Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nine Keys to Creative Flow


The springs of creation are mysterious. Goethe said that not only were the roots of his creative power veiled from him, but that he did not want to know the source of his tremendous gifts. But what can be said is that creative flow comes in a state of relaxed attention. Looking over my own experiences as a writer and occasional artist, and at the lives of creative people in many fields who have shared their experiences with me, I would suggest the following maxims as keys to opening to creative flow. Though I have written these with writers especially in mind, I think you will find that they apply in many areas.

1. Play first, work later. Do you ever give more of yourself than when its all for fun? On a book tour, I was once asked by a left-brain type, What can you tell me about becoming a writer? I told him, Remember to play. As he solemnly recorded my advice in his notebook, I added, I dont think youve gotten the message. It is not about scheduling an hour for play! Its about giving yourself to what you love, and letting the work flow from that unnoticed.


2. Sidle toward your story. Australian Aborigines say that the big stories the stories worth telling and retelling, the ones in which you may find the meaning of your life are forever stalking the right teller, sniffing and tracking like predators hunting their prey in the bush. Or like dreams. You dont want to startle them away. So, if you want to write, start by writing something other than what you are supposed to be writing anything but your writing assignment. Letter writing and journaling are ideal; but even a grocery list will do.

3. Every force develops a form. Dont worry about structure! The structure will reveal itself organically when you follow the energy.


4. Keep your hand moving. Work at increasing speed. Let the flow of associations carry you along.


5.   Release the consequences. The best things you will ever create or perform are things you do for their own sake, the things you would do if you never got published and never received a check.


6.   Don’t ask for permission. There is a time to check in with editors and producers or simply to share with friends but that time is after you have released what is trying to be born through you, not in the midst of conception and gestation. Never ask permission when you dont need it!


7.   Your real story is hunting you. Use peripheral vision. Be attentive to what is bobbing up on the margins of your awareness. Be canny as a traveler in the wood: dont turn abruptly to stare at these new creatures directly. Theyll come closer if you let them. These might be the stories, or story elements, that will make your day/month/year. Remember that they may be hunting you. You made yourself easier to find by entering these thickets, by going down the writers trail without following a route map.


8.   It’s as natural as breathing. In the language of the Tewa Indians, the three-syllable terms that is translated as art or creativity actually means water-wind-breath. This is a beautiful evocation of the creative process. Its about catching the current, about breathing in and breathing out. In-spiration is literally breathing in spirit; exhalation is releasing it into the world.

9.
 Spread cornmeal for butterflies. Many years ago, I dreamed that a wise Native American woman told me, Its okay to make money, but remember to spread cornmeal. The last phrase was a mystery to me until I learned, during a visit to the Southwest, that the Pueblo Indians spread cornmeal to feed the butterflies in some of their rituals. Cross-culturally, the butterfly is a symbol of the soul. Indeed, the Greek word psyche means both soul and butterfly. Its all about feeding soul.





Text adapted from Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.



Lake sunrise photo (c) Robert Moss

Monday, July 28, 2014

Journaling at the lake


Champlain Islands, Vermont

"Are you writing your memoirs?" asks an old boy from a nearby cabin as I journal on the deck. "Close," I reply.
    It's a cool. rainy morning on the first day of my vacation on this island on Lake Champlain where I have been coming for many years. I am starting the day, as I always do, by writing in my journal. I have plenty to note down, including my dream of visiting a friend who died at the end of last year in his new lodgings, a luxury apartment on the sixth floor of an Art Deco building. I was thrilled by the wall paintings depicting scenes from medieval English history, so vividly alive that they appeared to be scenes you could enter. I remember my friend's fascination with researching his ancestors in those times.
    I record my dreams, and the flight of the heron who greeted me when I walked out into the day, flying north along the lake sure.
    The old boy who asked about my memoirs is back again, with his wife, after eating his breakfast. "So you keep a journal?"
    "It's my daily practice."
   
    "Do you write down your dreams?"

    "Every day."
    "I never remember my dreams," he says wistfully. "But my wife does, sometimes."  
    "I dreamed of my high school principal last night," she chips in. "What's that about?"

    "Well, if it were my dream, I might want to check on what's happened to my high school principal, whatever realm he's now in." The couple appear to be in their eighties, so it's a good guess that the principal is on the Other Side. I mention my own dream of my departed friend in his new digs.
     "If I dreamed of my school principal", I go on ,"I would also think of the principle that this life is a classroom. At any age, we are asked to take new lessons."

