Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Conjure the book you most want to read

"I began doing what came most naturally to me – that is, following the memory of the things I had loved best since boyhood. Instead of making myself write the book I ought to write, the novel that was expected of me, I conjured up the book I myself would have liked to read, the sort by an unknown writer, from another age and another country, discovered in an attic."
    The voice is that of Italo Calvino, describing how he found the mode of experimental, "fabulist" writing for which he is famed. He was talking about the choice he made after the disappointing reception of three novels he had written in realist style. The result was an extraordinary short novel titled The Cloven Viscount (Il visconte dimezzato). He wrote it in 30 days over the summer and early fall of 1951 and it was published the following year.His unlikely protagonist: a 17th century viscount whose body is cut in two by a cannonball.
    I recommend Calvino's example to any writer who wants to bring something brave and new into the world: conjure the book you would most like to read.

Source: The quote is from Italo Calvino's introduction to Our Ancestors translated by A. Colquhoun (London: Vintage, 1998) vii.

Chicken tarot

My sketch for the 3 of Disks, inspired by the contribution that chickens in the yard made to our lunch breaks during my Tarot for Dreamers workshop at The Dragon's Egg, Mystic last weekend. I have always thought of the 3 of Disks or Pentacles as a positive card, but suggesting that there is a price for manifesting good things on a physical level. No windfall here. Rather, the need for honest labor, and to take your time to do a job well.
    Now "Hatching" seems a suitable name for it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Speaking Land

Everything is speaking to you.
The tarot Fool is out of the deck
and walking up the drive
with the patterns of the world in his sack
to remind you (if you’ll listen)
that to be wise you may need to be crazy
in the eyes of others - and not confuse this
with behaving like a bloody fool.

The chickens in the yard can teach you
multiplication and what you need
to hatch that dragon's egg you have inside.
Hawk will come over, more interested in you
than a chicken dinner. Are you ready
to soar on his wings, and claim his vision
and see your life roads from his sky?

Everything is conspiring to show you
what heaven and earth want to happen.
When you think your way is lost,
when there are mountains of glass
and concrete between you and your dreams,
the ones who move beyond the curtain
of our consensual hallucinations
and speak as the wind in the trees
as the call of a bird, as the bark of a fox,
will open ways where you least expect them.
All you need are new ears and fresh eyes.

-          March 25, 2013

Art: "Dream Path II" by Dorothy Englander

Friday, March 22, 2013

A lost and found twenty

In the category of I Couldn't Lose It If I Tried

Standing in line at the bank, I take out my cell phone, which I keep in the same pocket as some loose $20 bills, a couple of which come out, jammed under the lid of the phone. I cash a check with my favorite teller who says, "Whoops, I nearly gave you an extra twenty." 
     There's a stir in the line behind me. They've found something.
     "Something good?" I ask, turning to the people behind me.
     "A twenty dollar bill!" 
     "It's probably mine," I say to the old boy who's got it. This is probably true, given what happened when I pulled out my phone. "But it's found money, so you keep it."
     "Oh no, I'll hand it in to the teller." Honest fellow.
     "Really? I think you deserve the good luck."
     "Someone may claim it." He gives the $20 bill to the teller.
     "I guess that would be you," the man behind him says to me.
     "Maybe you should keep it," I say to the teller.
      "Oh no, we're not allowed to take money." She hands the $20 bill to me. 
      It's all but certain I am the one who lost the $20. Nice to think it touched so many people before it came back to me.

The 20th trump

I must add that before this incident, I was reflecting on one of the most powerful and original images in the Wildwood tarot. It is the depiction of the 20th trump as the Great Bear. In older decks, this is called Judgment and sometimes shows the dead rising from their graves. Aleister Crowley didn't care for the Christian eschatological reference and renamed it the Aion in his Thoth deck. My personal name for Trump XX is "Showtime!"
     I love the Wildwood image. It makes me think of something being called up from the dark places of wisdom, and of the bear rising from winter hibernation. Between two ancient yew trees, we see the mouth of a passage tomb. A fierce white bear stands guard, holding the space for the one who will rise through death and rebirth. The constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, shines in the sky, suggesting that the cave initiation can carry you to the stars. There is no judgment here, in the old moralistic or theological sense - rather, the promise of rising into an expanded, superabundant life. Showtime!

