Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bringing in the New Year by the Book

I bet you have done this some time: opened a book at random to get a thought for the day. Maybe you have done it with a question or theme in your mind, to see what response the book will give you. You can do this to get a second opinion on a dream, or on why your partner hasn't called you to day, or on what the quality of the day will be. Doing divination by the book has been going on as long as humans have had anything resembling pages that could be turned or shuffled. The Sybilline books of ancient Rome were actually a stack of loose leaves. Many, across the centuries have turned to a sacred book, as Lincoln turned to his family Bible. Many have consulted books that are reverenced in a certain culture, like the works of Homer or Virgil, Dante or Rumi. The formal name for divination by the book is bibliomancy. When you are content to work with just a line or two on the page in front of you, the exact learned name is stichomancy, meaning divination by the line or verse. You can play the game with any book at all, one you notice in the New Arrivals at a library or bookstore, one that a shelf elf pushes off a bookcase at home, one a friend is reading on the bus or the airplane. Sometimes it's fun to give yourself coordinates. You'll pick a book - any book at all - and go to a certain page and find a certain line and see what is there for you. Typically, you'll need to read around the line you selected, up and down a line or two, to get a finished sentence or thought from the book. At the turning of the year, I like to play games that offer a chance to sneak a peek at coming attractions over the next twelve months. Dreams remembered on or around New Year's Day are especially interesting. You can set the intention to dream into the coming year. I like to do this by setting an intention along these lines:

Show me the best things I can manifest in my life over the coming year,

Often, I will cast I Ching or tarot, or both, on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, for a first flavor of the coming year. And of course I will pay special attention to my dreams for clues to what the year ahead holds. Here's a game of book-dipping you may enjoy playing. Let's call it Bibliomancy by the Numbers. You can do it on New Year's Eve or on New Year's Day. The essential number is that of the New Year: 2017. Applied to book divination, it gives us a few options. You could go to page 20, line 17. Or to page 201, line 7. Or to chapter 20, line 17. You get the idea. You might set the general intention: "Show me something I need to know about 2017", or something more specific.
Give it a try. And yes, you're allowed to do it more than once, with more than one book. But don't go on asking about the same thing once you have gotten a message (whether you like the message or not); this annoys the oracle.
  Record what you discover in your journal. Go back to that entry in the course of the months ahead and check how your message may relate to what unfolds. By the way, your journal, kept over many years, will be your best book to use for bibliomancy.

I gave the Bibliomancy by the Numbers game a test-run just now. I set that creative intention I mentioned above: 

Show me the best things I can manifest in my life over the coming year

 I plucked a  book from the pile at my left hand on my desk. It is a Seth book, Dreams and Projection of Consciousness. Page 201, line 7 gave me:

visit certain locations and bring back information.

Fine. There is plenty of world travel in my 2017 calendar! But this is a Seth book, so you know there is going to be more.
    I turn to the previous line and now have the following message:

You will direct your dreaming self to perform certain activities,
visit certain locations and bring back information.

Alright, then. Game on!

May your best dreams come true in 2017!

For more bibliomancy games, please see my book Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Déjà vu, how about you?

You walk into a room and meet a long-lost friend. You may smile and embrace, before you realize that you have never met before, in ordinary reality. You pull back, embarrassed. You may tell each other that you were both thinking about someone else. And yet, and yet...somehow you know each other. You drive to an intersection and stop at a red light. You don't hit the gas pedal when the light turns green because you know that behind that white car that is running the red light right in front of you is that truck, not yet visible to your ordinary sight, that is going to barrel through after it. I walk into a workshop space and recognize, in addition to my regulars, eight people who have definitely been in one of my circles before, though I have forgotten their names and the exact circumstances. I greet them one by one, and ask if they have come to a previous workshop with me. In each case, the answer is No, but we agree that we already know each other. The reason for this is not mysterious to me. We have been together in dreams, where I spend more time leading workshops than I do in ordinary reality. These are examples of what we call déjà vu. I'm sure you can add your own. The French term means “already seen”, but often the experience may better be called déjà rêvé, “already dreamed”. Maybe you dreamed an incident before it manifested in the physical world. You may have forgotten the dream completely, but as it starts to play out, you remember something. By my observation, the dream self is forever tracking ahead of the ordinary self, scouting challenges and opportunities that lie in the future.the roads ahead. Its expeditions leave trace memories of the future that come alive when we enter a scene we have dreamed. For some, the experience is so strong that they feel that they have entered a scene they have lived before in the physical sense, perhaps in a previous life. If we are going to continue to talk about these things in French, the correct term would now be déjà vécu, "already lived". While déjà vécu involves the sense of remembering the past — maybe a past lifetime or historical era — déjà rêvé often involves the phenomenon of remembering the future. A dream that is playing out in the world can now can be recognized as a memory of the future.
The edgiest and most exciting possibility is that your sense of déjà vu is generated by your recognition of a situation you have encountered in a parallel life that is now converging or overlapping with your present one. That can bring gifts or challenges, as you take on the karma - good, bad or mixed - of what you have been doing on a different event track that is now converging with your present life path. If you are keeping a journal (if not, start one today) you are poised to have serious fun growing your personal reality. Start by going back through your life memories and jotting down the incidents of déjà vu that you remember, or may have already logged. Study what followed each of these incidents. Now you are ready for your next experience of déjà vu. As it unfolds, you want to trust your immediate feelings. They may give you the sense that you are in the right place at the right time, but they may tell you something quite different. Does this feel like a blessing, a confirmation, a joyous reunion - or like something darker, that makes you uneasy, ready to back off or take cover? Ask yourself whether this could be a dream that is manifesting in external reality. If a dream is playing out, you may find you can now reach back into that dream - even if it was forgotten until now - and capture details that can offer your precious navigational guidance in a developing situation. If this feels like an encounter with a person or place from a "past" life, or like stepping into a scene from a parallel life, then try to pull up more information from that other life - and decide where you want to go with that connection in your present life. photo (c) Robert Moss
Partly adapted from Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The voiceover in dreams and ancient habits of reading

