Monday, March 28, 2011

The Ganesh Splash

A woman in an online forum I lead reported a dream in which she watches three elephants bowing to me with deep reverence. Then they rise up and splash me copiously with water sprayed from their trunks. She has the feeling that this is to make sure I don't get puffed up over the honor they have given me. In her dream, I welcome this with laughter and joy.
     I chuckled when I read this account, and also felt that little tingle that comes when life rhymes. About the same time she was posting her dream, I was spraying members of a workshop circle in Connecticut with salted water, my favorite psychic cleansing agent. Having given them their shower, I proceeded to splash myself with water from the same vessel.
    There was another rhyme. That same morning, I shared or reported three unlikely and mildly embarrassing screw-ups in front of the group, of the kind that made it entertainingly clear that the leader was far from infallible.
I felt confirmation, when I read the dream report, that I had received a trunk call from Ganesh, the elephant-headed form of the Gatekeeper beloved and honored in India. From now on, I think I'll add the term "Ganesh Splash" to my personal lexicon of the modes of meaningful coincidence.

Ganesh Splash: An unlikely and mild embarrassment that prevents you from taking yourself too seriously (or allowing yourself to be guru-ized by others), produced with love and laughter.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Questions that must be lived

Dragon's Egg, Mystic, Connecticut

On Saturday morning my cell phone pinged as I stopped my car near the goddess statue in front of the Dragon's Egg, a marvelous performance space in the woods outside Mystic, Connecticut. I was quite certain I had turned my cell phone off. Curious to know why it had come back on, I delayed my entry into the Dragon's Egg - to open a weekend workshop on Shamanic Lucid Dreaming - in order to review the new email it had announced.

The subject line of the email read "Important Question." I did not recognize the sender's name. She proved to be a woman in Europe who has been following my work. Her question, a double-header, was stated as follows:

What is the purpose of life and what is the purpose of this world?

I was amazed, and grateful. That was a theme to carry into a weekend group adventure devoted to expanding our experience of reality and meaning in the multiverse. Sometimes it's more important to have the right questions than to have the right answers. A thought from Picasso floated back to me: "Computers are useless. They only give you answers."

A question like the one that aroused my cell phone cannot be answered. It must be lived. One lifetime may be too little time for that. We may need to carry the question through successive life classes (I mean classes that take a lifetime) before our response is clear.

We spent the day in the Dragon's Egg dreaming deep, wide awake and lucid, and building a community of dreamers with the skill, the compassion and the connections in the larger reality to support each other's life journeys. We learned how to turn personal dreams into portals into the Dreamtime. We brought back soul, laid ghosts to rest, traveled across time, and roamed in the forests and savannahs of the animal powers.

At the end of the day, still thinking about the question my cell phone had insisted that I receive, I searched online for the exact wording of the Picasso quote. And found this quote from Edgar Cayce I read long ago but had forgotten: "Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions." Yes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The League of False Moustaches

I'm in a kind of store where Aussie guys are selling headbands. The guys are all wearing bush hats - canvas or leather. Amazingly, they are all also sporting ridiculous false moustaches, all the more preposterous because they are visibly suspended by pieces of elastic, so they bob up and down instead of sticking to the upper lips. I josh with the guys for a while. They are surprised when I reveal that I was born in Melbourne, because my accent sounds more British than Australian.

I examine the headbands. The designs are quite unusual, mostly Aboriginal. I recognize that there may be Dreaming codes on some of these. I am drawn to one whose design is in blue and silver, my favorite colors. It occures to me that if worn as an eyeshade instead of a sweatband, something like this might be an excellent visioning tool.

I merely have to think of this, and I am doing the vision thing, inside the dream. I seem to have acquired a primal GPS internal tracking system, combined with full night vision and heat-seeking sensors. Anything I wish to see, across space or time, appears as a target on a horizon. The path to it is indicated by lines of red electric light, moving from my observation point to the target. The lines are always at the vertical. Where a change in the approach is required, they pulse and move sideways, without turning, to reappear to the right or left. I understand that sometimes this reflects a necessary movement between parallel event tracks.

I know I am seeing the way that ancient Aboriginal shamans or "spirit men" saw, and am eager to apply this new/paleolithic technology.

I woke in high excitement from this dream on Thursday morning.

Lazing in bed around dawn today, I resolved to go back inside the dreamscape and try to learn more.

