Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A dream guides Jung to make his approach more accessible

Near the end of his life, Jung finally managed to put his best and most original ideas in a form that was simple enough to reach a general audience, without diluting or dumbing anything down. He might not have done this except for a dream. After watching Jung's very human interviews with John Freeman for the BBC in 1959, the publisher of Aldus Books had a bright idea: why not ask Jung to write a book for a general audience? 

Jung's answer, when approached by Freeman, was a flat No. He was now in his 80s, and did not want to take the time that remained to him for this. Then Jung dreamed that he was standing in a public place and lecturing to a multitude of people who were not only listening with rapt attention but understood what he was saying. The dream changed his mind. 

Jung had said in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, "All day long I have exciting ideas and thoughts. But I take up in my work only those to which my dreams direct me." Now he proved this, again, by embarking on the book that was published (after his death) as Man and His Symbols. He conceived it a collaborative effort and invited trusted colleagues like Marie-Louise von Franz to contribute chapters. 

His personal contribution was a long essay titled "Approaching the Unconscious" . The essay is, first and last, about dreams. He completed it just ten days before the start of his final illness, so this work may be called his last testament. It testifies, above all, to the primary importance of dreams in Jung's psychology and in his vision of human nature and evolution. Jung makes this ringing statement: "It is an age-old fact that God speaks, chiefly, through dreams and visions." 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dreams may be secret wishes of the soul


Dreams are experiences of the soul, and they can recall us to the soul’s purpose, as opposed to the petty agendas of the ego. This understanding is central to the practice of dream healing among many ancient and indigenous peoples.
   When I moved to upstate New York in the mid-1980s, I started dreaming in a language I did not know, which proved to be an archaic form of the Mohawk Indian language, laced with Huron. I studied Mohawk to decipher my dreams, but the meaning of one curious word eluded me. I recorded it as ondinnonk. I eventually found the meaning of this word in reports by a Jesuit who had lived among the Hurons in the early 1600s. 
    I will share some brief excerpts from Father Paul Ragueneau’s explanation, since it opens out an ancient approach to dreaming and healing and the responsibilities of the community to both that suggests rich possibilities for Active Dreaming in our own times.
   Reporting from the Jesuit mission to the Hurons in the winter of 1647-8, Father Ragueneau wrote:

In addition to conscious desires that arise from a previous knowledge of something we suppose to be good, the Hurons believe that our souls have other desires, which are, as it were, both natural and hidden... They believe that our soul makes these natural desires known to us through dreams, which are its language. When these desires are accomplished, it is satisfied. But if, on the contrary, it is not granted what it desires, it becomes angry; not only does it fail to bring the body the health and well-being it might [otherwise] have wished to bring, but often it even revolts against the body, causing various diseases and even death…Most of the Hurons are very careful to pay attention to their dreams, and to provide the soul with what it has represented to them during their sleep…They call this Ondinnonk, a secret desire of the soul expressed by a dream

Among this dreaming people, satisfying the secret wishes of the soul is the key to healing It is the task of the community to listen attentively to dreams, to help the dreamer identify the soul’s purpose as revealed in dreams, and to take creative and decisive action to honor and act on the dream. This may involve community theatre and performance, parties and gift-giving, making talismans or embarking on a journey or honoring the ancestors.
    Father Ragueneau continued: “They believe the soul is pleased when it sees us take action to celebrate a favorable dream, and will move faster to help us manifest it. If we fail to honor a favorable dream, they think this can prevent the dream from being fulfilled, as if the angry soul revokes its promise.” 
   In the practice of the First Peoples of Northeast America, as in our contemporary lives, dreams bring us healing by connecting us with the purposes and the energy of soul.

Quotations from Ragueneau's report are from The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites (Cleveland: Burrow Brothers, 1896-1901) volume 33, pages 191-5.

For much more on ondinnonk and the practices inspired by the understanding that dreams may reveal secret wishes of the soul, see my book Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul (Rochester VT: Destiny Books, 2004).

Art: My drawing of the Huron-Mohawk arendiwanen ("woman of power") who called me in dreams and gave me the word ondinnonk and with it a powerful approach to dreaming and healing that helped shape my own teaching and practice.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Lady of Changes

