Friday, December 31, 2010

Eve's portals for New Year dream travels

The gateways to the invisible must be visible.

This is my favorite line from René Daumal's Mount Analogue, a must-read for voyagers in consciousness. In our Western way, we love the play of images.

In the practice of Active Dreaming part of our essential art is to find the right images that can be portals for shamanic lucid dreaming. Quite often, in the workshops, this involves setting an assignment for a whole group of say, thirty people, along these lines: "You will journey through the gateway of the dream that has been told with such-and-such an intention."

To develop the practice of journeying consciously beyond the body, into realms of reality beyond the physical, one of my favorite training tools - both for neophytes and for veteran travelers - is to offer the gateway of a painted image.

My friend the French artist Eve Fouquet has just sent me two of her paintings as a New Years gift, and I want to share that gift with you here. The first painting (shown above) is titled l'instant présent (The Present Moment).

The second, shown here, is le mystère (The Mystery).

Both of these magical images have traction for me; looking at each, I feel myself already beginning to travel in consciousness into a deeper realm. You may want to explore what lies for you behind each doorway. If you embark on this experiment, notice the margin around each painting and see this again as the edge of a door you will step (or fly) through. When you are ready to return, turn around, inside the space you have reached, and see that door-frame again, with your body in the place where you left it....

For more on ways of stepping through a picture, please see my book Dreamgates.

Visit Eve Fouquet at her website:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A library full of seeds

Around the turning of the year, I make time to look over old journals. This is part of the ongoing process of composing a life story. It also helps me to keep track of my dream double, and how far and wide he has traveled beyond the milder adventures of my waking self.

Just now I turned up the following dream report from May 2003:


In my library, I am surprised and delighted to see that a shelf has been partly filled with white-covered booklets, in stacks facing outward. These booklets resemble large packets of seeds. The covers are somewhat spackled by time and weather. I have the impression that they have been brought out of old trunks and boxes, including boxes bequeathed to me by a scholar of an earlier generation in my family.

The first brochure I examine is on dreams, and contains the text of an ancient dream - possibly the dream of Scipio (recorded by Cicero) that was central to the medieval study of dreams. As I look over the stacks, I see that the brochures have been organized alphabetically and cover a tremendous range of information. Some titles are the names of countries.

I am excited by the prospect of using these materials. I glance at the larger bookcase on my left, and notice that quite a range of books I had not noticed before (or were not there before) are now on the shelves, including a volume from the chunky Cambridge Medieval History series.


I find this a cozy and comforting dream in this winter season, when I am at home for a few weeks, reading wide and deep, and letting the seeds of ideas and stories germinate inside me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When crow calls back

So what does this literary crow want me to write about?

How about this:

Crows are marvelous messengers. And like their larger cousin, the raven, they can be impeccable allies in shamanic lucid dreaming and tracking. We know this from legend and folklore.

In the Iroquois story of the real Hiawatha, a force is gathering to challenge the dark power of the tyrant-sorcerer, Tododaho. They need scouts to report on his defenses. The scouts who perform this task, unerringly, are Crow People, shamanic dreamers who take on the form of crows, fly to the tyrant's redoubt, and return to Hiawatha with accurate intelligence. I recount this story in full detail in my book Dreamways of the Iroquois.

Raven has an even larger history as a seer. Odin, who was a shaman before he became a god, works with two ravens, who are found perched on his shoulders when they are not out and about gathering information for him. Their names are Huninn and Muninn, Thought and Memory. When I teach the arts of seership, I often encourage members of my workshops to borrow the wings and the sharp sight of Thought and Memory as they go out on assignment - powered by shamanic drumming - to collect information for a partner. Sometimes the assignment involves traveling a certain distance into the future to scout out a possible future situation or event. Sometimes it requires opening a path for healing, or breaking the terror of a nightmare left unresolved.

We worked this way in my last Active Dreaming workshop in southern France. I noticed that there was an especially gifted shamanic tracker in the group named Anne, who came with a previous connection with the crows, and used it to deliver excellent results.

When we call on an ally, it sometimes calls back. Anne's friend, Jean-Alain, sent me these photos of some recent close encounters.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Death card speaks

I am Death. I bring a term to everything. I mock your vanities, yet I also give you the limits that make your achievements matter. I am your beginning as well as your end.

I give you straight-edged clarity, sharp as a razor. I give you the chance to find courage. In my presence, what fear can the risks of your ordinary life hold for you?

Surely you feel me now, at your left shoulder. I will tell you what you need to know, but only if you let me put my noose around your neck.

I am the bridge between the tame land and the wild. I was made by your hand but I am the making or unmaking of your kind.

If you fear the crossing I narrow and rock back and forth. If you seek to avoid what lies on the other side, it will meet you on the bridge, in the form you most dread.

The face I will show you is the one you will choose for me, knowingly or unknowingly. Choose wisely.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Voice of lightning

I strike fast, but before I strike I probe for the best way through the air currents, sending down feeders you cannot see.

I am drawn to oak trees, and to humans who have the quality of oak, hanging on to their foliage when other trees have shed theirs, standing tall, deep-rooted in earth, but always reaching for the sky.

