Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Watch what stories you are carrying

I see that I must be more careful about the books I select as my travel companions. This week it felt like a mischief-making tree spirit leaped out of a book onto the train track in front of me.
    On Monday I set off to New York City on Amtrak. This was the first time in ages I had gone to the city by train. It can be a beautiful ride. The line runs along the Hudson River most of the way, and it was a fine day to view the fall foliage and the play of light on the water.
    My attention flitted back and forth between the shifting landscapes through the window and my first literary selection, an excellent collection of cross-cultural studies on the practice of dreaming. among indigenous peoples titled Dream Travelers and edited by Trent University anthropology professor Roger Ivar Lohmann. If you consider a scholarly text safe reading, read on.
    I was soon immersed in Lohmann's account of his own fieldwork among the Asabano of Papua New Guinea. They consider dreams to be real experiences; you make visits and you receive visitations. Dreaming is a field of interaction with beings of various kinds, including the dead,  the fairy-like wobuno, wild nature spirits and witches. "Supernatural encounters are frequent; nevertheless, they are odd and exciting. They are long remembered, the source of many tales around the hearth." *
    In dreams, spirits might provide guidance that would lead to a successful hunt, especially when the hunter made certain offerings. Dreams could also reveal when a malevolent spirit was the source of illness or misfortune. It seems that in this part of the island, tree spirits are especially engaged with humans. Before recent Christianization, an elder told Lohmann, "When a man was sick, people would dream that a tree spirit or other thing had hurt him."
     I was startled by the idea that a tree spirit might attack a human. I read on, in the New Guinea elder's account, "I myself have dreamed when someone was sick that the tree spirits made him or her sick."**

     At this precise moment, less than fifteen minutes into my journey, the Amtrak train came to a shuddering stop. After a long pause, it was announced over the crackling intercom that "a big tree fell across the track." After another pause, a conductor rushed up and down the aisle yelling that the tree was on fire. "There's smoke!" We couldn't see what was going on, but we were next told that the "big tree" had brought down some power lines.
    After a long wait, we were told that the train was going back to Albany-Rensselaer, where we had started. We had to shunt in reverse the whole way, agonizingly slowly. Back at our point of departure, we were left to meditate upon life for a long time before we received word that railroad crews had succeeded in clearing one of the two tracks leading to New York City, but we would now have to wait for an incoming train to come through before we could leave.
    I got to Penn Station nearly four hours late. A ride scheduled to take 2 hours 25 minutes took over six hours. When our train resumed the journey interrupted by the falling tree, I put the anthropology book that did not seem able to contain tree spirits back in my overnight bag.
   I contemplated the demonic cat on the cover of the second book I had brought with me. It is one of my favorite novels, Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, in which the Devil comes to Moscow with an amazing entourage. I reread it for pleasure every few years.
    But not today. I recalled that in the opening scene the Devil, traveling as a foreign professor, makes the accurate prediction that a certain person will be beheaded before the end of the day - by a tram. Not a train, but near enough.

    Over a late dinner in Manhattan, I mused with a Russian friend about a recurring pattern in my travels: the stories I am carrying proceed to play out in my experience of the physical world.
    I once  took off from Bucharest with a Romanian fantasy anthology that included Mircea Eliade's story "With the Gypsy Girls". I was drawn deep into Eliade's eerie tale, in which a man is lured into a bizarre alternate reality from which he cannot return. I found by the end of that first flight that I had been drawn into a very strange parallel reality of my own. I wandered lost all night, stranded at Warsaw's Chopin airport among Russians and Ukrainians who lacked Schengen visas and lay sprawled on every surface like the dead on a field of battle. I managed to extricate myself only two days later. I wrote about that here.
     On another plane, I was reading a memoir by one of Churchill's bodyguards when a stranger dressed as Indiana Jones took the seat beside me. When I asked him about his costume, he declared that it was "the real thing." He proceeded to tell me that his clothes were made by "Churchill's former bodyguard" - Peter Botwright, who designed the costumes for the Indiana Jones movies. That was just one element in an amazing episode that seemed custom-made for me by some designing minds just behind the curtain of the world. I tell the whole story in the introduction to The Three "Only" Things.
At a newsstand at Prague’s Vaclav Havel airport, I once found a new bilingual edition of the folktales of Czech writer Karel Jaromir Erben. This became my reading on the first leg of a very long trip home from Europe that ended in a weird limbo of late-night train stations that were not part of my itinerary. My journey took on the coloration of Erben's dark, compelling verse fantasies in which (for example) a woman leaves her husband's bed every night to lie with the dead. You can find that story here.   
    There was the time I was reading 
A Story Waiting to Pierce You (Peter Kingsley's book on Tibetan-Mongolian shamanism) and got, for my neighbor on another plane....a dominatrix wearing a top hat and Death's heads on the backs of her gloves. The full story is in Sidewalk Oracles
    Back to my latest story. Late Monday night, after walking uptown from Penn Station and checking into my hotel, I was sitting with my Russian friend in El Mitote, a lively Mexican restaurant on the upper West Side. I sipped a margarita and quoted Borges: "The mind is dreaming. The world is its dream."
    "Good thing you did not spend too much time today with The Master and Margarita today," my friend observed. "Strange things are known to happen when people get involved with that book."

