Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Dream Archaeology and Vanishing Smoke

In 2012 I was honored to be invited to present the third annual lecture in memory and celebration of John G. Neihardt, the remarkable poet and scholar who gave us Black Elk Speaks, the classic and essential work on spiritual vision in Native American tradition. I spoke about how Neihardt's dreams were his passport to the Lakota holy man, just as my dreams have been my passport to wisdom keepers of other cultures, from the Mohawk to the Mununjalli of Queensland

Dreams guide us to the necessary past, to the history we need to know and use. Dreams may also trigger and direct specific lines of research. Dreaming, we have direct access to the realm of the ancestors. Sometimes they reach to us, in dreams, as an ancient priest of Nippur appeared to the Assyriologist Herman Hilprecht when he was puzzling over the meaning of two fragments of agate or as an ancient atetshents (“dreamer”) and clanmother of the Mohawk people called me to work that required me to study her language and reconstruct the shamanic dream practices of her tradition. We can choose to reach to the ancestors through dream incubation and by developing the skills of shamanic dreaming.

The practice of dream archaeology involves reclaiming authentic knowledge of ancestral traditions, including those that may have been buried or suppressed in the course of history, through a combination of careful research, active dreamwork and shamanic journeying across time and between dimensions. The dream archaeologist combines the skills of the shaman, the scholar and the detective.

We let dreams set us assignments. Secrets of the past, of which the waking mind may know nothing or very little, come to us in dreams because we are ready for them, and because the ancestors speak to us. As dream archaeologists, we work with such dreams through focused investigation, tracking that strange word, looking again at the fragments of that figurine.

We also carry our exploration into the dream space, by learning to go back inside a dream, wide awake and conscious, as an archaeological team may penetrate to previously hidden levels of a site, or the inner caves where the great revelations are to be found. I call this technique dream reentry. It is practiced wide awake and conscious, and may be a joint venture by a whole group of active dreamers. We use shamanic drumming to fuel and focus our expeditions, using a dream image as a doorway to harvest more information, open direct dialogue with the ancestors, and go to the deeper levels of reality where the meaning of things can be found.

We are open to the phenomenon that Yeats, with poetic insight, called the “mingling of minds”. This means that when we give our best efforts and passion to our chosen work or study, we draw the support of intelligences beyond the everyday world, including those of past masters in the same field.

Dream archaeology guided my research and writing, at every turning, in the creation of the three novels that comprise my Cycle of the Iroquois - Fire Along the Sky, The Firekeeper and The Interpreter - and in the retelling of Iroquois cosmology and the reclaiming of ancestral methods of shamanic dreaming in my nonfiction Dreamways of the Iroquois.

At the Neihardt Lecture,  I spoke in the presence of the Four American Kings - portraits by Jan Verelst of three Mohawk chiefs, and a Mahican, who were received like visiting sovereigns when they sailed to England in 1710 and were received by Queen Anne. I found myself dreaming into the life of one of them in the late 1980s. His name was rendered in colonial documents as Sayenqueraghta, a name I translated as Vanishing Smoke. A Mohawk of the Bear Clan, he was the grandfather of Joseph and Molly Brant. His dreaming and his war magic are reflected in the extraordinary tatttoos on his face and chest, meticulously copied by the Dutch artist, who must have wondered at their meaning and perhaps at their energy as the Mohawk posed in the typical posture of an Old World grandee.

In my novel The Interpreter, I describe the London experiences of Vanishing Smoke and the Mohawk war leader and skilled politician called Hendrick by the Dutch and the English from their own perspective. This includes the shock of finding themselves in a roiling city of over 700,000 people, when the largest city they had previously seen (Boston) had a population of only 5,000, and the Mohawk population on traditional Mohawk land had fallen to just 580 thanks to smallpox and flight to Canada.

The historian in me required me to check every detail in the historical records of the trip. The dreamer and novelist in me then enabled me to add what is not in the documents - for example, how a Bear Clan Mohawk might respond to the torment of a chained bear being mauled by attack dogs for the pleasure of gamblers, when the four "kings" were taken to a bear pit in Hockley-in-the-Hole for what the Englishmen of the time considered fine entertainment.


Fire Along the Sky,  The Firekeeper and The Interpreter are now available in handsome new editions from Excelsior Editions, an imprint of the State University of New York Press. 