Her face glows in the dark of my bedroom like a yellow moon. The lovely young Chinese woman is studying me intently. She is as near as the foot of my bed. Her eyes are both very dark and very bright, her hair is lustrous black, cut neatly at shoulder length to produce a helmet effect. She is wearing a yellow tunic dress, and I remember that in China yellow is the color of Earth.=
    She communicates her intention: to teach me the real I Ching. As I look in her eyes I see they are like 8-balls, in constant rhythmic motion, displaying the eight trigrams that compose the essence of the Book of Changes, marrying in pairs to make the 64 hexagrams.
     If this is a Lady of Earth, of the receptive power of K'un, where is her consort? I see him now, wearing a robe of deep blue silk, embroidered with what may be bronze dragons. He is a Lord of Sky, and I know he personifies Ch'ien, the Heaven of the Changes. His lower body moves, indistinctly, like that of a great serpent-dragon, its coils turning like a mobius strip. I sense that his lower body interweaves with that of the Lady.
     I recall that according to tradition, the trigrams were invented by the dragon emperor Fu Xi, drawing knowledge from Heaven, and that in certain Taoist temples Fuxi and his consort Nuwa are depicted together. Their upper bodies are human; their lower bodies are those of serpent-dragons, intertwined. Awed by the energy presence of these ancient beings in my space, I am also embarrassed by my faulty memory of the Changes. I try to rehearse the names and forms of the eight trigrams in my mind. The primal pair: Heaven and Earth, Ch'ien and K'un. Fire and Water, Li and Kan. Lake and Mountain, Tui and Ken. Wind and Thunder, Sun and Chen. Do I have that right?
    Not that way. The code of Thunder flares in the Lady's changing eyes. Her fierce intent interrupts my effort to recite the list of the trigrams. Like this. Her eyes change again. I see a green mountain rising in a soft mist. There is a gentle lake at its summit, and around the peak a perfect cloud ring. Lake on the Mountain. I struggle to remember the name and the attributions of the corresponding hexagram. Something to do with lovers, newlyweds, attraction.
     Not like that. She is opening a different way of seeing and reading the code of the Changes. I relax into the embrace of Earth, and soon find myself in a different scene.
     I am on top of a very tall and steep hill, with warriors dressed in skins and armed with bows and spears. There is an intense feeling of being alive up here. The wind is fresh and brisk, lifting my hair, fluttering a loose fringe. We may have a battle to fight, but our spirits are high, our defensive position is very strong, and we can see whatever is coming at us from far away. This hill fort has a commanding view. I can see across great vistas in all directions.
     Access to our hill fort is via a wooden ladder that goes up the hillside for hundreds of feet. It can be pulled up to deny access to strangers. My lieutenant is so agile I doubt that he needs a ladder. Laughing, he sways his body over the edge of the drop until his back is almost horizontal. This defies human physiology. Maybe he has feet that can grip like fists. Respecting my human limitations, I take a step back from the brink, then smile at myself because the body I am using here can do things the body I left in bed can't manage.
     Remembering that my regular body is in a bed in a snowy town in western New York, I recollect my encounter with the Lady who told me she would teach me the real I Ching. Am I inside one of the hexagrams? If so, which one? My guess would be the 20th hexagram, which is called Guan, or Watching. Wind over the Earth.
-
The wind blows over the earth.
This is the image of Watching.
In this way ancient kings
looked across the four directions
observed the people
and gave them instruction.
-
     I hang over the precipice, studying the ladder. Despite its great height, it has only six rungs. Now I recall that ascending the Watchtower whose shape is concealed and revealed in the lines of the 20th hexagram is a journey of six steps. Few can manage these six steps in the course of a lifetime. On the first step, we see as an un-wise child; we notice only what relates to our cravings and fears. On the second step. we see like a nervous homebody peering out through a slit in a wall; protected by structure, we see little beyond it. On the third step, we look in a mirror and begin to observe ourselves, and what we have done and not done on our life journeys. On the fourth step, like lookouts, we can see across the land and provide news and warnings for our communities. On the fifth step, we return to self-observation, looking harder and deeper at our true selves. If we make it to the sixth and final step, we can see the whole. We can look at ourselves from a witness perspective. We no longer look from the ego, but from the greater Self.
     Again, I see the changing eyes, with the turning codes, and sense the movement of the dragon coils in their mobius dance. I have read thirty books on I Ching, and made my own guide to the hexagrams, giving personal names to each one and noting incidents that followed a particular reading on a certain date. I once taught a course titled "I Ching for Dreamers" in which we drummed the patterns of broken and unbroken lines, inspired by the most ancient, fragmentary text of the Book of Changes, found in a lacquer hamper in the tomb of a lord at Mawangdui as recently as 1973, where it is written that "the sages drummed the movements of all under Heaven" into the oracle. 
    However, I consider myself a rank amateur in this area, and would not trust my ability to read the Changes until I have internalized the 64 hexagrams and the changing lines without the need to look anything up. In Chinese tradition such mastery requires either a lifetime of training, memorizing and practice, or the direct inspiration of past masters, or both.
    The shining eyes give me Heaven under Earth, the desirable placement since this means the primal pair are coming together. Maybe I can aspire to know a little more of the Changes in the years that remain to me. Maybe, with the Yellow Lady and the Blue Lord as gatekeepers, I will lead others on a journey through the cycles, to climb the ladder of six steps to the Watchtower.


AFTERTALE

Oracles have their own life, and can call you even when you are not calling on them. I took up the study of I Ching because Einstein met me at a Chinese gate and instructed me that the Chinese oracle is the best working model of the universe that is generally accessible. Months later, on a snowy night in a motel in western New York, the oracle came alive for me. Jung knew something of this. He wrote that “One could even define the I Ching oracle as an experiential dream, just as one can define a dream as an experiment of a four-dimensional nature.” (Letter to the Rev. W.P. Witcutt, August 24, 1960). The Mawangdui text quoted here follows the translation by  Edward L. Shaughnessy, I Ching, The Classic of Changes: The First English Translation of the Newly Discovered Second-Century B.C. Mawangdui Texts (New York: Ballantine, 1997) 203.