I fall in love, as humans and spirits do. The humans I love best will be stroked by my fire and can read my movements in energy fields. They will be challenged, as others are, to ground my power safely, because I sometimes forget that these soft animals are weak vessels that need to conduct my force instead of holding it to themselves.

Connect with me, and you take on my speed, my ability to focus energy – and the challenge of remaining grounded and of passing on my gifts.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A writer can afford to produce one maverick work

"My decision to write The Land of Ulro was an act of perfect freedom in the sense that I didn't aim either at pleasing, convincing, conquering or seducing my contemporaries. It was as if I said to myself that a writer in his lifetime can afford to produce one maverick work."

What a grand statement! (Though I am inclined to ask: why only one "maverick work"?)

With these words Czeslaw Milosz introduces English-language readers to his tangled literary memoir The Land of Ulro in which he hunts ideas through the pages of Blake and Swedenborg, Hölderlin and Baudelaire in order to explicate Polish writers often unknown outside the Polish language (and sometimes within it).

The real object of this bookish hunt is the author's distant cousin, the mystical nobleman Oscar Milosz ("O.V. de L. Milosz"), born in Russia, famed as a French poet, wedded to Kabbalah (and Jewish on his mother's side) who found his soul's landscape among the unfussy country manors of old Lithuania. In his elegant, elderly cousin, Czeslaw finds a half-lit mirror, rocking on a stand in a room stuffed with taxonomy specimens and tarnished silver.

The book borrows its title from Blake's Ulro, a world not unlike our own, blighted by the tyranny of reason and ego, lost to creative Imagination. I don't share Milosz's fascination with Blake's clumsy flat-earth cosmology, and I am repelled by the "anti-Nature" notion they share: that humanity is Fallen before it gets here. Still, I can see how for Milosz, the Polish-Lithuanian native son of an area of ever-changing flags and occupiers, the idea of fallen man may have been appealing, as I can picture Blake's horror at the struggle for life in the fetid slums and "dark satanic mills" of the London of his era.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Street of the End of the World

It started with the olives. They were the bright green, naturally salty kind the French call lucques and they were on display, fresh from the harvest, at a market table under a magnificent white platane tree in the square of St. Guilhem-le-Desert, a medieval town in southern France. My friend Irene, who had volunteered to show me some of the country in between my two workshops near Montpellier, encouraged me to try them. I demurred, noting that I had skipped breakfast. "Maybe later, with a glass of wine."

At that instant, a vivid woman dressed in all the colors of a flower garden appeared in the square and greeted Irene, who made the introductions. Her name was Eve Fouquet. She was an artist who lived in St. Guilhem. She had decided, on a whim, to walk to the square at that moment. "I've just come back from Bordeau and I brought some good Bordeau wine. Come to my place and have a glass."

Of course I bought some of those excellent, meaty green olives. Eve led us down a steep, narrow cobbled street and up high stone steps to a magician's cave. Some of the interior walls were from the 11th century, and still bore traces of 11th century paintings.

Eve poured wine and showed me a laptop gallery of her paintings, many of which excited me as portal images, and celebrations of the Goddess, and evocations of elemental powers.

Eve suggested lunch at the Hotel Guilhaume d'Orange, named - like the town - after the battle lord of Charlemagne who decided, after his wars, to become a monk. I ate local trout, and we were joined by friends, one of whom brought a very large and happy black dog named Emma.

Eve proposed an afternoon walk - a promenade - to the End of the World. There is a street in St Guilhem that bears that name, the Rue du Bout du Monde. After the trout, we followed the street to its end, just past Eve's gallery, and walked on along a winding path that soon faded away into a rocky trail.

I looked back at the high battlements of a castle from Charlemagne's time. I noticed a low electric fence around a small field of bright green grass. It was explained to me that the fence was to keep out the sangliers, or wild boars; that little field was famous for its truffles. There was plenty of further evidence of wild boars as we climbed rocky slopes and splashed through cold mountain streams - piles of poop, marks of digging and scraping.

As we walked on, the mountains around us seemed to lean in closer. Eve pointed up to where a hermit lives on a high ledge. There was wild beauty in the scene, but also a sense of something dark, from the past, that I found more and more oppressive. We came at last to the hollow between the mountains where the trail ends. The place is known in the langue d'Oc as Infernet, Little Hell.

Sitting on a ledge, at the base of a mountain, I found myself drawn into a drama of the Middle Ages, involving the passion and death of a man in iron who was lured to this place, and killed by people who resembled wild boars, or wild boars that resembled people. Walking back ahead of the group in the fading light, with the great black dog bounding before me, I heard the jangle of chainmail and felt immersed in this medieval story.

I stood sentinel beside the first house in the town, waiting for the others to catch up in the dark. "Qui vive?" I challenged. "Are you living or dead? Few of the living return from that place." To prove she was alive, one of our party raised a howl that startled a smartly-dressed woman coming out of the house.

Interesting what can flow from the synchronistic union of green olives and red wine.

"Voyage" by Eve Fouquet. Used with permission. Visit the artist's website