The voiceover in dreams, especially when we are reading text, suggests oneiric reversion to the habits of our literate early ancestors, who typically read aloud rather than silently. In his Confessions, Augustine describes the remarkable sight of Ambrose (who was also made a saint) reading silently.  Vox autem et lingua quiescebant, “His voice and tongue maintained silence.” Augustine conjectured that he read in this unusual way because he often had other people coming and going around him and wanted to discourage them from interrupting his studies with questions and comments. [Confessions 6.3]
    Speaking the words aloud while you had your head in a scroll or codex was the default mode of reading in the ancient world. It seems this was still the case when Augustine wrote his Confessions around 400. In A History of Reading, Alberto Manguel maintains that St.Augustine’s description of St. Ambrose’s reading habit is the first definite instance of silent reading recorded in western literature.
     Paul Saenger an expert on medieval manuscripts and a curator of rare books at Chicago's Newberry Library, believes that reading aloud was a practical necessity, given the form of early manuscripts. In his recent book Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading Saenger contends that the practice of transcribing Greek and Latin manuscripts without spaces, in 
scriptio continua, made reading silently a wearisome and excruciatingly difficult task. "It wasn't literally impossible to read silently, but the notation system was so awkward that the vast majority of readers would have needed to sound out the syllables, if only in a muffled voice."  Scriptio continua looks like this:

    It was only at the end of the seventh century, when Irish monks introduced regular word separation into medieval manuscripts, that quick and silent reading became easy and agreeable. A celebrated example is the Book of Kells.    
    I notice that when I read text in dreams – which I do very frequently, as in waking life – the words are often spoken out loud, in my mind. Sometimes the narrator seems to speak in a different voice. More often, I hear my own voice, as if I am reading aloud. This makes it much easier for me to follow and retain text than it might be if the lines were passing only in front of my dreaming eyes. When other dream researchers report that it is supposedly difficult to read and remember written material in dreams, I am incredulous, since I manage to understand and bring back so much text from my own dreams. But maybe this is easier for those of us who maintain, in dreams, the ancient default habit of reading aloud, creating the right spaces and rhythms for understanding and remembering.

Above: St. Ambrose reading silently
Below: word separation in the Book of Kells

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Reports from the Other Side: Geraldine Cummins and F.W.H.Myers

She came from the same Anglo-Irish milieu as William Butler Yeats, and wrote two plays that were performed at his beloved Abbey Theatre. Her mentor was the famous Irish medium Hester Dowden, said to have been the model for the psychic in Yeats' spirited one-act play The Words Upon the Window-Pane. When she started practicing as a psychic medium, Yeats was one of the first people to consult her.
     Her name was Geraldine Cummins, and her life story as author, suffragette, medium and possible secret agent during World War II, is quite fascinating. On November 7, 1941, a month before the United States entered the war, she gave a private sitting for David Gray, the American envoy to Ireland, at the American Legation in Phoenix Park, Dublin. By automatic writing, she channeled a deceased British prime minister (and past president of the Society for Psychical Research), Arthur Balfour, who gave a list of Nazi quislings in Ireland. She proceeded to deliver a warning in the name of the recently deceased mother of President Franklin D. Roosevelt: "My boy will have to make an important decision in the next few months. I want him to throw down the gauntlet." David Gray, who was married to Eleanor Roosevelt's aunt, transmitted the message to the White House.*

     Dr Wendy Cousins, a lecturer in the School of Nursing at the University of Ulster, has written an excellent essay on Geraldine Cummins for The Paranormal Review that has fired up my imagination, not least because of the connections with Yeats, whose adventures in the spirit realm are a theme of my own Dreamer's Book of the Dead.

