Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Goddess Lives in the Dreaming Land

Lithuania is one of my soul countries and a place where I feel close to the Goddess. It is a country where the old Goddess tradition has survived unbroken from before the arrival of the Indo-European gods and is the country of the great scholar of the goddess, Marija Gimbutas. I have led six depth workshops in Lithuania over 15 years and had extraordinary encounters with the Goddess tradition here, as described in three of my books The Dreamer's Book of the DeadDreaming the Soul Back Home and The Boy Who Died and Came Back.

On my first visit, I led a shamanic group journey to the ancestors through the gateway of an ancient oak, and I found myself in direct contact with a priestess of Žemyna, the great Earth goddess of Lithuania. The žyne (priestess) belonged to an ancient time. She instructed me in methods of healing and visioning involving the use of amber, and gave me symbols and words in old Lithuanian – a language previously unknown to me – that others in the workshop helped me translate.

On a later visit,the priestess came to me in dreams suffused with amber light. She told me “You belong to the People of Amber. Your duty – and that of those you train here – is to build bridges and wooden pathways so people can get across the mud safely. You must remember to call on the power of Light Amber to heal and to guide, and on the power of Dark Amber to remove the darkness.”
A woman healer in my workshops- a woodwitch from Samogitia (bear country in the west of Lithuania) - was inspired by my dreams and visions to invite me to her summer home. She taught me how to use amber and beeswax for healing, spiritual cleansing and soul keeping. She taught me spells in Old Lithuanian handed down in the maternal line for countless generations. She said these had never previously been shared with a man or a non-Lithuanian. I found, yet again, that the right dream can be a visa.
I discovered first-hand that despite the long nightmare of invasion, occupation and persecution, the Goddess lives in the dreaming land, as the fire lives in wood. In my visits to the Baltic, I have been reminded again and again that one of the gifts of dreaming is that it opens authentic connections to the ancestors, offering us the chance to heal the wounds of the past and to perform cultural soul retrieval.

Image: Žemaitiu alka, a shrine to the old gods and goddesses at Palanga, Lithuania.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Releasing ancestral karma

She stands before the fire, straight and tall as a flame, her fierce green eyes blazing. Irene stoops for a moment to make an offering to the fire, a pinch of tobacco, a sprig of sage. Then she carefully unfolds the first piece of paper. She reads aloud the following statement she has written: “I give to the fire all deep, encrusted feelings of powerlessness that drove my ancestors, our beloved men, into alcohol dependency.”
She consigns the paper to the fire, and the fire takes it hungrily.
She unfolds the second message and reads it in a clear, ringing voice so that even the people on the edge of the circle can hear her without leaning in. “I give to the fire the great sadness of my ancestors, the abandoned men, who never knew love and felt less than honored by their women, mothers and sisters, daughters and lovers.”
The flames leap higher as the second paper crackles and burns.
She bends to blow into the fire, adding soul, which travels on the breath, to her deep intentions.
When she stands again and turns to face the circle, there is a moment’s hush before we applaud her and celebrate what she has done, because we are amazed. In a fire ceremony like this, people bring many things they wish to release: old habits, fear or guilt, addiction or attachment. She has just sought to release a multigenerational history of stunted lives and toxic relations. Instead of casting out the men who blighted the lives of their women, she has asked to free them, back through the bloodlines, back through time immemorial. She has asked for deep ancestral healing, and she has asked as a woman of power with the right of the priestess to forgive and to intercede.
When we sat quietly together later that night, I asked where she had found those remarkable words. “Kate and Caroline,” she told me. “They were very clear. They had written everything out. They wanted to make sure I got it exactly right.”
She explained that Kate was her Irish great aunt, Caroline her German grandmother. Both were long deceased, but both had come through to her as spirit helpers in the soul recovery work we had been doing with the group. They had helped her recover a desperately sad and lonely six-year-old part of herself, who had been left in a foster home and cruelly separated from the father she loved, without explanation, and then beaten for mentioning him. Though she remembered Caroline as aloof and rigid, this grandmother now appeared as warm and loving, urgently concerned, wanting to assist in healing all the family, across the generations.
We were both filled with gratitude for the help that becomes available when we make ourselves available for soul work. Guided by strong women of her family reaching to her from the other side of death, Irene sought to free the generations of men in her bloodlines who were trapped in powerlessness, sorrow, and addiction. I believe she made a difference that night, bringing light into many lives across time and across dimensions. Her example may inspire us to seek similar healing for our ancestors.