Stoat on the path

I am getting to know the Wildwood tarot, whose beautiful images are painted by Will Worthington. I love the animals that take the place of the usual face (or "court") cards.
    The Stoat, tagged here as the Page of Bows (=Wands in other decks) has come up a couple of times in recent readings. Better known as the ermine or short-tailed weasel in North America, the Stoat is described in the book (written by Mark Ryan and John Matthews) as a fierce hunter who lives underground, adept at changing colors with "mystical links to the sovereignty of the land."  As a person in your life, the appearance of this card may flag "a charming and adventurous individual who may act as an ambassador."
   I note, researching the natural habits of stoats, that they don't dig their own burrows; they take over the homes of rodents they kill. They have that great ability to change with the seasons, by putting on and later taking off those thick winter coats. In folklore, they are iffy as omen beasts. In Ireland, the old ones said it's not likely to be a good day if a stat crosses your path - unless you greet it as friend and neighbor. In history and society, the ermine has often denoted rank or royalty, and not only as a fur collar. There is a portrait of Elizabeth of England with a white stoat (ermine) on her arm.
   When the Stoat comes up in the place of the Page of Bows, or the Eel as the Knight of Vessels, I am less inclined to think about the procession of the court cards familiar from other decks and simply to go with the qualities of the animals that show themselves - whether as aspects of the querent, or of someone entering his or her life, or as denoting an inner or outer event.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

When the clock is the writer's friend

Timed writing. 30 minutes max. So you can make room for it in almost any schedule, and make yourself do it when you don't want to.
    You stop when the time is up, like on Top Chef. Drop the pen, close the Word document. You're not finished? Great, that means when you return to the draft, you know exactly where to pick up. Oh yes, and since you are not on Top Chef with the clocks running in front of the cameras, you can always cheat and steal a few minutes more.

    We do this in my writing playshops. We do it every day during my writing retreat "Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming." Sometimes we raise the bar. For example, you have 30 minutes, in your own space, to produce a page you can read to the group. Or: you have just 5 minutes, in the space of the whole group, to write a quick sketch that you can share.
    Yes, writers can make the clock their friend. If you have only 30 minutes or less, perfection is not on the agenda. There is simply no time to entertain the inner critic, or indulge the procrastinator. They'll come after you later, but not right now.
    In my writer's life, the clock can be a friend in larger ways. I love fierce delivery dates, like 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, or tomorrow, or the first of next month. Possibly because I used to be a journalist, accustomed to rushing copy together for almost instantaneous publication, I'm not impressed by deadlines that are too far into the future. On a certain level, I have learned that you can't really start a book (as opposed to an article) the night before a due date and expect to hand it in on time. But part of me still wants to approach any writing project, even of book length, that way. I would have thrived on the serial model of publication of both fiction and nonfiction that prevailed in the heyday of Balzac, Dickens and H.G. Wells.
   Blogging is a consolation, and a gentle workout for the writing muscles, but not the same thing.
   I don't put blog writing on a timer, just the big stuff. When I next turn the dial on my timekeeper - you can see he is a very fierce enforcer - it will be in the cause of bringing through some more pages of a new book.

The mirror of living and dying

Die while you're alive
and be absolutely dead.
Then do what ever you want:
it's all good.

- Bunan (1603-1676)

Come alive when you're dead
and be absolutely alive.
Then do whatever you want:
it's all good. 

-Nanub (1676-1603)

Photo by Lindy Booth

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where a dream is the price of admission

In traditions where the importance of dreaming is understood, the right dream may be your price of admission to the good stuff.
   It is common in Tibetan tradition for spiritual teachers to ask students to bring them a dream to determine if they are ready to receive important teachings. A student without a dream is regarded as blocked and possibly unclean. He is required to undergo purification and perform practices to reopen his connection with spiritual allies. He is not allowed to continue his studies until he can produce the right dream.

    Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche gives a personal example, from the time of his training with Lopon Rinpoche, in his book Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep. The story is doubly interesting because it involves long-range dream precognition. At 13, as a student,Tenzin dreamed he was handing out slips of paper with the Tibetan syllable A written on them to people boarding a bus.     He brought this dream to his teacher, who did not comment, but allowed him to proceed to a further level of instruction. Fifteen years later, waking events caught up with the dream. Invited to travel to the West for the first time, Tenzin found himself assigned to hand out slips of paper with the Tibetan syllable A on them to people boarding a bus. These were to be used in a meditation exercise.
    I remember an occasion when a dream proved to be my admission ticket to the Dreaming of an Aboriginal people in my native Australia. I dreamed I was carried back to Australia by a sea eagle, to a reunion with my mother, and then guided into the hinterland of south Queensland, to the banks of a muddy creek. Something immense was thrashing and rising from the waters. Nearby were Aborigines painted for ceremony. An elder told me, "This is the first of all creatures. This is the beginning of our world."
    When my mother died suddenly, three months later, I was grateful that the dream had prepared me for this event, through our loving exchange in the dream itself, and by how it inspired me to reach out to her and heal some misunderstandings. I flew back to my native country. After the funeral, I went "walkabout" for a few days, and found myself at an Aboriginal housing co-op in a dusty town in the hinterland called Beaudesert. When I started talking about dreams, I was told I needed to talk to Frank. Who was Frank? "Oh, he's our spirit man." Frank's place proved to be three days bush walk away, so this lead seemed like a non-starter.
    But Frank walked in as I was getting ready to go; shamans are tricky. He invited me down to the pub to talk. He sipped orange juice and sniffed me, literally, checking if I was another white fella trying to rip off his people yet again. Then I told him the dream. His manner changed radically. He sat very still, his eyes blazing like fire opals.
   "Oh, I guess you've come to me for a reason, mate. You've just told me the start of the creation story of my people, the Mununjalli, as it is told to made men. That thing you saw in the water was the bull eel. We say it is the first of all creatures."
    Not for the first, or the last, time in my life, it seemed that a dream had taken me deep inside the Dreaming of a Native people. Because of my dream, Frank volunteered to show me the place of the Bull Eel Dreaming. Skirting quicksand and snakes, after many hours I found myself on the bank of the muddy creek from my dream. No bull eel in evidence that day, which was fine with me.

"Bull Eel Dreaming," journal drawing by Robert Moss

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A charm for St Patrick's Day

On St Patrick’s Day,  a Celtic blessing that has been given his name. The blessing is known as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate. It is a lorica, or “breastplate-charm”, believed to offer a shield of protection as we journey through life.
      The translation of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate was made from the Old Irish by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1889. The original text was probably written down in the 8th century, some 300 years after Patrick’s ministry in Ireland. But my favorite verse, moving in the waves of a traditional druidic incantation for protection on a journey, probably predates the saint and the coming of Christianity to Ireland by many centuries:

I arise now through
the strength of heaven
light of sun
radiance of moon
splendor of fire
speed of lightning
swiftness of wind
depth of ocean
stability of earth
firmness of rock 

We often speak these lines on the last morning of the retreats I lead, claiming our connection with the elemental powers that are named, and with the power of heaven, through our body language as well as through speech.
     If you want to say this blessing today, in whatever form, you will want to speak the words three times. All Celts know that three times makes the charm.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Strange sky and a plot against the government


What is going on in the sky? Great thunderheads move like wings, then like giant fists, and between them there are swirls of orange light. I am awed, not afraid, walking this road in high, stony country. One of my companions says we need to look very carefully, through gaps in the clouds, beyond the swirls, for a distant point in the sky. What is happening in the clouds, and major events that are coming in our world, originate from there.


Next, in broad sunlight, I am in a stadium packed with excited people. Some of these people know me and welcome me, making room for me to sit with them. I am wearing a light, broad-brimmed summer hat with a chin strap, very Aussie. I am glad to be with these people, even though we are packed in tight. They may want me to make a speech.


Now it's night, and I am at an airfield where a secret operation is being prepared. There is a big dark military helicopter on the tarmac, propellers turning. There are lots of tough men - 250 of them - in civilian clothes. I know they are soldiers, even though they are not in uniform or carrying automatic weapons, though a few have sidearms visible on their belts. I see a man I know going to talk to someone on the chopper.
    I call out his name, and he turns to me, a sandy-haired man in a light blue windbreaker with a slight Southern accent. I ask him what's going on, and he tells me this airfield is a "staging area" from which the soldiers will be sent on for their mission. He says "the states have a different viewpoint from the government." It suddenly hits me that the secret operation under way here may not be against a foreign enemy, but against the U.S. government, and it may need to be stopped.