I'll confine myself here to Geraldine Cummins' role in bringing through the possible afterlife adventures and reflections of F.W.H. Myers, the great Victorian psychic researcher whose driving cause was to prove the soul's survival of physical death. He died in 1901, before completing his masterwork, published two years later as Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. Given more time, he would have rounded out his immense dossier on the ability of consciousness to function outside the body with a thorough account of "spirit return" and the psychic mediums he studied.
     Geraldine Cummins may have given him the opportunity to do better than that. She channeled two books in which Myers describes the afterworld as a resident. The first was published as The Road to Immortality, the second as Beyond Human Personality.
      I cannot judge whether the material in these books came from  the individual spirit of Myers, or from some essence of his personality and worldview communicating from a higher plane, or from a "secondary personality" of the medium. What I can say is that the content is immensely intriguing.

The two books provide a Western geography of afterlife transitions that is plausible and suggests paths for meditation and for exploration and development as road maps for further journeys.
    The point of soul’s journey, the author insists, is “the evolution of mind”, and “the mind develops through manifestation.” He describes seven planes of reality and consciousness. In the manner of a classicist (which Myers was) the author describes the first level beyond the physical world as Hades. It is not to be confused with hell. It is an "intermediate state" where the traveling spirit begins to become aware of its condition.
    The next level he calls the Plane of Illusion (or Terrene Imagination). Here the spirit lives in a dream world shaped by memories of earthly things. He may build himself a home, or a whole city, as he discovers the creative power of imagination. Inhabitants of this plane are drawn to different people and situations according to their desires, their affinities and their imagination (or lack thereof). The worldliest, most wicked, or most "animal-like" spirits don't prosper here. Beyond Human Personality contains vivid reports of spirits that slide back down into Hades and are then drawn back down to earth to occupy new bodies.
     The right direction is up, always up. The next level up he calls the Plane of Color, or the Eidos (in the Platonic sense of ideal Form). You don't get there without assuming a new, and subtler body, and
that has to be earned. "Existence in this state is not governed by the senses. It is more directly controlled by mind. It is still an existence in form, and therefore an existence in substance. This substance is a very rarefied matter. It might be called an air of matter."
     There are three levels above and beyond, rising to the Seventh Plane where "the spirit and its various souls are now fused and pass into the Supreme Mind, the Imagination of God, wherein resides the conception of the whole, of universe after universe, of all states of existence, of past, present and future, of all that has been and all that shall be. Herein is continuous and complete consciousness, the true reality." 
    The description of stages in the evolution of mind in which we become aware of our soul families and our connectedness on higher levels is stimulating:

The higher the ego climbs on the ladder of consciousness, the nearer it draws to other kindred souls…In time they are able to enter into the other souls’ memories, perceive their experiences and be sensible of them as if they were theirs. Mind becomes communal in the last stages, for the spirit, the unifying principle, is tending all the time to produce greater harmony, and therefore greater unity. [from The Road to Immortality]

* David Gray, U.S. Ambassador to Eire from 1940-1947 and a strong opponent of the Nazis, wrote a preface to Geraldine Cummins' 1951 autobiography, Unseen Adventures.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Notes for the Road

To find yourself you must lose yourself.
The One you are seeking is not inside you.
You are inside the One.

To be present in every time
you must be here, now.
Now is the center of all times.

Here, now, you can step on and off
the trains to past and future
and travel on parallel lines.

To get to a place you do not know
you must go by a way you do not know.
Burn your maps to make beacons.

To wake up, you must dream.
Without dreams, you are a sleepwalker
who could join the ranks of the living dead.

There will be monsters, of course,
dark dwellers at every new threshold.
Without them, how could you be ready to pass?

In dealing with demons, you must learn
to choose the forms of your worst fears
and laugh at your creations.

If you wish to see marvels around you
you must carry marvels within.
A mirror can't show you what you don't bring.

The gates of the Otherworld open
from wherever you are. Don’t think
you have to drink jungle juice with anacondas.

Put your blade away, dragonslayer.
You only conquer the dragon when you raise it
and ride it and turn its energy towards Light.

Turn out the lights if you want to find the Light.
The visible is the skin of the invisible.
In the dark, it is easier to see with inner eyes.

Don’t list the Trickster among your demons.
He is your friend if you expect the unexpected
Everything interesting happens on the boundaries.

If you want to be fully alive, be ready to die.
How about now? You feel the cool breath
of Death on your neck. Give him some foreplay.

To find the One, don't spurn the many
Name only one God, and you’ll always end up with two.
Seek the nameless behind the forest of names.

Make your confessions on the road
not from behind a curtain. The hawk will hear you
and the rabbit, the lily and the stone.

Walk on the mythic edge. Let your life
become a stage for divine events.
Notice what neverending story is playing through you.

Look after your poetic health.
Notice what rhymes in a day, and a life.
Follow the logic of resemblances.

Practice real magic: Follow the passions of your soul
and bring gifts from the Otherworld into this one.
You’ll regret what you left undone –

the fence you wouldn’t jump, the dream you didn’t follow –
more than anything you did when your cool lover
stops licking your neck and takes you in his full embrace.