Adapted from Mysterious Realities: A Dream Traveler's Tales from the Imaginal Realm by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Image at the top: ancient painting of Nuwa and Fuxi

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Punch a Hole in the World: Listening to Children's Dreams


Young children know how to go to Magic Kingdoms without paying for tickets, because they are at home in the imagination and live close to their dreams. When she was very young, my daughter Sophie had adventures in a special place called Teddy Bear Land, where she met a special friend. I loved hearing about these travels, and encouraged her to make drawings and spin further stories from them.

One day Sophie sat down beside me and asked with great earnestness, "Daddy, would you like to know how I get to Teddy Bear Land?"

 "I'd love to."

 "Sometimes I take the Sun Gate. Sometimes I take the Moon Gate. Sometimes I take the Tree Gate. Sometimes I take the Rainbow Bridge. And sometimes I just punch a hole in the world."

I've never heard anyone say it better. To live the larger life. we need to punch a hole in the world. This is what dreaming - sleeping or waking or hyper-awake - is really all about. On our roads to adulthood, we sometimes forget how to do it, just as older children in the Chronicles of Narnia cease to be able to see Aslan as they approach adolescence and become more and more burdened by the reality definitions of the grown-ups around them.

When we listen, truly listen, to very young children, we start to remember that the distance between us and the Magic Kingdoms is no wider than the edge of a sleep mask. True listening requires us to pay attention; to attend, in its root meaning in the Latin, is to stretch ourselves, which requires us to expand our vocabulary of understanding. We owe nothing less to the young children in our lives. When we do this, we discover that they can be our very best teachers on how to dream and what dreaming can be.

Here's what we need to know about listening to children's dreams and supporting their imaginations:

1. Listen up! When a child wants to tell a dream, make room for that. Make some daily space for dream sharing. Listen to the stories and cherish them for their own sake.

2. Invite good dreams Pick the right bedtime reading or better still, tell stories. Help your child to weave a web of good dream intentions for the night - for example, by asking "What would you most like to do tonight?" Encourage children to sleep with a favorite stuffed animal (whether teddy bear or T-Rex) and make this a dream guardian.

3. Provide immediate help with the scary stuff If your child was scared by something in the night, recognize you are the ally the child needs right now. Do something right away to move out that negative energy. Get a frightened child to spit it out (literally) or draw a picture of what scared her and tear it up as violently as possible.

4. Ask good questions. When the child has told her story, ask good questions. Ask about feelings, about the color of the sky, and about exactly what T-Rex was doing. See if there's something about the future. Say what you would think about this if this were your dream. Always come up with something fun or helpful to do with this story. Open up the crayon box, call grandma, etc.

5. Help the child to keep a dream journal. Get this started as early as possible. With a very young child, you can help with the words while they do the pictures. When your child reaches the point where she closes the journal and says, "This is my secret book and you can't read it any more" do not peek. Give her privacy, and let her choose when she'll let you look in that magic book.

6. Provide tools for creative expression. Encourage the child to bring dreams come alive through art, dance, theater and games, and to draw or paint dreams. Gather friends and family for dream-inspired games and performance. Puppets and stuffed animals can be great for acting out dreams. This can also be dress-up time. It's such a release for kids to portray mom or dad or other grown-ups in their lives - be ready to be shocked!

7. Help construct effective action plans Dreams can show us things that require further action - for example, to avoid an unhappy future event that was previewed in the dream, or to put something right in a family situation. A child will probably need adult help with such things, starting with your help. may require adult help, starting with yours. This will eventually require you to learn more about dreaming and dreamwork (hint: you can start with my books).

 8. Let your own inner child out to play As you listen to children's dreams, let the wonderful child dreamer inside you come out and join in the play.

9. Keep it fun! When you get the hang of this, you'll find it's about the best home entertainment you can enjoy.

Notice two things that are not on this list, but would be at the very top of a list of what NOT to do with your children's dreams:
1. NEVER say to a child "It's only a dream". Children know that dreams are for real and that scary stuff that comes out in dreams needs to be resolved, not dismissed.
2. DON'T INTERPRET a child's dreams.You are not the expert here; the child is.





Text adapted from Active Dreaming by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.