I woke from this dream today rather detached, though as I thought about what was going on I became quite troubled about the idea that there could be a plot against the U.S. government involving people with military resources and political power at state level. I don't think I was my present self in the scene at the airport. I seemed to be much younger, maybe working undercover to expose and stop a conspiracy.

However, I was probably my present self - or a close counterpart - in the scene at the stadium, because yesterday I took delivery of the Aussie-style summer hat I was wearing there. That becomes a time marker. If events in this dream could manifest in the future, literally or symbolically, it would be at a time when I might be wearing that hat, as in summer.

My intention, before I went to bed in the early hours today, was the same as the night before: to explore the nature of "far memory", as in memories of other or parallel life experiences. I think I may have succeeded in entering the experience of a parallel self in the airport scene. I very much hope that the plot he seemed to be monitoring is not one that will be hatched in the United States in ordinary reality.

I notice an interesting transition between my dreams from yesterday and those of today, flowing from the common intention of exploring memories of other and parallel lives. Yesterday I seemed to be in the body and situation of an American teen helping President Obama to dry the dishes after a simple private lunch. Today I seemed to be in the body and situation of a young adult American male trying to head off a militarist conspiracy against the government. Maybe my teen alter ego grew up a few years overnight...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Washing dishes with Obama

I am having lunch with President Obama at a pleasant, contemporary house of wood and glass that matches its environment, an upscale, lightly wooded development. The trees around the house are mostly aspen and birch, leafless in this season. Our meal is simple, just sandwiches and soft drinks. After we eat, Obama washes dishes in the sink while the other lunch guest dries. I grab a dishcloth, wanting to do something useful, but succeed only in drying a glass.
    The other lunch guest is a young man or teen my own age. I am a high school senior or freshman college student and we have been invited to lunch with the President as a special honor. We are dressed up for the occasion in blazers and ties.

    I find a screwdriver and other tools on the kitchen counter. Obama laughs and remarks that Michelle is an excellent "carpenter" and that in another life she would have been a wonderful tailor. As we walk from the house under the trees, there is no sign of security, but surely the guards are there. I would like to ask the President about this, but I feel a little shy.

I woke from this morning dream after dawn, feeling that I had really been there, though not as my present self.  I was moved by Obama's simplicity and modesty. I could still feel my boyish awkwardness, trying to find something useful to do in the kitchen, still hear the soft crunch of grass and leaves underfoot as we walked outside. I needed a moment to review where I was, who I was and who I had been.

I had been up very very late re-reading Far Memory, the autobiography of Joan Grant, the remarkable British psychic and novelist whose novels (of which my favorite is Winged Pharaoh) were based on her memories and dreams of lives lived in earlier times. In her memoir she describes how from early childhood she remembered her lives in different bodies and this sometimes made it hard for her to accept the confinement of an young child's body and circumstances. I was reminded of my own difficulties of staying in the body of a young Australian boy when I was growing up.
    My intention for dreaming, when I finally went to bed, was to explore "far memory" - the memory of other lives. I now want to understand how my dream of being an American teen, in the kitchen with the President, relates to that intention. Perhaps part of the connection is that the dream suggests the mobility of consciousness, and that as humans, we are connected to people in many times and places in nonordinary ways, including in our contemporary world.
    Of course, there are many ways to read the dream as a set of dream symbols, especially if I play the "What part of me?" game. 

The dream and the intention

The first and best game to play with a dream that follows an intention is to explore the ways in which two may be linked. This can require some real detective work! When we set an intention for the night, our dream producers can astonish us by responding in a quite unexpected way that nonetheless turns out to be deeply relevant, on investigation. Sometimes they seem to ignore our intention because they think, maybe wisely, that there is something more important to know that we did not ask for (and may not want). Sometimes our dream self just wanders away from the original set course and brings back memories of other things. 

    Even when it's hard to find the link between the dream and the intention, it's important not to give up on the game too soon. Here others can help, because another person can sometimes spot connections the dreamer cannot see.

