addressed as “Mother”; the dreamer tells his dream to the goddess, and the act of reporting is held to turn away the unwanted consequences. 

In the Gardiner translation, Isis says: “Come out with what you have seen, in order that the afflictions you saw in your dreams may vanish.” The ritual ends with a triumphal cry from the dreamer that he has dispelled an evil dream sent against him and is now ready to receive pleasant dreams. “Hail to thee, good dream that is seen by night or day!” [4]


The truthfulness of dreams

The truthfulness of dreams would be accepted and beyond doubt if those who interpret them did not make mistakes

 - Ammianus Marcellinus, soldier and historian, in his vast chronicle of the Roman empire, Res Gestae, written before 391. In it he describes the Serapeum of Egypt, where dream incubation was a popular practice, as one of the glories of the empire. The Serapeum was handed over to the Christians in 391. 



References


1. Kasia Szpakowska, "The Perception of Dreams and Nightmares in Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom to Third Intermediate Period". PhD dissertation, UCLA, 2000. 25

2. Jan Zandee, Death as an Enemy According to Ancient Egyptian Conceptions (New York: Arno Press, 1977) 11. 

3. Erik Hornung, "The Discovery of the Unconscious in Ancient Egypt" in Spring: An Annual of Archetypal Psychology (1986) 18-19

4. A.H. Gardiner, Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum. Third Series. Chester Beatty Papyrus. LondonBritish Museum, 1935]


Images


Top: Fresco from the Temple of Isis at Pompei depicting a ritual at the sarcophagus of Osiris. 1st century CE.

Bottom: Egyptians priests performing purification ritual. 13th century BCE.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

The lion who fell from the moon

Impressions, momentary and vivid, would wash over him: a potter’s vermilion glaze; the sky-vault filled with stars that were also gods; the moon, from which a lion had fallen….

My chills of recognition make me pause, just three lines into a story by Jorge Luis Borges, one of the essential writers, opening worlds of wonder and doorways into the Universal Library in a few pages. Borges named this one after himself: “The Maker”, El Hacedor.
     Previous translators squirmed at the title “The Maker”. They thought people might confuse it with Our Maker; they feared leaving sulphurous traces of a heresiarch. So they considered and sometimes used “The Poet”, “The Artificer”, “Il Fabbro”. But Borges chose the English himself. And yes, he meant maker of worlds.
     The maker wrote this as he was nearing blindness in the vast library in Buenos Aires with whose flying books he had made love and married and danced the tango and fought with knives inside his mind. I can think of no one, not even Jung, who has housed so many books in his head and incited so much action between them. Borges was now engaged in constructing a total library in the imaginal realm, his version of paradise. Never a tame library, but one where wild things are.


the moon, from which a lion had fallen….

    I am seized again with wild familiarity, the hot breath at my neck, claws at my kidneys.
    Borges’ line has a rhyming cousin, short, stocky and flat-faced, wearing a robe of skins hung with bronze mirrors. I know where find it.  I keep it locked behind glass doors, along with the Red Book, the Golden Bough and other books that are restive and like to flap about and  prowl in the night.
     Sometimes the doors rattle and the key turns itself but today, things are quiet and I must fetch the book myself. It was published in Oxford five years after Borges died, so he could not have known it but might have known some of its sources. Its words are spun from conversations with shamans and elders of the Daur Mongols, lovers of horses, fermented mare’s milk, and drums that they ride to other worlds.
     Like Borges, these shamans are forever talking about tigers and lions. While Borges tried to make dreamtigers and was never quite satisfied, around Hailar or the Nomin River it’s not hard. Lie by the water watching butterflies and a tiger twice as long as you may come for you, as it would come for a tethered goat.
     Out here the lion may demand a deeper seeing, since you won’t see lions in Daur country with your ordinary eyes.
     The Oxford anthropologist asks a Daur shaman, Urgunge Onon, about this. He speaks from the tellings, which is how his people describe their traditional knowledge. Anthropologists may know about shamanism but the people who practice it in the old ways don’t have any “isms” in their vocabulary.
      Urgunge says, “Wild animals of the forest have two kings [khan], the tiger [tasaga] and the lion [arsalang].
      “Lion?” The anthropologist is amazed. “But you don’t have lions in Manchuria.”
      “They will be thinking of …er..what is it in English? Leopard. Leopard is just like lion, is that right?”
      “But you don’t have leopards either.”
      “No, that is true. So the conclusion is: in reality the khan of animals is the tiger; in imagination the khan is also the lion, even if we do not have lions in Mongolia. Everybody knows the story of the lion who jumped to catch the moon, then it died, you see. This is definitely the lion. The tiger never did that.”