    In the Mexican restaurant, the Dia de los Muertos had come early. Skeletons in flouncy skirts and tight jackets were dancing on the wall.
    In the light of the morning, I found Dante standing in a little triangle of green between my hotel and Lincoln Center. Of course. Story within story, all unfolding within the great Commedia. At the television network where I recorded a show, I was greeted by a young woman named Angel. Things seemed to be looking up.
    Memo to self: when you travel, check what themes and plots you are carrying with you.

*Roger Ivar Lohmann, "Supernatural Encounters of the Asabano in Two Traditions and Three States of Consciousness" in Lohmann (ed) Dream Travelers: Sleep Experiences and Culture in the Western Pacific (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) 191.
** ibid, 193.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The shaman's diagnosis of our existential complaints: soul loss

The greatest contribution of the ancient shamans to our medicine and healing today is the understanding that in the course of any life we are liable to suffer soul loss - the loss of parts of our vital energy and identity – and that in order to be whole and well, we must find the means of soul recovery.
     On a visceral level, we all know how soul loss comes about. We suffer pain or trauma or abuse, we are overwhelmed by grief or guilt or shame, and part of us goes away because it doesn’t want to stay in a world that seems so harsh and cruel. We are compelled to make a wrenching life choice, leaving a partner or a job or a home, and part of us resists that choice and parts company with our dominant personality, clinging to the old relationship or the old place. Soul loss deepens when we fall into depression or addiction or make compromises with the world as we understand it, giving up on our big dreams of life. Lacking the courage and confidence to make that creative leap, or to trust ourselves to love, we wimp out – and part of our bright spirit, disgusted with us, goes away.
     Good analysts and therapists can help us to recognize parts of ourselves we have repressed and denied, including the famous Shadow, the term especially favored by Jungians for what we have tried to relegate to the basement of the personal unconscious because we would rather not own it as a part of ourselves. The shamanic concept of soul loss reaches further. It recognizes that soul healing is not only about recognizing and integrating aspects of the self that we have buried or denied; it is retrieving pieces of soul that have literally gone missing and need to be located and persuaded to return and take up residence in the body where they belong.
    In my own practice, I have come to distinguish five forms of soul loss or disconnection that call for healing. I have yet to encounter a human being who is immune to any of these.

Loss of vital energy
You suffer from chronic fatigue. You find yourself torpid and listless, reluctant to get out of bed. Your days seem drab and gray and joyless. Your immune system in blown and you seem to pick up every passing bug. There is something missing in you and you try to stuff the whole with sugar or booze.

Loss of younger selves
You have lost younger versions of yourself – the young child with abounding energy and that beautiful imagination, that fine romantic who was hurt or betrayed as a teen, that inner poet or businessman who wanted to make different life choices from the ones you made. These younger selves have gifts and energy you can use in your life today if only you can find out where they are and discover how to bring them back.
Loss of animal spirits
Indigenous and ancestral shamans know that we are all connected to the world of the animal powers, and that by recognizing and nurturing our relation with animal spirits, we find and follow ther natural path four eneries. Yet many of us have lost this primal connection, or know it only as a superficial wannabe symbolic thing that we look up in books and medicine cards without feeding and living every day.

Loss of ancestral soul
This is a two-edged affair. When we live oblivious to the fact that we are always in the presence of the ancestors – those of our bloodlines, those of the land where we live, and those of our spiritual kin in a broader sense – we are likely to be the plaything and even the tenement for entities we don’t necessarily want to have near us. When we awaken to ancestral soul, we become ready to claim the connection with wisdom-keepers and protectors who can help us to re-establish heathy psychic boundaries and clear out what does not belong with us.