Art: Book Tree by a 10-year-old Romanian boy




Friday, October 26, 2018

Woolly Yarn from the Bardo of Air Travel


"I have a story for you," says the lady next to me on the plane, before I have asked for one. I am on the first leg of a trip to California and open, as always, to receiving stories from strangers.
   "Last Saturday was my birthday," he tells me. "I was at the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival, where I volunteer to sell fleeces. A lady at a food stand had ordered her coffee and bagels and had her card ready to pay when she was told they only take cash. She was going to leave her breakfast when I told her I was going to pay for it. It's my birthday and I'll do what I want to."
    "What a lovely thing to do."
    "There's a follow up. Later I was admiring an extraordinary necklace a woman was wearing. I told her it might be the most beautiful necklace I had ever seen. She told me she is a jewelry designer and made it herself. I asked what she would charge if it were for sale. She whipped off the necklace and handed it to me. No charge, she said. Just like that."
     "Wow. You are a poster girl for the old adage that what goes around comes around. "

I am hopeful about any trip that starts with a fresh story from a previous stranger in the Bardo of Air Travel. This was an especially lovely one. I was not disappointed by how the day unfolded.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mysterious Realities: An Interview about Many Worlds, parallel lives, kairomancy and dream travel



What is dream travel? How do we become dream travelers?

In ancient and indigenous understanding, dreaming is traveling. In big dreams, we make visits and receive visitations. We travel across time and space, and to places where the dead are alive, and to alternate realities. Once we connect with our dreams and wake up to what is going on, we can begin to develop the practice of lucid dream travel.
    An ideal departure lounge is the half-dream state of what sleep researchers call hypnagogia. In the middle of the night, or the early morning, you find yourself drifting between sleep and awake. If you can train yourself to maintain a state of relaxed attention in this in-between state, you will notice that you may be receiving a whole menu of possibilities for lucid dream travel.
    This twilight state is a good place to become aware of your ability to travel beyond the body. I often find myself lifting out of the body quite effortlessly in this state, without bumps and grinds. Sometimes, when tired, I simply rest half in, half out, of my physical form. Sometimes I float up to the ceiling. Quite often I go flying, like a bird, over my sleeping city and to places far away.
    We are talking now about one of the royal roads to lucid dreaming. The other is the practice I call dream reentry. You recall a dream that has some energy for you and you choose to go back into that space and dream the dream onward. You may want to reenter a dream to clarify what was going on, or talk to your deceased grandmother, to explore a parallel world or scout out a possible future. You may need to reenter a dream because there are terrors to be overcome, or a mystery to be explored, or simply because you were having fun and adventure and would like to have more.

Your story “Dreamtakers” paints a terrifying picture of what it means to lose our dreams. What can we do to recover?

In contemporary society, dream drought is a widespread affliction, almost a pandemic. This is deadly serious, because night dreams are an essential corrective to the delusions of the day. They hold up a mirror to our everyday actions and attitudes and put us in touch with deeper sources of knowing than the everyday mind. If you lose your dreams, you may lose our inner compass. If our dreams are long gone, it may be because we have lost the part of us that is the dreamer.
    Traditional Iroquois say bluntly that if we have lost our dreams, it is because we have lost a vital part of our soul. This may have happened early in life through what shamans call soul loss, when our magical child went away because the world seemed to cold and cruel. Helping the dream-bereft to recover their dreams may amount to bringing lost souls back to the lives and bodies where they belong. In my story “Dreamtakers”, I describe a shamanic journey to help return dream souls to people who have lost them. This is something I teach and practice.
     There are several ways we can seek to break a dream drought any night we want to give this a try. We can set a juicy intention for the night and be ready to record whatever is with us whenever we wake up. We can resolve to be kind to fragments. The wispiest trace of a dream can be exciting to play with, and as you play with it you may find you are pulling back more of the previously forgotten dream. 
    If you don’t remember a dream when you first wake up, laze in bed for a few minutes and see if something comes back. Wiggle around in the bed. Sometimes returning to the body posture we were in earlier in the night helps to bring back what we were dreaming when our bodies were arranged that way.
     If you still don’t have a dream, write something down anyway: whatever is in your awareness,
including feelings and physical sensations. You are catching the residue of a dream even if the dream itself is gone. As you do this, you are saying to the source of your dreams, “I’m listening. Talk to me.”
     You may find that, though your dreams have flown, you have a sense of clarity and direction that is the legacy of the night. We solve problems in our sleep even when we don’t remember the problem-solving process that went on in our dreaming minds.
      And remember that you don’t need to go to sleep in order to dream. The incidents of everyday life will speak to us like dream symbols if we are willing to pay attention. Keep a lookout for the first unusual or striking thing that enters your field of perception in the course of the day and ask whether there could be a message there. When we make it our game to pay attention to coincidence and symbolic pop-ups in everyday life, we oil the dream gates so they let more through from the night.

Many of your adventures turn on amazing coincidences and chance encounters. You invented the word “kairomancer” to describe someone who is poised to recognize and act in special moments of synchronicity. That sounds very intriguing. How do we become kairomancers?

