You are on the road of your ordinary life, maybe on the morning commute, by car or subway or on foot. Things are not moving swiftly or smoothly. You are worried you’ll be late. Now it seems you may not be able to get through at all, on your familiar route, because there is a major obstruction ahead. The way is torn up, or blocked. Hard to see whether this is because of new construction or an accident.
Weary and frustrated, you notice an amazing being, slipping with a dancer’s grace between the stopped cars or people. There is something familiar about this figure. As it approaches the mouth of a tunnel, you realize, incredulous, that this figure is you – that is to say, an amazingly supple and youthful version of you, radiant in its beauty. The figure proceeds to fly up the tunnel, which leads upward. How can this be? Oh, that’s right. You must be dreaming. Wait – if you are dreaming, you can fly too. How could you ever forget?
Now you are flying up the tunnel, exhilarated by the speed and your freedom from the clogged traffic you have left behind.
You come out in a high, fresh place in the woods. A clean, sweet wind lifts your hair and shows you your way. You come to a meeting space, a lodge among the trees constructed from what the forest gives willingly. A great circle is gathered on the dirt floor, around a fire. The people here live very close to the Earth. The firelight reddens their skin as they sing and drum together. You stand, hesitant, in the door of the lodge, not wishing to intrude.
But an elder rises from the circle and indicates that you are welcome, and that the Earth people have a place waiting for you. You sit with them. You sing with them. You feel the depth and comfort of being welcomed home.
After a good long time, when the fire is gentle, you rise from your place and move to the center of the space. You bow to the fire, and stretch out on the ground next to it.
One by one, the Earth people approach you. One of them takes glowing coals from the fire and places them over your eyes, saying, “We do this to open your eyes, so that you may see clearly.”
Another places glowing coals over your ears, and sings, “We do this to open your ears, so you may hear clearly.”
One places a hot coal on your mouth, saying, “We do this to open your mouth, so that henceforth you will speak only truth.”
The wisest of the wise places a red-hot coal on your heart, and you feel it sear a passage through your body. The wise one sings, “We do this to open your heart, and to open the passage between your heart and your mouth, so that henceforth you will speak and act only from the heart.”
When you rise from your place by the fire, you are not the same. You go out among the trees, and you promise to the wood and the wind and the stars, “Henceforth, I will speak and act only from the heart.”
This is the story of a watershed experience in my life that put me on a path for which there is no career track in our culture: the path of a dream teacher. I have retold the story, as I do in my workshops, so you can make it your own, if it calls you. For more on the tradition that was opening to me, please read my Dreamways of the Iroquois.