Loss of connection with the Greater Self
Ultimately we can only make peace between the many aspects of our selves, and follow a path of true spiritual evolution by opening or re-opening a direct and conscious connection with the Self on a higher level – the Self that is no stranger. When we clear the right space within our embodied selves, we may be ready for the deep and beautiful act of soul growing that I call spiritual enthronement, bringing a part of the Higher Self to live in our bodies and infuse our lives and our life choices with its radiance.

I have learned that dreams often show us where soul had gone, and offer paths by which it can be reached and encouraged to come home. Through the techniques of Active Dreaming, we can learn to help each other to become the shamans of our own souls and the healers of our own lives.


I wrote this article early in 2011 and then expanded it into key chapters of my book Dreaming the Soul Back Home: Shamanic Dreaming for Healing and Becoming Whole (New World Library). The original article elicited a tremendous response; this feels like the right time to share it again.

Art: Edvard Munch, "Lady from the
Sea" (1896)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dreaming the biggest oil discovery in history

He lived with his large and imposing wife Violet in a blue and white house overlooking the Gulf, with a verandah on the upper level to catch the sea breezes. Under the fierce desert sun, he went shooting in gaiters and country tweeds, and may have looked, in his florid bulk, the model of the type of colonial Englishman who does not go native.

But Colonel H.R.P. (Harold) Dickson was very far from a stereotype. Born in what is now Syria, he was Bedouin as well as British – in the eyes of that desert people – from the time he suckled at the breast of a Bedouin wet nurse. As he rose high in the ranks of the colonial civil service, becoming British Political Agent in Kuwait from 1929 to 1936, he hunted with the Bedouin, and counseled with them over innumerable cups of cardamom-flavored coffee, and dreamed like them.

On at least two occasions before his retirement, he brought the Sheikh of Kuwait prophetic dreams. One forewarned of a natural disaster that would destroy much of the capital but result in abundance. It was fulfilled when storm and flood washed away thousands of mudbrick houses, and then made the desert bloom. In the second dream, Dickson foresaw an attempt on the life of the king of Saudi Arabia. When the assassination attempt took place, his prowess as a prophetic dreamer was confirmed. “The Sheikh of Kuwait marveled still more, and told my story to many of his friends,” he recalled in his book The Arab of the Desert.. “The story got about and my stock went up quite appreciably in Kuwait. My dreams are still given proper weight, but I am careful not to give too much away.”

The Sheikh urged him to stay on in Kuwait after he retired from the colonial service, and he continued to live and to dream in his blue and white house as Chief Local Representative of the Kuwait Oil Company.
In September 1937, the Kuwait Oil Company was drilling at a lonely place called Bahra, and work was not going well. They had probed far deeper than they had intended, and fond no trace of oil.
That month, Dickson dreamed that he and his wife were living in a bungalow in an oil camp in the heart of the desert. Nothing was growing in the scene except an immense ancient sidr tree, standing near the house. A wild wind blew up a sand storm of unusual violence. It shook the house and the grains in the air made it hard to breathe. When the storm abated, Dickson went out and saw that the storm had opened a great cavity under the tree. He looked down into what appeared to be an ancient tomb. A prone figure, shrouded in rotted yellow cotton cloth, lay on a stone slab.

When Dickson and his wife began to peel the ruined cloth away from the mummy’s head, they were surprised by the beauty of the young woman’s face that was revealed. Her skin was like parchment. Dickson called for his servants to dig a fresh grave, but to his amazement the mummy came alive. The parchment skin grew soft and smooth, and a lovely woman stepped free from her shrouds. She told the Dicksons she was cold, after sleeping for thousands of years, and needed food and warm clothes. She gave them a very ancient copper coin. They led her by the hand into the house, where their Arab maid washed her and dressed her while they prepared food.

After eating, the woman from the tomb sat under the sidr tree. She warned that “wicked men” would try to bury her again, and that Dickson must seek the aid of the Sheikh and the British government. As she spoke, a mob of angry men, brandishing weapons, appeared. They were led by a white-bearded man armed with a long knife “who looked like a Persian”. Colonel Dickson flew to the defense, killing the leader with a blow, and driving off the men who were digging a fresh grave. He took the girl back inside his bungalow.
Waking in high excitement, Dickson roused his wife Violet and she carefully recorded all the details of his dream. This was a regular procedure in the Dickson household; he felt this one augured immense good fortune.