Synchronicity is when the universe gets personal. Though the word “synchronicity” is a modern invention — Jung made it up because he noticed that people have a hard time talking about coincidence — the phenomenon has been recognized, and highly valued, from the most ancient times. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus maintained that the deepest order in our experienced universe is the effect of “a child playing with game pieces” in another reality. As the game pieces fall, we notice the reverberations, in the play of coincidence.
      When we pay attention, we find that we are given signs by the world around us every day. Like a street sign, a synchronistic event may seem to say Stop or Go, Dead End or Fast Lane.  Beyond these signs, we find ourselves moving in a field of symbolic resonance which not only reflects back our inner themes and preoccupations, but provides confirmation or course correction. A symbol is more than a sign: it brings together what we know with what we do not yet know.
    Through the weaving of synchronicity, we are brought awake and alive to a hidden order of events, to the understory of our world and our lives.
You do not need to travel far to encounter powers of the deeper world or hear oracles speak. You are at the center of the multidimensional universe right now. The extraordinary lies in plain sight, in the midst of the ordinary, if only you pay attention. The doors to the Otherworld open from wherever you are, and the traffic moves both ways. 
    I invented the word kairomancer to describe someone who is ready to recognize and act in special moments of synchronicity when time works differently and opportunity strikes. It incorporates the name of Kairos, a Greek god who personifies a kind of time that is altogether different from tedious tick-tock time: that special moment of jump time when more is possible than you imagined before.
    To become a kairomancer, you need to check your attitude as you walk the roads of this world, because your attitude goes ahead of you, generating events around the next corner. You need to develop your personal science of shivers. You want to take dreams more literally and the events of waking life more symbolically. You need to take care of your poetic health, reading what rhymes in a day, or a season. You want to expect the unexpected, to make friends with surprises, and never miss that special moment when the universe gives you an invisible wink or handshake.

Many of your stories involve awakening to the possibility that we are living parallel lives in parallel worlds. Tell us how we can explore this for ourselves.

In physics, the hypothesis of Many Interactive Worlds suggests that we live, right now, in one of countless parallel universes that impact each other. Part of the secret logic of our lives may be that our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless parallel selves. The gifts and failings of these alternate selves may influence us, when our paths converge, in ways that we generally fail to recognize.  
    We are connected in a multidimensional drama and this may generate events in both our lives that will appear as “chance” to those who cannot find the trans-temporal pattern. The hidden hand suggested by synchronistic events may be that of another personality within our multidimensional family, reaching to us from what we normally perceive as past or future, or from a parallel or other dimension.
    When you experience déjà vu and feel certain you have been in a certain situation before, you may be close on the heels of a parallel self who got there before you. Serial dreams, in which you find yourself returning to people and places not on your current event track may also be glimpses of a continuous life your parallel self is leading in a parallel world, in which you made different choices. Physicist Brian Greene speculates that we all have "endless doppelgangers" leading parallel lives in parallel universes.
    When you wake up to the fact that serial dreams may be glimpses of continuous lives you are living in other realities, you may be ready for the good stuff: to journey as a lucid dream traveler into a parallel life to dismiss old regrets and claim gifts and knowledge from your selves who made different choices. This can effect a quantum shift in your present life.

Your stories are full of encounters with the dead, in visitations and especially in visits to places where they are living on the Other Side. Is contact with the deceased really as natural and easy as you suggest?

I am often among the dead in my dreams. They are always alive. Sometimes I remember that they died on an event track we shared, other times I don't. Sometimes they come calling. My father has come many times since his death with helpful advisories for me and the family. Sometimes my dream travels take me to new environments on the Other Side were the dead are enjoying new lives. They show me around and I learn first-hand in this way about lifestyle and real estate options available after death.
     Contact with the deceased, especially in dreams, isn’t weird or unusual or even truly supernatural. It comes about for three reasons: the dead are still with us, or they come visiting, or we travel to the realms where they are now living. The number one reason why people who are not accustomed to sharing dreams decide to tell one is that they have dreamed of a close friend or family member who died but is very much alive in the dream.
    The immense body of data on near-death experiences (NDEs) is scientific evidence of the survival of consciousness after the physical body has closed down. When you become a conscious dream traveler, you confirm through your own experience that awareness is not confined to the body and brain, and therefore is able to survive death. You are ready to learn that healing and forgiveness are always available across the apparent barrier of death, and to develop your personal geography of the afterlife
    One of the most interesting things I have learned is that the living may be called upon to play guides and counselors for the dead. “The Silent Lovers” is a just-so story – shocking to me as it unfolded – about how I was called to play advocate for a dead man, otherwise a stranger, going through his life review on the Other Side. Yeats was right when he said, with poetic clarity, that the living have the ability to assist the imaginations of the dead.  

What is the Imaginal Realm?

There is a world between time and eternity with structures created by thought that outlast anything on Earth. This is the Imaginal Realm. You may enter it through the gate of dreams, or the gate of death, or on nights when you drop your body like a bathrobe. Here you will find schools and palaces, places of adventure, healing and initiation.
    The Imaginal Realm is a fundamental ground of knowledge and experience. In this realm human imagination meets intelligences from higher realities, and they co-construct places of healing, instruction and initiation. Here ideas and powers beyond the grasp of the ordinary human mind – call them archetypes, tutelary spirits, gods or daimons – take on guises humans can begin to perceive and understand.
   The great medieval Sufi philosopher Suhrawardi insisted both on the objective reality of the Imaginal Realm and that the way to grasp it is the way of experience: “pilgrims of the spirit succeed in contemplating this world and they find there every object of their desire.”  To know the realm of true imagination, you must go there yourself.  Happily for you – once you wake up to what is going on – the doors may open to you any night in dreams, or in the fertile place between sleep and awake, or in a special moment of synchronicity when the universe gets personal and you know, through your shivers, that greater powers are in play.


