Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dream archeology, anamnesis and a Baltic hero

When I was a boy, I was instructed by a dream visitor that the knowledge that matters comes to us through anamnesis. The visitor took the form of a radiant young man from the eastern edge oif the Mediterranean, and he spoke in the diffcult language of the neoplatonist philosophers, for whome the word "anamnesis" - which literally means "remembering" - has a special spin. It means re-membering the knowledge that belonged to us on a higher plane, before we crossed the river of Lethe (forgetfulness) to enter the body for our present life experience.
      Humans are forgetful animals. On our roads in life we forget and remember, remember and forget. Dreams, when we catch them and work with them, are vital tools for anamnesis, which I want to translate as soul remembering. But the clues and souvenirs we retain from dreams are often mysterious, fragmentary or obscure. We may need help to grasp where exactly they come from and where we need to follow them. We can gain greatly from the insights and suggestions of fellow-dreamers once we have the right process for sharing and offering mutual feedback on each other's dreams. The Lightning Dreamwork is the process I developed and recommend for opening a safe space where dreams can be shared in a way that is fun and energizing and leads to appropriate action.
     I shared a dream from Saturday morning with an online community and I was thrilled and even awed by the depth and quality of the responses I received from fellow -dreamers. A key element in my dream was that I had discovered a Baltic hero from the Middle Ages, apparently from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and wove a mythic story around him. On the forum, a dreamer named Lisa - who professed no prior knowledge of Lithuania or Baltic heroes - reported that she had done an online scout and found a "seer and dream interpreter" named Lizdeika and thought he was a candidate for the role of my "Baltic hero."
    I was amazed by her discovery. Until I read her comments, I had completely forgotten that on my second visit to Lithuania, I was taken to the old city of Kernave and show a hill that was the reputed birthplace of Lizdeika. According to tradition, he was born in an eagle's nest on that hill. Under cold rain, I had paused to take a photograph of the shaman's hill - and wonder of wonders - still had that photograph on the hard drive of the Netbook on which I am typing this (see above).
     Lizdeika lived closed to wolves, and was reputed to be able to shapeshift into their form. He plays a central role in the unfoldment of the most famous dream in Baltic history. Grand Duke Gediminas dreamed of an iron wolf that howled. He consulted Lizdeika - by now the krivu krivaitis, or high priest of the old religion - on the meaning of the dream. Lizdeika told the grand duke he should build a fortified city on the hill where he had been sleeping. That city is Vilnius, where you can see a statue of Gediminas' iron wolf in front of the cathedral.
     My dream of a Baltic hero has given me a very interesting story line, which I will explore both through the creative imagination, through conscious dream tracking and through field and archival research. This is a fresh example of dream archeology, in which a dream provides a lead to the relevant past that can be checked out and may take us far beyond what was previously known to scholars. It is also an model of how dreamers can help each other to claim the full power of soul remembering that becomes available through dreams.


Unknown said...

Such synchronicity. I dreamed this morning that I'd gotten airline tickets to go see a Baltic healer/shaman.

Eileen said...

Would you also be exploring creating the future as shared by the dream story?

Marija Kisieliute said...

Hi Robert,

I recently read about Lizdeika in 'Legends of Vilnius'. The legend of LIzdeika gives us two stories how he ended up in the nest.

1. His father was a great priest of Lithuania (Krive Krivaitis) at a time. His wife died young leaving him without children. He fell in love with another woman but couldn't marry her, however had a baby, which he knew he couldn't take care of as it was a great sin to have children and not be married. Knowing that great duke of Lithuania was hunting in those forests, he put his only son in the nest in one of the trees and when the duke found him, he was the first to explain that this is the child from God who will do much good to Lithuania in the future if Krive Krivaitis was to take care of him. In this way father got to take care of his child and later that child took farther's place as the great priest of Lithuania – Lizdeika.
The origin of the name Lizdeika is the word 'lizdas' which means 'nest'.
2. Another version is that Lizdeika was the son of Duke Narimantas. After his death his brother wanted to kill his sons. The older son ran away from Lithuania and the younger one was put into the nest by his nanny. Later the great priest started taking care of the child and named him Lizdeika, and told Lizdeika the story of his origin and his family. Later Lizdeika became the great priest of Lithuania. He was a really wise man and explained many important dreams in Lithuania.

Robert Moss said...

Labas, Marija - Thanks for these two versions of how Lizdeika came to be found in the eagle's nest. I suspect there is a shamanic story here as well, to do with his connection with the birds and the animal powers. I think of legends of Merlin (whose name is that of the merlin falcon) including one in which, when he is very old, he withdraws into an "esplumoir", the place where the falcon goes to shed its own feathers and grow new ones.

Robert Moss said...

Eileen - "creating the future" is central to our adventures in Active Dreaming.

Robert Moss said...

Cindy - I like your dream! I am boarding a plane for the Baltic today and will be meeting some Baltic healer/shamans.

Marija Kisieliute said...

Labas Robert,
I totally agree, there must be a shamanic story involved in his life. In ancient times many Lithuanian people had stronger connection with animal and bird powers – they knew their forests very well and how to communicate with environment around them and use its knowledge.

Enjoy your trip to Baltics!

Kennard Thomas said...

It's so interesting to read the story here and the following comments. The way that Lizdeika is put into the eagle nest to avoid the killing by his brother sounds very mythic, sharing elements of the story of Moses, for example, who gets put into the reed boat/basket and floated down the river by his mother and is discovered by the Pharoah's daughter.