The well-known psychic Alice Bailey believed that both anonymous companions and other generic dream figures - the train conductor, the taxi driver, the telephone operator - may all be angels in disguise. Maybe you have noticed how such characters sometimes play the role of guardians or guides in your dreams. Here are a few cases from my own dream journals:
The telephone operator
In one dream, I found a message on my telephone answering machine from a troubled woman who had caused a good deal of confusion in my life. As I listened to the message, which was an appeal for a meeting, the voice of the operator came through. The operator explained that she did not want to let calls from this person come through because her intentions were harmful. In my dream, I was able to print out the message, which I then destroyed by putting it through a trash compactor. I often find that the telephone operator in my dreams helps me to screen communications on the inner planes. The telephone operator or switchboard also helps me to route calls to higher sources of guidance. This continues even though, in waking life, in the age of smart phones I rarely have any interaction with old-style telephone operators.
The immigration or customs official
Since I do a lot of traveling in this world, these figures frequently appear in waking life. In dreams, they often play a deeper role, although I never dismiss the possibility that I may be dreaming a future situation in regular life. In my dreams, customs officials may discuss whether I am dressed properly or carrying excess baggage and help me to get these things sorted out. Immigration officials play an even more interesting role. In one dream, for example, I noticed that the immigration official to whom I had to present myself at a foreign airport was reading a book on synchronicity. When I expressed interest, he led me into a back room, where several of his colleagues - dressed in blue, high-necked uniforms of a distinctively "French" design - discussed early research on the theme that had been conducted in French. This gave me useful and specific leads for research that found its way into books I proceeded to write.
The hotel manager
In another dream, I found myself in a hotel in a foreign country where a power problem was causing intermittent blackouts throughout a whole city. Then the hotel manager appeared. He was an immensely charming, confident, even radiant, man who assured me that everything could be put right. He proceeded to demonstrate. He increased the voltage on a generator, raising the energy flow to several times the maximum level shown on the gauge. Nothing blew up, and the lights in the city came back on. After this dream, I noticed a marked increase in my energy level and was able to complete a book project at record speed.
The hotel manager often appears to me in dreams as the person responsible for the management and effective operation of the whole establishment - i.e., my whole psychospiritual condition.
The maitre d' and the chef
The restaurant manager or maitre d' figures in my dreams as the person who oversees my social and eating habits. The dream chef plays a deeper role, on stage or backstage. He often represents my inner creator. In a turning point dream, both figures played shocking but very helpful roles. I was struggling at the time with a book project.
I had contracted to write a thriller with a Russian theme, following the popular success of my earlier novel Moscow Rules but my heart wasn't in it. I did not want to repeat myself and was feeling a deep call to change the whole direction of my life and my writing. I turned to my dreams for help. I set the intention, on going to bed, to receive dream guidance on writing my new "Russian" thriller. I stepped into a dream that seemed promising. A huge banquet hall had been set up in my honor. I noted that the place settings included the finest china, and that the cutlery seemed to be made of silver and gold. But the maitre d' rushed up, wringing his hands. He tol me there was a problem in the kitchen. The master chef did not like my menu. He refused to cook any more stroganoff., If I insisted on a Russian entree, he would quit.
I woke up chastened. I understood that - through the message from the unseen master chef - my creative spirit had given me clear guidance. I tore up a contract because of that dream, abandoning the Russian thriller for fresh literary adventures that led me to publish a series of historical novels involving Native American dream shamans, and eventually my nonfiction books on Active Dreaming.
The taxi driver
I learn a lot from taxi drivers in dreams, where they are quite as unpredictable as in New York City. When I turned to historical fiction, a cabdriver turned up in a splendid vintage car. I entered into a most rewarding conversation with him after the initial dream. Wide awake but still connected to the energy of the dream, I sat down with pen and pad and asked him a series of questions, carefully recording his responses.
The elevator operator
This is someone who can help to transport you to higher levels. He may or may not hold the door open for you if you are running late, or expect a tip. In one of my dreams, an elevator operator waited for me patiently while I carried a dead relative who was in a bad way, groggy and disoriented, into an old-fashioned lift. When we had risen to a higher floor, the dead person vanished into a television set inside the lift
The doorman or security guard
At any important threshold, we may challenged to establish our right of entry, to show ID and perhaps to lay down things we are carrying that do not belong where we are going. In dreams, as in ordinary life, the doorman or security guard plays a vitally important role. We may come to recognize the many forms of the Gatekeeper, that archetypal entity that opens or closes our doors and paths in life and between the worlds.
I have come to think that there is a Cosmic Costume Department for spiritual guides. They appear to us in forms that we can perceive. I have given examples of guides appearing in everyday dress. They may put on much wilder outfits, including the forms of wild animals. Their purpose is to get our attention. Sometimes that requires reassuring camouflage; sometimes it requires shock tactics.
Parts of this article are adapted from "Dream Guides and Guardian Angels", chapter 8 of Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by Three Rivers Press.
Image: Makeup Room at the National Theatre, London.