    "That's for sure," says the old boy. "It's a pity I don't dream, or don't remember."
    "That could change tonight," I tell him. "This stuff is contagious and you have been exposed to the dream virus."

photo (c) Robert Moss

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What the Dickens is déjà vécu ?


We have all some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time - of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances - of our knowing perfectly what will be said next, as if we suddenly remembered it! I never had this mysterious impression more strongly in my life, than before he uttered those words.

This is a very exact description of the experience of déjà vu, though the writer does not use that term. The source is David Copperfield. The author, the prodigious Charles Dickens, left us an even more vivid account of the phenomenon of déjà vu in his account of an incident on the road to Ferrara, in his travel book Pictures from Italy:


At sunset, when I was walking on alone, while the horses rested, I arrived upon a little scene which, by one of those singular mental operations of which we are all conscious, seemed perfectly familiar to me, and which I see distinctly now. There was not much in it. In the blood red light, there was a mournful sheet of water, just stirred by the evening wind; upon its margin a few trees. In the foreground [of a view of Ferrara] was a group of silent peasant girls leaning over the parapet of a little bridge, looking now up at the sky, now down into the water. In the distance a deep dell; the shadow of approaching night on everything. If I had been murdered there in some former life I could not have seemed to remember the place more thoroughly or with more emphatic chilling of the blood; and the real remembrance of it acquired in that minute is so strengthened by the imaginary recollection, that I can hardly think I could forget it. 


"There was not much in it," Dickens says before sketching his word-picture. Yet we feel at once that this disclaimer is not to be trusted. The light over the scene is "blood red". What could be an idyllic scene of girls leaning over the parapet of a little bridge, as evening falls, fills the observer not only with the certainty that he has seen this before but with a crawling dread. If he had been murdered here in a past life, he insists, he could not have remembered the place "more thoroughly or with more emphatic chilling of the blood."
    Dickens clearly felt that he knew that scene near Ferrara because he had been there in a former life, perhaps a life than ended violently at that very place. A generic term we use for this kind of experience today is 
déjà vu. Dickens did not have that term. He was writing in 1846; déjà vu was first used to describe this phenomenon by a French professor in 1876, and only brought firmly into the English language in 1895.
     In any event, 
déjà vu ("already seen") may be too generic for the Dickens experience. This is an occasion where we want to reach for a different French term, déjà vécu. It literally means "already lived", and it speaks to the sense of recognizing a scene that you feel sure you have lived, fully and completely, in a previous time. This recognition generally comes with strong emotion, though it may be bittersweet nostalgia, or a sudden afflux of joy, even exultation, rather than Dickens' "chilling of the blood".

     You walked that cliff, you kissed on that bridge, you fought on that field of battle. You are sure of it. Maybe specific memories begin to stir. Are they buried memories of an episode from earlier in your present life? Are they ancestral memories, of members of your lineage or your spiritual kin who loved and struggled in the place you are at? Are they memories of a previous incarnation of your own spirit? Or are they false memories, hallucinations brought on by travel fatigue or an over-excitable temperament, or even inserted into your mind by some psychic deceiver?
    These are questions that all of us who experience a strong sense of déjà vécu are going to want to explore as best we can. There is a legion of reductionists - some armed with some neuroscience, some recycling Freud - that will tell us that our impressions are the effect of an imbalance in brain functioning or the bubbling up of repressed fantasies. But we can take heart from the knowledge that the sense of déjà vécu has a highly distinguished literary and historical pedigree.




Art: "Dickens' Dream" by Robert William Buss


Thursday, July 10, 2014

When You Can Ride a Dragon But You Can't Fly




Prelude: At Snoqualmie Falls

I was happy to be back at Snoqualmie Falls overnight. I enjoyed watching the peregrine falcons who nest in the cliffs darting through the mist. I have flown with them in lucid dreams and shamanic journeys that sometimes opened into grand adventures. I did not fly with the falcons this time because I seemed to be in the kind of energy body that does not shapeshift as fast as thought, and is not to be thrown around.
     I am reminded of a highly instructive experience from a year ago.