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

Photo of RM leading a ritual of fire releasing by Jeanne Campbell

I will lead a new depth workshop on ANCESTRAL HEALING AND DREAM ARCHAEOLOGY in Barcelona over the weekend of April 14-15

Friday, March 16, 2018

Reclaiming our essential stories

We live by stories. Our first and best teachers, in our lives and in the evolution of our kind, instruct and inspire by telling stories. Story is our shortest route to the meaning of things, and our easiest way to remember and carry the meaning we discover.  A good story lives inside and outside time, and gives us keys to a world of truth beyond the world of fact.
     Consciously or unconsciously, our lives are directed by stories. If we are not aware that we are living a story, it's likely we are stuck inside a narrow and constricted one, a story bound tight around us by other people's definitions and expectations. When we reach, consciously, for a bigger life story, we put ourselves in touch with tremendous sources of healing, creativity and courage. 
     How do we find the bigger story in our lives? The answer is easier than we might think. The First People of my native Australia say that the big stories are hunting the right people to tell them.. All we need do is put ourselves in places where we can be found.
    J.M.G. Clézio dedicated his Nobel prize for literature  to a storyteller of the rainforest of Darien, a woman who roamed from house to house spinning magic words in return for a meal or a drink. In his acceptance speech, Le Clézio painted a vivid word-picture of Elvira: “I quickly realized that she was a great artist, in the best sense of the term. The timbre of her voice, the rhythm of her hands tapping against her chest, against her heavy necklaces of silver coins, and above all the air of possession which illuminated her face and her gaze, a sort of measured, rhythmic trance, exerted a power over all those who were present. To the simple framework of her myths...she added her own story, her life of wandering, her loves, the betrayals and suffering, the intense joy of carnal love, the sting of jealousy, her fear of growing old, of dying. She was poetry in action, ancient theatre, and the most contemporary of novels all at the same time.”
   Is it too late to hope that we can bring back storytelling in our modern urban consumer society? I think not. As we practice telling our dreams and the stories of our life experiences simply and vividly we become bards and griots and storytellers without labor. The first step in the Lightning Dreamwork game requires us to encourage whoever is ready to tell a dream (or, for that matter, any life experience) to tell it simply and clearly, without background or analysis or interruption or reading from notes. We give undivided attention for the duration of the telling, and require the teller not to miss the opportunity to claim her audience.

“The world can’t end,” writes Michael Meade in The World Behind the World, “unless it runs out of stories. For this world is made of stories, each tale a part of an eternal drama being told from beginning to end over and over again. As long as all the stories don’t come to an end the world will continue.” 
   Scheherezade tells stories so she may live through another night, and tells them so well she turns a monstrous tyrant into a decent human being.
   In Healing Fictions, James Hillman explains how effective therapy is an exercise in storytelling. “Psychoanalysis is a work of imaginative tellings in the realm of poesis, which means simply “making”, and which I take to mean the making of imagination into words. Our work more specifically belongs to the rhetoric of poesis, by which I mean the persuasive power of imagining in words, an artfulness in in speaking and hearing, writing and reading.” 
    True shamans have known this for millennia.The shamans who interest me are one who heal bodies and souls, and our experience of the world, by telling better stories about them
   The Irish storyteller beautifully evoked by Ruth Sawyer in The Way of the Storyteller  tells stories so “each may find something for which his soul had cried out.” Or “to keep the heart warm in a country far from home.”
   You must know your story and tell your story and have your story received. This is a central teaching of the Sefer Yetzirah, a seminal text of Kabbalah.
    Learn to do that, and you can survive the worst nightmares of history, and bring heart and healing to others.

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

Art: "Grandfather Tells a Story" by Albert Anker (1884)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When the body refuses the soul's assignment

Edward Plunkett, known in society and to his vast reading audience as Lord Dunsany, was one of the masters of fantasy, producing more than sixty books in his lifetime at high speed, his publishers generally content to print the first drafts that he sent them exactly as they came in. He was an Anglo-Irish gentleman of the old school, a hunter, the chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland.But while he rode his fields, his mind was forever beyond the fields we know, in Elfland or in a Carcassonne of the imaginal realm, where a witch queen, terrible in her beauty

swims in a marble bath through whose deeps a river tumbles, or lies all morning on the edge of it to dry slowly in the sun, and watches the heaving river trouble the deeps of the bath. It flows through the caverns of earth for further than she knows and coming to light in the witch’s bath goes down through the earth again to its own peculiar sea….When there is blood in the bath she knows there is war in the mountains.