Photo: Path in Transylvania (c) Robert Moss

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Freud among his "old and grubby gods"

When the young Freud visited the Louvre for the first time, he felt he had walked into a dream. He could not get enough of the "Assyrian kings, tall as trees, holding lions like puppies" and their tremendous winged guardians. He was captivated by the Egyptian rooms. Here, among the ancient statues, he discovered a passion that became one of his ruling drives for the rest of his life. He longed to possess these mysterious and potent images. While no apartment within his means could ever hold a lamassu or a full-size Sekhmet, there were smaller versions available, of the kind the ancients kept as talismans, life-protectors, and vehicles for daily communion with powers of the invisible world made visible through the makers' arts.
    Freud became a dedicated collector of antiquities, haunting the shop of Robert Lustig, the foremost dealer in Vienna, using every holiday or conference abroad to ransack other stores. This was the great age of the tomb robbers, and Freud had no qualms about purchasing what had been taken out of Egypt or Greece or Etruscan lands by questionable means. Tutankhamon's tomb was opened in 1925, and Freud was able to buy a piece from that. In his seventies, he declared that if he only had enough money, he would like take on the complete excavation of a new archaeological site. He considered himself an archaeologist of the mind, but he would have liked to be an archaeologist of the earth as well,
    The rooms reserved for his consulting and study in the apartment at Berggasse 19 where he lived with Martha and their many children for decades struck visitors as a museum, indeed an over-stuffed museum. On her first visit in 1933, the feminist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) was stunned by the immense number of items, above all statuettes. Freud had a battalion of gods and goddesses arrayed on his desk. As he talked, he would handle them and sometimes choose one to hand to a patient. He passed H.D. a statue she did not immediately understand. Its general shape made her think of a lotus, with the stamen rising within the petals. It was an ivory carving of Vishnu standing below the five cobra heads of a serpent, a piece commissioned by the Psychoanalytic Society of India to honor Freud - and the only Hindu statue in his collection.
    His favorite, among all his treasures, was a little bronze statue of Athena. "She is perfect," he told H.D., "but she is missing the spear." No doubt he saw a sexual metaphor, in the context of his theories. But Athena was more to him than that. All his "old and grubby gods" - as he once called them - were more than anything explained in his theories. There, on his desk, was a head of Osiris. It had been severed from the body of a bronze statue and was missing the jeweled eyes as well as the high crown. Nonetheless, Freud explained to visitors, this was his "Answerer", the one who answered his deepest questions. Here, was Isis, rather formally posed as she suckled her child, a queenly and hieratic mother. Here were falconed-headed gods like the ones that Freud saw in a childhood dream that stayed with him, carrying his mother to the gates of the Netherworld. Here was the Chinese figure of a scholar before an exquisitely carved jade screen, an alter ego from a culture that Freud understood incompletely.
    I had heard about Freud's art collection, but nothing I had read prepared me for the amazing sight of his army of gods and sacred beings on display in his last home at 20 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead when I visited in 2011. Whatever you think you know about Freud, prepare to be taken in deeper and unexpected directions. I felt an eager desire to understand the relations of the great psychoanalyst - who gleefully called himself a "godless Jew" - to all these idols and magical artifacts. Nothing in his collection (except the fakes that escaped detection by his keen eye and those of his friends at the Kulturhistorisches Museum in Vienna) was made simply for the sake of art and ornament. These statues were regarded as "breathing images" (as the Greeks put it); some part of the deity or daimon represented was believed to have taken up residence.
    Freud's greatest compulsion, second only to the addiction to chain-smoking cigars that killed him, was his collection. Later in life, he insisted on having the entire collection carefully boxed and sent by train to join him and his family on their long summer vacations. He would bring favorite statues, and new acquisitions, to the dinner table. He was forever talking to his little gods, stroking them, handling them. He knew that they were alive, though this sentiment did not fit very readily into his secular humanism. He denied or ignored the one God, but he lived among many gods. In his feelings, he was quite at home in the pagan world. After visiting the overgrown site of the Forum in Rome for the first time, he wrote that he was perfectly prepared to worship at the ruined temple of Minerva.

    When H.D. called on him in London, in the year before his death, she was amazed that he still had most of his gods, over 2,000. How did he manage to keep them out of the clutches of the Nazis who now ruled in Vienna? “I did not bring them," he told her. "The Princess had them waiting for me in Paris, so that I should feel at home there.” The Princess was Marie Bonaparte, his patient and patron. With the help of a friend at the museum, who gave an appraisal of Freud's collection that grossly undervalued its worth, she had helped to pull the strings that got the Reich bureaucracy to let Freud leave with his gods as well as his family. H.D. found gardenias, Freud's favorite flowers, and had them delivered with a card that read, “To greet the return of the Gods.”
     Freud's collection included many objects from Egyptian tombs, not only statues of gods but shabti representing bound spirits expected to work for the dead, mummy cases and painted mummy bandages. He surrounded himself with evidence of cultural beliefs in the soul's survival of death, while strongly suggesting that he did not personally believe in an afterlife. I suspect that he knew better in his dreams, especially when the "breathing images" came alive, as the ancients expected and prayed for them to do.
     Freud's ashes were placed in a superb red-figured Greek urn from the 4th century b.c.e., one of many gifts from the Princess. His wife Martha's ashes joined him there after her death. On the vase is the image of Dionysus, a god who dies and comes back, with a maenad, one of his ecstatic female worshippers. An interesting choice of a resting place. On New Year's day,2011, robbers tried to steal the vase from Golders Green Crematorium, where it was on public display. They did not succeed, but caused major damage to the urn. It is not clear what exactly happened to Freud's ashes. 