Drawing (c) Robert Moss

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Taking on the power of a woman shaman

As a mere man, I am always delighted when something happens to bring me closer to the Divine Feminine and to put me in touch with my own feminine side. I just had an experience of both those things that leaves me feeling charged with joyous energy and profoundly grateful.

I am leading a large workshop group in which we are performing shamanic rituals for healing. A woman friend is with me; this woman is like a sister to me and has assisted me in other workshops over many years. We agreed that she will be the demonstration model for a shamanic healing ritual which we will allow to be photographed and possibly filmed. She lies on the floor and gets her body in a comfortable position on a blanket.

    I am dancing around in a long swirling garment, gathering power and power objects for the ritual. I pick up and contemplate several objects I may use, including some large crystals. I am looking for a bear fetish, but find that the crystal I select is actually carved into the image of the Buddha. It's quite beautiful, with shades of lavender, but I decide not to use this.
    Still dancing, I find another crystal, shaped like a soft L, ornamented with little jewels and fine strands of gold, glowing with rainbow lights. It's soft and feminine, yet it packs a lot of power, and I can hold it like a laser gun to fire energy exactly where it is needed. This is the tool I will use.
   With this in my hand, I dance back towards my assistant. My long garment flutters around me, and so do the strands of a veil that is hanging over my face. I realize that these are traditional garments of a woman shaman, and I become conscious that I have summoned and am now channeling immense energy of the Divine Feminine. My assistant stirs as I approach. I lay objects beside her and over her, reassuring her that it's me and all is going according to plan, even better than we planned. She mumbles agreement, seemingly quite sleepy, and shifts her body so most of it is now off the blanket, while her head remains in its original position.
    Energy surges, finding its way to where it is needed. The glow of nurturing energy expands, filling the whole space. Some people in the background start chanting Goddess names. Indeed, we feel the Goddess is with us.

I'll be curious to see what the friend who is my demonstration model in this dream remembers from the night. I dreamed this in early sleep, before midnight, so she may not yet have been in the dreamlands.
    In the meantime, plenty of others have been keeping me posted on the peregrinations of my dream doubles. In the past 24 hours, I have received reports on a Robert with a black dog who joined one dreamer for a picnic on a hill; and a Robert with a bear who introduced another dreamer to three other animals; and a Robert who magicked up a big tax refund for a third dreamer. A Robert who is savvy with tax and finances is definitely a parallel self in a parallel reality far from my ordinary circumstances! I wouldn't mind an occasional meet-up with him.


I shared my dream report with the woman who was assisting me in the healing ritual in the dream. She told me she seemed to spend most of her time, in dreams last night, participating in a healing ritual that involved singing a childhood ballad that is full of deeper meanings. She also informed me that she has some large crystals from a family place in the South and expects to bring back more when she visits the property in the spring. I have invited her to assist me in a depth workshop later this year.

Drawing by R.M.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Consecutive dreams and parallel lives

"Isn't there something called consecutive dreaming, that goes on night after night?"
    This is one of the most interesting questions that can be asked about dreams. Here it is posed in the voice of a character of H.G.Wells, in his remarkable short story "A Dream of Armageddon," first published in 1901.
   The story starts on a train with a sick-looking "man with a white face" striking up a conversation with the narrator because he is reading a book about dreams. The white-faced man has no patience with dream analysis because - as he says - his dreams are killing him.
   He describes how he has been dreaming a life in a future century, in which he is a great man - the leader of a great party - who gives up his power to live his consuming love with a younger woman on the island of Capri, which is now one gigantic resort hotel. The descriptions of Capri are wonderfully beautiful and vivid, the slope of Monte Solaro, the natural arch in the rock called Faraglione that the sea washes through. The dreamer has never been to Capri, in his present life, but the narrator has, and can confirm many of   the details. In this way, we are led to believe the reality of the extraordinary story that is unfolding.
    In his current life, the dreamer is a solicitor in Liverpool. He wonders, as he works on the details of a building lease, what his clients and colleagues would make of his second life, which often seems more vivid and real to him than the life he is living now. He remembers awakening to that second life when he felt the warmth in the air because a lovely woman had stopped fanning him. He admired her as she leaned over their balcony.  "Her white shoulders were in the sun, and all the grace of her body was in the cool blue shadow."
    Each time he wakes in this future Capri, he forgets his life in England at the end of the nineteenth century. The idyll of love and beauty is fast falling apart, however. After dancing in the pleasure palace, he is approached by a grim envoy from his own Northern country who beseeches him to go back and take charge before the brute who succeeded him brings about a world war. To do this 
would involve leaving the woman he loves, and he chooses his heart over his duty to the multitude.
   For three weeks, night after night, the solicitor is thrown into scenes in which his future self is present at the collapse of an island paradise and of a future world. War is threatened, and Wells describes squadrons of fighter planes wheeling over the Bay of Naples. World war breaks out, and the future life ends in global disaster and personal tragedy; the dreamer sees his lover shot through the heart and experiences his own death. 
   As he tells this story, he seems at the end of his tether.
   "It could have been only a dream," Wells' alter ego tries to comfort him.
    "A dream!" he cried, flaming upon me, "a dream--when, even now--"
      For the first time he became animated..."One thing is real and certain, one thing is no dream- stuff, but eternal and enduring. It is the center of my life, and all other things about it are subordinate or altogether vain. I loved her, that woman of a dream. And she and I are dead together!