Somewhere between here and Elfland, Lord Dunsany came by an unhappy body engaged in a painful dialogue with its soul. “The Unhappy Body” (his title for the tale) is tired; all it wants is to sleep. The soul will not allow it to rest because it has an urgent assignment for this body. Everywhere, the soul explains,

People’s dreams are wandering afield, they pass the seas and mountains of faery, threading the intricate passes led by their souls; they come to golden temples a-ring with a thousand bells; they pass up steep streets lit by paper lanterns, where the doors are green and small; they know their way to witches’ chambers and castles of enchantment; they know the spell that brings them to the causeway along the ivory mountains – on one side looking downward they behold the fields of their youth and on the other lie the radiant plains of the future
But people forget their dreams. From their dream awakenings, they go back to sleep, forgetting the realms of magic and enchantment, and the causeway from which they can see into past and future. The soul’s urgent assignment for the body is: “Arise and write down what the people dream.”
     The body asks what reward it will receive for doing this. When told there is no reward, the body declares, “Then I shall sleep.” But the soul rouses the body with a song, and wearily the body takes up a pen and starts recording what the soul wants it to preserve: a vision of dreamers rising above the roar and distraction of the city to a shimmering mountain where they board the “galleons of dreams” and sail through the skies in their chosen directions. The soul goes on telling the dreams of all these travelers. But the body is tired and mutinous; it cries out for sleep.
    “You shall have centuries of sleep,” the soul tells it, “but you must not sleep, for I have seen deep meadows with purple flowers flaming tall and strange above the brilliant grass, and herds of pure while unicorns…I will sing that song to you, and you shall write it down.”
    The body protests, Give me one night’s rest.
    Go on and rest, the soul at last responds, in disgust. “I am tired of you. I am off.”
    The soul flies away. The undertakers come and lay the body in the earth. The wraiths of the dead come at midnight to congratulate the body on its happy estate. “Now I can rest,” says the body.
    Ursula LeGuin once said that Lord Dunsany is the worst temptation for the novice writer of fantasy, and it must be conceded that his prose can be overly rich and faery-infused. Yet A Dreamer’s Tales, where you will find these two stories, is a book for the ages, and reminds us that in fantasy we can sometimes the truth of our condition more clearly than in the roar of the city.

Quotations from Lord Dunsany, A Dreamer’s Tales [1910] reprint: Holicong, PA: Wildside Press, 2002

Illustration: "Romance Comes Down Out of Hilly Woodland" by Sidney Sime for A Dreamer's Tales

The Bardo of Air Travel

I lead group shamanic journeys to an airport that won't be found on any ordinary map. They leave their bags, check in, go through security and board a plane that will take them to a destination where the dead are alive. Instructions for this crossing to the Other Side are in my book The Dreamer's Book of the Dead. During my air travels over the weekend, I sometimes felt that I had stepped into my own dream scenario, or that it had spilled into my world - or that, at least, I had been cast in a new episode of The Twilight Zone.


The Shakespeare Seat in the Twilight Zone

There is a woman in front of me at the airline desk where I am waiting to check in for my flight to Atlanta on Friday morning. The airline agent who is checking her in says to me, “You two are traveling together, right?”
    I tell her No but she doesn’t believe me. “He’s kidding,” she says to the woman passenger. “You two are together, yes?”
    “Sorry," I amplify. "This lady seems very nice but we don’t know each other.”
    “I was sure you were together.”
     “Are you looking for a career as a matchmaker? My wife won’t like it.”
     “Neither will my husband,” smiles the woman passenger.
     A male airline agent intervenes to take my bag and issue my boarding pass. "You got the Shakespeare seat," he congratulates me. I don’t get it until he says my seat number out loud. "2B."  
     I catch up to the stranger the other agent wanted to make my wife. She has a broad, open face and sensible shoes. She looks ready for a genteel country walk, or to give a tutorial.
    "I need to know who you are," I tell her. "The airline agent was so keen to play matchmaker that there must be some connection."
     "I'm a vertebrate paleontologist," the stranger tells me brightly. She helps me out by adding, "I study dinosaurs."
   "So we have something in common. I tell my psychology friends that I am a Paleolithic psychologist."
    I check my cellphone and a cartoon pops up on my Facebook news feed. It shows two dinosaurs in bed. One of them is saying, “I had a nightmare that I was small, frail, covered in feathers and fluttering through the air.”
    I show this to the Vertebrate Paleontologist and we exchange our website information. I distantly recall an episode of the old TV series "The Twilight Zone" in which the people on an airplane are thrown back across time. As I recall, the episode ends with a glimpse of a grazing sauropod dinosaur, and no resolution. You never know when you might need expert advice on a dinosaur situation.