Return to the Mountain of Messages

From my travel journals, an adventure in shamanic lucid dreaming that demonstrates many of our core techniques: dream incubation, dream reentry, dreaming with the ancestors of the land, group shamanic journeying through the portal of a remembered dream.

Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California, November 11. 2012


With Rushing Wind at the Mountain of Messages

We discover a hill that seems be an enormous rounded boulder. Its surface is pitted with what may be cave openings. There are also native rock carvings and pictographs here. Trails to the great rock from either side are also marked with native carvings.
    I am very excited. We have found a way to access the ancient spirits of this land, both spirits of the First Peoples and spirits of nature. I may give everyone the assignment to go this hill and bring back their own message, by entering a cave or copying and inscription or even by imagining what message they would inscribe as a symbol if they belonged to the ancient ways of this land. Through all of this,  a native elder watches over us, initially wary, wanting to check my intentions, then very willing for us to learn, at the price of respect and careful study and attunement. His voice is like the wind. His name is Rushing Wind.

I return from ythis dream excursion tomy bed in the Big House overlooking the Pacific,excited and feeling blessed by an encounter with the ancestral spirits of this land. I hadasked for this dream. On the first night of a workshop at the Esalen Institute, I set the intention of dreaming for the group, and it seemed I was answered. 

Group practice

Honoring the Ancestors of the Land

I opened the morning session by placing a tobacco pouch at the center of the circle and suggesting that everyone might want to make an offering to the First Peoples of the land. When we joined hands to sing together and set intentions for the group, I spoke of the ancestors.

Grandmothers, Grandfathers
we honor you, we remember you
we ask your blessing and protection for all our journeys

Later I proposed that we should make a group journey to the Mountain of Messages. This idea was eagerly received, and the journey was deep and fruitful. Here I'll report only on my personal experience, traveling in my dreaming mind while drumming for the group and watching over the other dream travelers.

Group Journey

Return to the Mountain of Messages

The trail is very physical seeming, dust rising underfoot, smell of chaparral. I can make out carvings on stones along the way, impressions of fish and wavy lines for water. The prayers in stone of a fishing people.
    At the base of the mountain, I find the entrance to a cave or tunnel. There is a fierce guardian figure, with a single eye, like a giant hairy cyclops. He is ordered back by a power – Rushing Wind, the elder from my dream – who asserts my right to enter. I realize that white wolf and mountain lion are with me, hawk overhead, and the energy of Island Woman, the dream shaman and Mother of the Wolf Clan who called me long ago. I am asked for my name, and I give one.
    Soon I am carried through a network of passages and caves by rushing winds, until I am deep in a great cavern in the presence of a giant bear. He is not friendly at first, but accepts the bear in me.
    I begin to inspect patterns on a cave wall. A light glows behind the stone until it looks like frosted glass. Then it becomes transparent, like a window. Now it is no barrier at all. I step through into a world of primal beauty and simplicity, where people are fishing and gathering fruits. They remind me of the people among whom I lived when I left my body at nine years of age. They welcome me, and I am full of joy to be with them.
    They tell me, “We are always here.”
    For the natives of this land, they are the Original People, ancestors of the ancestors.
    Whatever is done in the surface world, they are here.
    “When you get sick, you come here. When you get well, we send you back.”
     There is a deep sense of belonging, of home.
    “We are alive. We are here. The dead are alive. The living are dead.”
    I am reluctant to leave, but I am drumming for the group and responsible for them. I leave the caves and walk the trail on the other side. I see my radiant double. I know that, if things go well, we can finally come together and walk together through the sun, which is right ahead, on this trail leading beyond the Mountain of Messages.  

I have led many journeys to caves of the ancestors over the years, and provide a script for this kind of shamanic journey in Dreaming the Soul Back Home. The dream-guided Esalen group journey was especially thrilling not only because it seemed to open an authentic link to the First Peoples of the land where we were gathered but because - for me personally - it reopened contact with a world-behind-the-world I discovered during a near-death experience when I was nine years old.

Photo by RM

Monday, September 27, 2021

Lightly, lightly: Teachings of a Dancing God in Aldous Huxley's Last Novel


"Look at the great round halo, fringed with the symbols of fire, within which the god is dancing. It stands for Nature, for the world of mass and energy. Within it, Shiva-Nataraja dances the dance of endless becoming and passing away. It is his lila, his cosmic play. Playing for the sake of playing, like a child. But this child is the Order of Things. His toys are galaxies, his playground is infinite space."