The lion who fell from the moon did not really die, of course.
      Some nights, coming in or out of sleep, I feel him lying with me on the bed, back to back.


The night after I wrote th
is, I dreamed of lions in a place of soul recovery. In a huge cavern, divided by an underground river, a wise elder is preparing people to make the crossing and meet the lions who are waiting for them, one for each. From this side the lions look no bigger than kittens. They may look different close up. I know that those who find the courage to meet their lions will be transformed. The courage of the lion and its power to make itself heard will live in them.


Books referenced 

"The Maker" in Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley (New York: Penguin Books, 1998).292
Shamans and Elders: Experience, Knowledge and Power among the Daur Mongols  by Caroline Humphrey with Urgunge Onon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).

Art: Douanier Rousseau, "Sleeping Gypsy".

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sekhmet Time

 


Sekhmet is much on my mind this week. Here's how it began. My main desk computer had a meltdown on Monday and the Geek Squad guy on the phone couldn't help me fix it beyond saying that the situation was "unfortunate" and "quite rare". So I rushed out and bought a new computer. I had only a couple of hours before a very important recording session to set up the new computer and remember all my passwords and download all the key apps. Paleo-Man here was sweating and still trying to figure out the audio settings by the time he had to join the zoom meeting room.

In this emergency, I abandoned my study and my normal home studio "set" and set up on the dining room table. My hosts observed that my backdrop - red wallpaper - was rather fiery. They could not see that at eye level, across the room from me, was a bust of Sekhmet that has been with me for a very long time. There may be a little more fire than usual in the program we made.


Sekhmet has a fearsome reputation. She is sometimes called the 
Eye of Ra, a title shared with Hathor in her warrior mode. The association between Sekhmet, Hathor and the Eye of Ra is dramatized in a text known as "The Book of the Heavenly Cow". The version we can read today is a compilation of tomb inscriptions from the period or Ramses II, but is much older.

The top god in the story, Ra, learns that humans are plotting against him because he has grown old. He is advised by other gods to mobilize his Eye, which has been used to maintain order and fight the forces of cosmic darkness. He plucks the uraeus cobra from his third eye and it becomes Hathor in warrior mode. She receives his order to destroy humanity and appears on earth as Sekhmet, an unstoppable, ravening lion.

While some humans are left, Ra relents. But he can't turn of the killing frenzy of hie Eye (Hathor/Sekhmet) until he has 7,000 jugs of beer dyed red to look like blood poured in her path. The Lady of Destruction likes a drink. She drinks until she passes out - which is why she is also known as the Lady of Drunkenness. When she wakes up three days later, her killing lust is gone and and humanity survives.





You can't keep a great goddess in a frame.

Initiation into the realm of Sekhmet required braving up. During the Heb-Sed festival at Saqqara, devotees of Sekhmet guided a  shamanic rite of “passing through the skin” of Sekhmet in lioness form. This gave the right, in turn, to wear the skin. [1]

I have guided group experiments in shamanic lucid dreaming to enter the realm of Sekhmet, with all due respect and preparation. This resulted in personal blessings when I was in profound need of healing from a sudden and overwhelming health crisis in a foreign country. Here's the story. 