In the line for the security check, I notice a key on the floor, just the one key. I wave it at a TSA agent, “Someone dropped a key.”
    The young man in front of me whips around and gapes. “That’s mine.” When I hand it to him he says, “That’s the key to my girlfriend’s apartment. You just saved my life, man.”
     The airport public address system is busy this morning, with announcements about other things left at the security check. In ascending order of strangeness: a jacket, a belt, a cell phone, a driver's license, a passport, a purple cane and one shoe. How do you leave behind one shoe? This only records the visible things missing from people in my airport Bardo today.

After I take my Shakespeare seat on the plane, the airline agent who tried to marry me to the Vertebrate Paleontologist rushes down the aisle and spills two pens in my lap. Certainly I can write two things at once.
   While they de-ice the plane, I ponder what it means to me today to be in what the airline guy called the Shakespeare seat. These lines from Polonius in Hamlet return to me:

This above all - to thine own self be true:
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

2B or not 2B, sure. How about 2C? When I look across the aisle from my Shakespeare seat, the fellow in 2C is doing amazing things with a salad in a clear round plastic container he has brought on board. He spins it between his palms like a wheel, he shakes it, he spins it a different way. I get that he's trying to get the dressing nicely mixed with the leaves but this goes on for ten minutes. It seems this is his version of spinning a Tibetan prayer wheel or doing asanas.
    I wait until we are landing before asking him what was in the salad dressing. "I've never seen Salad Yoga before." He tells me it's a Thai dressing from Panera, an "intense" experience. Evidently.

Settled into my seat, I am rereading the Bhagavad Gita while sipping a gin and tonic. I am distracted by what is going on in the row in front of me. Sarah Sanders is sitting in the window seat. A hyena-like younger man is chatting her up. Their conversation gets louder as they toss back free drinks. Now they're talking about online dating and what lies it's okay to tell intimate partners before and after dumping said partners.
   Am I dreaming? No. But I realize this is not the Sarah of the briefing room but a lookalike of her possible future self, ten years older and thirty pounds heavier.
    As we get ready to disembark, I say to her, "Thanks for the entertainment."
    She blushes to the roots of her hair. "You mean you could hear us?"
   "Every word. But I decided not to record you this time."


Night Flight from Atlanta

I look behind me and there she is again, the mountainous woman in the Zulu hat, coming down the ramp. I step on board the plane and the flight attendant takes my coat, as he did before.
    "Sorry to bother you again," says the man who needs me to stand up so he can sit in the window seat. He fires up his computer and starts watching the same old movie he was watching before.
    The man who is going to sit behind me fumbles with stuff in the overhead compartment and I brace myself in case he lets something fall on my shoulder as he did before. But he catches it this time, pats my shoulder and says, "Good thing I knew what was going to happen."
    "We've met before," the man across the aisle says to the woman next to him. She says, "In your dreams."
    These are vignettes from the Bardo of my air travel during my trip home from Atlanta on Monday night. The first plane broke. They found us another plane, unbroken but otherwise identical, where we took the same seats we had before. It was deja vu all over again. People were blurry, taking off after midnight, 2 1/2 hours late. Hard not to feel we were in a Twilight Zone episode in which things go on repeating until you wake up to the fact that you are dreaming, or dead, or both.

Photo: William Shattner in the 1963 Twilight Zone episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

Friday, March 9, 2018

Causing a Bear, Scandinavian style

In my courses on healing through Active Dreaming and imagination, we call on Great Mother Bear as healer and protector. 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. The Bear was a form of the Goddess and Athenian maidens danced in bearskins for Artemis, as She Bear, in the festival of Brauronia. Here, drawing on the Icelandic sagas, we recollect something of the warrior history of the Bear, and a shaman warrior of the North who could do much more than put on a bearskin and go wild.