   The story ends when the train stops at Euston station. No moral, no reflection, no analysis. Just so.
   I find this one of the very best of H.G.Wells' stories. The framing device is familiar from other "scientific romances" he wrote, including The Time Machine. Events and scenes that many readers might consider fantastic are told by a traveler who claims to have visited other times or other worlds. Wells again demonstrates his ability to envision the shape of things to come. He describes "flying boats" and warplanes shaped like spearheads without the shafts, years before Kitty Hawk, and almost a century before Stealth aircraft. He has his characters travel comfortably around a building complex on a "passage with a moving floor", a preview of our moving walkways.
    Yet the prophetic elements in the tale are burdened by pessimism and fatalism. In his tremendously active life as novelist, journalist, educator and social reformer, Wells worked tirelessly to promote a "happy turning" for human evolution. He sometimes said that he published dark visions of the possible future in order to goad humans to prevent them from playing out, and escape the future Earth described towards the end of The Time Machine, where monstrous crab-like giants have inherited the planet from a human species that split in two and lost any semblance of humanity. Yet he was sometimes unable to roll back a black tide of despair; we see that coming in, unstoppable, in his very last work, Mind At the End of Its Tether.

Back to the question of "consecutive dreams". A dream sequence of this kind may awaken us to the fact that we are living more than one life, in the multiverse.
      For Wells' white-faced solicitor, this means serial dreams that carry him forward, night by night, in the events of a life being lived in another time and place. Time seems to run differently in Liverpool and the future Capri. For four nights, he does not remember dreaming of Capri, but when he returns it seems that months have elapsed since he was last there. In a few hours of sleep in his regular body, it seems that he can live days, possibly weeks, in his second body. Otherwise, time in the dream Capri moves as it does in Liverpool, linear and unidirectional. It's worth noting that in Capri, Wells' character does not remember his life in Liverpool, though in England, he can think of little else.
      In my own dream life, as in the dream lives that others share with me, we may not only have "consecutive" or serial dreams, but may enjoy much more room for maneuver. In "consecutive" dreams, we may have the experience of returning, again and again, to a life being lived somewhere else. We may find, like Wells' dream traveler, that events in that second life have moved along since our previous dream visit. The second life may be remote from the present one, for example, in a past or future historical period, or in a different world altogether.
     Or the second life may be quite similar to the current one. It may be a life, for example, in which events are playing out as if we had made a different choice and are now living with a different partner, or living in a different country, or doing different work. Such dreams can give us first-hand, experiential knowledge of how we may be living parallel lives in parallel universes, which leading physicists say is likely bit can't demonstrate as lived experience. While you are doing what you are doing today, a second self is still living with the partner you left, in the old place, and doing - for good or bad - what you might be doing under those circumstances.
     We are all time travelers and interdimensional voyagers in our dreams. We travel to past and future, as well as to parallel worlds, and it is likely that we do this on any night of the week, even if we fail to remember our dream travels. It may be that, while our body here is asleep, a second - or a fortieth - self in another time or another world wakes up, with memories of our present existence, fast fading, when he remembers his dreams.
    Wells' white-faced dream traveler is the captive of an evil future he believes is dead and done and cannot be changed. But conscious dreamers know that the multiverse is more flexible. Any future we can perceive, for starters, is a possible future; the odds on the manifestation of any event can be changed.
    When we wake up to the fact that the only time is Now, we may discover that the events of "past" lives are also far from dead and done. In the mind and body of a personality in another time, we may be able to do some good, suggest some other moves, sow some new ideas - and also return with gifts of knowledge and energy from that other self. I suspect that one of the keys to success in this fascinating arena is for us to retain the memory of both lives (and perhaps a perspective above and beyond both of them) as we step in and out of different worlds. 