I am quoting from a beautiful description of a statue of Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, in Aldous Huxley's last novel, Island.
    In cast metal Indian figures of Shiva Nataraja, the oldest of which date from the 10th century, he is shown with four arms, which evoke the four cardinal directions. Each hand holds a a symbolic object or makes a symbolic gesture, a mudra.
    In the upper right hand is a drum shaped like an hourglass. It symbolizes the creation of worlds, which begin with sound. It is beating the patterns of making, and the rhythms of Shiva's dance as Kala, Lord of Time. In the shape of the drum - two interpenetrating triangles - we also see the union of dynamic opposites and of male and female, lingam and yoni. When they are separated, the universe ends.

In his upper left hand, Shiva holds fire, understood here to be the destroyer of worlds. In Hindu mythology, our present world will end in flame.
    Shiva's lower right hand is raised and the palm is turned outwards. The gesture signifies: "Don't be afraid." The Sanskrit name for this mudra is abhaya, meaning "without fear".
    Shiva's lower left hand points to his feet. What's going on down there? His right foots is planted on a horrible dwarf who is the embodiment of ignorance, envy and greed. The Lord of the Dance is stamping on this demon, breaking his back. But his finger is not pointing at the demon dwarf. It is pointing at his left foot, which he is raising high from the ground. That raised foot, lifted so high it seems to defy the law of gravity, symbolizes moksha, liberation from the cycle of birth and death and rebirth. The gesture of the pointing hand resembles the outstretched trunk of an elephant and evokes elephant-headed Ganesha, Shiva's son, the one who opens and closes the doors and paths of this world.

"For Nataraja it's all play," writes Huxley. "And the play is an end in itself, everlastingly purposeless. He dances because he dances, and the dancing is his maha-moksha, his infinite and eternal bliss."

"It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days… Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…"


Image: Shiva as Lord of the Dance. Bronze, Chola dynasty (10th century) from Tamil Nadu. Now in Los Angeles County Museum of Art:




Friday, September 24, 2021

The Cave of the Nymphs

The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry wrote a commentary on a scene in Homer's Odyssey that offers a remarkable allegory of the soul's comings and goings from embodiment in this world. A translation of Porphyry's text, new to the English language at that time, inspired William Blake to paint a picture full of codes for the awakening spirit.

For  Porphyry the Cave of the Nymphs is a “harbor of the soul”, a waystation between the worlds. Porphyry insisted that nous (mind, spirit) is never contained in the body, but only “acts in it” through affinity or gravitation. An affinity for what is moist and humid brings souls back into incarnation; a tendency towards what is dry and light and fiery carries the soul into the realms of the immortals. In the Cave of the Nymphs, Naiads (spirits of fresh waters and fountains) weave “moist envelopes” – “purple tissues” – on stone, and bees deposit their honey in stone urns. Images of taking on flesh, of coming into generation. 

The word-picture fascinated William Blake, who gave it visual form in a watercolor painting found only in 1947 in the clutter atop a cabinet in a stately home in Devonshire. The first experts to examine the picture decided to give it a title from one of Blake’s letters: “The Sea of Time and Space”. Kathleen Raine explains in fine detail that the picture is an illustration of the Cave of the Nymphs. It seems that Mystery rituals dedicated to Odysseus and the Naiads – and the soul? – were actually held in a cave near the beach of Dexa in Ithaca where Odysseus is said to have returned to his homeland, dreaming. 

Kathleen Raine discusses Blake's imagery in an essay in her book Blake and Antiquity. She finds ithat even with self-taught, self-driven Blake, it is true (as Yeats declared) that poetry is “the traditional expression of certain heroic and religious themes, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned.”  

In 1947 a stately home in Devonshire called Arlington Court was taken over by the National Trust. Among broken glass and junk on the top of a pantry cover was found a painting by Blake clearly dated 1821. The art experts provisionally titled it “The Sea of Time and Space”, after a phrase in one of Blake’s letters and in his poem “Milton]. Its actual nature – as an illustration to Porphyry and Homer – was not recognized for a long time because of the tendency to regard Blake as an “untaught original” rather than an autodidact who devoured and integrated huge bodies of literature. The symbols appear again and again in Blake’s own work, yet we see that they also have deep roots in mythic experience and Neoplatonist tradition. For Raine, 

Neoplatonism may be compared to an underground river that flows through European history, sending up, from time to time, springs and fountains; and wherever its fertilizing stream emerges, there imaginative thought revives, and we have a period of great art and poetry. [1] 

Blake was a contemporary of Thomas Taylor, who brought the Neoplatonists into the English language (and was often ridiculed for it). Taylor was a crusader for the philosophy of Plotinus, calling on the young men of his time to take up its “weapons of truth”. He published the first English translation of Porphyry’s De antro nympharum

Blake's picture gives s nymphs, weavers at a loom, a sea-god, souls entering incarnation, bright spirits reborn -  perpetual cycle of the descent and ascent of souls between an eternal and a temporal world. 