Mysterious Realities: A Dream Traveler's Tales from the Imaginal Realm by Robert Moss is published by New World Library.
 .


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

In praise of Bear medicine


The Bear is the great medicine animal of North America and in Native tradition, the most powerful healers are those called by the Bear in dreams and visions. In ancient Europe, the Bear was the king of beasts, and there was a sacred kinship between bears and humans that we can trace from Paleolithic times.
     From caves, in southern France we have evidence that the oldest religious ceremonies conducted by humans may have centered on honoring the Bear.  In ancient Attica, girls danced in bearskins in honor of the goddess Artemis as the She-Bear, in rites of passage into womanhood. In northern Europe, warriors put on bear shirts in order to claim the fighting power of the bear. For the Lakota, who have many ways of approaching the sacred, the most powerful healers are said to be members of the Bear Dreamers Society, called to practice by the Bear spirit in direct encounters in dreams and visions.
    Most of us no longer live close to the bear in nature, but bears still appear in our dreams and we can find our way, as shamanic journeyers, to realms of the Medicine Bear and the Great Earth Mother. I was called to follow the path of a dream teacher and healer when I was required to reenter dreams in which a giant bear frightened me by coming inside my house.. When I found the courage to face the Bear and step into its embrace, I discovered that the Bear and I are joined at the heart by something like a thick umbilical, pumping life energy back and forth between us. The Bear told me it would show me what I need to heal and what others need to be healed. This promise has been fulfilled, again and again. I don’t hesitate to say that I owe my life to Bear medicine.
     In that early, primal encounter I thought of the Bear as male. Three decades later, I identify with Great Mother Bear, as nurturer and fierce protector. When I have been ill, Bear has often come spontaneously to doctor me, sometimes by opening my body and cleansing and renewing organs before replacing them. I have seen Great Mother Bear help people, again and again, to reclaim parts of heir vital soul energy that went missing in childhood when the world seemed to cold or too cruel. Our inner child often seems to trust the Bear more than the adult self.
     I wrote this poem to honor and celebrate Bear medicine:




Great Mother Bear

You feel her under your feet.
You enter her realm through the roots
of the tree that knows you.
She is endlessly nurturing, fertile and abundant.

She will nurse you and heal you as she cares for her cubs.
You can call on her blessing at any time,
once you have found the courage to enter her embrace.


She calms the mad warrior in men.
She strips the berserkers of old skins.
Serve her, and you join the army of the Great Mother
whose purpose is to protect, not destroy.
She will defend you, even from yourself. 


When you call back your lost children,
she will hold you together in her vast embrace
 until you are one, and whole.
When you reach across the jagged rifts in your family
to forgive and make well, you feel her rolling pleasure.


Art: "Dancing with the Bear" by Robert Moss

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dreaming with the deceased


I am often among the dead in my dreams. They are always alive. Sometimes I remember that they died on an event track we shared, other times I don't. Sometimes they come calling. My father has come many times since his death with helpful advisories for me and the family. 
    Sometimes my dream travels take me to new environments on the Other Side were the dead are enjoying new lives. They show me around and I learn first-hand in this way about lifestyle and real estate options available after death. Then there are the dream encounters in which I am with someone who died on the event track we shared in in this world but seems to be alive in a physical body on an alternate event track, in a parallel world.
     Contact with the deceased, especially in dreams, isn’t weird or unusual or even truly supernatural. It comes about for three reasons: the dead are still with us, or they come visiting, or we travel to the realms where they are now living. The number one reason why people who are not accustomed to sharing dreams decide to tell one is that they have dreamed of a close friend or family member who died but is very much alive in the dream.
    One of the most interesting things I have learned is that the living may be called upon to play guides and counselors for the dead. “The Silent Lovers”, in my new book Mysterious Realities, is a just-so story – shocking to me as it unfolded – about how I was called to play advocate for a dead man, otherwise a stranger, going through his life review on the Other Side. I can confirm that Yeats was absolutely right when he said, with poetic clarity, that the living have the ability to assist the imaginations of the dead.


