I love the spontaneous creative play that develops in a circle of Active Dreamers. Last night, in my local monthly circle, a dream inspired me to invent a new Coincidence Art Game. The juice and joy that came with playing that game are still with me, as is some very practical and helpful guidance.
We began, as we always do, by drumming to call in the dreams and stories that wanted to play with us in the circle that evening. When her turn came, Sara gave us the dream title "Robert's Clues" and shared the folowing report:
Robert is leading a workshop, giving us assignments for artistic expression from dreams. I walk around looking at paintings people have been making. One of these pictures is on a bench in a park where I spent a lot time as a child. Robert painted this himself. I'm intrigued by his picture but this doesn't stop me from painting over it. When Robert comes around, I'm worried that I will now be in trouble. But he's humorous and relaxed. Not only does he not seem to mind that I just painted over his picture; it feels like he set me up for this as part of his game.
Sara came out of this dream excited, and she was fizzing with excitement as she recounted it. I was intrigued by the behavior of Dream Robert. Under normal circumstances, I would not be thrilled if someone painted over a picture I had made. But it seemed that Dream Robert was playing a deeper game. I felt, as I often do, that I wanted to catch up with my dream self. I liked his laid-back, humorous approach. I also felt, as the dreamer did, that he had set up a game that was about more than simply doing expressive art with personal imagery. The game seemed to involve bringing two images together, from two imaginations, to generate something rich and wonderful and entirely fresh.
We spent a little time discussing Sara's dream. Someone observed that if it were he dream, she would notice the significance of the locale, a place the dreamer associated with happy scenes from early childhood. Was the dream an invitation to reclaim more of the energy and imagination of the child who had played in that park? This resonated with all of us.
"Colors!" I cried out. "Sketch paper!" The little boy in me wanted to get down on the floor and play with colors. I asked our host what she had available. She left the room and returned with a big trolley stacked with paints and pencils, crayons and art paper. Whooping, we grabbed our supplies.
With the story of Dream Robert vivid in my mind, I improvised the rules for a new game. We would start by taking a few minutes to draw freely - kicking any inner critic or editor who was with us out for the room - from the dominant dream or life story that was with us. Hands flew across papers with crayons, watercolor brushes, markers and pencils.
I was a little disappointed to find that the crayons I had grabbed were mostly dried up. They yielded little color, compared to the wild efflorescence of what others were creating with markers and brushes. Still, the scene I was trying to draw was mostly nocturnal, so I made do with pencil and the faint smear of pastels.
"Okay," I drew a pause to our crafting "Now we will make our deck." A volunteer gathered up the drawings and shuffled them as best he was able, making a kind of deck.
"Now, let's be clear about a theme we would like to explore, maybe an issue on which you need help or guidance. Have that absolutely clear in your mind." We took a moment or everyone to record that theme in their journals, so there would be no delay or confusion later on. Mine was: "energy and discipline to complete a major writing project".
We now had themes for guidance, and a kind of oracle deck. In the game we were about to play, we would draw images at random from the deck, then receive them as possible responses or contributions to our theme. Thus far, the game was familiar to many of us. I had led this version of my Coincidence Card Game - played with pictures rather than words - over many years.
However, I was inspired by Dream Robert to bring in some new twists. "It will go like this," I proposed. "When you receive your picture, you'll study it and write three phrases on the back that come to mind in the presence of this images. If you are so inspired, you can also add to the picture. You can draw on it or around it. You can even overlay a whole new picture if you like." This was shocking and exciting to the group. I was secretly hoping that whoever received my faint pencil sketch would bring in some bold colors, even a whole new drawing.
"When your turn comes to speak to the group," I continued to outline the rules, "you'll hold up the picture, read your three phrases. Tell us about any changes you made to your picture. Tell us your theme. We'll explore the ways in which the picture you received may help with that theme. Then we'll ask the person who drew your picture to stand up and tell us what she can about the story behind the picture."
The novel elements in the game - writing the three phrases, acting on permission to fool around with the image received - played beautifully. A rather shy newcomer to the group received and image that the artist described as a Fountain of Light. She drew people around the fountain, showing its light and energy helping to build and grown s community. Someone looking for guidance on "clarity of vision" received an image that included stones and water. She added to the drawing until it showed a line of stepping stones, and received clarity from the composite image that she would find the clarity she was seeking by taking things one step at a time.
I was delighted to receive an image seething with color. The first phrase I wrote on the back was "Soul Piñata, ready to burst." I wrote two more phrases: "All the colors of the imagination" and "Christmas every day". I didn't want to mess up the raw beauty of the image, so I just added the visual suggestion of hands holding this bundle of juice and joy, ready to release the contents. What I had received certainly felt like a direct response to my theme. I needed to bring in the energy of color, perhaps by starting my writing stints by making a quick drawing, using something other than dried-up crayons.
Sara revealed that she was the artist, which seemed wonderfully appropriate since it was her dream of Dream Robert's unusual art game that inspired what we were now doing. She spoke of "fire flowers" inside the container, and pointed out that there is a key - which I had seem differently, as an antenna. We all felt that we found a key to manifestation last evening. That key is to play new games that bring the magical child closer and entertain our creative spirits,