Thursday, December 4, 2014

Walking the dream

When I am at home, I start the day by holding my memories of my dream adventures in my mind before getting out of bed. I want to be able to replay the best of my overnight movies. I am eager to harvest what can give guidance and juice for the day. Sometimes I want to dwell on details and bring back a full narrative report. Sometimes I am happy to let details fade and simply hold the heart of a dream, or a single thread I can pull to bring back the rest at another time, or follow back through the labyrinth of the dream space. While many in our society are suffering from a dream drought, some of us are so prolific in our dream recall that we risk swamping ourselves with too much information. Less can be more.    
     When I have wrapped my head around enough of what happened in my night expeditions, I have a quick gulp of coffee before walking my little dog, who has been waiting patiently for me to return to his world. My dream will walk with us.
    This morning, I am still excited and deeply stirred by a dream adventure in which I was in the situation and seemingly the body of a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II. I have known him, perhaps, since before my present life. As I pause for my dog to sniff a fire hydrant, I think about him, and a nurse that he loved, and what was going on in the dream. I feel a deep sense of communion with this man, who died before I was born. I feel that somehow I am present in his life, and he is active in mind.
     As on most days, I make it my practice to notice three new things in the two blocks we walk before we get to the big park. A license plate is often one of them. The one I notice today belongs to a registered nurse. This speaks to me, Over all the years I have been teaching Active Dreaming, the nursing profession has been the #1 occupational group represented in my workshops. Nurses have so many practical applications for the techniques. It speaks to me again, even more strongly, because of the dream that is walking with me. The Pilot loved a nurse.
    In the park, as we walk round the lake, I am simply open to what the world gives me. This morning, I nod to the beautiful weeping willow across the water. Her hair, which was green last week, is yellow and thinning as winter comes on.
    I come home, grab a full mug of coffee, and sit down to type up my dream report and my notes on what I observed in the world around me. In my Sidewalk Tarot today, I did not notice any trumps. But there was a court card, for me, in the RN's license plate. Princess of Cups, perhaps. Or Princess - even Queen - of Disks.
    Now I will do another everyday practice: getting guidance from a book. This may be called bibliomancy, literally "divination by the book". But today I am content with stichomancy, "divination by the line." I have already chosen the book. I am going back to Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher whose fragments tickle the cognitive brain and arouse and delight the imagination. I am using the translation, with extensive commentaries, by Charles H. Kahn. The book falls open.
     I close my eyes and let my pointing finger decide which line will be the one for today.
     I open my eyes. My finger is pointing at fragment C (for 100, in Kahn's numeration, B24 in the old Diels and Kranz collection). The translation reads:

Gods and men honor those who fall in battle.

     I'm not immediately thrilled. War and violence and blood-stained heroes. Oh dear. Yet when I go back to the original Greek and consider levels of meaning, I feel a deep sense of confirmation of the truth and importance of my dream, which took me into the life of a very brave man who was killed in a war.

ἀρηϊφάτους θεοὶ τιμῶσι καὶ ἄνθρωποι

The literal translation is "Gods and men honor those slain by Ares."
    The line from Heraclitus deepens my sense from my dream that there is community between the dead and the living, between mortals and immortals: communion as well as communication.
     I write a one-liner for the morning.

     I am in communion with the dead. They are alive in me, and I am alive in them.

     I write this again on an index card, in the fairest hand I can manage. I place the card in a deck of similar cards that contain dream summaries, thoughts for the day and similar inscriptions. I have several of these hand-made decks. They include hundred of cards written in other hands, by people who play the Coincidence Card game I invented in my workshops; you can find the rules for that in my book The Three "Only" Things.         When I want to use cartomancy as an everyday oracle, I will often pluck from one of my private decks rather than a set of cards produced by others according to a formal system. This is the dreamer's way: fresh words, spontaneous images. Still, there are ancient springs that are ever-renewing. This week, I'll stich (no typo) with Heraclitus.

Walking to the Willow. Photo (c) Robert Moss

1 comment:

nina said...

It´s very difficult to find any comfort in deaths of people who have been killed in war conflicts, even if know it was heroic death for salvation of many others.
At the end I always come back to verses by Lao Tse in which everybody is treated equally:
"Those who have been killed should be treated as in a funeral and mourned with sadness.
Victory in war should be celebrated by mourning."