His name is Bödvar Bjarki, which means "Warlike Little-Bear". He has a typical Scandinavian genealogy: his father Bjorn was a were-bear (as a result of a witch's curse); his mother's name, Bera, means "She-Bear". He casts a long shadow through the sagas of the North. He is the perfect warrior, stronger and fiercer than the berserkers ("bear-shirts") who are the champions and bodyguards of kings but must yield pride of place to Bodvar at the royal tables when he makes his entrance, often by knocking the door or wall down.
    While berserkers whip themselves into the fighting frenzy of an angry bear, Bodvar causes a bear. While his father was condemned by sorcery to turn into a bear of uncontrollable appetites in in the daytime, Bodvar is free from the curse of the were-bear; he chooses when to project a second body, in the shape of a warrior bear. This recalls the practice of Northern sorcerers who project fylgjur, "fetches" or shadow selves. The fylgjur are sometimes phantom figures, used to spy on adversaries or confuse their minds, but Bodvar's bear is entirely physical to those who meet it, and invincible among men in battle.   
     Bodvar is the hero of the last chapters of the Icelandic Saga of Hrólf Kraki. He is now the champion of King 
Hrólf of Denmark. who is leading a tiny force into battle against a vastly larger army that has invaded his lands. As the battle rages, a great bear advances in front of Hrólf's men. Always standing next to the king, the bear kills more of the enemy with a single sweep of its paw than five of the king's best warriors can despatch with swords and axes. The bear seems impervious to blows and missiles. It crushes men and horses with its weight, and rips enemies apart with its teeth.
     Against the odds, things are going well for King Hrólf until Hjalti - a boon companion of Bodvar - notices that his friend is missing from the field. He protests to the king that Bodvar should not be looking to his own safety in the midst of the fray. King Hrólf counsels that "Bodvar will be where he serves us best."
     Not grasping what this means, Hjalti runs back to the king's chamber, where he finds Bodvar apparently "sitting idle", or perhaps asleep. [1] Bodvar is in a state of shamanic trance. Not understanding, Hjalti seeks to rouse him, protesting that it is a disgrace that he is not fighting. "You should be using the strength of your arms, which are as strong as a bear's." In his outrage, Hjalti threatens to burn down the house, and Bodvar in it, unless his friend goes into battle.-
     With a deep sigh, Bodvar rises from his place and complies. After affirming that he is a stranger to fear, and fully aware of his obligations to the king, Bodvar cautions his friend that"By disturbing me here, you have not been as helpful to the king as you intended. The outcome of the battle was almost decided. You have acted out of ignorance...Now events will run their course, and nothing we can do will change the outcome. I can now offer the king far less help than before you woke me." [2]
     When Bodvar goes into battle, the giant bear disappears. Now King 
Hrólf's army is exposed to psychic as well as physical attack. When the bear was present, the dark arts of the invader's witchy wife Skuld were useless. Now she is able to project her own monstrous animal, a hideous boar that shoots arrows from its bristles. Bodvar Bjarki fights furiously, mowing down enemy warriors like grass. Yet their numbers do not diminish, and he begins to suspect that ghost warriors are fighting among the living. The champions fall, and after them King Hrolf. Because the bear shaman was torn from his trance when the bear was most needed.

[1] In a paraphrase of the famous (but otherwise lost) poem "Bjarkamal" appended by Saxo Grammaticus to his Gesta Danorum. Bodvar Bjarki (here called "Biarco") is in a deep "sleep" from which Hjalti has great difficulty in rousing him.
[2] Quotations are loosely based on Jesse L. Byock's translation of The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (New York and London: Penguin Books, 1998).

Graphic: Bodvar's fetch on the field of battle in the shape of a bear, in "Hrolf Kraki's Last Stand" by Louis M. Moe (d.1945).

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A breathing towards the First World

A short poem by Rilke addresses the theme of what becomes of the dreams of childhood and the child self that is the dreamer. It is titled "Imaginary Career" (Imaginärer Lebenslauf) .Stephen Mitchell's translation goes as follows:

At first a childhood, limitless and free
of any goals. Ah sweet unconsciousness.
Then sudden terror, schoolrooms, slavery.
the plunge into temptation and deep loss.

Defiance. The child bent becomes the bender,
inflicts on others what he once went through.
Loved, feared, rescuer, wrestler, victor,
he takes his vengeance, blow by blow.