Image by Claire Perkins

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Under the Wings of Pegasus

Synchronicity guided the publication of my new book, Mysterious Realities. Being open and available to the play of signs and symbols around us - and ready to act in the special moments when the universe gets personal - not only brings a champagne fizz of magic into everyday life but delivers practical results.
At the close of one of my workshops in Berkeley – in which synchronicity was a major theme – I walked with my coordinator to a restaurant. I talked about three things along the way. The first was Pegasus, the winged horse, born from the blood of nightmare, capable of opening the springs of the Muses – the surge of creative inspiration – under his stamping hooves. Second, I spoke of how I had many folders of “almost complete stories” that probably wanted to be put in the hands of the right publisher. I had given the collection a title long ago, "Mysterious Realities". They were essentially just-so stories, tales from my adventures as a dreamer in many worlds. I remarked that a theme in many of these tales is that we may be living more than one life right now.
“While I am walking with you to dinner,” I said to Jane by way of example, “there is another Robert who is not going out to dinner, and another who never started leading dream workshops, and another who never moved to the United States, and who knows how many Roberts who died before now.”
I started talking about the Many Worlds theory in physics, which holds that we are living in one of numberless parallel universe that can interact with each other. I stopped in mid-sentence when I saw a winged horse, white and magnificent, on the other side of the street. It was on the sign of a used bookstore, Pegasus Books.
“Excuse me,” I said to Jane, “I just have to run in there.”


I darted across the street, dodging cars. Fortunately Berkeley drivers are generally kind to pedestrians.
From the threshold of Pegasus Books, at eye level, I saw my surname in upper case letters on the spine of a book. MOSS. The title of the book was Almost Complete Poems. I assumed the author was Howard Moss but no, it was Stanley Moss. His poetry, previously unknown to me, was of some interest but it was his title that seized me. I had been talking about almost complete stories and here was an author with my surname who had actually published a collection of almost complete poems.
I looked at the book next to Almost Complete Poems. The title was I Must Be Living Twice.


Pegasus, almost complete literary productions, living parallel lives. Three times makes the charm. I sensed laughter behind the curtain of the world, as if those who make these things come together were snickering, “Do you think he gets it? Is three times enough?”
The dinner was mediocre, but it was the story on the way to dinner that counted. I had a lunch date the next day with my favorite editor, Georgia Hughes, who had published, most recently, my book Sidewalk Oracles, which is all about playing with signs and synchronicity in everyday life. I had a fresh story on this theme, and I was eager to share it with her.
Synchronicity had brought Georgia and me together a decade before, and the friendship we developed had turned me, for the first time in my life, into a constant author, producing book after book on dreaming and imagination which Georgia received with great warmth and edited with great professional insight. She is highly intuitive, and may well have picked up the fact that the creator inside me was pushing for me to deliver something different from my previous books in several genres.
We met at an Italian restaurant in Walnut Creek, exchanged hugs, and ordered wine. Before the wine was delivered – and before I had a chance to tell my tale of Pegasus and the almost complete stories – Georgia looked me in the eye and said, “You know what book of yours I’d like to publish next? A collection of your stories, all these amazing adventures in travel that you have in this world and the worlds where you go in your dreams.”
“That’s exactly what I want to do next.”
I told her about my bookstore experience.
By the time our wine arrived, we had reached an agreement. We clinked glasses to celebrate the future publication of Mysterious Realities, with a nod to the shelf elves who were surely at play in that bookstore, under the wings of Pegasus.
-

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Ambush

Down there in the root cellar of my life,
in the breathing dark, is a beast
that would terrify others but I know
to be a vital ally capable of taking on
the world. Not this time.
When I part the darkness
I find the sweetest of dinosaurs,
a confirmed vegetarian, 
willing to bend his neck to the children 
who are riding him with happy smiles. 
The kids are taking over my energy map.
I am amazed but not altogether surprised
because they have been setting ambushes for many years.

I go up one level and am on more adult ground
in the juicy space of my sex creative center.
There is the lovely insatiable leopard
admiring her beauty in the flowing stream.
The tiger comes through the lush undergrowth to join her.
I start to suspect that though we are old allies
 he has come this time in the children's cause.
The bright young girl has a tiger who lives in a striped sofa
 when he wants to stay unobserved
 and likes to sing songs in French.
Wait. There is more going on. A magnificent salmon
rears from the waters arching his gleaming back.
I revel in his potency but shed no tears
when a no less magnificent eagle drops from the skies,
talons outstretched, and claims him for dinner. 

I go higher, to the place of the animal powers in my solar plexus.
A great savannah opens before me, teeming with wild things.
The lion comes at once, tolerating no confusion
about who is boss in this energy domain.
But he comes to direct me to further discoveries.
I must know the elephants. I watch them move
with the precision of ballet dancers under their heavy majesty.
The leader carries a howdah in his back.
Under its bright fluttering canopy are children again,
delighted by their high adventure. They wave to me
and I know I must join with them to receive an incalculable gift.
It is the most magical of all tools for writing.
I see it now, Ganesha’s tusk, in the hand of the green-coated
elephant king the children invite to their tea parties.
I can’t miss the message: if you want the strength of a deity to write
a big story, you must bring the kids with you and in you. 


- Barcelona, October 13, 2018

A band of adventurous children,  among whom I recognize several of my Boy Roberts. have been pursuing me for many years. wanting me to write books for them and with them. While I was drumming for a group shamanic journey through the energy centers in my Barcelona training, they succeeded in taking over my own energy map. I think they have made their case. We'll see what stories we bring through together.

