Monday, January 24, 2022

Claim the gift of nightmares

Dreams are not on our case; they are on our side. This is one of my personal mantras about dreams and (yes) it applies even to nightmares.
     In my personal lexicon, a nightmare is not only a "bad" or scary dream; it is an interrupted or aborted dream. We are so frightened we run away. We wake ourselves up and try to slam the door on the dream experience, hoping that it is "only" a dream and can't get out and come after us.
     This is a very foolish strategy. The challenges we face in dreams are challenges that are being presented by life itself. If we learn to confront the underlying issues inside the dream space, we may be able to prevent those issues from blowing up in our regular lives. This may require us to take action in waking life, based on what we have learned in our dreams; but we will lack the essential data required for appropriate action if we have left the dream broken and abandoned, behind that door we are trying to keep shut.
      Common forms of the nightmare include:

The nameless terror.
The intruder.
Being pursued.
Being attacked by a wild animal.
Suffering an infestation of bugs, spiders or bats.
An unwanted encounter with the dead.
Being attacked by vampires, demons or zombies.
Being overwhelmed by a giant wave or a twister.
Being in a plane crash or an auto accident.

You probably have your own version. We have different lives, different characters, and different styles of dreaming (another reason why you will never find the full meaning of dreams by looking them up in a dream dictionary). My own least favorite dreams are ones in which I am stuck in a place where I don't want to be.
     Whatever the content of the dreams you flee from, the Rx is the same: try to learn to confront the challenge on the ground where it is presented. This requires firm intention and some degree of courage. You want to learn to go back inside a dream you fled and try to clarify and resolve what is going on there. You can accomplish this through the dream reentry technique explained in several of my books, including Conscious Dreaming and Active Dreaming.
      You want to give a name to that nameless dread. You want to know whether the plane crash was literal or symbolic and, either way, what you need to do to avoid it. You want to establish whether that dream intruder is someone who could literally break into your house, or a disease that could invade your body, or an aspect or yourself - maybe even your Greater Self - that is trying to get your attention. If you are scared of dream vampires, you want to think about who or what in your life may be draining your energy; if your dream house is infested, you need to know whether this reflects a condition in your body that may need medical attention.
       I think it's like this: our dream producers are constantly trying to alert us to things essential to our health, wholeness and well-being. When we ignore these messages, they resort to special effects to get our attention. If we persist in ignoring the messages, the problem the nightmares reflect is likely to show up in our regular lives. Nightmares are a gift in the way that a smoke detector going off in the middle of the night - when there is a real fire hazard - is a gift.
       Sometimes we find that what we are fleeing in dreams is an aspect of our own power. When I first started living in rural New York, I dreamed repeatedly of a giant bear that came into my bedroom. He did not menace me, but he was so much bigger than me that he scared me. Finally, I told myself (as I would now counsel anyone) that I needed to go back inside those dreams, confront the bear, and discover why he was in my space. When I did that, the bear caught me up in his great embrace and showed me that we were joined at the heart, reassuring me that when I needed healing for myself or others, he would be there. I later learned that the bear is the great medicine animal of North America, and he has kept his promise.
       I have worked with several people challenged by cancer who fled from sharks in their dreams. When they agreed to swim in those dream water through conscious dream reentry, they were able to claim the shark as an ally in healing. The shark, an impeccable killing machine that rarely gets cancer, is indeed an extraordinary ally in healing cancer. But to claim that kind of power, we are first required to brave up.
       In summary: the best remedy for nightmares is to summon the courage and the necessary guidance and protection to go back in, face the source of the fear on its own ground, and stay with the experience until you achieve resolution. If reentry is no longer an option (because the dream is mostly gone) do things that help you to spit out (literally) and shake off (literally) the negative legacy, ground yourself with the good Earth - and make it your intention not to succumb to dread next time. What we most fear is often what we most need to face,

Art: "Shark Woman" by Aniela Sobieski.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

How Do You want Your Multiple Dreams? Split Screen, Nested, Quantum Leap?

"Many Dream Screens" by RM

I am asked, Can I be in two dreams at the same time? My instant response is, “Absolutely! You can be in two dreams or multiple dreams simultaneously, and be actor and observer at the same time..”