Istanbul, June, 2014

I spent a very rocky night after my long journey from upstate New York to Istanbul. My body had been depleted by 23 straight hours of travel, more than half of it spent in the recycled air of airplane cabins. I had also been exposed to some rather murky psychic influences, not to mention a drunken neighbor who not only sprayed me with his miserable view of life but with some horrendous sneezing, insufficiently contained by the back of his grubby hand.

I found myself coughing and coughing, and by 3 in the morning the infection had rushed down my bronchial chords, hurting my chest and making me rush to the bathroom sink to throw up. I was appalled to realize that whatever infection had gotten inside me, my body's exhausted immune system was letting it go where it wanted. What to do?.

I lay on my back on the bed in my room and basically said in my mind, I could use a little help.

The image of Sekhmet, as I had met her and led others to meet her in a workshop called "Dreaming like an Egyptian" the previous weekend, filled my inner screen and brought all my inner senses vividly alive.  Her eyes were red as carnelian, red as murder, as one of her praise poems has it. She was mad at the agents of my infection. With her came a whole pride of lions.

They soon defined a field of battle. I understood that they were going to fight whatever was making me sick. Something slashed at me from behind. I turned to see a rabid hyena. Ah yes, the right form for an adversary of my lion protectors. Lions and hyenas are mortal enemies.

There seemed to be hundreds of hyenas, but they had no real chance against Sekhmet, in furious Eye of Ra mode, and her pride. The lions slaughtered hyenas until the survivors fled the field, then moved over the ground of battle licking up any nasty stuff that remained. I felt this as deep healing inside my body.

There was a small catch. I had been wounded by the hyena who attacked me from behind. But now Sekhmet tongued the wound, erasing it, restoring my energy field.

I turned on my side, profoundly grateful, knowing that the crisis was over. My immune system was fully functional again, and I had all the help I needed.

As I lay on my left size, a beautiful lioness my own size settled full-length on the bed, facing me. I felt the warmth of her body. I felt her breathing her energy into me. We lay together like lovers, hearts beating together.

I was more than fine on the rest of that trip after the lions licked the hyenas.



Imagery is healing. The trick is to find the right imagery that the body believes and will act upon without delay. It helps when you have reason to believe that greater powers are engaged. 

I have learned that I have an imaginal metabolism, a mythic constitution. My body responds at astonishing speed to the images I permit it to entertain. When the images come charged with mythic, transpersonal power, they work wonders. My experience with Sekhmet and the sickness hyenas is one example. My book The Boy Who Died and Came Back contains many more. I think we are all alternately beneficiaries and victims of the power of imagination. We want to learn how to use it well, and how to draw on those greater powers. This starts with becoming more conscious of the stories we are living, and the images we invite to live in us.


1.Normandi Ellis, Imagining the World into Existence: An Ancient Egyptian Manual of Consciousness.  (Rochester VBT: Bear & Company, 2012) 286


The program we recorded under Sekhmet's eyes this week is a free introduction to my new advanced course for The Shift Network on Shamanic Lucid Dreaming. You can watch it and participate in a shamanic lucid dream journey on Saturday October 23.

From the Blue Lake of Healing


Bucegi Mountains, Romania

There is a blue lake of healing, on top of a mountain. You must earn the right to go there, by tracking a wounded animal through the woods, following it up steeper and steeper trails even when mountain mist swallows your sight. The animal is connected to you. The places where it is wounded reflect your own condition.
    At the top of the mountain, you are amazed to find a shining blue lake. As you watch, the animal staggers to the lake and falls in. It is gone for so long that you fear it has died. Have you come here for death?
    At last, you see a stir in the waters. The animal surfaces on the far side of the lake. As it takes off, you see it is whole, and healed.
    It is your turn to enter the waters of the healing lake. You may go far deeper than the world you come from. How far you go will depend on your courage and imagination. 


