Saturday, January 18, 2020

Paleopsych 101

1. Spirits are real.

2. We are not alone: we live in a multidimensional universe peopled with beings — spirits of nature, gods and daimons, angels and ancestors — who take a close interest in our affairs and influence our lives for good or ill.

3. We are more than our bodies and brains, which are only vehicles for soul.

4. The soul survives the death of the body.

5. Soul journeying is the key to the spiritual worlds and the knowledge of ultimate reality. The soul makes excursions outside the body in dreams and visions. The heart of spiritual practice is to learn to shift consciousness at will and travel beyond time and space. Through soul-flight, we return to worlds beyond the physical plane in which our lives have their source and are able to explore many dimensions of the Otherworld.

6. Souls are corporeal, though composed of much finer substance than the physical body.

7. People have more than one soul. In addition to the vital soul that sustains physical life — closely associated with the breath — there is a “free soul,” associated with the dreambody, which can travel outside the body and separates from it at physical death, as well as an enduring spirit whose home is on the higher planes.

8. Souls — or pieces of soul — can be lost or stolen. This is the principal cause of disease and misfortune.

9. Some people have more souls than others and have the ability to make excursions to different places at the same time.

10. At death, different vehicles of soul go to different lots. Through conscious dreaming, it is possible to explore the conditions of the afterlife to prepare for one’s death and to assist souls of the dying and departed.

11. We are born with counterparts in nature. For example, we are born with a totem animal and a relationship with natural forces (wind or water or lightning) that are part of our basic identity and help to pattern the natural flow of our energy.

12. We are born with counterparts in other places and times, and in other dimensions of reality. When we encounter them through interdimensional travel, they become allies and sometimes teachers.

Adapted from my book Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death. Published by New World Library.

Art: detail from Henri Rousseau, "The Dream" (1910)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Word Gates

Gently rising from sleep into the grey morning, I saw what looked like a child's wooden alphabet block set within a frame. The front edge of the block had an ornamental red and green border. A word rather than a single letter was inscribed. I understood that when we could come up with an adequate story or definition for this word, the block will turn, and this will reveal another word requiring description. Each turn of the block would have tumbler effect on other blocks or components of the system.
    I cannot say how many words will come up before the block moves and provides an open portal to what all seekers aspire to know. I do not know whether there is only one block, or many, or an infinite number.
    I know that, behind the frame, the block is not a three-dimensional cube but extends into other dimensions. Despite its apparent wooden solidity, the face it presents may actually be a hologram projected from another reality. As I picture this I see the surface within the frame as one end of a structure, composed of many segments and flashing many colors, that somewhat resembles the Rosicrucian cross, in which the vertical shaft is longer than the arms, although in this case the structure is laid on its back.
   I cannot say the word that first appeared within the frame.
   I can give you two words, but I cannot say where they come up in the sequence:


   I can also say that at some level of this game, instead of defining unusual words, we are required to come up with the word that fits an unusual definition.
   Many of these words are not in the dictionaries of Earth.
   For example, there is a word that exactly defines the Tail of the Lion phenomenon, as described by Einstein in his famous analogy:

Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size.

   There is also a word that fits the definition "something that is much bigger inside than outside" (and it is not TARDIS, the name of the machine disguised as an old police box in which Dr Who travels).
    Unlike Scrabble players, Dream Word players can't appeal to a dictionary. A rare few among us may have glimpsed something in the Thesaurus of Tulun - from which Einstein appears to have borrowed his description of the Tail of the Lion - but such works are not available when you need to reach across the table. So we must judge words and definitions offered in our Dream Word games by three criteria:

- The LD [Laugh Decibel] Level
- The OU [Outrageously Unexpected] quotient
- Whether they move our blocks

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Dictionary of Funny Dream Words