There is an excellent book on Freud and his collection by Australian art historian Janine Burke. The first (Australian) edition is titled The Gods of Freud (Sydney: Knopf, 2006). It was republished in the U.S. as The Sphinx on the Table. It amounts to a top-notch biography of Freud seen through the art that spoke to him. The most vivid account of his relations with his "old and grubby gods" is H.D.'s Tribute to Freud, essentially a narrative of and reflection on her five-times-a-week sessions with Freud in Vienna in 1933-4. H.D.'s classical education and knowledge of the myths and the sites made her a fascinating conversation partner for Freud, the collector. For other intriguing and lesser-known aspects of Freud's life please see my book The Secret History of Dreaming.

At top: Sigmund Freud at his desk. 1914 etching by Max Pollack.
Below: RM at Freud's last home in Hampstead

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I dreamed I woke up

I dreamed I woke up.
In this waking life my thoughts
are agate points and deep lagoons
that make ancient cities and heroes
and bust dakinis out of lunch boxes.

Everything is alive when I am awake.
I remember to swim in air
and fly in water, and ride moon-tigers
to the Moon Cafe, and the light in my head
is the light of the blue-white star.

I went back to sleep in a world
of fewer voices and more noise. Out here
in mossy woods, sleep life is pleasant.
It's good to watch a cedar shake her frills,
good to be surprised by lime on watermelon.

There are days I don't want to wake up.
Then there are days of pain and lost delight,
city days caught in time and trivial stories
when I forget that I am asleep
and can change the game if I awaken.

I cannot say whether the person writing this
is asleep in the world, or awake in the dream

Art: "Dream Double" by Robert Moss

This poem is published in Here, Everything Is Dreaming: Poems and Stories by Robert Moss. Published by Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Art of Memory

Dreaming, waking or in between
in any part of the multiverse
in any body, in any life
you are invited to play
a memory game.

Whatever world you are in

the trick is to remember
the other worlds you inhabit
where you are dead and more alive

and the self that is dreaming you.

Image: "Artemis Dreaming" by Warxpro

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dream incubation

Dream incubation has been a preferred way of seeking life direction in most human cultures as far back as we can trace. If you believe that, in seeking dream guidance, you are approaching a sacred source, then you will probably use some form of prayer or ritual as you seek help from that power. 
     In the Greek Magical Papyri (XVIIIb) we read this invocation:

Sender of true oracles
while I sleep send me your unerring skill
to read what is and and will be

     If we have a big request, it is important to ask nicely. Aelius Aristides, an ancient Greek orator who walked very close to his god – Asklepios, the patron of dream healing – used to phrase his requests as follows: “Lord, I ask for the guidance (or health, or resources) my body requires to serve the purposes of the soul.” A human who asks that way might hope to engage the support of a power behind the scenes.
     The journey to a special place – the shrine of a saint, the tomb of an ancestor, a sacred mountain, an ancient tree – has often been part of a full-dress dream incubation. 
     But in our hurried everyday lives, we can make all of this simple. Are you in need of life direction or a solution to a problem? Are you willing to turn to a source beyond the obvious ones? Then approach the night as a place of possible encounter with a power that can answer your questions and help to heal your life. If you are a person of faith, you may start by praying for guidance of healing.
     You may find it helpful to do something to make your sleeping area more of a sacred place; for example, by foregoing sugar and alcohol for a few hours before sleep, by lighting a candle, and/or by using a special fragrance or placing a little mugwort sachet under your pillow.
     Now you want to set your intention for the night. Make it as simple and clear as possible, and avoid composing a laundry-list of needs and wishes. You can make your request large and spacious:

I ask for guidance on my life path
I open myself to my creative source
I ask for healing

Or you can make it quite specific:

I would like guidance on my job interview.
I ask for healing for my friend in hospital.
I would like to see what will happen during my trip.
I want to prep for the exam.
Should I date the guy I met yesterday?