This is a summary of the simple instructions for a group journey that I gave to the intrepid dreamers who gathered in the Bucegi mountains of Romania with me in October, 2013 for my program "Dancing with the Bear: Reclaiming the Arts of Dream Healing". The Blue Lake of Healing is a real place in nonordinary reality. You can read about how I discovered it, and the full instructions for the journey, in my Dreamways of the Iroquois.
    We found once again that our shared adventures in shamanic dreaming and soul healing produce gifts that keep on giving. I asked our dreamers to write summaries of what they experienced and what they learned in the journey to the Blue Lake. Here is a first sampling of their travel reports:



"A wounded deer was completely healed as she entered the blue lake in the mountains. In the middle of the lake there was a crystal and from there healing was being sent for Mother Earth and for all the living creatures on Earth. I was healing people and animals and through healing a part of the light was being sent, so that they themselves became filled with more light."

”The aura of your heart will soften the hearts of those around you. It will transform them into clay that you will mold until it becomes liquid. It must be left ripening in the dark until it becomes light.” 

"Healing comes from the depth ! You can heal yourself there, where you did not think that you could even live! The diamond tunnel with rays of divine light help you heal yourself."

"The mountain goat was hurt in many places and still she had the power to reach the lake. The drums and the fire were calling me, recognizing me as one of their people. I was asked why I needed healing. I said, 'Because I want to make art with colors.' Again, I was asked 'Why?' I said, 'Because in this way i can travel.' I brought colors to my heart and my body." 

"The animal I met was very young and very beautiful. He was bleeding in the neck area. In the deep of the lake I found a rock, removed it and got to the top of a mountain, where I sat in lotus position. I felt myself being charged with energy. I met some dynamic forms, light green in color. I received a gift: a schoolbag with pockets with buckles."

”A giant eagle was my guide. I became one with her and felt her pain As I came out of the water my body was translucent. I was light, I was love. I saw my dear ones - I sent love to them and they sent love to me. Together, we created an immense sphere of light and love and sent it to float above the lake, the country, the planet. Then I transformed into a tree.”

”I follow a big stag, wounded in the chest, in the left. He is limping, but still I cannot reach him. I arrive at the lake, just in time to see him going into water. I run to the lake and I see him getting out on the other side, healed, running towards the forest. I dive into the water, which on the inside looks like an immense lagoon, with light in every corner. There are nymphs and gods at the bottom of the lagoon. My chest hurts, on the left side. I feel the energy healing me. When I get out of the water I notice I have a big scar on the left side of my chest, where my heart was healed.”

"Dancing with the eagle and the bear and the lion. Great festivities in an underwater city. Ceremony around a cauldron. Diving into the cauldron, swimming through a curvaceous tunnel and arriving in the kingdom with all of our loved ones."

"Heart wounded, I realized I came here to die. I let myself fall in the blue lake. Sweet fall, like floating. Beings, translucent tall beings put this golden, shiny, small energy ball inside my heart center and it started spinning. Golden light revived me and i started breathing the blue, good water. Breathing like the first breath in my life. Came back from the journey with a new song in my head: It is a new life, it is a new dawn.

“I was dancing with the shamans around the fire. In the rhythm of the drums I started spinning - faster and faster - until at a certain point I was not touching the ground any more. I was at one with the wind."

"The stag is bleeding from the eyes and his back right leg is injured. When he comes out of the blue lake, he is healed - and he has dropped his antlers. As he moves away, the antlers grow again, larger than before, and golden. 
   "Ravens strip away dead energy & disease from the energy field of the group. Bear dismembers some people, cleanses their hearts. Below the lake is a hospital of animal doctors. We are covered by angels' wings, blazing bright."