Flight Conditions

The forest is green fire, bursting and thrusting with life.  Below the great tree where I am stretched out, the slope of the mountain drops in green splendor for miles, down to a river that is green and small as a grass snake from this height. A bright green vine as thick as my wrist bends in a loop between me and the sky.
     My attention shivers. My cheek is on a pillow. My awareness is back in the body I left here, on the bed. Gray morning light comes through a narrow gap in the curtains above the bed. I smell bacon, and my inner dog is ready to go downstairs. But the tug of the green world is deeper.
     I plunge back into that world. My body feels stronger and lighter, perfectly toned. I want to jump off the cliff and fly. I have done this so many times before, in other dreams. I will my wings to sprout from my shoulders again. This seems less successful than usual. While my body in the green world feels entirely physical, my wings seem flimsy and insubstantial, hardly more than a notion. This does not matter, surely.  When I take the jump, I’ll find myself flying. Flying in dreams is easy. All you have to do is fall, and fail to hit bottom.
    I am at the very edge of the precipice. My toes curl over the edge. I notice these toes are much longer than my regular toes, and can curl into a loop, like my regular fingers. Cool.  What else can this body do?

    I consider a diver’s stance, then spread my arms and start gently flapping.
    Stop, says an inner voice, a voice I have learned to listen to. Look at who you are.
    I pull back. Now I am outside and above the person at the edge of the cliff.  I see him back away from the edge. He is puzzled. He sniffs the air, searching for something he senses but cannot see.
    Another hand reaches for him. There is a lovely woman under the tree, the slopes of her body arranged in such abandon that I feel sure they must have been making love before I interrupted. “Woman” is not quite right. They resemble humans, but they are much taller, with those prehensile feet. The male has little horns among his long dark hair. Not horns, exactly. The nubs of antlers. His tawny body is covered with fine light silky hair. Something sways behind him as he returns to the embrace of the female. Is it a tail?
    I am no longer observing. I am with him, in him, in his ritual of mating. He seems to be alone with his mate, yet I have no doubt this is a ritual, more than sex, more even than the love-making of two individuals. As he plunges deep in her body, I feel energy streaming from the roots of the great tree. And something more joins him – us – surging in at the base of the spine. The dragon is on him, and in us.
    Now we can fly, I tell myself.
    Again I hear the caution of an inner guide. This deer-man’s body is strong, and it can perform acrobatics beyond the human range. He can swing down the mountain face on vines, and leap from branch to branch. He can ride a thing like a dragon, the thing with which he is now bonded in another way. But he cannot fly. If I jumped this body over the precipice, it would probably be broken and destroyed on the rocks far below.


In dreams, in visions, in shamanic journeys, we can fly, when we let ourselves go, because we go outside the physical body and are no longer confined by the laws of physical reality. But when we travel in these ways we are not necessarily disembodied. We may travel in a subtle energy body, often called the astral body or the dreambody. And we can take on other bodies.
      Dreaming, we not only change states of consciousness. We may change worlds, stepping from one order of reality into a different one. These other worlds may be quite as substantial as the physical world we know in our everyday lives. They have their own laws of physics, and what we do with the bodies we are using can have physical consequences - in these "other"worlds, and, through astral repercussion, on the bodies we left dormant when we took off on our adventures.
      There are worlds in which you can ride a dragon, but you can't fly by yourself. So: Before you jump off a cliff, make sure you are in a body that is capable of flight. 



Photo of Snoqualmie Falls (c) Robert Moss
 

Drawing: He Can Ride Dragons, But He Can't Fly (c) Robert Moss

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

White Raven Woman and other mythic dreams


It's been said that myths are collective dreams, and that dreams are personal myths. The following dream reports, shared in one evening in a circle of active dreamers that I lead, confirm that dreaming gives us myths to live by.

1
I sense the iron inside my body, and I know that it is the dust of an exploding star. The iron in my body connects me with the supernova that created my galaxy, and as I move and stretch I feel the whole cosmology is alive in me. 

2
Our Lady of Guadalupe is leaving us. I see her starting to rise up off the sun-parched earth where her children in Mexico have been savagely abused. I am saddened to think that the cruelty and ignorance of humans may be losing us the support of higher powers. 

3
I go to my special place in nature, by the white pines along the creek. For the first time ever,I find no solace here. I feel separate from nature, after separating myself from the hurry of people at the office. I try to imagine myself going deep inside the earth and finding refuge there, but today I can't manage that either. What has happened to divorce me from nature? Is it me, or is it all of us? 