In some of my workshops and online classes we are have fantastic fun playing an oneiric version of the Dictionary Game. If you've never played the Dictionary Game, it goes like this: you open a fine fat dictionary, pick an obscure word, then call on the players to come up with a definition. Sometimes an erudite or lucky player will know the precise meaning of that arcane word. But the real fun is in making something up. In scoring (at least in my family) you vote for the entertainment value of the proffered definitions, above their plausibility.
 In the Funny Dream Words game, the dictionaries we use are our personal journals. We start by re-viewing the old reports. We extract those mystery words, names and phrases - in known or unknown languages - that we never managed to decode. Then we offer these to others to track or define.
A funny word from a dream can open all sorts of territory. It can provide a clickable link to another culture or another world. It can reveal a new technology, or the grammar of elvish. It can open a connection with a person (hitherto unknown) on the other side of the world, or with a forgotten ancestor. It can be the hook that pulls in a song or a story or a painting, even a whole novel. And this is all streaming, fresh and spontaneous, from our own dream lives. But we often miss our messages, and someone else - through an intuitive flash, or a few minutes googling, or by hitting the books - can often help us hear what we couldn't make out, and see what escaped us in an apparent jumble of syllables.
The most fun part, as in the old Dictionary Game, is when the other players, who might otherwise be foxed by a funny word, start making things up. To give you a feel for how this goes, here are the definitions I suggested for five of the dream words posted at one of my forums over 24 hours. Only the first came with any context.
Morolli Novia (a dish demanded by an angry restaurant patron)

Morolli Novia [n]: odoriferous rum-drenched dessert named after the fiancee [novia] of Sal "Bankroll" Morolli, Miami restaurateur currently serving 6 months for postmortem abuse of Julia Child.
Sir Percy Belay
Belay, Sir Percy: Last baronet of Limpley-in-the-Hole, Somerset. Antiquarian and minor versifier in the style of the "silver poets" of the Elizabethan era. Best known for his "Response to the Nymph's Response to the Shepherd" (a reference to the famous poem by Sir Walter Raleigh) into which he worked his family name, of disputed (nautical and perhaps piratical) origin:
Belay the world and keep it young,
So we may feast with tongue to tongue,
Belay the sun so you are moved
To live with me and be my love
The Australian slang expression, "It's time to point Percy at the porcelain" is said to derive from his erratic bathroom habits.
Source: Burke's Minor Nobility and Silly Upper-Crust Names
Ursula Le Dean

Ursula K. Le Guin has been awarded the title of Dean honoris causa by the College of Fantasists because of her advocacy of truth-telling by fantasy as well as her own fantastic body of work. The citation refers to her Introduction to the English translation of The Book of Fantasy (compiled by Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina Ocampo and Adolfo Bioy Casares) where Dean Ursula states:
The central ethical dilemma of our age, the use or non-use of annihilating power, was posed most cogently in fictional terms by the purest of fantasists. Tolkien began The Lord of the Rings in 1937 and finished it about ten years later. During those years, Frodo withheld his hand from the Ring of Power, but the nations did not.
The judges especially commend Dean Ursula's observation that "Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities serves many of us as a better guidebook to our world than any Michelin or Fodor's."

Pay Uht
Pay Uht [n}: Kotror pidgin for "pay dirt." Negotiable in two forms: (1) as rolls of "cash", typically strung on cords and worn around the midriff; or (2) as dried cakes of yak dung. Most commonly used to purchase shashtree [yak offal delicacy] or swee balak [dessert custard, mixed with fermented mare's milk, sometimes resulting in death by sugar or alcoholic poisoning]. 

reference: Commercial Traveler's Pocket English-Kotror Dictionary, 3rd hipflask edition.
Interalicia [n]: A mode of travel in the multiverse that includes stepping through mirrors, diving down rabbit holes, and shrinking or growing at fantastic speeds, inter alia. See works of Lewis Carroll.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Iguana Woman

She is an armored herbivore
Who doesn't look like prey
With those razor teeth
And that bull whip tail
She can drop and grow back
Her dominant sense is sight
She reads colors and shapes over great distance
And has light sensors as well as eyes
She can drop from a tree
From forty feet up and land on her feet.
She can stay underwater for half an hour
I wonder what more she can show me
Now she has taken this hybrid form
And whether shaman artists
In ageless caves of these windy islands
Encountered her like this..
I know who to ask: the snakebird shaman
Who showed me his face on my first night
With a rattlesnake round his waist
And the eyes of socho, the burrowing owl
And the wings of a seabird.
Iguanas are his sight hounds and bodyguards
But he is not ready to show himself to you
And you are not ready to look into his eyes.