"The giant with the head and antlers of a stag was standing on the lake shore, with six of my ancestors flanking him, with staffs in their hands looking at me. He gave me his blessing to enter the lake. Now is your time. I entered the lake cautiously, and found I could breathe normally.
     "I came to a gate near the bottom of the lake. It was like a lens. When I passed through, I was flying within a blue horizon. I realized I could create anything from my heart. The Heart Fairy appeared. We put our chests together and our hearts were united. They were one, with a tremendous power. And then my chest opened, as I was flying and i connected with thousands of hearts. We were linked in a net of love, light and healing. I realized I was golden. I was there for a long time.”



"I met the bear. He was weak, wounded and tired. At the blue lake he dived below and then he came out all shining. His fur, once grey and without light, was now shining in the moonlight. After my healing I was given a white and silver dress that looked like the fur of the bear waiting for me on the shore. I climbed onto his back and we went into the forest where a shaman woman taught me a dance and an incantation for cleansing: "I release to the fire, water, earth and wind what does not belong to me and is a burden for me.'" 

Vindecarea exista in fiecare dintre noi. Crede. "Healing exists inside each and every one of us. Believe.”




For an expanded version of this report please see my new book Growing Big Dreams.



Sunday, October 17, 2021

When Scale Matters

 



In the immrama, the Celtic voyage tales, the heroes know they are not in Ireland any more when the relative scale of things changes dramatically. Thus Maelduin’s party comes to an island where the ants are the size of calves. I notice this shift in some of my own dream travels and wonder how common it is for others.

A shift of this kind can be a lucidity trigger. Beyond getting us to ask, Am I dreaming? it prompts the larger question, What world am I in?

In a dream a few months ago I came to the mouth of a treasure cave where the sentinels were golden ants the size of wild bulls. I wasn't scared of them, though I was ant-sized in proporton to them. I thought they were a marvelous specimen of the Dwellers at the Threshold that often challenge our forward movement at important life passages, to ensure that we have the craft and the courage to get us through what lies ahead. I gave them that name in my personal deck of Oracle Cards.

In a dream last night, the shift involved the relative scale of landscape rather than creatures in it, a gentle example of the phenomenon.

October 17, 2021

Dream

Why I Didn’t Get to the Changing Room

I have ten minutes before I pick up my daughter and I am determined to get in a fine blue pool. It’s late in the season, and cool, and I can have the pool to myself. I see some rest rooms that look like white cottages, a short walk away and hurry in that direction to put on my swimsuit. The distance is much greater than I had realized.

What I thought was grass turns out to be the green slope of a mountainside. To get to the top I have to climb over three security fences. Now there is a lake in front of me. What I thought was a pebbly beach turns out to be a tumble of giant boulders. I have to get across the water. I’m not worried because I am still a strong swimmer – until I get in and find that there seems to be an unseen wave machine continuously generating high surf.

I have to work realty hard to get to the other side. I must then clamber up more giant boulders. At the top I look back at the pool where I wanted to swim. Its blue expanse fills the horizon. It has become an inland ocean.

Feelings: Excitement, wonder. Been there, done that.

Reality: I have been in wave pools and could be in one in the future. I also know an Otherworld location with a gentle version of a wave pool. Last night's episode feels like a preview of possible transitions in this world, and others. 

I am remnded that some of my richest episodes of travel to another universe have started with the experience of becoming very small, eventually small enough to pass between the particles of an atom. I save my reports in a folder titled Incredible Shrinking Man. When you get smaller in a dream, it may mean the story is getting bigger.


Images

"Dwellers at the Threshold" by Robert Moss

Design fr Surf Wave Pool in Queensland by Greg Webber


Mysterious Realities: An Interview about Many Worlds, parallel lives, kairomancy and dream travel



What is dream travel? How do we become dream travelers?