And now in vast, cold, empty space, alone.
Yet hidden deep within the grown-up heart
a longing for the first world, the ancient one...

Then from his place of ambush, God leapt out.

Mitchell's version does not quite satisfy me. Lust, which he translates as unconsciousness, means so much more. Edward Snow does better, in his version in the bilingual edition of the Uncollected Poems, when he calls it "unthinking joy".

Snow also has a better and more literal translation of a key phrase in the third stanza, about what is hidden in the grown-up heart (literally, the "constructed form", der errichteten Gestalt):

    a breathing towards the First, the Ancient

 The German original for this line is 

    ein Atemholen nach dem Ersten, Alten...

And here we have the sense of soul, of the possibility of anamnesis, of remembering what the soul knows. And of bringing home the magical child who remembers his home star. A "breathing towards", ein Atemholen...

As I linger on these words, I feel someone deep in me, a boy with freckles and a wooden sword, a love of tigers and brown rivers, breathing towards a blue star. 

Art: "Boy with a Wooden Sword" by Edmund Rode

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

You walk in many worlds

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.
   It is possible that every choice we make spins off a parallel event track with different outcomes. This is becoming the mainstream view of physics, as in Many Worlds theory. In this multidimensional universe, in our multidimensional self, we are connected to many counterpart personalities living in other times, other probable realities, other dimensions. According to the choices that we make and the dramas that we live, we sometimes come closer to them, and sometimes, in a sense, we step through a portal, we step through an opening between the worlds, we step through an interdimensional membrane, and our issues and our lives and our dramas and our gifts and our karma are joined.
   Then there is our relationship to other personalities, living in the past or future, whose dramas are connected to our own and may all be going on simultaneously. I think of a
Mongolian warrior shaman who appeared in a recent dream, standing at a threshold. Behind him is a vast plain—a plain of battle, a plain of struggle. He is wearing a long, heavy coat of skins and furs. His headdress is a helmet with furs. He has bronze shaman’s mirrors and metal charms all over him. I look at this man in my dream, standing in the threshold between his reality and mine. I know that he is living at least eight centuries ago, yet we are connected now. We know each other. 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.
    Such connections may be triggered by travel. You go to a new place, and you encounter the spirits of that land — including personalities that may be part of your own multidimensional story.

    Part of the secret logic of our lives is that we are all
connected to counterpart personalities living in other times and other probable universes. Their gifts and challenges can become part of our current stories, not only through linear karma but through the interaction now across time and dimensions. The dramas of past, future or parallel personalities can affect us now. We can help or hinder each other.
     In the model of understanding I have developed, this family of counterpart souls is joined on a higher level by sort of hub personality, an “oversoul”, a higher self within a hierarchy of higher selves going up and up. The choices that you make, the moves that you make, can attract or repel other parts of your larger self.
    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.

Text adapted from Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Drawing of Mongol warrior shaman by Robert Moss

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Unfinished Portrait of the Higher Self

Picture this: You are walking a spiraling path up a hill, past immense guardian figures, including a stone lion with a great carnelian in its back, flashing red fire. You enter a domed building that proves to be larger inside than outside. 
     Across the space you see an artist, working on an immense canvas that is set up against the opposite wall. At the bottom of the picture the artist has painted a human figure surrounded by bands of various colors, representing the body inside its multiple energy envelopes.
    This figure seems as small as a candle flame in proportion to the shapes above it, which represent the Higher Self, as encountered on successive levels. The finished area of the canvas is minute in comparison to the vast space of the canvas above, which goes up and up. It is impossible to see where it the picture in progress ends,
 if it ends.

I walked that spiral path, to the artist at work on a portrait of the Higher Self, in a dream.  It had terrific energy, plenty to share, and I felt that others might like to walk that path and meet their own version of the artist. In a workshop, I spread my dream over and around the group as a tent of vision within which we could visualize and explore successive levels of soul and Self.
      I invited the members of that circle to take the spiraling path, meet their own artist and inspect their own pictures of the Higher Self. While drumming for the group, I journeyed back inside my dream. I felt the great lion stirring, and the heat of the carnelian flashing fire. I reentered the domed building. I was surprised that it seemed to have acquired many windows that I did not recall from the original dream, in which the light streamed down from above, from a high skylight or a roof that was open to sun and moon. 