But it was necessary to find out exactly what was going on in the dream. For this, Dickson sought counsel from a local expert, a Bedouin woman called Umm Mubarak, who was much respected as a diviner and reader of dreams. The sand devil that opened the mummy’s tomb might be a djinn – a desert demon. It might also be a drilling rig. Umm Mubarak sifted the elements of the dream, and gave Dickson her judgment. The mummy that came alive and gave him treasure from the earth was showing the way to a fabulous oil field that had not yet been discovered. The ancient tree, growing alone in the desert, gave away the location. Umm Mubarak had seen this tree; it had survived alone in a waste of sand in the Burqan hills. The angry mob consisted of people in the region who would oppose Western oil operations.

Dickson told his dream to the Sheikh of Kuwait, who heard him with great respect. He told the managers f the Kuwait Oil Company that they should move their drilling operations to Burqan.  The oil company followed Dickson’s advice, and early in 1938 they hit a gusher. The find – known as Burqan Number One – was one of the richest oil discoveries in history. It was a great coup for the British in those edgy months on the eve of World War II. It turned Kuwait into a fabulously wealthy country, tempting Saddam Hussein, more than half a century later, to launch the invasion that triggered the first Gulf War.

Adapted from The Secret History of Dreaming by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Photo: Colonel Dickson under his dreaming tree

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dreaming with Yoko and John

Kai Altair is a wonderfully creative singer-songwriter, dancer and film maker who is also a teacher of Active Dreaming. Dreams and shamanic journeys have powered and inspired some of her songs and you can listen to them on her heart-stirring CD Dreamwalker. I have been privileged to witness the genesis of one of her songs in one of my depth workshops.
    Here Kai recounts a powerful dream in which Yoko Ono gives her an avocado sandwich and John Lennon advises her on how to set up a music album while Yoko cooks dinner. In the dream, John is the one who is aware that he is dead.

Advice from The Walrus

by Kai Altair 

Inside a spontaneous night dream I step into the world-behind-the world of a small Caribbean island I lived on as a little girl.  I find myself in the back of a car being driven by Yoko Ono with John Lennon in the passenger seat.  I sit behind him while nibbling an avocado sandwich Yoko packed for me. 
     I feel happy, and content, as though the two of them are family members--almost like parents--who are taking care of me and want me to be happy.  Also in the car are a few very magical cats who add to the sweet energies that pass between all of us as we travel to John and Yoko's house. 
    When we arrive, Yoko begins to cook as John and I talk about music in the kitchen.  Everything feels very relaxed as we talk and exchange ideas, and I am in awe of John's incredible mind and musical intuition.  We come to the topic of how to begin an album, and the best way to introduce a body of work to the listener.  
     You need an epic opening," John says, and tells me about the importance of making a statement through sound from the very start.  I love the idea, and feel blessed to be able to receive advice from someone like him. 
     "I love to talk to you like this John," I say, "You always have such great advice.  We really have to find a way for us to still be able to talk about music after you're dead."  To this he gives a hearty belly laugh while nodding his head, "HaHa!! I AM dead!"
I woke from the dream feeling deeply moved, with the distinct feeling that this could indeed have been an encounter with an aspect of John Lennon.  The next thought that came to me however, was one of doubt.  I felt silly and a bit delusional to think that the spirit of a legendary rock star would take the time to visit me in a dream. 
     I knew that I'd gotten some very good advice though, and decided not to worry about if it was 'real' or not.  My action plan was to do just what the dream told me to do, and create a powerful and 'epic' opening for my first full length album.  Today when I listen to it I feel grateful for the dream advice.  It serves to thin the veil and honor the source by announcing the songs that will follow with a direct order from a dream.  

Photo: Kai Altair in the video of her song "The Calling". Visit her website.  

So you're having a baby, in your dreams

I am cradling a new-born baby. She is beautiful and her breath is soooo sweet. I place the baby carefully on a lambskin I have stuffed between books on a high shelf, making a kind of hutch. I arrange things so she can’t roll off the shelf.