In ancient and indigenous understanding, dreaming is traveling. In big dreams, we make visits and receive visitations. We travel across time and space, and to places where the dead are alive, and to alternate realities. Once we connect with our dreams and wake up to what is going on, we can begin to develop the practice of lucid dream travel.
    An ideal departure lounge is the half-dream state of what sleep researchers call hypnagogia. In the middle of the night, or the early morning, you find yourself drifting between sleep and awake. If you can train yourself to maintain a state of relaxed attention in this in-between state, you will notice that you may be receiving a whole menu of possibilities for lucid dream travel.
    This twilight state is a good place to become aware of your ability to travel beyond the body. I often find myself lifting out of the body quite effortlessly in this state, without bumps and grinds. Sometimes, when tired, I simply rest half in, half out, of my physical form. Sometimes I float up to the ceiling. Quite often I go flying, like a bird, over my sleeping city and to places far away.
    We are talking now about one of the royal roads to lucid dreaming. The other is the practice I call dream reentry. You recall a dream that has some energy for you and you choose to go back into that space and dream the dream onward. You may want to reenter a dream to clarify what was going on, or talk to your deceased grandmother, to explore a parallel world or scout out a possible future. You may need to reenter a dream because there are terrors to be overcome, or a mystery to be explored, or simply because you were having fun and adventure and would like to have more.

Your story “Dreamtakers” paints a terrifying picture of what it means to lose our dreams. What can we do to recover?

In contemporary society, dream drought is a widespread affliction, almost a pandemic. This is deadly serious, because night dreams are an essential corrective to the delusions of the day. They hold up a mirror to our everyday actions and attitudes and put us in touch with deeper sources of knowing than the everyday mind. If you lose your dreams, you may lose our inner compass. If our dreams are long gone, it may be because we have lost the part of us that is the dreamer.
    Traditional Iroquois say bluntly that if we have lost our dreams, it is because we have lost a vital part of our soul. This may have happened early in life through what shamans call soul loss, when our magical child went away because the world seemed to cold and cruel. Helping the dream-bereft to recover their dreams may amount to bringing lost souls back to the lives and bodies where they belong. In my story “Dreamtakers”, I describe a shamanic journey to help return dream souls to people who have lost them. This is something I teach and practice.
     There are several ways we can seek to break a dream drought any night we want to give this a try. We can set a juicy intention for the night and be ready to record whatever is with us whenever we wake up. We can resolve to be kind to fragments. The wispiest trace of a dream can be exciting to play with, and as you play with it you may find you are pulling back more of the previously forgotten dream. 
    If you don’t remember a dream when you first wake up, laze in bed for a few minutes and see if something comes back. Wiggle around in the bed. Sometimes returning to the body posture we were in earlier in the night helps to bring back what we were dreaming when our bodies were arranged that way.
     If you still don’t have a dream, write something down anyway: whatever is in your awareness,
including feelings and physical sensations. You are catching the residue of a dream even if the dream itself is gone. As you do this, you are saying to the source of your dreams, “I’m listening. Talk to me.”
     You may find that, though your dreams have flown, you have a sense of clarity and direction that is the legacy of the night. We solve problems in our sleep even when we don’t remember the problem-solving process that went on in our dreaming minds.
      And remember that you don’t need to go to sleep in order to dream. The incidents of everyday life will speak to us like dream symbols if we are willing to pay attention. Keep a lookout for the first unusual or striking thing that enters your field of perception in the course of the day and ask whether there could be a message there. When we make it our game to pay attention to coincidence and symbolic pop-ups in everyday life, we oil the dream gates so they let more through from the night.

Many of your adventures turn on amazing coincidences and chance encounters. You invented the word “kairomancer” to describe someone who is poised to recognize and act in special moments of synchronicity. That sounds very intriguing. How do we become kairomancers?

