The group is eager for me to speak about Iroquois dreaming traditions, and I embark on this in a leisurely way, by noting that the word "Iroquois" does not exist in the language of the Six Nations of the Longhouse, who call themselves Onkwehonwe (Real People, in Mohawk) or Haudenosonee (Longhouse People, in Seneca). "Iroquois" is a word borrowed by whites from tribes that were traditionally hostile to those who are now called Iroquois. Some say it means "rattlesnake". More likely, it is a term we owe to Basque fishermen who came into contact with Algonquians around the mouth of the St. Lawrence river in the 17th century. They developed a pidgin language for trade, and in this frontier argot the Mohawk and their kin - feared enemies of the Algonquians - were called Hilokoa, the Killer People. The French who became masters of eastern Canada heard this as "Iroquois" and this version stuck. Many members of the Six Nations are content for it to be used in English or French, and I used it in the title of one of my books, Dreamways of the Iroquois.
There is great excitement as I go on talking in informal professorial style, but I am watching the time because I want to give the circle the experience of group shamanic dream journeying. We have been seated in the inner room, which has few if any windows. I go to check the state of things in the other room, with the picture windows, and find that there is a problem. People walking in the park are curious. Some have their noses pressed to the glass. A few have even wandered into our space and are looking at items on the altar, having found a sliding door unlocked. I shoo them away and call for our coordinator to put up signs and make sure the doors are locked and our space is secure.
Now I notice a man in the group who has been sleeping on the floor in here while the rest of us were in the other room. I quite like him, and was truck by the depth of his connection with the Western Mystery traditions. He stirs from his sleep and apologizes that he's exhausted from all his overnight studies and experiments. I gently suggest that he might need to get his head out of the old books and into the space of fresh possibilities.
I woke from the dream this morning feeling cheerful, recognizing that I have probably been coached for quite specific issues involving a future workshop. I do occasionally give workshops in spaces within parks and public gardens, and I'll watch our need to ensure that our space is private and protected under those circumstances. I'll be prepared for the sleepy esotericist, and I'll be encouraged not to hold back in sharing my research as an independent scholar, especially into Iroquoian traditions.
It is also possible that I led a workshop, in a parallel reality, overnight. Many people report attending workshops with me in their dreams, and I'll be curious to see whether any report a situation like this.
"Workaday" dreams of this kind (dreaming with people in interesting spaces is my everyday work, and play) are often the ones from which we can extract immediate and practical guidance on how to prepare for coming events. Before I led my first public dream workshop, I dreamed the exact number of participants and also that there would be a problem with a man who would try to record the session without asking permission. In the dream, I saw him fiddling with a micro-recorder under a dark jacked while seated next to a grand piano. In the workshop the following evening, a man in a dark jacket sat next to the piano. As soon as he reached for his recorder, I was able to stop him pressing the Play button, because my dream had rehearsed me for this.
On another occasion, when I was scheduled to speak at a college in high summer, I dreamed that the air conditioning system in the lecture room was so loud that people could not hear me; we were posed with the choice of broiling in the summer heat or having an inaudible speaker. My action was to drive to the college and check the A/C. As in my dream, the fans were incredibly noisy. I was able to save my lecture by having it moved to another auditorium. I include many personal episodes of this type of dream rehearsal in my book Conscious Dreaming,
Still on the theme of "workaday" dream rehearsals: the dream may come long before the event it previews. Thirteen months before leading a three-day residential retreat at a new venue, I dreamed that 67 people had signed up for one of my programs. Much of my long dream report was then devoted to bizarre and surreal scenes. At the time of the dream, I had never heard of the venue where I found - more than a year later - that 67 people were enrolled for my program. That match-up made me scout the full dream report to see what else in it might have been a helpful rehearsal. As the workshop unfolded, I recognized that the dreams participants were sharing closely resembled those "bizarre and surreal scenes" in my dream report, which now served me as a personal counselor, guiding me on how to handle specific individuals carrying specific challenges and imaginal histories.
How could I be poised to relate a dream rehearsal to an event thirteen months later? Because I follow the discipline of keeping a detailed journal, giving a title to each entry. How could I find a report from more than a year before? Because I also live by synchronicity, in this case using a specific and fun version of bibliomancy (divination by opening a book at random) that for now I'll call journal-mancy (since imerologiomancy seems a bit too much). I opened an old journal at random on the morning of that three-day retreat, and out fluttered a closely-typed three-page report that began "There are 67 people enrolled for my workshop."
When people who remember dreams tell me they can't recall dreaming a future event, I say: Look again. Ask of any and every dream, and especially the workaday ones, Is it remotely possible that this will play out in the future? If the answer is, Yes, then consider whether the dream is more than precognitive; it could be a rehearsal that will help you to prepare for coming events and shape then for the better.
Dress rehearsal for "The Mikado" at the Savoy theater, 1895