4
I am at a train station. I encounter an old woman with her daughter. Their heads are those of ravens. The old woman turns to me and her feathers turn white. The white-capped Raven Woman says to me, "Things are all happening too fast in your world. It's time to lift off. We'll come back at the right time." With this, she flutters up into the air. I realize that from her perspective it's possible to see far across time and space, beyond our present confusion. 

5
I come to a living tree, There is the living face of a woman in the bark of the tree. The tendrils of her hair are like the serpents of Medusa. Now a great bull comes, stamping and snorting, magnificent and scary in his virile strength. As he stamps down, his hooves take root in the earth and little by little, he becomes part of the tree. I am amazed that the bull energy can be rooted and grounded like this. I want to plant this strength around me, in my life. 

6
I am on the track of a part of myself that has been long buried in the ground. I feel the presence of a being that loves me, holding me by the shoulders, gently supporting me. The name of the woman that has been buried sounds like Michelle but is actually My-Shell, the part of me that had to hide and make itself small. I will dig as long and deep as it takes to bring her back to me. 

These are summaries, in exact sequence, of dreams and visions, mobilized by a drumming session, that were shared in one evening by members of an active dreaming circle that I lead. Not only does each report have mythic power; it is possible to read the whole sequence as a single mythic narrative.
    It starts (where else?) with the creation of our world. It dramatizes the perennial danger of the Dark Times that come when human behavior forfeits the support of higher powers and estranges us from the Earth. It introduces uncanny guides and living symbols: the woman who becomes White Raven, the bull (primal power of the ancients, consort of the goddess and preferred form of the gods) who becomes a tree. It brings the story home to us in the invitation to a personal quest for soul recovery, to bring out of the Earth what has been kept safe there through a time of trouble and trauma.

Raven photo from Vancouver Island Birds


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dreaming on paper

In a writing life, the great moments are when you are dreaming on paper (or on a keyboard). Words stream almost effortlessly from springs that are not accessible in lesser states of consciousness. Clock time no longer rules. In an expansive now-time, more is possible in minutes than might otherwise come in days. Improbable connections are made and prove to be exactly right.
    This is conscious dreaming. You straddle the worlds. You are the shaper, not merely the amanuensis, for the images bubbling up from those fresh springs.
     If you want the experience of dreaming on paper as a reader, there is no better book to open than Kazuo Ishiguro's marvelous novel The Unconsoled. The novel unfolds exactly in the manner of a dream, with a dream's elasticity of time and space and sudden shifts in perspective and identification of self and others.
     The opening is masterful. A world-famous pianist, Ryder, arrives in an unidentified Central European city on a mission he can't remember. He is deposited at a grand hotel that at first seems eerily deserted. Then an elderly porter appears as his guide and delivers an impossibly long and eccentric monologue during an elevator ride in which he holds heavy suitcases in midair because of a bizarre work ethic. Ryder drifts off to sleep in a room that morphs into his childhood bedroom, complete with plastic soldiers deployed on the floor.
     In the days that unfold, his life is dictated by other people's urgencies. Their needs and identities are very unstable. The porter wants him to go to a cafe in the Old City to meet his daughter. When the porter's daughter - at first a complete stranger - reveals that she is Ryder's wife, Ryder accepts that it must be so. On another hurried errand, Ryder fears facing a woman ticket collector without a ticket - then recognizes her as a girl he knew in England when he was nine. This woman he hasn't seen since she was nine now proceeds to rebuke him for failing to show up for dinner the night before. Instead of denying knowledge of the dinner, he accepts the rebuke and agrees to meet her at the end of the day so she can show him off to her friends. When he does so, after a string of hectic digressions, the friends gabble on about the famous Mr Ryder without recognizing that he is present - and he can't find the words to announe himself.
     The geography of the unnamed city is oneiric. Ryder is sent to a practice room to play the piano and it looks like a combination of a laundry and a public restroom. He travels for miles and miles through forests to a meeting far from the city, then finds that by stepping through a door he is back inside the hotel or restaurant from which he departed. The shifts of scene and perspective are also the stuff of dreams. Someone reminds you of someone else, and transforms into that other person.
     We learn that all the febrile excitement in this music-mad city centers on a plot to replace the conductor of the orchestra with a man who has been a falling-down drunk for years. The grand concert intended to bring this plan to fruition - where the grand finale is to be a speech and piano solo by Ryder - collapses in fantastic chaos, as dawn is breaking. Ryder never gives the performance for which he came to the city. Nor does he even get the breakfast that is now served at the concert hall, which has turned into the hotel. We last see him on a tram where an electrician is embarking on a monologue reminiscent of that of the hotel porter. By oneiric logic, Ryder finds the bacon and croissants he craves on board the tram, and we are left with the scene of him eating them, on a tram that goes round and round, like a recurring dream, the kind in which we never become conscious that we could make different choices.
     Andrew Lang, a great Scottish explorer of dreams (author of Dreams and Ghosts as well as editor of the beloved Color Books of fairy stories) said that the best dream-inspired stories are those that never mention dreams. Kazuo Ishiguro has managed to deliver a sustained dream narrative that runs for 535 pages and mentions dreams on just one page (page 416) where a minor character, the hotel manager's wife, confesses that she feels a "tenderness" in dreams she cannot express outside them.
     Readers may notice Ishiguro's play on Kafkaesque themes and tropes in The Castle. What excites me about The Unconsoled is the direct transfer of the geography and logic of dreaming to a long narrative form. Apart from some unavoidable interruptions, I was unable to put this book down until I finished it, two days after I picked it up at the magic bookstore on the corner of the street. As I gobbled the pages, I felt something releasing - like a spring - inside my own creative imagination.
    Now I recall that more than a decade ago, an earlier novel by the same author had a similar effect on me. That was An Artist of the Floating World, a beautiful exploration of the nature of self-forgiveness, and the need for it. Reading that novel - very different from The Unconsoled - at exactly the right moment helped trigger a series of imaginal encounters and discoveries from which my book Dreamgates was born.
     I don't know whether Kazuo Ishiguro keeps a dream journal or how much he borrows from his personal dreams. But he certainly knows the geography of dreams, and dreams richly on paper.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The green seer