This was my dream from an afternoon nap. I woke with a sense of joy, tenderness and wonder. In ordinary reality, it’s most unlikely that I’ll have another child. It’s also most improbable that, if entrusted with someone else’s baby, I’d think it was appropriate to treat her this way, When  I went down to my office, after my nap, I found that contracts had arrived for a book I was planning to deliver that spring. This book would be my next literary baby, and the birth announcement came in the dream.
       Baby dreams, like dreams on any theme, can be literal or symbolic. Expectant mothers dream of babies before they know they are expecting. During a pregnancy, baby dreams can rehearse both mother and child for the delivery. They can also be part of a process of “getting to know you” during which a new personality introduces itself and checks out the family it will be joining.
     It’s not unusual for pregnant mothers to dream of giving birth to animals. Indigenous peoples are quick to recognize that such dreams can bring knowledge not only of the character of the incoming soul, but of its spiritual connections. A television host in St.Louis told me on her show that when she was pregnant, she dreamed of giving birth to a lizard. “It just slid right out.” Though startling, the dream was very auspicious. The delivery was smooth and quick. We also discussed qualities of the lizard that might belong to the new child, including the ability to grow back.
      Baby dreams can be birth announcements from others in the family, advance word of a coming grandchild, for example. A dream announcing a literal birth may also be one that invites spiritual parenting. The First Peoples of my native Australia say that every soul on the way to birth needs a spiritual parent to help it find its way safely to its home in our world. The spiritual parent – a godparent in a deeper sense than that word has come to mean in English – may or may not be one of the birth parents. The connection between the incoming soul and the spiritual parent will be made in dreams.
     As in my dream of the baby on the bookshelf,  baby dreams are often about something other than a literal baby. If you dream of having a baby and you are unlikely or unable to give birth in a literal sense, ask yourself: what new thing am I getting ready to bring through in my life? What will I create? The creative act is always a process of birthing something new into the world.
      A mother dreamed she grown a huge pregnant belly. Probing gingerly, she found she was carrying twins, but there was something really strange about their anatomies. They had hard, sharp edges. She was not enthusiastic about bearing twins at her stage in life. When we discussed the dream, I asked he to explain what was “strange” about the shapes she felt inside her dream self’s swollen belly. “It was like they had hard, sharp edges.” I asked her, “Hard and sharp like what?” She responded, “Like books!” She decided she was pregnant with two books she hoped to write. Several years after the dream, she has completed the first of those books and is writing the second.
     Baby dreams can be more than birth announcements; they can suggest a care and nurturing plan we need to follow to support an initially vulnerable new life venture. A woman embarking on a new career dreamed she gave birth to a tiny, very fragile baby. She found it hard to hold the baby. It was very slippery and kept slipping from her grasp, so we would find herself struggling to maintain a safe grip or to catch it when it started to fall. This dream seemed to mirror, rather exactly, the challenges of birthing that new career.
     Another dreamer was horrified when she let a newborn baby fall because she was overloaded with a huge crate full of stuff she associated with her work situation. Studying the dream, she realized she needed to let go of a job that was interfering with a creative project she wanted to bring through; better to lose the work load than the baby.
     A birth announcement in our dreams may be about the beginning of new life in a spiritual sense. I was moved when a friend recently shared a dream in which she received a birth announcement from a deceased relative, announcing that he had been reborn on the Other Side.
     Let’s not forget that Gabriel, the archangel of the annunciation – who brings the most celebrated of all advance birth announcements – is also the angel of dreams and the patron of travel on the astral plane.

Image: Salvador Dali, "Baby Map of the World"

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Yeats on image sending and interactive dreaming

Minds reach to minds across time and space. Dreaming is not only individual; it is social. In dreams, we get out and about and meet other people. Sometimes the people we encounter turn out to be aspects of ourselves, including shadow selves we have ignored or denied. However, quite often the characters we encounter are transpersonal. We make visits and we receive visitations. When we are in the habit of sharing dreams, we sometimes discover that we have been together with another dreamer in the same story or setting. This happens spontaneously. We can also make it a theme for mutual lucid dreaming.
     The great Irish poet and magus W.B.Yeats became very interested in the phenomena of interactive dreaming and staged experiments in "mutual visioning", the conscious attempt to put two or more imaginations or traveling selves into agreed scenes. These experiments began with the boyhood practice of "symbol-sending" in games with his psychically gifted uncle on the coast of Sligo, games I described here.
     I have come across a most interesting note by Yeats on what he calls "complementary images". This appears in the original 1925 version of his most difficult and ambitious book, A Vision, in which he tried to set out a whole magical philosophy of life and death and reality. This version was almost unobtainable until the recent publication of an annotated scholarly edition as Volume XIII of Yeats' Collected Works.
Yeats observes: 

"When two people meditate upon the same theme, who have established a supersensual link, they will invariably in my experience, no matter how many miles apart, see pass before the mind's eye complementary images, images that complete one another."

He noted that this function is at work in dreams: 

"I put an experience of the kind into the poem that begins -

Was it the double of my dream,
The woman that by me lay
Dreamed, or did we halve a dream
Under the first cold gleam of day."

