Sunday, December 13, 2015

Finding the Well of Creation and Delight in an Old Journal

With a few weeks off the road as winter deepens, I find myself reaching, again and again, for old journals. This has renewed a most creative engagement.
    Right now, I am playing with my journals from a week in 1996, nearly 20 years ago. There is a vast amount of material here that I never transcribed, and a lot that I typed but saved on "floppy disks" that can no longer be played on computers. So part of my time with the old journals is about rescuing material from oblivion. But I am avoiding the donkey work of transcription, pulling out themes, tracking a series of episodes, flagging evidence of time travel, noting the many roles of my dream self and his world of symbols.
     A recurring theme is close encounters with deities of Old Europe whose names and cults have slipped from modern consciousness but are still alive in the land and in what Jung called the collective unconscious. I have a close encounter with a thunder god in Celtic guise and receive confirmation from what seems to be a case of mutual or social dreaming:

Visit with Taranis

He appears in many forms, as rain and thunder, as human, animal and god. He is surprisingly gentle. Sometimes he wears my face, pink but strong. The wheel symbol recurs. I wake filled with strength and optimism. That morning, I receive a message from a friend who says that I appeared to her the same night in a dream, chanting Celtic verses she thought were related to "Taliesin".[July 23, 1996]

In another dream, a real thriller, I fend off intruders on the wooded border of a property with an unusual weapon, a long-handled wooden hammer that looks a bit like a heavy duty croquet mallet. I note in my journal that there is a gatekeeper in Celtic tradition who carries a similar weapon. His name survives in several inscriptions from Romano-Gaulish territory. He is Sucellos, the "Good Striker". I see again that a dream may be a personal myth just as a myth may be a collective dream. 
    As always when I look over old journals, I am fascinated by the evolution of personal symbols, and the transformations of recurring locales, like the dream house and the dream elevator.

Going Up in the Sea Shell Elevator 

The elevator cabin is quite beautiful, lined with mother of pearl. As I ascend to the fourth floor, I feel I am traveling inside a sea shell. A numinous being is waiting for me. [July 29, 1996]

I read report after report tagged HG (for Hypnagogic) or HG/CD (Hypnagogic/Conscious Dream). I notice how easy it has always been for me to slip into lucid dream adventures from the launch pad of the hypnagogic zone, the liminal space between sleep and awake. 
    My journals confirm that we must take dreams more literally and waking life more symbolically. My nights are full of real adventures across time and across dimensions. My days are filled with symbols:

The Butcher’s Promotion

The assistant comes to the meat counter in his bloodied apron. Hearing my accent, he asks where I’m from. When I tell him, he asks, “Are there many funeral homes in your country?” I am startled by the question. He explains that he is moving up in the world. He is going into the funeral business. As he wraps my meat, his manner shifts to that of a funeral director, prim and unctuous. He is standing so straight he leans backward a little and rocks on his heels. “From dead animals to dead people,” I remark. “It seems like a natural progression.” [July 25, 1996]

I study closely my experiments in this period with many methods of shifting consciousness, developing imagery for healing, releasing the earthbound dead and helping people to get more of soul into the body. I note that my dream self often goes ahead of me, test-flying new techniques and rituals with groups of people in the night before I adopt those techniques or enter those situations in regular life.
      None of this journal scrutiny is anything like work.
      To give myself even more fun, I set myself the playful assignment of grabbing a couple of old journal reports any day I feel like it - and writing from them, using them as the raw material for a story. Some of my journal narratives of adventures in the dream world and the surface world are already close to chapters from a fantasy novel or scenes from a screenplay.
      I'll say it again: if you want to be a writer, you must keep a journal. No ifs or buts..
      If you want to know what a treasure house a journal will be, you must keep one, with dedication and delight, for at least five years. That's how it is.


Catherine said...

Hello Robert, I finished Sidewalk Oracles and feel it came as an excellent answer book as I requested of the great wiitoos (whatever it is that's on our side). But I am finding I wake so quickly I just can't seem to catch a dream. Also, can you recommend a good book on symbols in dreams? Or symbols as signposts? I have Active Dreaming on its way, should arrive Wednesday and I can hardly wait. But for now Sidewalk Oracles is superb dip!

In gratitude,

ps. "Tantric sex with a first (or third) draft" this.

Robert Moss said...

Cathy, your very best book on dream symbols will be your own dream journal once you have managed to record dreams over a sufficient period. In the meantime, please read my book "Conscious Dreaming" to get going. "Active Dreaming" will give you much guidance on breaking a dream drought, and so play with the suggestion in my tiny previous post here, "Be kind to fragments" !

Catherine said...

Yes, even a single word or sentence I suppose is better than nothing in my journal. Thank you Robert and I'll now get a copy of Conscious Dreaming as well.

James Wilson said...

That's the problem with computers Robert. They keep evolving and evolving, and before you know it your dreams are locked in a treasure chest with no key.
But luckily they still sell old computers that use floppy disks in secondhand markets and stores.
Personally I always keep a report of every dream on paper. That never goes out of fashion. Safely stored in a fireproof safe. And if I want to save a dream in a digital way, I scan the paper report. This saves me the trouble of retyping.

Robert Moss said...

Oh sure, James, but the process I describe is about much more than retyping. It's about creative harvesting.