This may happen every night. However, even the most ardent and prolific dream recallers may fail to notice what is going on. This is because, as we leave the dreamlands, our editing mind tends to shunt our memories onto a single track, giving us some kind of linear narrative. Stories are great, and so this can be a highly creative endeavor, giving us a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end, even if there are puzzling scene shifts and gaps.

It is fascinating to pause and look again at those sudden jumps and changes of scene and ask, Did I jump from one dream into another? And then, Is it possible that I was actually in two or more dreams at the same time?

By my experience and observation, just as consciousness is not confined to the body and brain, it is not restricted to one location in any reality. You can see this in ordinary life. On a warm afternoon, you are trying to follow a zoom conference while part of you has drifted off to a Caribbean island. You are not so far out there that you can’t cope when someone on the call speaks to you, and you may be aware, watching yourself, that your mind is in two places at once, or actually three, since that observing self comes into play as well.

In dreams, whether during sleep or in the fertile state of hypnagogia, we may find ourselves in several places at once, while looking over it all from a witness perspective. This can provide a marvelous opportunity -once we understand that dreaming can be horizontal meditation – to grow continuity of consciousness and our understanding of multidimensional reality.

Let’s look through the menu of multiple dreaming, starting with cases that may not be recognized and those in which experiences that may have happened simultaneously are pushed into a linear template.

How did I get here?

You are somewhere in a dream, and then you are somewhere quite different, with no recollection of how you got there. You open a door and you are on the ocean floor or out among the stars. You get in your car and suddenly you are on a mountain top with or without the car. You go to a party and then you are on a Viking longboat on a fjor where bearded Northmen are singing their way to Valhalla. These sudden jumps mauy lead you toask “How did I get here?” inside the dream – which may wake you up to the fact that you are in a dream reality. Or that question may come later,when you are trying to make sense of the content of the dream. Either way, these scene shifts may indicate that you moved from one dream (and even one world) to another.

 

False awakenings

You have probably had one, or many, of these. You think you have woken from a dream, only to find, when you wake back in your body on the bed later on, that you woke from one dream inside another dream. You may also recall nights when you fell asleep inside a dream and woke up in another dream. These are clear transitions between different levels of dreaming. Those who make a practice of keeping a dream journal often report, ruefully, that they were sure they had written down a dream only to find, on waking back in physical reality, that they did this in a dream state.

Nested dreams

As you grow your dream practice and your awareness of the multiplicity of dreams, you will notice more of these, and you will have a simple structure for catching and recording more of went on during the night. You now recognize that dreams may be nested inside each other like those Russian dolls. You go from an outer dream to an inner dream, and may return the same way. Sometimes the inner dreams seem to be deeper experiences. When I led a program on dreams for a local school district, a sixth grader told us, with absolute clarity as well as high excitement, how she traveled through seven dreams, nested inside each other, to a thrilling adventure in the time of the American Revolution, and then returned the same way.

Seesaw dreams

You are pulled back and forth between different dream situations. You may be participant or observer, or both, in each of these scenarios. You may have the impression that the action is playing simultaneously, in two or more locations. Seesaw dreams may evolve into split screen or side by side dreaming, and lead you to develop simultaneous perception. On the way to describing these modalities, let me share a personal experience of seesaw dreams that led to much more. I titled my journal report

MYSTERIES OF ULAN BATOR

RM journal drawing "Mongolian shaman warrior"


I am teaching at the Esalen Institute in California, and I have been given a bedroom overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As I lie in bed, I enjoy the sound of the breakers on the rocks below. I slip into a dream in which I am arriving at Ulan Bator in Mongolia. I have been invited to speak at a conference on shamanism, and members of a welcoming committee are thereto greet me with warm smiles.
     I rouse from the dream, delighting again in the sound of the waves. I briefly reflect that my dream could be a glimpse of a possible future, since I have received invitations to shamanic conferences in Mongolia in the past. My breathing follows the rhythms of the waves. I am back in the sea of dreams. I am in Mongolia again, but out in a wild landscape in an earlier era, the 1930s. I am involved in a grand Indiana Jones-style adventure involving a magical object the Nazis are seeking. 
     I stir from this dream, and again hear the waves. Was I watching a movie just then? No. I am pulled back into 1930s Mongolia by a force that seems as strong as a Pacific undertow. I am there,in a bitter winter, where mounted soldiers are drinking blood from their horse’s necks to survive. I am in a different body, and have dual consciousness within it, as Robert and as the man wh is trying to stop the Nazi tomb robbers. I know now what they are seeking. It is the spirit lance of Genghis Khan. People believe that this object has immense power, like a shamanic weapon of mass destruction. 
     While I am fully engaged in this drama,I am also aware of what is going on at the airport in a possible future. And I can hear, distinctly, the ocean sounds on a warm evening in California. The seesaw effect has changed. I am now aware of all three situations simultaneously, and have an overview of all of them. My focus on one situation will blur a little as I give full attention to one of the scenes, but my perception is never altogether lost.