You will want to be ready to catch whatever your dreams give you whenever you wake. This may involve lingering in the half-dream state after you surface from deeper sleep; this in-between state is one in which important messages often come through.
     If you remember only a small piece from a dream, but your feelings are strong and your sense of direction is clear, you are in luck. Sometimes it is easier to read a plain answer from a short, uncomplicated dream vignette than from a rambling epic, and the energy that comes with a dream is often more important than the specific information it contains.
     If you can’t initially see any connection between the dream your record and the intention that preceded it, be patient and learn to use some detective skills. It’s possible that your dream producers decided to give you something they think you should see rather than what you asked for. All the same, it is always worth playing the game of trying to find a link between the dream and the intention.     
     You don’t want to ask for big messages, let alone big favors, every night. That becomes wearisome to everyone engaged, and can end by trivializing and cheapening the process. On the other had, I see no objection to putting a simple request like the following one to the dream oracle fairly frequently:

Show me what I need to see 

If you try that, be ready for some shocks! Our dream producers see our needs and issues from a different angle than we do.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Soul in the multiverse: serial dreamers and quantum jumpers

Serial dreams, in which we find ourselves returning, again and again, to a life that is not our waking life offer an invitation to gather first-hand data on the possibility that we are leading parallel lives in alternate realities that may also be parallel worlds.
    Some serial dreams may reflect that fact that one or more of our soul-selves is “out there”, leading its own life in an alternate reality that is separated from that or our dominant personality. But serial dreams of this type open windows into even more spacious possibilities.
    While you are living your present life, on your present timeline, co-walkers are walking beside you, near or far, along their own paths, which branched off when they made different choices or took a different turning. There is the parallel self who stayed with your former lover, the white shadow that still works in the old job. If parallel universes are infinite, as some physicists believe, you have a parallel self who chose pancakes instead of eggs for breakfast, and another that has not opened this book.
     When it comes to studying parallel selves who took a radically different life path, developing different skills and relationships and incurring different karma, it is fascinating to consider what happens when two paths start to converge again. Before you are remotely aware that this is happening, you may feel a certain tilt to the day, and notice that you are drawing events and encounters in an unusual way.
People praise you or put you down in ways you can't fathom unless you awaken to how you are loaded now with karma a parallel self incurred in adventures you can't know about unless you are following the dream tracks of your multitudinous self.
     What if it were possible to reach to some of these alternate selves, and share gifts and life experiences with them in mutually supportive ways? We can attempt that through dream reentry. We can also seek to journey back to a crossroads on our previous life road, and seek to locate and then track the  parallel self that made a different choice from what put us where we are now. We can choose to follow the life of this alternate self from that moment of choice all the way up to the present time, make an inventory of what went wrong or right on that other path and then - most importantly - to harvest lessons and gifts from the alternate life trajectory
-   Part of the secret logic of our lives may be that our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless parallel selves, sometimes converging or even merging, sometimes diverging ever farther. The gifts and failings of these alternate selves - with all the baggage train of their separate lives - may influence us, when our paths converge, in ways that we generally fail to recognize. Yet a sudden afflux of insight or forward-moving energy may be connected with joining up with an alternate and lively self, just as a sour mood of defeat or a series of otherwise inexplicable setbacks may relate to the shadow of a different parallel self, a Sad One or a Dark One.

Adapted from Dreaming the Soul Back Home by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Nine keys to living consciously in the multiverse


The only time is Now. All other times - past, present and parallel - can be accessed in this moment of Now, and may be changed for the better.


We dream to wake up. Dreaming is not fundamentally about what happens during sleep. It is about waking up to a deeper order of reality. Dreaming is a discipline; to get really good at it requires practice, practice, practice.


Treasures are waiting for us in the Place Between Sleep and Awake. The easiest way to become a lucid or conscious dreamer is to spend more time in the twilight zone between waking and sleep, or between sleep and waking.  Tinker Bell told Peter Pan to look for her in the Place between Sleep and Awake. This liminal state is a place of encounter with inner guides and transpersonal visitors. It is also a place of heightened psychic perception and creative breakthroughs, where it is easy to make connections that escape the daily mind.


We live in the Speaking Land, as the First Peoples of my native Australia say. Everything in the world around us is alive and conscious and will speak to us if we are paying attention. Navigating by synchronicity becomes very simple, even irresistible, when we stream into this mode of understanding.


To live well, we must practice death. We bring courage and clarity to life choices when we are aware that death is always with us, and that we should be ready to meet it any day.


We must feed and honor our animal spirits. A working connection with them gives us immense resources for self-healing.


We have a guide for our lives who is no stranger. He is always with us and does not judge us. This is the Self on a higher level. When we rise to the perspective of the Greater Self, we are able to make peace between different personality aspects, including our counterparts in other times and parallel realities.


We are at the center of all times. The dramas of lives being lived in other times and in parallel realities may be intensely relevant to understanding and navigating our current relationships and life issues. We can learn to reach into those other lives to share gifts and lessons. We can dialog with our own older and younger selves within our present lifetimes.


We must entertain the spirits, starting with our very own – the child self, the inner artist, the passionate teen, the animal spirits, the creative daimon.

