Out in the midst of Long Island Sound, the lighthouse is winking on its island. On a soft Sunday evening, we start our week-long training for teachers of Active Dreaming by creating our own beacon, in the form of clear statements of intention.
We are gathered in a circle in what used to be the living room of Phil Donahue’s beach house on the Connecticut shore. Generously, he donated SeaScape to his neighbors, the Sisters of Mercy who are our hosts for the week. When I first came here, there was a mural of two larger-than-life figures on the bow of a cruise ship. The man sported a monocle with his dinner jacket, and was hoisting a martini. The woman was in flapper attire, with a highball. We christened them “Scott” and “Zelda” and toasted them as our “spirit guides”. Some earnest people, since that time, must have been offended by the party people on the wall, because the wall has been repainted flat white. Still, there is plenty of spirit in the room tonight!
When my turn comes to speak, I announce that my intention, in opening the sixth year of my dream teacher training, is as follows: “I am here to train and empower midwives who will help to birth a dreaming society in our time, in our world.”
I look around the circle of eager, intelligent faces and know that I will not be disappointed. We have drawn wonderfully gifted and creative dreamers and healers from British Columbia and Colorado, from Rhode Island and Texas, from Minnesota and North Carolina.
I am seized by the depth of my responsibility to them, to help to bring their gifts into full flower and to make sure that they will have the specific tools and skills required to apply our Active Dreaming techniques to different professional and community situations, and to adapt them to suit the language and style of different environments.
We work and play very hard over the week that unfolds. Our dream midwives regale us with marvelous stories, fresh from their dreaming – of flying through the air on a purple sofa, of batting at a panther with a black patent leather pocket book, of being entered through the spine by the luminous energy of Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent. We journey to the astral realm of the Moon and back. We practice techniques of emotional and imaginal healing, and learn how to help others to read the sign language of the world and use dreams for self-diagnosis. We practice speaking to many different kinds of audiences about why dreaming matters in our personal lives, and to our kind. Our dreams and our journeys with the drum burst into dance and performance and moments of pure, unalloyed joy and laughter.
All the while, at the edge of the bushes just outside the house, three red foxes prowl. The bunny rabbits all over the property seem remarkably unfazed, by foxes or humans. Only once do we see a fox with lunch in its mouth.
As the work deepens, I picture two faces, beyond those in our circle, that remind me of my responsibility – and that of the dream school – to a deeper world and a possible future. I see the face and form of a young woman who seems to live several centuries ahead of our current time. I became aware of her many years ago, and I know that her life and work are connected with my own. She is a priestess and a scientist. She belongs to an order of women who are both scientists and spiritual leaders. Their work is to rebuild our world after a series of disasters brought on by the ignorance and violence of men. Active Dreaming, as we practice it, is absolutely central to their work, and they have succeeded in creating a dreaming society among those who follow their guidance. In this possible future world, sharing dreams by a process like Lightning Dreamwork is the first business of the day. Dreaming is part of every level of education. Dream diagnosis and healing through imagery are mainstream practice in medicine. No important policy decision is taken without consultation with the dream seers – those with proven ability to scout possible futures and produce reliable information – whose independence is zealously guarded.
I hope that the Earth disasters that seem to have preceded the emergence of this particular dreaming society can be avoided. I also hope that dream teachers of the quality of the priestess-scientist in my visions will rise to the position she has assumed, to help heal our lives and our world.Today, as dream teachers, we can provide a safe and healing space where people from every walk of life find it possible to open their hearts and reclaim the vital energy of parts of themselves lost through trauma or heartbreak or refusing to follow the heart’s deepest desires. We can help each other to find True North, our life’s flawless compass, in the thinking of the heart, so much wiser than the calculations of the head – and to gather the energy and resources required to live the path with heart, the only path worth following.
Huge numbers of people in our times are hungry for what we are offering, although rather few are aware (as yet) of what is on offer. As dream teachers, we are called to help people to find their own answers to the eternal questions – Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my life’s purpose? – by reclaiming the knowledge of soul and spirit that belonged to them before they came into their present bodies.
In our week at SeaScape, I see another face that reminds me that this is all about soul,In an especially powerful journey with the drum, I see Dream Boy flying through the air on great shining wings, and I am filled with elation. All is well, when the magic that’s afoot is the magic of the child who at home in the worlds of dream and imagination and knows the power of making things up.
and recovering the energy of soul. The face is that of a small boy, maybe two years old. It is a round, freckly face under a yellow sun hat of the kind we used to call a Sou’wester when I was growing up in Australia. He looks very much as I did, at that age. But this is not just a younger Robert. This is Dream Boy. He has a special box – it looks like a pirate’s treasure chest – that is full of dreams. If you are lucky, he will pluck the right dream from his box and send it to you.
At the end of our week of learning and adventure, I see our new flight of dream teachers seeming to walk on water, like the egret – and then winging away in all directions, like sea birds.