 I spent the whole night like this, with pauses to record details.
     Clearly the night had given me research assignments. I had never heard if the spirit lance of Genghis Khan. I found Jack Weatherford’s biography of Genghis Khan, and there it was, on page one. I read that Genghis Khan is a godlike figure for some shamanic lineages in Mongolia and that his power was held to have been preserved in his spirit lance, adorned with black horsehair. The burial place of this magical object was kept secret in a forbidden zone in Inner Mongolia. In the 1930s, there was a race to find it. It vanished, reportedly after being carried to Ulan Bator by armed monks – it vanished.
      Oh yes. On my return home from California I received an invitation to a shamanic conference in Mongolia. I had too much going n in my calendar to accept, in ordinary realty. But since my dream self  went, maybe a parallel Robert did also.

 

Side by Side Dreams

You are involved with two dream situations and you can watch and participate in both at the same time. Sometimes this seems like you are walking on one side of a road or a wall, aware that a second self is on the other side. You have continuing perception of both, though your primary attention is likely to be with one or the other and may shift back and forth.

 

Split Screen Dreams

Now you and your dream producers are getting truly organized. You are looking a a divided screen, able two watch two dream movies simultaneously -or jump in and become the star of one or both productions. With practice, you may be able to use multiple screens. One night I found myself seated in front of multiple screens reminiscent of the array in a NASA control room. I observed six dreams playing on six screens, in each of which a dream Robert – perhaps also a parallel self -was doing different things. As remote observer, I could monitor the overall pattern and choose whether and when to engage more of my attention and energy. When I engaged as participant in a dream scenario, my senses came vividly alive. In the simultaneous dreams, I was mostly doing things that are ordinary for me like connecting with power animals or making a group journey on a magical school bus to an Imaginal City.

 

Superposition

While we seek to make linear narratives out of our dreams it is possible that many of them are organized by superposition. In quantum mechanics this means that "whenever the system is definitely in one state we can consider it as being partly in each of two or more states" (Paul Dirac). 

RM journal drawing, "Superposition"


For example: in the dream from which I made this sketch I was both (a) dressed in safari shirt and cream chinos and (b) looking for the same clothes on a bed while (a) I had the room to myself but (b) there were other people coming and going, leaving signs of much activity - a burning candle, a weird collection of Icelandic elves and trolls, both humorous and sorcerous, on a wide windowsill. The parallel states converged when a young man - one of a gay couple that had been using the room without intruding on me - showed me a strange cabinet carved with runes and magic sigils. Definitely some magic afoot.

I can’t resist including this note on a type of dream experience that involves dual awareness and may be triggered by a call from another time or place:

 

Quantum Leap Dreaming

You may remember the old television show "Quantum Leap", in which a scientist played by Scott Bakula cannons from one body to another in different situations because of an experiment in time travel gone awry. The episodes typically begin with him looking in a mirror and gasping "Oh boy" as he looks at a different face. He has to fix something in each situation in hopes of getting back to his own body in his own time - but is then shot into yet another person's situation. He has an erratic cigar-puffing guide, Al, who appears as a hologram visible only to him and consults an artificial intelligence, Ziggy, that gives the odds on the probable outcome of any move he makes in the bodies he occupies.
     I quite often experience a call to dream into another time or life situation, on some kind of assignment, as I was called to that adventure in 1930s Mongolia. The circumstances may be far less dramatic. In my story ”The Silent Lovers” in Mysterious Realities I seem to have been assigned to help a man who has just died and is lost and confused about his circumstances, back in the 1950s. I don't have Al or Ziggy available to help explain all these scenarios, though I do have another cigar-smoking humorist who turns up from time to time to remind me "It's about entertainment, kid."