      From my experience of interactive dreaming, I would say that it does not have to be either/or. The answer to both of Yeats' suggested scenarios may well be Yes. Our dream doubles do get around, and we can halve the work and play of reality creation when we meet dream partners. I recently had the marvelous experience of a dear friend (who I would trust with almost anything) entering a dream of my own whose mystery I had not fathomed and whose challenge remained unresolved - and dreaming it onward in a way that brought wonderful clarity and resolution. She brought me images that completed my own, just as Yeats suggested we can do for each other.
     If we are connected to others by mutual affection and interests, it is surely not strange that we should be able to exchange "complementary images" and even to picnic and play together within the realms of those images.

Drawing: "Yeats in the Magic Cottage" by RM.

For a full discussion of shared and social dreaming, please see Active Dreaming, chapter 6. For my own experiences of Yeats' "mutual visioning", see The Boy Who Died and Came Back, chapter 37.

Monday, October 19, 2015

You Walk in Many Worlds

Part of the secret logic of our lives may be that our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless parallel selves, sometimes converging or even merging, sometimes diverging ever farther. The gifts and failings of these alternate selves - with all the baggage train of their separate lives - may influence us, when our paths converge, in ways that we generally fail to recognize. Yet a sudden afflux of insight or forward-moving energy may be connected with joining up with an alternate and lively self, just as a sour mood of defeat or a series of otherwise inexplicable setbacks may relate to the shadow of a different parallel self, a Sad One or a Dark One.    

It is possible that every choice we make spins off a parallel event track with different outcomes. This is becoming the mainstream view of physics, as in the theory of Many Interactive Worlds. In this multidimensional universe, in our multidimensional self, we are connected to many counterpart personalities living in other times, other probable realities, other dimensions. According to the choices that we make and the dramas that we live, we sometimes come closer to them, and sometimes, in a sense, we step through a portal, we step through an opening between the worlds, we step through an interdimensional membrane, and our issues and our lives and our dramas and our gifts and our karma are joined.    

Then there is our relationship to other personalities, living in the past or future, whose dramas are connected to our own and may all be going on simultaneously. I think of a Mongolian warrior shaman who appeared in a recent dream, standing at a threshold. Behind him is a vast plain—a plain of battle, a plain of struggle. He is wearing a long, heavy coat of skins and furs. His headdress is a helmet with furs. He has bronze shaman’s mirrors and metal charms all over him. I look at this man in my dream, standing in the threshold between his reality and mine. I know that he is living at least eight centuries ago, yet we are connected now. We know each other. We are connected in a multidimensional drama and this may generate events in both our lives that will appear as “chance” to those who cannot find the trans-temporal pattern.   

Such connections may be triggered by travel. You go to a new place, and you encounter the spirits of that land – including personalities that may be part of your own multidimensional story.     

Jane Roberts’ version of how this works, in the Seth books that she channeled and in her own Oversoul Seven novels, is the clearest and most coherent account of how this works that I have so far discovered.    Part of the secret logic of our lives is that we are all connected to counterpart personalities—Seth calls them “probable souls”—living in other times and other probable universes. Their gifts and challenges can become part of our current stories, not only through linear karma but through the interaction now across time and dimensions. The dramas of past, future or parallel personalities can affect us now. We can help or hinder each other.    

In the model of understanding I have developed, this family of counterpart souls is joined on a higher level by sort of hub personality, an “oversoul”, a higher self within a hierarchy of higher selves going up and up. The choices that you make, the moves that you make, can attract or repel other parts of your larger self.     The hidden hand suggested by synchronistic events may be that of another personality within our multidimensional family, reaching to us from what we normally perceive as past or future, or from a parallel or other dimension.

Adapted from Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Drawing by RM

Symbol magnets and Jung's fish tales

The magnetic power of a symbol, in our lives, can bring together inner and outer events in ways that shift our perception of reality. We learn best about these things through direct experience, and through stories - like Jung's fish tales - that we can trust.    
    When Jung was immersed in his study of the symbolism of the fish in Christianity, alchemy and world mythology, the theme started leaping at him in everyday life. On April 1, 1949, he made some notes about an ancient inscription describing a man whose bottom half was a fish. At lunch that day, he was served fish. In the conversation, there was talk of the custom of making an "April fish" - a European term for "April fool" - of someone.
    In the afternoon, a former patient of Jung's, whom he had not seen for months, arrived at his house and displayed him some "impressive" pictures of fish. That evening, Jung was shown embroidery that featured fishy sea monsters. The next day, another former patient he had not seen in a decade recounted a dream in which a large fish swam towards her.

