What if in your dream you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower and what if when you awoke you had that flower in your hand?
Coleridge's famous question is not a hypothetical to active and conscious dreamers, who notice various types of bleedthrough between different dimensions of reality and experience.
A nurse who took part in one of my early dream classes later told me she had dreamed of a visitation from a being that was half woman, half deer. Waking in her second floor apartment, she found deer scat on her floor. Trying to make sense of this (nurses are no-nonsense, practical people) she recognized that a deer might have wandered onto the grounds of her apartment complex. But she was quite certain there was no way it could have gotten up her stairs or through her window! She was content to accept the unlikely deer poop as a sign from the deeper universe that her visitation had been absolutely for real. She later found the deer-woman turning up as a guide when she was caring for patients, especially the dying who needed help to prepare for their journeys beyond this world.
One of the most common bleedthroughs from the realm of dream or astral experience into the world of the body is astral repercussion, to use a term favored by Dion Fortune and her peers. This is what happens when what is experienced in the astral body during its excursions outside the physical body leaves physical marks when it returns.
While Fortune described cases where this kind of thing can be seriously depleting, even life-threatening, to the experiencer, astral repercussion may be a routine side effect of getting out and about in a subtle energy body, sometimes wholly benign and even entertaining. In the first letter from Lady Valerie D'Arcy in my novel Fire Along the Sky, she protests that an amorous visit from her lover in the form of a leopard-man left her with bite marks on her body; this fictional scene was drawn from experience!
Let me give an example from my dream life during a lazy week of summer vacation on Lake Champlain. I spent my time swimming and reading, dining well, spending a lot more time in bed overnight than is my typical pattern. My body's peace and ease over those summer days was balanced by the nocturnal adventures of my dream self.
In a dream thriller that could easily be filmed in the style of The Bourne Identity, I go on a wild ride through the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. We have to dodge road-blocks and predatory packs that are out to stop cars and rob their drivers and passengers, or worse. The predators use all sorts of stratagems to get drivers to stop, sometimes pushing children in front of the cars. When they do that to us, I grab control of the steering wheel from my driver, managing to avoid hitting a child being used as bait, so we escape the trap. I hurt my arm making this maneuver, but pay little attention because soon I am caught up in a big-stakes international intrigue.
I woke happy and excited. I felt like I had stepped into a movie to play an Action Man hero, and this was really enjoyable. But - uh, oh - how did that bruise come to appear on the underside of my left upper arm? There really was no physical cause I could locate. On the other hand, there was all that action in the dream, and the pain I experienced during the car chase. Someone had jabbed something at me through the window of the car, in that mad ride through the Bois de Boulogne.
Inter-dimensional bleedthroughs bring us awake to the fact that we are engaged in more than one order of reality, and that what happens beyond our default (physical) reality may not only be no less real, but sometimes more so. If the dream gave me the bruise, then which was more real: my night escapade in Paris, or my lazy day by a lake in Vermont?
I dream you as the leopard. Last night you came to me in his skin.You frightened me, pressing against my face. I knew you by the eyes.
This night vision was entirely real. As I write this, I feel the places in my body you praised and fed. I cannot undress in front of Sir Henry tonight, even if he begs me to do it, because I have bite marks and a spectacular bruise, ovoid and empurpled as an eggplant, blooms on my inner thigh.
Can you cause a leopard, Shane?
- love letter from Lady Valeie D'Arcy to Shane Hardacre, the opening page of my novel Fire Along the Sky published by Excelsior Editions. Please note that only the second edition contains the letters.