She could see the great oak wood from the garden, swelling into curves of deep green above yellow gorse and gray heather and the flat wheat fields. In the night, she listened to the wind playing the forest like a harp. When she was tending the flock, she often let the sheep wander towards the oak wood on the hill. Sometimes, escaping from chores, she joined other girls in tracking one of the fevered or rheumy pilgrims who struggled up the hill in hopes of healing at the ancient spring. It was more fun to follow the young men and women who made love nests in the woods, bedding down on heaped leaves. Sometimes the young bucks brought antlers to hang on the branches, to invoke the unquenchable ardor of the true stag in his season.
At the heart of the oak wood, on the crest of the hill, was a grove of beeches. One beech towered above the others. Though its roots showed through the soil, like raised veins on an old woman’s hand, this tree had survived wind and storm for countless generations. There were people who feared this tree, and saw living serpents in the sinuous weavings of its roots.
Everyone knew it was a place of the Old Ones. It was whispered that the fairies still danced around the tree at the great turnings of the wheel of the year, especially around May Day and All Hallows. The water of the spring was the gift of an ancient power of the land. It soothed away fevers, rinsed off blemishes of the skin, and gave the gift of vision and inspiration.
     She loved to touch the skin of this tree, smooth and silvery. While a nearby oak was clearly male - fierce and craggy with limbs thrown out in a boxer’s stance – the great beech, rounded and silky, was plainly female. The Lady Tree she was called in the village. To the seer, the tree herself was a lady.
The Lady Tree was loveliest in her springtime unfolding, when her reddish buds opened to release fresh soft leaves of pale and vital green. Her sex came alive on the same branches, the tasseled catkins quivering on their long stalks, the flower-balls putting up delicate tendrils that waved in the air, seeking pollen.
As spring ripened into summer, the Lady Tree dressed herself in heavier and darker greens. Under her canopy, it was cool and shady on the warmest day. Yet through the dark came bursts of brilliant light that could catch you full in the face, as if a star had leaned down to touch you. When the breeze moved among the leaves, the lights danced, the veil of perception thinned, and airy things took substance.
Did the Lady first show herself in spring or summer? On in the fall, when the tree was dressed in russet and gold, and the deer munched fallen beech mast, savoring the oil, in between their courtship displays and the thrusting passion of the rut?
The eyes are spring green, and I will trust them.
They are the exact shade of the soft and vibrant green of the new leaves, the same green reflected in the spring water that bubbles into a stone basin under the beech. When I first saw those eyes, I was awed by the greenfire of growing things that glowed in them. The face in which they were set was nut-round and nut-colored, marked with a curious pattern of lines and dots. The top of her head was concealed by a tight cap.
The green eyes hold a history of the world, and memories of the future, that are deeper and different from those known to my kind.
In my awe and amazement, I did not realize until after that first encounter that it was not only her irises that were green. There are no whites to her eyes. Those eyes, huge as a deer’s, are entirely green.
Cycles move in them, and centuries. The fall of the leaf, and the fall of the antlers. And a secret forgotten among my kind, which we are yet mad to possess. Regeneration. The promise of growing green again.