Synchronicity is when the universe gets personal. Though the word “synchronicity” is a modern invention — Jung made it up because he noticed that people have a hard time talking about coincidence — the phenomenon has been recognized, and highly valued, from the most ancient times. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus maintained that the deepest order in our experienced universe is the effect of “a child playing with game pieces” in another reality. As the game pieces fall, we notice the reverberations, in the play of coincidence.
      When we pay attention, we find that we are given signs by the world around us every day. Like a street sign, a synchronistic event may seem to say Stop or Go, Dead End or Fast Lane.  Beyond these signs, we find ourselves moving in a field of symbolic resonance which not only reflects back our inner themes and preoccupations, but provides confirmation or course correction. A symbol is more than a sign: it brings together what we know with what we do not yet know.
    Through the weaving of synchronicity, we are brought awake and alive to a hidden order of events, to the understory of our world and our lives.
You do not need to travel far to encounter powers of the deeper world or hear oracles speak. You are at the center of the multidimensional universe right now. The extraordinary lies in plain sight, in the midst of the ordinary, if only you pay attention. The doors to the Otherworld open from wherever you are, and the traffic moves both ways. 
    I invented the word kairomancer to describe someone who is ready to recognize and act in special moments of synchronicity when time works differently and opportunity strikes. It incorporates the name of Kairos, a Greek god who personifies a kind of time that is altogether different from tedious tick-tock time: that special moment of jump time when more is possible than you imagined before.
    To become a kairomancer, you need to check your attitude as you walk the roads of this world, because your attitude goes ahead of you, generating events around the next corner. You need to develop your personal science of shivers. You want to take dreams more literally and the events of waking life more symbolically. You need to take care of your poetic health, reading what rhymes in a day, or a season. You want to expect the unexpected, to make friends with surprises, and never miss that special moment when the universe gives you an invisible wink or handshake.

Many of your stories involve awakening to the possibility that we are living parallel lives in parallel worlds. Tell us how we can explore this for ourselves.

In physics, the hypothesis of Many Interactive Worlds suggests that we live, right now, in one of countless parallel universes that impact each other. Part of the secret logic of our lives may be that our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless parallel selves. The gifts and failings of these alternate selves may influence us, when our paths converge, in ways that we generally fail to recognize.  
    We are connected in a multidimensional drama and this may generate events in both our lives that will appear as “chance” to those who cannot find the trans-temporal pattern. The hidden hand suggested by synchronistic events may be that of another personality within our multidimensional family, reaching to us from what we normally perceive as past or future, or from a parallel or other dimension.
    When you experience déjà vu and feel certain you have been in a certain situation before, you may be close on the heels of a parallel self who got there before you. Serial dreams, in which you find yourself returning to people and places not on your current event track may also be glimpses of a continuous life your parallel self is leading in a parallel world, in which you made different choices. Physicist Brian Greene speculates that we all have "endless doppelgangers" leading parallel lives in parallel universes.
    When you wake up to the fact that serial dreams may be glimpses of continuous lives you are living in other realities, you may be ready for the good stuff: to journey as a lucid dream traveler into a parallel life to dismiss old regrets and claim gifts and knowledge from your selves who made different choices. This can effect a quantum shift in your present life.

Your stories are full of encounters with the dead, in visitations and especially in visits to places where they are living on the Other Side. Is contact with the deceased really as natural and easy as you suggest?

I am often among the dead in my dreams. They are always alive. Sometimes I remember that they died on an event track we shared, other times I don't. Sometimes they come calling. My father has come many times since his death with helpful advisories for me and the family. Sometimes my dream travels take me to new environments on the Other Side were the dead are enjoying new lives. They show me around and I learn first-hand in this way about lifestyle and real estate options available after death.
     Contact with the deceased, especially in dreams, isn’t weird or unusual or even truly supernatural. It comes about for three reasons: the dead are still with us, or they come visiting, or we travel to the realms where they are now living. The number one reason why people who are not accustomed to sharing dreams decide to tell one is that they have dreamed of a close friend or family member who died but is very much alive in the dream.
    The immense body of data on near-death experiences (NDEs) is scientific evidence of the survival of consciousness after the physical body has closed down. When you become a conscious dream traveler, you confirm through your own experience that awareness is not confined to the body and brain, and therefore is able to survive death. You are ready to learn that healing and forgiveness are always available across the apparent barrier of death, and to develop your personal geography of the afterlife
    One of the most interesting things I have learned is that the living may be called upon to play guides and counselors for the dead. “The Silent Lovers” is a just-so story – shocking to me as it unfolded – about how I was called to play advocate for a dead man, otherwise a stranger, going through his life review on the Other Side. Yeats was right when he said, with poetic clarity, that the living have the ability to assist the imaginations of the dead.  