 

Growing Simultaneous Perception and Comprehension

This, perhaps, becomes the heart of the practice I am sketching here. Dreaming is a great training ground. However, there are related fields of practice. Some of my own best workouts have come when leading and drumming for shamanic circles. I have to remain sufficiently in control of my physical body to sustain the steady beat of the drum. At the same time I must watch over the physical and psychic space. I will simultaneously make a shamanic journey of my own which may take me far away in the Lower, Upper or Middle Worlds. I may also look in on the journeys of individual members of the group to see whether they need support. And while all of this is going on, my witness self maintains an overview of the whole scene. On a really good day, this can feel like observing the scene from every point within the circumference of a sphere that encloses us all.

 

 

 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Dreaming, we are time travelers

 


We are time travelers in our dreams and one thing that goes on, probably every night, is that the dream self travels into the possible future, scouting out challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Depending on whether we remember such dream scouts, and can read the information correctly, and can then decide on appropriate action, we can move away from undesirable future events and towards ones that are more attractive.

J. W. Dunne (1875-1949) was a pioneer researcher in this field. He was in every way a product of Britain in the Edwardian era. He was not a mystic, a shaman or an occultist. He was a soldier, an aeronautical engineer, a fly fisherman and a crack shot. He came out of the Anglo-Irish military caste. He designed and built the first British military aircraft, and his prototype was soon adopted and manufactured in the United States.  In all things, he was a determined scientist and rationalist who looked for the logic in life’s anomalies. 

What distinguished him from other members of his upper class military type was that he dreamed and remembered and recorded his dreams. He noticed something remarkable. The incidents he dreamed were often located in the future rather than the past. And their content often involved things he knew nothing about before the dreams.

The data that shifted Dunne’s conception of reality – first when he was a sub-lieutenant of the Imperial Yeomanry, fighting the Boers, then when he was convalescing in Italy, and many times later – were dreams in which he saw, with remarkable accuracy, events that lay in the future. Sometimes his dreams anticipated news of world events that he had not yet received. His dreams gave him “news flashes” of an earthquake in Madagascar and of troop movements in Sudan long before the newspapers arrived with printed reports of those events.

Dunne started keeping a detailed journal of his dreams, and found that he dreamed of the future – on average – as often as the past. This led him to realize that in dreams, time works differently than in our usual experience of waking life. He drew friends and family members into an ongoing “Experiment with Time” and collected a great deal of data on “time displacement” as observed in dreams. 

He extended his experiments into waking precognition – for example, by trying to guess what he would find in a book he would later pick up at random in his club. He quickly concluded that precognition can be achieved in waking states as well as in dreams, but requires “a steadying of attention” and practice in controlling the imagination that are not easily attained. 

He published his findings in 1927  in a book titled An Experiment with Time that had wide influence in the interval between the two world wars; it was read and eagerly discussed by many leading scientists, writers and politicians. An expanded and revised edition was published in 1934. This is the version I use, and return to frequently.

Dunne evolved a complex mathematical model he called Serialism in his effort to account for the fact that time does not move in a linear fashion in dreams – and perhaps in the larger universe. In his last book,  Intrusions?,  published posthumously, he makes the bold statement that his precognitive dreams were "caused by something which I was going to experience in waking life later on”.

This is a most interesting theory: that future events not only cast a shadow before them, but cause us to dream of them – and perhaps, in dreaming, to help bring a certain event track into our physical experience, out of an immense range of alternative possible futures.

In Intrusions?, he  provided further details of the precognitive dreams recounted in An Experiment with Time that he suppressed in the earlier book, apparently for fear of not sounding scientific and respectable. The strongest  dream "intrusions" containing glimpses of the future were often accompanied by inner voices, sometimes a tremendous chorus of voices crying "Look, look, look!" He describes this phenomenon as the "rousing of attention".