Drawing: "The Green Seer" (c) Robert Moss




Friday, July 4, 2014

The coming of the Peacemaker


Say my name in the bushes and I will stand here again.
- promise of the Peacemaker

The shining one comes from a land across the water, from the True North. He does not enter this world in an ordinary way. He comes through a young woman who has never known the touch of a man. She has been chosen by an extraterrestrial god as the landing place for an envoy who is being sent to save humans from themselves. His human grandmother dreams his identity and his mission.
    He comes from his Earth-in-the-Sky in a time of terror when the minds of men are darkened and confused . An immense power if darkness has occupied the twisted body and diseased mind of a sorcerer-tyrant called Thadodaho, the Entangled One, and his hydra-shadow falls everywhere across the land. Humans have fallen lower than any beast, killing and raping and eating one another.
    The god-man grows up fast. Fast is essential, because he is needed urgently. He flies into the killing fields across an inland sea in a vehicle humans cannot understand. He spreads the good word that we are all related and should treat one another as kin. He announces himself as the Peacemaker. His first apostle is a fallen woman who feeds and fucks with the killers but is transformed by the shining one's radiant light, weeping tears of cleansing joy and recognition.
    But the Peacemaker is hard for most people to understand. He needs a Speaker. he goes to the house of a fallen man who has lost every vestige of his once-noble self and now devours his own kind. The Peacemaker shows the cannibal his own shining face in a mirror. The fallen man becomes Hiawatha, the Awakened One.
    Together, Hiawatha and the Peacemaker survive many ordeals and spread the word that we are all kin. They gather a gentle host, and bird-men fly ahead, scouting the way. They confront the dark sorcerer and break his power. Instead of killing the Entangled One, they cleanse and renew his mind, and raise him up to be the first of the men of good minds, the lords of the new-born Confederacy. The chiefs are crowned with deer antlers by the woman who has become the Mother of Nations, the Queen of Peace.
    One of the world's greatest experiments in enlightened government and federation has begun. It will shame and awe divided American colonists into dreaming up their own plan that evolves into the Constitution of the United States. But the story is bigger. It teaches us that psychic forces are at the root of hatred and violence, and that resolving our conflicts requires us to reach out to cleanse and heal those whose minds have become darkened and confused. It reminds us that, even in the darkest moments of human history, there are saving powers that seek to rescue us from ourselves and recall us to the soul's purpose.
    The Peacemaker's mission is for all people, and it is for now as well as then. There is still a Hiawatha in the roll call of the chiefs of the Six Nations. Though the Peacemaker returned to the Real World above the sky when his work in the Shadow World was done, he promised us that he will return when he is called by people of good minds. "Say my name in the bushes, and I will stand here again,"





Text adapted from Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul by Robert Moss. Published by Destiny Books.

Graphic: Hiawatha confronts Thadodaho. Drawing by Seth Eastman after an Iroquois original, in Henry Schoolcraft, Historical and Statistical Information respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (6 vols., 1851-7). Photo (c) Robert Moss

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Flying cars and convertible lives