Adapted from The Boy Who Died and Came Back: Adventures of a Dream Archaeologist in the Multiverse by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Claiming the gift of nightmares

Dreams are not on our case; they are on our side. This is one of my personal mantras about dreams and (yes) it applies even to nightmares.
     In my personal lexicon, a nightmare is not only a "bad" or scary dream; it is an interrupted or aborted dream. We are so frightened we run away. We wake ourselves up and try to slam the door on the dream experience, hoping that it is "only" a dream and can't get out and come after us.
     This is a very foolish strategy. The challenges we face in dreams are challenges that are being presented by life itself. If we learn to confront the underlying issues inside the dream space, we may be able to prevent those issues from blowing up in our regular lives. This may require us to take action in waking life, based on what we have learned in our dreams; but we will lack the essential data required for appropriate action if we have left the dream broken and abandoned, behind that door we are trying to keep shut.
      Common forms of the nightmare include:

The nameless terror.
The intruder.
Being pursued.
Being attacked by a wild animal.
Suffering an infestation of bugs, spiders or bats.
An unwanted encounter with the dead.
Being attacked by vampires, demons or zombies.
Being overwhelmed by a giant wave or a twister.
Being in a plane crash or an auto accident.

You probably have your own version. We have different lives, different characters, and different styles of dreaming (another reason why you will never find the full meaning of dreams by looking them up in a dream dictionary). My own least favorite dreams are ones in which I am stuck in a place where I don't want to be.
     Whatever the content of the dreams you flee from, the Rx is the same: try to learn to confront the challenge on the ground where it is presented. This requires firm intention and some degree of courage. You want to learn to go back inside a dream you fled and try to clarify and resolve what is going on there. You can accomplish this through the dream reentry technique explained in several of my books, including Conscious Dreaming and Active Dreaming.
      You want to give a name to that nameless dread. You want to know whether the plane crash was literal or symbolic and, either way, what you need to do to avoid it. You want to establish whether that dream intruder is someone who could literally break into your house, or a disease that could invade your body, or an aspect or yourself - maybe even your Greater Self - that is trying to get your attention. If you are scared of dream vampires, you want to think about who or what in your life may be draining your energy; if your dream house is infested, you need to know whether this reflects a condition in your body that may need medical attention.
       I think it's like this: our dream producers are constantly trying to alert us to things essential to our health, wholeness and well-being. When we ignore these messages, they resort to special effects to get our attention. If we persist in ignoring the messages, the problem the nightmares reflect is likely to show up in our regular lives. Nightmares are a gift in the way that a smoke detector going off in the middle of the night - when there is a real fire hazard - is a gift.
       Sometimes we find that what we are fleeing in dreams is an aspect of our own power. When I first started living in rural New York, I dreamed repeatedly of a giant bear that came into my bedroom. He did not menace me, but he was so much bigger than me that he scared me. Finally, I told myself (as I would now counsel anyone) that I needed to go back inside those dreams, confront the bear, and discover why he was in my space. When I did that, the bear caught me up in his great embrace and showed me that we were joined at the heart, reassuring me that when I needed healing for myself or others, he would be there. I later learned that the bear is the great medicine animal of North America, and he has kept his promise.
       I have worked with several people challenged by cancer who fled from sharks in their dreams. When they agreed to swim in those dream water through conscious dream reentry, they were able to claim the shark as an ally in healing. The shark, an impeccable killing machine that rarely gets cancer, is indeed an extraordinary ally in healing cancer. But to claim that kind of power, we are first required to brave up.
       In summary: the best remedy for nightmares is to summon the courage and the necessary guidance and protection to go back in, face the source of the fear on its own ground, and stay with the experience until you achieve resolution. If reentry is no longer an option (because the dream is mostly gone) do things that help you to spit out (literally) and shake off (literally) the negative legacy, ground yourself with the good Earth - and make it your intention not to succumb to dread next time. What we most fear is often what we most need to face,

Art: "Shark Woman" by Aniela Sobieski.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Breaking news from the Other Side