Dunne moved towards the understanding that our experience of  linear time  is an illusion of the limited ordinary mind. Viewed from the fourth dimension,  past, present and future are in fact simultaneous and only experienced sequentially because of our mental perception of them. In the dream state the mind is not shackled in this way and is able to perceive events in the past and future with equal facility. The dream self, as "Observer 2" may be able to view past, present and future at the same time. Beyond this 4D view, however, there may be larger perspectives, of an "Observer 3" who watches the watcher observing the actor, and then "observers" on successively higher levels of reality and consciousness. 

When he expounds his Serialist theory, Dunne becomes very hard to follow and he fails to take us into one of the most interesting aspects of this inquiry: the possibility that we are consciously choosing, usually unwittingly. between parallel timelines leading to alternate futures.  His great contribution is the example of his pragmatic, fact-based approach to gathering and appraising examples of precognition from everyday (and every night) experience. 
Dunne's experiment provided impressive evidence that precognition or prevision is quite normal in dreams. Many people are unaware of it because they don't remember their dreams or don't look for correspondences with later events in ordinary life. However, there is nothing weird or special about the "temporal freedom" of the dreaming self. Know it or not - like it or not - we may all be time travelers in our dreams.
As J.B.Priestley summed it up in Man and Time Dunne's experiment demonstrated that the ability to transcend time in dreams "is not a privilege enjoyed by a few very strange and special people. It is part of our common human lot. We are not - even though we might prefer to be - the slaves of chronological time. We are, in this respect, more elaborate, more powerful, perhaps nobler creatures than we have lately taken ourselves to be."

Keep a dream journal over time and watch for subsequent physical events that may resemble a dream and you will soon confirm the reality of dream precognition. You are now on track to do the really interesting stuff. If you can see the future, you may be able to change it for the better. If you can't see whether you are going, you are likely to end up where you are headed.

Make some time in your life to record the time travels of your dreaming self and you may find, with practice, that you can do more. You can enter the perspective of the witness self who can see a whole timeline. You may even, on a high rooftop of the mind, enter the vista of a higher observer who sees the forking paths of the multiverse and the weave of connections between different lives, across time and space, in a spacious Now.

Photo: The young J.W.Dunne, designer of Britain's first military aircraft, as a pilot.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Nine Keys to Understanding Your Dreams




One of the effects of the covid 19 pandemic has been an explosion of public interest in dreams. People who never gave much thought to dreams and were rarely known to talk about them are now dreaming up a storm, and wanting to share their dreams with anyone who will listen.     The dreams reported cover a wide spectrum. While some seem to dramatize fear and anxiety, others offer entertainment, sanctuary and destination travel.  While many reported “bad dreams” and nightmares, others were grateful for  dreams of reassurance in which they found themselves in the presence of departed loved ones and mentors, angels and goddesses, talking animals and benign space aliens.
      Many people are cheered to rediscover that, dreaming, we can travel without leaving home and we can be as social as we like.
    "Why am I having this weird dream?" "What am I supposed to do with my dream that my dead grandma came to visit last night?" "What does it mean that I'm trying to get gas in my tank but it's squirting in the wrong places?"
     Lots of people are seeking guidance on how to understand their dreams and what to do with them. In my Active Dreaming approach we never presume to tell others what their dreams (or their lives) mean. However, we can offer feedback by offering what the dream might mean to us if it were our dream. You can learn about the fast, fun, four-step process for sharing dreams and life stories that I call the Lightning Dreamwork Game here. This goes far beyond analysis. It lead to action to embody the creative and healing energy of dreams in our everyday lives.
     To understand and harvest the gifts of your dreams at home, you want to keep a journal. This is your indispensable tool. You will date and title each entry.You will write a short simple narrative of each dream you record. You will add some of what you learn when you start using the Nine Keys to Your Dreams I first explained in my book Conscious Dreaming. Here they are, in summary:


1.  Trust Your Feelings

Always pay attention to how you feel when you wake from a dream. Your feelings and bodily sensations may be your best guide to the relative urgency and importance of a dream, and its positive or negative implications.