In Mystery traditions, the  voyage of Odysseus in its entirety was read as the type of such a journey of soul. The sea, in constant flux, is the world. The watery cave of Calypso is the world’s enchantments. The beggar’s rags in which Odysseus returns home are the body, which the soul discards when they are no longer needed. The sea crossing, as in many legends and myths, is the type of the soul’s journey to the Otherworld. 

Blake incorporates the image of Odysseus throwing something out to sea, his face averted. This borrows an image from Book V of the Odyssey where the  hero is washed up on the Phaeacian shore. Odysseus is the soul survivor of the wreck of his ship; the goddess Ino takes pity on him and lends him her girdle, urging him to swim to shore. When he lands he must throw her girdle back to her, turning his face away. In Blake’s painting, the hero has thrown the girdle; the goddess has caught it, and she is dissolving back into a spiral of radiant cloud.

Athena stands behind Odysseus, a figure of Divine Wisdom, pointing to the shining realm of the sun.

Things to look for in Blake's painting:

The source of life in the underground river or spring. 

The dry and the moist. Heraclitus sas “a dry soul is the wisest” although “moisture appears delightful to souls”. 

Womb and tomb: Birth into the cave is a death from eternity. The Cave of the Nymphs is the womb through which humans are born into the physical world. 

Bowls and urns: Blake shows them carried like water pots on the heads of winged nymphs in the depths of the cave. 

Bees: These winged nymphs are Porphyry’s bees, winged souls about to descend into the cave of the world through womb-like vessels. 

Weavers: Blake has borrowed from his own Daughters of Albion, who ply their shuttles to bind immortals into mortal bodies. In Homer, there are marble looms and purple garments. Porphyry’s gloss is that “the formation of the flesh is on or about the bones, which in the bodies of animals resemble stones.” There is a hint of cruelty in the faces of the weavers. 

The child enmeshed: To the right of the looms, in Blake’s image, a little girl is enmeshed in what the nymphs are weaving – she is being woven into a body. 

The tubs: borrowed from Porphyry (who in turn borrowed from the Gorgias and Hesiod): the tub or bucket of the evolved, temperate and “dry” soul that is intact and can hold its contents, and the one of the person ruled by passion that is pierced and spills everywhere. Seen in two figures in the right foreground of Blake’s painting: a resolute woman turns her back on the swirl and climbs the steps, holding a bucket in her right hand while her left is raised towards the heavenly world. She is opposed by the nymphs. Close to her, a “moist soul” lolls half-immersed in a tub which lies on its side, forever spilling and unfilled even as water streams into it; she looks happy but she disgusts Blake, because she is caught in the “deadly sleep” of physical life and is on her downward journey. 

The river’s mouth: the lowest stage of descent into matter in Blake’s painting. Here he introduces Fates who control the entry of souls into the Sea of Time and Space. Savage and cruel, one unwinds the thread, a second measures it, a third waits with shears to cut it off. Phorcys (who Raine sees as a variant of Proteus) bears the phallic distaff from which the thread is unwound. 

The sleeping sun god – when this world wakes, the other world sleeps.

1. Kathleen Raine, "The Cave of the Nymphs" in Raine, Blake and Antiquity: The A.E. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts (Princeton N.J.: Bollingen, 1977) 4


William Blake, "Sea of Space and Time" (1821)





Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Punch a Hole in the World: Listening to Children's Dreams

Young children know how to go to Magic Kingdoms without paying for tickets, because they are at home in the imagination and live close to their dreams. When she was very young, my daughter Sophie had adventures in a special place called Teddy Bear Land, where she met a special friend. I loved hearing about these travels, and encouraged her to make drawings and spin further stories from them.

One day Sophie sat down beside me and asked with great earnestness, "Daddy, would you like to know how I get to Teddy Bear Land?"

 "I'd love to."

 "Sometimes I take the Sun Gate. Sometimes I take the Moon Gate. Sometimes I take the Tree Gate. Sometimes I take the Rainbow Bridge. And sometimes I just punch a hole in the world."