     When I looked more closely, I saw that the new windows were actually pictures that were being created by the artist selves of other dream travelers in our expedition. Some of these works glowed in translucent colors like stained glass.
     After I sounded the recall, and allowed a little time for people to make notes and sketches, I was eager to hear travel reports. One traveler reported that when she reached the stone lion, she mounted the carnelian on its back, like a saddle, and rode in this way through the entrance to the domed building. She found herself entering a triune state of consciousness: she entered the painting-in-progress, while at the same time merging with the artist and also maintaining a witness perspective that kept her alert to the activity of the other dreamers. 

    As the artist, she said, "I was painting on a swing hung from an unknown realm that swooped higher as I painted up. Abstract shapes in different colors brushed across the canvas and became pathways, river ways, forests that I could enter. Images from dreams, gods, goddesses, and infinite symbols exploded onto the panorama in full color, vibrant and alive. Inside the world I created my soul song. The experience was fast, expansive and filled with infinite joy."
    Another traveler reported: "The painter I encounter is at first a male Renaissance type but then the form disappears and it feels like me. I view a powerful, immense white light, looking something like a wide funnel or pillar, coming down from way high above where the ceiling should have been. Then it is as if I have become immense and the pillar of light is beaming through the top of my head permeating and surrounding me. 

     "There seems to be an entity invisible to me at the source of this light; it seems like a female entity. I am given to understand that this light-force holds the form of me in place, both as a "physical" image and energetically. Then I become aware that there are a number such as me attached to her and we are each living out possibilities that She dreams. They are as if attached by streams of light. They return into her when their lives are done."
     A third traveler reported: “I saw the smaller flame of the personality. Then I simply went into the painting. I found myself standing on one of the lines of a grid or net. The lines go up and down. I began to walk the grid. I realized that at the intersection of the lines there were other lines or pathways that went ‘in’. I could go up or down and then in. Those ‘in’ lines were paths along different timelines. I walked the times of Jeanne d'Arc. Another line took me to the times of Jesus of Nazareth. One pathway leads to the dawn of earth. There are so many lines and possibilities.
    "I saw people I do not know. The one I most want to know more about is not in the world we know. She turned toward me. She looked serene. She seemed to be a wise woman, a healer. She wears a beautiful garment, long and flowing. This robe or dress is lightweight, silky, a tapestry of blues and silvery colors, of a fabric unknown to earth. We communicate or make contact in a language I don't know when I'm back here. That contact felt more real than real. I think she can help me. I do not know if I can help her. She was not as surprised to see me as I was to see her."

     In my own journey, I was surprised that the painter looked like a figure from an earlier time, until part of my awareness fused with his. I studied the bands of color he had painted around the figure like a candle flame and was prompted by an inner voice to name the subtle energy bodies he had depicted in the manner of the Greek initiates: the sarkon pneumatikon, the sarkon astroeides, the sarkon augoeides. Above and beyond these, my artist had evoked a celestial body that has to be earned or re-acquired.
    High above, he had begun to depict a flaming sun-like disk. A shaft of light from this center reached down to the crown center of the figure at the bottom of the painting. Similar rays, or shafts of light, extended to other personalities embodied in different times and places. I understood that this represented a family of selves, joined by a common center - a self on a higher level - who have the same origin and whose fortunes are intimately connected even if they are never aware of each other in ordinary consciousness. They can have contact with each other through their subtle bodies, which are quite mobile, but the key to their deeper identity and life purpose is to be found at their common hub, which in turn is linked to a center on a yet higher level.

    The reports other dream travelers brought back from this group journey, were no less extraordinary. Traveling with them, while drumming for the circle, I was privileged to see them creating their own portraits of the Higher Self. Our shared experience confirmed some of the central insights of Active Dreaming. A dream is a place. If you have been there once, you can go there again. You can invite others to come with you. When you travel into the dream worlds, you don't have to go alone. And you can learn to maintain consciousness in two or more realities simultaneously.