2.  First Associations

In keeping a dream journal, you will want to get into the habit of jotting down your first associations with the dreams you record. What floats to the surface of your consciousness in the first minutes after waking may come from layers of the dream that have eluded, or from deeper levels of dreaming 

3.  Reality Check

Compare what is going on in the dream to the rest of your life, including the life of your imagination. Always ask whether it is possible that any part of the dream will manifest, literally or symbolically, in physical reality. Though dreams are inner experiences, they often contain accurate information about external reality. In both subtle and unsubtle ways, dreams incorporate signals from the outside environments.

4.  Dream Reentry

Dreams are real experiences, and a fully remembered dream is its own interpretation. The meaning of a dream is inside the dream itself. By learning how to re-enter dreams, you will develop the ability to clarify messages about future events, resume contact with inner teachers, and resolve unfinished business. 


5.  Dialogue with Dream Characters

One of the best ways to work out what your dream characters are telling you is to ask them. You can do this through dream reentry or simply by sitting down with a pad and pen, imagining that the dream figure is in front of you, and opening a conversation.


6.  Tracking Your Dream Self

Who are you in your dreams? Are you the protagonist or simply an observer? Are you younger or older? Male or female? How does the situation and behavior of our dream self compare with that of your waking self? The character who appears in all of your dreams, even if only as a witness, is you. 

7.  Symbol Exploration

Although the dream source tries to communicate with us as clearly as possible, it must often speak in symbols in order to carry us beyond the limitations of the everyday mind.  Symbols take us from what we know to what we do not yet know. You'll be inspired to track your symbols far and wide, and may discover that your personal dreams embody timeless myths from many traditions. Always remember that the best encyclopedia of dream symbols is your own journal, kept over time.

8.  "What Part of Me?"

Dreams make us whole. They show us the many aspects of ourselves and help us to bring them under one roof. This is why it is often useful to ask "what part of me" different characters and elements in a dream might represent. However,this approach is rarely sufficient since dreams are transpersonal as well as personal. If you meet a tribal shaman in a dream, that may be an aspect of yourself and an actual shaman. If you meet your departed grandmother, that is more likely to be Granma trying to communicate than merely a part of you that is like her. 

9.  Dream Enactment

Dreams require action! You may take creative action, turning a dream into a story, a picture a collage.You may do some shamanic shopping, to get shoes or earrings your dream self was wearing or a sculpture of a deity you saw in a dream. You may use the dream as GPS on your life roads. You may accept dream assignments, seeking to translate that strange word or find that obscure place on a map of this world or another world. At the least, you can harvest a bumper sticker or action phrase from the dream that will help to move its energy into life. 






Text of the Nine Keys partially adapted from Conscious Dreaming by Robert Moss. Published by Three Rivers Press.


Art: Frantisek Kupka, "The Dream"

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Lost in Dreams


Not all my dreams are mythic adventures or exotic destination travel. I sometimes find myself in frustrating repetitive situations where my dream self is very far from a master of the universe. The other morning I came back travel worn and disappointed from a dream in which I was lost and confused and looking for help in all the wrong places.

Things started out well with a big book event in California in my honor. Then for some reason I got on a bus without checking where it was going and found myself in a remote location, hiring a sketchy character off the street to drive me back to my point of departure. I realized things were off when he led me down a scruffy path among trash bins where a weird black-and-white rabbit seemed to be snacking on the bloody remains of his twin, His car turned out to be a filthy rustbucket. At that point my dream self had the minimal good sense to pull out but was still far from where he wanted to go.
I recorded all the details. I will think about the rabbits and I will pay attention if any elements start to play out in ordinary reality, because dreams can show us the future quite literally and I have been known to do book events in California.
What weighed upon me after this dream was the reprise of a familiar, recurring dream situation I will call Lost and Clueless. The details change from dream to dream but the situation repeats every so often. When it does I make myself stay with the dream and ask: where in waking life am I Lost and Clueless in the sense that I am failing to use common sense, to adopt rational solutions and to seek help in appropriate quarters?
I think my dream producers gave me another B movie because they wanted to me to receive a message and do something about it. I would have liked to slam the door on my Lost in California dream. But I don't ever let myself dismiss an uncomfortable dream, let alone shrug "It's only a dream" because I know that every dream tells me more than I already know.
So I wrote my report as an email I sent to myself, my favorite way of first documenting a dream. Then I confronted the uncomfortable question: Where in waking life am I Lost and Clueless right now?
The answer came to me at once. For many weeks I had put off doing my part to complete a family Help Book. It is both a locator for documents and services and a set of directions any of us could use to get help in an emergency, the kind of guide that tells you who to call if the pipes freeze or the internet is down. The utility of this Help Book was made very clear in physical reality on the night of my Lost in California dream; we discovered that our internet was down for several hours.
Dreams require action. I postponed other plans and sat down at my desk and did my bit to complete the Help Book. This took less time than I had feared. With that job done, I felt grateful for the dream, no longer frustrated by it. No need now to hire a sketchy character with an odd bunny off the street. Though the link between the content of my dream and the waking situation might seem obscure to an outsider, I felt the inner logic and accepted the push.
We can be lost in dreams, as in waking life, in other ways that provide another kind of course correction. There is Lost and Clueless. There is also Lost and Found. The navigational law of serendipity is that we may need to get lost in order to find ourselves. The word "serendipity" is derived from Serendib, the magical kingdom in the story of Sindbad the sailor. Everyone wants to find the kingdom but it is not on any map. Sindbad finds it only after he falls off the charts, is shipwrecked, loses his shipmates and washes up on an unknown shore. To find a place you do not know you must go by a way you do not know. You can get lost in a dream, as in life, and find yourself in a place of wonder and delight. I'm looking forward to the next dream like that.