I've never heard anyone say it better. To live the larger life. we need to punch a hole in the world. This is what dreaming - sleeping or waking or hyper-awake - is really all about. On our roads to adulthood, we sometimes forget how to do it, just as older children in the Chronicles of Narnia cease to be able to see Aslan as they approach adolescence and become more and more burdened by the reality definitions of the grown-ups around them.

When we listen, truly listen, to very young children, we start to remember that the distance between us and the Magic Kingdoms is no wider than the edge of a sleep mask. True listening requires us to pay attention; to attend, in its root meaning in the Latin, is to stretch ourselves, which requires us to expand our vocabulary of understanding. We owe nothing less to the young children in our lives. When we do this, we discover that they can be our very best teachers on how to dream and what dreaming can be.

Here's what we need to know about listening to children's dreams and supporting their imaginations:

1. Listen up! When a child wants to tell a dream, make room for that. Make some daily space for dream sharing. Listen to the stories and cherish them for their own sake.

2. Invite good dreams Pick the right bedtime reading or better still, tell stories. Help your child to weave a web of good dream intentions for the night - for example, by asking "What would you most like to do tonight?" Encourage children to sleep with a favorite stuffed animal (whether teddy bear or T-Rex) and make this a dream guardian.

3. Provide immediate help with the scary stuff If your child was scared by something in the night, recognize you are the ally the child needs right now. Do something right away to move out that negative energy. Get a frightened child to spit it out (literally) or draw a picture of what scared her and tear it up as violently as possible.

4. Ask good questions. When the child has told her story, ask good questions. Ask about feelings, about the color of the sky, and about exactly what T-Rex was doing. See if there's something about the future. Say what you would think about this if this were your dream. Always come up with something fun or helpful to do with this story. Open up the crayon box, call grandma, etc.

5. Help the child to keep a dream journal. Get this started as early as possible. With a very young child, you can help with the words while they do the pictures. When your child reaches the point where she closes the journal and says, "This is my secret book and you can't read it any more" do not peek. Give her privacy, and let her choose when she'll let you look in that magic book.

6. Provide tools for creative expression. Encourage the child to bring dreams come alive through art, dance, theater and games, and to draw or paint dreams. Gather friends and family for dream-inspired games and performance. Puppets and stuffed animals can be great for acting out dreams. This can also be dress-up time. It's such a release for kids to portray mom or dad or other grown-ups in their lives - be ready to be shocked!

7. Help construct effective action plans Dreams can show us things that require further action - for example, to avoid an unhappy future event that was previewed in the dream, or to put something right in a family situation. A child will probably need adult help with such things, starting with your help. may require adult help, starting with yours. This will eventually require you to learn more about dreaming and dreamwork (hint: you can start with my books).

 8. Let your own inner child out to play As you listen to children's dreams, let the wonderful child dreamer inside you come out and join in the play.

9. Keep it fun! When you get the hang of this, you'll find it's about the best home entertainment you can enjoy.

Notice two things that are not on this list, but would be at the very top of a list of what NOT to do with your children's dreams:
1. NEVER say to a child "It's only a dream". Children know that dreams are for real and that scary stuff that comes out in dreams needs to be resolved, not dismissed.
2. DON'T INTERPRET a child's dreams.You are not the expert here; the child is.

Text adapted from Active Dreaming by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Art: Book Tree by a 10-year-old Romanian boy