Photo of lion in the Louvre by Robert Moss

Saturday, March 3, 2018

On keeping a dream journal

I have kept a dream journal for many decades and I know it is the most important book  that I will ever read. I say this as a voracious reader with a personal library of nearly 14,000 books.
    My journal is my personal encyclopedia of symbols. It is my user's manual for living a fruitful life and choosing wisely between alternate possible futures that my traveling self visits every night. It is my scientific data log for incidents of precognition, telepathy and clairsentience, and for transpersonal experiences in which, for example, two or more people are engaged in the same dream activities. It is my atlas of the multiverse, my magical diary and the core of my personal mythology. It commemorates the nightly screening of gods, archetypes and daimones.
     It is starter dough for creative expression. It is the first and sometimes the best draft of pages that will appear in my books or be shared as stories in my lectures and classes. It is a book of clues, full of curious words and intriguing details that will send me off on research assignments.   

    Dreaming is not fundamentally about what happens during sleep; it is about waking up to a deeper order of reality. So my journal not only contains reports from sleep dreams, but also from shamanic journeys and special moments of synchronicity when we become vividly aware that ordinary life may be a waking dream. I take particular care to record the impressions that come in the liminal space between sleep and awake. The most important spiritual dialogues of my life have unfolded from contact with inner guides who communicate in this space, and some of my most thrilling adventures in lucid dream travel have taken off from here. 
     My journal reveals continuous lives that I seem to be leading in parallel worlds where I made different life choices. It shows me threads of connection between my present dramas and those of counterpart personalities living in other places and times, and helps me to pull gently on the web, to bind or release. My journal holds up a magic mirror to my attitudes and actions, offering course correction and restoring my inner compassIt helps me to track my progress in the practice of continuity of consciousness. This involves retaining witness perspective and awareness of choice in two or more realities simultaneously, as you cycle through states of sleep, dream, sleep-wake, waking dream and more.
     I may write my first reports of the day with a pencil or a fountain pen, in a beautiful bound journal with archival quality paper that invites me to sketch and to color as well. As soon as possible, however, I'll transcribe my reports into a digital data base. I date and title each report, so I have an instant chronological index. Saving my documents in Word gives me a search engine so if I want to track a theme or a name over all the years - "black dog", "Mircea Eliade", "HG" [hypnagogic] - all I have to do is type it in the box and all the relevant entries are there before me.
     No doubt everything is recorded somewhere - more likely in nonlocal mind than the basement of the personal subconscious - but it is essential (and can be wonderful creative fun) to develop searchable logs of this kind over time. They become the most important scientific data (in the sense of state-specific science, adequate to the field under investigation) in this area that we will ever attain.
     How much to record? My feelings will guide me on the urgency and importance of a dream - and indeed of whatever enter my field of perception - and how much detail I should include in my journal reports. On most days, I don't try record everything I remember from my dreams, just as I don't write down what I ate for breakfast or how many times my dog relieved himself in the park. A map as big as a country is no longer a map, as in the Borges story.
     There are limits to how much even the most dedicated dream journal-keeper can bring back from a night in the multiverse. On some days, my inner guidance is to write down whatever I remember as soon as possible, and let further writing and pattern recognition emerge as I do that. This works really well when I start by drawing something from the dream. On other days, my guidance is to forego journaling altogether in favor of simply writing with the energy and elements my dreams and hypnagogic experiences have given me.
    Some of the things that happen in Dreamland and stay in Dreamland have enduring effects even when we are amnesiac about what happened. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Your soul throws an image ahead of you

When the soul wishes to experience something she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own image.
The words are  from the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart. He knew about the laws of the larger reality through direct experience. The master is telling us something vitally important about our relationship with time and about the secret of manifestation.
He draws us to think about the confluence between what medieval theologians called the Aevum – the realm between time and eternity – and events in our world. It is in the Aevum that the incidents and circumstances of our physical lives are generated, through the agency of imagination, that great faculty of soul. On most days, most of us, sequestered from soul and its knowing, are merely receivers of the results of choices made in this realm that is hidden from the ordinary mind.
Who knew where we stood?
In an aevum maybe, where time’s conferred
with the beginning we gave it,
but with no end in sight.
These beckoning lines are from a poem titled “Aevum” by M.E.Caballero-Robb. They strengthen the enjoinder to walk through a day – why not today? – with Meister Eckhart’s thought. That means asking, of whatever develops during the day, What image am I now entering? And, Where and how was this image created?
Energized by these reflections, we can go a long step further; we can seek to be present, as conscious co-creators, in the place where soul makes its choices on what we – as its vehicles – will experience in the world.
If this sounds like mysticism, it is mysticism of a very practical order. We are talking about how worlds are made, and re-made.

Image: Meister Eckhart portal, Erfurt church