    I've had some consecutive dreams of being in dark and dangerous places, in parallel realities and in other times, but typically I don't find myself bound to a set course of events in these situations, and usually I retain some memory of who I am in my 21st century world. Nor do I feel oppressed after these adventures, though sometimes I return with the  sense that my presence is still needed, urgently, in a drama unfolding in another world. So I have chosen to go back, of my free will but also with some sense of obligation, to try to fight the good fight or correct things.  
    As Active Dreamers, we learn to interact consciously with our counterparts in other times, retaining memory of our current lives and the awareness that Now is always the point of power. That changes everything.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Native basket healing, and other cleansings

I am visiting a store that sells Native American crafts and souvenirs. The really good stuff is kept in a locked glass-fronted cabinet. My companion persuades the owner to let me see a few items that are used for healing and magic. These are not for sale. She describes them in her own language, or with simple one-word statements like "medicine".
    Next, I am in an indoor space like the atrium of a shopping mall. The area is quiet. Maybe the shops have closed. There are just four of us here, standing at the four cardinal directions above the stairwell to the floor below. A woman who understands spiritual cleansing is showing us a simple ritual. She has given each of us a bag with aromatic herbs, including sage but also sweetgrass and other things. She leads us in burning the mix, and wants us to inhale the aromas while fanning the smoke around our heads and bodies. I join in this ritual, struck by the emphasis she places on breathing out what we need to eliminate from our bodies, and breathing in the sweet aromas.
   Now things get very interesting. The woman healer produces what a woven basket, large enough to fit over a human head. It is conical in shape, and has two blue lines near the mouth. There are grips that resemble horns. Holding the grips firmly, the healer revolves the basket, upside down, over someone’s head. This will get rid of unwanted energies and entities. They are being swirled away, sucked into the basket to be dissipated safely elsewhere.
    I look more closely at the basket grips. It seems that have really been made to represent bull horns. This fascinates me. This can work. I’d like to try it myself, and I’m willing to have it done on me. 

I woke from this dream an hour ago, after early sleep, excited and with a sense of blessing. I felt I had personally received cleansing and healing inside the dream.
    This is not the first time that Native healers have appeared in my dreams. My life was changed, some 25 years ago, by my visionary encounters with the Mohawk/Huron woman of power I call Island Woman in my books, including Dreamways of the Iroquois. Other women healers have shown me secrets of other traditions in my dreams. I was once shown how to burn certain things together (including juniper and oak) to make a smoke that could be used as a medium for divination and for access to certain places in the Otherworld. We tried this out in one of my advanced gatherings, and it worked like a charm. Later, among old juniper trees near the site of a hill fort in Estonia, a wise woman of Baltic tradition confirmed what I had learned in my dream as part of a practice handed down in her family for generations. 
   In tonight's dream, I may again be in Iroquois country. Yet the conical shape of the basket more closely resembles that of the "burden baskets" of other nations than Iroquois basketry I have seen.  The Apaches are famous for their burden baskets, sometimes hung by the door of a house so that visitors can leave what ails and weighs them down inside. I have yet to find a basket with those horn-like grips. But then, dreams set us research assignments that can take quite a while, in ordinary reality.