Drawing: "Lost in California" (c) Robert Moss

Monday, January 3, 2022

Trickster as Guide: In Praise of Marty

 


The other night, drifting in that liminal state between sleep and awake, I heard a car horn, honking several times. I was quite irritated. Who thought it was okay to beep for someone in a neighboring house in the middle of the night? Then I recollected that sounds from the street rarely reach my bedroom at the back of the house. And then realized that the sounds were coming from inside, not outside, my head.

I closed my eyes again and a vivid scene immediately appeared. The centerpiece was a blue Cadillac convertible, with the fins of a previous era but in shiny new condition. At the wheel was a fellow sporting a loud plaid suit and a felt hat, and brandishing a fat cigar.

I knew him, of course. I have met him in dreams and dreamlike states over quarter of a century. I know him as Marty, pronounced in a distinctive New York way, as Morty. I suppose it could be spelled that way but I have always recorded it as Marty and he has never corrected me, so that's how it will stay.

"Put on a good suit," Marty instructed me. He was inviting me out for a night on the town. The blurred shapes behind him resolved into the facades of restaurants and bars and nightclubs, with a Cajun flavor.

Well, why not? I found my way to a wardrobe - not my regular one. When I opened it I saw that the clothes on the hangers were more than sets of jackets and pants. They were whole body suits. If I stepped into one, I would alter my physique accordingly. Nice kind of dress-up for an outing on the astral plane. I chose a body with strong broad shoulders and a trim waist, an idealized version of my younger, fitter self.. It came encased in a midnight blue double-breasted suit. Yes, this would do nicely.

What followed was simply a fun night out in a body that works better than my current one, fun for its own sake. This is one of Marty's specialities. Let me go back to the start of our relationship.



Marty first visited me when I set an intention for dreaming. The fancy name for this is dream incubation and in some traditions it is approached with great reverence, with ritual and purifications and offerings to deities and priests. I generally find it sufficient to just frame a clear intention and repeat it in my mind as I approach the night.

I really needed guidance from a wiser source that night. I was in the midst of writing the book that was published as Conscious Dreaming, the book that introduced the original blend of dreamwork and shamanic journeying that I call Active Dreaming. I had an enthusiastic publisher, but my editor had pointed out that "dream books don't sell many copies". I wanted to reach as many people as possible, not for fame and money, but to help break the dream drought that had become so pervasive in modern culture.

So I set this intention: Show me how to bring the gifts of dreaming to many more people.

In the dream that followed, I found myself under the big top in a circus. The bleachers were packed. In the center of the ring, a man in a loud plaid suit, with a pork pie hat, a mustache and a huge cigar, was doing acrobatics. He turned cartwheels then somehow managed to bounce from the ground up to the very top of the tent. As he repeated these unlikely maneuvers, I became fully aware that I was dreaming. I remembered that I had asked for guidance.