Check the state of your dream car. It may be an analog for your body, or your relationship. It may be your literal car, on a road you'll take in the future. It could be a time-travel machine or an energy vehicle that can take you to worlds of wonder and adventure. Especially if it's a convertible, it may reflect your ability to change your life.
    Dream automobiles are not confined to ordinary rules of the road. I am looking at a model of a 1955 Mercedes convertible that a friend gave me after she dreamed that she and I were touring great cities in a car like this, in the midst of a triumphal book tour. Though I've never had a passion for Mercedes, I cherish the toy as a good luck charm.
     Another dreamer just sent me a report in which she is riding in an open cabriolet, through a pleasant countryside. They mount a hill, and cross a high plateau that ends abruptly. A voice tells her, "You can make it different."
     She finds herself suspended in mid-air, above the ocean. There is a moment of fear. Then the car shapeshifts into a sea plane. She enjoys the exhilaration of flight, then realizes she does not need borrowed wings in order to fly. She swoops and soars, then plunges deep into the ocean and feels herself absorbing deep powers of healing and remembering. In the ocean, she now recognizes a pattern of islands, and comes to realize that this landscape is vitally alive. Each island is also an "I-land", representing someone who has touched her life. There is a profound and joyful sense of unity,of the ability to connect with anyone and everything in this vital panorama.




    All starting with a car. The clue to magic to come, if it were my dream, would lie in the type of car: a convertible. The word speaks of the power to change, to shift, to convert one's attitudes, one's way of getting around, one's life style.
    The dream car may of course be a regular car, and when there are problems on the roads of dreaming, and the car seems to be the familiar one, we want to check right away on whether those problems could possibly play out in ordinary life. To my certain knowledge, I was spared from possibly fatal road accidents on three occasions by dreams in which I saw myself driving into collisions - and was able to harvest specific information from the dreams in order to avoid those collisions. 

     Our car dreams can show us such nitty-gritty things as whether we need to get the brakes checked, or the oil, or the tires. When car dreams are as literal as this, we may notice that the symbolism comes in with the waking situation more than in the dream. If your dream warns you of a possible future collision, in addition to doing the survival stuff by avoiding that collision, you may want to reflect on where different aspects of your life, maybe relationships or obligations, are coming into conflict. If the theme is a flat tire, maybe you want to ask yourself how to avoid becoming over "tired".
     The dream car can be an analog for your job, your relationship, what gets you around in

life in some sense of other - and/or your physical body. One of the few kinds of automobile I was ever truly passionate about was the old Jaguar XJ6. I owned one in England and bought a used model when I first started living in the United States. That undermined my waking passion for Jaguars, because that 1973 XJ6 - bought from a dealer in New York City! - was off the road more often than it was on it. The only mechanic I could find to work on it when I was living out at Sag Harbor was a German mechanic who would bawl at me whenever I brought the car in, "Once again you bring me this British piece of shit! Why don't you understand that the English can't make electronics?"
    So I gave up on Jaguars in regular life, but in dreams I found I was still often driving one. I dreamed I was driving a racing-green XJ6 at high speed, taking a corner at over 100 m.p.h., when everything stopped abruptly. I got out, dazed but unharmed, to inspect the car, and found that a man in a white doctor's coat was there before me. Under the hood, looking over his shoulder, I saw what looked like a set of medical gauges for things like heartbeat and blood pressure.
    The medical mechanic turned to me and said, "This is a beautiful vehicle, Robert. If you smash it up, don't think that you'll get another just like it immediately. Watch how you use it."
    I got the message! I started paying closer attention to how fast and hard I was driving my body.
    These days, when I dream of a car that seems to be an analog for my body, it is most often a vintage Rolls-Royce - a bit chunky, showing its age and its British antecedents, but all in all not a bad ride.
    In the English language, "car" sounds like "ka", the Egyptian name for an aspect of soul that operates like an energy double, travels outside the body in life, and continues with a life of its own after death that requires care and feeding. So when I hear about dream cars I often ask whether the dream is also about soul, and the care and feeding of soul.
    A dream car, for me, may also be a time travel machine. I've been picked up by drivers in vintage cabriolets and grand touring cars who have whisked me off on adventures in past eras worthy of Indiana Jones.
    Suddenly the memory comes to me of driving with my father a year or so after his death. It was hard to see much through the windows, so I opened the door, to encounter a great roaring wind, and realized we were flying higher than an airplane through an area of turbulence. I closed the door in a hurry. We got to a place where my father wanted to show me things about his new life.
    So the dream car may also be an energy vehicle, something that helps you to travel to other dimensions, your modern (or not-so-modern) version of the vimanas, the chariots of the gods.
    Feel like a spin?