    Several months later, mulling over this sequence as an example of the phenomenon he dubbed synchronicity, Jung walked by the lake near his house, returning to the same spot several times. The last time he repeated this loop, he found a fish a foot long lying on top of the sea-wall. Jung had seen no one else on the lake shore that morning. While the fish might have been dropped by a bird, its appearance seemed to him quite magical, part of a "run of chance" in which more than "chance" seemed to be at play. [1]
    If we're keeping count (as Jung did) this sequence includes six discrete instances of meaningful coincidence, five of them bobbing up, like koi in a pond, within 24 hours, and all reflecting Jung's preoccupation with the symbolism of the fish. Such unlikely riffs of coincidence prompted Jung to ask whether it is possible that the physical world mirrors psychic processes "as continuously as the psyche perceives the physical world."
    In her discussion of how inner and outer events can mirror each other, Jungian analyst Marie-Louise von Franz suggested that "if the psychic mirrorings of the material world - in short, the natural sciences - really constitute valid statements about matter, then the reverse mirror-relation would also have to be valid. This would mean that material events in the external world would have to be regarded as statements about conditions in the objective psyche.[2]

    Some of the greatest minds of the past century - Jung and Wolfgang Pauli and David Bohm - sought to model a universe in which mind and matter, subject and object, inner and outer, are everywhere interweaving. Events, both physical and psychic, unfold from a unified field, the unus mundus of the alchemists, that may be synonymous with Bohm's "implicate order", Their interaction escapes our ordinary perception of causation and of time and space. “Precisely because the psychic and the physical are mutually dependent...they may be identical somewhere beyond our present experience.” [3] 
    Living symbols deeply ingrained in the imaginal history of humankind are charged with magnetic force, which can draw clusters of events together. For those familiar with tarot, it feels at such moments as if one of the Greater Trumps is at play in the world. Traditional diviners understand this, as do true priests and priestesses. Thus one of the Odu, or patterns, of Ifa, the oracle of the Yoruba, is held to bring the fierce orisha Ogun into the space, while another is believed to carry spirits of the dead into the realm of the living. When that happens, you don't just study the pattern; you move to accommodate or propitiate the power that is manifesting.
    To grasp the full power of a symbol, we need to go back to the root meaning of the word. "Symbol" is derived from the Greek σύμβολον (sýmbolon) which combines συν- (syn-) meaning "together" and βολή (bolē) a "throw" or a "cast" A symbol is that which is "thrown together" or "cast together". This is very close to the root meaning of "coincidence". In Latin, to coincide is to "fall together". So it's not surprising that when symbols are in play, coincidence multiplies.
   The first literary mention of a symbol is in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, in which the god Hermes exclaims, on finding a tortoise, "O what a happy symbol for me", before turning the tortoise shell into a lyre. In the ancient world, sýmbolon came to mean a token, that which brings things together. Thus a symbol might be a pair of tokens that could be fitted together to make a single object. Such tokens might be broken halves of potsherd, a ring or a seal. They would vouch for the truthfulness of a messenger, or an enduring loyalty.
-  Jung noted in his foreword to his most important work on synchronicity that "my researches into the history of symbols. and of the fish symbol in particular, brought the problem [of explaining synchronicity] ever closer to me" [4] His experiences of symbols irrupting into the physical world led him to sympathize with Goethe's magical view that "We all have certain electric and magnetic powers within us and ourselves exercise an attractive and repelling force, according as we come into touch with something like or unlike." [5] Such powers are magnified when our minds and our environment are charged with the energy of a living symbol.



1. C.G.Jung, "On Synchronicity". Lecture to the 1951 Eranos conference. Republished in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche translated by R.F.C.Hull [Collected Works vol. 8}, par. 970. Also Jung, "Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle" in CW8 pars. 826-827.
2. Marie-Louise von Franz, Projection and Re-collection in Jungian Psychology. translated by William H. Kennedy (LaSalle and London: Open Court, 1990) 190.

3. C.G.Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy translated by R.F.C.Hull [CW14] par. 765.
4. Jung, "Synchronicity" CW8 par. 816.
5. J.P. Eckermann, Conversations with Goethe quoted in Jung, "Synchronicity" CW8 par. 860.

Art: René Magritte, "Collective Invention", oil, 1934. 
Funerary stele of  Licinia Amias, early 3rd century, with the Christian motto in Greek letters ΙΧΘΥC ΖΩΝΤΩΝ / Ikhthus zōntōn ("fish of the living") and the image of fish and an anchor

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Nine Keys to Living Consciously in the Multiverse

The only time is Now. All other times - past, present and parallel - can be accessed in this moment of Now, and may be changed for the better.