Drawing by Robert Moss      

Friday, March 8, 2013

At the Round Point

I have found the rond-point of the old Roman city of Nîmes. Rond-point is the French term for a traffic circle or roundabout, but this is more than a part of the road system. It is the point where everything comes together. Here there is no confusion. From here, the patterns of life and of history can be read clearly.
    The discovery is repeated in other cities. The scene shifts to London, and again I am at a Round Point, a central circle. Here the archives are opened. Priceless documents from the earliest times and from imperial history float upwards to become part of an electronic cloud of information available to the world.
    In a third location, no longer in Europe, young people gather at a third Round Point, bringing offerings of lilacs. The petals rise on a gentle breeze and thousands of butterflies dance above their heads.

Feelings: Strong and centered.

Reality: I visited Roman sites in Nîmes during recent travels in southern France, where I am leading new adventures in May. I am often in London and will be teaching there next spring. I'm not sure of the third locale; it may be Asian.

    You see rond-points of varying sizes everywhere in France. 
     I am fascinated by how much may be going on in this dream. For example, if you are driving in a traffic circle or roundabout in a country where people drive on the right (as in France or the US) you go counter-clockwise. In a country where people drive on the left (like the UK or Australia) you go clockwise.
     In a roundabout, you can reverse direction (in effect, do a U-turn) without departing from the flow of traffic.
     Then there's the practice of circumbulation in religious and spiritual traditions, and Jung's insistence that personal transformation ("individuation") is accomplished by the "circumabulation of the self."
     Viewed from above, a rond-point may resemble a mandala.

Action: Try to get to the central roundabout in every aspect of my work and my researches.

Note: This is an "old" dream that popped up from my journal for March, 2011. It gives me a fine feeling of becoming centered and ready for the roads of this world. So I am posting it to celebrate and share that energy.

New adventures in France: From Friday-Sunday, May 17-19, I am leading "Active Dreaming: The Essential Workshop" in a wonderful space on the Rue du Fauborg Saint Denis in Paris. Details here. From Monday-Wednesday, May 20-22, I am leading a three-day residential version of "Dancing with the Bear: Reclaiming the Arts of Dreamin Healing" at a dream location, the Hameau de l'Etoile near Montpellier. Details here

Photos: (top) At a carousel with a blue genie at a rond-point in Nîmes (bottom) a Provencal blue door at the Hameau de l'Etoile.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dream clues for word detectives

In dreams last night 

(1) I am on land once occupied by the Brusci
(2) I discover a fascinating trove of research material for which the access code is 302jvc. 
(3) Someone close to me tells me she has been reading a book about D-Day. I say I would like to read it, looking up from my own book about an earlier phase of World War II. She says she has already placed the D-Day book on my desk.

Travel-worn, I laze in bed for so long after the dreams that the detail is gone, but the clues remain.
     I enjoy researching dream clues of this kind. Though I think "Brusci" is the name of an ancient people in the dream, I find that in Latin (in Pliny's Natural History) bruscum (plural brusci) is a knot of the maple tree, and I live in maple tree country. Is this a learned, slightly mocking reference, to early inhabitants of the region where I live? I'll stay open to further discoveries, because my instinct is that the "Brusci" (perhaps under a variant spelling) are located in south-east Europe.

     How about "302jvc"? 302, in the Dewey decimal library classifications, is the category of "social interaction". But "jvc" (lower case)? Personal initials, or shorthand?
     I know a little about D-Day, but may now find there is more I need to know. I am often engaged in scenes from World War II in my dreams, and am now traveling frequently and extensively in Europe.
     Once again, I see how dreams set us assignments. When I think about it, nearly all my important research as an independent scholar over the past 25 years has been triggered and guided by dreams and the machinations of the shelf elves that reveal and conceal books, documents and other sources. My life has been changed by pursuing word clues from dreams. 

   When I decoded an old word from a Native American language (ondinnonk) given to me by a Huron-Mohawk woman of power in a dream, I found myself pursuing an approach to dreaming and healing that went far beyond anything my own culture had taught me, taking me to the depth of soul. When I dreamed an archaic French word for a watering can (chantepleure) I was set on a trail that took me, three years later, deep into the world of Joan of Arc and of Charles d'Orleans, the prince in whose name she went to war.
     I now understand that sometimes it can take a while before a dream clue can be followed all the way. So I'll keep "Brusci" and "302jvc" in mind, and will be open to an interesting source on D-Day revealing itself, perhaps through the work of a shelf elf or Library Angel.