Journal drawing by RM

Monday, October 1, 2018

A brush with the Brushwood Boy

I woke early from a dream in which I needed to make up a story for eager children in an ancient or indigenous village. I told them a story of a chief's son who went through various adventures and ordeals of initiation and came back with a new name: "Brushy".
    I was excited about my storymaking assignment and curious about the name that Dream Robert gave the boy. The primary meaning of "brushy" in English is related to "brushwood", a pile of dry sticks often used for kindling.   This reminded me of a story by Rudyard Kipling titled "The Brushwood Boy" that made a big impression when I first read it many years ago. It is about two people who meet in dreams over many years before they meet in the physical world.
    Georgie Cottar dreamed stories in bed at an early age, “A child of six was telling himself stories as he lay in bed. It was a new power, and he kept it a secret… his tales faded gradually into dreamland, where adventures were so many that he could not recall the half of them. They all began in the same way, or, as Georgie explained to the shadows of the night-light, there was ‘the same starting-off place’—a pile of brushwood stacked somewhere near a beach.”    His dream adventures were interrupted by school (“ten years in a public school is not good for dreaming”). Hiss dreaming revived when he was deployed in India as a subaltern.
He would find himself sliding into dreamland by the same road—a road that ran along a beach near a pile of brushwood. To the right lay the sea, sometimes at full tide, sometimes withdrawn to the very horizon; but he knew it for the same sea. By that road he would travel over a swell of rising ground covered with short, withered grass, into valleys of wonder and unreason. Beyond the ridge, which was crowned with some sort of streetlamp, anything was possible…First, shadowy under closing eyelids, would come the outline of the brushwood-pile; next the white sand of the beach road, almost overhanging the black, changeful sea; then the turn inland and uphill to the single light.

In one of the dreams that “filled him with an incommunicable delight” “he found a small clockwork steamer (he had noticed it many nights before) lying by the sea-road, and stepped into it, whereupon it moved with surpassing swiftness over an absolutely level sea” and he is carried into trans-global adventures with the girl who reminds him of a picture in an illustrated edition of Alice in Wonderland. Sometimes she is his rescuer. "Sometimes he was trapped in mines of vast depth hollowed out of the heart of the world, where men in torment chanted echoing songs; and he heard this person coming along through the galleries, and everything was made safe and delightful. They met again in low-roofed Indian railway carriages that halted in a garden surrounded by gilt and green railings."
   A stable geography develops, always anchored by the brushwood pile, a starting point, rendezvous and place of safety. There is the white beach and the black ocean, the thirty-mile ride along the coast that goes to tropical uplands, the Indian railway that goes to a garden where people sit at tables covered by roses, the purple down. Sometimes there is Policeman Day who walks him away from the City of Sleep. 

So thoroughly had he come to know the place of his dreams that even waking he accepted it as a real country, and made a rough sketch of it. He kept his own counsel, of course; but the permanence of the land puzzled him. His ordinary dreams were as formless and as fleeting as any healthy dreams could be, but once at the brushwood-pile he moved within known limits and could see where he was going. There were months at a time when nothing notable crossed his sleep. Then the dreams would come in a batch of five or six, and next morning the map that he kept in his writing-case would be written up to date, for Georgie was a most methodical person. 

The Brushwood Boy and his dream girl grow up together, in the dreamlands. She becomes a woman and kisses him under the lamp while he is sailing back to England on furlough.
    At the family’s country estate his mother tells him she has invited neighbors – the invalid Mrs Lacy and her daughter, Miriam, described as good with music (a composer) and horses – to dinner.
    He comes back from trout fishing very late and through the window he hears the girl singing her own composition, naming places from his dreams:

Over the edge of the purple down,
    Where the single lamplight gleams,
Know ye the road to the Merciful Town
    That is hard by the Sea of Dreams—

He tells himself it can’t be the girl from his dreams. But at breakfast he sees her full face He gapes, knowing her and seeing that she does not know him. Later when they go riding they share more of the geography of their dreams and realize that since childhood they have been dreaming not only of each other but with each other.

"What does it all mean? Why should you and I of the millions of people in the world have this - this thing between us? What does it mean? "

There’s a happy ending. He tells her her how they kissed under the lamp above the brushwood pile, and the dream spills fully into the world. We understand that they will marry.

I am sure that Kipling drew heavily on his own dreams in composing "The Brushwood Boy". In a letter to Richard Gilder dated September 25,1895, Kipling wrote that “I’ve drawn the map of the dream-country several times.” He added, “It grieves me much that you call my yarn a romance for what I prided myself on most was my grey and unflinching realism.” He implied he was writing about real experiences in an alternate reality, a concept that is quite familiar to other dream travelers.
    His story may encourage us to think more about shared and social dreaming - when we find ourselves together with other dreamers - and about mapping the geography of our own adventures in the dreamlands.

Top photo: Kipling in the library of the shingled house near Brattleboro, Vermont where he wrote The Brushwood Boy – and The Jungle Book .He had married a Vermonter and loved his four years in Vermont (1892-1896) writing in a room where the snow came up to his windowsill all winter. 

Bottom photo: One of Kipling's maps of the geography of The Brushwood Boy.