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Shamanic lucid dreaming

In the practice of Active Dreaming, we do many of the things involved in what is popularly called "lucid dreaming", and a great deal more. However, I confess I have never been enthusiastic about the term "lucid dreaming" because it has often been associated with notions of "controlling" or "manipulating" dreams. This is why I called my first book in this field Conscious Dreaming.
     Through dreaming, we have access to a source that is infinitely wiser and deeper than the everyday ego, and we want to be available to that source. I am in favor of learning to choose where we go and what we do in dreams, as in waking life, but that requires discernment, not the fantasy of control.
     Another problem I have with the term "lucid dreaming" is that it is most often associated with techniques for waking yourself up to the fact that you are dreaming while you are asleep. However, the easiest way to become a lucid or conscious dreamer is to start out lucid and stay that way: in other words, to enter conscious dreaming from a waking or semi-wakeful state. 
      My preferred name for what I teach and practice is Active Dreaming. As the phrase suggests, we can be active in embarking on conscious adventures in dreaming, and we want to be active in bringing the energy and insight of our dreams into waking life. 
       Since I am often asked whether Active Dreaming is a mode of lucid dreaming, I am going to borrow a phrase employed by one of my friends in the lucid dreaming fraternity who refers to my "shamanic lucid dream adventures." I am using the adjective "shamanic" here to describe a method for shifting consciousness to enter nonordinary reality for purposes that include the care and recovery of soul. 
      How do you become a shamanic lucid dreamer? You start out conscious and you stay that way. To accomplish this, you only need three things: a clear intention, an image that can serve as a portal, and a means of focusing the mind and fueling the journey. All these things can become available naturally, in the twilight zone of consciousness that researchers call hypnagogia. You are between sleep and waking. Images rise and fall in your mindnd any one of those images can become the gateway for a conscious dream adventure. 
      An equally simple and natural way to become a shamanic lucid dreamer is to use a remembered dream as the portal for a journey. In your night dream, you went to a place, which may resemble a site in ordinary reality or may be a locale in a separate reality where the physics are utterly different. Either way, because you were in a certain place, you may be able to find your way back there, just as you could return to a house you once visited in regular life. 
      Why would you want to do this? Maybe you've been running away from something in your dream world that scares you - from the Bear, or the Tiger, or an unknown intruder or pursuer. If you can find the courage to go back inside one of those nightmares and face what frightened you on its own ground, you may find power and healing waiting for you on the other side of the terror. 
      You may want to go back inside a dream because you were with your dream lover in a tropical paradise but were interrupted by the alarm clock. You may want to talk to someone who appeared to you in a dream. You may need to clarify whether that auto accident could take place in the future, as either a literal and symbolic event, and what you need to do with that information (once you have it clear) in order to avoid an unwanted development. You may simply want to know more about a dream. The best way to understand a dream is to recover more of the experience of the dream. A dream experience, fully remembered, is its own interpretation. 
     Through the technique of dream reentry, you can pursue any of these agendas, or simply enjoy the fun and adventure of using a personal dream image as a portal to the multiverse. 
     The best time to attempt dream reentry may be when the dream is fresh and you are still closely connected to it, lingering in bed after waking. But if the dream has energy for you, you can go back inside any time, even decades after the original dream. 
      Shamanic drumming - a steady beat on a simple frame drum, typically in the range of three to four beats per second, but sometimes faster - will help you to shift consciousness and travel into the dreamspace. The steady beat helps to override mental clutter and focus energy and intention on the journey. The rhythms of the drum correspond to brain wave frequencies in the theta band, associated with the hypnagogic zone and its dreamlike imagery. If you want a physiological explanation of why shamanic drumming is such a powerful tool for shifting awareness, you could say that the "sonic driving" of the drum herds our brain waves into the theta band, opening us to its characteristic flow of imagery. I have made my own drumming recording for shamanic lucid dreamers. 
      The drumming will also help you to synchronize and focus shared adventures in dream travel. You can invite one of more partners to journey with you through the portal you have chosen and act as companions and trackers who can support you and bring you extra information. In my workshops, we frequently have 30 or more active dreamers traveling together on group adventures of this kind. Often we keep group logs, and you can read samplings from these in my book Dreamgates and in the epilogue to Dreamways of the Iroquois, where I describe how I led a group of frequent flyers on a group journey to meet the shaman-priests of the Kogi, on their sacred mountain, at the invitation of a Kogi elder. Through such experiments, we assemble truly scientific data on the reality of the dreamworlds, and what is possible within them. 
     Shamanic lucid dreaming is an adventure in navigating the deeper reality that we can share with a partner, with a group, or a whole community. Through practice, you can develop the ability to shift consciousness at will, travel in nonordinary reality, and bring back gifts, with or without drumming.

Photo: Leading a fire ceremony for a circle of active dreamers. Photo by Jeanne Cameron.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

At the Stag Tree


At the Stag Tree

I am the antlered one.
I raise living bones
as taproots into the sky
to draw down the strength of heaven.

I am sure-footed, potent,
a warrior in love,
with power to read the land,
to see behind me and around me.

I grow my own crown, royal,
magnificent, and have the wisdom
to give up its burden
when the year grows old.

I come here, to the hickory,
to rub out my royalty,
to drop the burden of my crown
and grow again, stronger than before.

September 15, 2018

- lines composed in an exercise to become Animal Speakers in my "Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming" retreat in the green fairyland of northern Bohemia