- Aruba January 11, 2020

Friday, January 10, 2020

When NOT to share dreams

The Lightning Dreamwork process, which I introduced twenty years ago, provides a safe and usually fun way to share dreams and personal stories with just about anyone, just about any time. A basic requirement is that we offer feedback in the “if it were my dream” format and never presume to tell each other what their dreams or their lives mean. The dreams (as Jung once said) are the facts from which we proceed. We don’t need more context than is required to locate the dream in the dreamer’s life and possible future, and we discourage sharing too much personal background,
     Nonetheless, the question inevitably arises: when should I not share a dream? A general answer is that you don’t want to share your dreams with someone who refuses to play by the rules and may use the sharing as a pretext to lay an interpretation on you or, worse, go on a fishing expedition into your private life.
     Assuming that you do have partners in dreamwork who respect the rules, there are still occasions when you will want to be cautious about what material you share. I want to review certain kinds of dreams that you may want to share only with an intimate confidant, or not at all,

Dreams that contain intimate personal information. You won’t want to share these except with someone you are willing to make privy to intimate details of your life.

Dreams about other people that contain troubling information. We are all psychic in our dreams, and we sometimes dream about other people’s situations in ways that are disturbing. We see someone we know involved in an accident, or a relationship or health issue. We don’t want to lay this kind of information on that other person without carefully evaluating its accuracy and then considering how best to use it in a way that actually helps. We need to be wary of projection. The dream may actually reflect or own situation rather than that of another person. The best way to clarify what is going on is to go back inside the dream in a conscious journey carrying a detective’s questions: Who, what, when, where, how? If we are satisfied we have dreamed of an issue in another person’s life, it may be appropriate to share the details – if we have specific details that could be applied to avert or gentle an unhappy scenario. More often it may be better to use the information without sharing it overtly: for example, by suggesting gently that someone may want to pay a visit to a doctor, or think twice about a travel plan, or by assisting family and friends to prepare for a coming death,

Terrifying and disgusting dreams. You may really need help with these, but you want to share with those who are prepared to help, through their own depth of practice, and not lay the scary or smelly stuff on someone who is not ready and able to guide you through. Thinking about “bad” dreams and nightmares in general, there are interesting and conflicting folk traditions. Some holed that you should spit out the bad stuff on your own, while appealing to higher powers to release you from it. Some say you should not tell the evil dream because in doing that you might increase the likelihood that it will manifest. Some say that it’s fine to tell it before breakfast but you had better get that done before breaking bread.

Dreams from inside gated communities. There are gated communities in the dreamworlds and they are far more interesting than privileged developments in ordinary reality. If you are connected to a certain spiritual community, esoteric order or shamnanic lineage, your dreams may be a field of interaction with other members from across time and place and your experiences may include initiation, ritual and advanced training, in ways that are held secret by such traditions in ordinary reality. It is no secret among adepts that true initiation takes place in a hidden order of reality, and the details are not to be shared with those who have not earned the price of admission.

Big dreams of power. In many ancient and indigenous traditions that understand that dreams are real experience and a field of interaction with gods, spirits and others, certain dreams of power are held tight, because the dreamers do not want to dilute what has been given to them. Personally, I enjoy sharing big dreams of power in such away that I can invite others to come inside a tent of vision – for example, through a group shamanic journey into the key scenes from such dreams – and receive some of that power.

The rules of the Lightning Dreamwork process are in several of my books, including Active Dreaming.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Want to get good at dreaming? Practice, practice, practice

All of us have access to dreams, if we are willing to make space for them in our lives, and the gifts that come from dreaming can be immense. They range from course correction to wild entertainment, from contact with a Higher Self or departed loved ones, from time travel to access to a secret laboratory where we find creative solutions that escape the routine everyday mind.
   When we hear others share dreams, maybe starting just with the title or an opening line, we usually recognize something of ourselves. Yet as the details emerge, we also realize that each dream is distinct and must not be tossed into a suitcase of categorization. This is part of the beauty of dreaming. As we listen to each other's dreams, we recognize universal themes, something of our common humanity and our access to the limitless repository of shared knowledge and experience that Jung once called the collective unconscious and later, the objective psyche. At the same time, when we attend to details and feelings and context around them, we find that individual dreams are exquisitely tailored to the character and circumstances of the dreamer.
    Of course we dream in different ways and on different levels, even in a single night in the mind of a single person. And there are many levels of dream practice. When you begin to understand all that dreaming can be, you come to know that it is a discipline, a fun one, with friendlier hours than most jobs of work -since you can do so much of it during sleep. However, as with any other discipline, from piano to particle physics, you get really good through practice, practice, practice.
    As a teacher of Active Dreaming, my original synthesis of dreamwork, shamanism and creative imagination, you could say I am a full-time dreamer. As personal practice, however, I like to keep things simple and fun. My daily engagement with my night dreams is sometimes no more than this easy one-two:

1. Whatever time I surface from sleep, I check whether I have any dream recall. If I think I don't, I hit any inner pause button and wait for something to come back. At the very least I am likely to receive a stream of hypnopompic images, which may be returning dreams or new material. When I have something,I pick up my phone and I record one or more entries. I used to pick up a bedside pad but con no longer read my handwriting. Using the phone causes minimal disturbance in the bedroom and gives me a text I can transfer to my digital database later on. I may repeat this through two or three cycles of sleep-wake on any given night.

2. When I get up, before coffee and while my little dog (who has excellent manners) waits patiently for me to shower and dress and take him out for his first walk, I open a sketchbook and draw an image from my dreams. I start in pencil. I give the drawing a title, of course. I often feel wonderfully satisfied and charged with creative energy when I complete this little task, and the boy artist inside me claps his hands.

The dream may require further action. This may range from shamanic shopping to researching a curious word or phrase, to going back inside the dream (in a wide-awake exercise in shamanic lucid dreaming) to clarify information or continue the story. My action might be to turn a glimpse of the possible future into a travel advisory or to road-test a new exercise that I dreamed with a workshop group.
    Any day of the week, however, the two simple steps of recording in bed when things are fresh and then turning a dream into a quick sketch are basic and sufficient practice. If you want to get really good at dreaming, I recommend them.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Look for the secret wishes of your soul in your dreams as the year turns

Here's a game I am playing with my own dreams at this turning of the year. I am looking to see what they reveal about the secret wishes of the soul.
      That phrase is a translation of the ancient Iroquoian word ondinnonk, which I first heard from a Huron/Mohawk woman of power who called me in dreams. I call her Island Woman in my books. I learned from her that we need to look in dreams for clues to what the soul wants, what the heart yearns for, as opposed to the agendas of the everyday mind and the expectations other people lay on us. She told me, “Dreams that are wishes of the soul (when they are true dreams as well as wishes) can tell you that you need something you didn’t know you needed, or something you denied wanting because you felt ashamed for wanting it.”
     In her tradition, it is the duty of caring people to gather round a dreamer and help her to read the secret wishes of the soul and take action to honor those wishes. This goes to the heart of healing, because if we are not living from soul, our lives lose magic and vitality.
     Here is more of Island Woman's wisdom.Notice that in her vocabulary the dream world is the Real World and the physical world is the Shadow World.

There is limitless power and beauty and healing available to us in the dreamworlds. To keep body and soul together in the surface world – and to live from the purposes of the soul – we need to bring that dream energy through. This requires action in the Shadow World.
    The first part of that action may be speech, but not the chatter of idle birds or village gossips. The speech required is an act that brings something new into a world. Dreaming gives us the songs and the magic words that can bring something up from a soupy ocean of possibilities to take root in the earth. That is why real men and women of power are poets, singers, storytellers, performers. With skeins of song and dancing needles of magic words, they reweave the fabric of reality.
   When we do this, we know that we are entertaining the spirits: our own vital spirits, the spirits of the ancestors, the great ones who reach to us from beyond space and time, the ancient and shining ones.
   Nothing happens until it is dreamed. When we bring something good from the dreamworld into the surface world, we do the work of the Creator. We join in dancing a world into being, as Sky Woman danced on Turtle’s back.
   Through dreaming, we recover the knowledge of our sacred purpose that belonged to us before we came into our present bodies. Then we can begin to live from our sacred purpose and unite ourselves to the powers of creation. We can also begin to get in touch with other members of our soul families who live in other places and times. 
     Unless you dream, you’ll never be fully awake. In the Shadow World, we go around like sleepwalkers. In big dreams, we wake up.

Drawing of Island Woman by Robert Moss

For more of Island Woman's teachings about soul and dreaming please see my book Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul