Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dreaming with Spiritual Guides

In the passage in Dante’s Purgatorio where he encounters his radiant guide in the form of a lovely woman called Beatrice, she reproaches him for not heeding the dreams in which she sought him, over many years. Dante has gone through all the cycles of Hell, and knocked on his own heart, and climbed all the ledges of the mountain of Purgatory, to gain access to the beloved of his soul, who sets fires in his blood.  Beatrice calls angels to bear witness:

Ne l’impetrare inspirazion mi valse,
con le quali e in sogno e altrimenti
lo rivocai: si poco a lui ne calse!

It was no use for me to inspire him,
calling him back through dreams
and in other ways; so little did he heed me

           - Purgatorio canto xxx, lines 133-136 (my free translation)

Dante is seared by the encounter, made to recognize all the years he lost by not awakening to his dreams.   
     The message is clear and enduring:
our true spiritual teachers are looking for us, which is why they can always be found. They especially come looking for us in dreams, when we move beyond the self-limiting beliefs and consensual hallucinations of the little everyday mind.
    The guides who come to us in dreams put on masks or costumes adapted to our level of understanding. There is an old Greek saying that “the gods love to travel in disguise”.
    The guide may appear with a familiar face – that of an old friend, or a departed loved one. The sacred guide may appear in a form that has been shaped by our religious upbringing – or in a form that is wildly shocking to conventional beliefs. Genuine teachers often love to shock us awake.
      The guide may appear in dreams as a generic figure, especially in places of transition or in border zones: as the taxi driver, or the customs official, or the train conductor, or the person at the airline check-in desk.
      When the guide drops even the edge of the mask, the initial effect can be terrifying. “Every angel is terrifying,” wrote Rilke, who knew what he was talking about.
     The encounter with the guide may challenge us to brave up, to move decisively beyond the fear and clinging of the little everyday mind, in order to claim our connection with deeper sources of wisdom and true power.
    This is often the case with dream experiences in which we meet a powerful animal. Faced with a bear or a tiger in a vivid dream, our first instinct may be to run for our lives. Yet the bear or the tiger may be hunting us to invite us to claim our own power and our own medicine. How do we do that? By going back into the dreamspace, through the dream reentry technique *to face whatever needs to be faced and to claim our connection with the dream animal (and/or the angel).
   In Native American teachings, we are not fully alive – we are missing a part of our vital soul energy – if we lack a strong and vibrant connection with the animal guardians. Here, also, it is recognized that our truest and most important spiritual allies come looking for us in dreams. The Lakota have many ways of approaching the sacred. But they also recognize that the greatest gift comes when the sacred beings come looking for us. The most revered medicine lodge among the Lakota is the Bear Dreamers Society. It is composed of those who have been visited and called by the Bear in their dreams.
   Dream encounters with the guide – like all powerful dreams – need to be honored. We may want to create a talisman, or personal “power object”, to hold the memory and the energy of the dream. It may sometimes be appropriate to use a stone or crystal for this purpose. In the shamanic dream practice of the Anishnaabe (Ojibwa) the pawaganauk, or dream visitor, is honored in this way. After an encounter with a dream guide, the dreamer finds a stone that will be more than a souvenir; the stone can become a place of rendezvous and continued communication with the dream guide – as the dreamer learns to journey into a chamber that opens inside the stone.

* Dream reentry is a core technique of Active Dreaming, explained in my books Conscious Dreaming and The Three "Only" Things. I have recorded a CD of shamanic drumming, Wings for the Journey, specially designed for dream travelers who want to develop this practice.

Art: William Blake's vision of Beatrice addressing Dante. As in the Purgatorio, she arrives in a chariot drawn by a griffin, with fierce and beautiful companions. 


Mokihana Calizar said...

Once again you have seeded my dreams with a clearly marked path through ... acknowledging the powerful guides that came from the dreams last night I make a connection with a stone in the shape of a shaft of light ... In Hawaiian we would call it "Wana au" (like the dawn of light) or the spine of the long needled urchin.

The gift of stone was given to me around Christmas (by a Buddhist) who said, "I just felt I needed to give this to you when I found it. I love stones and have many, but this one ... was intended for you."

Today, after reading your post, the stone, Pohaku Wana Au has been washed, thanked and set on my bed-stead altar next to The Goddess of Compassion and my crystal of citrine.

Thank you Robert Moss

nina said...

Angels are everywhere.
There is one story about a simple man called Mahud who made his living by selling vegetables and in fact was quite happy about it. But one day the angel Khabir appeared to him and told him to jump into the river. He obeyed at once and was flowing down the stream until a man on the shore pulled him out.For some time he worked for the man and then again the angel turned up and asked him to move on. The angel kept appearing for years always sending him to a new place.
When Mahud grew older, he gained a reputation of a holy man and people flocked for his advice and treatment. One day, one of his visitors asked him a question: "Mahud, how did you get where you are now?"
After a moment he said: "It´s difficult to say."
The angel´s name means "The All Aware" and that was all what Mahud was doing in his life. He was aware, listened and followed angel´s instructions.
The beautiful result was a deep wisdom, maybe similar to Dante´s after his legendary pilgrimage.
We don´t know but we can see in both men that when we listen to our inner spiritual guides, everything in our life must change.