What is the Imaginal Realm?

There is a world between time and eternity with structures created by thought that outlast anything on Earth. This is the Imaginal Realm. You may enter it through the gate of dreams, or the gate of death, or on nights when you drop your body like a bathrobe. Here you will find schools and palaces, places of adventure, healing and initiation.
    The Imaginal Realm is a fundamental ground of knowledge and experience. In this realm human imagination meets intelligences from higher realities, and they co-construct places of healing, instruction and initiation. Here ideas and powers beyond the grasp of the ordinary human mind – call them archetypes, tutelary spirits, gods or daimons – take on guises humans can begin to perceive and understand.
   The great medieval Sufi philosopher Suhrawardi insisted both on the objective reality of the Imaginal Realm and that the way to grasp it is the way of experience: “pilgrims of the spirit succeed in contemplating this world and they find there every object of their desire.”  To know the realm of true imagination, you must go there yourself.  Happily for you – once you wake up to what is going on – the doors may open to you any night in dreams, or in the fertile place between sleep and awake, or in a special moment of synchronicity when the universe gets personal and you know, through your shivers, that greater powers are in play.


Mysterious Realities: A Dream Traveler's Tales from the Imaginal Realm by Robert Moss is published by New World Library.
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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Empathy Dreams

 



Empathy Dreams


When you weep for all you have lost
I listen with my mouth open;
your tears fall on my tongue
and I taste your pain. 

When you were in the river of tiny fish
I splashed with you.
When you hug your swelling belly
I breathe love songs in your ear
to welcome the spirit who is coming
into this world through you.
 

When they broke the child in you
something broke in me.
When you fled from the johns to the jones
I tried to crack your crystal palace
so you could visit that beautiful boy
who found refuge with Peter Pan.
 

I was with you when they beat you
for sucking your thumb, and when they
beat you harder because you couldn't kill
the lovely soft bandit cornered by coon dogs.
I am with you at the white table
of the one who has shared his cup with you. 

I laugh with you when you cartwheel through life
as a circus acrobat, and when you
walk the high wire without fear
because your second self goes ahead of you
making footholds so you cannot fall.
 

At the border camp. I share your terror
of returning to a country you can't remember
where killers still haunt the killing fields.
I am with the scary man with brick dust
on his skin and a claw hammer in his belt
I whisper to him, "Don't tread on wildflowers." 

I am with then hunter and the hunted.
I am Cossack and Jew, slave and slave owner.
I am the man in iron from the dragon boat.
I am the priestess whose weapons
are a mirror and the sickle moon,
who can give blood to the earth without cutting. 

I am in the blade of grass that bends
under the tremendous gray hoof, and springs back.
I am with the elephant mother who grieves
for her calf as metal rain from the poachers' gunship
turns her dreams to blood ivory.
 

I am no bodhisattva, able to remember
all lives, past and present, without being overwhelmed.
I must spit out the tears I have tasted
and not go stooped under grief and pain of others.
 

But I can do this: I can go to the one
with a hole in the heart, and show you
the precious child who fled from your body
when they tried to kill your dreams,
and you lost the dreamer in you. 

I can promise your child of wonder
that, despite everything, you are safe and can be fun.
I can hold you together until you know each other.
Growing beyond myself, I can go on holding you
in the fierce embrace of Great Mother Bear
until you cannot be apart, because you are one.



- Poem from Here, Everything Is Dreaming: Poems and Stories by Robert Moss. Published by Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press.


Drawing by RM