Slipping easily into lucid dreaming, I found myself drawn to a gathering in an immense Victorian hall. There were women as well as men in the room, laughing at me over their preposterous, bobbing false mustaches. It became clear to me that to be received into their midst, I needed a similar facial accessory. I chose a heavy mustache worthy of Bismarck or Kitchener. This met with lively approval.

Now my clothing needed attention. I was fitted for a dark blue frock coat with brass buttons, of the kind (I thought) that the manager of a Victorian train station or shipyard might sport. But wait. With the white man's frock coat came some Aboriginal regalia, especially a necklace fashioned from walrus tusk.

Now my appearance had been revised to the satisfaction of my hosts, their false mustaches vanished and they welcomed me into their midst. They gave me to understand that they operate in many places and times simultaneously. Why the false moustaches, disguises that surely could fool nobody? Were they, perhaps, to mock the roles that people play, and the way they try to mask themselves?

I was given no clear answer, at least not one that I retained when I surfaced later from deeper levels of this dream expedition. I was permitted to experiment with using the Aboriginal headband as a blindfold - or what I am inclined to call a vision band - and found myself tracking events that may play out in July. I'll remain silent on those until we see whether the preview is confirmed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How Jane became the shaman of her own soul

As I rose from sleep on Saturday, I saw my friend Jane leaning over my bed. She had news for me, but I couldn’t stop to talk with her because I had a phone interview with a reporter scheduled that morning. Later I called Jane to ask, “Do you have news for me?”

She did, indeed. She reported that I had recently appeared in one of her dreams, wearing a necklace with a crystal globe. This is her journal report:

It's a clear crystal you can see inside and it has two worlds. One is easy to see; the other is hidden. He takes it from his neck and shows it to me, allowing me to see inside. I easily see a castle world and a little switch that turns on colors and movement. The other world is very hard to see and looks like a hologram of geometric lines like etchings. I just get a glimpse of it but it's vague. I return the globe to Robert, thank him and wake happy and intrigued with this vision.

I don’t wear a necklace with a crystal globe in ordinary reality, but the image had great significance for me. I have used clear quartz crystals in soul retrieval work. I recently asked participants in one of my soul recovery trainings to bring quartz crystals with them. When I escort soul-parts of people who lost a vital part of themselves through pain or trauma on the homeward journey, I sometimes find that from the perspective of those younger selves a crystal can appear as a luminous beacon or as a spacious, light-filled transporter or “waiting room” where it can stay safe until soul integration is complete.

I was excited by Jane’s beautiful image of a crystal globe that contained “two worlds” for its own sake. What a marvelous portal!

“The best came later that night,” Jane told me. “I think your appearance with the crystal prepared me for it. But when it started, I didn’t know whether I could live through the night.”

Jane returned to sleep after recording her dream of my visit. A few hours later, she woke in extreme pain from a dream that had thrown her back into the trauma she had suffered at age 16.

I dreamed I was being raped, and I could remember clearly the feelings of humiliation, chaos, confusion, misunderstanding, sorrow, fear and anger that I felt way back when I was sixteen, the clear emotions I have not been in touch with since then. In my dream the circumstances were different and I was being rescued by two good men.

“At the moment of my rescue, I woke with intense chest pain that lasted for twenty minutes. I wasn't sure if it was a heart attack. I wondered if I should call for help, such penetrating pain came from my heart, through to my back, like being stabbed by a lance, but I stayed with it, thinking it was a healing pain because it came directly out of the dream. I knew something big was happening.

“It eventually passed and I rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke thirty minutes later absolutely charged with life, ravenously hungry and thrilled at simply being alive. I was changed by the dream; I know that major soul recovery came through.”

This powerful and beautiful experience speaks to us of soul, and how through dreaming we can become shamans of our own soul and bring healing and wholeness to our family of selves.


I am leading two-day depth workshops titled Become the Shaman of Your Own Soul at Mosswood Hollow, a lovely private retreat center near Seattle, over the weekend of April 9-10 and at Equilibrium, a nurturing center in Chicago, on November 12-13. Isn't it time?

"Bathers" by visionary artist and poet AE

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tsunami of dreams before the tsunami

I am considering a stream of reports from dreamers who feel they may have foreseen the terrible earthquake and tsumani that have overwhelmed Japan, exciting the compassion of the world and concern for the nuclear fall-out. On March 1, ten days before the catastrophe, one dreamer recorded a dream in which she saw cars floating and knocking against each other in a violent rush of water. The day before the disaster, another dreamer noted three elements in a dream: an earthquake, a giant wave, and a friend who lives in Japan.

From my observation and experience, we do dream the collective future. We are connected with the rest of humanity, and with Earth and sea, and in dreams we are often more in touch with their deeper movements than in everyday awareness. We dream news headlines that won't be broadcast for days or months. We dream into the situations of people on the other side of the world.

As I discussed in an article prior to the Japan catastrophe (you'll find it here) a dream of a tsunami -or any other natural disaster - may be both personal and transpersonal. It may symbolize overwhelming stress or emotional drama in your life and also contain a vision or preview of an external event. We always want to look at a disaster dream from at least two angles: as a possible metaphor for something that will blow up with that force in our personal life and as a possible glimpse of an external event.

I find a model for careful retrospective study of dreams that may have previewed disasters in my work with an active dreamer in my New York school who brought me a journal report from December 22, 2004, two days prior to the terrible Asian tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. In her dream, she was with her dog at the beach in an unidentified foreign country. A gret wave came rushing in, overwhelming people and buildings. The dreamer was calling to people, "The ocean is coming in!", warning them to head for safety. Unscathed herself, she then watched her dog take a copious crap on the beach. She was embarrassed that she had nothing to scoop the poop up with. She then noticed that the beach was now covered with excrement, which was starting to stink. The dreamer woke with a sense of detachment.

She brought me this dream, a week or so after the 2004 tsunami, concerned to know if I thought she had dreamed the disaster in advance. I seized on a critical detail: the poop on the beach. I had heard a radio interview with a medical expert who talked about the tremendous health risk from feces that are not being collected in the devastated areas in Asia; he said the risk of disease being spread from feces is even greater than from unburied corpses. And in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, there was no way of picking up the excrement.

The uncontrollable “crap on the beach” in the dream was clear evidence (for me) that the dreamer had dreamed true – not only about the tsunami but the source of another potential wave of devastation (through disease) beyond it.

The dreamer's feeling of detachment about the dream on waking is often a marker that a dream is about a situation at a remove from the dreamer.

The nearness or remoteness of an event may be tagged in other ways. Thus before the Japan tsunami, a dreamer in Vancouver B.C. saw a giant wall of water that stopped, suspended in mid-air, at a cedar fence. When the disaster struck, the authorities in British Columbia issued a a coastal tsunami warning. When it was lifted, the Vancouver dreamer saw the dream image of a giant wave suspended on the other side of a cedar fence as an apt image for a preview of a danger that did not reach the Pacific Northwest.

For a model for how to use dream previews of coming collective events, we can turn to the example of the Andaman islanders. They are a shamanic dreaming people who saw in their dreams - and in the behavior of animals - that the 2004 tsunami was coming, and moved from their seasonal fishing villages on the coast up to the highlands to get out of its way. I describe this in my Secret History of Dreaming. In my new book, Active Dreaming, I explain how we can develop a model of community dreaming from this example.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dressed for the hike to the Grotto of the Ancients

Madison, Wisconsin

On going to bed on Friday night, I asked guidance for the workshop on Shamanic Lucid Dreaming I was leading over the weekend. I woke with this dream:

I am wearing a magnificent duster (a long, ankle-length riding coat) that flares at the bottom. It is buttery in texture, and very light golden brown in color.

At a security check, the X-ray scan sets off alarms. The security guys are very respecful as I search the pockets of the duster and finally a concealed pocket in the hem to see what may have set off the concern. I bring out a magnificent amber-colored stone that may actually be a big chunk of amber, the colors ranging from dark to golden and near-white. In the concealed pocket are lots of coins, including at least a dozen heavy gold coins. I lay these things out on the table. Security is satisfiied and lets me take everything with me.
     I re-examine my finds in a private space, surprised that I had completely forgotten that I possessed the gold coins. I now notice that my possessions also contain a fine, narow gold ring set with a ruby. I try it on my fingers experimentally. It perfectly fits the "marriage finger" of my left hand, but I decide not to wear it.
     I now resume leadership of a group I am leading into wild and beautiful country. When not sporting my duster, I am wearing a well-fitted three-piece pinstripe suit, but no tie and with rough hiking boots. This feels like the right garb for my leadership role, asserting authority but still informal (no tie etc).
     We proceed along a dappled trail through woods. I see a most interesting stone on the trail and pick it up. The stone is the size of a brick, with rounded edges. It seems to glow from within. On each side of the stone is the image of an African lion. He looks alive. I am thrilled with excitement, but replace the lion stone on the trail. I know this is a blessing and also protection for the group.
     We walk a long way to a magical grotto, one of the destinations we have agreed on for the journey. As we enter the cavernous space, huge, possibly sculpted figures rise in a semi-circle before us. The colors are wonderful, across a spectrum from cobal through turquoise to acquamarine. There is something vaguely Buddhist about the figures, but I suspect they are much more ancient than the coming of Siddhartha. Are they sculpted, and worn by time and water, or natura formations - or the preserved forms of some very ancient entities?
     We will explore these questions together, in the grotto.

Feelings: Delight, excitement

Reality: My workshop is being hosted by a horsewoman who keeps horses, on a little farm in Wisconsin horse country. I don't wear a duster, but the style (later borrowed by J.Peterman in the U.S.) is quintessentialy Australian. It is at least 35 years since I have worn a 3-piece suit, but I do (in and out of the dream) understand the need to consider self-presentation and the balance between informality and authority that must be worked by a leader and presenter.
     I have a strong connection with the lion, and with amber.

Follow-up: On Saturday, I turned this dream into the map for a group experiment in shamanic lucid dreaming, with wonderful results. Many of us had the experience of dreaming together in another reality, with mutually confirming discoveries. For example, many dreamers (including myself) found that it was necessary to use one or two of the coins to pay the Gatekeeper. Many found a healing pool in the Grotto of the Ancients, and were able to travel within or through the giant figures to powers beyond them.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Finding my niche, with a new subtle body

I am in a great open shaft that goes deep into the earth. There are niches in the earthen walls, suffused with golden light. In one of these I find an energy body that corresponds to my own.
      It is the white of alabaster. I am awed by its flawless beauty. It is in a posture reminiscent of Rodin's "The Thinker". It has never been used, but may now be available. When I place my hands on it, it gives a little under my touch, like plasticine.
     I can mold it any way I like. With care, I can shape it into a plausible version of my present self, stronger and more attractive, but not impossibly so.
I understand that the thing to do, once satisfied with the preliminary shaping, is to put this on like a garment. But how do I get inside? There are many possible entry points, I understand. The crown of the head or the mouth would work well. But best, always, is the gateway of the heart.
     I experiment with slipping inside this form and bringing it into rosy life. I realize that in doing this, I'll want to leave an old, much-traveled garment behind, like soiled underclothes. I visualize putting it in a hamper in the niche and sealing the top.
     This is all very exciting, inside the dream. I wonder if I can help people in urgent need of healing and regeneration to make a swap of this kind.

Feelings: Continued excitement.

Reality: I am aware of the existence of subtle bodies, and interested in the possibility of transfer of consciousness between them. The great open shaft is familiar to me from other dream travels. Regeneration is now a huge theme in biomedicine.

Question: Can I borrow something from this dream to help others to heal and regenerate?

Rodin plaster cast for L'age d'airain, in the National Gallery of Art

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Life rhymes: Baltic calling

Coincidence runs in riffs, and working with it may involve pattern recognition over time and the kind of poetic consciousness that notices what rhymes in a day, or a week, or a longer period. Sometimes this kind of thing is hard to miss.
When I deplaned at Heathrow airport on a recent trip, I discovered that I had booked myself on the wrong coach to Bath. The woman at the National Express office who sorted everything out for me, saving me a couple of hours on the bus, had a name tag that read "Daiva". I recognized this as a popular Lithuanian name derived from a word for "goddess".
     I can't currently recall more than a few words of Lithuanian, but the word for "thank you" is hard to forget, because it sounds like a sneeze.
    "Ačiū!" I thanked Daiva for her help.
    "You've made my day," she told me. "People notice my name, but you're the first to come in here who knows where I'm from."
    After the ride to Bath, and a brisk walk from the bus terminal, I arrived at Pratt's hotel on South Parade, where I was welcomed by a tall young woman who proved to be Estonian. She corrected my pronunciation when I tried out my one Estonian phrase, also one of my favorite sayings in any language: töö õpetab tegijat. "The work will teach you how to do it."
    Back in London at the end of the week to lead a workshop for Alternatives, I met another Lithuanian woman, Marija, who shared a challenging dream of her childhood home and bravely agreed to reenter it, with the help of her sister and a third Lithuanian who had come to that workshop. Marija's conscious dream reentry journey, aided by her travel companions, brought through wonderful healing and resolution.
    The rhyming here is pretty obvious, its meaning quite deep for me. I am returning to the Baltic in April to teach Active Dreaming in Estonia and Latvia. A Lithuanian edition of my book The Three "Only" Things will be published later this year. I wrote in The Dreamer's Book of the Dead about my experiences of facilitating cultural soul recovery with a group of 45 Lithuanians during my first visit to their country, back in 2004, when I found myself in direct contact with an ancient priestess of Zemyna, the great Earth goddess. Right after the London workshop I received an invitation to teach in Lithuania for the fourth time.
    As I sat down to write this note, I received email confirmation that a book on Baltic mythology that I had sought unsuccessfully last year had at last been located and shipped: Norbertas Velius' The world outlook of the ancient Balts. At the precise moment I finished this note and hit the "save" button, an email came in from Ere, the dreamer who is arranging my visit to Tallinn, confirming our travel plans. She's the one who gave me the original Estonian words of that marvelous life principle: the work will teach you how to do it. Yes, it will.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

When the Devourer stands guard over the W.C.


In our dreams, a visit to the rest room may be about more than the ordinary bodily functions. In the British Museum, during my recent visit to a splendid exhibition devoted to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, I found that some inspired designer had chosen a fearsome mythic gatekeeper for the descent to the loos.

There, at the head of the long, turning flights of steps next to the exhibition space, was a hybrid monster that seemed to combine features of the crocodile, the hippopotamus and the lion.

This entity appears again and again in ancient Egyptian paintings of the scene of afterlife judgment in which the heart is weighed against the feather of Truth. If the heart is found to be burdened by guilt and darkness, it is tossed to the monster, whose name - Ammit - is translated as Devourer. The unhappy soul is now denied passage to the desirable afterlife of the Field of Reeds, and must wander restless and homeless.

In our bathroom dreams, we often learn about what we need to dump, not only from our bowels but from our lives. When the Devourer of the Heart stands guardian over the way to the W.C., the mind may be drawn to focus on what needs to be released in order to pass the test of the Weighing of the Heart.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Many faces


One of my rules for navigating by synchronicity is that we may need to get lost in order to get found. This could be termed the Sindbad Principle. In his sixth voyage, Sindbad the sailor falls off the maps, gets shipwrecked, loses his crew, and is washed up half-drowned on an unknown shore that proves to be the magical kingdom of Serendib, from which we derive the word "serendipity". You can't get there by following a map or a plan.

I became a little lost in my longish walk to a recent workshop in Kensington (London) and this brought me to Thurloe Square, which I would otherwise have missed. In the square is an amazing sculpture showing what looks like a being with multiple faces. This seemed a perfect image for a central theme of the workshop: identifying and integrating multiple versions of the self.

I returned to the square in the rain, after lunch in the cafe at the Victoria & Albert museum across the street, to take a photograph. I then read the inscription that explained that the sculpure honors victims of Soviet terror killed after forced transfer to Soviet-occupied territories at the end of World War II. Synchronicity spoke again: at least 12 members of my workshop were from Eastern Europe, including three Lithuanians and two Russians.

Dreaming the boar

Montpellier, France

The night before I traveled to L'Hameau de l'Etoile, near Montpellier, to open a three-day Soul Recovery training, I dreamed of the wild boar, or sanglier. In my dream, this fierce animal, associated with warrior deities and perilous hunts in European mythology and history, had become a guardian for my group. I saw it as a heraldic figure, as a statue, and then in full charge, moving ahead of humans to clear dark entities from a cavernous space.

When I reached the retreat center the following day, I noticed two wooden sculptures on the table in the refectory that had not been there during my last visit in November. They were wonderful carvings of the wild boar, one of the dominant animals in the dry hilly landscapes of the Midi.

In group shamanic journeying in the circle later that day, boars reappeared and fulfilled my dream. I had asked everyone in our circle to produce a portal image for a journey in which they would pursue the intention of receiving soul recovery healing with the aid of trackers. A man in my group gave us the image of a dark place where he felt he had lost a vital part of himself, a place he needed to reenter. During the drumming, wild boars charged ahead of the seeker and his companions, clearing out opposition and opening the way for a deep experience of healing.