We dream to wake up. Dreaming is not fundamentally about what happens during sleep. It is about waking up to a deeper order of reality. Dreaming is a discipline; to get really good at it requires practice, practice, practice.

Treasures are waiting for us in the Place Between Sleep and Awake. The easiest way to become a lucid or conscious dreamer is to spend more time in the twilight zone between waking and sleep, or between sleep and waking.  Tinker Bell told Peter Pan to look for her in the Place between Sleep and Awake. This liminal state is a place of encounter with inner guides and transpersonal visitors. It is also a place of heightened psychic perception and creative breakthroughs, where it is easy to make connections that escape the daily mind.

We live in the Speaking Land, as the First Peoples of my native Australia say. Everything in the world around us is alive and conscious and will speak to us if we are paying attention. Navigating by synchronicity becomes very simple, even irresistible, when we stream into this mode of understanding.

To live well, we must practice death. We bring courage and clarity to life choices when we are aware that death is always with us, and that we should be ready to meet it any day.

We must feed and honor our animal spirits. A working connection with them gives us immense resources for self-healing.

We have a guide for our lives who is no stranger. He is always with us and does not judge us. This is the Self on a higher level. When we rise to the perspective of the Greater Self, we are able to make peace between different personality aspects, including our counterparts in other times and parallel realities.

We are at the center of all times. The dramas of lives being lived in other times and in parallel realities may be intensely relevant to understanding and navigating our current relationships and life issues. We can learn to reach into those other lives to share gifts and lessons. We can dialog with our own older and younger selves within our present lifetimes.

We must entertain the spirits, starting with our very own – the child self, the inner artist, the passionate teen, the animal spirits, the creative daimon.

Adapted from The Boy Who Died and Came Back: Adventures of a Dream Archaeologist in the Multiverse by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

The Boy at Niagara Falls. Photo by Julie Tumbarello.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Book of Shadows

Between you and the world
falls a screen
that holds the fingerprints of possibility.
Study them like a detective
and you find clues to the future
you can use to change it
or embrace it.

Look carefully and you may find
the screen is smudged
by old habits and regrets
and must be cleaned
before you can trust the patterns.

On some days, in many lives,
you don’t see that the screen is there.
That’s when the movies start playing
that you confuse with the world.
You can get stuck in a Book of Shadows
not knowing how to turn the pages.
You may be caught in the threads
 of an ancient tapestry
of a sleeping king and a red boar.

The trick is to touch the friction ridges
of fate gently, and harvest fine powder
to make the inks and paints
to create your own design for life.
Since the screen between you and the world
becomes your world
use it to make your reality.
The time is Now.

-          Hameau de l’Etoile, October 11, 2015

Photo: The view from my balcony in the Pigeonnier at the Hameau de l'Etoile on the morning I wrote this poem, which flowed directly from a dream.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Playing Sidewalk Tarot: "He Can't Kill Both of Us, Can He?"

One of the everyday oracles the Greeks valued most highly was the kledon. A kledon is sound or speech coming out of silence or undifferentiated noise. On a gritty city street, I received a kledon that gave me exact guidance on how to handle a conflictive situation.
     My kledon that day was inspired by my little dog Oskar.
     Oskar is a miniature Schnauzer who weighs about twenty pounds. Walking my little dog towards the park, I was debating with myself whether I could manage to take on two big new projects. Each would demand a great amount of time, energy and focus. Worse, it was possible that they could prove to be mutually competing.
      I had this theme on my mind when a stranger got out of his truck. As he approached me, he pointed his chin at my dog and said, "He can't kill us both at the same time, can he?"
     I felt that behind the joke, a joker of a larger kind was in play.
     I had been asking myself:  Can I handle two new projects at the same time? The kledon I received was “He can't kill us both at the same time, can he?” It did not cause brain damage to figure out the connection. I had been told I could not tackle more than one project at a time.
     I would have to “kill” one of the new projects. I made an instant choice, but now had to find a way to break the news to the project manager I was about to disappoint.
     When I made the call, he was not happy at all. The conversation was strained until I told him my dog story. When I repeated the line, “He can't kill both of us at the same time,” the manager roared with laughter. He shouted, "I get it!"
      I thanked him, and gave a nod to the joker I sensed behind the joke on the street that day.
      This is an example of one of the ways I play the game I call Sidewalk Tarot. I started using the phrase after I noticed that things keep literally popping up, like tarot cards, on the streets and sidewalks of the small city where I live. Anything that enters your field of perception, through any of your senses, within your chosen time frame may count as a card in play, even as one of the greater trumps.

Adapted from SidewalkOracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.