I stared, incredulous, at the clownish acrobat performing impossible feats. I knew, in that instant, that his name was Marty, pronounced the New York way. Was he supposed to be my guide?

Marty vaulted into the bleachers, grabbed an attractive blonde, and started cuddling and smooching. As I watched this new performance, shocked. he blew out a great cloud of smoke. He gave me a wink and said, round the edge of his stogie, "It's about entertainment, kid. It's about entertainment."

I came back from the dream laughing. I recognized I had received exactly the guidance I needed. Keep people turning the pages. Give them stories they can live in for a while. Never forget that a story may be the shortest route between a human being and the truth. And that the deepest truths may "in laughing guise be dress'd".




So I'm always grateful when Marty shows up. His hat style changes, and he's not always in a suit that might be most appropriate for a racetrack tout. He sometimes appears in a top hat and a tuxedo, even full tails. Still there is always something a little louche about his appearance. Last year he turned up riding a bike around a circus ring. His attire was Edwardian-formal until you looked below the waist.

Marty confirmed my long-standing opinion that there is a Cosmic Costume Department for inner guides. They present themselves in the forms appropriate to our levels of perception and understanding, and the messages they intend to convey. 

It's about entertainment, kid.


Drawings (c) Robert Moss


#mossdreamart
#luciddreaming
#dreamincubation
#astraltravel


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Dreaming towards Epiphany





Whatever you do as the year turns, write in your journal! Write your dreams from the night, and your dreams of life for the coming year. Write, in particular, whatever you receive from dreams, synchronicity and spontaneous revelation over the last night of the Old Year and the first day of the New Year.
    If you were up all night partying - or the effect of your New Year's Eve reveling knocked your dreams out of memory - then record and work with the first dream that comes the following night, and whatever dreamlike symbols the world around you may give you.  
    In Japan they make a special effort to catch and work with the very first dream of the new year. Many Japanese people pay close attention to Hatsuyume, the first dream of the New Year. It may come in the night of December 31-January 1 but - since many may be up late partying or suffering the after-effects - it may come in the following day or on the night of January 1-2.     
     I would counsel you to stay alert for dreams for the New Year for a slightly longer period. In my mind the turning of the year rolls from December 30 until January 6, which is Epiphany in the Christian calendar, the day of “showing forth" when the Magi come to Bethlehem following their star, to honor the Christ child. Beyond the religious context, an epiphany may be a sudden revelation or perception of the reality or essential meaning of something important. It may be the gift of a dream.

   
In hopes of a lucky dream to kick off the New Year, some Japanese invoke the Shichifukujin or "Seven Lucky Gods" and may place a picture of them under the pillow. These may not be part of our belief system, but we have other sources of guidance and blessing available, and it is always appropriate to ask for help and blessing if we do it nicely!

 If you are ready to dream in the New Year, you could set the simple intention: 


Show me what the New Year will bring


Or give this a positive spin by couching your request to your dream makers the following way: 


Show me the best that life holds for me and those I love in the year ahead. 


Be as specific or as general as you like, but ask in a way that excites you and reflects your willingness to receive guidance and enter on new adventures.
     Don't forget that dreams require action! Your first action is to record anything you remember from your dreams and the drifty state of hypnagogia. Share it with a friend, if you can, using our Lightning Dreamwork process. Walk with your dream and see how what is going on around you may illuminate the dream and how your dream may illuminate your world.
    If you saw things in your dream you don't want to manifest in the year ahead, comb through the material with the eye of a detective, asking Who, What, When, Where, How? If you can clarify the details of the dream and identify where it may play out in coming events, you may be able to take appropriate action to avoid an event you don't want to live through in your physical life. You can also try to accomplish this by going back inside your dream, in a conscious reentry journey, to see whether you can change the script where it was playing. You may want to try writing the story of your dream so it comes to a happy ending. If those approaches feel artificial, however, that may be telling you that physical action is required to reshape the probable future for the better.
    If your first dream for the New Year is full of promise, then celebrate - but make it part of your celebration, once again, to take action to embody the energy and promise of the dream and to help it to take root in the world. Don't leave the old year without your journal, and don't enter the new year without your dreams. 
    May your New Year be filled with abounding joy, and may your best dreams come true!

Art: Sassetta, Journey of the Magi (1433-35)