Anna dreamed she visited a friend who had recently died. He handed her a mobile phone with just two keys, green and red and told her she could call anytime. Nothing simpler – hit green to call, red to disconnect. Anna was delighted to discover that the departed now have speed dial.
     It seems that the communications technology of the departed keeps pace with innovations down here. Since the invention of the telephone, phone calls from the dead have been a familiar feature of many dreamers’ nights. One woman got a call from her mother, who had recently passed, in which her mother said, “I can’t talk for long since I just got here. I’ll have more phone privileges later on.” The dead send email and texts and their voices come through in podcasts in contemporary dreams.
    This all helps to facilitate contact since it indulges everyday expectations about how people keep in touch with each other. Back in the Victorian era, contact methods were different. The newspaperman and psychic investigator W.T. Stead, reporting back to his daughter after he died in the wreck of the Titanic, described a communications center on the Other Side where “travelers” were trained in hand-carrying messages to the living, where necessary by focusing their energy in order to produce the clear impression of a face during séances. Stead dictated a wonderful little book, The Blue Island, through a male medium that is one of my favorite sources on the Western afterlife.
     By my observation, contact with the departed, especially in dreams, is entirely natural (and would be quite commonplace, if we were more awake to levels of reality beyond the physical) for three reasons. Our dead may still be with us. Our dead come visiting. And in dreams, we go traveling in realms where the dead are at home.
     I’m using the word “dead” here the way the Irish do. Our dead are usually alive in our dreams, because indeed they are still living, "dead" only in the sense that they have left their physical bodies behind (though sometimes they are not aware of that). Interaction with our dead – again, especially in dreams – has been, in all cultures and all times, the principal source for the human belief that consciousness survives death.  
     Our dead are a constant source of breaking news, whenever we are tuned in. They give us news flashes, ranging from personal health alerts to next year’s headlines. The departed are not trapped by the illusion of linear time. If they have cleared old business and have an interest in helping survivors to do better, they can be very helpful guides in pointing out possible future events, and what we need to do to shape those events for our health and well-being. One of my personal markers that there may be unusually important information in a dream, especially relating to the future, to health, and to life-and-death issues, is the appearance of a departed person I trust, including beloved dogs who once shared my life.
    There is breaking news from the Other Side that may be even more crucial for a fully-realized life. Through our encounters with our departed over time, we learn about transitions and alternate living situations in the afterlife, the nature of reincarnation, and realities of the soul.
    A breakthrough moment on the roads of the afterlife is when a departed person discovers that he or she does not have to retain the same appearance they had when they checked out, which is often a broken and elderly body. Dreamer after dreamer reports the joyful surprise of encountering Mom or Grandpa in the body of a good-looking, energetic young person of about thirty. Such encounters are already an important education in the nature and malleability of one of the subtle bodies, or vehicles of consciousness, that survive physical death.
     I asked my friend Wanda Burch, the author of She Who Dreams, who tracks these things as closely as I do, to report on what she has learned through successive visits with her departed parents in their changing living environments on the Other Side. Here is part of the narrative she generously contributed for this piece:
     “My dreams of my father and mother's evolution have been entertaining and confirming of a great new life. In my favorite, I visit my parents in their new house. My mom looks younger, wearing smart little outfits from the days when she was dating my dad. She leads me to a beautiful pool that looks like a natural lake lined with stones, with lily pads in the water. I praise the beautiful house, and my mom says that my dad always liked my house and wanted one like mine. ‘But I don't have a house like this,’ I tell her. ‘You will,’ she says smiling. Then my mom drives off in a junky old car like the one they had in my youth. ‘Does she really need a car?’ I ask my dad. He tells me ‘No, but she enjoys it and there’s no harm in it.’
     “A few months later, I dreamed my dad was checking in on me to tell me he was moving on. I see a charming farmhouse set among pastures and fields of crops. I know this is one of many residences for my parents. I find them and join them in a car. My father shows me that he now has his own driver and then invites me to come with him inside a lodge where he has been receiving instruction, some of it – he says – involving ‘my things.’ These include early religions, dreaming, and exploration into spiritual matters.
    "He shows me charts of the heavens and points out stars and constellations, giving me lengthy and exciting explanations about the influence of the movements of the heavens on our lives and on our dreaming. I see a jumble of stars which he says he has just discovered. Humans have not been able to see them yet because they are too many light years away; but he is working with someone – I have the feeling this is an astronomer on earth - who will soon develop the technology to see them.

     “On the way back to the farm he shows me shops, including book shops filled with new books, not yet written, on wellness and spiritual development. We continue on to the farm where my mother settles into a comfortable routine. I turn and see my father coming toward me with arms wide open, ready to hug me. My father was not a hugger, but he is now. He tells me he is going away for awhile but I can still get in touch with him if it is important. He leaves. My mom, after an initial feeling of panic, settles down and seems fine. She loves her farm and farmhouse and tells me she needs to do some tidying. We say good-bye and I awake seeing her waving to me and smiling.”
     Over the years, the number one reason why people have shared dreams with me is that they have had an encounter with a departed friend or loved one that has touched them deeply. The most important thing we can do for each other in this respect is to offer confirmation and validation that these experiences are real - and then to reassure each other about a great truth that often goes unspoken in our counseling rooms and even our churches: healing and resolution and mutual support are possible, across the apparent barrier of death.
     So dying definitely need not mean hanging up on those near and dear. It seems an increasing number of people in contemporary society are taking that notion a bit too literally. Funeral homes report a steady increase in the number of clients who are being buried with their cell phones. When Manhattan criminal defense attorney John Jacobs died in 2005, his widow buried him in a Paramus NJ cemetery with his cell phone and continued to pay the monthly phone bill. She had his cell phone number carved on his headstone so others could keep in touch too. W
hen she and others called, they got his voicemail, promising to get in touch as soon as possible. Dream phones offer live conversation, and you don't get a monthly bill.